Grant's Portable Ger
March 2, 2011

Grant’s Portable Ger

Grant Olson contacted me about a portable Ger he built and lived in for 3 months and he asked me to share his project with you. I am impressed with his ger and think it would make a perfect temporary shelter or home. I’ll let Grant tell you more about it.

About this time last year, I was finalizing plans for a 7-month natural building apprenticeship in the Irish countryside. Though lodging was unavailable, our instructor invited us to camp on the property if the idea of renting a room in town was a bit pricey. Having spent my last dimes on the plane ticket, I began designing a shelter to bring with me: something portable enough to disguise as luggage, yet comfortable enough to keep me satisfied for the duration of my stay.

Inspired by the simple and tested design of the Mongolian ger, I set to work miniaturizing its components; the resulting structure measures 8′ in diameter and 6′ at its peak when set up, but folds down to fit inside an 11″ x 8″ x 48″ box. Its total weight is just over 20 lbs, and it cost less than $150 to build (though a few connections allowed me to obtain materials for cheap/free).

Its performance exceeded expectations – set atop a platform of pallets, it kept me and my belongings dry for the 3 months I called it home. Though an immigration issue cut my stay in Ireland short, I do plan on moving back into the tiny ger once the snow melts here in Wisconsin.

My recent re-post of the construction details at http://northwinddesignworks.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/grants-ger-repost/ provides all the information necessary to begin building the framework for a miniature ger of one’s own. Running out of time towards the end of the project, I had to skim over some of the sewing process. When weather allows, I’ll set it up for a close-up photo shoot of the components not well-illustrated by the current pictures. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to answer individual questions.

Thanks Grant for sharing your cool project with us. Be sure and visit his blog to get all the details.

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alice - March 2, 2011 Reply

This is great! I was thinking of doing something similar but was daunted by the prospect of figuring it all out. Perfect guest quarters, maybe even a sauna.

Jeff - March 2, 2011 Reply

Grant,

Love your little yurt (ger)! It’s a good thing that you will wait till winter is over to set this up in Wisconsin. I’ve lived here my entire life and I know that one good snowstorm would crush the roof.

Jeff

Bethany - March 2, 2011 Reply

What a great idea! Perfect size for portable lodgings! And a great alternative to the less attractive hexayurt when cost and portability are key factors!

olmon - March 2, 2011 Reply

While this is a neat & interesting project, a trip to WalMart will get you a larger, taller, lighter weight and cheaper solution. 18’X10’X6’tall weighs 20lbs & costs less then $90 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Suisse-Sport-Wyoming-18-x-10-x-72-3-Room-Tent/2579728

    Blog Reader - March 3, 2011 Reply

    There’s a movie called “Walmart: The HIgh Cost of Low Price” that you might want to see. It’s available to view instantly on Netflix. You might not be so quick to push Walmart after you see it.

      liz - March 3, 2011 Reply

      Not that I am a Wall mart fan, But what is the advantage of a small yurt over a large tent? Further down the list it suggests that it can support more weight, an issue in snow country, but are there other practical advantages over say a canvas wall tent? The kind that safaris and summer camps use?

Claudia - March 2, 2011 Reply

I think this is terrific! Unlike a store-bought tent, this ger is made of all-natural materials and additional layers can be added for insulation and/or rain protection. Thanks so much for sharing!

Claudia - March 2, 2011 Reply

I think this is really terrific. Unlike a store-bought tent, this ger is made of all-natural materials and additional layers can be added for insulation and/or rain protection.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Mary - March 2, 2011 Reply

Yeah, but this sooo much cooler and more fun than a Walmart tent. Very neat.

Grant - March 2, 2011 Reply

It’s great to see some interest in the project! Its actually the cold keeping me out of the ger right now rather than the threat of roof collapse from snow load. If I had an appropriate stove, I’d be sleeping there tonight. I can grab a hold of the central ring and hang from it without fear of bringing it down. Great of you to bring up insulation, Claudia; its designed so that I can add some more layers, just haven’t settled on an appropriate material yet.

Nicole Marie - March 2, 2011 Reply

Thank you so much for posting this! This is awesome! Great job. I am debating going for a work study and need a place to stay, something like this would be perfect. I can’t thank you enough for the inspiration!

MJ - March 3, 2011 Reply

Luckily, we’re in the (mostly) company of people here who prefer to avoid trips to Wal-Mart as often as possible. Good work, Grant! How often people don’t pursue dreams because of stumbling over things that might seem insurmountable, like ‘where will I stay?’ and yet…there are almost always answers if we want our dreams enough!

liz - March 3, 2011 Reply

I own a yurt, a large one that stands year round. Its advantage over a tent is that, well, its bigger and has a sky light. It is probably more wind resistant because its round. The lattice frame work probably makes it sturdier and might keep a bear from tearing a whole and walking in. But if I were heading out to spend three months in Ireland, where there are not a lot of bears and snow isn’t a big issue either, why not a tent?
Just wondering.
It can be a bit tricky to organize a round space, especially a small one. Its harder to put your bed against a wall for example.

Grant - March 4, 2011 Reply

Wall tents certainly have a number of advantages – in fact, I have several sewing plans for wall tents of varying sizes that I sketched prior to changing gears and building the ger. A wall tent would have been lighter and easier to sew, and the door would have been full height.
I think I settled on the ger primarily for the added build challenges and exotic appeal, but round structures have a few advantages too. The ger is free-standing and does not need any guy lines, but most significant is wind resistance. During the first week of the apprenticeship, other apprentices in the mobile home and camper trailer couldn’t sleep inside their rocking, sail-esque boxes, while the winds simply swirled around the conical ger.
If i were to do it again though, I’d actually pack a tipi canvas and simply cut poles upon arrival – light, easy to pack, round and tall.

    liz - March 7, 2011 Reply

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

walter riddle - March 7, 2011 Reply

I live in Stoughton near Madison. I would love to see this up close when you reset it this spring.

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