Barrel Saunas, Reviews

Best Barrel Sauna, 2022 Reviews and New Barrel Sauna Kit Catalog

Best Barrel Saunas 2022

We're big fans of the outdoor barrel sauna.  It's the perfect addition to any deck, yard, pool, or patio.  They look great tucked under the deck, or siting out in the woods.  There is truly a barrel sauna for everyone, and we're going to prove it.

Of course you'll be able to get quotes from custom barrel sauna builders through Sauna Marketplace, but we also provide links to budget-friendly barrel sauna kits that we're unaffiliated with.  

We're also excited to announce that our readers now have exclusive access to one of the best barrel sauna kit manufacturers in Europe, with distribution in Canada and US through our friends in Ontario.

But first we must decide if we are looking for a prebuilt custom sauna or a barrel sauna kit.

Here are the considerations.

Choose a kit if...

  • Budget is a major factor
  • You have carpentry skills, and don't mind assembling and troubleshooting when (not if) something doesn't fit together perfectly.

Choose Custom if...

  • You want to avoid some headaches
  • You want to customize your sauna
  • You want an experienced builder to oversee the project

Best Barrel Sauna Kit - On A Budget

For those who want our quick pick for the best barrel sauna kit, our top choice might surprise you because it isn't a brand name.  We always recommend these generic barrels when they are in stock.  It's a cheaper barrel sauna than you'll find anywhere (even cheaper than building from scratch in some cases) and they are really great quality.

We've been recommending them for years, and many of you have seen our happy customer posts.

For the money, this may be the best barrel sauna kit whenever they are in stock - if they show up below you're in luck:

Totally Fine, Cheap Barrel Sauna on eBay

We've been sending folks to these barrels on eBay for over three years with no complaints. If you're looking for a small, electric barrel sauna that's relatively easy to assemble, this is a good option.

High End Barrel Kits

For the first time, our readers have access to some of the highest quality barrel saunas out of Europe.

Our friends at KOTA Grills are bringing them into North America through Ontario, and shipping almost anywhere in the US and Canada.

Options include:

  • Full and Half Panoramic Back Window
  • Thermawood or Pine
  • Aspen or Black Alder Benches
  • Electric or Wood Stove from Harvia

Custom Barrel Sauna Builders

If you're looking for the best, these custom sauna builders know what it takes.  Both are taking winter orders and can quote your project now.

Alpenglow Saunas

Vancounver Island, BC
$8K and Up

Mobile options, local materials, customizable

Nomad Sauna

Minneapolis, MN
$15k and Up

Custom benches, Shou Sugi Ban, Quality craftsmanship, mobile options, panoramic options.
northern lights barrel sauna by the pool

Barrel Sauna Companies and Builders

Dundalk Leisurecraft

Based in Ontario, Dundalk Leisurecraft is the biggest sauna manufacturer in North America.  They sell to the trade market and dealers throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.    They are an eco-friendly company that is careful about sourcing wood. 

Dundalk offers a Panoramic Barrel Sauna and several unique outdoor saunas designs. 

Dundalk Barrel Sauna Review

Doug
Doug
Read More
We purchased a Dundalk Cedar Barrel sauna 7” with a change room and found the Harvia M3 was heating up our benches to 358F due to only having 8” space in the side of the stove. Also, I saw a review that someone’s Dundalk barrel sauna bench seats were set on fire. We have ordered the Harvia M3 side heat shields and wondering if anyone else had issues with this setup. We noticed other barrel builders include some pretty beefy surround fire shields so it must be a known issue. Any thoughts?
Theodore
Theodore
Read More
We keep on getting smoke blowback from in our Dundalk barrel sauna with Harvia M3. The blowback is inconsistent. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't, though more recently it happens more.
Previous
Next

The Sauna Guys

The Sauna Guys have been serving the heat for over a decade.  Specializing in preassembled, wood-fired barrel saunas delivered all over the midwest. Just check out the reviews.

Adam
Adam@username
Read More
Just had my barrel sauna delivered today. Had to tap out after an hour and took a nice cold shower. I love it!

Costco Barrel Saunas

While Costco and Walmart were probably not on your radar for buying a barrel sauna, we’re all about getting you the best deals and sale prices on quality saunas.  

