Best in Show 2005

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It seems that we, the editors at Yoga Journal, have been falling down on the job. Mat bags are everywhere these days, but a check around the office found that most of us don't even own one: Usually, we tuck our mats under our arms and lug them around naked and exposed to the elements. One editor uses giant rubber bands around his, and another has a ratty bag so small it ruins her post-class bliss buzz when she stuffs her mat into it.

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With that, the decision was made to toss the faulty gear and investigate better options. We didn't have to look far. Once we started hunting around for "the best yoga bag ever"—our incredibly stringent criterion—the project took on a life of its own. Suddenly our office was teeming with bags.

It hardly seems possible, but there's a bag that suits just about any personality type, design sense, or yoga style. There are cute ones that come in printed patterns, and sturdy ones that you can easily take from work to class. There are bags made from sustainable materials, bags for sweaty folks, and bags the next Hollywood It girl will be toting around as soon as she sees this issue. So recycle that dull or ratty bag you currently own and check out one of these. Now you can carry your mat with style and in good health.

Best All-Around

Timbuk2 Yoga Bag $100

For the yogi on the go, we couldn't find a better choice than this bag by Timbuk2. It's sturdy, compact, stylish, and fun. It comes with a detachable padded shoulder strap and an easy-access pouch for a water bottle. The mat buckles to the outside of the bag, leaving plenty of room inside. There's a large inner pouch plus four small pockets for essentials like your keys, wallet, and cell phone. One zipper pocket is perfect for file folders and papers.

Best for Lookin' Sassy

TKUU Obi Bag $65

Available in an array of Pucci-inspired patterns, the Obi Bag is the most sophisticated of the bunch. Sling it over your shoulder when you're feeling sassy, then belt out a few Ella Fitzgerald standards. Even though it feels like silk, the bag is 100 percent polyester, so it's machine washable.

Best for a Bikram Class

TKUU Sweaty Stuff Bag $85

With two towels (mat and facecloth size), a detachable laundry pouch for sweaty clothes, and a bungee cord on the outside to hang towels after class, this bag will satisfy even the sweatiest practitioner. It also has three zipper pouches and is 100 percent cotton and machine washable. Available in orange, gray, green, or blue.

Best for Travel

Omma Yoga Bag $84 Sturdy and structured, this bag by Omma is easy to take anywhere. You can throw it into the overhead bin on an airplane without worrying, and it has not one but two large zippered compartments—one for your mat and one big enough to carry blocks, straps, a change of clothes, a towel, and water. Plus it has an accessory compartment for your keys and wallet. Comes in light blue, black, and camouflage.

Best for the eco-Conscious

Hemp Basket Yoga Mat Holder, Prana $35

Sweet, simple, and eco-friendly, the newest bag by Prana is made from hemp and recycled silk.

Best Prints and Patterns

Slainte Yoga Bag $60

Manufactured in San Francisco and designed by cor- porate dropout Jill Bornemann, who now lives in the sleepy beach town of Bolinas, California, Slainte bags come in funky stripes, floral patterns, even vintage look-alike fabrics. They're perfect for the yogini who likes every accessory to suit her personality.