Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Outdoor Leisure Activities market, including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

Broadly speaking, Outdoor Leisure Activities (OLAs) are popular, with 92% of consumers participating in some form of outdoor activity. Moreover, Americans are trying to keep themselves moving; 87% participate in what Mintel defines as an “active” activity, while 62% enjoy the outdoors in more physically relaxing ways. Either way, the outdoors are an important part of consumer lifestyles.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a positive boost for the outdoor leisure market. As indoor leisure venues shut down and much of travel was scuttled, consumers went outside more. As they did, purchases of outdoor leisure-related products shot up as outdoor leisure gained more participants and people got more serious about outdoor activities.

Americans have generally enjoyed leisure time outside, so it’s hard to imagine that they will stop doing so just because the lifting of pandemic restrictions means that more indoor leisure options are available. However, it will mean that the sharp growth seen in the last year in outdoor retail will be curtailed as consumers explore a wider variety of leisure options available to them.

However, outdoor retailers shouldn’t see any downturn in 2021 as a sign of the outdoors getting less popular. Outdoor activities will remain an important part of American lifestyles and have taken on new importance in the context of the pandemic and the next normal. In the short term, outdoor leisure provides a way for the previously isolated to reconnect with others and strengthen their social bonds. Additionally, outdoor leisure providers can emphasize the demonstrated mental health benefits of the outdoors to a consumer base that has a long-term need for self-care.

Read on to discover more about the US Outdoor Leisure Activities consumer market, read our US Outdoor Cooking Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the outdoor leisure activity market size.
  • What motivates consumers to participate in outdoor leisure activities, and what they do to maximize their enjoyment?
  • How brands in the outdoor leisure space can provide value and speak to outdoor leisure participants in a post-vaccine context.
  • The barriers to participating in outdoor leisure activities.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Eddie Bauer, Moosejaw, Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Mike Gallinari, a leading analyst in the Leisure Time Market sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Outdoor leisure activities received a boost in participation from the pandemic, as many out-of-home leisure venues such as museums, theaters and restaurants were closed. As the country reopens and out-of-home leisure has more points of competition, outdoor leisure activities have an opportunity to be a mechanism for both strengthening social relationships and helping consumers to recover from the mental and emotional stress of the pandemic.
Mike Gallinari, Travel & Leisure Analyst
Mike Gallinari
Travel & Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Consumer spending on sporting goods and fan chart forecast, in current prices, 2016-26
    • Impact of COVID-19 on outdoor leisure activities
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on outdoor leisure activities, 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Opportunity: consumers are looking to reconnect with one another
      • Figure 3: Increasing outdoor activity enjoyment, 2021
    • Opportunity: urban residents have specific needs
      • Figure 4: Outdoor activity interest – Select items, by area, 2021
    • Opportunity: new messaging will be effective in a post-pandemic context
      • Figure 5: Outdoor leisure activity motivations, 2021
    • Challenge: returning leisure options jeopardize OLA time commitments
      • Figure 6: Attitudes toward outdoor activities post-pandemic, by age group and HHI, 2021
    • Challenge: OLA participants are still homebodies
      • Figure 7: Outdoor leisure activity locations – Select items, by area, 2021
    • Challenge: city dwellers are worried about post-pandemic demands
      • Figure 8: Attitudes toward activity limitations, by area, 2021
  3. The Outdoor Leisure Activity Market – Key Takeaways

    • Sporting goods sales will normalize in 2021
    • Vaccines are opening up the indoors
    • Demand for green access is increasing
  4. Sporting Goods Market Size and Forecast

    • COVID-19 led to a banner sales year, return to normal increases projected
      • Figure 9: Consumer spending on sporting goods and fan chart forecast, in current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 10: Consumer spending on sporting goods and forecast, in current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 11: Index of sporting goods stores sales, by month, 2020 indexed to 2019
  5. Impact of COVID-19 on Outdoor Leisure Activities

    • Worry about COVID-19 is subsiding
      • Figure 12: Coronavirus exposure concern – Worried, 2021
    • New pandemic participants could exit outdoor activities just as easily
      • Figure 13: Outdoor activity timing – When participation began, 2021
    • Consumer comfort with indoor leisure is on the rise
      • Figure 14: Comfort returning to activities, 2021
  6. Market Factors

    • Biden budget goes big on public lands
    • Increased household wealth means more competition for leisure dollar
    • The suburbs have a new population with expanded outdoor possibilities
    • Travel’s return expands opportunity for outdoor brands
      • Figure 15: Types of leisure trips in the past two years, 2020
    • Wearable and hearable adoption can work for outdoor leisure
      • Figure 16: Wearable technology ownership and purchase intent, 2020
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Big brands are focusing on acquisition
    • Cities are trying to be more outdoor-friendly
    • Outdoor activities can help the physical and mental recovery of Americans
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Moosejaw accelerator expands diversity, improves green tech
    • Eddie Bauer uses giveaways and partnerships to expand consumer base
      • Figure 17: Eddie Bauer “Sleep Under The Stars Night” tweet, 2021
    • Public Lands seeks to extend the DSG pipeline
  9. Market Opportunities

