I decided to upgrade my mat after getting several years of use out of my old one, and was looking for something that wouldn't break the bank and that would keep me steadily in place while I attempted some of the more difficult vinyasa poses. After weighing many of the reviews on Backcountry, Manduka's, and several other sites, I decided to give the eKO a run. So here goes:
Initially, does it smell bad? Yes, yes it does. Out of the package there is a strong smell of new rubber and an odor that reminded me of an old Alaska canery that I drove by last year; but, as per the instructions on the wrapping, I hung it up outside in the shade for a couple of hours, and the smell was pretty much gone.
As for the grip on this mat, it still has its weaknesses when it comes to keeping me in place. I'm 6'4, and 215 lbs., so the expectation that this mat would cement me in place throughout the entire practice was not what I had in mind when I purchased it, but I was hoping for a little more stability than I've experienced thus far when I start to get the heat of an active practice working. My hands and feet still tend to slide while in simple poses, causing me to have to readjust instead of pushing for a deeper stretch.
It is heavier than most mats I've worked with, but, hey, it's rubber, 5mm, and meant for use at the gym.