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Working from home may have started as a stopgap measure in the middle of a pandemic, but with more and more companies shifting to full-time telecommuting for the future, it's time to set up a real workspace in your home. And while you've probably grabbed the obvious mouse, keyboard, and monitor, there's an important piece of gear you might not have considered: a mouse pad.
LEARN MORE about choosing the best mouse pad for you
Are mouse pads even necessary anymore?
I know, it sounds so 1993, but trust me: Mouse pads are still as useful as ever.
Modern optical mice don't usually need a mouse pad to work well (like the rolling-ball mice of yore). But using a mouse pad can prove helpful on certain reflective surfaces — like glass — and give you a bit more control for precise movements, like those often needed when you’re gaming. But most importantly, a good mouse pad protects your desk from your mouse's rubber feet, which can wear down the surface over time.
My old desk was covered in black gunk from my mouse and even had some discolored spots where the mouse had worn through the paint. Ever since then, I've never gone pad-less.
Best mouse pads to shop in 2021
Best basic mouse pad: VicTsing
If you like the idea of protecting your desk but don't want to spend a bundle, VicTsing makes a simple fabric mouse pad that your wallet will barely even notice. Unlike more traditional mouse pads, which can peel up after a lot of use, VicTsing's mouse pad has stitched edges to keep things together, while keeping the rubber base for slip-free usage.
Best mouse pad for gaming: Logitech
While a basic mouse pad will get the job done for most people, many gamers prefer a harder, smoother surface for fast-paced games that require precise movements. This G440 mouse pad from Shopping readers-favorite Logitech fits the bill nicely, with a polycarbonate build that provides a smoother feel than fabric mouse pads, and a slightly larger size to give you more room to maneuver.
Best large mouse pad and full desk mat: Bedsure
I'm a big proponent of mouse pads for practical reasons, but I don't love the way they look. That's why I went with a full desk mat, an increasingly popular alternative that goes under your mouse and keyboard for full desk coverage. I've used quite a few in the past, but have currently settled on this leather model from Bedsure: It's large and comes in multiple colors, and the leather texture looks and feels great.
It was a tough toss-up between this and Satechi's eco-leather deskmate, but I'm extremely happy with the Bedsure model to this day.
Best high-tech mouse pad with wireless charging: Gaze
Wireless charging is the future: Just plop your phone down and top off the battery, no cables necessary. But wireless charging pads can be a bit unsightly, which is what makes the Gaze Pad so enticing. Its polyurethane leather surface looks great, provides a great surface for your mouse and can wirelessly charge your phone — or other wearables like compatible wireless earbuds — all the while.
Best mouse pad for organization: Orbitkey
Originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter, the Orbitkey desk mat is a newcomer to the space with a big twist: Not only does it protect your desk, but it keeps the rest of your desk clutter neat and organized. You can fold up the top flap to store paper, organize incoming charging cables and store pens along the ridge at the top.
How to choose the best mouse pad
There are hundreds of mouse pads out there so here are a few features to keep in mind as you shop.
The size of your mouse pad
Some mouse pads are compact, giving you just enough space to move your mouse, while others let you stretch your arms a bit—and even larger desk mats cover the entire area in front of you. Once you've decided on a general size category, measure your space and make sure your desired mouse pad or desk mat will fit.
What’s your mouse pad made from
While you're probably familiar with traditional fabric mouse pads, they come in all kinds of materials, from leather to cork to hard plastic. Which you choose is mostly a personal preference. Some may have multiple colors or patterns to choose from, too.
While most pads provide a simple surface for your mouse, there are a few unique options out there with extra features. Logitech's Powerplay mouse pad can charge your Logitech gaming mouse wirelessly, for example. Corsair's MM800 lights up to match your gaming PC, and Razer's Sphex is extremely thin for a nearly seamless feel on your desk. We've included a few other unique options below with features you won't find on other models.