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New Survey Confirms Popularity of Hiking, Surfing, Skiing, Camping, and Other Outdoor Activities Continues to Boom

If you’ve been to a local trail or ski hill lately, it’s probably no surprise that the popularity of people getting active outdoors is not slowing down. A new year-end survey from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), confirms that the recent boom in hiking, camping, surfing, skiing, and more is a trend that seems here to stay.

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SFIA is an organization focused on the sporting goods industry, and works with manufacturers, retailers, and others who release a yearly report on the industry. They say since 2019, they’ve seen a sharp increase in outdoor activities, and that boomed in 2020, with 2021 creating new highs in sports and fitness activities. 

The 2023 report focuses on data from the previous year. The organization says while 2022 didn’t see as big of an increase as it did in 2021, sports equipment sales still increased 4.3% year over year. 

More People Getting Outdoors

Topping the list for participants in 2022 are many nature-focused activities like hiking, running, bike riding, and fishing. However, some of the biggest surprises come from individual sports that have greatly increased in the last few years. Since 2019, alpine skiing increased 91.3%. That’s nearly double the number of people skiing in the backcountry and finding their own places to ride the slopes. Other winter sports like fat biking and snowboarding also saw steep increases.

Skiing is part of the outdoor sports boom.
(Source: Alex Lange)

The list of those wanting to be outdoors increased in other ways, with some heading to the beach. Surfing jumped nearly 25% in three years. Some more straightforward hobbies to easily get you outside, like camping, trail running, and bird watching, also grew more than 20%.

SportIncrease from 2019 to 2022
Alpine Touring91.3%
Winter Fat Biking55.7%
Snowboard Touring45.2%
Bird Watch23.4%
Trail Running20.5%
Biking (BMX)14.6%
From the 2023 SFIA State of the Industry Report

“The number of physically active Americans grew for the fifth consecutive year, both at the total and CORE measurement levels, with 77.6% of all Americans reporting taking part in one of the 124 sports and fitness activities that SFIA monitors throughout the year,” says SFIA President and CEO Tom Cove. “This is a remarkable fact given the absolute roller coaster/disruption of routines, habits, and lifestyles our country has experienced since 2018. Fundamentally, this trend reflects a demonstrable uptick in the awareness Americans have today for the physical, mental, and social benefits of a physical activity.”

More People is Good News

The report is good news for the overall well-being of the nation, as other reports suggest walking locally in communities may be down, but there has still been an increase in biking.

The data coincides with numbers from natural spaces like national parks that have continuously reported increases in the last few years. In some areas, this has caused new entry systems in places like Yosemite to require reservations. Many National Park Service officials say the increase is good, even if it means longer lines.

What’s your favorite way to get outdoors?

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