Sweat Tent – Portable Outdoor Sauna – Super Hot and Great for Health
The Sweat Tent is a portable sauna that uses a wood stove for heat. We used this outdoor sauna tent at our gym for the last month and fell in love with it!
Sweat Tent Review
To say that I’ve been investigating saunas and their benefits for a while is a bit of an understatement…
If you’re a fan of podcasts, then you’ve no doubt heard saunas mentioned on The Joe Rogan Experience, or maybe Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast (Foundmyfitness), or maybe you went deep down the rabbit hole with Dr. Andrew Huberman (The Huberman Lab)?
What sparked the fire in me (pun intended) was an interview with Dr. Rhonda Patrick (https://www.foundmyfitness.com) where she was describing the benefits of sauna, heat shock proteins and really nerding out (which I happen to love) on heat therapy.
As an exercise scientist and coach, I’m always looking to optimize the health and performance of my athletes. The thing that caught my ear was a study she mentioned where growth hormone was measured before and after sauna use, and in one particular group, there was a 16 fold increase. That’s right, one specific group of folks increased their growth hormone levels 16x!!!
If you want to learn more about the specifics of the research, here’s a LINK to the article.
As much as I trust Dr. Rhonda, I had to go investigate for myself because c’mon, that’s a pretty bold claim….and in the fitness world, that’s an increase that people will pay big money for… Short story on growth hormone, it helps build muscle, burn fat, and repair tissues quickly. Humans naturally release growth hormone in our sleep, however as we age, the amount we release becomes less and less. This is one of the reasons why it takes us longer to recover as we age.
Anyway, turns out the study was legit. However, free steroids isn’t the only thing the sauna has going for it. It’s been associated with a massive decrease in cardiovascular disease (CVD), and in fact, all cause mortality. Not just associated, but associated in a “dose-dependent” relationship. Short story, those who used the sauna 2-3x per week had about a 25% decrease in CVD and those who used it 4-6x per week had about a 50% decrease.
Why cardiovascular disease specifically? Well, think of it like this. The sauna, for all intents and purposes, is cardiorespiratory activity. Cardiorespiratory fitness is a fantastic biomarker of health. As the air around you heats up, your heart and your lungs work harder to pump blood throughout your entire body to try to cool you down.
Don’t believe me? We’ve had multiple gym members wear their WHOOP fitness trackers into the Sweat Tent, and their heart rates have ranged from 120-140 for 20 minutes (Side note, WHOOP works in the sauna, Apple watches will shut off). For those of you in the fitness world, 120-140 is a moderate cardio session. Look, I’m not saying that the sauna should replace your cardio, I’m just saying that sitting in the sauna is ALSO cardio. All you really need to know is that people who use saunas on a regular basis are harder to kill.
So there I am, all jazzed up about saunas and heat shock proteins (one of the causes for the hormonal response potentially responsible for all the awesome benefits of sauna use) and I’m like, ok I’m in, I need a sauna!
Now, because I’ve been reading and listening to all this research, I know that I don’t just need any sauna. I need a sauna that will get hot. Specifically, 80-100 (That’s 176-212°F). So I go digging around.
I have a couple of friends that have an infrared sauna so I started there. The first thing I noticed about infrareds is their price tag. For a decent infrared sauna, you’re going to pay upwards of 2K, and likely closer to 4K if you want one where you can fit more than one person.
The issue is, even with some of the infrared saunas in the 4K+ range, the temps only get to like 130-140℉ and then they shut off. Now you may ask, is it possible to elicit the same responses at 140℉? As Phillip Seymore Hoffman’s character Brant stated in the Big Lebowski, “Well Dude, we just don’t know.” What we do know is that the research was done in saunas from 176-212°F.
So then I started looking at the “Classic” saunas like the freestanding wooden barrel-shaped versions. These things definitely get up to the requisite temperature.I had an opportunity to experience a barrel saunas a while back with a local holistic therapist, Amy Morrison (True Core Health). This thing was awesome! I’m not sure what model it was but we fit 6 people inside. For those who are serious about their sauna experience, the barrel sauna is the cream of the crop. Also, it has a price tag like it’s the cream of the crop… A good barrel sauna will cost you anywhere from 5K upwards of 15K.
As our readers know, you can only do Google searches on something for so long until your Instagram algorithm starts sending you ads for that thing.
Enter the Sweat Tent.
So there I am scrolling through the Gram and I get this ad for something called “The Sweat Tent”. It looks to be a fairly new company with a very intriguing product.
A portable sauna that gets up to 200°F….with a very reasonable price tag (starting at $1,199 not including their $100 off bonus they offer on their homepage). I start looking around as much as possible to find out anything I can. I’m reaching out to my fitness nerd friends to see if they’ve heard of it and nobody knows anything about it.
