The View from Capitol Summit: What Happened and Where We’re Venturing Next

OIA Capitol Summit

We used our outside voices, and our industry was heard loud and clear.  

Live from the Hill, we want to extend our greatest thanks to all our sponsors, business leaders, elected officials, and fellow outdoor enthusiasts for joining us in our nation’s capital for our annual Capitol Summit! 

As the outdoor industry’s catalyst for meaningful change, we’re passionately committed to doing the work to advocate for the economy, inclusion, participation, and the health of the planet. Over the past few days, OIA galvanized the community around our advocacy priorities – and we’re just getting started. 

Read on for a recap of what went down at Capitol Summit, and a guide to opportunities for further advocacy. 

Sustaining Outdoor Traditions and Public Land Stewardship for Economic Growth is Possible 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland invigorated attendees with her inspiring and encouraging keynote presentation about the implementation of the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Great American Outdoors Act. A member of the Pueblo of Laguna and the first Native American to serve in a cabinet secretary position, Haaland shared her perspective on the critical importance of the outdoor industry – not only to thriving communities, but also to a thriving economy. 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

“That’s what the Outdoor Industry Association is all about. It’s about sustaining outdoor traditions that help our communities to thrive – hunting, fishing, climbing, hiking, and everything in between – while working together to protect incredible places for future generations.  

And your dedicated efforts don’t just help steward public lands and waters for the enjoyment of all, they also have a significant and undeniable impact on our nation’s economy! 

Jobs in outdoor recreation ensure families can put food on the table, create diverse revenue streams for communities, and bring new opportunities to lesser-known outdoor spaces.” 

— Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland 

Eric Raymond, Director of Social Impact and Advocacy at The North Face, introduced the Secretary to Capitol Summit attendees, sharing “Secretary Haaland is a true inspiration, a tireless advocate for our planet, and for people from all walks of life. She is a fierce and passionate advocate for environmental justice, climate action, outdoor recreation, and conservation. And she does this all in service of future generations. We could not be more grateful for Secretary Haaland’s leadership and for her enduring support of the outdoor industry and our shared values.”  

Collective Voices and Actions on Common Ground Issues   

USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres-Small educated attendees on the critical importance of rural development and agriculture to the health of the outdoor economy, while outdoor business and advocacy leaders from Conservation Alliance, Outdoor Alliance, REI Co-Op, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, Maine Outdoor Brands, VF Corporation, KEEN Footwear, NEMO Equipment, and Vista Outdoor explored how to take action on equity, trade, and climate policy at varying governmental levels. 

We also had the chance to share our OIA team’s expertise. OIA’s President, Kent Ebersole; Director of Government Affairs, Rich Harper; State and Local Government Affairs Manager, Rebecca Gillis; Policy Fellow, Hannah Wintucky; COO Dr. Arlene Charles; and Outdoor Foundation’s Executive Director Stephanie Maez led discussions on the outdoor industry’s top policy priorities, including:  

Recreation and conservation policies like the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) and Farm Bill. 

Balanced trade policy that enables innovation and sustainable evolution like the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and miscellaneous tariff bills (MTBs). 

Additional legislative opportunities to increase equitable access to and participation in the outdoors.  

Every member of Congress and their staff has a favorite place in the outdoors and a favorite outdoor activity. You may not agree on every issue, but you can always start a conversation and that can lead to some common ground. And in a divided Congress, with a contested presidential election coming up, the ability to begin a conversation is more important than ever. Your voice will elevate and enhance our advocacy here in Washington, D.C. throughout the year – and we will support you and your business as you continue your engagement on these issues in your local communities and states,” said Rich Harper, Director of Government Affairs, OIA.  


OIA GA team


Narrowing the Nature Gap  

Our OIA and Outdoor Foundation team partnered with Friends of Anacostia Park to host a community gathering centered on outdoor equity, access, and inclusion. Attendees built relationships with local community leaders, discussed challenges like the Nature Gap, and learned collective impact strategies for breaking down barriers to outdoor access, as exemplified by the work of organizations like Outdoor Foundation and Friends of Anacostia Park. 


Thrive Outside Community Gathering


And the Outdoor Industry Award Goes to… 

During our Friend of the Outdoor Industry Award reception, Representative Nanette Barragán, Senator Joe Manchin, and Representative Adrian Smith were recognized for enduring commitment to the outdoor industry, public lands, and international trade and climate policies that promote the growth and success of outdoor businesses.  

Representative Barragán (D-CA)

Rep. Barragán is dedicated to protecting our public lands and waters and investing in initiatives to expand access to the outdoors for all Americans – regardless of zip code. A tremendous champion for equitable access and opportunity, she is a lead sponsor of the ‘Outdoors for All Act,’ which is designed to provide much-needed funding for urban green spaces. 

