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Manduka vs Gaiam (2021): Comparing Yoga Mat Brands

Finding the right yoga mat is as much of a journey as the practice of yoga itself is. After all, it appears that there are endless options online. But a great place to start is looking at the more trusted brands like Manduka and Gaiam. Both are popular for their wide variety of mats that come in almost every imaginable material and design.

Manduka, which boasts a storied past, can be more expensive. Their yoga mats emphasize grip and performance and are often made from natural and renewable materials. Gaiam, on the other hand, is known for its wide array of mat prints and styles. They are budget-friendly, too, making them popular among yoga beginners. Which one should you buy? Below, we compared the best Manduka and Gaiam yoga mats you can get across four important categories to help you decide.

Manduka vs Gaiam Comparison Chart

ModelMandukaGaiam
Best Seller Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
Multi-Size OptionsYesYes
Sweat-Resistant OptionsYesYes
Budget-Friendly OptionsYesYes
Available Thickness4.7mm, 5mm, and 6mm, 8mm4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 8mm
Non-Slip VariantsAvailableAvailable
Eco-FriendlyYes, with special lineYes, specifically categorized
Price RangePremiumAffordable

Best-Selling Yoga Mats

The Manduka PRO Yoga Mat 6mm and the Gaiam Solid Color Yoga Mat are the two brands’ top-sellers.

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat 6mm (left) vs Gaiam Solid Color Mat (right)

If you’re not sure which yoga mat to get, just look at the best-selling models. For Manduka, it’s the PRO Yoga Mat. Gaiam’s Solid Color Yoga Mat, on the other hand, is a hit among yoga practitioners.

At 6mm thick, the PRO Yoga Mat offers dense and cushiony support that lends well for holding poses. It also brandishes the Manduka’s closed-cell surface construction that keeps the sweat from seeping into the mat. Meanwhile, the Solid Color Yoga Mat is an affordable and lightweight option from Gaiam made from non-toxic PVC. Aside from excellent traction, the Gaiam mat comes in a stylish reversible two-color design.

Manduka’s best-seller is a tad bit expensive, retailing between $120-$150 depending on the size you get. However, the unique construction of the mat gives it a gripper surface compared to Gaiam’s.

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat 6mm

Pros

  • Comes in two sizes: 71″ and 81″
  • Durable and sweat-proof construction
  • OEKO-TEX certified

Cons

  • Weighs between 7.5 to 8.5 pounds
  • Expensive

Gaiam Solid Color Yoga Mat

Pros

  • Available in 4mm and 6mm
  • Reversible two-color design
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Non-slip surface is mediocre
  • Comes only in one size

Most Portable Yoga Mat

If you need a lightweight yoga mat, go for Manduka’s eKO Superlite Yoga Mat or Gaiam’s 2mm Foldable Yoga Mat.

Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga Mat (left) vs Gaiam Foldable Yogat Mat (right)

Weighing just 2.2 pounds and measuring 1.5mm thick, the Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga Travel Mat is one of the most travel-friendly options you can get. But don’t let the mat’s thin profile fool you. The eKO Superlite is tear-resistant, having been made from biodegradable natural tree rubber. Even after frequent use, the mat surprisingly retains its shape well.

Speaking of foldable, Gaiam’s 2mm-thick Foldable Yoga Mat is another compact and portable option. Despite being thicker than the Manduka eKO Superlite, Gaiam’s is even more lightweight at just 1.8 pounds. It also delivers a better grip than Manduka’s offering. Gaiam’s travel-friendly yoga mat also folds into a 10″x12″ rectangle that can easily slip in your carry-on or overnight bag.

Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat

Pros

  • Sustainably made
  • Machine and handwash friendly
  • Ideal for hot yoga

Cons

  • Not as grippy as other Manduka mats

Gaiam Foldable Travel Yoga Mat 2mm

Pros

  • Perforated lines for easy folding
  • Stable, non-slip surface
  • Great for use on carpet

Cons

  • Print design can easily rub off

Best Non-Slip Yoga Mat

These Manduka and Gaiam mats get grippier as you sweat.

