The 2012/2013 Winter: Snowshoeing Has the Momentum

While it’s understood that the 2011/2012 snow season was a drastic, uncontrollable failure for the snow sports industry, the years prior for snowshoeing have been an overwhelming success. Depending on the weather can sometimes be a tough career choice, but snowshoeing has the momentum going into the 2012/2013 season.

Based on research from the Outdoor Industry Association and SnowSports Industries America, snowshoeing has the potential of overtaking cross country skiing to become the third most popular winter sport in the United States.

The good news is first: According to the OIA, snowshoeing participation in the United States increased by 7.5 percent in 2011 (to 4.1 million) from the prior year. However, this represents the very strong 2011 winter season and not the very weak 2012 winter.

Overall, snowshoeing is gradually increasing in popularity throughout the United States. Since 2008, snowshoeing participation has grown 40.7 percent—based on OIA’s data.

“Last season, 4,111,000 persons in the U.S. went snowshoeing at least once during the 2011/2012 winter.  Participation increased 7.5 percent from the 2010/2011 season.  In fact, snowshoeing was one of the only snow sports categories that enjoyed growth last season,” explained the SIA in its 2012 Participation Study.

Source: SIA Participation Study 2012

But, snowshoe sales tell a different story.

In fiscal 2011, the OIA said snowshoe sales were down 23.2 percent in unit terms and 39.5 percent in dollar terms versus the year prior. Again, the disastrous snow season is to blame for many vendors’ decrease in sales.

SIA’s data illustrates the same winter sports lull: 128,967 snowshoes were sold (including carryover) at an average price of $130.53 for a total of $16,834,437.

“Sales were down 17.5 percent in units sold and 20.3 percent in dollars sold,” the SIA explained.  “These decreases can be explained by poor snowshoeing conditions across the U.S.

Source: SIA RetaillTRAK data produced by the Leisure Trends Group

“Despite fewer sales, the data reflects that more persons tried snowshoeing on a casual basis last season.  Reasons for the disparity in sales and participation most likely include persons trying snowshoeing on rentals as an alternative to skiing/riding in poor snow conditions during their winter vacations and more use of snowshoes rather than skis and split boards to access backcountry terrain –again because of the conditions.”

Fingers crossed, if the 2012/2013 winter season brings a healthy snowfall nationwide, snowshoeing can most certainly see big gains in participation and sales.

So, what are the takeaways from these results?  While experiencing a harsh 2011/2012 winter season, snowshoeing is a diverse, multifaceted sport. It truly is the answer during bad economic times because it’s affordable and offers tremendous health benefits. Even better, while sales were down, snowshoeing was the smart alternative in poor conditions.

Take it from Snowshoe Magazine, the sport is here to stay and it’s only getting better. Bring on the snow!

For more information on the Outdoor Industry Association, visit For more information on the SnowSports Industries America, visit

About the author

Ryan Alford

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