Yurts have been around for at least 3000 years. Since Greek historian Herodotus (c 484 BC- 425 BC) first wrote a description of a yurt, centuries of human experience have refined the most important essentials for enjoying life in a yurt.
A yurt is a portable, round tent still used today by nomads in Mongolia. It is traditionally made with a circular wooden latticework frame draped with canvas.
In general, yurts are set up as a permanent setting due to the total weight of the yurt. They are still mobile enough to be transported, though, with modern yurt frames that come in materials such as wood, aluminum, and steel.
Furthermore, glamping has been increasing in popularity over the years and yurts are a popular glamping choice. A lot of people are choosing yurts over traditional tents as the yurts have much more space than tents. Where a six-man tent averaging 70 square feet feels cramped with four people and all their gear, a yurt that sleeps four could easily have up to 200 square feet!
Other uses being adopted by more and more people include using yurts as a way to extend the living space of their current living situations. We have seen people using yurts as art studios, yoga studios, guest quarters, and even as a backyard ‘she-shed.’
So, what are the Top 5 Must Have Yurt Essentials? This list will be a crossover list composed of things you would consider essential for a permanent structure or maybe even as rental/glamping trip you make take in a yurt.
The five essentials for living well in a yurt are a solid foundation base, a good wood burning stove, energy source & lights, bedding, and a CO/Fire Alarm monitor. We consider these items essential for backyard yurt uses, permanent yurt dwelling, and glamping. Each application is going to have different uses and functions, but these five things are universal for all uses of yurts.
Solid Yurt Foundation
A yurt should be built on a sturdy foundation to ensure proper set-up. A wood floor is a very common foundation choice for a yurt that will give you a solid floor, a barrier between you and the ground, and will help act as an insulator.
A circular wooden platform is the first step in constructing your deck. It should be the same diameter as the yurt and at least 5” of the ground. If you plan on having electricity and/or plumbing in your
yurt, then having the platform 18” to 24” off the ground is best so you have a bit of a crawl space to install those utilities. If you are in a cold climate area be sure to insulate this space and do your best to close off the area to prevent wind blowing through. This will prevent you from some major potential headaches in the future.
A concrete slab is also a viable option. If you do go this route you will need to ensure that a wood or composite ring known as a “sill plate” is placed around the circumference of the platform to allow the yurt to be anchored properly.
Why a Wood Burning Stove?
The durability of yurts make for great off-grid living. A wood burning stove will provide heat for the entire yurt as well as providing a way to heat up or cook meals.
Make sure to consider to the square footage of your yurt and the height so you can choose the right wood stove for you.
It is critical to install any kind of fireplace on a fireproof base and according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damage or injury.
A stovepipe must be installed to carry the smoke out of the yurt, and it is strongly advised to go through a wall rather than through the ceiling. This will make it easy to clean the chimney regularly, and will minimize soot or ash falling on the roof.
Energy Source & Lights?
Your energy source is where the purpose of your yurt really comes into play.
If you are planning on being off the grid then you will be investing in some sort of alternative energy source. The three main sources are Solar, Wind, or Hydro. None of them are cheap and all of them will need a battery source to store your energy.
As for interior lighting, that is one of those areas where you can do just enough to provide light, like in a side table lamp, or go all out for a more well lit experience. Keep in mind you will need to understand your battery's storage capacity, if applicable, and how to manage your energy use to maximize the energy you have.
If you’ve chosen to use your yurt in a backyard setting as a spare guest room or a commercial studio, you will most likely need to be plugged into the grid or a decent sized generator to handle the level of after-dark use.
What Kind of Bedding?
You may be thinking, "Bedding...really?" This essential is geared more towards you weekend warriors, the seasonal hunting lodge, or mountain retreat visits. I mean you upgraded your situation to a yurt; if you wanted to sleep on the ground and go full on "Hooah" Army style then you would be laying under a pitched tent and this article would be a moot point. But you aren't and you didn't so why not add a few of those at-home luxuries and get some nice comfortable sleep at night.
If you are renting or glamping in a yurt then we would double check the sleeping arrangements. Some, if not most, of the yurt rentals at state parks and such have a mattress and that is it. So bringing your own bedding is essential.
If you are just visiting for a few days, then your normal sleeping bag situation may fit best for packing and space as you travel. Keep in mind where you are going and what time of year you will be going.
If it's the colder months make sure you feel like your sleeping bag will keep you warm enough, and the opposite if you are traveling in the warmer months.
Now if you are in a more permanent seasonal situation like a mountain retreat where you are coming back more often, then we would say splurge and bring along some sheets, blankets, and bedding from your home. Use a mattress cover that you can bring and take with you with ease. Something that can be washed easily so that you know it is clean and you can rest in comfort in your retreat.
It may seem like a silly thing, but knowing you are resting on something that is clean, your own, and climate correct can make a huge difference in the comfort of a quick visit or a longer stay.
Is a CO/Fire Alarm Monitor Really an Essential?
Last but not least is the safety of yourselves and others. Yurts are comfortable livings spaces and are meant to be lived in. That means cooking in and potentially spending a fair amount of time in without many doors or windows being open to allow for large amounts of air flow.
With that in mind you will want to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. Having a small CO alarm in place is a small thing for peace of mind knowing that you and your family are safe while you sleep.