“I am honored to receive the Friend of Industry award from the Outdoor Industry Association. OIA’s work to support outdoor access and park equity for communities of color and low-income communities is critical for the health and well-being of our communities, and the environment. I look forward to our continued efforts to pass the Outdoors for All Act, fight climate change, and close the nature equity gap in Latino communities and communities of color,” said Rep. Barragán. 

Senator Manchin (D-WV)

Senator Manchin played an instrumental role in the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s $369 billion in new funding for climate solutions and infrastructure. Additionally, his sponsorship of the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act – the most comprehensive outdoor recreation package since the Kennedy administration – is instrumental for the future of our industry and access to our public lands and waterways for the record number of outdoor participants. 

It is an honor to accept this award from the Outdoor Industry Association,” Senator Manchin said. “OIA has a strong history of advocating for America’s public lands and our beautiful outdoor spaces. As an avid outdoorsmen and son of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia, some of my proudest moments in Congress have been working to protect and conserve the American traditions of hunting, fishing, hiking and more. I look forward to continuing to work with OIA to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and fall in love with the great outdoors as we all have, said Senator Manchin.

Representative Smith (R-NE)

Rep. Smith is a long-time champion of the outdoor economy and OIA’s balanced trade agenda. He led the effort to add travel goods to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), resulting in $300 million in duty savings annually for outdoor companies and a $5 billion shift of trade out of China.  

“I’m honored to receive this award. A strong outdoor industry needs sound trade policy to level the playing field and compete fairly in the global marketplace. We must continue to aggressively pursue American interests to the benefit of businesses, manufacturers, and consumers alike,” said Rep. Smith. 


Advocacy Next Steps 

Together with our fellow outdoor industry business leaders, collaborators, and Congressional supporters, we made tremendous progress on our unwavering effort to advocate for the outdoor economy, outdoor participation, and our planet.  

But our work doesn’t end here, and neither do your opportunities to get involved and be a part of the movement. 

Here’s how you can continue to use your outside voice to be an advocate wherever you are – from The Hill in D.C. to the hills in your hometown: 

Download our Advocacy Handbook: Gain insight into how OIA builds and mobilizes advocacy networks on the intersectional issues that impact our industry, and how you and your company can get involved. 

Register for our Virtual Advocacy Session on May 11, 2023: Our Government Affairs team will unveil its 2023 policy agenda, and share how you and your company can engage policy makers and support the long-term health of the outdoors, outdoor participants, and company bottom lines.  

Sign up for OIA’s policy alerts, which share timely updates on key outdoor legislation and how you can take action. 

Reach out to our Government Affairs team! Learn about OIA’s member-only networking, education, and convening opportunities that align with your outdoor company’s growth strategy; explore the option of joining one of OIA’s advisory councils; and start brainstorming how your businesses can understand and apply lobbying and advocacy actions. 

Follow us on social to stay up-to-date on policy updates and new ways to get involved. 


More than ever, with urgency and swift action, OIA is committed to its work as a catalyst for meaningful and positive change for the outdoor industry, its people, and its planet. We’re using our outside voice to advocate for balanced trade policy; sustainable business solutions; and expanded, safe access to the outdoors for this generation and many more to come. Join us. 


Research Roundup: Spring 2023

Outdoor Consumers are Dreaming About Spending Their IRS Refunds 

It’s tax season, and many outdoor recreation participants expect a refund from the IRS. The IRS reports that the average refund in 2023 will be $3,140, enough to pay for things like a new bike, next year’s ski pass, camping gear, or a solar generator. Right now, while consumers wait for refunds to arrive, they are thinking about how to use them. Research in neuropsychology reveals that we experience powerful emotions when thinking about future events. This period of anticipation—when people dream about experiences they plan to have—is the perfect time to market outdoor experiences and the products associated with them, like riding a new bike on an epic trip to Moab (and all of the micro-experiences related to biking) or just hiking local trails in new boots. This is the period in which marketing is most effective because it can help consumers weave their desire for experiences into purchases of products that will enhance that experience. Outdoor consumers expecting tax refunds are dreaming right now, so tap into it and help them do more than simply imagine the experiences your products can unleash.  

Outdoor Consumers Care about Brands’ Social Stances 

The risks of taking stands on social issues include lost customers, damage to brand image, and reduced sales. On the flip side, more than half of outdoor consumers say that they do care about brands’ stances on social issues. Currently, identity politics is having an impact across the market, and this creates dangerous waters for many outdoor brands. Social Identity Theory was originally developed to explore the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. Tajfel et al. (1971) attempted to identify minimum conditions that would lead members of one group to discriminate for the in-group to which they belonged and against another out-group. The most striking example is the current divide driven by the concept of being “woke.” Lists of woke brands are circulated by both pro and con groups signaling whether members should buy more of or “cancel” the brand. These campaigns tend to be started and amplified by the fringes that have strong feelings or gain politically by filtering everything through their identity filter. The data indicate a more reasoned response from most consumers.   

