Kulae tpECOmat Review

Kulae tpECOmat Yoga Mat
Kulae tpECOmat Yoga Mat. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Most yoga mats are made out of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a man-made material that is pretty durable but not biodegradable. Many yogis have valid concerns about the environmental effects of the manufacture of PVC and about its safety for personal use. Natural rubber mats have long been a popular alternative. They have the benefit of being made from a renewable resource and have a lot of loyal fans but they do have a few disadvantages. They are heavy, can have a strong rubbery odor, and are usually pretty hard. Another option to consider is mats made of another man-made material, TPE (thermoplastic elastomer). 

In comparison to PVC and rubber, TPE is amazingly lightweight and offers soft yet firm support and nicely patterned surfaces, which provide excellent traction. The most fitting description of TPE mats is cushy. Yoga on a TPE mat feels like practicing on a soft cloud. Kulae is one of the leading manufacturers of TPE mats, offering 3 different thicknesses.

The Advantages of TPE

Kulae's basic tpECOmat is the thinnest and lightest of the bunch. If you need a super lightweight mat, this one fits the bill. It's like carrying a little feather around. The trade-off is that it is also very thin. At 1/8 inch (3mm) thick, the mat still provides just enough cushion, but it has a tendency to bunch up underfoot in standing poses where a lot of pressure is being applied to the back foot (like the warrior II and trikonasana). This is not a problem with Kulae's thicker mats, so unless you are looking for a travel mat I would suggest going with one of them. The Plus is the company's most popular mat. At 5mm, its thickness is on par with other premium yoga mats but it weighs about half as much. The 8mm Ultra mat is the plushest of the bunch. It's intended for people who want a little extra padding between themselves and the floor. However, the downside is that very thick mats can be a little destabilizing in balancing postures where your feet need good contact with the ground.

Kulae's mats are soft, supportive, and very light. But before you rush off to purchase one of these miracle mats, we should take a look at the downsides. 

The Downsides

Though Kulae calls their mats biodegradable and recyclable, those terms can be pretty broadly interpreted. For instance, how long does it take the mat to degrade and under what circumstances? And just because it's possible to recycle the material, that doesn't mean that you can put it in your recycling bin for pick up. The processes of getting this mat biodegraded or recycled are likely to be a lot more complicated than that. If environmental concerns are a high priority for you, this mat has another serious problem. Compared to the durability of a Jade rubber mat or the super dense PVC Manduka PRO, TPE mats are going to lose out every time. That nice cushiony softness seems to equal a high susceptibility to wear and tear. An active vinyasa flow style practice can start to shred one of these mats after just a few uses. A TPE mat will probably not last as long as comparably priced mats made of other materials so they'll have to be replaced more frequently.