Top 5 Outdoor Trends for 2013

2013 is here and a whole new year to explore the outdoors is upon us. While you’re making your plans to explore the great beyond, consider the trends and prospects for the upcoming season. What should you be waiting for, watching for, and expecting to help you hit the trails, lakes, slopes and ropes faster and better than ever.

Increased Mobile Tools
At the time of this publication, there are maybe 5 people in the world without smartphones, one of them being my mother. The point is, you can expect to see a flood of even more mobile tools for the outdoor industry. From apps that allow you to map and plan hiking trips to tools for performing wilderness first aid. A year from now, your iPad will be as valuable to you as a compass or Swiss army knife. And to make sure those tools are always ready to go, expect to see far more solar chargers and battery packs. The mountain is only getting more high tech.

Paddle Sports
If Outdoor Retailer 2012 was any indication of the future (and it’s supposed to be) Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld” is an almost undeniable probability. Paddlesports are hotter than a stack of flapjacks in Tijuana. Stand-up paddleboards, inflatable kayaks, tubes, floaties, boats, you name it. If you can paddle it around, it’s going to be made in 2013.

Backcountry Snow Products
Last year, the U.S. suffered a terrible season for skiers and snowboarders . For many, the only place to get any decent powder was in the backcountry, a prospect that was both promising for good snow but also promising for danger. While an education in snow conditions is your best tool, expect to see even more technology poured into avalanche safety and rescue for 2013. Everything from better beacons and to sharper shovels will hit shelves to keep you as safe as possible.

If you can’t blow it up, it’s not new gear. From inflatable jackets by Klymit to tents made by Nemo and Kelty, inflatable gear is going to be big in 2013. It’s fast, it’s free, it’s strong and it’s light, all characteritistics prized by the seasoned outdoorsmen.

Telling you that “green” or eco-friendly products are going to be big in 2013 seems pretty fantastically outdated but I’m going to anyway, as a warning. At this point, nearly every outdoors company is doing something sustainable, recyclable, green, eco-friendly, local, blah, blah, and blah. It’s hard to find a product that won’t make you feel like you’re saving the planet. But, with all these good intentions, there are lots of people who would like to take advantage of the popularity and price difference that comes with green products. My point is to make sure if you paying a premium for being environmentally responsible, then take the time to double-check that you’re really paying for something other than marketing. A little research will go a long way to ensure your warm fuzzy feelings are well earned.

By Patrick Hutchison