Next time you’re in a yoga class, take a look around. Whether it’s an IRL or virtual session, chances are good that you’ll spot a handful of mats, tops, or leggings or a stamped with that recognizable swoop that makes the Lululemon logo. The brand known for its famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) yoga pants also makes the all-around take-everywhere Reversible Mat. After testing it against other mats from Alo, Gaiam, and Manduka, and nearly a year of use, we stand behind the Reversible Mat as the best yoga mat for most people, no matter where you are in your yoga journey.
What Is Lululemon?
Lululemon is a global active lifestyle brand that, in recent years, has all but defined elevated athleisure with its casual but high-performance staples. Founded in the late ‘90s in Vancouver, BC, it all started with a pair of yoga pants and has since taken on a life of its own—one with many, many loyal denizens.
Now, the brand describes itself as “yoga-inspired” technical apparel, and sells gear for yoga, running, training, and working out. In 2020, Lululemon bought Mirror, a home fitness startup that beams workout videos through a slim, reflective surface. (If you own a Mirror and noticed that all your instructors suddenly started wearing Lululemon apparel at some point in the last two years, that’s why.)
Beyond the yoga pants and fan base, Lululemon’s brand story is, uh, fraught. Type “Lululemon controversy” into Google and you’ll see not one or two specific incidents, but instead, a helpful list of years to mark each one. There’s the founder, Chip Wilson, and his history of making bizarre, off-color remarks about the business and the people who shop there, not to mention his very public obsession with Ayn Rand. (Wilson has not been affiliated with Lululemon since 2015, though he is still its largest individual shareholder.) There’s the brand’s famous $98 leggings, which were once accused of being see-through. (Lululemon recalled the leggings but still faced a lawsuit.) There are also a variety of other gaffes and sins—an art director promoting a racist t-shirt, the company sponsoring an event to “resist capitalism” while hocking its luxury wares, allegations of sexual misconduct within stores. It’s enough to make some people tap out entirely, to which we say—fair.
Why we Tested the Lululemon Reversible Mat
Given the brand’s popularity, we had to include the natural-rubber-and-polyurethane Lululemon while reviewing the best yoga mats. The 5mm Reversible Mat ($88) is a formidable choice. It’s racked up more than 2900 reviews on the brand’s site and is a top choice on a handful of established product review sites. This versatile mat rose to the top because of its all-around performance: excellent comfort, grip, stability, cushion, and easy to care for. We also appreciated that it’s true to its name. You can flip the mat in favor of the softer, spongier underside when you need a little more comfort.
The Reversible Mat vs. The Mat
The Reversible was once Lululemon’s signature yoga mat offering. Since we tested it, the brand released a new do-it-all yoga mat called, simply, “The Mat” ($98). The only difference between The Reversible and The Mat is that the latter is made with FSC-certified rubber (and costs $10 more). The Mat will eventually replace the Reversible entirely, a Lululemon rep tells us—and, indeed, it already has plum front-page placement on the website. We haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but from the reviews we’ve read, many customers are calling out an issue with the mat easily staining. While we give Lulu kudos for swapping out the natural rubber for a more sustainable choice, we’re still sticking with the Reversible Mat as our top choice for now.
What We Like About Lululemon’s Reversible Mat
Since first reviewing yoga mats for The Nessie, I’ve continued to use the Reversible Mat in my home yoga practice. Even though I have a few different mats to pick from, it’s the one I continuously reach for, and for its versatility and mix of features, I still rank it at the top.
The mat is double-sided, with two different textures to use depending on the day. The sleek and tacky polyurethane top side has great grip, stability, and moisture absorption, while its softer spongy natural rubber underside is best when I need some added cushion. (Natural rubber contains latex, so people with latex allergies should avoid this product.) I prefer the feel of the top side and use it almost exclusively, but I appreciated the bottom layer’s functionality, especially for therapeutic stretching.
The Lulu mat has plenty of stability; the dense mat doesn’t twist when transitioning between poses, which can be the case with some thicker, spongy mats. Both sides have sufficient grip, but the top side is the more budge-proof of the two, and the chic patterned print hides sweat marks better. I use cork and foam yoga blocks on this mat and feel safely supported with both.
The Reversible Mat remains durable, while the more expensive Liforme Original polyurethane-topped mat from our original testing pool has started to deteriorate on the top layer. The Lulu mat still lays flat with no significant cracks or separation of layers.
The extra cushion on the 5mm mat adds bulk, so if you don’t need the extra padding, you can opt for a thinner 3mm Reversible Mat ($78) instead.
What We Don’t Like About Lululemon’s Reversible Mat
The initial smell of opening up the Reversible Mat is undeniably powerful. It’s like the rubbery smell of a new basketball—only stronger. After a few days, it dissipated, but until it aired out, it wasn’t something I wanted to practice with. If you’re packing it in your car or taking it to class, you will want to give it time to freshen up first.
During our testing, we noticed all yoga mats with a polyurethane top surface are prone to staining. While the Reversible Mat will scratch and absorb oils and sweat, the stains don’t show as much as they do on the Alo Warrior ($100) or Liforme Original ($140) yoga mats we’ve also used.
The Reversible Mat is also a bit heavy (weighing a little over five pounds), so it’s a little cumbersome to haul to in-studio classes. However, it’s quite a bit lighter than a handful of the other high-end mats we tested, and for home use, the weight won’t be an issue.
How To Clean The Lululemon Reversible Yoga Mat
The Reversible Mat is one of the easiest yoga mats to clean. We cover how to clean yoga mats more in-depth in our review of the best yoga mat cleaners, but the instructions from Lulu are to “wipe clean with a damp cloth.” On most days, this is sufficient, and the mat is great at staving off odor. (It’s treated with an antimicrobial additive to help prevent mold and mildew, but we don’t know exactly what that additive is.)
Depending on how much yoga you do, it’s also important to deep clean your mat about one to two times a month. I’ve used a variety of yoga mat cleaners on the Reversible Mat for these occasional cleans and had good results. None of the cleaners stained the mat, and with a bit of elbow grease, I can remove grime and sweat build-up. The slick top surface wipes easily; the texture of the bottom rubber surface is tougher to clean but not impossible. The yoga mat dries quickly too, which is important because you don’t want to roll up a wet mat; it’ll break down the materials faster and potentially cause bacteria growth. (And if you’re looking for a yoga mat cleaner, we recommend this one from Saje.)
Should You Get The Lululemon Reversible Mat?
No matter what kind of yogi you are, Lululemon’s Reversible Mat does the job. If you’re in downward facing dog, the mat grips your hands and prevents you from slipping—an all-too-common occurrence when your palms are sweaty from a vigorous flow. In a low lunge, your back knee will feel supported and cushioned without having to double up on the mat.
The two-sided option makes it practical for almost every style of yoga, it’s pretty to look at, easy to clean, and has remained in good shape for the near year I’ve used it. To help with hiding stains, choose one of the patterned colors.
The Reversible Mat has come to be a reliable partner in my own yoga journey. I appreciate the extra cushion for my achy joints and the grip has helped me maintain balance as I tackle more difficult poses, despite being a rather wobbly human. I’m admittingly hard on my gear, but I have yet to be disappointed with its resilience, even with repeated outdoor use. For friends and family looking to purchase a new yoga mat, the Reversible is the one I find myself most recommending.