Yoga Mat Straps, Slings, and Handles

I've had a thing for well-designed, aesthetically pleasing yoga mat bags for a while, but recently I had a revelation: I don't need a bag for my yoga mat. I'm not a city commuter, trying to carry all my worldly goods for the day in a compact way. I usually throw my mat in my car or sling it over my shoulder for a quick ride to class. All I really need is a basic strap to keep it rolled up along the way. So I set out to find the best options for simple yoga mat straps, slings, and handles and along the way discovered something great: These low-fi yoga mat carriers are a lot cheaper than big yoga bags. So if you're in the market for something minimal and budget-friendly, here's a look. 

What's the Diff?

For our purposes, a strap is defined as the simplest version of a yoga mat carrier, usually just a couple of loops to hold the mat connected by a strap that you can throw over your shoulder or across your chest to carry the mat vertically. In general, the heavier your mat the more substantial you’ll want the strap to be to give you the greatest comfort. There are a few variations on this theme, notably straps with velcro closure and those that rely on tension. A sling is going to give you a little built-in room to carry your basics like wallet, phone, and keys. And mat handles allow you to carry your mat like a briefcase.

1
Prana Tote Mat Holder

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Prana Tote Mat Holder. Photo Courtesy of Prana

Type: Strap
Closure: Velcro

This is the creme de la creme of the mat straps I tried. The nice wide padded strap makes carrying even the heaviest mats (Manduka PRO, for instance) comfortable. The velcro closure keep the mat in place, though yoga class latecomers should know that it makes a fair amount of noise when you open it. (Could this be the incentive you need to come on time?) And it comes in some eye-catching colored patterns as well as basic black. 

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2
Prana Piggyback Mat Strap

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Prana Piggyback Mat Strap. Photo Courtesy of Prana

Type: Strap
Closure: Tension

A smart, economical design means that this tension strap holds your mat very securely. The attention to detail and materials makes this simple strap work just that little bit better than others that rely on tension.

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3
Manduka The Commuter

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Manduka The Commuter. Photo Courtesy of Manduka

Type: Strap
Closure: Tension

A handsome and functional buckle holds your mat in this tension strap and distinguishes it from the pack. The design makes it easy to get the sturdy strap on and off and keeps the mat from sliding around while you are carrying it. 

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4
Hugger Mugger Simple Sling

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Hugger Mugger Simple Sling. Photo Courtesy of Hugger Mugger

Type: Strap
Closure: Velcro

This very aptly named Simple Strap works great on lighter mats (less than five pounds, say). The strapping is a little thin to handle heavier mats. Plus the price is very right.

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5
Lululemon Loop It Up Mat Strap

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Lululemon Loop It Up Mat Strap. Photo Courtesy of Lululemon

Type: Strap
Closure: Tension

The webbing material used to make this strap quite slick, giving it a tendency to slip when you're not holding it. It works a little better on thicker mats than on thin ones.

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6
Gaiam Easy Cinch Yoga Sling

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Gaiam Easy Cinch Yoga Sling. Photo Courtesy of Gaiam

Type: Strap
Closure: Tension

While definitely easy to cinch, it's also a bit too easy to un-cinch, meaning that it doesn't hold a mat that well. The strap also has a tendency to get twisted.

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7
Gaiam On-the-Go Mat Bag

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Gaiam On-the-Go Mat Bag. Photo Courtesy of Gaiam

Type: Sling
Closure: Velcro and Magnetic Snaps

The barest minimum of a yoga bag, comprised of a sling and a pocket, at a very nice price. There is an interior strap to keep your mat from sliding out. It’s an appealing design and looks sharp, but keep in mind that it will have you carrying your mat horizontally, which can be awkward.

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8
Manduka GO Play 2.0

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Manduka GO Play 2.0. Photo Courtesy of Manduka

Type: Sling
Closure: Quick Release Buckle

This very sporty design offers a good sized storage compartment, allowing you to add sunglasses or even a small hand towel to your load. This is the only carrier of this type I tried where you can adjust the length of the strap that goes over your shoulder. The buckles that hold the mat also adjust to accommodate mats of various sizes.

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9
Empower Clutch

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Empower Clutch and Mat. Photo Courtesy of Empower

Type: Handle
Closure: Velcro

This clutch is so eye-catching that I stopped a woman at my gym to ask her where she got it. It turns out that it is only sold with the Empower mat, which is a basic PVC mat. Because the design, in which one handle slips through the other and velcros down on the other side, is size specific, it is only work with pretty thin mats. If you need a basic mat, it's a cute option.

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10
Prana Mat Rap

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Prana Mat Wrap. Photo Courtesy of Prana

Type: Handle
Closure: Velcro

The Prana Mat Rap is admirable in its simplicity and works well for lighter-weight mats but begins to strain with mats above around five pounds. The velcro closure keeps mats wrapped up tight, making it a good option for wrangling your mat into your closet (I speak from experience!).

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