James StanburySee other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury
Great door mats are super-handy for keeping our homes-from-home clean and tidy on our caravan holidays – we tested nine to see which is the best
There’a a tendency, in the leisure market, for any product preceded by the words ‘caravan’ or ‘motorhome’ to attract a premium price.
And for something as simple as a door mat, it’s easy to imagine that a standard household mat will be just as good as any dedicated caravan version.
After all, what is a dedicated caravan mat?
Well, although several dedicated leisure/caravan mats are available, this often refers to the pattern or visual design.
In truth, though, caravans do have a fairly unique set of requirements that the average household mat may not fulfil.
Household door mats tend to be used outside against a hard doorstep.
In a caravan, the mat could be used outside, inside, or even inside an awning.
And in all three situations, there’s nothing to stop a mat pinging forward as soon as you step onto it, especially when the door mat is sat on a smooth groundsheet or on the caravan’s floor.
Arguably, a dedicated caravan mat needs to be better performing than a normal one, too.
In the main, anybody reaching a domestic mat will have walked up a hard, paved drive or path.
On a site, you’re much more likely to have crossed grass, mud, or even powdery gravel. All of which your mat must take in its stride if it’s to keep your caravan floor clean.
How we tested the door mats
We kicked off our tests by subjecting each of the mats to shoes coated in mud and wet sand.
We checked how long it took each mat to remove all the excess dirt, and how well each design penetrated into the footwear’s deeper sole grooves.
We then repeated the test with wet shoes. The best mats had a towel-like ability to remove excess water and actually dry the soles off.
Next, we checked stability. Because door mats that fly forward or slide back when you stand on them are potentially dangerous, we checked how stable they were on a variety of surfaces: hard ground, dry mud, and hard smooth plastics.
Finally, we considered each product’s maintenance. It’s a bonus if a door mat can be machine washed, so that it can be fully refreshed prior to each trip away.
But it’s also important that door mats can be rejuvenated mid-tour to keep them effective.
Caravan door mats that self drain obviously reduce the amount of regular beatings or shakes needed, so we also appraised how easily each mat could be shaken or beaten clean.
The ideal design grabs dirt and moisture well, but lets go of it easily, too.
Value for money was also a consideration.
Quest Condor Turf Mat – five stars
Practical Caravan Editor's Choice
- Price: £5.95
Perhaps a surprise winner, but this mat’s long plastic fingers really get to grips with dirt and muck lodged high up in deep shoe sole grooves.
And that’s just one of its many advantages over the other door mats tested.
Thanks to its low weight, flexible construction and a lightly ribbed back, this mat tends to bite into the ground as soon as you place any weight on it.
It’s certainly not a ‘slider’, even on smooth surfaces.
The mat is really intended for outdoor use, but works just as well inside.
Ideally, it should be placed over your caravan’s built-in mat, because the mat’s many holes deposit dirt and moisture out very efficiently – meaning minimal beating is needed to keep it clear, but mess and puddles quickly accumulate beneath it.
JVL Firth Tile Indoor Mat – four stars
- Price: £4.99
The combination of a speckled rubber base, and sheer weight, means this mat tends to stay put rather well. But, unlike the Condor which won our door mats group test, this is purely for indoor usage.
With no form of drainage built in and that chequer plate-style soft pile, it would soon become soggy in the rain.
That’s not to say that the mat doesn’t absorb moisture well, because it does, making it a good choice for families with animals.
The clumped pile design reaches into deep sole grooves to grab ingrained muck.
The gaps between the pile clumps mean it’s a doddle to beat out, too.
Marvel Outdoor Mat – four stars
- Price: £10
The ‘pile’ is a mass of stiff plastic fingers made, according to the label, from recycled plastic bottles.
The base is also recycled, meaning this great all-rounder has green credentials.
As with Condor’s Turf mat, this can be used inside or outside. And a series of holes makes the mat good at depositing moisture and dirt removed from shoes onto the surface below.
That’s fine if it’s onto another mat beneath, but it won’t do a shiny floor surface any favours.
