You've landed on the absolute best information for cheap gymnastics mats. Why listen to me? Well, I've been in and around the gymnastics world for the last 10 years. My daughter started gymnastics at age 5 and she's now 15 and a level 9 gymnast. All the information I share with you about gymnastics mats is from my own experience and knowledge of either personally purchasing the mats or working with the mats in the gym.
Let's not overcomplicate this subject because it really is quite simple. There are 2 main categories of gymnastics mats I talk about. Tumbling mats and Landing mats. There are other mats such as wedge mats, crash mats etc. But, chances are, you're looking for a mat for home use. Something that your son or daughter can practice tumbling passes or something that you can slide under a mini practice bar or low balance beam for moderate impact landings. Not to worry, I've got you covered.
Cheap Gymnastics Mats Comparsion
The market for tumbling mats, sometimes referred to as panel mats, has always been quite large. But, over the past 5 years the number of manufacturers producing these types of home use mats has grown exponentially. So, to save you hours of frustration I've done the research for you and organized it in some easy to ready charts and descriptions.
Gymnastics Tumbling Mats
Let's take a look at our first category, Tumbling mats. These types of mats have a number of similar characteristics across the board. They usually have either 3 or 4 panels that fold into one compact unit like the one pictured here.
These mats utilize a "high density" foam. This means they are rigid enough to support the impact of a back handspring or high knee tucks. At an average depth of 2", they are not made for landing or breaking high falls. Almost all manufacturers include velcro strips along the short edges of the mat so you can purchase multiple mats and link them together for a longer track. Almost all panel mats are between 6 and 8 feet with 8 being the most common. The most popular dimensions are 4'x8'x2". Prices usually range between $70-$140.
Gymnastics Landing Mats
Now let's take a look at our second category of mats, Landing. Like the tumbling mats, landing mats also have a number of similar characteristics. Landing mats start at a depth of 4" and up. Probably the most common home use landing mat is the 4" depth. If you can afford to move up to a 6" depth, we highy recommend it.
NOTE: Believe it or not, that extra 2" inches of cusion can make a world of difference when your son or daughter falls awkardly from the practice bar or mid height practice beam.
As far as the overall dimensions, they are similar to the tumbling mats with the exception of depth. But, because landing mats are comprised of more foam and more vinyl, they are more expensive than tumbling mats.
But, we have compiled a great buying guide for landing mats with some cheap prices for any budget. See below.
What type of vinyl covering is the best?
One common question most buyers have is about the outer shell of these mats. Industrial standard vinyl is usually the surface of choice by most manufacturers leaving little to question in this area. Know that whatever mat you purchase, it will come equipped with some type of high quality heavy duty vinyl which is tear and puncture resistant.
Landing mats are quite a bit heavier and many will require 2 people to move around. We have a 6" deep landing mat that can be pulled around the yard by an adult. But moving it inside or down to the basement requires 2 people at a minimum. Most high quality landing mats cannot be folded up so you should plan for adequate storage space before purchasing.
Most manufacturers these days make the mats free from Lead, pthalates and Formaldehyde which is a no brainer. Especially since humans beings will be rolling around on these mats and breathing in any off gassing from the foam.
What type of mat is best for you?
Well, it really depends on what you intend to use the mat for. If you truly are using it for gymnastics, consider 2" depth for tumbling etc. and 4-6" depth for landing when coming down off a practice bar. If you're using it for karate or Judo, usually a 4" mat is as thick as you want to go. If a mat is too squishy when stepped on, it's very hard to remain agile and move around. That's why squishly mats are meant for landing or crashing.