A deeper dive reveals that while these consumers care about a brand’s stance, they don’t always think brands should take positions on social or political issues. In today’s environment, that may be unavoidable. Only one-third of outdoor consumers asked said that brands should NEVER take a stand on social or political issues. While consumers expect brands to have some kind of stance on social and political issues, they don’t want the brands to be reactive. Brands may consider communicating core values that describe the fundamental beliefs and priorities of the brand. For example, a brand could talk about sustainability and climate as core values and choose not to comment on a devastating hurricane.  


ChatGPT is a useful tool for outdoor brands 

Recently, ChatGPT has been getting a lot attention, but what is it, and what can it do? ChatGPT is a prototype artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, which specializes in dialogue/chat. It can write product descriptions, help you write a business plan, describe consumer segments (you have to come with data), and even help with financials. 

I couldn’t help trying it out. Here is a sample of the questions asked and the AI-generated answers: 

Question/direction:  Can you define hiking?   

ChatGPT answer:  

“Hiking is a form of outdoor activity that involves walking or trekking through natural environments, such as mountains, forests, or trails. It is often done for leisure, exercise, or to explore and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. Hiking can range from short, easy walks on well-defined trails to longer, more challenging hikes on rugged terrain and can be done alone or with a group. Hiking often involves some degree of physical exertion but can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.” 

Question/direction: Write a business plan for heated ski poles.   

ChatGPT response:  

Sample from the Executive Summary: 

“At Heated Ski Poles, Inc., our goal is to provide skiers with the ultimate skiing experience. Our innovative heated ski poles will keep skiers’ hands warm and comfortable throughout the day, allowing them to enjoy their time on the slopes without being hindered by cold fingers. Our poles will be made of high-quality materials and feature state-of-the-art heating technology. We will offer a range of heated ski poles in different sizes and styles to accommodate the needs of all skiers.” 

This tool is a glimpse into the future of search, supercharged by machine learning and ultimately by AI. This technology has vast implications for the future of access to information. This could shake up the service economy, including financial services, logistics, supply chain management, market research, technical writing services, coding and computer programming, and many others. ChatGPT can write code, mathematical formulae, and even poetry.  

Click here to try ChatGPT 


Trend Spotter: “Core”  

According to the online news site Fashionista, new “core” aesthetics are showing up daily in TikTok feeds, including the previously covered “Cottage Core” and “Gorpcore” trends. Fashionista made a list that includes descriptions of each aesthetic, starting with the original “normcore,” coined to describe a unisex fashion trend in 2014 by millennials at K-Hole marketing. The point isn’t the aesthetics but rather the influence of Gen Z, in particular, and also language on how we describe aesthetics. Core is part of that trend, including:  

  • Darkcore aesthetic
  • Balletcore 
  • Cottage core 
  • Barbiecore 
  • Vacation core  

Letter from New OIA President Kent Ebersole

Dear members and fellow catalysts,

I’m so pleased to be able to share the news of my appointment to the role of President for the Outdoor Industry Association with you. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and close partnership with our Board, my dedicated staff and passionate committee members who have supported my onboarding journey over the past 7 months. Like many of you, it’s my passion for the outdoors and desire for value-based collaboration that I believe will set OIA up for success for this year and into the next decade.

I have one crystal clear priority that motivates me every day.  As OIA President, I will ensure that OIA continues to be the industry’s catalyst for meaningful change. We’re an incredibly broad reaching member-led collective that stands for positive progress in every element of the industry. But we have evolved since then to be much clearer about the value of our core pillars.

OIA’s industry-defining research is a force for change allowing you to better understand the markets and the consumers you care about. In 2023, we are launching 3 new research products & services, including new consumer reports, specialty sport reports, and consumer panels.

OIA’s tireless government affairs team is a force for collective action. There are now 16 State Offices of Recreation (OREC), and we look forward to welcoming 2 more states by the end of 2023. We won’t stop until we achieve the creation of 50 bipartisan state offices, working together to protect and sustain our water, air, land, and wildlife for current and future generations. Equally, in 2023 and until it passes, OIA is committed to seeing America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) through, the single biggest piece of federal legislation that will increase outdoor opportunities by funding infrastructure and economic opportunities for gateway communities and underserved populations across the nation.

