Why You Need The Most “Dad Thing” Ever For Your Car

They're pricey but worth it if you play outside and want to protect your adventure-mobile.

Photo: Getty Images/EyeEm

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If you’re reading this right now that probably means you like to play outside. And not just during the winter. This week many of you rode mountain bikes, went for trail runs, hiked a 14er, spent hours surfing, and or just got back from an epic camping trip. 

And my guess is that during those trips you more than likely tracked dirt, mud, sand, pine needles, and other debris back into your car. Some of that debris got caught by your cheap, factory-issued floor mats, but the rest slipped over the sides and is now getting ground into the floor of your car. Fast forward to the winter and all that snow you were too lazy to brush off your shoes have now melted and the water is seeping into the mats and the floor and making your ride musty. 

Some of you will just ignore the problem and let your cars get increasingly dirty and mank. Others will do their best to sweep and vacuum and dry but never be satisfied because your ride will get just as dirty after the next trip. 

I used to fall into that second category and became furious that no matter how hard I tried, my car was still a mess. Then, like a gift from the cleanliness gods, I eventually found that I could replace my half-assed factory mats with mats designed by people who have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to upgrade this usually overlooked piece of gear.

My favorite mats are made by a company called WeatherTech. The company makes vehicle- and model-specific mats for most newer cars (more on older cars below) and what sets their mats apart are several smart design tweaks. Most importantly, WeatherTech uses a rubbery, high-sided design that doesn’t interfere with your pedals but keeps everything from spilling over the mat and creeping back to the floor of the car. The rubbery material lies heavy and clings to your car floor to create a tight seal so that even if dirt and snow find their way over the sides they don’t make it all the way to the floor.

The mats hold their form so it’s easy to grab and pull them out of the car without anything spilling off. A quick shake and the dirt and water are gone. If there’s mud caked on you can rinse them with the hose, let them dry in your driveway or garage, and then they snap right back into place. When the mats are on your car floor, grippers on the bottom keep them in place so they never slide around. 

Anyone who owns a new-model Subaru or Toyota (we know our audience) should have no problem getting mats, and you can buy just the front two or mats for the front and back. If you own a hatchback like an Outback or something like a Mazda CX-5, you can also get a rubber trunk liner for your ski boots and wet kit.

Those of you who own an older model car (I have a 2002 Tacoma) will be shit out of luck in terms of model-specific mats from WeatherTech. However, the company does make trim-to-fit mats that can easily be customized. These mats don’t have high sides, but they are made from the same heavy rubber-like material that lies flat, stays in place, and does a better job of sealing to your floor and not letting junk creep below. 

Pricing varies, but expect to pay over $100 just for the front mats. That’s not cheap, I know, but I guarantee that after you use the mats for two, five, maybe even 10 years, that price will seem like a bargain and you’ll be ready to buy another pair with your next car.

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