Jan 9, 2013

Posted by in Front Page, GTFO, Snow!

Worst Outdoor Trends of 2012

Worst Outdoor Trends of 2012

Let’s face it, in the outdoors, there are no bad years. There are rough times and spoiled plans but in the end, it’s usually our own fault when things don’t go as planned. As 2012 ends and a new year begins, it may be helpful to look at the problems of last year and reflect on them as a means to prevent future mistakes and ensure that we do our best to get the most out of years to come.

Bad Snow
Last season, there were 34 deaths in the U.S. due to avalanches. Many blame these numbers on an increased number of backcountry skiers and snowboarders, driven to the back sides of resorts by the allure of premium conditions. One of the most newsworthy accidents of last year claimed some of the most prominent names in the industry, at Tunnel Creek in Washington State. Avoiding future accidents altogether is impossible, but with new technology and more education, we hope to make 2012 the year that started minimizing avalanche deaths.

Funding for National Parks
Funding for the National Parks has been dropping every year since the recession began, but 2012 has been the worst by far. As of the most recent budget, the National Park’s were using 87 percent of their funds for operational costs only . That means that 87 percent of their budget was being used just to keep parks open, with a bare minimum of staff and facilities. Forget extra activities, lectures, parkland acquisition, and restoration projects. It’s a sinking ship we hope will start to gain buoyancy in 2013.

In an ideal world, 100% of all age groups in America would participate in outdoor activities. But, as of now, that dream is not a reality. Based on trends set in 2011 and early data for 2012, fewer numbers of young adults hitting the trails (placing last in participation among 5 age groups). At a time when the outdoors industry needs fresh, young ideas more than ever, many college age kids are spending their time elsewhere. We hope that in 2013, with the help of active groups like Outdoor Nation, the young minds of our next generation will start beating people to the trail and take the outdoors industry into the future with ambition and promise.

Non-Unique Products
In the outdoor industry, gear is the ultimate candy. We crave the new flavors, we viciously guard our favorites, and we love comparing tastes. 2012 brought forth lots of great new gear, but it also brought just as much terrible gear. Our outdoor equipment was created by people who are highly passionate and driven to make the best tools for the sports and activities they love the most. In 2012, many companies focused on creating broader product lines or on copying the work of other innovators. There seems to be a plague of safe development, where everyone drives for a piece of the same pie. But, if everyone makes the same thing, no progress is made, no innovation is cultivated and no exciting products are made. Let’s hope 2013 brings out the best in the companies we love, specialized products for specialized activities.