OIA is a force for sustainable growth. Since 2019, over 100 members have joined the Climate Action Corps committed to the work of reducing industry-wide greenhouse gas emissions. In 2023 and beyond, we are focused on enlisting at least 80% of the outdoor industry to meet an aggressive but achievable goal of becoming a climate positive industry by 2030. In addition, we are launching a brand-new program and working group, the Clean Chemistry Coalition, to swiftly meet the needs of retailers, manufacturers, and distributors for implementing a thoughtful and phased approach to eliminating PFAS and other harmful chemicals from outdoor products.

OIA is a force for inclusion. Through the Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Initiative, we continue to make multi-year investments in 13 community programs and countless leaders who already know what they need to harness the benefits of spending time outdoors. In addition to our work of shaping equitable access through legislative means, and upholding OREC’s guidance of partnering with tribal members as co-managers of natural resources, OIA is evolving inclusion initiatives through internal culture and collaborations and creating a diverse pipeline of people who can see themselves as our industry’s next product designers, testers and sustainability champions. We know that we will always have work to ensure the outdoor industry represents and serves all backgrounds and voices. But as a catalyst, we are committed to iterating for the vital success of the outdoor industry.

Finally, I see OIA as a force for connection. We are doubling down on valuable products and services and introducing new programs and offerings. We are modernizing operations and changing how we deliver membership experiences so that the information and services you want and need are timely, highly relevant, and personalized to your business. We are doing this so that you, our members, can be catalysts in your own right—sustainability champions, product innovators, community builders, climate change agents, or business leaders.

Notwithstanding the current economic climate, I believe that one of the reasons we lost momentum is because we didn’t connect the dots on how our work supports your business and the communities you care about.  But this is what catalysts do—we “connect the dots, set things in motion, and learn continually”*. The nature of catalyst work is complex and much of it is invisibly and swiftly happening behind the scenes. We are pivoting to meet the needs of your business today but always with an eye on the future horizon.

While OIA has been charting this map for a minute, 30 minutes of years to be exact, we’re going to need your boots on the ground to help tread the path. To those of you who have been members for years and years, thank you for continuing to align your business commitments with our values. For those of you that have recently joined OIA, let me be the first to extend a very warm welcome. Your voice and support are just what this industry needs to make better and do better.

Together, we are a member-led collective and the industry’s catalyst for meaningful change.

Kent Ebersole
Outdoor Industry Association

Confluence Summit in Alaska Highlights Equity and Active Transportation 

Written by Alaska Outdoor Alliance (AOA) Executive Director Lee Hart

Nearly 80 outdoor industry stakeholders and allies traveled by plane and ferry and across the Canadian border to take part in Alaska Outdoor Alliance’s 7th Annual Confluence: Summit on the Outdoor Recreation Economy, held in Haines last month. 

Key state and federal leaders participating in the event before and after their brief remarks included Sen. Lisa Murkowski; Raina Thiele, senior advisor to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for Alaska Affairs & Strategic Priorities; and Julia Hnilicka, USDA Rural Development state director. 

This year’s theme, regenerative economies, attracted leaders in outdoor; tourism; economic development; and local, state, territorial, tribal and federal land managers, as well as counterparts from the Yukon. A subgroup of attendees pledged to continue collaborating on transboundary economic development priorities. Another subgroup has already met to form the foundation of a statewide active transportation coalition.  

“From the Arctic to the Tongass, there are incredible efforts literally transforming local economies and ways of connecting with the outdoors that are being guided by Indigenous wisdom and values,” said AOA Executive Director Lee Hart. “Confluence facilitated candid, passionate conversations among participants that led to a list of action steps aimed at co-creating a more regenerative future.” 

Unique to many industry gatherings, Confluence was co-presented by the Chilkoot Indian Association, which hosted a salmon bake, after which participants shared stories highlighting centuries-old relationships with land, water, fish, wildlife, and ancestors. On the last stormy day of the event, the nearby Chilkat Indian Village gifted a special, personalized tour of their Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center, a network helping to address the pressing issue of where to put precious clan treasures and the villagers’ desire to rebuild and restore their cultural heritage. 

Thrive Outside Day 2022: A Nationwide Celebration

Thanks to our community leaders, partners, and participants, our 2022 Thrive Outside Day events were an overwhelming success! Read below to learn how Thrive Outside Communities across the country celebrated our collective work to address equity barriers and ensure the outdoor experience for all.



Thrive Outside Day in Atlanta was hosted on November 12 at Rodney Sr. Cook Park in partnership with The Alliance for The Activation of Cook Park. With various outdoor activities to participate in, from mountain biking to a park scavenger hunt, Atlanta really got to see and feel what Thrive Outside is about. Learn more about Thrive Outside Atlanta.