Unfortunately Costco has stopped supplying barrel saunas in the US (Canada still can order online).  Here’s the deal: the barrel saunas Costco used to offer were made by a brand called ‘Almost Heaven’.  While you can’t buy a barrel sauna from Costco, you can get the same Costco Barrel Saunas for less.  Check out Almost Heaven Barrel Saunas on sale below…

Almost Heaven

Almost Heaven is the number one selling barrel sauna kit builder in North America.  They used to sell them at Costco but they no longer carry them in USA.

Believe it or not, you can actually buy almost heaven barrel saunas at Walmart.  And regardless of your views on Walmart, they are MUCH cheaper and ship faster than ordering directly from Almost Heaven.

We did a comparison of Almost Heaven Barrel Saunas with the same ones ordered at Walmart and were shocked.

Here’s the popular Salem 2-Person Barrel Sauna ordered directly from Almost Heaven: 

And here’s the same sauna with the same futures from Almost Heaven, but ordered through Walmart with FREE SHIPPING, which makes a huge difference.

Aleko Barrel Sauna

Aleko is a low cost sauna kit manufacturing company selling western red cedar and white pine barrel sauna kits of various sizes including changing room models.  Primarily serving North American markets, Aleko also has panoramic barrel saunas for sale.  Aleko is based in Kent, Washington and was founded in 2005.

If you’re looking at an Aleko Barrel Sauna, be careful.  Aleko reviews are all over the place, and we haven’t heard great things.  We recommend the generic eBay saunas in this price range.

With that said, they do have some good deals right now.

BZB Cabins

Outdoor Barrel Saunas from BZB Cabins are good quality but take forever to ship and are overpriced.

 

Dundalk Sauna

Based in Ontario (see Ontario Saunas here), Dundalk Sauna (Dundalk Leisurecraft) is one of the biggest sauna manufacturer in North America.  They sell to the trade market and dealers throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.    They are an eco-friendly company that is careful about sourcing wood. 

Dundalk offers a Panoramic Barrel Sauna and several unique outdoor saunas designs. 

Dundalk Saunas are pricey and we’re told they’ve had some inventory issues since the pandemic started.  If you need a sauna for next winter and you’re not looking for a cheap sauna, check them out.

Thermory Saunas

Aptly named Thermory Barrel Saunas are thermally modified.  They are the only high-priced barrel sauna that may actually be worth the price.  

Expansion and contraction, weather, and solar UV are the enemy of the sauna, and Thermory Saunas have a process that naturally enhances the wood through heat and steam treatment.  

They are beautiful and they will last longer than other barrel saunas.  If your barrel sauna is going to be exposed to the elements, we recommend putting a roof on it or going with a Thermory.

Northern Lights

Northern lights is a family business thats sold saunas and hot tubs for 25 years. Located in Manitoba, Canada – they used to offer a 7′ diameter model which provides more headroom and interior space (standard is 6′).  It looks like they have discontinued them to focus on hot tubs, unfortunately.     

Saunacore

Saunacore is based in Ontario, Canada with a USA office in Niagara Falls, NY.  They are one of the biggest sauna manufacturers in North America, and they make a premium barrel sauna.

 

SDI Saunas

These are barrel sauna kits imported from (usually) China, though they ship from a warehouse in California.

That said, they are inexpensive and get the job done.  Note that the electric heaters may or may not have UL safety listings.

They offer a 6′ Finland Pine Barrel Sauna for under $3,500.

Almost Heaven

Almost heaven is the number one selling barrel sauna kit builder in North America.  They used to sell them at Costco but they no longer carry them in USA.  Primarily selling in North America.  Believe it or not, you can actually buy almost heaven barrel saunas at Home Depot.

Aleko Barrel Sauna

Aleko is a low cost sauna kit manufacturing company selling western red cedar and white pine barrel sauna kits of various sizes including changing room models.  Primarily serving North American markets, Aleko also has panoramic barrel saunas for sale.  Aleko is based in Kent, Washington and was founded in 2005.

If you’re looking at an Aleko Barrel Sauna, be careful.  Aleko reviews are all over the. place, and we haven’t heard great things.  We recommend a Toule in this price range.

With that said, they do have some good deals right now.

BZB Cabins

Since Barrel Sauna kits are easily shipable on a pallet, you can get some of the best European barrel saunas shipped to the US or Canada for free.  BZB is an Estonian company that has a flagship Igloo Sauna, but they also have some of the most authentic barrel saunas around.  