Manduka GRP Hot Yoga Mat (left) vs Gaiam Dry-Grip Yoga Mat (right)

Getting a non-slip yoga mat can drastically improve your confidence as you flow between poses. After all, if you don’t need to worry about slipping, you can just focus on the yoga. For sweaty yogis, the Manduka GRP Hot Yoga Mat is arguably the best you can get. The tri-layer construction of the mat, combined with its charcoal-infused rubber core, makes it even grippier as you sweat. Its open-cell design also means that the 6mm-thick mat breathes, helping reduce odor and bacteria build-up.

Gaiam, on the other hand, offers the 5mm Dry-Grip Yoga Mat. The Dry-Grip is made of PVC material which reduces sweaty odor but gives off a chemical scent, especially when it’s unwrapped the first time. It’s no big deal as the mat does offer excellent traction despite its closed-cell construction. For its price and thickness, the Gaiam Dry-Grip mat is cushiony, too.

Manduka GRP Hot Yoga Mat

Pros

  • Breathable, tri-layer construction
  • Made from natural tree rubber
  • Excellent moisture absorption

Cons

  • Requires regular cleaning

Gaiam Dry-Grip Yoga Mat

Pros

  • Great sweat absorption
  • Fairly affordable
  • Cushions the joints well

Cons

  • Top layer can peel off

Budget Friendly Options

If you’re not willing to spend too much on a mat, consider these Manduka and Gaiam options.

Manduka Begin (left) vs Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat (right)

Those who are just starting on yoga or practice it only sporadically may well benefit from budget-friendly mats. If you’re interested in Manduka, you can opt for its yoga mat aptly named Manduka Begin. The 5mm yoga mat comes with a patterned alignment stripe that guides beginners in proper positioning. The Begin is also made from 100% natural tree rubber and comes with a reversible design.

Another mat worth mentioning is the Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat. Available in 5mm and 6mm options, this budget mat offers impressive cushioning, especially for the knees. It comes with a sticky, non-slip texture as well, although without having that rubbery feel. The best part about Gaiam’s affordable mat is the impressive variety of designs. The Niagara, Purple Mandala, and Plum Sundial Layers are just a few of our favorite prints.

Manduka Begin

Pros

  • Patterned stripes for positioning
  • Fairly affordable
  • Reversible design

Cons

  • Non-slip surface is mediocre

Gaiam Premium Yoga Mat 6mm

Pros

  • A wide array of print designs
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Available in 5mm and 6mm

Cons

  • Chemical scent when first unwrapped

Verdict

Manduka’s GRP Hot Yoga Mat and Gaiam’s Foldable Travel Yoga Mat are our picks.

Amazon product

Amidst the dizzying selection of yoga mats available, Manduka and Gaiam’s respective catalogs are always worth looking into. Manduka takes pride in its sustainably-made products, while Gaiam has always been your budget-friendly option. Both are well-recommended brands by experience and beginner yoga practitioners alike.

Among the mats discussed, however, the Manduka GRP Hot Yoga Mat stands out for its quality, performance, and value. Even though you may not be into hot yoga, Manduka’s highly-rated non-slip mat is still perfect for a range of fitness activities. Gaiam’s Foldable Travel Yoga Mat, on the other hand, comes a close second. Available in colorful prints and designs, the lightweight mat is exceptionally compact. Despite being only 2mm thick, the mat delivers pretty decent footing, and its price tag rivals that of the inexpensive Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mats.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the main difference between Manduka and Gaiam yoga mats?

Manduka yoga mats are typically more expensive than Gaiam’s. Manduka shares that their mats are made from natural tree rubber (non-Amazon harvested), whereas Gaiam’s mats are constructed using PVC.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can I use the Manduka mats for other fitness activities?

Manduka’s 6mm yoga mats can also be used for other exercises including pilates and workouts at the gym.

๐Ÿ“Œ Why should I get a Gaiam mat?

Gaiam typically includes a downloadable yoga class free-of-charge when you purchase one of their mats.

๐Ÿ“Œ How big is Gaiam’s Foldable Yoga Mat?

The Gaiam Foldable Yoga Mat is 68-inches long and 24-inches wide.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.