Camping in Yurts 101: Everything You Need to Know
If you are a budding outdoors-woman or man, then you may have come across the word yurt when considering which tent to purchase for your first real camping trip. But what exactly is a yurt?
Yurts are round, unique structures supported by wooden frames and covered with fabric. They are collapsible and transportable. They are modern architectural marvels. Yet they have been around for thousands of years.
Read on to learn all about yurts, the differences between the models. Explore the benefits of owning one and how to build one for yourself.
Modern Yurts vs. Traditional Yurts
Yurts originate in the ancient times when they were constructed to handle dangerous winds and low temperatures—then transported repeatedly. Modern yurts are stronger and more durable. Most contemporary units consist of three standard materials:
- Wooden lattice frames or walls
- Straight rafters
- Tension bands
Some options also have special features like a central ring in the ceiling that connects to dome skylight for natural light. Others have windows. Luxurious yurt tents have glass and insulated windows.
In comparison to traditional yurts made of felted wool, the covers of modern versions are made of highly-technical fabric designed to last for more than a decade. Door options include French or fiberglass. Contemporary yurts also are permanent builds on wooden platforms. Carpenters may use metal framing to support the steamed wooden framing and canvas.
Traditional yurts were made to be mobile. But the design of the modern yurt doesn’t include this feature. The wooden platform limits movement because it has plumbing, electricity and heating components underneath the wood flooring.
Yurts are energy efficient living spaces that are ideal for meditation when camping or to serve as a getaway from a fast-paced lifestyle. You can outfit one with modern conventions like electric appliances. The choice is up to you.
You can customize today’s yurts for any outdoor needs or desires. If you can imagine it, you can create it. Contractors can add additional features such as:
- Central ceiling fan
- Central column
- Reflective insulation to balance interior temperature
- Interior walls
- Modern appliances
The Various Types of Yurt Tents and Component Names
Yurt tents come in a variety of forms and go by different names such as ger, bentwood or Üy. Whatever their name, they share the same basic design and purpose. The primary difference between traditional and modern yurts is that the contemporary structures are meant to be permanent.
Gers and bentwood are the two types of yurts. These models share striking similarities except for the roof. Let’s go over how each one differs.
Ger, which is Mongolian in origin and translates into “yurt,” are older, heavier structures. It has center rings which are also known as a crown or toono, and narrow rafters (or uni). They stretch from the center area all the way to the lattice wall or Khana. Ger “uni” or roofs consist of gentle, straight poles that slope to drain water.
Bentwoods can be traced back to western Central Asia where builders steam the roofing poles to shape them before attaching to the crown. Unlike gers, bentwoods have a much taller shape. The completed unit of bentwood serves a double purpose as the tallest point of the walls and roof.
Mongolian ger designs profoundly influenced Pacific yurts. These are the current versions that are favored by contractors and architects. You’ll find modern yurts in North American and European campsites built out of native materials like hardwoods such as chestnut or ash.
Others blend tradition with modern, high-tech materials to build their yurts such as industrial cables to secure the walls and roofing.
Yurt Camping for the Casual, Rugged, and Luxurious
Modern “yurt-ing” is an experience as diverse as the people who take to the outdoors seeking out the tranquil spaces. Why? Yurts are popular not just for their design and historical bonds. They are also affordable and eclectic. They provide a connection to nature that all campers can appreciate.
There are yurts designed for you no matter your experience in camping. Most U.S. campgrounds offer yurt rentals that are fully equipped with modern conveniences like electric heat, grill units, beds, sheets and quilts. They allow you to enjoy nature with all the comforts of home.
Those that are looking for a no-frills, rugged camping experience can opt for a true campground yurt, minus the showers or restrooms. Or perhaps you are searching for a deluxe, luxury rental? You’ll also find them fully furnished, with television, kitchenettes and appliances to create your palace in the woods.
Yurts Are Even Better Than Hotels. Here’s Why.
If you have a sense of adventure and want to add more life to your next traveling excursion, consider renting a yurt instead of staying at a hotel.
Any park or campground manager can tell you that yurt rentals are always in-demand. The truth is that few campers want to go through the trying experience of setting up camp and dealing with all of the hassles not to mention inclement weather or bugs.
Yurts offer an outdoor experience without the hard work, trouble or challenge that can come from traditional camping. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with nature without sacrificing your comfort. You can focus on having fun.
Here’s a rundown of the benefits of choosing a yurt over a hotel room:
- Yurts are affordable. Hotels are only growing more expensive. The average daily rate of a hotel in the United States is $122.64 which continues a six-year increase trend. You can slash that cost in half by renting a yurt.
- Animals are welcome. Pet owners always struggle with accommodations for their companions when planning to travel. But not with yurts most of which are pet-friendly. Yurts are more flexible than hotels in this regard so that you can bring the dog along for the trip.
- Unique offerings. Yurts make great retreat centers because of the focus the designs place on reconnecting with nature. The central dome of yurts allows natural sunlight to fill its interior. Then, at night, starlight offers stargazing opportunities from your bed. Also, the circular shape conjures up feelings of peace and comfort.
- Greater activity potential. If you have children who like to be entertained, you’ll be hard-pressed to find lasting activity in a hotel. Outside of the swimming pool, there is little for children to do. But even that is only open for certain hours and seasons. Yurts help children explore the natural environment around them. You have room for board games, sports and reading.
- Earth-friendly. Yurts are built with conservation in mind. They are more earth-friendly than hotel rooms. Their designs help to reduce heat and cooling. They are also portable and space-conscious with walls that minimize surface area. The curvy shape of a yurt also allows the structure to connect to the natural environment stimulate our better than buildings.
Learn What It Takes To Build Your Yurt
If you’re well past the beginning stages of camping and want a bigger challenge, then consider building your yurt.
They are essentially tents except with carpeting and other amenities. The lattice, or khana as we learned earlier, consists of collapsible sections of wooden poles that crisscross across each other. The assembly is similar.
The poles can be made of willow, bamboo, birch or poplar wood. The khana can be connected by high-tension cables. Or if you want to build a traditional yurt, you can use roped leather and animal hair.
Yurt roofing is complex and steep. You may find that it is dangerous to construct if you do not have the proper equipment. The crown, or central part of the roof, is one of its unique features. The crown ring serves as an attachment center for the uni, or roof poles.
The crown is a very durable structure and can last for years. It is partially open all the time to allow air inside to circulate the structure. The window that the crown forms is the toono, with the heavy columns that support the crown the bagana.
Traditional yurt builders would pass down their patterns to the next generation. So when arranging your crown, the pattern of wood, reeds, and yurt fabric is up to you. But it’s a momentous occasion to take pride in your accomplishment.
Their fabrics consisted of wool from sheep, yaks, and goats since yurt communities were originally herding cultures. These materials contain more than three layers of felt and, commonly, an outer layer that was both durable and waterproof. You can replicate this exterior with canvas or another, equally taut material, like taurapin.
It’s Time To Book Your Yurt!
If you are ready for all that a yurt has to offer, then consider renting one at your local state park. Or, if you are the avid traveler, consider renting one instead of the typical, expensive hotel room. Your stay will create a positive effect on your mental well-being and allow you to reconnect with nature.