More than 6 million new North American households have adopted the camping lifestyle since 2014, with the number of campers who camp three times or more each year – the most avid group of campers – having increased by 64%.

This growth, according to the results of the 2018 North American Camping Report, an annual independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), is an indicator that camping continues to be a strong lifestyle attribute among Canadian households — and there is no indication this trend is slowing down.

In Canada, camping incidence remains stable with more than 9.1 million households (65%) including someone who camps at least occasionally, according to a KOA press release. New Canadian camping households increased by a half million in 2017 and this group of new campers represents much more diversity than the overall Canadian population. Of those new campers close to one-in-five camper households indicated they started camping within the past few years. Building on previous report findings, 34% of Canadian campers indicate they will increase camping trips in 2018, an increase of 12% from the first version of the report in 2015.

Increases in camping – both in reach and frequency – throughout North America can be tied to increased accessibility of camping due to the removal of previously held beliefs and barriers. While previous research demonstrated bugs, safety/security and/or campers not knowing anyone who camped as primary barriers to camping, those barriers are waning with technology and social media serving as access portals to helpful information both prior to and during the camping experience. Further, according to campers who say access to cell or Wi-Fi service has a great deal of impact on the length of their trips, they are able to take almost a full week of extra time camping.

“Camping is no doubt a fundamental outdoor activity in Canada, which may be why the subsets of Canadian data and their camping habits have remained relatively stable over the past four years of the North American Camping Report,” said Toby O’Rourke, president of KOA. “The 2018 findings, however, have presented interesting shifts around Canadian campers’ trial and desire to try different camping types like cabins and RVs, but not surprising is Canada’s clear distinction as the country with the highest rate of RV ownership in North America.”

The 2018 North American Camping Report continues to show campers view camping as a time to relax, escape stress and clear their minds. Even with an influx of new campers (both younger and more ethnically diverse), differences in opinion about the reasons for camping are beginning to lessen, with close to half of all campers suggesting that camping has “a great deal of impact” on reducing stress and allowing them to spend more time with their families. There is also increased recognition that camping contributes to emotional and physical health.

Additional findings of the 2018 North American Camping Report, with a focus on Canadian campers and key differentiations among their counterparts in the U.S., include:

Strong 2018 camping season in Canada

  • In Canada, 65% of households (14.1 million) include someone who camps at least occasionally. In the U.S., camping incidence holds at 61% of households (77 million) having someone who camps at least occasionally.
  • Thirty-nine percent of all Canadian campers indicated they will increase camping trips in 2018, representing a 16% growth from 2015 findings.
  • The number of Canadian campers who plan to decrease their number of camping trips, or are uncertain of their 2018 camping activity, has decreased by 7% and 5%, respectively, representing increased optimism around the outdoor activity.

RV Ownership

  • About one-fourth (24%) of all North American campers use an RV as their primary way of camping, however, among campers who claim an RV as their primary way of camping, 44% do not own the RV they use most.
  • This year’s report found that RV ownership is highest throughout North America among RVers in Western Canada (68%), followed by Eastern Canadian RVers (60%).
  • Outside of RV ownership, the 2018 report found a full one-fourth of the RV subset of campers say they borrow the RV they use to camp, and one-in-five say they rent from a company or peer-to-peer rental service. 
  • The lowest region of RVers who rent the RV from a company is Western Canada (6%), which is not surprising as this is the highest region of RV ownership in North America. Only 12% of Eastern Canadians rent the RV they use from a company.
  • The propensity to rent the RV from a private owner or peer-to-peer rental service is significantly less throughout Canada (29% in Western Canada and 37% in Eastern Canada), showcasing that the increasing peer to peer trend in the U.S. is not catching on as quickly in Canada.