This story was originally published on January 4, 2021
The inaugural thrill of showing off our post-holiday haul around town has been replaced by quietly reveling in our finally perfected home-office setups. According to a whole bunch of online shopping data collected (anonymously) from the past year, desk chairs topped the list of 2020's most purchased items. And now, in the back-to-reality light of 2021, WFH products are still trending strong. The hottest buy across virtual carts currently? A $17 desk pad from Amazon. This unassuming-at-first-glance accessory received a featured sale spot in our roundup of Prime Day's best home-office deals back in October — and the rest was Most Wanted history as it continued to rise in the top-shopped ranks throughout November, December, and all the way into January. With scores of R29 readers adding EMINTA's Dual Sided Desk Pad to cart and over 12,000 Amazon reviews attributing to its 4.8-out-of-5-star rating, I decided to buy one for myself to see what the heckin' hype was all about. Below, behold my findings on why you'd ever want to buy a desk pad in the first place, how this particular desk pad actually stacks up IRL (photo evidence included), and a sampling of some other pads I think are super.
Why buy a desk pad?
Well, for starters, if your work surface is worth protecting from scratches, stains, or just general wear and tear, a waterproof pad like EMINTA's can serve as a protective layer to place your WFH stuff on (think: a sweating cup of iced coffee, that heated-up bowl of leftovers, uncapped pens, rogue lipglosses, keyboards, etc.). Another reason you may want to purchase a desk pad is that it also acts as a very large mousepad, in case your chosen surface is not conducive to wireless-mouse navigation. Finally, for the aesthetically-minded-yet-not-always-super-organized among us (me!), desk pads can easily elevate and streamline a cluttered or aimless workspace by providing a cohesive anchor — think of it as a placemat and your desk as the dining table.
What are desk pads made from?
On the higher end of price points, you can find premium desk pads that are crafted from 100% leather. On the lower end (aka $17 Amazon desk pads), most styles are made out of PU "leather" — which is just another way of saying synthetic materials that mimic the look and feel of leather, but with more durability. The benefits of PU leather are that it's vegan, water-resistant, heat-resistant, and thick enough to protect the surface below it from scratches, scuffs, stains, spills, you name it. In between the two, you can also nab sleek-looking workspace mats fashioned out of things like cork and felt!
Was Amazon's most popular pad worth the $17?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: heck yes. As stated previously, this office accessory may appear insignificant at first glance — however, for me personally, it made a huge difference in my WFH setup feeling like a cobbled-together chaotic mess to a streamlined-desk dream. It provided me with a sleek canvas for arranging my work essentials without much thought while also acting as visual encouragement for keeping things in place and looking tidy. The product itself arrived very quickly (due to lightning-fast Prime shipping) and was packaged minimally with little waste (rolled up inside a recyclable cardboard box sealed inside an Amazon envelope). It unfurled onto my desk sans strange creases or wonky raised edges and had a substantial weight-feel with an overall expensive-leather-like look to it (for reference: I ordered the Dark Green/Gray color option in the 31.5" x 15.7" size). While I am partial to the green side, I do appreciate its reversibility for when I'm feeling restless and want to flip it over for some fast feng shui. The thousands of reviewers shared similar 5-star sentiments to mine: ranging from "Effective and very attractive product! I love it." to "I was delighted to find that it's large enough to use as a mouse pad and coaster for my cups!" and "It makes my new desk area look smart.". Sometimes it's the simplest things that can yield the most tangible results — and, in the case of easily elevating a so-so WFH setup, the unassuming $17 Amazon desk pad reigns supreme.
Best desk pads to buy...
Here are my pad picks for easily adding a little streamlined style to your workspace.
Where's my desk riser/stand from?
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