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The Outdoor Recreation Participation Report is the only detailed study of its kind tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation. The study is based on an online survey capturing responses from over 40,000 Americans ages six and older and covers 114 different activities.

Research | Participation | A Special Report on Paddlesports

A Special Report on Paddlesports

A Special Report on Paddlesports
Created in partnership with Outdoor Industry Association, A Special Report on Paddlesports uses the latest participation data collected annually by The Outdoor Foundation to present detailed information on participation in kayaking, canoeing and rafting by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region - critical information needed by businesses, communities and non-profits working to connect Americans with the outdoors.

While the special report shows increasing participation in paddlesports, it also highlights the outreach opportunities facing paddlers - both females and minority groups are significantly underrepresented in every paddlesport category.

Key Findings
  • 17.8 million Americans ages 6 and older participated in kayaking, canoeing, and rafting in 2008.
  • 9.9 million Americans participated in canoeing in 2008. 7.8 million Americans participated in kayaking and 4.7 million in rafting.
  • Paddling participants made 174 million outings in 2008, averaging 10 days per participant.

  • Kayaking
  • Kayaking has enjoyed steady growth since 2006, climbing to 2.8 percent of Americans ages 6 and older in 2008.
  • Recreational kayaking is the most popular type of kayaking followed - by a significant margin - by sea/tour kayaking and whitewater kayaking.
  • 47 percent of kayakers get out 1 to 3 times per year.
  • Most kayakers live in states bordering the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean - the Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic and Pacific regions.

  • Canoeing
  • Canoeing is the most popular type of paddling. 3.6 percent of Americans age 6 and older participated in canoeing in 2008.
  • Canoeing participants make an average of 7 outings per year. Despite the activities greater popularity, canoers make fewer annual outings than kayakers - 77.4 million compared to 69.5 million.
  • Geographically, most canoers - over 40 percent of all participants - are located in the East North Central and South Atlantic regions of the US, those states bordering the great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean.

  • Rafting
  • 1.7 percent of Americans age 6 and older participate in rafting.
  • 43 percent of rafters make only one outing per year and 74 percent make three outings per year or less.
  • Overall participation in rafting remains relatively steady and is even increasing among adults ages 25 to 44. However participation has declined among youth ages 6 to 17 over the past two years - following a nationwide trend among youth seen in other outdoor activities.

  • Motivations and Barriers
  • Friends and parents are the most influential in introducing paddlers to outdoor activities.
  • Relaxation is the top reason cited for participation in outdoor activities by kayakers and rafters while fun is the top reason cited among canoers.
  • A lack of time is the number one reason camping participants don't get out more often. A lack of money for equipment is also a commonly cited reason.
A Special Report on Paddlesports is based on extended analysis of data collected for the Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, produced annually by The Outdoor Foundation. The report uses the responses of over 40,000 Americans ages six and older captured in an on-line survey covering 114 different activities. The survey is the largest of its type examining participation in sports and outdoor activities.

The 2009 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, which includes high-level 2008 participation data and trend analysis for 40 outdoor sports, was released by The Outdoor Foundation in September and details the quality and extent of participation in outdoor recreation among all Americans age 6+, with a special focus on youth and diverse groups.
File: Full Report
File Type: PDF
File Size: 5.67 MB