“This was such a beautiful event, it reminds me of field day when I was a kid” — Old Fourth Ward community member

“It is so refreshing to see Black faces advocating for outdoor play and education for our youth.” — Old Fourth Ward community member

“Thank you for allowing us to learn more about your organization through this event. We can’t wait to partner with you all.” — Amphibian Foundation



The Nature Conservancy sponsored Organic Oneness’ (OO) Be the Healing: Reparations Conference to celebrate Thrive Outside Day in Chicago. The conference explored innovative approaches to reparations including restoration, repair, and healing at the individual, community, and institutional levels, inclusive of policy changes. Over the course of three days, Dr. Joy DeGruy and Dr. Bahia addressed the historical harm and trauma of racism and colonization through an inspirational and solution-oriented global lens. Chicago community leaders led community tours addressing various ways reparations are being carried out within the ecosystem of their neighborhoods. By addressing racism, trauma, and healing as a collective, Chicago will be more successful in decreasing risk factors and increasing protective factors within education, employment, general health, family structures, and community networks. Learn more about Thrive Outside Chicago.



Thrive Outside Detroit welcomed the Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile to town October 10-12 to celebrate Thrive Outside Day. Youth and their families participated in a paddle on local waters with Wilderness Inquiry staff as well as a range of fun and educational land-based activities. Local partners such as Belle Isle Nature Center, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Friends of the Detroit River, Detroit Outdoors, Friends of the Rouge River, and US Forest Service Urban Connections all pitched in to help students experience Belle Isle, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and DPSCD’s own Camp Burt Shurly. Learn more about Thrive Outside Detroit.

“They can have this powerful experience and then want to come back to this park with their family,” Dempsey says. “They might be the one that says, ‘Hey, let’s go down that trail. I actually know what’s down there. Let’s go see this beaver lodge that’s down there because I did that when I was here last October.’ So they can become the leaders for their friends and their family when they come to this park because they’ve got this relationship with this park.” — Garrett Dempsey, program director of Detroit Outdoors

“There is so much research that supports not only that kids being outside and enjoying nature allows them to bridge connections to what they’re learning in the classroom, but also just from a personal development perspective—for them to have an opportunity to go out of their comfort zone. It’s so formative in their development.” — Monica DeGarmo, teacher at the Academy of the Americas


Thrive Outside Days kicked off on September 24 with an open house at the gear library. Three additional events were hosted in October focusing on building community, especially in the neighborhood around the gear library. Activities included camping workshops, music, gear library tours, kayaking demos, bonfires, and walking local trails. Learn more about Thrive Outside Grand Rapids.


The ECO-BIPOC Thrive Outside Day Maine event was hosted on November 19 at Bradbury Mountain alongside The Third Place. Attendees shared joy, built connections, and hiked together. In addition, the Thrive Outside Maine community sent free State Parks passes to over 235 BIPOC individuals and organizational leaders in Maine, to acknowledge the barrier of cost and the community commitment it takes to overcome it when it comes to access to outdoor spaces in Maine. Through their partnership with Outdoor Foundation as well as The Third Place, Bureau of Parks & Lands, Maine Initiatives, Leonard C. and Mildred F. Ferguson Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy, Thrive Outside Maine is taking action to support access to nature for people of color in Maine, in addition to working on broader systems-change efforts. Learn more about Thrive Outside Maine.

“Nature is critically important to my worldview, my relationship with natural ecologies, and how I live my life. Being in Nature has allowed me to surmount intense obstacles in my life, from growing up in poverty, to stress relief from coping with constant racism and othering to the benefits of being active and maintaining better health. The reality for many Indigenous people in Maine is that a significant number of us still live close to the poverty line or below it. While I understand that park fees are necessary to fund maintenance, if we don’t have programs like yours to support access, we are excluding those who may need it most because they don’t have the resources to vacation in beautiful places, or to travel just for enjoyment. I remember growing up, the only state parks I went to were for school trips. We didn’t have vacations, and if we went to visit Nature it was on the river or at a local lake or pond that was free to access. I never went skiing, kayaking, or sailing. I went to a kid’s camp once, because it was subsidized by a church. And of course, I was required to follow church rules, even though I was Indigenous. We should not have to be indoctrinated into a religion just to get a chance to go to summer camp.” — Mihku Paul

“Being away from home and family is quite hard. Nature connects me to experiences that I had when around the family or activities we used to do. The beach, the trees, the birds…” — Manuel Cruz

“I am at peace and tranquility when walking in nature.” — Hana Tallan



Thrive Outside OKC celebrated Thrive Outside Day all month long in conjunction with RIVERSPORT’s Outdoor October initiative. Events included the Oklahoma Regatta Festival, Biketober, Dogtober, and the Red Coyote Half Marathon. Partner organizations included USRowing, Yukon BMX, Country Roads Animal Rescue, and Red Coyote Running & Fitness. Activities included rowing races, kayak races, family bike rides, BMX races, SUP with your pup, and a half-marathon. Learn more about Thrive Outside Oklahoma City



Thrive Outside Day Philadelphia was hosted by The Schuylkill River Greenways, Berks Nature, and the Alliance for Watershed Education (AWE) on Saturday, September 24. The event included a bike ride on the Circuit Trails’ Schuylkill River Trail and an outdoor education event at the turn-around location, Berks Nature’s The Nature Place environmental center in Reading, PA. Learn more about Thrive Outside Philadelphia.


