Leveling the Playing Field


Henry Coe State Park

We may not look glamorous, but my sister and I are bad ass!

Backpacking, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing and pretty much all other outdoor pursuits in this country are statistically and historically dominated by white people (white men, to be more precise). While there have long been programs designed to expose minority and inner-city youth to the wilderness, it's only been in recent years that a significant surge in access and interest has occurred.

Women, in particular, have really been taking over the outdoor industry. Women now account for more than 50 percent of the market. Female endurance athletes are starting to kick their male counterparts' butts in endurance races. Women are increasingly starting or running small and large businesses that cater to adventurers. Large gear companies are finally taking notice and focusing on designing gear made for women's bodies.

Social media and popular culture have been the driving forces in the increased interest in outdoors activities, which then drive the market and the major players. Instagram handles like @UnlikelyHikers, @BlackGirlsWhoHike and @FatGirlsHiking have generated large followings and have become more than just a receptacle of inspirational photos; the entrepreneurs who started these campaigns a