Camper Profile- Who’s Camping?

Camper ProfileToday, we are taking a close look at campers.  What do we really know about the people who camp overall.

Who’s Camping?

Camping stereotypes have campers pegged as Grizzly Adams type people or retirees in RV’s.  Of course, we all know better than to buy into that.

Did you know that almost 43 million Americans went camping last year (Maybe we should be asking who’s not camping)?  Basically, that’s about 15% of Americans over 6 years old.

These are just a few of the statistics found in the Outdoor Foundation’s 2012 American Camper Report.  The 59 page report is the leading report in the United States tracking camping participation.  The study was sponsored by The Coleman Company, Inc and by Kampgrounds of America Inc.  See the complete report here.

According to this report, the number of people camping has continued to increase over the past 2 years.  Why?  We like to think it’s because getting in touch with nature is relaxing and camping itself builds confidence and is a lot of fun.

A representative from America’s State Parks attributes this increase in campers to weather, gas prices and the overall state of the economy.

I still think it’s because camping ROCKS!  You know…scientifically speaking.

77% of all campers are married (or living with a domestic partner).  Wow, a psychologist could have a field day with that stat.  Which came first?  Do married people camp because it is a family-oriented activity?  Or do people who camp have stronger marriages?  This can’t really be inferred from this small amount of data, but it does stand to reason that campers are able to relax around a campfire and blow off steam with different outdoor activities while camping.  And let’s not forget, if your marriage can withstand setting up a tent in the rain, forgetting an important piece of gear and finding a solution to the problem…well, your marriage is probably pretty strong.

Primary Type of Camping

Tent  66%

RV  12%

Backcountry/Backpacking  10%

Cabin  6%

Bivy/No shelter  1%

Backyard  1%

This surprises me.  We are tent campers, of course, but when we camp at state parks we are outnumbered substantially by RV campers.  I wonder if this number would change if you compared different regions of the country or assessed these numbers state by state.

Type of Camping Location

State Park  47%

National Park or Forest  19%

Locally Owned Private Campground  19%

City/Local  6%

KOA  3%

REI is the most popular place to shop for all campers, especially tent campers (41%), followed by Walmart and Sierra Trading Post.

Camper Demographics

47% are female.  53% are male

Median age group for campers is 35-44 years (17%).

Median income range is $75,000- $99,999 (15%).

Median Education level is 1-3 years of college (22%).

The majority of campers are caucasian (84%).

Americans camped a total of 534.9 million days in 2011.

In 2011, each camper averaged 12.6 days spent camping.  The most cited reasons for reducing the number of camping trips are lack of time due to work and family commitments.  I hear a bunch of “Amens” coming across the blogosphere.  This question was also posted on A Little Campy’s Facebook page last night and the results from our little poll were definitely consistent with the Outdoor Foundation’s findings.

Again, the statistics in this post were found in the American Camper Report.  The opinions about the stats are my own.

To me, these stats could lead to some interesting kitchen table (or around the campfire) discussions.  So why wait?  I would love to hear your opinion.  Do any of these results surprise you?  Why do you think these trends are occurring?

I’ll see ya around the campfire.


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Tiffany loves tent camping and knows how to bait a hook.

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  1. …for us it was interesting to read the median income range and education level. I guess there’s a difference between camping and being a broke college kid living in your car!

    • HaHa! I guess so. I was a little surprised about those numbers as well. 27% of campers make over $100,000 and 36% are college grads (11% of these have post graduate degrees). Of course, someone is buying all those fancy RV’s;)

  2. Michael & Donna Douglas says:

    While we are avid tent campers…and prefer it to staying in the most elegant of hotels…I tend to believe the increase in the numbers of campers may have a thing or two to do with the economy. I read somewhere the other day an average night rack rate in a moderate priced motel is $108 per night. So making a comparison between fat wallets with $108 per night and us lint-lined blue jean wearing ex-hippies that might have $25 or so per night to stay…the increase in campers is kind of a no-brainer. But even if I could scrounge up $108 in my lint…I’ll opt for a tent.

    • You are so right! For $108 my family of 5 can camp all weekend, buy food to cook over the campfire and enjoy all the great activities in our State Parks– fishing, hiking, biking and more. Since it’s so cheap we can go more often. Glad to hear from ya’ll.

  3. You left out hammock hangers. Check out Camping out in hammocks is very confortable compared to sleeping on the ground in a tent.

  4. I’m excited about the increase in campers! I do hope, though, that there are more races and age groups that begin & continue to camp in the coming years. Outdoor Nation, a non-profit initiative of the Outdoor Foundation, is paving the way for connecting more youth to the outdoors and I’m so glad to be a part of it! This summer I won a $2,500 grant from Outdoor Nation to get more people outside. My project, North Texas Kids Outside, is taking 15 urban, undeserved families (14 are also minorities) from DFW camping for their very first-time! We are so excited to show people how camping and the outdoors can change your life. If you can, we’d appreciate a like on Facebook! Our first camping trip is happening on November 10 & 11. Thank you for all of your blog posts and stories…they keep me motivated!

    • Love your project! You really have a wonderful opportunity to impact these kids’ lives in a positive way. We will be thinking of you guys on November 10th and 11th. And we would love to hear an update once you get back from the camping trip.

  5. All very intersting. I am single, althought a widow and married when I began camping. The age is close to correct but the education and yealy income are off. I make alot less which makes me enjoy it alot more because we can’t afford fancy places to vacation. My daughter joined scouts as a daisy and we have a very active leader who had us camping even at that young age. It was in my blood any way from when I was a girl scout. It has expanded to us family camping yearly at HUZZAH VALLEY in Steelville Mo. The last couple years have been multiple trips. It is an addictive activity that once you get your base equipment is easy and fun. Life with nature in it is good. And now that my daughter is 17, and I am dating again I have blessed to find a fellow camp enthusist! She still wants to spend every minute camping and life is great!

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