I’m fascinated by the different cultures around the works have adopted and adapted the therapeutic benefits of Steam bathing to best serve their societies and families. And after hosting thousands of guests at mobile saunas I’ve built with friends and fellow steam enthusiasts here in the Twin Cities, I’ve come to understand the need for making the health and wellness benefits of these traditions more available — especially for urbanites trying to find balance and thrive in today’s fast-paced world.

Cooling down between Sauna rounds, downtown Helsinki

After receiving a Russian banya venik treatment from Nicolai (left) and Anton (right)

Tukish Hamam I enjoyed during a trip to the Black Sea last spring.

A tradition of innovation

Sweat bathing traditions such as the Finnish Sauna thrive because practitioners continue to adapt and modify the experience.

For example, Finnish immigrants arriving on the North Shores of lake Superior used whatever materials they could find to fashion their structures and stoves.

When the spruce and aspen they were used to using was not available, poplar became a popular alternative.

Unlike many sauna enthusiasts today, our ancestors wasted no time or energy pitting innovation against traditional best practices—and neither do I.

I want to make the full mental, physical and social benefits of steam bathing available to the most people possible, which is why I started Sauna Society Builders with fellow steam enthusiast Rodney Buhrsmith and why we’re so excited to introduce a new way to enjoy a good steam anywhere, anytime — and, you can set it up in less than 20 minutes!

A simpler way to steam

The backbone of this setup is a handmade double-walled canvas expedition tent from SnowTrekker winter camping company.
I set up my first SnowTrekker tent 2 years ago when the company’s owners Duane and Margot Lottig sent one my way for testing.
After 22 years of R&D and hardcore winter camping experience, Duane and Margot realized the structure could easily sustain sauna temps and they wanted to know how it faired compared to those I have built, hosted and experienced around the world.

What started as a weekend testing expedition has turned into a two year obsession to create a simpler way to enjoy a perfect sweat.

Testing sauna stoves and flooring options in subzero conditions last winter.

The thing that intrigued me the most about the SnowTrekker solution was the breathability of the fabric and insulative tent-within-a-tent design.

Tent-within-a-tent hot room creates a steamy hot room and mold-free cool-down area.

I love steam. I use a lot of it, similar to the Russian banyas and turkish hamam I’ve been in (which is why they’re often built with tile). However, I’ve always done so a bit reluctantly in my mobile saunas because I know the water finds all kinds of cracks in my flooring (which could lead to mold, rot and all kinds of issues I’d rather not worry about while I’m steaming.)

I love how wit this design I can even pour buckets of water over my head without the slightest concern about mold and drainage.

Here’s a quick tour of my backyard setup.

Tour of my StokeYard Steam station setup

The tent made of a 7 oz, hi thread count, tight weave canvas that’s treated with a marine grade, preshrunk Sunforger for water repellency and mildew resistance.

I also love how the entire tent—not just the hot room—dried out completely between each use, eliminating the issue of mold in the transition room between the hot room and outside, which is where the most condensation (and thus mold) accumulate in conventional saunas.

The tent-with-a-tent hot room design provides extra insulation for comfortable steaming in the coldest of Minnesota’s winters.
But the most important feature for me is the portability. I can set it up anywhere. No truck, no tools, no permit. Easy steaming in less than 20 minutes—and, the 8x10 foot footprint fits easily in my tiny backyard.

All you need is 8’x10′ of space to enjoy a steamy happy hour in your own backyard.

It’s so simple, yet elegant enough that I’ve been excited to share it with skeptical friends.

StokeYard Steam Station at Bauhaus Brew Labs

Making the most of April blizzards in my backyard. 

 

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