PrAna Nomad Yoga Travel Mat Review
Who knew choosing a yoga mat to take on travels overseas would be so tricky! For starters, it had to be light enough to cart around the world, eco-friendly so it didn’t smell of guilt-inducing nasty chemicals, and economical enough to not break the bank. From my experience using other mats, I knew my downward dog could be considerably compromised if I got a cheap, thin, grip-less slice of rubber like many other yoga travel mats on the market. Plus, I wanted it to feel like a regular mat as much as possible, so it couldn’t be ultra-skinny. I wanted to be able to shove the mat into our suitcase without it taking up too much of the precious limited space needed for the other necessities you take on a long-term trip. Not fussy at all! Obviously my checklist was quite stringent, I could be practicing on a variety of unknown surfaces. Would I do most of my practice on hardwood floor, concrete, grass, sand or plush carpet? With all this in mind, I began trolling countless yoga mat suppliers online for the best yoga mat for travel.
What I ended up with matched my fussy checklist as much as yogically possible: The Prana Nomad Travel Mat, at a very purse-friendly price of around $26. The deal-clincher with this mat is that it’s dual-sided. Although some sites suggest ‘Black side up for practice’, I found alternating sides a huge benefit, depending on the surface (the softer, grey side down for harder surfaces like wood flooring, and the more grippy, black side down for extra hold on softer surfaces). It took a while to choose which side worked best on different flooring and with different styles of yoga, but predominantly I found the grey side up more comfortable on the hands. As well as being anti-slip, and made from stuff that biodegrades in landfill, it was the lightest travel mat I found on the market, coming in at 2.35lbs (1.06kg). The length of the mat was also fantastic – most travel yoga mats tend to compromise on size to minimise the weight, but the Nomad accomplishes both feats. It’s also foldable and rollable, just like us yogis!
This mat has been through it all, and come out the other side still decent and usable. After 4 months of regular indoor practice I used this mat for my entire yoga teacher training intensive (every day for five weeks) on a hardwood floor and grass. Once we started our cycling trip from Canada to the USA, my Nomad Travel yoga mat transformed into a mattress for our daughter (great as it was foldable), a beach mat, camp-side table cloth, Barbie doll holder and picnic rug. It got rained on in Washington, trawled through rivers in Yosemite, suffered the summer sun of California and of course, was my humble partner in the 100 Days of Headstands series. Most recently on a country trek for a 100 DoH shot, my mat even provided us with a safety cushion from barbed wire fencing. Thankfully, the Nomad washes up very easy in just plain water, ready for the next adventure.
The down-side to this mat is that over time (and obvious heavy wear and tear), the grey side of the mat slowly became less grippy. And even before I thrashed the mat on our cycling adventure, by the end of yoga teacher training I found I was using the mat black-side-up to get a bit more grip in my hands for certain poses. In downward dog the mat seemed to stretch and not provide me with ideal resistance that regular mats provide. I also found myself a little jealous of fellow trainee’s thick and grippy mats, but when you consider that the Nomad is purely designed for the travelling yogi, it serves its purpose and holds up its end of the bargain. It’s also fair to say that I used my mat quite heavily for daily use, rather than ad hoc practice as it may be intended.
So…the big question: Would I buy this mat again? Hell, yes. For this mat to hold up significantly under less than conventional use and high stress is a big ask. And while I might choose a different mat for my home practice, the Prana Nomad Travel Mat ticks all the boxes for those big (and little) trips away.
The PrAna Nomad Yoga Travel Mat is available to order via Amazon (And yes, I will receive a small percentage of your purchase. Thank you.)