Camping x Tech: Investors Go All-in on the Outdoors

Hipcamp

During the pandemic, the mountains called and campers answered. Since then, the billion-dollar outdoor economy has been booming.

  • Campers spent over $887B in 2020 on outdoor recreation.
  • The summer of the pandemic saw campsite reservations spike 500% across the US and the UK.
  • AllTrails reported 171% user-logged hike growth in 2020 vs. 2019 and secured $150M last November.

What’s more, the trend seems here to stay. For one, gear is in high demand. Newell Brands’ Outdoor & Recreation segment (which includes Coleman and Marmot brands) reported an impressive 22% growth in Q4 ’21. And last September, sustainable outfitter Cotopaxi received a significant growth investment from Bain Capital.

Tent purchased and hobby acquired, over 60% of first-time campers say they plan on returning in the coming year.

Off the Grid

A direct result of the pandemic, millions of families replaced international vacations with domestic road trips. At the same time, van life took off. Welcoming campers of all stripes, the great outdoors is seeing a rush of new faces.

  • 60% of first-time campers in 2020 came from non-white groups.
  • Gen Z/millennials now make up 48% of glampers across the country.

But… while many seek an outdoor trip to escape the rat race, planning a trip can be quite stressful in itself. From scouring outdated websites to missing the right gear, camping isn’t always a walk in the park. Outdoor startups are working to ease the process.

Airbnb for campsites. Fresh off new funding rounds, site booking platforms Hipcamp ($57M) and Tentrr (undisclosed) are modernizing archaic campsite reservation systems. A different approach, The Dyrt and Sēkr employ an active community of campers to crowdsource reviews, photos, and tips.

Rent-a-shelter. For those who aren’t ready to invest in expensive equipment, rentals are a great place to start:

  • Tiny cabin rental marketplace Getaway secured a $41.7M Series C in February 2021.
  • Tentrr, which books fully equipped campgrounds, also partnered with Coleman in October 2021.
  • Last June, RV rental marketplace Outdoorsy raised $120M to scale its platform, while glamping van startup Cabana notched $10M.

Takeaway: A silver lining to the pandemic, millions of Americans rediscovered their wonder for the great outdoors. Even better, the trend is a clinically proven remedy for mental and physical health — doctors in British Columbia can now prescribe national park passes to those who need a change of pace. While some might see the irony in leveraging tech to get away from it all, accessibility is the name of the game.