built alaska tough

The Alaskan Nomad Shelter yurt has many features that you'll only find here. Beyond the overall quality of construction, the following distinctions make a Nomad Shelter yurt stronger and more durable than any other yurts available.  We have to build them this tough to handle the wind and snow here in Alaska!

Cover

Our covers are made entirely from tough Duro-Last roofing membrane with a welded roof seam.  Nomad Shelter uses this fabric over the entire yurt for the standard cost because it will not mildew, degrade with UV, or sustain a flame. It also offers much better overall durability and longevity than more commonly used polyester or cotton fabrics.  Our standard cover material is the toughest yurt fabric available.

Duro-Last fabric comes in five color options: Terra Cotta, Tan, Dark Gray, Light Gray, and White.  Our Terra Cotta color is available in 50 mil thickness.  All other colors are 40 mil (28 oz) thickness. Our Duro-Last covers come with a 15-year manufacturers warranty but typically last much longer. For the manufacturer's Duro-Last product information, click here.

There are two main sections to the cover: the top cover and the wall panels. The top cover is all one piece, while the wall panels come in several sections depending on your yurt design. Wall panels are connected together with heavy duty zippers and an industrial grade Velcro overlap for an easy setup and strong connection.

 

The cover is designed with facings that cover the joins in areas that could be susceptible to drafts. There are facings covering the join of the top to the wall, facings over the door join and around the windows to stop the drafts coming up between the insulation and the cover. The cover also has a sewn brow-over door that sheds the rain away from the threshold.

 

These features are all standard in a Nomad Shelter yurt.

Lattice and tension cable

The wall lattice on a Nomad Shelter yurt is made of 1″x2″ white spruce or Douglas fir riveted with 1/4 inch aluminum rivets. 40' and 50' yurts also have 2"x4" support columns integrated under the rafters for added strength, as well as taller walls. The Nomad Shelter lattice wall is a key structural element to our yurts, unlike many other companies that only include the lattice as an aesthetic feature and rely entirely on vertical support posts.

The Nomad Shelter lattice is structurally engineered with this added dimensional strength to support the rafters and provide up to 60 lbs per square foot snow loads and 100 mph wind resistance.

The top of the lattice wall is fastened with bolts for strength in bearing the weight of the rafters. A steel tension cable sits between notched grooves along the top of the lattice, safely dispersing the load from the rafters to the lattice. Our cables are up to twice as thick and many times higher strength than industry standards:

12-20 foot yurts: 1/4" steel cable

24 foot yurts: 3/8" steel cable

30 foot yurts: 7/16" steel cable

34 foot yurts: 1/2" steel cable

40-50 foot yurts: 5/8" steel cable (double cable for 50' yurts)

Rafters

Nomad Shelter rafters use wood-on-wood mortise and tenon joinery to connect to the central compression ring. This style of joinery is designed to insert directly into the compression ring, giving the connection far greater strength than the more common metal bracket or pin design. Being able to simply slot the rafters into place also makes for an easier setup.

Our mortise and tenon joinery prevents torsion or twist in the frame. The rafters do not need wire lacing to prevent twist or to have extra screw holes drilled to secure brackets or insert pins. There is only one hole drilled in the rafter near the top to allow for a gust lock cable which secures all rafters strongly to the central ring.

Rafters are all hand-finished to bring out the natural grain of the wood. We are currently using Douglas fir for all our yurt sizes to maximize strength.

Rings

Nomad Shelter central compression rings are thicker and up to a foot wider than industry standard.  This lends extra strength for wind and snow load.  it also allows our larger central skylight to brighten the interior of your yurt during the day and to show off the stars at night.

12-16 foot yurts: 4' ring with 3 layers of glued and bolted Douglas fir 2x material.

18-20 foot yurts: 5' ring with 2 layers of 3 1/8" glue-laminated material.

24 foot yurts: 6' ring with 2 layers of 3 1/8" glue-lam.

30 foot yurts: 6' ring with 3 layers of 3 1/8" glue-lam.

34 foot yurts: 8' ring with 3 layers of 3 1/8" glue-lam.

40 foot yurts: 8' ring with 1 layer of 5" glue-lam and 2 layers of 3 1/8" glue-lam.

50 foot yurts: 10' ring with 1 layer of 5" glue-lam and 2 layers of 3 1/8" glue-lam.

These robustly engineered rings ensure the compression from the rafter connection translates into an incredibly strong roof, while also serving as a beautiful design feature.

