A recent study by data analysis Pattern paints a picture of how much demand there is for camping gear this spring.

Pattern, a global e-commerce research company, recently released a study that showed consumer demand for camping gear is at an all-time high.

“If you’re planning to hit the road and camp this Memorial Day weekend, be prepared for record-setting crowds,” said Pattern’s Dallin Hatch. “Last year was the biggest year on record for consumer demand for camping gear, and demand this spring is already well ahead of last year.”

Designed to help determine what kind of impact COVID-19 had on outdoor and camping supplies, Pattern analyzed market demand for outdoor and camping supplies from 2019 through March 2021. The study tracked online consumer demand (the number of people shopping for a given item during a given period) for camping gear every day from 2019 to date to understand how Americans might plan to spend their summer.

Among its findings, monthly demand for camping gear, overall (tents, lanterns, backpacks, camp stoves) is up 25 percent compared to the same period in 2020, and the category is up 86 percent compared to levels seen in 2019.

By product category, demand for sleeping bags is up 73 percent compared to the same period in 2020 and up 201 percent compared to 2019. Online demand for camping chairs is up 128 percent compared to the same period in 2020 and up 123 percent compared to 2019.

Last year also saw a sharp increase in market demand for freeze-dried food, up by 147 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and up 320 percent in March and April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Camping plates, lanterns and sleeping bag compression sacks saw a noticeable increase, with demand increasing by more than 200 percent.

Tents showed a similar trend, with demand is up 97 percent for the category compared to the same period in 2020 and up 85 percent compared to 2019.

The reason, said Hatch, is that consumers are stockpiling gear ahead of plans to travel outdoor, compounded by the desire to get outdoors after being indoors in 2020 due to COVID-19 government and state-mandated protocols. The absence of other popular activities, like going to the movies or mall, also contributed to the growth.

“When many outlets for entertainment and other diversions shut down in 2020, consumers stocked up on camping gear before hitting trails and campsites all over the country,” said Hatch. “Now, though the pandemic is starting to wind down and entertainment is more accessible, even more consumers are purchasing outdoor gear like tents, sleeping bags and backpacks. All this points to more Americans hitting the road and filling up campsites across the U.S. in 2021.”

Among other findings, the study tracked monthly demand for camping and outdoor equipment for each week of 2020, showing market demand dipped in March and April following initial lockdowns and then increased steadily, peaking in May and remained steady over summer 2020.

“These might also be typical seasonal trends for outdoor gear in a given year, but it’s also compelling evidence that COVID-19 brought an initial dip in demand in the early months of lockdown before bringing a surge,” said Hatch adding “demand for camping and outdoor equipment was higher for every month of 2020 than it was in 2019.”

Pattern also found that just 6 of the 90-plus categories tracked in its study saw a year-over-year decrease in demand in 2020. Half of those were items specific to cold weather camping, suggesting that people were more hesitant to go outdoors in the winter. The categories included sleeping bag liners, hand warmers, topo maps, sun shelters, and cooler accessories.

The study also showed an increase in demand for emergency gear in the first half of 2020, including water storage and filtration items, signal whistles, emergency fire starters, shelters, and showers. “During the height of the pandemic, people were more focused on buying gear to survive a then-unknown future than planning a nice lakeside family camping trip,” said Hatch. “Adding hydration, filtration products and canteens remain popular this year.”

The study concluded what could be a record number of ground pads on the ground this summer and consumers continuing to drain manufacturers’ inventory online and at retail shops. “If we take the demand for tents as a substitute for demand to “going camping,” then campgrounds might be much busier this summer than they’ve been for many years,” Hatch said. “Camping and outdoor gear are popular year-round, but our data shows that COVID-19 has had a much larger impact on some types of gear than on others.”

For the full report, go here.

Photo courtesy GSI Outdoors