Modern Yurts vs. Traditional Yurts

Sain baina uu? 

Whether you’re new to the world of yurts, a yurt enthusiast, or for generations your family has been building and assembling gers from scratch, you have likely been made aware that there is more than one type of yurt. Yurts date back to more than 3000 years ago in Central Asia and have evolved a great deal since. Traditional Mongolian and Turkic yurts are most common in Central Asia, however, the rest of the world has seen growth in popularity for both the traditional and modern versions. But what is the best way to go? Well, this depends on your style, location, climate & municipal regulations. 

Traditional Yurts

Traditional yurts are nomadic tents that have been used by Central Asian tribes for centuries. They are made of felt or other natural materials and are typically circular in shape. The structure of a traditional yurt consists of lattice walls attached in a circle and supporting roof rafters that are radiating from a central dome opened to the sky (called toono in Mongolia). The wall and roof covers are made of felt and canvas and are held in place by horse-hair ropes. The floor is typically made of packed earth or a wooden platform.

Mongolian gers, in particular, are extremely efficient due to their compact silhouette that has been shaped in an extreme climate over the course of hundreds of years. They are fairly easy to move from one location to the other and leave little to no footprint.

Modern Yurts

Modern yurts, on the other hand, are a more recent development and are typically using more manmade materials such as vynil for the outer cover.  The structure of modern yurts are often higher to accommodate standard doors and a steeper pitch. Reflective bubble wrap is mostly used as insulation.  The flooring can be wooden or made of other sturdy materials. Some modern yurts can also be equipped with plumbing and electrical systems.


Mongolian yurts, which are still used today by about half the Mongolian population, were developed to withstand the harshest weather conditions – making them 4-season dwellings. Modern Yurts can also survive seasonal changes, which attests to why both are popular North America.


The origin proportions of the Mongolian yurt were tried and tested for thousands of years and are still honored throughout Mongolia to this day. Notably, the doors are smaller than North American standards. This is not because Mongolians are short, but rather, because of functionality and physics! The short doorway allows for a more aerodynamic shape, making it easy for the yurt structure to endure high winds. Additionally, it is also proven to be more efficient to heat during the winter season! 

Modern yurts were designed with higher doors to fit the North American building codes. It should be noted that this modification is not as effective at resisting high winds.


Another main difference is the materials that are used to construct the yurts. Traditional Yurts are hand-made with natural and breathable materials, heavily avoiding the use of plastic to cover and insulate the yurt. Modern Yurts are mainly constructed with vinyl covers for the outside layer.  A big concern with the use of nonbreathable material is that the yurt consequently has an issue with fending off condensation, affecting ease of maintenance and comfortability.

About Groovy Yurts

At Groovy Yurts, we too have modified the yurt very slightly, with most respect for Mongolian traditions! Because of the moist climates we often face, we’ve added a layer of breathable membrane between the canvas and the felt insulation. This hinders the breathability of the yurt slightly but is the best compromise that we have found to prevent water from coming in, while allowing the humidity to escape. 

Additionally, for those with more minimalistic styles, we have partnered with Tuya and her team to provide our new line of contemporary yurtsThe Natural Wood Collection! These Mongolian gers allow the natural woodwork to shine. Be sure to check them out!

As one of the oldest dwellings in the world, the yurt never ceases to amaze us with its capacity to adapt to different needs and conditions. No matter how you compare them, they all share the same core value of roundness that brings people together! So, we’ve laid it all out. The pros, cons, and realities of living out of a traditional or modern yurt. Now the million-dollar question is, which yurt best suits you?

Next Read: Winter Yurt Tips  



Modern Yurt Image:


Who is the great Warrior Ruler, Genghis Khan?

Who is the great Warrior Ruler, Genghis Khan?

The Genesis 

Originally known as Temujin (named after a Tatar chieftain), Genghis Khan was born in 1162 along the border of Mongolia and Siberia, near Lake Baikal. This budding warrior was a member of the Borjigin tribe, and a descendent of the great Khabul Khan (Khabul Khan “briefly united Mongols against the Jin (Chin) Dynasty of northern China in the early 1100s”). He was born with a blood clot in his hand, which signifies that the infant is meant to become a leader in Mongolian culture. Many great leaders are born of great turmoil and unfortunately, Genghis was no exception. He was destined to live a life full of unpredictability and trauma. 

His parents were not united out of love, but rather, came together when his mother was kidnapped by his father, Yesukhei, who forcefully married her. Violence and sadness surrounded Gengis Khan as “dozens of nomadic tribes on the central Asian steppe were constantly fighting and stealing from each other.” Genghis was one of 6 siblings when his father died of poisoning, an attack premeditated by an enemy clan. What followed was a poverty-stricken widow & siblings, & Bekhter (half-brother) and Genghis fighting to be the head of the household. Genghis wins as a result of killing Bekhter and becomes the main protector and provider. 

What happened next?  

Genghis grew up and married Borte at 16 years old and together they shared 4 boys and an undocumented number of girls. Their marriage cemented a necessary alliance between the Konkirat tribe and his own. Later, Botre would be taken by the Merkit tribe and was forcefully given to a chieftain as a wife. Genghis sent out a search party and was successful in retrieving his wife. Along the way, they have another son named Jochi (from the kidnapping) and Genghis continues to have more children with other lovers. 

This is a little bit about Genghis’ early life. Although far from perfect, he goes on to wear many hats, and unite the people of Mongolia – building a strong and fortified Mongolian empire. Did you know that Mongol is the biggest empire conquered?  Victory took 3 generations (Genghis’ sons and grandsons) and was largely thanks to Mongolian gers. Because they were nomads, the soldier’s families would follow the soldiers allowing them to go on very long campaigns without feeling homesick. Amazing right!? 