This removes loose dirt and excess moisture well, and works better than most door mats at reaching into deeper sole designs.
Outwell Doormat – four stars
- Price: £4.99
This is a simple, cheap and cheerful design.
The working face of the mat is little more than a dense collection of coiled plastic wires, which are incredibly effective at batting off loose dirt and excess moisture, and they don’t do a bad job of getting into sole grooves either.
Unfortunately, though, there’s no drainage built in, so the mat needs shaking out regularly to keep it clear and effective. But this is where the coiled wire design comes into its own.
It doesn’t hold on to muck, meaning that few door mats here are easier, or faster, to clear with a light shake or beating.
Coir doormat – three stars
- Price: £3.99
We were keen to see how a standard mat compared to more advanced and costlier designs, such as those from Lakeland and Marvel.
You can tell it is designed for domestic use, where it will likely rest up against a doorstep. That’s because its somewhat rigid nature, and flat rubber back, make it prone to sliding on smooth surfaces.
Pin it down, though, and it removes loose dirt and does a reasonable job of drying wet soles.
But it needs to be shaken regularly, to keep it effective. And effort is required to fully clear that dense coir pile once it becomes clogged up.
Lakeland Super Absorbent Mat – three stars
- Price: £15.99
At a penny shy of £16, of all the door mats tested here, this is the dearest by some margin – and that high price does count against it in the points.
But it’s still definitely worth considering for some circumstances.
Thanks to a microfibre-based synthetic pile, this mat doesn’t just dislodge moisture and loose dirt – you can really feel it drag it off your shoes.
Wet, dirty soles emerge practically dry and clean.
In short, on a wet day, nothing beats this mat for preventing the dreaded mucky footprints all over your caravan’s floor.
But, being material based, the pile has limited success against dirt in deeper sole grooves.
And while it can be machine washed, beating out excess dust on site is rather more challenging.
Quest Machine Washable Mat – three stars
- Price: £5.95
This colourful design is another mat that can be machine washed, meaning it can easily be refreshed at home prior to its next outing.
But how does it cope with the rigours of being on site? In short, not that well.
Its synthetic polyamide pile is fine at grabbing loose dirt and excess moisture, but forget comprehensive probing of deeper sole grooves.
And its drying performance is really no better than out-and-out plastic designs, such as Marvel’s outdoor mat or the winning Condor.
Unfortunately, for this entry, they work so much better at grabbing out ingrained dirt.
But this mat isn’t without its good points. It’s incredibly lightweight, yet still grips to floors well thanks to its latex rear.
Quest PVC-backed Coir Mat – two stars
- Price: £10.99
Quest’s final entry in our caravan door mats group test is pretty dear for what is, essentially, a coir mat.
But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re paying way over the odds for the pretty design.
This is a seriously dense mat when compared to more standard fare, such as the other coir mat we tested.
In fact, it almost feels like you’re wiping your shoes on a wire brush. But is this an advantage?
In short, no. The mat’s rigidness and flat plastic back make it more inclined to ping along smooth surfaces than many here.
And for all the coir surface does a good job of grabbing loose dirt and moisture, it’s simply too stiff to press down firmly into – the pile never gets to penetrate deeper sole grooves.
With no drainage, it needs beating very regularly, too.
Half Moon Fortress Doormat – one star
- Price: £7.99
Another design that, while probably effective when placed up against a stone or brick doorstep, just doesn’t work when sat on a flat surface, especially a smooth one.
Despite a light grid pattern on the mat’s plastic rear, its lack of flexibility makes it extremely prone to skidding forward.
And that’s a shame because in all other ways, this isn’t a bad performer.
The pile is more of a rope design than the usual vertical coir. But that doesn’t stop it working well at grabbing excess moisture or dirt.
Even if, predictably enough, deeper sole grooves proved to be beyond its reaches.
Keeping the mat clear is more of an issue. It clogs up pretty quickly, and requires serious coaxing to let go of the muck it’s accumulated.