Our mobile sauna experiences in 2013 led us to the development of a new sauna design. The saunatruck was working well but we were having problems with Vancouver city bylaws relating to parking large vehicles. In residential areas we couldn’t legally park it on the street or on private property. In practice this meant our sauna residencies would end prematurely after several months. Add to this the constraint that there were some places a saunatruck simply can’t go, like back decks, car ports, garages and fenced in yards.
After several months of exploring design ideas, in January 2014 we set to work in George Rahi’s shop, and Nathyn welding up our stove design at the Gropps shop. By February we had a test sweat in time for the Mobile Saunas book launch.
We created a mobile sauna that could be set up anywhere. The design is modular and relatively lightweight, and with a 9.5’x7′ footprint it can be set up inside an inconspicuous 10’x10′ popup shelter. It’s definitely the roomiest sauna we have, and can accommodate 10-15 people easily. There’s a wooden framework for the structure and bench supports, and the 2-tier benches are full-width (24″) with backrests. The walls are heavyweight cotton canvas, covered as needed with quilted blankets for insulation and a polytarp outer shell. The whole structure dissasembles into 12 main wood modules (wall units and benches) plus additional equipment (stove, canvas, etc). The stove is the same design as our other stoves but with a lighter gauge steel for easier transport. The whole sauna can be disassembled in 1 hour and set up in 2 hours with 2 people, and it is transported with a cargo van, which we can rent as required.
We’ve done a mobile mission with this sauna, but most of the time it resides in the George’s bike shop/spa on a covered back deck near Commercial drive where it is used for weekly sauna sessions. We’re continuing to improve the design, but George already finds that this sauna has a “lightness” and functionality that compares favourably to other saunas he sweats in. Maybe it’s just that people tend to like their sauna the best, but by any measure the BCMSS tent sauna has been a huge success.