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Opinion

Analysis: As Backcountry.com discovered, outdoor-recreation fans are joining together

Racers of all ages and costumes take off from the start of on of the Alley Loop Nordic races on Elk Avenue in Crested Butte, Colorado, on Feb. 2, 2019. The Alley Loop is a serious American Birkebeiner Qualifying race but it has a less serious side. In Crested Butte any event is an excuse for a costume and party. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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Editor’s note: Jason Blevins covers the outdoor industry for The Colorado Sun and broke the news about how Backcountry.com was targeting outdoor-recreation small-business owners who registered the name “backcountry” for their products.

The following analysis piece by Jason on how the reporting reflects on the broader outdoor industry ran in The Washington Post on Thursday.


The inherent risks of navigating wild landscapes — trying to traverse avalanche terrain in the mountains, for instance — can be reduced when a group of adventurers works together to solve the problem. It’s an increasingly popular tactic used to hone backcountry decision-making in dicey situations: Come together, listen to every voice and find a solution that works for everyone.

The all-together concept aids outdoor explorers on the micro level, but it appears to also be emerging on a macro level, with the outdoor recreation industry asserting newfound power as an economic, political and cultural force.

It helps that outdoor recreation — including hiking, camping, hunting, boating and climbing — has considerable industrial clout, accounting for $427.2 billion, or 2.2 percent, of U.S. gross domestic product in 2017.

Working cooperatively would be quite a change for a customarily fractured tribe of outdoor lovers. The throttle twisters never joined the hikers who never liked the cyclists. The hunters and anglers spoke different languages. The skiers hazed the snowboarders. The mountain of historical disagreements went unclimbed.

The strength of the outdoor-recreation community’s banding together was on recent display when it staged an insurrection against the Utah-based online retailing behemoth Backcountry.com. Reporting in my publication, the Colorado Sun, described how the company was targeting outdoor-recreation small-business owners who had registered the name “backcountry” for their products and services.

Read more at washingtonpost.com.

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