It’s really easy to just sit. We spend more than half of our waking hours sitting, whether it’s at a computer for work, on the couch watching TV, or even driving. Since an increasing number of studies about ‘sitting disease’ are being published, there’s been a rise in popularity of standing desks–one of the main reasons aside from kitchen use that people buy a standing mat.
Over the course of several weeks we tested six of our top pick anti-fatigue mats to find the ones that provided the best support when standing and overall maintenance and usability. After extensive research and testing at a standing desk and in the kitchen we found the Imprint CumulusPRO Commercial Grade mat to be the best all-around anti-fatigue mat. This mat was the most durable, had the most premium-feeling surface, and was the only one marketed as a commercial grade product.
Top Pick: Imprint - CumulusPRO Commercial Grade
Great for the kitchen or standing desk, this mat has a premium unique feel and quality none of the other mats could match.
Table of contents
- Who needs an anti-fatigue mat?
- How we chose mats to test
- The six best anti-fatigue mats
- How we tested the standing mats
- The best anti-fatigue mat overall
- The best standing desk mat
- The other anti-fatigue mats
- The bottom line
Who needs an anti-fatigue mat?
Anyone who stands for prolonged periods of time in the same place can benefit from an anti-fatigue mat. Standing is tiring after long periods of time. And standing on bare floors puts a lot of pressure on your feet, legs, hips and back causing both muscle and joint fatigue. An anti-fatigue mat can help relive these issues, and those who are looking for further relief can check out a foot massager to end the work day with too. People stand the most in the kitchen or at standing desks, but also in laundry rooms, the garage, or in the bathroom.
In the kitchen, these mats help a lot at the sink or the stove. In addition to reducing pressure on your feet and body while standing, mats also catch water and soap that splash while doing dishes, improving your traction and reducing the chance of slips. Kitchen mats also catch oil and food splatters when used near the stove. People who have added wood floors to their kitchens will appreciate the extra safety as well as prolonging the life of floors in those areas.
At a standing desk, some people will stand there much of the work day. This can be taxing on the body and a mat can help reduce that stress. Folks use standing desks for many reasons, whether to burn calories, encourage movement or productivity, other health benefits, or just to not be sitting all day.
Both sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time is generally not recommended, so it’s suggested that we switch off or incorporate activity in between stretches of sitting and standing. Studies suggest that trying to balance out prolonged periods of inactivity with an hour of gym time doesn’t cancel out the day’s sedentary behavior, even though it does suppress it.
How we chose mats to test
We spent many hours reading through forums, review sites, and retailers to discover the most loved brands and types of anti-fatigue mats. Most people use these mats in the kitchen or at a standing desk, so we chose items based on that. Only one mat was specifically made exclusively for standing desks, while all the others we tested can be used in both the kitchen and at a desk.
There are dozens of brands that have mats available but only a handful of established companies. We narrowed much of our list by leaning on Amazon’s popular products that were rated 4 stars or higher and filtered out any product with excessive negative reviews.
Some review sites we found helped us discover new brands we may have missed, but many of them have not actually tested the mats and just publish stock images and review specs of the products.
The six best anti-fatigue mats
|1. CumulusPRO Commercial||$$$||24" x 36"||5/5||firm||4.5/5|
|2. Topo by Ergodriven||$$$$||26" x 29"||5/5||firm||3.5/5|
|3. Sky Solutions||$$||20" x 32"||4/5||medium||3.5/5|
|4. Royal||$||20" x 32"||4/5||medium||3.5/5|
|5. Gorilla Grip||$$||20" x 32"||4/5||medium||2.5/5|
|6. Imprint Cumulus9||$$||20" x 36"||3/5||medium-soft||5/5|
How we tested the finalists
Over the course of several weeks, we used these mats in a normal home setting and rotated where they were used. Three were in use at any given moment, with one at a standing desk (where we stand for half of the work day), one at the kitchen sink, and one in front of the stove.
The Topo mat was not used in the kitchen since its bumpy design is strictly made with standing desks in mind–you’d easily trip on this in the kitchen.
We considered doing a timed standing test on these mats but after a short while realized it made more sense to have this measured more informally or qualitatively. It didn’t really make sense to measure this quantitatively because many factors could throw off the data. These include fatigue based on the order it was tested, strength / tolerance built up over the weeks of testing, and accurately measuring severity and location of pain points from using each mat.
