Outdoor Activities
The Best Yoga Gear of 2024
The Best Yoga Gear of 2024
Jul 24, 2024 1:52 AM

  You never know if your yoga practice will find you sweating during cat-cow or freezing from wintry drafts or overzealous AC blasts. But that unpredictability shouldn’t apply to your yoga gear. The best new tops, bottoms, mats, and accessories will help make sure your focus remains on your practice, not the distractions.

  The Winners at a Glance Girlfriend Collective Float Ultralight Leggings and Lola V-Neck Bra Janji Women’s Run All Day Tank Patagonia Men’s Multi Trails Shorts 8” Paka Men’s Tee Quince Men’s Flowknit Breeze Performance Tee Outdoor Research Essential Fleece Hoodie Manduka PRO Yoga Mat 6mm Jade Voyager Mat Hitch Bottle Cup Kit Avocado Green Organic Pranayama Yoga Pillow Girlfriend Collective Float Ultralight Leggings and Lola V-Neck Bra ($78 and $42)

  Sizing: W’s 2XS–6XL

  Pros: Ultralight and sweat-wicking without compromising support

  Cons: The leggings lack side pockets

  Some test days were so hot, we thought about going commando for our home practice—that is, until we slipped into Girlfriend’s Float fabric. The blend of 10 percent spandex and 90 percent RPET (polyester from recycled plastic bottles) is easily the lightest and coolest-feeling fabric we tested this season, yet we didn’t have an issue with it going translucent on the butt during Down Dog. It has a slight buttery feel (read: may collect a bit of pet fur), yet still provided a gentle compressive hug.

  Girlfriend has an entire collection dedicated to Float, but our picks are the Ultralight leggings and Lola V-Neck bra. When temperatures soared, we appreciated how the leggings kept sweat under control and allowed our legs to glide on the mat during Pigeon and seated poses. And the classic sports-bra cut of the Lola provided medium-impact support without cutting or squeezing, with a decently high neck that’s well suited to inversions.

  As always, we’re big fans of Girlfriend for its commitment to inclusive sizing as well as its recycling program—return your worn-out Girlfriend pieces and receive a $10 credit per item.

  Janji Women’s Run All Day Tank ($54)

  Sizing: W’s XS–2XL

  Pros: Delightfully quick-drying and doesn’t fall over the head

  Cons: Colors are limited

  We were surprised that this year’s favorite women’s top came from a running company, but maybe we shouldn’t have been. Its ultralight polyester fabric is designed to stay comfortable in high heat and humidity, and its loose fit and flat seams are features we appreciate on the mat as well as the trail. The gently scooped cut of the arm holes, meant to prevent chafing during speed work, allowed exceptional freedom of movement during sequences that sent our arms joyfully skyward before cartwheeling to the earth. It’s rare to find a drapey top that covers the butt and manages to stay put during Down Dog, but this one did, much to the delight of our head yoga tester, Aleta, who explains, “I love to do yoga in the park after my run, and this tank lets me do both without sacrificing comfort or falling over my head.” Bonus for sun saluters: the fabric is UPF 25.

  Patagonia Men’s Multi Trails Shorts 8” ($79)

  Sizing: M’s XS–3XL

  Pros: Comfy and packable

  Cons: Some may not be a fan of the boxer-brief liner

  Patagonia designed these shorts for versatility on the trail, and we found them to be well suited to a range of yoga styles from hatha to vinyasa, as well as therapeutic stretching and Tai Chi. Most of the credit goes to the eight-inch inseam and gently tapered cut of the legs, which allowed freedom during lunges while maintaining coverage. But the thin elastic drawstring waistband is a plus, too, and didn’t dig in during twists and forward folds. The fabric is 90 percent recycled polyester with 10 percent spandex that contributes four-way stretch, finished with a PFC-free DWR finish that will come in handy if your studio class gets out during a summer storm. Yogi travelers and commuters will appreciate that these compress down into the back pocket for tidy packing.

  One point of potential contention: the Multi Trail features a boxer-brief liner. “I’m not a fan of lined shorts,” our Portland-based tester Joseph said, although he conceded “this liner is comfortable and fits well. I won’t cut it out.” Another potential quibble is that the back pocket features a small snap, which may bug the butt during Boat Pose and Savasana if you’re using an ultrathin mat. Still, we found the light weight, breathability, and mobility to be worth the couple of minor dings.

