Addition of 6 Million New North American Campers Since 2014 Showcases Continued Popularity of Camping
Findings of Annual Report Point to Technology Helping to Break Down
Access, Social and Informational Barriers, Driving Increase of Camping
as Lifestyle Attribute
The following is a KOA press release based on findings from their annual, 'North American Camping Report'. To download the PDF of the 2018 North American Camping Report, click here .
BILLINGS, Mont. (April 11, 2018) – According to a KOA press release, more than 6 million new North
American households have adopted the camping lifestyle since 2014, with
the number of campers who camp three times or more each year – the most
avid group of campers – having increased by 64 percent. This growth,
according to the results of the 2018 North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America, Inc.
(KOA), is an indicator that camping is fast becoming a lifestyle
attribute among U.S. and Canadian households – and there is no
indication this trend is slowing down.
In the U.S. there was an increase of 2.6 million new camper
households in 2017. Further, representation among all ethnicities is
beginning to appear more like the overall population. Building on 2017
report findings, campers at all experience levels and among all
ethnicities continue to express the desire to camp more and are equally
likely to say they intend to increase their camping trips in 2018: 45
percent of all campers indicated they will increase camping trips in
2018, an increase of 3 percent from last year’s report, while 39 percent
of new campers in 2017 will increase camping trips in 2018.
Increases in camping – both in reach and frequency – can be tied to
increased accessibility of camping due to the removal of previously held
beliefs and barriers. While previous research demonstrated bugs,
safety/security and/or campers not knowing anyone who camped as primary
barriers to camping, those barriers are waning with technology and
social media serving as access portals to helpful information both prior
to and during the camping experience. Further, according to campers who
say access to cell or Wi-Fi service has a great deal of impact on the
length of their trips, they are able to take almost a full week extra of
“Camping is a highly social activity, and with that, we are seeing
campers turning to their social circles or other camping influencers for
information and resources, including borrowing or renting RVs and gear.
It’s this social nature – both on and off the campground – that
continues to reduce barriers and fuel the growth of annual camping in
North America,” said Toby O’Rourke, president of KOA. “With reduced
barriers and the desire of campers to connect with nature and each
other, it is no surprise that camping is fast becoming a fundamental
component of an outdoor lifestyle.”
The 2018 North American Camping Report continues to show campers view
camping as a time to relax, escape stress and clear their minds. Even
with an influx of new campers (both younger and more ethnically
diverse), differences in opinion about the reasons for camping are
beginning to lessen, with close to half of all campers suggesting that
camping has “a great deal of impact” on reducing stress and allowing
them to spend more time with their families. There is also increased
recognition that camping contributes to emotional and physical health.
Key findings and trends based on the results of the 2018 North American Camping Report include:
Camping continues to grow in the U.S. and the future of camping is strong
- Overall camping incidence remains stable with 61 percent of U.S.
households (77 million) having someone who camps at least occasionally, a
minor increase over last year.
- Forty-five percent of all campers indicated they will increase
camping trips in 2018, while 39 percent of new campers in 2017 will
increase camping trips in 2018.
- As first noted last year, teen campers continue to be highly engaged
in camping and demonstrate a great deal of enthusiasm toward camping
and the outdoors.
- Teen campers express higher levels of enthusiasm toward camping than
what adults predict; 94 percent of teens state they are enthusiastic
about camping, compared to 77 percent of adults who say that teens are
- Nearly all of the teen campers surveyed claim they intend to camp as
adults, and if they have children, they intend to bring them camping.
- In fact, most teen campers identify a benefit of camping as relaxing the adults in their lives (as well as themselves).
Further, new campers in 2017 are more diverse than the overall
population with a nearly even split between white and non-white campers.
- The representation of Hispanic and African American/Black new
campers is in line with U.S. Census figures, while new Asian American
campers are represented at three times that of U.S. Census figures (new
Asian American campers represented 17 percent of new campers in 2017,
against 5 percent from Census data).
- African American/Black campers are most likely to report an increase
in camping, while Asian Americans are most likely to say that their
camping will remain consistent year over year.
Those who serve the outdoor hospitality sector should plan on higher
levels of camping across the board, but primarily among younger campers
who may drive the camping economy as they experiment with different
types of accommodations and camping.
- Six out of every ten millennial households tried some type of
camping or lodging in 2017, but the experimenting is being driven by
Hispanics (71 percent) and African Americans (78 percent) trying out new
ways of camping.
