What we anticipate seeing in the world of gear next year
The Top Travel and Outdoor Gear Trends of 2022. Creating gear that is accessible to many types of people will also continue to trend in 2022. That will look like creating clothing, sleeping bags, tents, and other products in many different sizes to fit many different body types. It will also mean creating products with those with disabilities in mind.
We’re dedicating our December features to examining the biggest travel trends of 2021. Read on for our collection of stories that take a look at the shifts driving the future of travel, including the rise of new budget airlines, major overhauls of airline loyalty programs, the growing popularity of “adult study abroad” programs, and a look ahead at the top travel and outdoor gear trends of 2022. The Top Travel and Outdoor Gear Trends of 2022
Like travel, the gear industry has been turned on its head a bit from the pandemic. Supply chain disruptions. Sourcing snafus. Labor shortages. Changes in travel behavior. It’s all contributed to a wacky—and at times, downright frustrating—past couple of years for many gear brands.
But with challenge, comes innovation. And some brands have done just that, introducing new products or product categories in the face of an even more volatile and unpredictable market. Some newfangled ideas have surfaced, to be sure. Here are the six trends we anticipate seeing in the gear market in 2022.
Outdoor (Gear) Boom to Continue
Outdoor travel and activities have been surging since the start of the pandemic and we expect that to continue. That means outdoor gear companies are continuing to innovate and more traditional travel gear companies are pivoting into the outdoor space.
“I’d say we were 80 percent travel with the outdoor flare and now we’re 80 percent outdoor in terms of who we sell to and travel on the backend,” says Chris Clearman, founder and CEO of Matador Products. Matador, which was established as a travel luggage-focused company literally was forced to innovate or die. And that innovation led to a focus on luggage that worked as well in traditional travel as outdoor-focused travel, like road trips and vanlife.
“As people are flocking to the outdoors more than ever for fun and pandemic relief, we see a growth in consumers exploring the outdoors for the first time,” Liz Peixoto, the vice president of Product Design at Cotopaxi, agrees. “Families are camping and exploring nature for their vacations, national park attendance has skyrocketed, and people are using the outdoors as a replacement for the gym.”
Due to the rise in outdoor exploration comes an increasing demand for multipurpose gear.
“What we see continuing to trend is consumers want gear that is multipurpose and can easily translate from life to hike to travel,” Peixoto explains. “People are looking for items that are easily used in their everyday life, and that are intuitive and fun. Items that will continue to trend are basic hiking gear, a great backpack, a jacket that will take them throughout the day and looks appropriate in various situations.”
Clearman calls it road packing, or having gear items that will allow you to pack for multiple days or weeks of travel with multiple activities in mind. “It’s like multi-sport car-packing,” he says. “I don’t even know what you call it. But that seems to be the name of the game right now.” Matador has double-downed on multiple lines of packable bags for this reason.
Rise of the Rucksack
With the increase in multiuse gear and continued emphasis on domestic travel and road trips, we continue to see an increase in the traditional rucksack or duffel.
“With flexible travel plans come flexible bags, so duffels and travel packs should remain in favor, with their ability to be shoved in the back of a car, overhead bin, camper, or whatever means chosen, even if that changes last minute,” says Jim Matthews, senior product manager at Osprey.
According to Clearman, one of Matador’s top-selling products recently has been the Seg42 Travel Pack, a highly customizable rucksack-duffel hybrid.
We also expect to see brands re-emphasize durability in travel and outdoor gear.
“If you want to get further out, you need better gear,” Matador’s Clearman explains. “We’re just trying to build gear that’s more capable.”
Prana’s Design Director, Andrea Cinque-Austin, sees it the same way: “Consumers are looking for more value from their purchases. Products should be durable, versatile, sustainable, and effortless to travel with. Essentially, they should be versatile enough to go from backpacking to brewery.”
Creating more durable products is another piece in which many brands see themselves minimizing their impact on the planet. “We’re focused on not only being sustainably built, but also being built to last,” Katie Hughes, marketing and brand manager at Big Agnes, points out.
Speaking of sustainability, we also expect to see a continued push in this area. No doubt, any consumer product goods segment is not traditionally planet-friendly. Sourcing materials, creating products, and shipping those products to consumers and retailers have a major impact on our environment. But brands—and the industry as a whole—are trying to lessen that impact, and we see continued emphasis there.
“As we move into 2022, we’re focused on quality, of course, durability, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable materials. And then also being a super functional piece of equipment as well,” Hughes says.
Companies like Big Agnes and Matador have moved their main buildings and headquarters to fully renewable energy like wind and solar. Those and other brands also continue to come up with ways to increase the use of recycled materials and decrease the energy consumption used to create products.
“In manufacturing, we will continue on the path of innovating new sustainable products with recycled. Repurposed, and responsibly sourced materials, and develop new ways to reduce material and industry waste,” Cotopaxi’s Peixoto says.
Cinque-Austin says Prana, which recently introduced more environmentally-friendly shipping methods, will also emphasize sustainable practices. “Our products bring a strong value proposition; sustainability is at the core of every product we make,” Cinque-Austin explains. “We take care in our supply chain with Fair Trade partnerships and we design for effortless outfitting for versatility in our consumer’s wardrobe.”
Creating gear that is accessible to many types of people will also continue to trend in 2022. That will look like creating clothing, sleeping bags, tents. And other products in many different sizes to fit many different body types. It will also mean creating products with those with disabilities in mind.
“We’ll continue focusing on accessibility with all types to not only have accessibility to the outdoors. But also with gear that is highly functional,” Hughes from Big Agnes says. Big Agnes continues to make sleeping bags focused on different body shapes of men and women. Len Zanni, a co-owner of Big Agnes, agrees: “We’re trying to make sure we have something for everybody. Providing the product for all types of people.”
For Cotopaxi, it means creating a line of products that are colorful and accessible to many. “We want the outdoors to feel accessible to all people,” Peixoto says. “We also want to continue to create new space in the outdoor industry with fun, colorful, and approachable gear.”