  Paka Men’s Tee ($55)

  Sizing: M’s XS–2XL

  Pros: Less itchy than merino.

  Cons: Too warm for triple-digit temps.

  We love merino fabrics for their moisture management and odor resistance, but even the softest blends can feel a bit itchy as they glide with the body during vinyasa. Paka’s fabric, which uses 15 percent royal alpaca fiber with 85 percent Pima cotton, is a revelation. It’s softer than our usual merino favorites yet feels every bit as durable, and is delightfully airy and lightweight. On the mat, our elder tester with stiff shoulders appreciated the generous cut of the arms, which allowed for excellent ease of motion. “Plus the extra length doesn’t ride up,” he said. Another huge plus: it’s machine washable and suffered no ill effects from being laundered with the rest of our athletic wear.

  Quince Men’s Flowknit Breeze Performance Tee ($20)

  Sizing: S–XL

  Pros: Comfortable and affordable

  Cons: The length runs a bit long for some

  For a workhorse of a T-shirt, look no further than this everyday activewear basic from sustainability-minded direct-to-consumer brand Quince. “I love that it’s made of 78 percent recycled polyester—less crap in the landfill,” commented one tester. He also raved about its ability to go from morning coffee to the mat to running or hiking and back to the mat for a cool-down session while staying dry and looking put together. Especially nice: The price point.

  Outdoor Research Essential Fleece Hoodie ($125)

  Sizing: M’s S–XXL; W’s XS–XXL

  Pros: Cozy warmth with light weight

  Cons: Expensive for a sweatshirt

  On brisk mornings and for trips to AC-blasting studios, every tester fell in love with this hoodie’s deliciously lightweight fleece. “It’s half as thick and heavy as my winter warm-up sweatshirt,” our trail-runner tester Eric said. “So it actually moved really nicely during hip circles, arm raises, and Cat-Cows.” Another tester, Joseph, loved it so much it became a regular part of his practice. “One day I planned to only wear the hoody for warm-up and cool-down. But it was so comfortable I left it on for the whole session,” he reported. It comes in a crewneck version, but our elder tester made a compelling case that the hood made him feel more grounded during breathwork and supremely relaxed during Savasana.

  Manduka PRO Yoga Mat 6mm ($138 Standard; $160 Long)

  Sizing: standard and long

  Pros: Densely cushioned and durable

  Cons: Slippery before break-in

  Many yoga teachers swear by this mat. The reasons why tend to have something to do with the 6-mm thickness that’s sturdy but not overly cushy, making it, as one yoga therapist tester noted, “favorable to all body types, with consideration to those with injuries.” The no-slip design on the back keeps the mat from sliding during all manner of movement, whether you’re handstanding or transitioning from one side of the mat to the other. The same cannot be said about the initially slippery top surface, which takes considerable time and wear to become grippy. The company likens this process to breaking in a pair of jeans, which is entirely accurate, according to those who’ve practiced on it for years. The closed-cell construction makes the mat a cinch to wipe down. At seven and a half pounds (nine and a half for the long version), it’s best reserved for car commuters or home practicers rather than anyone walking several city blocks to class.

  Jade Voyager Mat ($47)

  Sizing: one size, 68-inch length

  Pros: Lightweight design is rollable and foldable.

  Cons: Zero cushioning.

  “Minimal and unobtrusive” is how one tester described the Voyager design, which aptly describes everything about the travel mat. Weighing in at only one and a half pounds, it’s literally “the thickness of a flour tortilla,” as someone predisposed to tacos noted. As such, it easily folds to the size of a yoga block or rolls tightly enough to strap to a backpack or slide into a water bottle holder. Only one tester experienced slight wrinkling during a vinyasa practice; everyone else transitioned every which way with ease. As its name implies, the Voyager is not intended for everyday use but rather an impromptu vinyasa practice in a hotel room, airport gate, or camping trip, when size and weight take priority over padding. Those who need cushioning for sore knees might think twice. The natural rubber, tapped from rubber trees, initially emits a noticeable aroma, although that’s easily forgotten considering the company, Jade, plants a tree for each mat sold.

