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Americans discuss outdoor activities and travel plans coming out of the pandemic

UserTesting  |  August 10, 2021

Now, with summer in full swing, we conducted a study to examine what outdoor activities adult males and females across the U.S. are partaking in, how far they’re willing to travel to pursue their passions, and what they’re looking to purchase to make these activities happen. Though the pandemic is far from over, we’ve been keeping a pulse on the perspectives of people as it relates to travel and outdoor activities.

To get to the bottom of our curiosity,  we launched a study on the UserTesting platform on July 12th with 20 men and 20 women who agreed to participate in a video think-aloud survey. Participants that qualified for this test were between the ages of 25-45, living in the United States.

To understand their mindset as it relates to travel and outdoor activities, four things stood out to us: 

  • Running and walking are reported as top-rated outdoor activities 
  • People are doing more than they were pre-pandemic
  • It’s time to purchase new gear and clothing
  • There’s a desire to pursue passions near and far from home

1. Running and walking are top-rated outdoor activities

The study found that 100 percent of women and 90 percent of men surveyed selected running or walking as their top activity. Men and women were closely aligned with their second most popular choice—camping and hiking—at 75 percent and 70 percent respectively. The third most popular activity is where the preferences of men and women divide, with 60 percent of women focused on biking while 50 percent of men selecting kayaking/canoeing. At least 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women stated that they take part in these activities on a weekly basis. 

Observe respondents share their thoughts on the activities they plan to participate in this summer.

2. People are doing more than they were pre-pandemic

In 2020, 160.7 million Americans ages six and over participated in at least one outdoor activity, a 7.1 million increase from 2019. These findings by the Outdoor Foundation align with our survey results. 

It was found that 90 percent of the female participants in our survey are either doing more or the same amount of outdoor activities, compared to 65 percent of men engaged in more or the same amount of outdoor activities than they did prior to the pandemic. 

The most common reason women said they’re more active than prior to the pandemic was the need to find activities to replace those they were unable to attend during the pandemic, such as going to restaurants, the gym, movie theaters, etc. The same holds true for men doing more outdoor activities than prior to the pandemic. 

Observe respondents share their thoughts on their level of participation in summer outdoor activities.

3. It’s time to purchase new gear and clothing

From clothing to backpacks to the latest electronic devices, an upgrade in gear is always worth considering. The study found that 75 percent of men and 65 percent of women have purchased or plan to purchase new backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, as well as gear such as binoculars, ice chest/cooler, knives, multitools, trekking poles, water bottles, and various other types equipment for their next trip. 

Having the proper clothing and footwear is just as important, explained 95 percent of men and 90 percent of women who plan on purchasing new running or hiking shoes. The study also found that 100 percent of men and 70 percent of women selected pants or shorts as one of their top buys. The third most popular option differed with 70 percent of men selecting hats/head coverings while 65 percent of women selected sunglasses. 

Observe respondents share their thoughts on purchases they plan to make for their summer outdoor activities.

4. There’s a desire to pursue passions near and far from home

There’s a fervent desire to get out of the house and hit the road. The method of preferred travel was overwhelmingly driving as 65 percent of men and women stated they would not be flying to their destinations, yet 30 percent of men and women plan on traveling 100 miles or more. 

The number of travel companions varied. The study revealed that 60 percent of men will travel with 1 to 3 people, while 60 percent of women stated that they would travel with larger groups of 4 to 6 other people.

Observe respondents share their insights on distances they will be traveling and numbers of people they will be traveling with for outdoor summer activities. 

Share your insights with us! 

Have you conducted a similar study? Did these findings inspire you to run some experiments of your own? Insights are always best when shared, so share your biggest "a-ha" moments with us on Twitter with #RealHumanInsight.

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With UserTesting’s on-demand platform, you uncover ‘the why’ behind customer interactions. In just a few hours, you can capture the critical human insights you need to confidently deliver what your customers want and expect.