Thrive Outside San Diego hosted a series of Thrive Outside Day events throughout the month of October. Event activities included hikes, mountain biking, yoga, gardening, camping, and more. Thrive Outside San Diego’s steering committee member, the County of San Diego Parks and Recreation, also launched the Experience the Outdoors campaign, which is designed to address equity barriers so that everyone can experience the outdoors. Learn more about Thrive Outside San Diego.

“There’s something so special about starting your day, stretching, and finding balance in a park. The fresh air, the birds singing, even the buzzing of the bees. It just puts your body at ease, and I can’t wait to come back!” — Marie, workshop attendee

“I volunteer to do trail maintenance in the other part of the preserve, but it’s always nice to stop here, say ‘hi’ to the rangers, and see what they put out on their table. It’s hands-on, but I learn a lot just by listening in.”  — Jose, youth volunteer

“It was great to entertain so many excited kids and to see parents reliving their youth. It’s an educational experience that’s also a ton of fun.” — Kyle Icke, Supervising Park Ranger



Thrive Outside Day Seattle was celebrated on October 28. More than 30 outdoor recreation organizations, including Washington State Parks, the Service Board, and Braided Seeds, convened to discuss current issues and access barriers to the outdoors, and highlight the great work already happening in this space. This convening was held in preparation for the launch of the Outdoor Recreation Action Team in early 2023, which will build and strengthen the network of diverse organizations focused on outdoor access and equity. Learn more about Thrive Outside Seattle.


River City Outdoors celebrated Thrive Outside Day St. Louis in collaboration with Thomas Dunn Learning Center, the Marquette Recreation Center of the City of St. Louis, Connections to Succes, and The Youth Violence Prevention Council. The block party event took place in Dutchtown, which has some of the highest rates of violent crime in St. Louis and is in the footprint of Cure Violence, a violence prevention program that has been introduced to the city in hopes to calm the neighborhood. Streets were shut down to traffic and the fire Department was also there engaging the community. Non-profit agencies engaged the community and shared about the services they provide. Children and their families enjoyed face painting, a bounce house, games, dancing, and arts and crafts projects that they could take home with them. The highlight of the evening was a group of local street performers who danced and did some amazing fire-throwing tricks. Learn more about Thrive Outside St. Louis.

“This is what community looks like.” — Event participant
“Let’s do this every year.” — Event participant


Twelve local outdoor organizations hosted Twin Cities Thrive Outside Day on October 8 at Boom Island, located right on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The event celebrated the transformative benefits of the outdoors while engaging Minnesotans to build community and ensure that everyone has equitable access to outdoor spaces and experiences. Participants enjoyed canoeing, urban birding, mountain biking, hiking with plant identification, youth Zumba, fishing, fire building, and equipment demonstrations. Learn more about Thrive Outside Twin Cities.

“I was able to talk to attendees about recreational opportunities on federal lands and the programs available for getting youth and those with permanent disabilities in parks and forests.” — Partner agency

“It was great to connect with the other organizations at the event. I thought the networking was excellent. Looking forward to hopeful collaboration in the future.” — Partner agency

“Oodles and oodles of fun. We went out on the water, and it was fabulously calm and the trees looked fabulous” — Event participant


On Saturday, October 29, members of the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative and Washington, D.C. Thrive Outside coalition partnered to engage Ward 7 and 8 youth and families in a day-long celebration of family, nature, and the harvest season. This event was co-planned with community input and included a pumpkin and turkey giveaway, Trunk or Treat, and live music featuring Bela Dona, an all-girl, local favorite Go-Go band. Other activities included fishing, boating, skating, and seasonal craft-making. The overall goal of the day was to activate stressed DC residents in safe, meaningful outdoor engagement in Anacostia Park. Learn more about Thrive Outside D.C.

“This is an awesome way to end the season with the community.” — Event participant

“I am so happy I came down here, I did not even know this park was here” — Event participant

Higg, OIA, and EOG Are Equipping the Outdoor Industry to Be More Sustainable

For outdoor brands, measuring the impact of everything from technical gear and hardgoods to performance apparel can be challenging. Higg is proud to announce their partnerships with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the European Outdoor Group (EOG). These collaborations offer the industry the opportunity to align on standards of measurement, reporting, and production. With many brands already engaging with all three entities, the harmonization will enable outdoor businesses to consistently measure, benchmark, and progress using a standard measurement system.

