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The Perfect (Affordable) Sauna to Actually Enjoy Michigan’s Cold Months

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    My wife and I spent a few years in Tennessee and while we were deciding on whether to move back to the Midwest (as my wife would say “Midwest is best”) and put down roots in Michigan, I knew I would need some ways to get through the cold and cloudy winters. I love outdoor hobbies that get me outside – no matter what the weather.

    But it wasn’t just the cold, dreariness of those winter months. During those transition seasons of Spring and Fall, the fluctuations of cold and rainy back to bright and sunny can make it challenging to stay outside and enjoy the fresh air.

    Plus, I love to gather with friends, family, and neighbors.

    For me, a sauna was one of the ways I came up with to combat the physical, mental, and relational difficulties I experienced three out of the 4 seasons.

    So, I got to work – researching and coming up with solutions to creating a sauna culture I could enjoy whenever I wanted. I started with an infrared/heat lamp sauna that’s popular in gyms and homes these days.

    I thought that this is what I wanted and I still use it. But…

    I hadn’t experienced a true wood-fired sauna before.

    A wood-fired sauna is what people in northern climates have used for thousands of years. I wanted to try it as I dove deeper into sauna culture.

    And the icing on the cake – a wood-fired sauna meant I would be outside. I could more easily enjoy the sauna with friends. And it gave me the opportunity to practice the complement of saunaing – cold therapy.

    Finding Morzh Saunas

    While I wanted the full, outdoor, sauna experience including a wood-fired sauna, I couldn’t find an affordable solution. The saunas either cost thousands of dollars to buy or hundreds of hours to build myself.

    I kept seeing a unique option pop up – the Morzh Sauna Tent. What’s a sauna tent? I thought. Upon exploring the option a little further, I discovered that Morzh is a combination of an insulated tent with a small, wood stove inside. The insulated tent material traps the heat and the wood stove vents nicely through the ceiling.

    But these aren’t the only features that intrigued me.

    The Morzh Sauna Tent is extremely portable.

    The tent itself only weighs 18.2 pounds and the wood stove weighs only 38 pounds. Once you get the hang of the setup after the first couple of times, set up and tear down becomes super easy and takes less than 15 minutes to do.

    And portability means that you can move the sauna easily around your yard, set it up next to a cold water source, and take it with you. It’s so easy to move. We’re already planning to bring it camping with us this summer to help wind down and then jump in a nearby lake to cool down. It’s so easily portable we can pack it up nicely in the camper for the next trip.

    Did Morzh Sauna Really Make a Difference Getting Through Winter?

    The short answer? Yes, undeniably so.

    I used the Morzh Sauna by myself, with my wife, with friends, and with my kids at different times.

    I tried to keep a schedule of using it a few times a week. I found, for me personally, that I sleep like a baby after using it. This is a huge benefit for me since I’m not as physically active in the winter and I tend to have a harder time sleeping.

    I also use it when I am specifically stressed. It is a hard reset on the stress response and I feel noticeably calmer for nearly 24 hours after a good sauna session. We all know we’re less likely to take care of ourselves when we’re stressed so having a place to go, waiting for me, made it so easy to counteract that stress response.

    And, I really love pairing it with dips in cold water. I have an old wine barrel on my patio, but a cold lake is my favorite. [Safety first – make sure you have someone else nearby when jumping into a cold lake.] Before you go from raising your core body temp to lowering your core body temp, be sure to research how to do this safely.

    My kids even loved getting in the sauna, hopping out to go run around in the snow, and then getting back in to warm up.

    I’ll be using this heavily here in Michigan in the winter, spring, and fall and even during the summer (with cold water nearby).

    Questions About the Morzh Sauna Tent

    Do you think you’ll ever go to a permanent sauna setup?

    Someday, I’ll build or buy a full fancy wooden sauna. Until that day comes I’ll very happily get nearly the same experience in my sauna tent several nights a week.

    What kind of weather was ideal for using the Morzh sauna tent?

    Our favorite time to use it is when it’s actively snowing. First of all, it’s just magical being outside and warm in the middle of a snowfall. But also, as the snow builds up, it helps to insulate the tent more. We used it in all kinds of weather. Anything under 10* we found it a little hard for the tent to hold the heat consistently with the wind blowing and the temperature. Anything over that though, the heat held really well.

    Is it easy to keep the heat consistent?

    The more you use it, the more you’ll get used to how you like the heat and the fire going for the experience you want.

    Is it like the sauna at my gym?

    No. It’s so much better. Besides being able to use it when it’s most convenient for you no matter what time of day, you can also use it for as long as you like and to your own temperature preference.

    What are your best tips for the woodstove?

    -Keep fire starters on hand. My son makes them, you can buy them, or be sure to have plenty of kindling.
    -Cut the wood into small pieces. A buddy of mine cut special sauna wood for me that fit perfectly through the door and stocked the fire easily.
    -Keep the fire well stocked. This helps the temperature stay consistent and improves the overall experience. It’s one thing to choose to get out and cool off or fluctuate your body temperature. It’s another thing to be sweating in the sauna and the heat goes gradually out, leaving you too cold.
    -Put rocks on the top and add ice cubes or water to create the steam effect in your sauna.

    Where should I set up my Morzh Sauna?

    Because it’s so portable, you can set it up wherever you want. Like I said before, I’d like to have it next to a cold lake. But I don’t have one on my property so I keep it just off the back patio. This makes it easy to get started, a short distance from the house, and adjacent to my cold water barrel.

    When setting it up, be sure to choose a flattish spot which will help keep the tent level and make the flaps be flush with the ground. Use the guy lines to hold it steady – especially important for when you’re experiencing wind.

    Did you add anything to your Morzh Sauna?

    We put our camp chairs out there. Two adults could fit very comfortably that way. Some people build a bench or an L-shaped bench for more space. Or put in a camp cot to lay down.

    I would recommend the heated floor that Morzh sells. Since heat rises, the ground can stay very cold and the floor helps to elevate the experience and keep your feet warm while you sauna.

    Where can I learn more about sauna culture?

    Here’s another review of the Morzh tent sauna at Sauna Times. The site is a good dive into wood-fired saunas and the culture that surrounds them.

    Plus, you are sure to find a lot of other Michiganders who love sauna culture as you get started and you can learn along with them.

     

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