Maybe COVID will cause more innovation in gear

The social distancing and other health orders from 2020 had one positive outcome. More people spent time in the outdoors than ever before.

More people made their way to the outdoors in 2020 than ever before. The pandemic caused a shift in recreation, and a record number of people went to state parks, national forests, and other destinations off the beaten path. More hunting and fishing licenses were sold, and camping, hiking, hunting and fishing gear sales saw dramatic increases.

On one hand, I’m not excited about sharing my wild spaces with more people. Getting away from other people is part of the reason I go to the woods in the first place. But if more people get interested in nature, there will be more support for protecting those wild places. That’s the whole point of outfits like Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and other conservation groups.

And it is encouraging that hunting and fishing license sales increased along with the nonconsumptive participation. I’d have been a bit concerned if hunting and fishing had declined, or even stayed static. But if more people participate in hunting and fishing, more people understand what it’s all about and how important it is to wildlife conservation. That’s a good thing.

And if more people get into outdoor activity, there will be more innovation and competition in outdoor gear companies. That will translate to even better gear at lower prices.

Maybe it’ll put the price of some of those luxury RVs within reach of normal people. I’ve had my eye on an Earth Roamer LTi for a while now, but I’m about $700,000 short of making that happen.

There are other options for ultra RVs, including EcoRoamer and Sportsmobile, but maybe some new companies will come up with good alternatives in the next few months. Until then, I’ll stick with my Kelty tent.

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