Hexayurt Project

If you aren’t familiar with hexayurts, as I was not too long ago, here’s some background. They’re a modern (primarily) temporary structure designed by Vinay Gupta, with many applications from disaster relief/humanitarian aid to recreational use. They are made from whole and cut 4×8′ panels with no waste. The basic “8 foot” model has 166 square feet of floor space, an 8′ center height, 4′ height at the edges, and measures 16′ corner to corner. They are constructed from 12 sheets of either a metal faced polyisocyanurate insulation board like R-max or Thermax, or hexacomb cardboard. In most of the US, polyiso foam is probably the most availiable and economical “light panel” material. Plywood or OSB may also be used, but these hexayurts require additional insulation and some type of reinforcement for screws to hold it together. Polyiso hexayurts are held together by an extremely strong bifilament packing tape, commonly in a 6″ width. This tape is expensive, 35USD or so for a 60 yard roll, so many steps may be done with cheaper 3″ tape. High quality duct or gorilla tape has been reported to work well, especially in mild climates, but duct tape gets soft in high heat high solar radiation conditions. Bright sun also degrades the expensive bifilament tape, so it is covered with aluminum HVAC tape. This produces a sturdy structure with reasonable longevity. How long do they last in the real world? I’m going to find out, one day at a time.


The interior of the yurt feels quite roomy, and is more than comfortably large for two people, along with their gear. The floor is made from a tarp, which is cut to the shape of the yurt and taped to the outside walls for weather resistance. Make sure to stake them to the ground so they do not become “hexakites”, but mine has already survived torrential rainfall (half an inch in 15 mins) and 40mph winds. Since I plan to leave it in place and test it’s durability under year-round Southern California high desert conditions, I chose 2″ R-max panels instead of the 1″ panels commonly used for more temporary hexayurts. I used “Camp Danger” style hinges, and otherwise built my hexayurt in a fashion that seems to be commonly used at Burning Man. In the words of a sheriff who stopped by to make sure I wasn’t squatting, “Hey, do you go to Black Rock?”. When I responded in the negative, he extolled the virtues of the event while warning about difficulties getting tickets. Anyways, The hexayurt is built, its in the desert, and we’re going to find out how well the polyiso construction stands up. I’ve installed an air conditioner, centrifugal ventilation fan, DC refrigerator, and lights. They all run off of the mog’s off grid power system, formerly two 235 watt solar panels and 4 GC2 batteries, reduced to one panel due to a freak 90mph windstorm tearing one off of the mog’s westfalia top earlier this year. I have recently added a homemade generator, check it out at Field Expedient Engineering.

A big thank to Vinay Gupta, http://vinay.howtolivewiki.com/blog/about, Designer.

More info at Appropedia, http://www.appropedia.org/Hexayurt_playa


One thought on “Hexayurt Project

  1. CJ, Raul and I had an amazing time meeting you, Riding Bikes, and hanging out at the desert rendezvous. We now refer to you as the most interesting man in the world! We have told all our friends about you and I was so excited when I finally remembered your website. I have now scoured through your travels, how to’s, and I cant help but being supremely jealous of your freedom and adventurous spirit! I have made it a goal to find you again sometime in my adventures and hopefully we will spend another few nights around the campfire on another adventure!
    See you on the TRails CJ!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>