nomad shelter alaskan yurt in extreme winter conditions

Tradition

The Alaskan Nomad Shelter yurt is inspired by the traditional Ger or yurt design of the central Asian steppe nomadic herding people. The design includes a circular lattice frame and rafters supported by a central compression ring at the top. This design is ages old and very well proven. 

The central Asian people have used yurts for thousands of years as primary residences due to their wind resistance and excellent snow strength while providing a light, warm, circular interior.

Nomad Shelter founders Lee and Jess Tenhoff have flawlessly incorporated these enduring traditions, living and working through extreme Alaskan conditions in a yurt of their own design since 1987.

Distinctive Design

The Alaskan Nomad Shelter yurt has many features that you'll only find here. Aspects we include as standard are generally extra charges at other companies, if they are available at all. Beyond the overall quality of construction, the following distinctions make the Nomad Shelter the best value for extreme weather use and total comfort.

nomad shelter alaskan 40 foot yurt with tan cover under open sky

Cover

The cover is made of Duro-last roofing membrane 40 mil (28 oz) polyvinyl, with some colors also available in 50 mil. 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. This fabric is the only fabric that comes on the standard yurt.

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.

nomad shelter alaskan yurt construction with open lattice and rafters in the forest

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 60 lbs per square foot snow loads and 100 mph wind resistance.

The top of the 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

nomad shelter alaskan yurt rafters with skylight and stovepipe

Rafters

Nomad Shelter rafters use 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.

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 at 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.

nomad shelter alaskan yurt rings in the shop

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.

nomad shelter alaskan yurt insulation in the shop

Insulation

Nomad Shelter offers a 3 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.

Nomad Shelter also offers a heavy four-season liner.  Our four-season liner starts with the 3-season liner which is then upgraded with 1″ of polyester batting alongside the Reflectix. Both the top cover and the walls include this extra insulation layer. We can even create custom insulation options for those in truly extreme climate who require  even greater insulation.

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

nomad shelter alaskan yurt plexiglass skylight in the shop

Skylights

Nomad Shelter is proud to feature a distinctive octagonal Douglas fir and Plexiglass skylight. Love your wood stove? Our skylight design includes a rugged 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. 

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. 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.

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.

 
 

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!