We tested them all with and without shoes on in case there was any noticeable difference. Wearing shoes added more cushion and masked the texture and cushion of all the mats we used. If you plan to use these standing mats in a setting with shoes, you can get away with using a lower end or lower priced product.
All of the anti-fatigue mats we tested were pretty durable and showed no signs of wear other than dust and dirt. We expect all of these models to last for many years before needing to be replaced.
As a second stage of durability testing, we sliced into each of these mats with a box cutting blade to see how it would withstand accidental drops of sharp objects. All mats were sliced through with some effort, and likely more force than would be exerted by dropping anything on the mats with normal use. The Sky Mat, Gorilla Grip, and Royal anti-fatigue mats were pretty durable and sit in the mid range of this test. On the low end the top coat of the Cumulus9 was easily pierced. The two anti-fatigue mats that fared best were the Topo standing desk mat and the CumulusPRO. The CumulusPRO required extra effort and dragging to cut into the material.
We measured the how slippery the mats were when soaked and how much they shifted on the floor over time. First we tested how slippery it was for the user to be standing on the dry mat, then sprayed a few mists of water, and lastly we sprayed enough for it to be completely soaked to see how much traction was lost. Lastly we tested how much the mats themselves shifted under our feet during use, making you reposition mats over time. Both tests were done barefoot since shoes add their own grip and affect the test in other ways.
Surprisingly the Cumulus9, with its slightly odd feeling mat, performed the best in the spray test. No matter how much water was on there it retained its noticeably much better than the other mats. When soaked, the CumulusPRO was ranked second best, also maintaining its unique grip feel and making us feel confident to use this in slippery situations. Tied for third place were the Sky, Royal, and Topo mats. It definitely was better than standing on a wet tile floor and helped with traction but you can still slip if not being careful. The worst performer in this test was the Gorilla Grip mat, providing the least traction when soaked. It’s still better than no mat, but if you splash a lot in the kitchen or are clumsy it maybe something to avoid.
We shifted our weight, twisted and turned our body, and purposely tried to move the mat.The Topo, Gorilla Grip, and Royal mats moved enough when we forced it, however the Topo didn’t shift around much during actual use despite it’s more slippery bottom. The Sky mat, CumulusPRO and Cumulus9 shifted the least during this test, which means you won’t have to reposition them as often.
Only some of these mats advertise that it’s easy to clean, but they all have a very similar material on the top coating so we wanted to test for ourselves.
Each mat was subjected to three food items to simulate real world stains: flour, oil, and honey. We chose flour to test a dry substance commonly used in the kitchen, and one we could test with a vacuum.
Next was oil. If you’re cooking in the kitchen or eating lunch at your standing desk, oil splatters or dropping oily food onto the mat is bound to happen.
Finally, we wanted to test honey. We thought this would simulate any sweet or sugary spills from drinking beverages, cooking, or stuff you can track inside with your shoes.
The difficulty of cleaning oil was fairly consistent across all the mats. We could vacuum flour from all the mats easily, and even wipe off the honey easily. Oil proved to be the difficult one to properly remove, requiring multiple cleanings no matter which mat it was.
The best anti-fatigue mat overall
At a quick glance, the CumulusPRO Commercial Grade mat looks deceivingly like the other mats, but the experience on this mat is on another level.
It’s also important to know that the manufacturer, Imprint, also has a non-commercial version of this mat called the “CumulusPRO Professional”, which we did not test. This anti-fatigue mat is the only one we tested that’s sold as a “commercial” product. And for what it’s worth, all products from the Imprint brand are tested and certified by the National Floor Safety Institute & a partner of the American Chiropractic Association. This particular product comes at an extra cost, but the differences were easily spotted during testing.
Imprint - CumulusPRO Commercial Grade
The highest quality feeling, and most refined looking mat we tested.
If you use this standing mat indoors and barefoot, you’ll immediately notice the difference in texture on this one. The CumulusPRO features a one-piece construction of polyurethane–with a texture similar that’s grippier, more like silicone or rubber than any of the other mats. The CumulusPRO Commercial mat simply feels more premium than any that we tested.
Like most (not all) of the other mats its edges are beveled to help reduce chances of users tripping over the mat when walking by. And it was one of the few mats that didn’t shift beneath our feet during testing–saving you the trouble of having to reposition every so often.
This mat is ¾” thick, the same as most other mats available on the market. But likely due to its commercial grade rating for more foot traffic, the material is firmer and less springy than other mats. Much like when choosing a bike seat meant for longer-term comfort, we actually preferred this denser option.
