Outside Participation Grows to Document Ranges


BOULDER, COLO [September, 2022]/OUTSIDE SPORTWIRE/ – The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, released the 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report, which concludes that participation in outdoor recreation continues to grow at record levels. According to the report, more than half (54%) of Americans ages six and older participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2021, and the number of outdoor recreation participants grew 2.2% in 2021 to 164.2 million participants . However, this growing number of outdoor enthusiasts did not fundamentally alter the long-term decline in high frequency, or “core” outdoor activity.

“We know that spending time outdoors brings many benefits for individuals and society, including improved mental and physical health, job creation and economic growth, and increased stewardship of our land and waters,” says Kent Ebersole, Interim Executive Director of OIA. “While the historic growth we are seeing in this report is encouraging, we must continue to take action to help more individuals and families form lifelong relationships with nature so that our communities, the environment and our businesses continue to thrive.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The number of participants in outdoor leisure activities increased again in 2021. Since the start of the COVID pandemic in early 2020, the number of outdoor participants has increased by 6.9%. Although many of the official restrictions on indoor entertainment, including restaurants, bars and sporting events, ended in 2021, outdoor recreation participation continued to increase.
  • Youth participation is increasing, but the frequency of their participation is decreasing.
  • New outdoor participants are more diverse than the overall outdoor participant base, creating increasing diversity not only by ethnicity but also by age group.
  • High-frequency or “core” participation in outdoor recreational activities is declining. The “core” participant in outdoor recreation, defined as someone who has participated in outdoor recreation activities 51 times or more in the past 12 months, has increased from 71.9% in 2007 to 58.7% of the annual participant base declined in 2021. The number of core participants has increased from 99.5 million in 2007 to 96.4 million today.
  • The number of participants aged 55 and over has increased by more than 14% since 2019. Older participants aged 65+ were the fastest growing age category, with a 16.9% growth since the start of the COVID pandemic in early 2020.
  • Despite the increasing number of participants, the number of outdoor excursions is clearly declining. The number of excursions has declined over the past decade, and the increased number of participants cannot stem the tide.

“The data in this year’s report underscores the important need to continue to support efforts that help create repeating and reinforcing outdoor experiences for youth and families,” said Stephanie Maez, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “Cross-industry collaboration and through philanthropy, outdoor programs and public policy can move the needle on these issues. The Outdoor Foundation will continue its mission to catalyze collective action to break down barriers of justice and help make the outdoors accessible to all.”

The Outdoor Foundation has been producing the Outdoor Participation Trends Report for 15 years. The annual report examines the demographic of the outdoor participant – defined as someone who has participated in an outdoor activity at least once in the past year. The survey reflects data collected in calendar year 2021, which yielded a total of 18,000 online interviews with people aged six and older. View the full 2022 report here.

While the full report is available to the public, an in-depth breakdown of specific sectors of the industry will be available exclusively to OIA members in the coming months. This detailed view will provide OIA members with insights that will help them make business decisions and welcome more people outside.

About the Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit dedicated to getting people outdoors for their health, the health of communities, and the health of the outdoor industry bring. Through community investment and pioneering research, the Outdoor Foundation works with many partners to get more people outside, more often. Visit outdoorfoundation.org for more information.

About the Association of the Outdoor Industry

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), based in Boulder, Colorado with offices in Washington, DC, is the premier trade association for the outdoor industry. For more than 30 years, OIA has been the trusted organizer, resource and voice of the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves manufacturers, suppliers, trade agents and retailer members through its focus on trade and recovery policies, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. The association offers its members insights, advocacy and opportunities for action that support the long-term success of outdoor companies and ensure the outdoor experience for all. Visit www.outdoorindustry.org for more information