The BOOM! continues

Heading back to the car after a great day in the backcountry. Photo courtesy of Cody Shroeder.

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What boom? The backcountry skiing and snowboarding boom, that’s “What boom.”

Since the early 90’s, backcountry has burst onto the scene in a big way. Prior to this only a few companies catered to this subculture. Now it’s grown so much that almost every ski and snowboard manufacturer has entered this segment and are now offering equipment for this niche. Gear providers aren’t the only ones to cash in. Most resorts even grant patrons backcountry access by opening their gates. Jackson Hole was the first and other resorts quickly followed suit. This is where the stoke was at. Everybody wants a piece.

I even caught the backcountry bug a few years ago!
I even caught the backcountry bug a few years ago!

Then mainstream media added to the hype. Backcountry content was everywhere from magazines, to social media and even feature films. It’s the “in thing.” There’s a new culture of cool and the magnifying glass is focused on the backcountry.

Many try to figure out why. Is the snow better? Is it the danger? Are the resorts too packed? It’s probably all those things, but we will never know for sure. One thing that is for sure it’s a gold mine.

The numbers are in. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding have continued to grow again this season. The Snowsports Industry America (SIA) 2015 fact sheet provides all the latest trends, fads and anything else you want to know about the snow sports industry. Their data shows that snow sport enthusiast spent more money this year than in the last 10 years. The total for 2013/2014 was a whopping $1,971,286,820 to be exact! What was the hottest trend of the season?

The Fastest Growing Sectors – As Provided By SIA

Photo Courtesy of - Tahoe Mountain Sports | High Sierra
Photo Courtesy of – Tahoe Mountain Sports | High Sierra

Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment sales increased

In fact by 8 percent in dollars sold and 8 percent in units sold! Lack of snow across the entire western North America likely stalled backcountry equipment sales, which houses many of the popular areas for backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

Sales of Alpine/AT boots increased

Defined as alpine DIN boots that can be converted to an AT/Touring sole for Backcountry use, may be one of hottest items in the alpine market. Sales of alpine/AT boots are up 27 percent in units sold to 93,000 units sold, and up 21 percent in dollars sold to $37 million. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 16 percent of dollars sold and 12 percent of units sold in the alpine boot market so far this season.

Women are getting prepped to hit the trails.

Sales of women’s specific cross country equipment increased 32 percent in units sold and 28 percent in dollars sold to over $6 million. Overall, Nordic equipment sales bounced back this season and finished up 15 percent in units sold and up 14 percent in dollars sold to $41 million.

More girls bought snowboard equipment this year.

Junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 37 percent in units sold and 36 percent in dollars sold. Overall, snowboard equipment sales are flat in dollars sold to $256 million.

Courtesy CAIA
Courtesy CAIA

Safety is still king in the wilderness

Backcountry accessories sales including beacons, probes and shovels increased 12 percent in units and dollars sold.

Sales of protective gear went up

This includes pads, wrist guards and general impact gear and the amount of unit sold went up 16 percent in units sold and 24 percent in dollars sold. Higher demand means sales at higher prices and higher margins. In fact, margins on protective gear increased 28 percent from 42.6 percent in 2012/2013 to 54.5 percent in 2013/2014.

People want to film themselves

Action cameras continue to be the single most popular accessory in the snow sports market right now. Sales of action cameras were up 10 percent in units sold to 121,000 cameras and up 20 percent in dollars sold to $41 million. Over 30 percent of action camera sales in snow sports channels were made in specialty shops.

What’s hot clothing-wise?

Alpine insulated tops sales were up 13 percent in dollars sold to $529 million and up 8 percent in units to more than 3 million units sold.

Apparel accessories including gloves, base layer, headwear, neck gaiters, etc. increased 7 percent in units sold and 11 percent in dollars sold to $664 million.

So what does all this mean?  No matter how you slice the numbers, backcountry has become the driving force in the industry.  It is here to stay.  If you’re looking to get away from the resort and explore more fresh terrain this is a rad option that you won’t regret!  With proper equipment and training, you will have the time of your life.

Skinning up Mt. Tallac
Skinning up Mt. Tallac

For more information on the backcountry, check out our previous posts on safety (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV) or take a look at some of our adventures.

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