New Outdoor Participants Are Younger and More Diverse, OIA Study Finds


The influx of new participants in outdoor activities during this past year offers plenty of opportunity for growth in outdoors, a recent report revealed. The New Outdoor Participant (Covid and Beyond) Report from Outdoor Industry Association and Naxion Research Consulting found that the pandemic has attracted more diverse outdoor participation and that there is an opportunity to increase the diversity of the outdoor participant base long term.

The report examined demographics and psychographics of the new outdoor participant — defined as someone who participated in an outdoor activity for the first time during the pandemic or after a significant lapse.

Among the key takeaways, the report revealed that:

  • New participants are more likely to be female (58%), younger, living in an urban area and slightly more ethnically diverse than existing participants.
  • New participants primarily sought socially-distanced outdoor activities in order to spend time with loved ones safely, to exercise, stay healthy or to reduce screen-time fatigue.
  • New participants are largely motivated by outdoor recreation opportunities with low barriers to entry that are available and accessible within 10 miles of their homes, including walking, running, biking and hiking.
  • Walking is the most commonly reported new outdoor activity. One-quarter of new participants report that they picked up running/jogging and/or bicycling.
  • The top reasons for starting an outdoor activity during the pandemic include getting exercise, staying healthy, and getting out of the house.
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