The Best Standing Desk Mat
Form, function, and the right materials
Our goal was to find the standing desk mats that actually reduced the most fatigue. We talked to multiple ergonomists and spent weeks researching foams and plastics to figure out which ones performed well on paper. Then we tried out the top contenders ourselves to find the best.
This simple, but stylish 24” x 36” mat provided the most relief to our team of in-office testers, stayed put when we wanted it to, and was easy to move out of the way when not in use. ($120)
Industrial-looking, but ostensibly built to last, this 24” x 36” mat aced our durability test and came in second only to the Dual Gripper Standing Mat when it came to comfort. ($130)
We all know that sitting in an office chair for eight hours a day isn’t good for you. Standing motionless at your desk for the same period of time isn’t the best alternative either, though — at least without using an anti-fatigue standing desk mat. That can lead to its own troublesome health problems, like spinal compression, as well as acute and sometimes even chronic joint and muscle pain. Even then, all the ergonomists we talked to agreed: you should really switch between standing and sitting every hour or less, if you can — even if you’re using a high-quality standing desk mat.
The iMovR EcoLast Dual Gripper Standing Mat is our top pick. It’s made of 100 percent polyurethane, which is rare in a mostly memory foam-based industry, but is proven to actually decrease spinal compression by as much as 40 percent when used in anti-fatigue mats. It also scored the highest marks in our hands-on test for comfort and all-around convenience, and was the second most durable mat in our test, just behind the WellnessMats Maxum Mat.
Our most durable top pick, the WellnessMats Maxum Mat, is also made of 100 percent polyurethane and provides the same amount of anti-fatigue support as the Dual Gripper in theory — our testers just didn’t think it was quite as comfortable or stylish in practice. Still, it outperformed every other mat we tried, and was, by far, the most durable mat we tested; complete with burly-looking top tread.
How We Found the Best Anti-Fatigue Standing Desk Mat
We started with a list of 104 standing desk mats — every one we could find for sale online or through major retailers like OfficeMax and Office Depot. That number was higher than we expected; especially when you consider that standing desk mats all look pretty much the same. We started calling up ergonomists and polymer chemists to get the skinny on what, if anything, made one standing desk mat different from another, and then tried the nine most promising contenders ourselves.
These were the nine polyurethane anti-fatigue standing desk mats we tested.
Our top contenders are all made of 100 percent polyurethane.
If a standing desk mat doesn’t actually reduce your fatigue while standing, it’s worthless. A 2015 research study from Texas A&M University found that anti-fatigue standing desk mats made from solid-form polyurethane helped to decrease spinal compression by as much as 40 percent. Mats made from other materials, like high-density memory foam were much less effective — only decreasing spinal compression by 10 to 12 percent.
If that wasn’t enough to sell us on the benefits of solid-form polyurethane construction, Kamron Kunce, Director of community relations at UpDesk, also pointed out that polyurethane is inherently anti-microbial. That means it won’t start growing fungus or bacteria, even if you don’t clean it regularly.
If any manufacturers weren’t transparent about the materials they used in their products, they got the ax too.
They’re all at least 0.75 inch thick.
As John Failing of Uncaged Ergonomics told us, “Industry best practices suggest a thickness of 0.75 to 1 inch is ideal to provide effective cushioning. Even completely flat mats that are over an inch thick can create a tripping hazard, and mats that are a half-inch-thick or less don’t feel much better than standing on concrete.”
All things being equal, a thicker mat will inevitably take longer to wear out than a thin mat. Double bonus.
We were flexible about size at the outset.
What’s the perfect size? We think it’s 24” x 36.” Anything smaller was too narrow for our 5’11” tester and our 5’3” tester. Anything larger was overkill.
As far as the shape of a standing desk mat is concerned, there’s really only one choice: a rectangle — or at least some semblance of one. (A few models we looked at had one slightly rounded side.) But rectangles come in many different dimensions and we weren’t willing to rule out any particular sizes at this stage since all of our experts agreed that size is really a matter of personal preference. We weren’t able to find our preference — and what we think would be the best option for most people — until we actually tried a few different options out in person.
We also took ADA guidelines into consideration.
As the Eagle Mat flooring company’s website so succinctly put it, “The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a framework that ensures accessibility and equity in the workplace for all, including employees, prospective employees, and patrons.” The ADA sets what is, essentially, the bare minimum safety standards for any significant piece of office furniture. Anti-fatigue standing desk mats aren’t itemized, but ADA-compliance for any “floor covering” requires a 20-degree beveled edge to prevent tripping hazards.
The 20-degree beveled edge on the iMovR EcoLast Premium Standing Mat
While a few non-ADA-compliant standing desk mats, like the Topo by Ergodriven (which sticks up several inches on all sides), have recently received rave reviews from other sites, they’re not actually a good option for most office environments — particularly open office layouts, like ours. They can actually be a liability issue for employers because they’re so easy to trip on.
Remarkably, this left us with only nine mats to test.
Turns out, there are a lot of substandard standing desk mats out there. Our nine contenders hail from just five companies.
GeekDesk Standing Mat
iMovR EcoLast Dual Gripper Standing Mat
iMovR EcoLast Premium Hybrid Standing/Chair Mat
iMovR EcoLast Premium Portable Standing Mat
iMovR EcoLast Premium Standing Mat
Rohego Anti-Fatigue and Standing Desk Mat
Smart Step Supreme Mat
WellnessMats Maxum Mat
WellnessMats Original WellnessMat
Then, we stood around a lot.