The relationships among Higg, OIA, and EOG provide the outdoor industry the opportunity to prioritize the tools and solutions it needs most. We’re optimistic that this repository of reliable primary data and leading industry measurement and analytics tools can help spearhead more sustainable production. In addition, we look forward to expanding product and material categories with insights from industry leaders. Facilities using Higg can continue to provide valuable data to the brands they work with, while forging stronger business partnerships.

Just like the outdoor industry, sustainability measurement continues to evolve. Materials are more advanced and technical. Enthusiasts increasingly look for brands that match their environmental and social values. With Higg, smaller brands have a unified view of their supply chain and can take responsibility for their entire impact – from carbon emissions to working conditions, materials to products, and stores. With resources through OIA, EOG, and Higg, they have the expert guidance and support to make decisions based on their unique needs and product lifecycle.

For example, EOG’s grant program is furthering brands’ ability to measure and take action, providing businesses that want to make a difference free access to Higg platform. Equip Outdoor Technologies, Halti, INTERSPORT IIC, and ORTOVOX are among the companies that have already participated in the program to expand their sustainability initiatives.

“The Higg grant scheme from EOG represented a great opportunity for us at ORTOVOX to try out the Higg Index in a structured and informative approach within the wide range of its possibilities. It allowed us step by step to start working with the tool with the professional support of the Higg team. This was a stepping stone for us!” — Andreas Wolf, CSR Manager

Through OIA’s Climate Action Corps, outdoor brands are banding together and committing to be the first climate positive industry by 2030. Being climate positive means reducing your greenhouse gas emissions in line with a science-based target (SBT) that addresses all scopes, removing even more GHG from the atmosphere than you emit, and for broader systemic change. Brands in the coalition have ambitious goals, and with the right tools, they can get there.

As a founding member of the Climate Action Corps, NEMO Equipment is paving the way for broad industry progress using Higg tools.

“NEMO utilizes the Higg MSI and Product Tool during our design process. Next, we’re working to integrate Higg data in our PLM system, and integrate FEM and FSLM in our Quality Program. Along with providing great tools, Higg has a team of experts who make training and sharing best practices a priority.” — Theresa McKenney, Director of Sustainability

Today, over 150 brands and retailers from OIA and EOG’s combined member base are utilizing Higg tools and data to help them with their sustainability goals and initiatives in the outdoor industry.

Together, we are excited to further empower the outdoor industry in their impact goals, and we look forward to seeing these partnerships grow.

Ready to learn how this partnership can help you reach your goals? 

Sign-On Letter: PFAS Reporting Requirement Extension for Outdoor Brands Selling Goods in Maine

Does your company operate or sell goods in Maine? Sign our letter to request an extension on PFAS compliance laws.​​​

Hello from Washington, D.C.,Across the country, we have seen increased activity concerning the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) in consumer products. Traditionally, PFAS have been used throughout the outdoor industry as the compounds are resistant to extreme elements like heat and water. Recent science has allowed us to better understand the negative human and environmental impacts that PFAS have, leading to the increased attention on PFAS phaseout across all sectors, including outdoor, juvenile products, food packaging, and more.A law passed in Maine in 2021, An Act To Stop Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution, is considered to be one of the most sweeping in the country. Although the State of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is still moving through rulemaking and guidance for the public to better understand the law and its requirements, there are hard trigger dates for compliance that OIA manufacturers should know about.The most important date to note is January 1, 2023, when businesses throughout the state AND businesses that sell goods into the state will be expected to notify the DEP of any products for sale in the state that contain intentionally added PFAS. If a business is not in compliance with this deadline, it may face financial costs. DEP is allowing manufacturers in Maine and businesses that sell goods into the state to request an extension on this trigger date, pushing the reporting requirement back six months. OIA and our on-the-ground partner, Maine Outdoor Brands, have drafted an extension letter for our members.If you would like an extension for your company, please fill out this short form by this Friday at 5 p.m. (ET). Even if you are unsure if anything you sell contains PFAS, we encourage you to join the extension request to ensure you are in compliance, have products tested if necessary, and give DEP more time to provide guidance.This law may have measurable impacts on your business, and we want to work together to ensure that you are as prepared as possible to comply and eventually phase out intentionally added PFAS. For over a decade, our industry has been investing time and resources to develop safe, durable, innovative, and economical alternatives to PFAS, and we plan to all work together to ensure that the transition is economical, equitable, and safe.

