Manduka Black Mat PRO Review

Assessing Performance, Price, and Eco Credentials

Manduka Black Mat PRO
Photo Courtesy of Manduka

Manduka premium yoga mats have an intensely loyal following and a reputation for performance and durability. But with a price tag of between $100 and $130, it's fair to wonder whether the top-of-the-line Manduka PRO is really worth the cost, or is it just a designer label that does nothing to improve your yoga?

Performance

If you have an active practice, you could easily trash an average mat in a year, if not sooner. To this end, the Manduka PRO is arguably one of the hardest wearing yoga mats on the market today. In fact, the company guarantees that it will never wear out, offering an unconditional money-back guarantee if damaged as a result of normal wear and tear.

The 100 percent latex-free yoga mat is 6 millimeters thick and has a closed cell structure that is not only flexible but offers exceptional support to your knees and joints. The structure of the mat is such that it also prevents the absorption of sweat and moisture.

You can choose from either their standard size mat (71" x 26") or their extra-long model (85" x 26"). The two versions weight 7.5 pounds and 9.5 pounds, respectively. There is even a square mat (78" x 78"; 26 pounds) ideal for a couples practice.

Manduka PRO mats are available in a standard black or a designer cranberry, sage, blue, cobalt blue, aquamarine, and purple.

While price is certainly an issue, most Lululemon mats cost in excess of $70. Others like Gaiam start at as little as $30. None but Manduka, however, offers a lifetime guarantee.

Ecological Specs

The Manduka PRO is a PVC mat. Many people have valid concerns about mats made from PVC given its impact on the environment, both during manufacturing and in waste disposal.

The manufacturers of Manduka PRO insist that their products are emission-free and produced to the highest ecological standards. (Even organic products, such as bamboo, are known to reap ecological harm).

The Manduka PRO is certified safe for human contact by OEKO-TEX, a textile certification agency in Europe, and is free of phthalate and other toxins commonly found in PVC products.

The manufacturers also argue, quite reasonably, that products produced for a lifetime are less likely to end up in the landfill.

By contrast, Manduka's eKO series is made from natural rubber from non-Amazon rubber trees without any toxic glues or foaming agents. Rubber trees are a sustainable crop, and the harvesting and manufacture of ethical rubber products have less impact on the environment. If the thought of PVC puts you off, the eKO series may be just what you are looking for.

(On the downside, people with a latex allergy will want to avoid a natural rubber yoga mat.)

What It's Like to Practice on

The Manduka PRO is made of dense foam, making it more comfortable to practice on than your typical PVC mat (albeit significantly heavier). If you're used to a $20 mat, the PRO is going to seem really thick and far less malleable. You will not, for instance, be able to fold it.

With that being said, the Manduka PRO is a solid, substantial piece of material that will never crease or scrunch up. The surface may be slippery at first but will eventually provide excellent traction after a month or so of use.

To speed things up, you can break the mat in with the salt method. Simply sprinkle a liberal amount of salt over the surface of the mat, let it rest for 24 hours, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth. The more you twist, roll, and work on the Manduka mat, the softer and more supple it will become. (Do not use salt on a rubber, TPE, and polyurethane mat.)

Verdict

Given the heavier weight, I wouldn't necessarily recommend the Manduka PRO to city dwellers who have to carry their mats around town. (To this end, Manduka offers a PROlite model that weighs only 4.5 pounds and also comes with a lifetime guarantee.)

If travel and weight are not an issue, then there is little that can say to detract from the quality and performance of a Manduka PRO. It is excellent for the serious practitioner and could very well be the last yoga mat you ever use. For performance, style, and quality, it's a winner on all fronts.

What We Like

  • 100% lifetime guarantee

  • Sturdy, stable, durable 

  • Great cushion for knees

  • Does not absorb sweat

  • 100% latex-free

What We Don't Like

  • Hefty price tag

  • Takes some breaking in

  • Can be slippery at first

  • May be heavy to carry

  • PVC is still PVC

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