The Best Standing Desk Mat (One of These Things is Not Like the Others)

the best standing desk mat anti-fatigue calculated terrain topo not flatOur sortable table of every standing desk on the market gets a lot of traffic. And everyone who uses their standing desk with any regularity should have an anti-fatigue mat.

So, we thought, we should do table just like that of all the mats on the market!

But as we started compiling the list, and stockpiling a variety of mats to play with, one thing stood out: there is not much variety out there.

Sure, we’ve really disliked some mats, like the Genuine Joe Anti-Fatigue Mat. It’s cheap, but that’s the only thing I can say about it without violating my mother’s advice for social etiquette.

We’ve also really liked some (ok, well one mat, because we’re picky), the 24″ x 36″ Imprint Cumulus Pro. (The big version we like runs from $100-$150, the smaller version is cheaper but clearly made of a cheaper foam to match).

But something is wrong here. Even the best mat we found feels like it falls… flat. Not very inspiring, especially after looking through all the awesome standing desks out there.

All these mats were more or less just variations on a theme. Better or worse materials, but all look roughly the same from 10 feet away. Just an extra layer of cushion, passive and flat.

And all the stuff that humans walk, squat, and stand on in real life has much more variety. It is definitely not flat.

And then there was Topo. And we were delighted.

the best standing desk mat anti-fatigue calculated terrain topo not flat office

It just makes so much sense. Nature isn’t flat, why should the ground at your standing desk be?

We ditched chairs in the first place because they aren’t natural, but replacing them with flat (anti-fatigue or otherwise) is likely missing out on a big chunk of potential benefit.

And adding “not flat” stuff appears to make a big difference. I loved my time on a Topo prototype, as have many others. I moved so much more, exploring Topo’s “calculated terrain” with my feet (I generally work bare, as should you). Almost right away, I felt more energized, and less fatigued during longer standing sessions. I can’t wait to get my production unit in March.

That production unit will have another feature that I’m really excited about. The bottom of Topo is designed to slide easily enough that you can reposition it with just your feet when you switch between sitting and standing.

That’s a huge improvement over my current mat, which I have to reach under my desk and move by hand. I can’t tell you how many anti-fatigue mats I’ve seen pushed under desks, unused, because moving them around was too much of a pain in the butt.

The Topo Data

Nothing here is peer-reviewed, but we love us some self-science, so let’s dive in. Ergodriven instrumented the ground under both a conventional flat mat and Topo (with repurposed Wii-Fit sensors I believe, there’s some ingenuity), and just watched how the standing was different. And boy was it different.

Here’s an infographic comparing Topo to the flat mat:

the best standing desk mat anti-fatigue calculated terrain topo not flat infographic

[Click picture to view full size]

Small in-house study so this isn’t verified scientific fact, but very compelling nonetheless. Then they took that data and made a pretty incredible video showing how the user’s feet actually moved on the two mats (sped up for your viewing pleasure!):

Those two experiences look pretty different. Topo does appear to drive a lot more movement. And you know that we think movement at a standing desk is very important. Very very important.

The (Literal) Feels

Data aside, Topo just makes a ton of sense. And I can tell you, standing on it while working was a ton of fun. It reminded me of my first time walking around the neighborhood barefoot as an adult. It was like a whole new world (shining, shimmering, spleeeeendid!) opened up and I just wanted to play.

More movement at a standing desk is a huge win – and so is making work feel like play.

So if you’re in the market for a standing desk mat (or if your current boring flat one isn’t really cutting it), I definitely recommend Topo. It’s a whole new standing experience.

Topo is available for pre-order here.

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23 Comments

  1. Dallin said:

    I definitely just had a “why didn’t I think of that?” moment. Obviously such a good idea.

    January 12, 2015
    Reply
    • Forest said:

      Dude exact same thing over here. So obvious!

      January 12, 2015
      Reply
  2. Dustin said:

    That movement video near the bottom is nuts. I’m gonna order one now. Good bye to the sock dents my wife always makes fun of me for!

