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

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