Choosing the best RV patio mat for your camper is an important decision which can also be stressful. With so many products on the market of varying quality, it can be difficult to determine what the best patio mat is. A poor quality mat may not even last the camping season, adding to our landfills and wasting your hard earned money and time. However, a really well-made quality mat could last you a decade or more of RVing.
When you are shopping for an outdoor mat, consider the following key features: durability, longevity, style, materials, thickness, and accessories.
Here are the top things to look for when purchasing a high-quality outdoor RV mat.
QUALITY, STURDINESS, AND DURABILITY OF YOUR RV PATIO MAT
Its no secret, just about anything you want can be purchased for absurdly low prices from either a big-box store or online. However, buyer beware: insanely low prices generally go hand-in-hand with poor durability, questionable manufacturing processes, and environmental impact.
If you are in the market for a quality RV camping mat that is built for seasons of use (not just one camping trip), you’ll need to look for a plastic mat with HEAVY-WEIGHT WEAVE.
The main indication of a quality plastic outdoor mat is the weight of its weave and thickness of the mat.
RV Patio Mats are manufactured by weaving long straws of polypropylene. Companies who don’t tell you the weight of their weave (or the thickness of their mat) are generally using the cheapest, lightest weight weave possible. The result is a mat that is thin and will snag, tear, or rip easily. (Don’t even THINK of getting something like this if you have a dog with you – their nails will rip it apart).
Look for plastic outdoor mats woven with a weight of at least 400 grams and a thickness of .4 cm. The higher the weight, the thicker the mat. For mats that you intend to use without shoes – look for 450 grams (.5 cm) and higher — they are soft, padded and feel luxurious on bare feet.
RV MATS THAT ARE LIGHTWEIGHT, PORTABLE, AND FOLDABLE
Besides weave weight for your outdoor plastic mat, you should look for mats that are foldable and portable. Folded mats are easy to pack and store making them superior to rolled mats for your camping gear.
Look for camping mats that come with a sturdy carry bag as well. Besides being handy for – carrying the mat – the bags really help contain dirt and mud. When you are packing up your campsite at the end of your trip, you don’t need to worry about all the dirt getting all over your vehicle. Fold your plastic mat up, tuck it away in its carry bag, and deal with the mess later.
Before investing in your RV mat – check out the carry bag – make sure its heavy-duty, has strong zippers and straps, and isn’t going to fall apart. If possible, look for reviews that mention the carry bag – they may help you determine if the bag is a cheap one-use type accessory or if it will last as long as your mat.
OUTDOOR RV MATS WITH UV PROTECTION
Even if you don’t intend to have your mat in full sun, over time the UV rays in the atmosphere can cause fading. Premium outdoor RV mats are always manufactured from polypropylene plastic that is coated with a UV protectant. While this won’t completely stop the mat from fading over time, it will vastly prolong the vibrant colors and designs.
PATIO MATS THAT ARE MOLD & MILDEW RESISTANT AND EASY-TO-CLEAN
One of the really incredible aspects of polypropylene is that it is naturally mold and mildew resistant. Anyone who camps knows that keeping camping gear from dreaded rot is essential! In addition, polypropylene outdoor mats can be easily cleaned without harsh chemicals. Simple hose off dirt and allow to air dry. Choose a plastic outdoor mat woven from polypropylene and you will worry less about damage from damp conditions. The ‘clean-ability’ of outdoor plastic mats is the one of the huge advantages they provide over using ‘fake turf’ or fabric carpets outside your RV.
IMPORTANT FEATURES FOR RV MATS – EDGING AND GROMMET HOLES
Look for camping mats with 4-sided edging from thick fabric. End-edging should be sewn with thick thread and should be straight and professional looking. You shouldn’t be able to see the edge of the mat plastic weave.
As with everything else, there are a million ways to save a buck in manufacturing, and they all result in products that fall apart too quickly. Know what you are looking for so that you don’t waste money on something that is inferior.
When deciding on the best plastic RV mat to add to your gear, look for stake loops or grommet holes. Windy conditions can cause camping mats to go flying to the next campsite! For safety and comfort, its best to tack them down with stakes.
Finally, look for outdoor mats with quality weave. Cheaper, less-durable mats will have threads that are coming up, the weave of the mat will be uneven and pulling up, and you can even get scratched from the sides of the mat where the plastic weave is cut irregularly. Carefully inspect new mats for these flaws as they are indications of a cheaply made product.
STYLISH DESIGNS AND COLORS FOR OUTDOOR RV MATS
Unbelievably, for the vast majority of plastic outdoor mats on the market – they are really unattractive. A quick online search pulls up a variety of mats in muted colors with unappealing designs. No reason to purchase an ugly camping mat. Just keep looking until you find something that will add style and panache to your campsite!
ECO-FRIENDLY RECYCLED PLASTIC MATS
Finally, and something that is very important, is choosing an outdoor plastic mat that is woven from recycled polypropylene. Companies that choose to manufacture using recycled plastic waste are choosing to invest in our environment.
Quality-wise, there is virtually no distinguishable difference between mats manufactured from recycled polypropylene and those from new plastic, but the environmental impact is enormous.
In 2018, in the United States, only 9-11% of plastics thrown away were recycled – everything else ended up in landfills, in our oceans, and as litter. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, having an option to purchase gear from recycled sources not only encourages more companies to use recycled materials, it makes a personal statement for the environment.
If you do a bit of research and purchase a quality RV camping mat, you should enjoy it for years! These plastic outdoor rugs will improve the comfort and functionality of your campsite and you’ll be the envy of the campground!
Jennifer Hillberg is the Founder and Creator of Mountain Mat, LLC, the USA’s first 100% recycled plastic, reversible, outdoor recreation mat. As an avid outdoor recreationalist, Jennifer has hiked and camped in some of the world’s most remote places alongside her husband and three children. Learn more about The Mountain Mat Story.