Get a special discount on BZB Barrel Saunas, and see what’s available in North America below

 

Northern Lights

Northern lights is a family business thats sold saunas and hot tubs for 25 years. Located in Manitoba, Canada – they offer a 7′ diameter model which provides more headroom and interior space (standard is 6′).   

Saunacore

Saunacore is based in Ontario, Canada with a USA office in Niagara Falls, NY.  They are one of the biggest sauna manufacturers in North America, and they make a premium barrel sauna.

 

SDI Saunas

These are barrel sauna kits imported from (usually) China, though they ship from a warehouse in California.

That said, they are inexpensive and get the job done.  Note that the electric heaters may or may not have UL safety listings.

They offer a 6′ Finland Pine Barrel Sauna for under $3,500.

Toule

Toule sources Western Red Cedar and ships from US and Canadian warehouses.   They are currently the cheapest barrel sauna listed on Sauna Marketplace.  
 

What is a barrel sauna?

The sauna barrel itself is a cylindrical sauna made with wood staves and two circular walls.  The staves are notched out to fit snuggly into the walls and strapped together when complete.  

The result is a barrel shaped, cozy sauna that looks great in any backyard.

The method comes from Finnish immigrants who built wooden water towers.  Some ‘Coopered’ barrel saunas have bent staves resembling wine barrels but those are hard to find.

Barrel Sauna Benefits

“The convection in a barrel sauna creates an automatic circular heat all by itself – it circulates from top to bottom – there’s nowhere for heat to be trapped in the top of the ceiling.” -Red McCoy, Keweenaw Saunas

Because they use a single layer of wood that acts as the interior and exterior surface, barrel saunas don’t have much insulation to keep the heat in and the cold out.  The barrel sauna cleverly overcomes the lack of insulation by efficient use of space and convection to rapidly and evenly heat up.

First, a barrel sauna has 23% less interior space to heat than a cabin style sauna of the same dimension.  This is a huge advantage and goes a long ways to compensating for its lack of insulation, but that’s only part of it.

The signature circular design keeps heat from settling at the top of the barrel.  The hottest air inside is constantly being created at the heat source (either wood stove or electric heater), and due to convection, the hot air rises to the top.  The less dense air at the top of the sauna circulates back to the bottom where it becomes hot again.  The circular design of a barrel sauna means that the hottest air is constantly in motion, resulting in a steady, efficient heat throughout the interior space.

The wood expands as it heats up, creating a better seal to keep moisture and hot air from escaping through the staves.

Pros

  • No foundation required! Just put the cradles on some pavers, blocks, deck, or concrete pad.  This means you can install the barrel sauna when the ground is frozen.
  • Less Area To Heat – should be able to reach sauna temps in 45 minutes
  • Rolling Heat and Humidity
  • Inexpensive, minimal materials
  • Easy To Transport and Assemble
  • No Vapor Barrier Needed (Can “breath” to exterior)
  • Rounded roof makes it exceptional at handling heavy snow loads

But there are disadvantages to barrel saunas you’ll want to consider.

Cons

  • No Insulation besides one layer of wood
  • Exposed To Elements
  • Can Leak without additional roofing material
  • Looses a lot of heat when door opens (solved with changing room)

Barrel Sauna Cost

What does a barrel sauna cost?  A barrel sauna costs between $2500 to 15,000.  Most barrel sauna kits are around $5,000, but you can really find excellent deals on barrel sauna kits.

Don’t believe you can get an authentic outdoor sauna for less than $4,000 USD?  We’ve been helping folks find the perfect barrel sauna for years, and our go to recommendation for inexpensive barrel sauna kits have been these from Toule:  

Hot Tip 1: Find your sauna in our new buyers portal and see if there are any additional discounts available.

Hot Tip 2: You may prefer a POD sauna, which has a lot of the benefits of a barrel sauna, but more head room.  Check them out here.

Considerations When Buying

Thickness of wood

Because the single layer of (usually) cedar is the only insulation, it’s important for those in cold climates to compare thickness of wood, as it will make a big difference.  Look for at least 1″ wood staves for cold climates. 1.5″ and  5/4 (1 1/4″) thick.  Standard 2×6’s are perfect, and will give you an 1 1/2″ staves.

