Outdoors

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

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
View 17 Images
Setup stage one - find the perfect spot and mark out a circle
1/17
Setup stage one - find the perfect spot and mark out a circle
Setup stage two - place the lattice wall frame on the circle
2/17
Setup stage two - place the lattice wall frame on the circle
Setup stage three - install the door and mount the roof wheel
3/17
Setup stage three - install the door and mount the roof wheel
Setup stage four - slot in the rest of the roof poles
4/17
Setup stage four - slot in the rest of the roof poles
Setup stage five - surround the structure with the wall canvas
5/17
Setup stage five - surround the structure with the wall canvas
Setup stage six - attach the canvas to the lattice wall
6/17
Setup stage six - attach the canvas to the lattice wall
Setup stage seven - draw the roof canvas over the top and secure in place
7/17
Setup stage seven - draw the roof canvas over the top and secure in place
The eighth and final stage in setting up a Yurt - getting ready to move in
8/17
The eighth and final stage in setting up a Yurt - getting ready to move in
The roof wheel or Tono is usually made from pine but oak, cherry, and walnut are also available
9/17
The roof wheel or Tono is usually made from pine but oak, cherry, and walnut are also available
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
10/17
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
Many hands make light work
11/17
Many hands make light work
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
12/17
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
Room with a view - the living area inside a Yurt is surprisingly spacious
13/17
Room with a view - the living area inside a Yurt is surprisingly spacious
Inside and out: the Camping Yurt
14/17
Inside and out: the Camping Yurt
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
15/17
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
16/17
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
The roof wheel can be covered at night or when it rains using an umbrella, a special cover called an Orkh or a polycarbonate dome
17/17
The roof wheel can be covered at night or when it rains using an umbrella, a special cover called an Orkh or a polycarbonate dome

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).

Inside and out: the Camping Yurt
Inside and out: the Camping Yurt

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.

Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt
Richard Waters and family get to grips with a Camping Yurt

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.

12 comments
adam smolkowicz
wow i like this
Davey
Would a square yurt be called a squrt?
Paul van Dinther
Cool looking yurts with prints on them are called Yo-ghurts
senseless.battery
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.
xdigitor
Um no floor, how do you stop the snakes and creepy crawlies from entering whilst you sleep?
Facebook User
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.
Blixdevil
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.
macmullin
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. http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/yurts.html Eric MacMullin.
Page Schorer
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.
mitch
Ohio State Parks offers yurts with modern conveniences like electricity, heat and TV. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwjBiVAS5Rg
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.