Doors and windows

 When it comes to letting in natural light, our yurts truly shine. We offer the largest range of frame sizes and configurations on the market, and will work with you to bring your unique design to life. You can mix and match door and window frames with polyvinyl window panels almost anywhere around the yurt perimeter, and hard frames can also be bolted together side by side. Every frame runs the full height of the yurt.

 

We've found it is more economical (and reduces our carbon footprint) for you to source your own doors and glass windows locally. We offer full support and guides for various installations, which can be done yourself or by a local contractor. Our wide range of frame options means a perfect fit for your choice of doors and glass windows, which can be fit snug with additional interior framing if necessary. 

Polyvinyl window panels are our base option. They are all 48"x40" and attach from the outside with industrial grade Velcro. They include a sewn-in bug screen and zippered Duro-last storm cover that can be rolled up and buckled tight. If you choose an insulation package, your window panels will also come with insulation inserts.

 

Nomad Shelter hard frames are specially crafted for each yurt from select Douglas fir for a beautiful grain and excellent dimensional strength. Yurts 16' or smaller have 9" wide face boards along the door, while yurts 18' and larger have 11" face boards. Yurts with 8' walls also include a header board above each frame, which adds extra structural support and shows off even more beautifully finished wood. If you opt for a 6' wall on our smallest sizes, you also have the option of a custom-made cedar door. 

Door Frame Widths (rough opening): 32", 36", 60", and 72"

 

Window Frame Widths (rough opening): 24", 30", 32", 36", 40", 48", 60", and 64" 

 

For guides and more information on windowpane installation and other hard frame considerations, please see our FAQ

Skylights

Nomad Shelter is proud to feature a distinctive polygonal Douglas fir and Plexiglass skylight. Yurts 30' or smaller come with an eight sided skylight, while yurts 34' and larger come with a twelve sided skylight. Unlike the dome skylights used by other companies, our polygonal skylights scale in size with our compression rings, letting in more natural light while also serving several important functions. 

 

Love your wood stove? Every skylight includes a rugged steel safety bracket designed to securely support a stove stack. The stove stack exits the center of the skylight, making installation easy and clearance code-compliant. To ensure a proper fit, we strongly recommend using Selkirk brand Metalbestos stove pipe assemblies, which we are happy to offer with your yurt.

Yurts 20 feet and under use a custom 8 inch bracket fitting an insulated Metalbestos stove pipe which is 6 inches on the interior, and 8 inches on the exterior.  Our 8 inch bracket has an outer diameter of 12 inches, allowing 2 inches of clearance on all sides.

Our yurts which are 24 feet or larger have a custom 10 inch central bracket fitting an insulated Metalbestos stove pipe which is 8 inches on the interior, and 10 inches on the exterior.  Our 10 inch bracket has an outer diameter of 14 inches, allowing 2 inches of clearance on all sides.

The stove stack is safest when it exits the peak of your yurt for optimum draft, instead of coming through the wall. The stove stack is supported in high winds by the Douglas fir skylight frame which is anchored to the compression ring, providing the safest possible stack solution for extreme climates. The stove stack can be angled on the interior of the yurt to allow your stove to be placed anywhere in the yurt you desire. All skylights come with at least one hinged ventilation panel for airflow and temperature regulation.

The skylight can be capped if there is no stove stack needed. The Tam light thermopane double dome skylight from Tam skylights makes an excellent cap.

 

Insulation

Nomad Shelter offers a three-season insulation liner that is appropriate for milder climates, and is similar to an industry standard yurt liner. It features Reflectix double foil-backed bubble wrap. This is lined on the interior side with a polyester mildew and fire resistant fabric. Our durable liner can be repeatedly moved without wear or breakage, and creates a moisture barrier inside the yurt cover. This option is suitable for milder climates or three-season residence. 

Nomad Shelter also offers a heavy four-season liner.  This option upgrades the three-season liner with 1″ of polyester batting alongside the Reflectix and is finished with an exterior layer of building wrap. Both the top cover and the walls include this extra insulation layer. We can even create custom insulation options for those in truly extreme climates who require even greater insulation, or to meet R value code requirements. These options generally utilize 1" thick foam board panels cut to size for your yurt. 

There are many people in Alaska living in Nomad Shelter yurts featuring the four-season liner as insulation for their primary residences. Nomad Shelter owners Lee and Jess Tenhoff also use the heavy four-season liner for their residence yurts in Homer, Alaska.

For more information on the R value of our insulation, as well as options for heating and cooling your yurt, please see our FAQ.

 

Specification Sheets

We hope this information was helpful, and shows our care and commitment to constructing the best yurts available at the greatest value to you. If you have any further questions about Nomad Shelter yurt designs, we'd love to hear from you!