Is it a scam? If it’s real, is it well-made? Is it durable? How portable is it? How easy is it to set up and take down? Does it smell and do you have to clean it? Does it really get that hot? Well, there was only one way to find out.
From square one, the admin team at Sweat Tent was amazing. There was a slight delay in shipping which they let me know about ASAP, and as soon as it was en route, they updated me as to when it would be arriving and in how many boxes (6 of them).
Knowing nothing about it, I unboxed everything, set it up, and put the bench together in less than 20 minutes. I did all of this indoors to make sure I knew what I was doing, and because it was kind of nasty outside that day.
As a frequent camper, I’ve set up a lot of tents. I was impressed not only by how quick it was to set up but by the quality of the materials. It sounds kind of weird, but essentially you just kind of pull on the sides, and it all folds out. It’s very similar to an ice fishing tent if you’ve ever been inside one of those. The poles are all attached, so there’s no fumbling around with putting them together. It literally all just folds out and folds back in.
The stove is very compact, which worried me a bit at first. The stove pipe, a series of metal cylinders that fit inside one another, was all stored INSIDE the stove. That’s actually how you transport it. Pretty brilliant engineering if you ask me. The stove also seems extremely well made. The legs on the bottom fold in for an easy setup, take down, and portability.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you set up the stove is “season” it. They recommend that you take a couple of firestarters (I’ve been using something called Royal Oak ® Tumbleweeds that I picked up at a local grocery store) and then put 3-5 logs in to burn off any weird stuff from the factory.
If you want efficiency, have your fire starters and wood ready to roll. I had to run to the store…which brings me back to the size of the stove. While I was at the grocery store looking at their bundles of wood, I started thinking that I should have measured the stove (Had I read more on the website, I would have known that they recommend 12” long pieces and 16” at the longest). I honestly didn’t think that the bundle of firewood I picked up would work. I thought for sure I’d be sawing these logs to get them to fit. Oh contraire! The stove actually fit the store-bought wood perfectly. It’s like they knew what they were doing!
So I seasoned the stove with about 5 logs, and then I waited for the stove to cool down. This took just under an hour. After that, I brought the stove into the tent (which I had now brought outside) and set it up.
You’ll want to be really careful with the flap where the stove pipe comes out. The top of the tent has a flap that rolls back and cinches tight. Then there’s a velcro square with a metal ring that the stove pipe fits through. Just make sure that the fabric is nowhere near the pipe. I didn’t have an issue, but I could see how you might if you weren’t careful.
After that, I fired this puppy up with about 5 logs, and approximately 30 minutes later, I stepped inside what felt like heaven. Well, heaven or hell, depending on how you feel about heat. Personally, I’m someone who rarely sweats from my workouts, so sweating to me is kind of a luxury, and I think it feels amazing. Within about 10 minutes I was starting to drip, and within 15 minutes, I was pouring sweat all the way down into my sandals. To quote Engearment founder Sean Sewell, “I didn’t know my shins could sweat”.
The tent comes with velcro covers for the see-through plastic windows that they recommend taking off and storing. I don’t know if it would get hotter quicker if I left them on, but I’ll try that in the future. It’s nice being able to see outside the tent from two different angles. That’s something you don’t get from most infrareds or barrels.
After my inaugural sweat, I couldn’t wait to get some friends in there. Personally, I believe one of the benefits of the sauna is the community aspect. You get to spend time around people without phones (they’ll likely overheat unless they’re on the floor). This is also one of the reasons I was intrigued by the Sweat Tent. It seemed big enough to have at least three people inside. The most we’ve had was 5, and I have to say that it worked just fine.
I might opt for stools instead of the bench if I were to do five again. We had three on the bench and then two on wooden stumps. I feel like individual stools might be a good option for more than three people. On that note, let’s talk about the bench. It took me about 8 minutes to put together and is extremely well made. The bench is an extra $200 which sent me down another rabbit hole of “How much is a cedar bench?” Turns out that $200 is a pretty decent price (I saw some that were $400-$500). Do you need it? Not necessarily, but you will want something to sit on.
Although their website says that you can leave the tent up permanently (although it may shorten the lifespan), I’ll eventually take ours down to travel with it. That being said, it’s been up now for over four weeks in Denver, Colorado, and it’s rained, hailed, snowed, and we’ve had some ridiculous wind. It’s still standing tall.
Before getting the Sweat Tent, here were my reservations/questions.
Does it get hot?
Abso-f*cking-loootely (The highest I’ve had it was 200)
Is it easy to set up and take down?
Yes. It takes about 3-5 min for both.
