Paddlesport Statistics

With the recent posts about sea kayaking being dead or for old folks I thought I’d post the only report I know about that has some statistics.


Well-done report. Thanks for sharing!

Good stuff.
Will be interesting to see the same data for the next 5 or 6 years (after 2018) when/if available. We heard so much about people taking up paddling, cycling and other “safe” sports during the pandemic, but how many actually did? More importantly, how many have since stayed with it?

thanks for the link to interesting data

I spent some time going through much of it. Very interesting break down for the industry.
From the early graphic I think there is a trend of recreational kayaks competing with canoes possibly explaining their falling participation. Sea Kayaking stayed about the same over the 6 years with a slow downward trend.

I was in the tiny orange slice age bracket of paddling participants pie chart. It looks like the largest percent of sea kayakers by age is 25-34 years olds making up about a quarter of all sea kayakers. While us ancient mariners 65 and up make up less than 4%, and the youngsters 55-64 years of age just over 7% of sea kayakers.

I think the report had one major oversight, and that was used sales of paddling categories and the numbers and trends in relation to the industry sales.

I like numbers they add meat to a discussion. I think there are a preponderance of paddling dinosaurs here. We have the free time to spend. This leads to a somewhat skewed perspective. Just glad to be paddling on to when I’ll be moving on, and I do enjoy the company!

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My partner and I switched from a tandem Grumman canoe, which we’d used exclusively for a long time, to kayaks about 15 years ago. It was easier to load two 45-50 lb kayaks on the Land Cruiser than one 80 pound canoe, and we liked the flexibility of having our own boats. At that time, we weren’t even aware of the solo canoe category so didn’t give it a thought. I wonder if we were just more uninformed than most, or if others followed a similar path leading to some of the decline in canoeing and corresponding increase in kayaking.


I found the survey pages on sea kayaking (pages 28 through 35 or so) to be most interesting. Since the sport seems to be in transition, it would be especially significant to see a similar survey from 2023.

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I agree,

Great report. Thanks for posting

Just FYI if you go to and click Education then Resource Library then Statistics and Reports you can see all they’ve got…maybe a dozen reports but only two are specific to paddling.

But there are annual reports about the whole outdoor industry and one COVID-specific report. Overall it looks like outdoor participation increased during COVID but now folks are going less frequently and it looks like paddling doesn’t even show up in their list of outdoor activities that folks took up during COVID (compared to biking, hiking, camping, …).

The statistics are interesting, but the only one that matters to me is how I influence that report.

Buy stuff. Don’t drown.


Any idea what the numbers on those graphs are? Millions? %? I remember getting an F on a lab report in high school chem for failing to label an axis, now i know why.


Looks like millions with each line representing one million. The words say that the 2018 total is 22.9 million paddlers and if you assume that each line is one million then it looks like they add up to the right total.


Yep, buy stuff and try not to make more than one of the most common boo-boos.

Rule #1 when heading out: Don’t become a newspaper article.

Not making those common mistakes supports rule #1.

The ACA has updated reports on participation, incidents (from USCG), and Life Jacket usage here: Statistics - ACA