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Heading for the great outdoors? Don't forget the Yurt


April 4, 2011

The eighth and final stage in setting up a Yurt - getting ready to move in

The eighth and final stage in setting up a Yurt - getting ready to move in

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Youngsters who trek off into the back of beyond tend not to concern themselves too much with comfort. As you get older though, and perhaps have kids in tow, you may find that your camping needs undergo some modification. While some just opt for a bigger tent, the solution for Richard Waters and his wife Alicia originated in ancient Central Asia and has many names – such as Ger in Mongolia, Kherga in Afghanistan, or Yurta in Russia. Known as a Yurt to the English-speaking world, this round, lattice-framed portable dwelling has now been given a new lease of life in the world of recreational camping.

Waters says that permanent Yurts are very popular in his home State of Oregon, with many parks now having year-round structures set up for campers. Like their nomadic ancestors, though, his Camping Yurts are made to be portable – the 12 foot (3.65 meter) model weighs about 120 pounds (54 kg) and can be loaded onto a car's roof rack or bundled into a trailer. Waters says that although some localities in the U.S. now require planning permission for the construction of a Yurt, the temporary nature of his models makes them exempt (but he does advise checking local regulations, just to be sure).

I remember being surprised by just how spacious Yurts can be when I encountered one being used as a reception point at the Green Air Show in Paris last year. Waters says that he uses a 16 foot (4.87 meter) Yurt when he goes camping, which is big enough to accommodate a collapsible-frame queen bed with inflatable mattress and three cots for the kids plus all the camping gear, and still has room to spare.

The Camping Yurt is made up of five basic parts. The roof wheel or Tono is usually made from pine but oak, cherry, and walnut are also offered. The poles or Uni, and a lattice wall called Khana – which breaks into sections for easy transport – are usually made from Douglas fir or cedar, but oak, ash and other woods are also available. There's also a door frame or Nars, and the whole structure is covered in light colored cotton canvas (to let in the maximum amount of natural light) or Sunforger Marine Canvas – the latter being treated for UV, water and mildew resistance. An untreated organic cotton option is also available.

Waters says that it takes him about half an hour to erect his Yurt on his own and that after only a few dry runs, most people will be able to have theirs ready to use in under an hour. Raising the bottom of the wall canvas will draw in cool air to keep things comfortable in the summer, while a small stove placed in the middle will provide warmth in the winter. If you're not blessed with dry weather while enjoying the great outdoors, there's a special cover for the hole in the roof called an Orkh, or an umbrella will do just as well. Clear polycarbonate domes are also available.

Recognizing that different people have different needs, Camping Yurts come in a few different build options and are sold in three sizes – 12, 14 and 16 feet (3.65, 4.26 and 4.87 meter), but other sizes have been made on request. For the self-builder there's a basic kit which consists of the roof wheel, roof and wall covering and detailed build instructions. Everything else will need to be made and installed by the buyer. This option starts at US$1,050.

For the slightly less adventurous, there's a full kit that includes everything you'll need to build and erect your very own Camping Yurt – prices for this version start at US$1,700. Similar to the full kit, but supplied ready assembled and fully finished, the Ready to Go Yurt starts at US$1,900.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

wow i like this

adam smolkowicz

Would a square yurt be called a squrt?


Cool looking yurts with prints on them are called Yo-ghurts

Paul van Dinther

Hey! You mentioned the Mongolian, Russian and Afghan words for it but not where the actual word \"yurt\" came from...

\"The word yurt is originally from a Turkic word referring to the imprint left in the ground by a moved yurt, and by extension, sometimes a person\'s homeland, kinsmen, or feudal appanage. The term came to be used in reference to the physical tent-like dwellings only in other languages. In modern Turkish the word "yurt" is used as the synonym of homeland. In Russian the structure is called "yurta", whence the word came into English.\"

-wikipedia entry for 'yurt'

Otherwise nice article.


Um no floor, how do you stop the snakes and creepy crawlies from entering whilst you sleep?


These structures go by several different names but www.instructables.com have quite a few how-to\'s on making them.....and they can be floored in different ways as well.

Facebook User

big deal. My family camped in a much simpler, larger, and stronger version of this called a Tipi. Simple to set up, they already have an integral rain flap for the smoke vent and can withstand up to 100mph winds.


The Ontario Parks system has a number of Yurts. They are set up on a wood platform, typically with a deck and some even have wood burning stoves inside. Like half way point between tenting and a cottage, LOL.


Eric MacMullin.


I thought that it was very cool until i saw the cost. Think i\'ll stick to my two person, quick erect tent. I guess 74 is young to not care about comfort, although with a sleeping pad i find it plenty comfortable.

Page Schorer

Ohio State Parks offers yurts with modern conveniences like electricity, heat and TV. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwjBiVAS5Rg


Considering the Asian Migration view of history, perhaps Tipis and Yurts may possibly have ancient connections- Igloos also are round.

Yurts have more usable space proportionate to their base circle- the walls go straight up. They also feel less claustrophobic to certain people,especially with the dome skylight.

Tipis are easier to transport and slightly easier to assemble/dissassemble.

Like everything else, there are pros and cons.

Personally, I like them both- it just depends on the application.

We are restoring a Navajo Hoghan right now.

They have an intricate background, including \"male and female\" versions and proper placement of entry direction,etc.

Much larger than the average \"white man\" (I have yet to meet anyone I consider \"white\" or \"red\")prairies settler\'s cabin,the Navajo Hoghan was larger... and they had bigger storage buildings,too! (-,-) The Navajo are one of the few shepherd people that migrated as families with their flocks- in much of the world the women&children stayed behind for the Winter.

They often therefore had two sets of homes.

Because of their separate mode of living(they came together for festivals)they were a difficult people to conquer-their reservation is the largest in the U.S.(about 1/5 of the state of AZ and parts of three other states)and consists of their own original land. The Hopi Nation is located inside the Territory of the Navajo Nation.

Anyway, the Navajo just typically used two sets of cabins instead of moving their house.


I like the idea! Tipis are simpler but less space-efficient while geodesic domes are stronger but more complicated. I bet there is a way to make these go up more quickly. I've been trying to devise a quick-build system based on geodesic domes - which would be the optimum solution - but maybe something based on the yurt is the go? Hmmm. For overnighting the good old dome tent is probably still best but for longer stays the yurt might be better?

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