Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the yoga studio or your home yoga room and practice in the great outdoors instead. It helps you connect better with nature and it’s nice to feel a breeze as you practice.
When choosing a yoga mat for outside use, there are different things to consider such as how well it protects your knees and how well it cleans.
Whilst there are plenty of guides to the best yoga mats, I struggled to find any that recommend good outdoor yoga mats so I’ve put together this guide which I hope you’ll find useful.
- Do You Need a Yoga Mat Outdoors?
- What to Look For in an Outdoor Yoga Mat
- Best Yoga Mats for Outdoors
- Comparison Table
- Related Questions
Do You Need a Yoga Mat Outdoors?
No, you don’t have to use a yoga mat outdoors. If you’re able to practice on soft ground such as grass, it can provide enough cushioning for knees and helps you feel close to nature as you practice. I’m a big fan of practicing outside without a mat.
However, it’s not always practical. If the ground is hard, it can be tough on your knees and dangerous if you’re still building up strength. Plus, when it’s wet it can get very dirty.
So there are definitely situations where you’ll want a mat. I know yogis that practice outdoors with a mat and some that practice without so it’s fine either way. If you do want a mat, keep reading to find out my recommendations.
What to Look For in an Outdoor Yoga Mat
If you’re buying a yoga mat especially for practicing yoga outdoors, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Well-padded – Depending upon what surface you’ll be using outside, you’ll want enough padding to support your body. The typical size of a yoga mat is 4-5mm, but if you have sore knees, you may want something thicker at the expense of it being bulkier to transport around.
- Easy to clean – This is important no matter where you’ll be practicing outdoors, you’ll want to be able to easily wipe mud, sand, gravel, or any other dirt off your mat easily.
- Non-absorbent (closed cell) – When practicing outdoors, you are unlikely to sweat as much as indoors so having an absorbent mat is not important. Instead, look for a closed cell mat as this won’t absorb smells and odors either.
- UV resistant – If you’ll be practicing in the sun a lot, you’ll want a mat that is UV resistant so it doesn’t fade over time, especially if you have alignment lines printed on it.
Of course, you’ll also want to consider all of the other things that are usually important when buying a mat such as durability, sustainability, size, and more. See my full guide to buying a yoga mat for some tips.
Best Yoga Mats for Outdoors
The best yoga mats for outdoors are:
- Best Overall: Manduka Pro
- Best for Grass: Liforme
- Budget Pick: Gaiam Essentials
- Best for the Beach: Lululemon Reversible
- Best for Concrete: Gruper
- Eco-Friendly Choice: Jade Harmony
Below, you’ll find my full reviews of each yoga mat along with the reasons why I recommend them for outdoor use.
At the end of this article is a full comparison table with the key specs of each mat side-by-side, such as dimensions, weight, and material.
Best Overall: Manduka Pro
The best yoga mat for outdoors is the Manduka Pro. It has a closed-cell structure, this means it doesn’t absorb water so it’s not going to soak up any dirt or bacteria from outside. Sand won’t get stuck in them and it’s really easy to clean.
Closed-cell mats typically aren’t great for hot yoga or if you get sweaty, but since you’ll be doing yoga outside, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The mat is made from PVC which fairs well when exposed to UV light such as the rays of the sun, this means it can be regularly used outdoors without worry. PVC is also very hard-wearing which is why these mats have a lifetime guarantee where Manduka will replace them if there is considerable wear and tear within 10 years.
The main downside to PVC is that it’s not environmentally friendly because it’s made from non-renewable sources and isn’t recyclable or biodegradable so it may be lying in a landfill for many years when you’re done with it. (source)
Manduka claim that the mat is eco-friendly because they last a long time and no toxic emissions are released in production, but if you are very concerned about making a sustainable choice, there are better alternatives as I’ll discuss below.
The Manduka Pro is a very dense material so it’s much heavier than similar-sized alternatives, this isn’t ideal if you have to carry it around a lot. You could opt for the Manduka Pro Lite instead, this is lighter but also thinner and is the mat used by Adriene, one of the most well-known yoga YouTubers.
Best for Grass: Liforme Signature
The Liforme mat is my top recommended yoga mat, but comes in a close second when it comes to outdoor use since it isn’t great under prolonged sunlight, more on this shortly.
The mat has a nice shiny surface on the back which makes it easy to clean after it’s been on the ground which is why I recommend it for use on grass or down the park.
Plus, it features their ‘Align for me’ system which features best-in-class alignment lines for getting the correct posture and body alignment during poses.
The mat is made from a natural rubber base with a polyurethane (PU) top surface. The mats are more eco-friendly than the Manduka Pro shared above since natural rubber is a sustainable material from renewable sources.
The polyurethane used in the surface doesn’t come from a renewable source so the mats aren’t 100% eco-friendly, although it is still better than PVC since it is biodegradable and recyclable.
Unfortunately, the use of more sustainable materials has a negative impact if you plan to use your yoga mat outdoors in sunlight. Liforme recommend that this mat is not left out in the sun for long periods of time since exposure to an abundance of natural sunlight and heat can speed up the degradation process.
Although this also has a closed-cell structure like the Manduka Pro, the PU top surface is more absorbent than PVC so it doesn’t become slippy as easily when you start to get sweaty.
