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 >




Delivering Groovy Yurts in the USA

USA Yurt Set-Ups

It’s the yurts USA yurt set-up edition! Groovy Yurts is gearing up for another big Groovy Truck Tour to deliver yurts throughout Western Canada and the United States. For July & August, we’ll be touring through Alberta, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas & Washington. This is one of our favourite routes as the weather is warm, the people are wonderful, and the set-up locations are as beautiful as they are variable – our yurts have weathered all types of landscapes and climates in the United States (yes, even Alaska). We hope you continue to read on as we reminisce about some of the awesome USA yurt set-ups we’ve had the pleasure of working on in past Groovy Truck Tours – many of which you can visit! 

Alaska Yurts

We often get questions about whether our Mongolian yurts can withstand the extreme cold temperatures of Alaska, and the answer is yes, we have many happy customers in this state! For these customers, we typically recommend 2 layers of wool felt insulation and an efficient wood burning stove. 

We love our trips to Alaska as the views are beautiful, the roads have been clear & the people are kind. The last time we were there we had the lovely surprise of meeting some gentlemen at the scale in Tok, Alaska, who had met Mongolian soldiers while posted in Iraq, as well as folks at Gabe’s Garage in Fairbanks, who took us in unexpectedly. 

One of our favourite yurt experiences is called the ‘Last Fontier Mushing Co-op’; located in Two Rivers, Alaska, just 150 miles below the Artic Circle. They offer guided dog sledding expeditions that capture the breathtaking beauty of Alaska, through both the landscape and rich heritage.  At the end of a perfect day, you’ll have the option to stay overnight in an authentic Mongolian Groovy Yurt beneath the northern lights. 

Groovy Yurt at the Last Frontiers Mushing Co-op in Alaska, USA

Although these millenary dwelling are great for withstanding cold temperatures, dwellers must beware of heavy snowfall! We were recently sent this photo from Carl in Alaska, and he’s accumulated quite a bit of snow on his yurt.

Tip: It is very important to stay on top of snow removal. Yurts can only hold so much additional weight. 

Snowy Groovy Yurt in Alaska

California Yurts

California seems to be a very popular glamping destination (and for good reason). The climate is Mediterranean-like with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. However, in the southeastern regions, the state experiences a hot arid climate – like that of the Sahara Desert. We’ve had the pleasure of completing USA yurt set-ups in both types of climates. Our yurts are being featured in luxurious, outdoor camping destinations across the state. 

In the Gold Country, you can escape to a small intimate yurt Airbnb located in the Sierra Foothills of California. The getaway features an Asian/Pacific fusion of ambiance, décor, body treatments, tropical foliage and of course, the authentic Mongolian yurts. 

Further South is the ’28 Palms Ranch. This is a glamping yurt village nestled in the foothills of the Copper Mountains in Twentynine Palms. If you are looking for a peaceful and unplugged desert oasis, enjoy the sweet scent of wild desert sage and relax under the magical starry night by your private fireplace. 

28 Palm Ranch Groovy Yurt in California, USA

Even in the dry heat of California, the yurt’s all-natural air conditioning (created by crosswinds from lifting the bottom of the outer layer of the dwelling) ensures that you won’t overheat. The Mongolians really thought of everything!

Massachusetts Yurts

We had the pleasure of helping set up Liz & Slava’s new ger in Massachusetts. They were wonderful to work with and we assured them that the Mongolian Yurt can even be comfortable in humid states. It is important to note that if you’re planning on living in an area with high humidity, you should be sure to annually seal the seams of your yurt, heat it from the inside out after heavy rainfall, reduce your use of gas appliances and be sure to reset your yurt in the springtime! This will prolong the life of your dwelling.

Groovy Yurt in Massachusetts

If you’re planning on visiting this region soon, we recommend checking out the Eco Mongolian Yurt in the Berkshires. You’ll have the opportunity to stay in an authentic off-grid Mongolian yurt with windows, skylight, and a wood stove for year-round enjoyment. The lovely 20’ yurt is in the owner’s ever-expanding garden, surrounded by seasonal greenery and flowers. All amenities are included and powered by renewable energy sources (which is extra cool)!

Eco-Mongolian Yurt in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, USA

Texas Yurts

Last, but certainly not least of the USA yurt set-ups is a Texas glamping destination called,The Yurtopian. This is a personal favourite for the Groovy Team as some of us have had the pleasure of staying here. They provide the most comfortable, luxurious glamping experience for those wanting to unplug and relax in a natural setting. Tucked into the hills, amongst the cedars, oaks, cacti, and birds, your troubles will melt away in the hot tub, by the firepit or watching the glorious hill country sunset from your rooftop deck. This is a must-do for both Texas tourists as well as residents! 

Groovy Yurt in Texas, USA at the Yurtopian

We are so excited to embark on our US tour this summer 2022. If you are a resident within California, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas or Washington.

Additionally, we’re announcing a special addition Groovy Tour coming your way for the end of October & November, 2022. We’ll be touring through Eastern & East-Central USA. You can also ‘meet the Groovy Bus‘ for yurt parts (and avoid inflated shipping fees)! In order to secure a spot on this tour, full payment for parts will be required up front, as well a 20% yurt deposit. The deadline is October 15th. Full balance for yurts is due on delivery. | Learn More About Delivery Tours >

The Land of The Eternal Blue Sky

It’s been 3 years since I’ve visited Mongolia due to COVID. A lot of things have changed. In the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, people seem to be busier and have more money. The cars are in great shape and everyone seems to own one. Even at Naraantuul, the black market, you can pay with a credit card or e-transfer – the days of carrying around large amounts of cash are almost gone. Restaurants, bars and trendy coffee shops flourish and supermarkets are experiencing skyrocketing prices because the country is landlocked. While one used to be able to make spontaneous appointments with the prime minister, today it becomes hard to find time with friends – the hustle and bustle is starting to feel like every other large city in the world. 

Mongolia is landlocked and shares its borders with two neighbors. During COVID, borders were closed with China. They still have not fully opened yet. For a variety of reasons, China is not letting many goods in and even fewer goods out, which did not make our export of Mongolian gers any easier – if a nation wanted to strangle another, it would resort to similar tactics. We were forced to turn to Russia for the shipping of our precious dwellings. However, this neighbour’s president, who has everything in his power to help make the world a better place, has recently decided to invade his Western brothers. 

This leaves us with limited solutions as a friend to Mongolia; the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky.” We will not be shipping our yurts by air but will have to come up with equally creative solutions – these unusual circumstances will force us to develop our offer yet again. To prevent last year’s crazy delays, we started stocking much earlier, but there was no way to prepare for a war. That being said, we are so grateful to have roofs over our heads and our hearts go out to the Ukrainians who have lost theirs. There will be more delays this year and we know our customers will understand the circumstances. We thank them warmly. 

As the price of imported vegetables and other goods continues to increase, some predict severe inflation in Ulaanbaatar. As tough as it will be for the middle-class, who have just begun to enjoy Western ‘pleasures’, I believe that Mongolia will sustain itself thanks to the millenary nomadic culture and the extreme resilience and independence of the Mongolian people


Yves Ballenegger