- Nearly all millennials (93 percent) and Gen Xers (93 percent) would
like to try some type of new camping in 2018. Millennials are the most
likely to want to experience backcountry camping and/or glamping, while
Gen Xers seek unique accommodations.
- Both millennials (66 percent) and Gen Xers (58 percent) are changing
their camping habits and included both more weekends and weekdays in
their trips this past year.
Access to technology while camping is helping to eliminate barriers to camping
A past determinant of camping has been not having access to
information about some of the issues that may have hindered camping in
the past, such as safety and security. These issues can now be addressed
with social media networks and searching the internet, putting
information at the prospective camper’s fingertips.
- Nearly all campers (97 percent) state that they bring some type of technology with them while camping.
- In a continued upward trend since 2014, campers are significantly
more likely to go online while camping. Yet, in departure from the
results observed last year, campers are significantly more likely to say
that the use of technology detracts from the overall enjoyment of their
camping experiences (38 percent in 2016, 49 percent in 2017).
- What’s more, the idea of “unplugging” while camping is in fact
unlikely to mean a complete disconnect from technology. About a third of
all campers say they have their smartphone with them, but they don’t
turn it on (used for safety only).
- The use of social media to share photos and videos while camping
continues to grow, with 27 of millennials and 25 percent Gen X campers
saying that sharing camping experiences through social media is
important (compared to 24 percent of all campers).
- Millennial families are more likely than other millennials to post a
status update via social media (40 percent), check-in (40 percent) and
share photos or videos (68 percent) while camping.
Differences in how campers camp
Tent usage remains consistent and the highest camping accommodation
with 61 percent of campers identifying tents as their primary way of
camping; about one-fourth (24 percent) of all campers use an RV as their
primary way of camping.
- Among campers who claim an RV as their primary way of camping, 44 percent do not own the RV they use most.
- A full one-fourth of this subset of campers say they borrow the RV,
and 1-in-5 say they rent from a company or peer-to-peer rental service.
- Borrowing an RV is most common among Gen Xers.
- Among millennials, those with families are most likely to consider
renting an RV from a peer-to-peer service (followed by millennial
- The largest growth in RV usage is among African American campers,
with 27 percent stating that an RV is their primary way of camping,
which is up from 19 percent last year. Forty-one percent of African
American campers state they tried an RV for the first time in 2017.
- Among new campers in 2017, one-fourth camped in cabins – a rate much
higher than last year (moving ahead of RVs as the primary way of
camping). This could be due at least in part to the large influx of
non-white campers in 2017, many of whom not only start camping in
cabins, but are also likely to express a preference for cabins.
U.S. and Canadian Household Results: This survey was conducted by
Cairn Consulting Group, an independent market research firm with
extensive experience in the hospitality and services industries. The
survey was conducted in January 2018. The sampling methodology targeted a
randomly selected sample of U.S. and Canadian households. Sampling was
designed to obtain n=2,903 completed survey among representative U.S.
households and representative Canadian households. A sample of n=2,402
U.S. households is associated with a margin of error of +/- 1.99
percent. Among Canadian households, a sample of n=501 is associated with
a margin of error of +/- 4.37 percent.
Teen Survey Results: The results are based on a total of 403
surveys completed among a random sample of U.S. households with children
between the ages of 13 and 17. Each survey was completed with a teen
respondent whose parents gave prior permission. A sample of n=403 teen
campers is associated with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.
All surveys were completed online via an outbound solicitation
sent to a randomly selected cross-section of U.S. and Canadian
households. The sample of households from which the surveys were
completed was statistically balanced to ensure that the results are in
line with overall population figures for age, gender and ethnicity.
ABOUT KAMPGROUNDS OF AMERICA
Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA)
is the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds with
more than 500 locations across the U.S. and Canada. The industry leader
in outdoor hospitality, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey,
KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – offer sites and amenities designed for
every type of camping experience. The company was founded 55 years ago
in Billings, Mont., and today serves more than a million camping
families each year, who rely on the standards of excellence and unique
outdoor adventures KOA is known for. For more information, visit KOA.com and KOApressroom.com.
ABOUT CAIRN CONSULTING GROUP
Cairn Consulting Group is a market research firm with extensive
experience in the hospitality and services industries. For the past
several years, Cairn Consulting Group has worked with organizations in
both indoor and outdoor hospitality, including the gaming/casino areas,
food services/restaurant space, accommodations, travel/tourism and the
products and services that are a part of the hospitality industry. The
organization also serves clients in branding/brand positioning efforts,
evaluating consumer behavior, public opinion & policy and product