Together we are a force.Rebecca GillisGovernment Affairs ManagerOUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION (OIA)

Research Roundup: Fall 2022

Here at OIA, our research team focuses on providing you with insights into the outdoor consumer: what drives their choices, what gear they choose, and what they value about their outdoor experiences. With our newsletter — Research Roundup — we aim to deliver the best data from our partner, CivicScience, who can reach hundreds of thousands of consumers in real-time to ask questions and gather insights that give you clear insights. You’ll also gain easy access to the full catalog of research reports we offer as well as trends we are tracking.

Happy reading!


Kelly Davis

Director of Research


Who are the Outdoor Recreators Most Likely to Visit State or National Parks?

OIA has excellent data on outdoor recreation participation by category; I can tell you how many Americans hiked, ran trails, went fishing, etc. However, I couldn’t tell how many or who were visiting state and national parks until now. Data captured by CivicScience helped us build a view of who is visiting state and national parks and how often they visit. This information can help us segment outdoor recreators who are likely to visit a state or national park and target the most likely groups. The data indicate that – among American adults – younger persons, persons who are parents and grandparents, and persons who live in suburban and rural areas are more likely than others to be frequent park visitors.

Of the very small group of participants who visit state parks between a few times a month and a few times a week, younger adults edged out older participants. But – of the relatively larger group of total participants who visit state parks a few times a year – those aged 55 to 64 were more frequent visitors than younger visitors.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

Parents and grandparents are more likely to visit state and national parks more frequently. Parents were most likely to visit parks, grandparents came in second, and adults with no children were least likely to visit. Note that our sample did not include children ages 17 and under.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

The type of area (urban, suburban, rural) matters when predicting who is most likely to visit a state or national park. Persons who live in urban environments are least likely to visit a state or national park. Persons who live in the suburbs are most likely to visit state and national parks, and rural residents are most likely to be frequent park visitors, but about the same percentage of urban and rural dwellers say they almost never or never visit state or national parks.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

Do Outdoor Recreators Use Cannabis?

On October 6 of this year, President Biden signed an executive order that pardoned all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, and ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law where it is currently classified as a “Schedule I” substance along with far more dangerous substances including methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. Whenever cannabis is in the news, the OIA research team gets questions about outdoor recreation and cannabis use. In the past, we have speculated about the intersection of outdoor and cannabis; this time we used empirical data from CivicScience to show how cannabis use varies between outdoor recreation participants and non-participants.

Overall, outdoor recreation participants are more likely to use cannabis than the average American, except for runners who are less likely to use cannabis than the average American. The chart below shows that 26% of hiking, camping, and fishing participants; 1 in 4 bicycle riders; and 1 in 4 hunting and fishing participants say they are cannabis users. Note that this is not a measure of cannabis use during outdoor recreation; it is simply a measurement of general use among those who participate in those activities.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

What Types of Cars Do Outdoor Recreation Participants Choose?

One of the psychographics we commonly use to correlate activities across market research is the type of car a respondent drives. This is an area of keen interest, not only to the automotive industry but to outdoor accessories manufacturers (think racks), gear manufacturers, and even apparel brands. Knowing what kind of car someone prefers can provide a deeper look into their consumer type and choices. Purchasing a car is one of the biggest purchases many consumers make. If we know what type of vehicle someone drives, it can help us predict other purchases and behaviors across a wide variety of categories.

Consider that persons who hunt or fish are most likely, by a significant margin, to prefer a truck. That’s not a huge surprise, but it helps us better understand how to market products and services to that group. Note that runners are more likely than others to prefer sports cars and sedans. Bicyclists are most likely to prefer an SUV. The majority (68%) of outdoor enthusiasts who camp, hike, or paddle prefer either an SUV or a truck. The following chart indicates that outdoor recreation participants tend to prefer vehicles that facilitate their love of the outdoors by buying vehicles that can transport both them and their gear.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022

Trend Spotter: Trekking Poles!

Maybe it’s the spread of hiking content on social media, but whether it’s a TikTok or Instagram-driven trend or not, trekking poles seem to be everywhere right now, from the fists of casual hikers on local trails to thru-hikers on the PCT and the AT. I had received questions about this, so I turned to a source that I knew had his finger on the trekking pole pulse: Reese Brown, executive director of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. Cross-country ski poles are a requisite part of a cross-country ski kit – you aren’t going far without them if you’re skiing on XC trails, so the makers of those poles are very familiar to those in the cross-country ski category. Additionally, Reese has been trying to convince me to try trekking poles for longer, more technical hikes for many years.

“Trekking poles make walking and hiking a more balanced physical experience by fully incorporating the upper body. In addition to better efficiency overall, you will take the stress off critical joints like knees and ankles reducing the chance of injury from an accident or from overuse.”  (Reese Brown, Executive Director, CCSAA)