    • From blacktop to greenway
    • Shedding the pandemic 15
    • Outdoor activities are a solution to pandemic doldrums
  10. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • OLAs have broad appeal
    • Activity starts at home
    • OLAs are a respite from pandemic conditions
    • Consumers say they want disconnection, but use tech a lot outdoors
    • Activities are important for social connection
    • Consumers demand brands be knowledgeable and green
    • Participation is varied
  11. Outdoor Activity Participation and Interest

    • Outdoor activities are broadly popular
      • Figure 18: Outdoor leisure activity participation, 2021
    • Certain demographics are underserved
      • Figure 19: Outdoor leisure activity participants – Active and passive, by key demos indexed to all, 2021
    • Equipment doesn’t preclude interest, so make activities viable
      • Figure 20: Outdoor activity interest, 2021
    • Some activities don’t age well
      • Figure 21: Outdoor activity interest – Select items, by age group, 2021
    • Special effort is needed to capitalize on urban interest
      • Figure 22: Outdoor activity interest – Select items, by area, 2021
  12. Outdoor Leisure Activity Locations

    • Participants tend to stay close to home
      • Figure 23: Outdoor leisure activity locations, 2021
    • Different regions have different proclivities
      • Figure 24: Outdoor leisure activity locations – Select items, by region, 2021
    • All consumers need motivation to leave their immediate area
      • Figure 25: Outdoor leisure activity locations – Select items, by area, 2021
  13. Outdoor Leisure Activity Motivations

    • Motivations belie a desire for empathetic messaging
      • Figure 26: Outdoor leisure activity motivations, 2021
    • Activities can fulfil all motivations
      • Figure 27: Outdoor leisure activity participation, by motivation category, 2021
    • “Reversion” is a motivating theme across age groups
      • Figure 28: Outdoor activity motivations, by age group, 2021
    • Hispanic participants see outdoor activities as a therapeutic outlet
      • Figure 29: Outdoor activity motivations – Mental health, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Lower-income participants focus more on mental health, less on physical
      • Figure 30: Outdoor activity motivations – Select items, by HHI, 2021
  14. Tech Usage

    • Tech has a place in outdoor activities
      • Figure 31: Tech used during outdoor activities, 2021
    • Tracking and recording have some less obvious applications
      • Figure 32: Reasons for tech use – Tracking and recording, by activity, 2021
    • Those with higher incomes look to monitor, lower incomes favor production and consumption
      • Figure 33: Household income distribution, by tech reason categories used during outdoor activities, 2021
    • Consumers say they want to disconnect
      • Figure 34: Attitudes toward tech usage – Desire to disconnect, 2021
  15. Increasing Enjoyment

    • Brands should help participants reconnect, improve
      • Figure 35: Increasing outdoor activity enjoyment, 2021
    • Partnerships can keep curious young people in the brand ecosystem
      • Figure 36: Increasing outdoor activity enjoyment, by age group, 2021
    • Instructive add-ons can attract growing Black and Hispanic markets
      • Figure 37: Increasing outdoor activity enjoyment – Professional lessons/guidance, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Urban participants risk information overload
      • Figure 38: Increasing outdoor activity enjoyment – Select items, by area, 2021
  16. Attitudes toward Shopping and Brands

    • Mass merchandisers are convenient, but not knowledgeable
      • Figure 39: Attitudes toward specialty stores, by age group and HHI, 2021
    • Consumers demand that brands prioritize green initiatives
      • Figure 40: Attitudes toward brands – Environment and politics, by age group and HHI, 2021
    • Brands should play a role in the greening of cities
      • Figure 41: Attitudes toward brand responsibility – Environment and politics, by area, 2021
  17. Perceived Limitations of Outdoor Activities

    • Consumers prefer a variety of activities
      • Figure 42: Attitudes toward activity limitations, by age group and HHI, 2021
    • Take an easygoing approach with those living in cities
      • Figure 43: Attitudes toward activity limitations, by area, 2021
  18. Outdoor Activities Post-Pandemic

    • Community messaging can cement participation
      • Figure 44: Attitudes toward outdoor activities post-pandemic, 2021
    • The community aspect is vital to keep young, high-income participants engaged in the future
      • Figure 45: Attitudes toward outdoor activities post-pandemic, by age group and HHI, May 2021
    • Use the rebound of indoor leisure in cities to develop social clubs
      • Figure 46: Attitudes toward outdoor activities post-pandemic, by area, 2021
  19. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  20. Appendix – The Outdoor Leisure Activity Market

      • Figure 47: Consumer spending on sporting goods, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2016-26

About the report

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