  Hitch Bottle and Cup ($68)

  Pros: Easy to carry and clean.

  Cons: It’s heavy.

  Hydration is the foundation, which is why our home practice involves both water and tea or coffee. Now Hitch has found a brilliant way for us to schlep both to the studio. An outer shell houses an 18-ounce vacuum-insulated water bottle with a 12-ounce cup nested at the bottom and a silicone sleeve in between to prevent scratching the powder-coated paint on the exterior. The bottle cap secures the flip-top cup lid with a magnet, and the cup attaches on top of it with an easy twist lock, so you can carry both beverages in one hand with utter ease—even if your hands are on the small side. Disassembly for cleaning is a breeze: The bottle pops free from the shell with a firm push, and all the components are dishwasher safe. The major downside is the heft: empty, the entire system weighs 1.8 pounds. But given that we no longer have to choose which beverage will accompany us to class, we’ll take it.

  Avocado Green Organic Pranayama Yoga Pillow ($89)

  Pros: Compact and conforming.

  Cons: Too small and thin for some.

  We’re big fans of Avocado’s meditation pillow, so we were delighted to see the collection recently expand to bolsters. The long and narrow Pranayama supported long-hold chest openers, as the buckwheat-hull filling conformed to the spine. During savasana, it adds just the right amount of support under the ankles for a demi version of legs up the wall. “It doesn’t take up a lot of space the way a full-size bolster does,” noted a tester who lives in a small cabin. After a week of sweaty testing, the woven organic cotton cover went through the wash with ease and came out looking brand new.

  How to Buy Yoga Gear When buying yoga gear, first, consider the type of yoga you practice, and what the priorities are for your favorites. Aim for moisture management if you do toasty studios, excellent range of motion if you’re grooving a vinyasa, and snuggly fabrics if you’re relaxing with yin. Don’t be afraid of the dressing room or a try-before-you-rip-off-tags: a bra or tee that stays put on one person might cut in or fall down on another, and leggings that provide gentle support on one might roll or slide on another. Most of all, your apparel should make you feel good—we give you permission to go for the colors and prints that spark joy.

  How We Tested Yoga Gear Number of testers: 19

  Number of items tested: 44

  Number of hours on the mat testing: 145

  Number of Sun Salutations: 280

  Number of times we fell asleep during Savasana: 5

  Our team of five yogis—from occasional post-run participants to daily practitioners—spent two months putting leggings, bras, tees, and shorts through more than 250 Sun Salutations. By the time we narrowed it down to our favorites, we had swan-dived, twisted, and Triangled for nearly 150 hours. 14 more testers wore out two dozen mats to find the top performers.

  Meet Our Yoga Gear Testers Aleta Burchyski is a longtime yogi and former Outside magazine editor living in Santa Fe. In the past year, her practice included daily postpartum recovery flow, speedy vinyasas at the park while her baby and toddler played, and lots of before-bed Legs up the Wall for stress management.

  Joseph Burchyski, who lives in Portland, Oregon, was coerced into trying his first yoga class two decades ago when his daughter, Aleta, signed him up for a Bikram class. Although that class wasn’t quite to his taste, he started exploring and is now an avid yin practitioner, which helps him stay limber in his eighth decade of life.

  Eric Ward uses his avid trail running habit to manage stress, and turns to the yoga mat to stay limber and prevent injury. Though his practice is generally centered around a simple recovery flow, he also loves to invite his toddler onto the mat for early-morning Sun Salutations. His goal is to someday touch his toes.

  Svati Narula, an Outside contributing editor, is based in Santa Fe. She’s been a dedicated Yoga with Adrienne participant for half a decade, and has found it’s a great pairing with summer marathon training. She “loves” when her dogs, Cabot and Colby, join her on the mat.

  Caty Enders is a writer and Ph.D. candidate who splits her time between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. When she’s not practicing yoga at an outdoor class, she’s in the studio for ecstatic dance and barre, or in the backcountry enjoying angling and hunting.

  Yoga mats were tested and reviewed by our friends at Yoga Journal.

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