Luckily, the low density of softwoods like Western Red Cedar mean they are better at insulating your sauna than hardwoods.  The r-value of Western Red Cedar is approximately 1.41/inch.  This is better than hardwoods, at around .71/inch, but very low compared to a traditional sauna build with insulation in the walls (around R-13+).

Thermal Mass

The barrel sauna itself has very little thermal mass.  Make sure to add plenty of rocks near the heat source, under the floor boards, or anywhere else you can squeeze them.  Water also makes excellent thermal mass but it can freeze.  Thermal mass slows down the heating process but makes a more steady heat that lasts longer and doesn’t loose heat as fast when the door opens.

Heater Size

Also, because the temperature difference can be so extreme between inside and outside, you will probably want to oversize your heater or sauna furnace to make sure you can reach your desired temperature, especially in colder climates or with thinner cedar planks.

A perfect wood sauna stove for most barrel saunas is the Harvia M3.

No upper benches

We consider the uniform heat as a positive, but having a barrel sauna does exclude the option of sitting on the top bench, where it’s warmer and more humid.  Some people have different heat and humidity preferences and the double bench design of many cabin style saunas allows the choice.

Outdoor Barrel Sauna Tips

  • When designing your sauna, allow enough bench length to lay down.  A 7+ ft sauna is ideal for 2 people and also works great for guests.
  • Split wood into fine pieces to generate more heat.
  • Build barrel sauna with wood of at least one inch thickness, ideally 5/4″ or more addresses most concerns with reaching high temperatures.  In addition to keep the heat in, building your sauna with thicker staves means they will maintain their shape and last longer.
  • Consider insulating the barrel sauna under the floor boards to prevent cold feet.  Alternatively, you could lay down and put feet on the wall near the stove to really warm your toes.
  • Add a changing room: a major complaint with barrel saunas is they can loose heat quickly when the door is closed.  Most barrel sauna builders and barrel sauna kits have premium options with a changing room to prevent heat loss.  This is especially recommended if you are having parties, renting your sauna, or having many people enter and exit.
  • Consider shingling or other roofing: the ball and socket joints are designed to prevent leaking, but if your staves shrink after a few months of hot saunas, you may wish you were better protected.  A roof on the top of your barrel sauna will also help keep the heat in and provide some extra insulation.  Consider adding another layer between the barrel sauna and the roofing of reflectix bubble foil vapor barrier/insulation.
  • Put fire brick on the bottom near the stove to make it last longer.
  • Make sure there is absolutely no ground contact between the barrel wood and the ground.  The stand can be replaced, but to get decades of use out of a barrel sauna, you must avoid ground contact with the barrel itself to avoid rot.
  • If using a wood stove, make sure to use a damper and double walled vent through the chimney.
  • Make sure your sauna isn’t a fire hazard.  Follow local codes, clearances, and use fire bricks.  Have a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Make sure you’re starting on a solid ‘foundation.’  You need a firm and fairly flat surface, though a very slight might could help with drainage.
  • Don’t put latex paint or other exterior finish that will seal it.  Painting the exterior of a barrel sauna, though usually against manufacturers recommendations, is probably OK if you use a paint that allows moisture to escape.

Guide here

Panoramic Barrel Sauna With Window

If you have a an amazing outdoor location with a view, consider a panoramic barrel sauna with a window that takes up the back wall.
 
We don’t recommend using a barrel sauna kit with a panoramic window due to issues with sealing.  Instead, look for a custom sauna builder, like Nomad Sauna.

What You Need (And Don't Need)

Woodworking Skills
Web Designer 24%
Two People
Web Designer 90%
The Right Tools (See List)
Web Designer 98%
Building Experience
Web Designer 5%
A Flat, Solid Location
Web Designer 98%
Time
Web Designer 40%

What You Need to Know about Barrel Sauna Kits

Barrel sauna kits are a great way to to have an outdoor sauna up and running quickly without woodworking skills or expensive equipment.

The cylindrical shape of barrel saunas make them unpractical to transport long distances after they’re assembled.  Most barrel saunas ship as kits that need to be assembled on site, allowing them to be transported almost anywhere.  

Although it may be intimidating to build a giant outdoor barrel, a good barrel sauna kit should be no more difficult to put together than Ikea furniture.  The holes should be predrilled and the lumber will be milled to fit snuggly in place.  

The barrel sauna design is an efficient use of materials, and everything can be shipped on a pallet the length of your barrel sauna.  