Budget Pick: Gaiam Essentials
Before jumping into this review, I would not recommend skimping on your yoga mat, you’ll never get the same level of grip and durability as a premium mat and they tend to be very unsustainable.
However, if you have no choice but to choose a cheaper option, Gaiam is the best of the bunch and certainly better than doing yoga on the wet ground or gravel thanks to 6mm thickness.
Similar to the Manduka Pro which I shared earlier, the Gaiam mat is made from PVC. This is one of the most durable materials, although the foam isn’t as dense in this product as the Manduka Pro so you shouldn’t expect the same 10-year life.
The biggest downside of PVC is that it’s not great for the environment since it isn’t biodegradable or recyclable and comes from non-renewable sources.
When you first purchase this mat, it will have a very strong smell so I’d recommend washing it and leaving it to air for a few days before actually using it. Gaiam are very upfront about this in the product description which I like.
There are several different colors to choose from so you can get a tone that suits you, I personally prefer this blue since I find it to be a more relaxing color, but there’s also pink, purple, grey, and more.
Best for the Beach: Lululemon Reversible
Next up is the Lululemon reversible mat. The mat is made from the same materials as the Liforme earlier, a natural rubber base with polyurethane surface, however, it’s slightly thicker at 5mm so you get that little bit extra support for your knees which is great if there is uncomfortable ground underneath.
What makes this special for outdoor use is that there is both a smooth and textured side. I would recommend placing it down with the smooth side on the ground as you’ll find it super easy to clean after which is ideal if you’ve been doing yoga outdoors on a sandy beach or even gravel.
However, the top side where you practice yoga is still very tacky and provides a good grippy surface. The only downside is that it can sometimes curl up at the edges if you’ve had it rolled up for long periods.
If you want lots of space for practicing yoga on your mat, there is a bigger version available that’s a whopping 71 cm x 213 cm (28″ x 84″). With so many different designs, choosing your yoga mat color might be the biggest challenge with this one.
Best for Concrete: Gruper
If you’re looking for an outdoor yoga mat that is well suited to concrete, you’ll want something that is well padded. For this, I recommend a mat made from NBR, this is a synthetic material and has similar properties to a TPE yoga mat, only it is more cushioned and usually in thicker sizes which is better for outdoors.
This mat from Gruper is a great pick. It’s 15mm thick which far exceeds any of the other mats here and will ensure you don’t go away with sore knees or hips. It’s also much wider than your standard yoga mat at 81cm (32”) so yo have plenty of space.
It is best suited to seated poses, however, being so well cushioned, you might find it hard to maintain a firm balance when doing standing yoga poses like the warrior 1, warrior 2, or other similar ones.
One of the other benefits of NBR is that synthetic materials are super cheap so the price is very competitive.
Eco-Friendly: Jade Harmony
My favorite eco-friendly yoga mat that’s also suitable for outdoor use is the Jade Harmony mat.
The mat is made from natural rubber which is very sustainable compared to other yoga mat materials. Unlike the Liforme and Lululemon mats mentioned earlier that incorporate natural rubber alongside other materials, this one is 100% rubber.
Not only is rubber eco-friendly, but it also provides excellent grip and is very durable. The downside is the price and the fact that it also contains latex which might irritate the skin of some yogis. It also doesn’t fare so well under prolonged UV light exposure so leaving it out under the sun may shorten its life.
The mat is available in two lengths, 173cm (68”) and 180cm (71”), however, the smaller one is extremely small for a yoga mat and would only be suitable for people up to 5’2” based on the typical rule of thumb for choosing a yoga mat size.
The standard width is 61cm (24”) which is about the smallest you’d want to go to still have adequate space. There is also an extra-wide mat that has a width of 28” and is available in larger 74” and 80” lengths.
Here’s a comparison chart with the key specs of all the mats shared in this article:
|Manduka Pro||Liforme||Gaiam Essentials||Lululemon Reversible (Textured)||Gruper||Jade harmony|
|Length||S: 180 (71”)|
L: 215cm (85”)
|185cm (73”)||183cm (72”)||180 (71”)||183cm (72”)||S: 173cm (68”)
L: 180cm (71”)
|Width||66cm (26”)||68cm (27”)||61cm (24”)||66cm (26”)||81cm (32”)||61cm (24”)|
|Weight||S: 3.4kg (7.5lbs)|
L: 4.3kg (9.5lbs)
|2.5kg (5.5lbs)||1.6kg (3.5lbs)||2.38 kg (5.24 lbs)||1.1kg (2.4lbs)||1.95kg (4.3 lbs)|
|Material||PVC||Rubber base and polyurethane||PVC||Rubber base with polyurethane top||NBR||Natural rubber|
|Where to Buy||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon||Lululemon||Amazon||Amazon|
What is the Best Size Yoga Mat?
You should aim for a yoga mat that is about 15cm (6”) longer than your height if you want to ensure you can perform any yoga poses without going off the edge of the mat.
As for thickness, this will depend upon your certain need. The standard size is around 4-5mm, although this varies by material. If you’ll be regularly transporting it around, aim for something thinner. However, most of the recommendations here are at the top end to help protect your knees when doing yoga routines outdoors.
See my full guide to choosing the correct yoga mat size for more help.
The YogaMad is founded by Candace, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.