The Outside Blog


The 5 Hottest (and Not So Hot) Outdoor Sports of 2011

Sea kayaking, via Shutterstock

Let's start with the bad news. Less than half of Americans surveyed by the Outdoor Foundation participated in some form of outdoor recreation in 2011. But here's the good news: Participation in outdoor recreation is at its highest level in the last five years. The annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report estimates that almost half of the United States population over the age of six, or 141.1 million individuals, went outside to run, hike, ski, etc. at least once last year. The total number of outings, 11.6 billion, increased by 1.5 billion from 2010.

Some sports did better than others. Predictably, the most popular outdoor activities for adults were fishing, running, camping, bicycling, and hiking. But you might not be able to guess which sports gained and lost the most in terms of participation. Here's quick look at the five hottest and coldest outdoor sports last year.

Sports that saw the biggest participation gains from 2010 to 2011. (Numbers are also available for sports that gained the most in participation over the course of the last three years.)

5. Trail Running: Nine percent increase
Might we recommend some shoes?

4. Telemarking: 15 percent increase
The Gear Girl shares her favorite Telemark set up.

3. Stand Up Paddling: 18 percent increase
A round-up of the best places to learn SUP, in case you need an excuse for a vacation on the water.

2. Hunting (Bow): 19 percent increase
Here's something you can kill, and barbecue.

1. Kayaking: 27 percent increase
We recommend a trip to Lake Superior.

Sports that saw the biggest percentage declines in participation over the last three years.

5. BMX Bicycling: 18.8 percent

4. Scuba Diving: 19.8 percent

3. Climbing (Sport/Indoor/Boulder): 23.5 percent

2. Skateboarding: 25.4 percent

1. Climbing (Traditional, Ice, Mountaineering): 29.3 percent

H/T: Chris Keyes

--Joe Spring

to Outside
Save Over

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!






Previous Posts




Blog Roll

Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.