Melamine (think: kitchen cupboards) works very well as long as it doesn't mess with your sensor.
I was told, or read some where, the optical mouse don't need a mouse pad, just a piece of white paper, so I cut a piece of white xerox paper 4"x8" & it works perfect for my Logitech optical mouse.
I've had a Razer ExactMat for several years and have used it with a numerous gaming mice.
Using a logitech m505 with just a plain mouse pad I got from work.
My 2 others are blue
Cheap charcoal-grey one with silicone wrist pad.
As far as mouse pads go, I use the wet suit type of pads. At home, I still have and use my original Babbages mouse pad.
Yeah if you're trying to alleviate carpal tunnel, and you still need a proper mouse for gaming, check out the Evoluent Vertical Mouse.
I use a cheap Logitech mouse on my pant leg or the arm of my recliner.
The mouse for my HTPC only works on non-cloth surfaces tho, so I use it on my fake wood desk.
I haven't used a mouse mat in years. Didn't think there was any use for them anymore since mice went optical and tracked well on just about any surface ?_?
I got a Xtrac ripper about 7 or 8 years ago. It turned out a bit bigger than I needed but I cut it in half and now have one for work and for home. I've only ever had to wash one half once after a coffee spill and out of everything I've ever tried the mouse feet always stay clean and the surface has proved to be extremely durable and has a great feel. If I ever needed to get another one or give a recommendation it would be for one of these. Honestly, I can't think of one negative thing to say about these.
Surprisingly good ordinary Logitec M500 USB laser mouse in here on the daily driver and 2 other desktops here and a surprisingly very good and very inexpensive Ebay find Perixx DX-2000XL, Gaming Control Mouse Pad non slip mouse pad ,I ultimately bought 3 of them for the desktops here cheap on ebay .
Haven't used a mouse pad in maybe 10 years. My old Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 doesn't require one and operates fine on a laminated table top.