Leading outdoor adventure gear retailer sees trend for camping, canoeing and kayaking
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the vacation industry in Ontario gimlet for two years because very few people have been able to travel to remote places or easily return to Canada.
One of the fallouts of this has been that more Ontarians have adapted to the idea of a “stay-cation” and have chosen to spend time at home enjoying the great outdoors.
Brian Ramakko, owner of Ramakko’s Source of Adventure store in Sudbury, said the pandemic has given a huge boost to the idea of outdoor fun in a province that has more than a quarter of a million freshwater lakes, rivers and waterways stretching from Point Pelee to Hudson Bay. He said he can’t say for sure this is a lasting trend, but he hopes it is.
Over their nearly four decades in business, Ramakko’s has seen several outdoor adventure trends come and go.
“Well, it’s a fact that two years ago when COVID hit, everyone had to self-isolate. People just couldn’t go anywhere,” Ramakko said. “The campgrounds were full. The provincial parks were full. People were going on camping vacations, canoe trips, kayak trips.”
He remembers a friend showing up at the store with his two children two years ago after learning they couldn’t attend a popular summer camp near Manitoulin Island.
“So he bought two kayaks for the kids, a stand-up board for himself, ‘with the same money I had for camp,'” Ramakko recalls.
“So he outfitted the family with kayaks, stand-up board and gear. And they enjoyed staying around Sudbury and Manitoulin. So yeah, a lot of people did.”
Ramakko said he is also watching the skyrocketing gasoline prices as it will likely influence how far people travel.
“All of a sudden it starts to hurt if you drive a lot too. So stays can get easier,” Ramakko said.
He also said he has seen a surge in interest in canoeing over the past four or five years, possibly linked to the pandemic and rising costs. Kayaking is still king, Ramakko said, but in recent years people who love camping have moved to canoes, which are able to carry more gear and more people, allowing for longer trips. It is also easier for two people to travel together in a canoe, he explained.
He added that it was aimed at a wider age group, especially older adventurers returning to the sport. He said many older paddlers are choosing newer, lighter canoes for better performance and portability.
Ramakko said he also sees the 25-40 age group buying more canoes.