All of the experts and research studies we consulted agreed: In an ideal world, no one would spend more than 45 minutes to an hour being completely sedentary during the day, either sitting or standing. So we didn’t stand on our test mats for eight hours at a time. Instead, we stood on them in one-hour and three-hour increments — because, let’s face it, few of us are actually going to remember to switch from sitting to standing, and vice versa, every hour on the hour.
There is naturally some subjectivity involved in such a test, but we took detailed notes on our muscle fatigue, foot pain, and overall comfort when doing exactly what these mats were made for: standing on them while working at our computers.
We tried the mats on a variety of surfaces.
We tested each mat on different surfaces, including carpeting, wood flooring, poured concrete, and even tile to determine how easy each was to move in and out of position — and which stayed in place while we stood. The best mats were lightweight enough to pick up and move out of the way as needed and nearly impossible to move accidentally with our feet.
Mats without grips on the bottom consistently moved when we didn’t want them to. Here, the iMovR EcoLast Premium Standing Mat drifted several inches over the course of just a few hours.
Then we tried to destroy each mat a little.
We rolled our chairs over the mats, and we “accidentally” poured coffee on them — repeatedly — to see which ones took the abuse the best and were the simplest to clean.
Our Picks for the Best Anti-Fatigue Standing Desk Mat
Despite its simple appearance, the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper was by far the most comfortable and stable mat we tested — and just the right size. At 24 by 36 inches, it allows for a comfortable stance for most people, regardless of height. Anything smaller, like the iMovr Ecolast Premium Portable Standing Mat, which clocks in at 18 by 22 inches, was too narrow for our 5’11” tester and our 5’3” tester. Anything larger, such as the iMovr Ecolast Hybrid Standing/Chair Mat (which is nearly 5 feet wide) is too large to easily move out of the way when not in use, and is unsightly as well.
Even after spending multiple hours standing on the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper, all of our testers felt little to no discomfort. “I feel like I could easily stand on this thing for a long time,” one tester noted. “I felt absolutely no discomfort, even after an hour of standing in thin-soled business shoes,” said another.
The Dual Gripper never moved unless we wanted it to (by bending down and picking it up). This couldn’t be said for the other mats in the iMovr Ecolast series. Only two mats — the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper and the WellnessMats Maxum Mat — stayed put. All the others experienced significant drift of about a half inch every hour on both hardwood and carpeted flooring. The Dual Gripper and Maxum mats stayed in place, however, because they both have small rubber treads on their bases and handy Velcro patches to grip carpeting.
The iMovR EcoLast Dual Gripper Standing Mat comes with both rubber grips that keep it in place on hard flooring, as well as Velcro patches that keep it from sliding on carpet.
In fact, it was a close tie between the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper and the WellnessMats Maxum Mat, but the Maxum wasn’t quite as comfortable and it was harder to clean.
With a list price of $120, the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper is at the higher end of the standing desk mat price range, as is our runner-up, the $130 Maxum Mat. We wanted to love the more affordable mats we tested, like the $40 Rohego mat, but they felt too cheap. Our testers said that all of the less expensive mats were too “squishy” to provide adequate support. If you want a large, well-built, high-grade sheet of polyurethane that’s actually going to reduce your fatigue while standing at your desk, it’s going to cost you more than $100. For the higher price, our two top picks come with 10- and 20-year warranties, respectively. You can actually expect them to work and last that long.
The WellnessMats Maxum Mat is ostensibly designed with the garage and workshop in mind. It has the same convenient 24-by-36-inch dimensions of our top pick, similar anti-slip grips (that actually work), and it held up the best in our rounds of durability testing. Its gridded top surface helps improve traction, but makes it harder to clean and is pretty much overkill for most office environments. As one tester noted after standing on it for three hours, “These mats are obviously designed for folks who are on their feet for long periods of time.”
The WellnessMats Maxum Mat comes with a treaded surface for better traction, but our testers found this also made it slightly harder to clean.
After repeatedly rolling a desk chair over the mat, catching it under a door, and dropping staplers and various office supplies on it, the Maxum Mat had no visible damage. Most of our other test subjects (all but the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper) were shredded by that point.
The Maxum was still comfortable to stand on over the course of several hours, too — just not quite as comfortable as the iMovr Dual Gripper, we thought. Many of our testers noted that they experienced no knee or foot pain when standing on it and that they enjoyed the texture of the grid surface underfoot, too.
At $130, it’s comparable to the iMovr Ecolast Dual Gripper mat in price. That is to say, it isn’t cheap — but it comes with a 20-year warranty to back it up, and it’s undoubtedly a rugged option that can take years of abuse while still looking fine in any office.
Did You Know?
Standing all day isn’t the answer.
Using a standing desk and an anti-fatigue standing desk mat are great ways to avoid long, sedentary hours in a chair, but they can also lead to their own problems. As Dr. Neal Wiggermann, an ergonomics specialist , told us, “Just as sitting all day appears not to be good for you, standing all day is also unhealthy. It can increase the risk of plantar fasciitis, hip or knee problems, varicose veins, and cause fatigue. I’d rather have an employee sit all day than stand. But being able to intermittently transition between the sitting and standing posture does appear to be ideal.” All of the experts we talked to agreed.
It’s best to do some sitting and some standing.
“Standing all day isn’t the answer,” Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell University told The Boston Globe. “That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins.”