With two people and the right tools, a barrel sauna kit can be assembled in 3-8 hours, depending on the kit.  In contrast, building a barrel sauna from scratch requires 3-5 days depending on difficulty sourcing materials and tools.  

How much do barrel sauna kits weigh?

Barrel sauna kits weigh between 400 and 800 pounds depending on size, weight, whether the kit includes a heater and rocks. 
 
When planning barrel sauna location, make sure it can hold the sauna weight plus additional equipment and people.  Remember that extra rocks and water are often added to saunas to increase thermal mass.  These considerations are especially important if building on a deck or wooden structure.  
 
Additional cradles can help spread the weight.  It’s also a good practice to have any deck boards running perpendicular to the barrel sauna cradles.  

Barrel Sauna Kits Packing List

Your kit may also come with accessories such as roof kits, backrests, leg rests, sand timers, and a sauna bucket / ladle.  

Barrel Sauna Kit Assembly

Barrel sauna kits are assembled by preparing the ground, placing the cradles, securing the first stave, securing the circular walls with temporary upper staves, then placing the staves alternating up the sides of the barrel.

You may have to cut a stave at the end to have a tight fit without gaps.  The straps are then used to tighten and secure the barrel together.  

A mallet is used to even out the staves, making sure there are no “lumps.”  

Now place your electric heater and run power as specified and to your local code.  You’ll probably want to hire an electrician if. you are not comfortable and qualified doing this.

If you purchased a wood burning barrel sauna kit, you’ll have to cut your chimney hole after assembly.  To do this, place your sauna stove where you want it and add the first couple sections of your chimney until you can pinpoint where it will exit the roof. 

Mark that point and cut the specified hole with a reciprocating saw after tracing the desired circle.  

Frequently Asked Questions

No, it’s actually quite easy and even enjoyable to assemble a barrel sauna kit.  It can be compared to assembling a very large piece of furniture from Ikea.

Barrel saunas are used habitually by people who seem to have superpowers – like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, author Tim Ferris, and world holder for extreme temperatures, Wim Hof.

Barrel saunas heat up fast, get very hot, good airflow, are efficient, and can please even the most serious sauna snobs.  Yes, barrel saunas are good.

Barrel saunas can cost anywhere between $2500 USD for the cheapest, most basic model to $12,000 USD for a premium mobile barrel sauna with all the bells and whistles. Most people pay around $6,000 USD for a barrel sauna but if you know where to look you can find ones that are just as good for less than $3,000.

It depends on where you live! But our readers have been the happiest with barrel saunas from Casa De Sauna, Toule, and Keweenaw Saunas. Dundalk, Almost Heaven, and The Sauna Guys also good saunas.

Yes, you can build a barrel sauna from scratch but unless you have a good source for inexpensive, quality lumber you will likely pay nearly as much as you would have for a barrel sauna kit. Building from scratch also takes about a week, while a kit can be assembled in a day.

Top Barrel Sauna Mistakes to Avoid

Make sure your electric panel can handle the heater, or that you have clearances for the stove.  

Either way, this is a costly mistake.  If using an electric stove, bring an electrician in early.  You not only need room in your panel, but you need adequate power service and a way to safely get the power to the barrel.  

Wood stove barrels will need to have a minimum distance from other structures or flammable materials.  

Don't leave the roof exposed

Sure, many people do not put a roof on their barrel saunas, but why shorten its life?  It's always worth putting the sauna under a structure, or putting a roof on it.  Over time, a barrel sauna without a roof WILL leak.  

We like to install barrel saunas without a roof first, and wait for the first rain whenever possible.  Making sure it's water tight is a sign of a good instal, but it won't last forever.

Thinking there won't be challenges installing a barrel sauna kit

As much as we'd like them to be as easy as Ikea furniture, a small imperfection can create huge headaches when putting together a barrel sauna.  

The final bits of assembly can be challenging, no matter how good the barrel sauna kit is.  You can do it, but don't think it's going to fit together perfectly right away.

Underpowering or using an Infrared Barrel Sauna

Barrel saunas are not insulated, and although they are small, efficient spaces they need some serious kilowatts to reach sauna temperatures.

An infrared barrel sauna might make sense in California, but most sauna climates are going to require traditional heating elements or a wood stove for a good experience.

Shopping cart

Sign in

No account yet?

Start typing to see products you are looking for.