The Warrior Ruler 

Later, Genghis Khan would be temporarily enslaved by the Taichi’uts. Through a string of events, he escapes and builds a fighting unit with clansmen and his blood brothers. Genghis naturally rose to command and the unit grew larger until he had assembled over 20,000 men. Each soldier had a few horses allowing them to advance very fast. Ultimately, he wanted “to destroy traditional divisions amongst the various tribes and unite the Mongols under his rule.” 

As the unit began to fight more battles, they gradually became stronger and more strategic through military tactics and their leader’s guidance. Overcoming one rival tribe at a time, Genghis was able to annihilate the Tatar tribe and avenge his father’s death. He then went on to conquer the “Naiman tribe, thus giving him control of central and eastern Mongolia.” The unit achieved victory after victory, rallying tribes under their feet.

Genghis was a wise and tactful leader that was able to create “an extensive spy network and was quick to adopt new technologies from his enemies.” His quick thinking and intelligence brought men together from far and wide. The fighting unit went from 20 000 to over 80 000, making them a powerful force. They had a lot of intelligent systems in place that increased their coordination and enabled them to carry loads of handy equipment for battle. It is believed they invented the postal system with a system of horse relays that allowed them to pass information extremely quickly from every corner of the empire. They had advanced and “sophisticated signaling systems of smoke and burning torches. Large drums sounded commands to charge, and further orders were conveyed with flag signals. Every soldier was fully equipped with a bow, arrows, a shield, a dagger, and a lasso. Cavalrymen carried a small sword, javelins, body armor, a battle-ax or mace, and a lance with a hook to pull enemies off their horses.”  

Proceeding a long string of wins against rival tribes, the warrior’s name transitioned from Temujin (his original name) to Genghis Khan, which translates to ‘Universal Ruler’ or ‘Warrior Ruler’.  Genghis Khan was a name that rang throughout Mongolia and “the title carried both political importance and spiritual significance.” The leading shaman declared Genghis Khan the representative of Mongke Koko Tengri (the ‘Eternal Be Sky’), the supreme god of the Mongols. With this declaration of divine status, it was accepted that his destiny was to rule the world.”  

In 1207, Genghis carried his honorable name and battle instruments on both shoulders, as he guided his calvary men to override the Xi Xia. Then, in 1211, he attacked North Korea in Jin Dynasty in northern China, then following in “1219, he waged a 3-prong attack against the Khwarazmian dynasty, and so on and so forth. Did you know that when the Mongols reached the doors of Europe, they entered cities that stunk so badly (because of the lack of sewage systems) that they decided to stop it there and go home? Crazy right?! Genghis khan would set up embassies (a word originating from the Mongolian language)  in the countries conquered and with no violence for those who surrendered. 

He was also fascinated by all the knowledge he picked up along the way and brought back to Mongolia scientists, artists and especially representatives of all religions (today all religions are still well tolerated in Mongolia and cohabit in relative harmony and great tolerance). Put simply, where ever Genghis and his men went, they conquered and brought the best from their conquest home. 

Mission Accomplished

Even the greatest of lives must come to an end. The Warrior Ruler died in 1227, shortly following the surrender of Xi Xia. There is mystery behind his death, however.  It is believed by some that Genghis “fell off a horse while on a hunt and died of fatigue and injuries. Others contend that he died of respiratory disease. Genghis Khan was buried without markings, according to the customs of his tribe, somewhere near his birthplace—close to the Onon River and the Khentii Mountains in northern Mongolia. According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone and anything they encountered to conceal the location of the burial site, and a river was diverted over Genghis Khan’s grave to make it impossible to find.” 

From Temujin to Genghis Khan, he was truly an unforgettable conqueror. 

Next Read: The Intricate Symbolism of Mongolian Gers >




Logistics Issues

The reality is that some yurt parts are still being carried on horseback through Mongolia. They will then be completed in the capital city, shipped in a sea container, carried by train, and then shipped again by boat from China to Canada. This journey initially took 2 months but has since increased dramatically due to shipping determinants.

Last year everything was turned upside down in a worldwide shipping debacle. Containers could not be shipped from China anymore, and the ones that had already been shipped, took up to 9 months to arrive – this meant that the only other option was to ship through Russia to Europe. The containers were loaded on trucks or trains and then on a ship in Europe, costing 3 times the price, but ultimately, the gers did arrive intact. We decided to order them earlier this year to ensure we had what we needed for stock.

Then, a man who has all the power to help turn the world into a happy place, decided to do the opposite and invaded his neighbor. Our last container was on a train in Russia and began bouncing from place to place until it finally crossed the border with a few weeks delay. That was a huge relief. The container then arrived in Estonia, and then sat another few weeks in Germany until it was loaded on a boat. Alas, when the ship arrived in Montreal, the container was nowhere to be found. It is only one metal box amongst 10,000 others on a huge ship, however, we are waiting to start our annual delivery tour, making this an issue.

We have become accustomed to reshuffling but look forward to a certain normalcy. Right now, there’s a huge shortage of containers in Mongolia and therefore we have been presented with the most recent of logistics issues – sourcing shipping containers. In the meantime, Bataa and his family are still making gers. Thankfully, we’ve developed a brand-new shipping solution that uses special custom boxes being shipped in empty European trucks returning from delivering much-needed supplies to Mongolia. Bataa and his chaps again worked like crazy to make this happen. We are so grateful to work with such amazing partners. Our heart goes also to our shipping agent – Landbridge, who must find solutions in this insane market.

One way or the other, we’ll get you your Mongolian ger. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Yves and the Groovies