How do you clean it?
It seems like it might start to get a funk with people sweating in there??
Thus far we’ve had over a dozen sweat sessions and it only smells like cedar inside (due to the bench). Oh! And I also added some Eucalyptus oil to the water to pour over the rocks. That’s a nice touch. Anyway, you’re never sweating on the material so there’s no need to wash it. If you really wanted to you could wipe it all down, but it’s not like it’s dripping or anything. I was pleasantly surprised with the smell/cleanliness.
How long does it take to get hot?
From my experience, if you start with 4-5 logs, it’ll get over 170 in about 30 minutes. At first I started with 2-3 smaller logs and I was having to add another about 15 minutes in.
How many logs do you need for a full “Session”?
I’d say to have 5-7 on hand, but you shouldn’t need more than that. We had 2 sessions about 25 minutes each from one store-bought bundle of wood.
Will my electronics work inside?
If your phone is anywhere but the floor, it’ll likely overheat and shut off. The same goes for Apple Watches. The WHOOP however, seems good to go. Anyway, take a quick selfie and then put that thing away.
Does the material put off any odors/chemicals?
The company used USA NIST calibrated equipment from Forensic Detectors and heated the tent over 215℉ and there were zero concentrations of VOCs or CO2 present. Also, the tent windows are made of a high temperature performance TPU, meaning there is no risk of “off-gassing”.
Is it worth it?
In this gear tester’s opinion, 100% YES. If you’re looking to incorporate heat therapy and you’re not ready to drop thousands of dollars on a stationary piece of equipment, then the Sweat Tent is just what the doctor ordered. It’s reasonably priced, it gets hot AF, it’s made from high quality materials, and you can have friends inside.
Personally I also love the portability and the potential to take it to an alpine lake/river to do some contrast therapy with hot and cold. That’s one thing that you definitely can NOT do with any other version of Sauna.
Of course no gear review would be complete without a “CONS” section.
Honestly, it’s not easy but I’ll do my best.
The Sweat Tent IS a wood burning stove. You may have to check your local city/county ordinances to make sure you can burn things. The stove does put out smoke. A few times we’ve had it going at the same time as one of our classes and the smoke has gone inside the training center. That didn’t make for the most pleasant of smells but we decided it was probably a little too close to the garage door.
Coming in at 60lbs, it’s definitely not something you’d take on a “backpacking trip” but also, to my knowledge there is no backpacker sauna. 60lbs is definitely manageable…especially if you’re all jacked up on Growth Hormone. So yeah, maybe that’s not a CON.
There are a few places in the tent that are hotter than others. If you have multiple people inside, I’d recommend switching spots every so often so that one person doesn’t sit right in front of the stove the whole time (unless they want to).
As it is a tent, it could blow away…. However, it comes with legit big ass stakes that you could use in the dirt. Personally we used a bunch of old bumper plates from the gym, and then tied one end of it to the fence. I’ve seen videos of people using wood and rocks to hold down the outside. Really unless it’s super windy, you don’t need to do much.
All in all, this is hands down my favorite piece of equipment I’ve ever tested. I’ll likely get at least one more either for the gym or my house. If you’re on the fence about the Sweat Tent, I’m telling you that you won’t find anything else in this price range that is capable of doing what this thing does. 10/10 would HIGHLY recommend 🙂
Grab one here and use coupon code ENGEARMENT for $100 off!
$1500 – sweattent.sjv.io/oqe2B9
Hubermanlab episode: https://hubermanlab.com/the-science-and-health-benefits-of-deliberate-heat-exposure/
From Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s website:
^ Laukkanen, Jari; Laukkanen, Tanjaniina; Kunutsor, Setor K. (2018). Cardiovascular And Other Health Benefits Of Sauna Bathing: A Review Of The Evidence Mayo Clinic Proceedings 93, 8.
^Laukkanen, Jari; Khan, Hassan; Laukkanen, Tanjaniina; Zaccardi, Francesco (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing And Fatal Cardiovascular And All-Cause Mortality Events JAMA Internal Medicine 175, 4.
^ Laukkanen, Tanjaniina; Kauhanen, Jussi; Laukkanen, Jari Antero; Kunutsor, Setor (2016). Sauna Bathing Is Inversely Associated With Dementia And Alzheimer’s Disease In Middle-Aged Finnish Men Age And Ageing 46, 2.
Growing up in southeast Missouri, Ryan spent most of his days playing in the woods, swimming in creeks, capturing wildlife, and dreaming of adventure. His asthma kept him from playing a lot of sports as a kid, but it didn’t stop him from achieving the ranks of both Eagle Scout and a Black Belt in Taekwondo by the age of 16.