When the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world, in order to avoid being confined in their homes, many Americans took to the outdoors. Civic Science found that 48% of the 1,000 consumers interviewed at the end of March 2020 said they intended to do more hiking or walking outside and 13% said they’d do more outdoor recreation activities: camping, motorcycling, trail sports, wheel sports, fishing, off-roading, water sports, wildlife viewing, hunting, and snow sports.

Analysts wondered if this boom in outdoor recreation would last beyond the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The short answer is “yes”:

  • According to a study commissioned by the Outdoor Foundation, in 2020, 7.1 million more Americans participated in outdoor recreation than in the year prior.
  • The National Park Service reported visits to Acadia National Park in Maine went up 74% from April/May 2019 to April/May 2021 and visits to Canyonlands National Park in Utah went up 30% in the same period.
  • Forbes found in the 12 months ending in May 2021, sales of kayaks grew by almost 30%, backpacking tents up by 50%, sleeping bags up by 28%, and portable power kits by 246%.

This increase in outdoor time has had a significant impact on the US economy. Outdoor recreation made up 1.8 percent ($374.3 billion) of GDP for the nation in 2020 and currently supports 7.6 million American jobs.

Ironically, however, this increase in outdoor recreation has led to an increased interest in outdoor recreation technology. 

Even before the pandemic, between 2013 and 2019, firms invested $722M into outdoor startups. And this has skyrocketed since then particularly in consumer subscription services focused on outdoor recreation. For example, Strava, a biking and walking app, reached unicorn status in late 2020 after raising $110 million in a Series F funding round. 

It is critical for companies that wish to capitalize on the outdoor recreation boom to understand software development does not need to occur in-house. Often, hiring an in-house person can significantly delay development. Given the current boom, this is not the time to wait.

For example, we recently worked with an outdoor recreation company, Overland Bound, to help them develop their new React Native mobile app. They are a resource and adventure social network app dedicated to vehicle dependent travel. They offer their members adventuring resources (how-to’s, YouTube tutorials, articles and product reviews, discounts on premium gear and equipment, downloadable trip maps) and a trip planning software.

If you need help getting your outdoor recreation tech off the ground, give us a call.