    January 12, 2015
    Reply
  3. Forest said:

    I can’t believe this hasn’t been done before. Why is ground even flat in the first place? I bet we didn’t really have flat ground until well after we started farming. Now we argue over the flat spots at campgrounds. Well at least the losers who don’t have hammocks yet haha 😉

    January 12, 2015
    Reply
  4. Sandheep said:

    Is it hard or is it like a normal anti-fatigue mat? It looks kind of hard in that video (which makes me want to climb trees btw…

    January 12, 2015
    Reply
    • Kit Perkins said:

      Hey Sandheep,

      The unit in the video is a prototype for visual purposes (it was hard!) The photos that testers got were (a little too) soft. For production, we dialed the foam in just right. It’s supportive but cushions you too. Think of the best possible anti-fatigue mat, make it “not flat”, and you have Topo!

      And for the tree climbing, I was sure Ryan was going to kill himself all the way up there. It’s kind of hard to tell in the video, but he was ~20′ off the ground on a narrow branch. Scary!

      January 12, 2015
      Reply
  5. Jessica said:

    Some seriously *sexy* guys in that video. Does my order come with a phone number? 😉

    January 12, 2015
    Reply
    • Julianne said:

      Right there with you girl. Yeow!

      January 12, 2015
      Reply
  6. Pam said:

    I am wonder how thick the actual flat part of the mat is. I am going to get one anyhow but it would be nice to know.

    April 16, 2015
    Reply
    • Kit Perkins said:

      Hi Pam,

      The neutral area is a little over 3/4″ thick. Awesome to hear you’re planning to get one of your own.

      April 16, 2015
      Reply
  7. Raj said:

    Hi, Does this mat offgas toxic chemicals?

    August 20, 2015
    Reply
    • QS Admin said:

      Hi Raj,

      Good question! Our tester didn’t smell at all (which as you might know is pretty rare for these mats). We loved it!

      August 21, 2015
      Reply
  8. Chris said:

    Understand wanting it to slide easily on hard floor, but would be using on carpeted floor. Were any tests done on carpeted surface to ensure it doesn’t slide around with increased foot movements? Like the product though.

    August 29, 2015
    Reply
    • QS Admin said:

      Hi Chris-

      We used it on carpet quite a bit. We have pretty standard thin office carpeting and I’d say it was probably even easier to slide on carpet than hardwood (which was already awesome). If you have super thick 70s-style shag it might “catch an edge” when sliding it, but on any carpet you’d likely find in an office it works great. Looks like they added a new sliding gif to Topo’s page: http://ergodriven.com/topo/

      August 30, 2015
      Reply
  9. said:

    Standing on my Topo mat right now. I am so happy! Mine is on carpet…but works like a charm. I am in love…thank you!

    August 31, 2015
    Reply
    • QS Admin said:

      Awesome! Thanks Courtney!

      August 31, 2015
      Reply
  10. Janet Jentilet said:

    I’d like to use this at work, but can almost hear our safety-consious staff tell me it’s a trip hazard. How would you suggest I respond?

    October 14, 2015
    Reply
    • QS Admin said:

      Hey Janet – great question!

      To us, this looks like a tradeoff of optimal health vs. optimal safety. For many people, the increased risk of tripping is well worth the upside: more movement and better health.

      But for others, it’s just not worth the risk. And if one of those people is in charge, you may have a tough time getting them on board.

      I can tell you that I have never once tripped on my Topo even a little, but certainly, even flat mats increase the likelihood of tripping compared to plain floor.

      I would imagine most offices would be pretty open and receptive to discussing this further.

      If you tell them that Topo makes the standing desk that they shelled out for even more effective (because you can stand longer without fatigue or discomfort, and enjoy the health benefits of increased movement), they’ll probably go for it – because otherwise it feels like they are losing money on the desk investment they made. Just an idea!

      October 14, 2015
      Reply

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