What Is The Difference Between a Tent and a Yurt?

Don’t let the beauty of a yurt trick you: they are highly practical too

With “glamping” becoming more popular, yurts are now starting to populate campsites all around the world. While you can sleep in both a yurt and a tent, there are a lot of differences between the two. If you’re someone who loves camping and wants to try something new, or you’re just curious because you saw the latest products of the Colorado Yurt Company and Pacific Yurts, this article is for you.

The Traditional Yurt: A Symbol of Central Asian Heritage

Originating in Central Asia, traditional yurts have been a part of the intangible cultural heritage for centuries, representing a true symbol of Central Asia.

A yurt has always been much more than a shelter: it’s a portable & round tent covered with skins and used as a dwelling by nomads back in the days. Its structure consists of an accordion-like wooden frame that expands to form a circular base, topped with a roof structure that is often pointed and supported by a central compression ring.

Back when it was created, the design was not the priority: yes, yurts look great, but they’re also incredibly efficient in terms of heat distribution and resistance to harsh weather.

Modern Yurts

If you're willing to spend, the sky is the limit in how you can personalize your yurt
If you’re willing to spend, the sky is the limit in how you can personalize your yurt

Modern yurts are living proof of how traditional designs can adapt to current needs.

Many decades later, yurts are now made of materials like canvas and include features like insulation, windows, and sometimes even a private bathroom, something that was unthinkable back then.

Modern yurts blend the traditional yurt’s efficient design with modern amenities, offering a unique camping experience to those who don’t mind spending more.

Yurt Camping: A Luxurious Outdoor Experience

Yurt camping has become increasingly popular, especially among people who don’t want to sacrifice comfort when going camping – we’ve even written on how you can live full time on a yurt.

While more expensive, yurts are normally equipped with amenities that a regular tent doesn’t provide (comfortable beds, electricity, and sometimes even a private bathroom). If you are willing to spend a bit more, you’re in for a great experience.

By contrast, the traditional tent represents a more conventional approach to camping.

Tents are typically made from lightweight materials like nylon or polyester, making them easy to transport and set up. They range widely in size, from small two-person tents to large family-sized shelters and are normally less insulated and simpler in terms of amenities. They are also considerably cheaper.

Tents vs. Yurts

There isn't a winner - it all depends on what you want
There isn’t a winner – it all depends on what you want

We thought it would be useful and easier to spot the differences between a regular tent and a traditional yurt if we listed some characteristics in a rapid-fire style, as a way of summary that you can quickly check.

Structural Differences

  • Yurts: A wooden frame that forms a circular structure, often with a durable & weather-resistant covering

  • Tents: Usually made from synthetic materials, they are built to be portable and easy to set up

Comfort and Amenities

  • Yurts: Often equipped with luxuries like beds, furniture, electricity, and even a private bathroom

  • Tents: More basic, requiring campers to bring their sleeping bags, mats, and other camping gear

Cultural Significance

  • Yurts: Rich in history, symbolizing the nomadic cultures of Central Asia

  • Tents: More utilitarian, with less cultural significance but more flexibility in use

Camping Experience

  • Yurts: Offers a “glamping” experience, putting you in touch with nature without sacrificing any comfort

  • Tents: Emphasizes a more traditional form of camping


Whether you should choose a yurt or a tent will depend on your camping style and on how much you are willing to spend.

If you’re looking for a comfortable experience and don’t mind spending some cash to plan an epic experience for you and your family, then we say go yurt camping. However, if you want a more traditional, back-to-basics & cheaper camping experience, then we say get ready to pitch your tent.

But most importantly, whether you’re having dinner at a picnic table outside your yurt or are adjusting your inflatable air mattress in your tent, what matters is that you left your house and went camping. Kudos to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does The Circular Shape of a Yurt Help?

The circular shape of a yurt offers several advantages: it provides structural stability, efficient distribution of heat, and resistance to wind.

What Are The Unique Features of a Yurt’s Conical Roof?

A yurt’s conical roof doesn’t just look good; it’s also functional: 1) the roof normally has a central compression ring at the apex, often with a skylight or opening for ventilation and light; and 2) the sloping sides allow for rain and snow to easily slide off, preventing accumulation and potential damage to the yurt.

Can Yurts be Found in State Parks, and What is Their Typical Use There?

Yes, many state parks have started offering yurts as lodging options. In these settings, yurts are often used for “glamping,” providing a comfortable camping experience with amenities like beds, furniture, and sometimes electricity.

Are Private Bathrooms Common in Yurts, Especially in Commercial Settings?

In commercial settings, such as those offered by yurt rental companies or in state parks, it’s becoming increasingly common to find yurts equipped with private bathrooms. This extra is part of the trend towards “glamping,” where the goal is to provide a more luxurious camping experience.

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