Lululemon Big Mat vs Manduka Black Mat Pro

By Lindsay Rabicoff • February 26, 2015

Yoga is an amazing way to decrease stress, change your mindset, and get fit in the process, but the mat you use can make a HUGE difference. I started practicing yoga when I acquired stress fractures from running and I fell in love with it immediately. The very first thing I did after attending my first yoga class was research which yoga mat to buy. At 5’9″ I knew I needed a mat I could fit on so Lululemon The (Big) Mat was an obvious choice.

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Lululemon The (Big) Mat

Lululemon The (Big) Mat Features

  • Cost: $78.00 (reasonable)
  • Larger design means more space to practice (yay!) 29″ x 84″ (74cm x 213cm)
  • Made out of natural rubber, polyurethane, and latex = not the greatest smell (boo)
  • Polyurethane coating = extra grippy, no towel necessary
  • Antimicrobial additive to prevent mold and mildew from sticking to your mat (yay!)
  • Heavy at a whopping weight of 3.75 kg (8.25 lbs) (you do not want to travel with this mat)
  • Cushiony feel at 5 mm (0.19″) thickness
  • Reversible (oh you fancy, huh?)
  • You need to buy special towels to fit the mat (hello another $48 per towel!)

For over 4 months I used my Lululemon The (Big) Mat. I traveled with it through airports, lugged it across country, and used it daily. From the moment I opened the box when it was first delivered The (Big) Mat had a distinct (and unpleasant) burnt rubber smell to it. I asked around my yoga studio and people said “just let it air out, the smell will go away with time.” So, I let it air out, and then I let it air out some more, and then I cleaned it, and then I tried to air it out again. The (Big) Mat laid out in our guest room for more than 4 months, and you know what – the smell never went away. Every time I went into child’s pose I was struck with the smell. The day came when one of my fellow yogis asked if I had a Lululemon mat because he could smell it from across the heated yoga room. Enough was enough.

The next day I borrowed a friend’s Manduka Black Mat PRO and it was awesome.

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Manduka Black Mat PRO

Manduka Black Mat PRO Features

  • Cost: $108.00 (boo, but sometimes Manduka offers discounts – yay!)
  • Manduka has been making this mat for over 15 years and backs it with a Lifetime Guarantee against wear and tear
  • Two versions:
    • Standard: 7.0 lbs; 71″ long; 26″ wide; 1/4″ thick (6 mm)
    • Long: 9.0 lbs; 85″ long; 26″ wide; 1/4″ thick (6 mm)
  • Zero-waste, sustainable yoga mat (yay for the earth!)
  • Slip resistant surface that is not sticky
  • 1/4″ thick means the mat comfortably cushions spine, hips, knees, and elbows on hard floors (yay!)
  • Oeko-Tex certified, emissions-free manufacturing
  • 100% latex free, and safe to use for people with latex sensitivities
  • Closed-Cell Surface keeps out moisture (sweat) from seeping into the mat and breeding bacteria
  • Proprietary Dot-Pattern Bottom to resist sliding

I bought my own Black Mat Pro and never turned back. There was NO smell and the cushion of the mat felt incredible. Instead of going with the long version, I decided to try the standard length. It was much lighter than the Lululemon The (BIG) Mat and traveled better. Lululemon was phenomenal and returned my mat with no questions asked, although the Lululemon employee stated that people frequently return the mat for the same reason – the smell. I’ve now been practicing on my Manduka for nearly a year and I have to say I will never buy another mat. The comfort of the mat is unparalleled. Maybe that is why it is called the “Cadillac of Yoga Mats.” My next mat will probably be the Manduka PROlite, the little brother of the Black Mat PRO designed for being on the go and weighing in at a mere 4 pounds.

Winner: Manduka Black Mat PRO