Paddle Sports in the COVID-19 Era Wrap Up
When COVID started shutting everything down just over a year ago it seemed like there would be two possible outcomes. Things would be back to normal in a couple of weeks or things would turn to a Mad Max-esque post-apocaliptic world. While neither of those scenarios played out, it has been fun to chat with people from different corners of the paddling world to see how it played out for some.
Things We Learned
My goal with this wiring project was to confirm my suspicions that the paddling world was having a mini explosion of success. I came to this conclusion just based off how hard it was to find some outdoor gear and how busy the Rogue River felt last summer. Unfortunately I wasn't able to reach all areas of the paddling world, but I was able to confirm a bunch of suspicions.
According to the Rogue River Use Report total use was down just a little but a pretty big increase in private boater use. I imagine this is similar to many of the other rivers across the west. It is just my guess, but I imagine we will see an increase in use in both private and commercial use as people are wanting to get out and do stuff.
While chatting with Jake at Immersion Research and Seth at Next Adventure it seems that the retail and gear side of things are really busy. The big hiccup seems to be reduced manufacturing. This stems from workshops closing, reduced number of workers, and just general complications with the supply chain. Many people are looking to buy gear, there just seems to be a limited number of some things to buy.
Not ever business has made it through these hard time though. However, it seems that those that made it through the first round of closures is doing well. One thing that seems to really help keep companies going was making PPE and other supplies for medical centers struggling to protect patients and workers.
While some guides were pretty busy last season, those that reply on international travelers seemed to be hit the hardest. Mark Hirst at Lapin Koskikoulu saw a slight decline in his rescue training right off the bat but was able to stay busy guiding. He has also been able to run some more ice rescue courses.
How You Can Help
Many gear companies are working hard to get the stuff you need in your hands. However, they are restricted by suppliers getting that gear to them. While the resupply of gear may be a little slow, just be patient, your gear will show up.
While I was able to make an educated guess on outdoor gear doing pretty well, I was very curious about the non profit and education side of things. One of my favorite things to hear was the success at American Whitewater. They saw a huge increase in membership and had a couple of successful virtual river festivals. If you are reading this and aren't familial with American Whitewater head to their website and check out all of the awesome work they do to protect rivers and give boaters flows to boat things that are restricted by a dam.
If you haven't put much thought into how you can help get people excited on river recreation now can be a really good time to start. Last week I chatted with my friend Val at LEAP and have been thinking about how important programs like this are to keep our sport growing.
There is a barrier to access in the paddle sports world. Helping organizations with your time or even money can make a huge impact. Personally I am really excited to see how this boom in paddle sport (also the outdoors in general) is going to affect recreation as a whole.
Things To Remember
We are still feeling the affects of COVID-19 across the board. However that doesn't mean things are back to normal. Here are a couple things to remember as you prepare to get outdoors this spring and summer.
- Check and follow local restrictions
- Order gear you need far in advance
- Continue to support your local outdoor shops
- Be patient if gear is out stock or back ordered
- Continue to donate your time and money to groups getting people outdoors
Thanks for following this little jump into the paddle sports world. Hope to see you all on the river!