The 24” width on this standing mat may be a little wider than most on the market so may be something to consider if you’re using it in a very small kitchen or office. However it works and looks great in both settings in our testing. The CumulusPRO is very well made and in our opinion well worth the cost. Having four or five of these throughout the house would be great.
The best standing desk mat
Being a different style of mat altogether, and completely designed with the standing desk in mind, the Topo by Ergodriven was our top choice for standing desk mats.
The marketing on this product touts that the bumps, divots, and raised edges encourage movement. While we thought it sounded like a gimmick, we actually found it to be true during our testing. It works because putting your foot on any of these features becomes slightly uncomfortable from extra pressure over time. So we shifted, looking for a new, more comfortable stances.
The teardrop shape in the middle can act as sort of a nice massage ball, and the extra raised back is useful for calf stretches while you’re standing too.
Topo by Ergodriven
A high quality mat with a unique design other mats couldn't stand up to.
Since we’re not supposed to stand or sit without breaks for the entire day, we wouldn’t say the shifting is meant to replace regular breaks from your standing desk. However, the bumps really did make us shift around in cases we may have not consciously thought to. While wearing shoes, the terrain was a little less muted but it still made us shift around more than other mats did.
Designed to make it easy to slide, this 100% polyurethane mat is the only one we tested that has the same material on the bottom as it does the top. It makes it kind of slick, durable and waterproof. The other mats have more of a grippy bottom to help stay in place, but the Topo’s design was made so you can reposition or put away the mat with just one foot. This is a convenient feature, and despite the slick bottom this mat didn’t shift all that much while in use.
Let’s not skirt around the price of the Topo though. Yes it’s durable, and comes with a 7-year warranty, but it is priced much higher than most standing desk mats. Given its unique design and benefits you won’t get from other mats, it’s a bit difficult to directly compare. But if you spend even half your work day at a standing desk, the extra cost will quickly become worth it.
Other mats we tested
We liked the Imprint Cumulus9 the least, and surprisingly it was not the lowest price mat we tested. This mat measured a standard 20” width and was 36” long, an average sized mat overall.
The Cumulus9 was the the only mat that left actual imprints in the mat throughout use. The foam on this one is moderately firm during use but as you shift around, deep imprints of where your foot remained on the mat for 5-10 minutes until it returned to normal. Imprints would compound as we shifted around, making it look crater-like. Overall the Cumulus9 mat felt the cheapest, and had a top cover most easily cut in our durability test. We can’t overlook the fact that it performed the best when soaked with water though, so if you expect a lot of splashes in the kitchen and can withstand its downsides, this mat could be a good fit.
The Sky Solutions, Royal, and Gorilla Grip mat are very similar in many ways. They’re all ¾” thick, 20” wide, and two are 32” long except the Sky Solutions one we tested is 39” long. All of these mats come in a longer variety so this length did not factor into our review. They all have a slightly grippy foam bottom, and a top coating that feels a little slick and tougher to withstand wear. They all performed relatively well in durability and cleaning tests too.
All three of these mats also have a bevel around the edge to provide a transition from floor to raised surface. This helps prevent tripping and makes the mat feel a little more integrated into the environment. The Royal and Gorilla Grip actually shifted more underneath our feet in traction tests, so if you want one that stays put, this seems to be the only edge the Sky Solutions mat has over the others.
The bottom line
The Topo by Ergodriven has a unique design for standing desk mats that sets it above the rest and was our top choice for use at a standing desk. It easily stores away and sets up by using just one foot, since the bottom is made to be a bit slick, but doesn’t shift while you stand on it.
Based on our testing, the quality of the materials and build appeared to be great. This mat is very easy to wipe down and clean when you need to. The raised terrain is the stand-out factor here though, subconsciously reminding us to keep moving since staying still in any position is not good for our health.
If you’re looking for a mat for a standing desk or the kitchen, our other top pick was the CumulusPRO Commercial Grade mat. It had a unique, grippier feel none of the others had which you’ll really appreciate if standing without shoes. It also has a slightly denser foam core, which will probably handle more traffic and outlast others. We’d be happy to have this mat in many places throughout the home.
Having tested the CumulusPRO, we’d feel a bit lacking going with one of the runners up, but if you just want a cost-effective, no-frills solution, the Sky Solutions, Royal, and Gorilla Grip would perform just fine in the office or kitchen. There’s really not an issue with them given the price point, and it may be easier to outfit the entire house with a less costly solution such as these.