Product design trends in sportswear and outdoor equipment

There has been a surge in outdoor activities since the start of the pandemic and has only been growing since. People from all parts of the world are exploring a range of outdoor activities, adventure sports and getaways in the outdoors. From diving, climbing, camping, hunting, skiing, golf, biking and cycling within the city and suburbs to indoor fitness gear, the world is now filled with more outdoor enthusiasts than what it was a few years ago.

With consumers spending more time, money and energy in building an outdoor lifestyle and indulging themselves in more sports related activities, the sector for sports gear and outdoor equipment has seen a large boom with exciting opportunities for growth in the future.

Also read: Shift from human centric design to humanity centric design 

Product designers at outdoor gear companies and sports gear based brands are continuing to innovate. This involves working with the merging technologies and offering solutions to travelers and explorers.

Here are some latest trends and innovations designers are focused in the sports gear and outdoor equipment sector:

Multipurpose gear

With a variety of outdoor activities/ sports gear to explore , product designers and brands are now focused on building multipurpose gear.

Consumers seem to be eager to find products now that can easily translate from hiking, basic life use to travel. They are seeking something intuitive, fun and engaging that connects with their needs.

For people this can include products like a pair of boots that will take them through a rough winter with heavy snowfall to hiking and various other outdoor situations. A great backpack to a jacket that will stick with them throughout the day and looks incredible as well as appropriate in a variety of situations.

A great backpack will help a consumer to pack for multiple days at a go for a number of activities outdoors, one can say it’s like multi-sport car packing.

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A great example of this can be seen with the popular brand The North Face who has been known to produce standout collaborations, one of which has been the Junya Watanabe MAN’s Backpack Jacket.

Rucksack – A continuous rise

An increased emphasis paid to domestic travel, road trips, weekend getaways and use of multi use gear, the traditional rucksack or duffel has been under innovation. Flexibility is key to the rise of the rucksack here.

Consumers are more open to flexible travel plans, hence they need more flexible bags and travel packs to help them sustain and enjoy all their adventures. Bags easy to fit in a car, camper, overhead of public transports and easy to carry with them on long walks and hikes.

A great example of this has been that of Matador’s Seg42 Travel Pack, a customizable rucksack-duffel hybrid. 


When it comes to sports gear and outdoor equipment, the key to design for product designers is to build around the idea of durability. Can a particular tent last in harsh weather conditions, from summer heat waves to heavy rains or snowfall?

Similarly for sports enthusiasts, they are seeking items they can easily take with them on their travels, products that last for a longer duration of time.

This has built the need for designers to focus and re-emphasize on durability. The product has to last for a few years rather than just be a time item. Consumers appreciate the value for more from their purchases.

Durability involves working and testing more types of materials that are required to build a particular product, testing them under various conditions and how innovative they can be used.

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There is no doubt on how crucial sustainable design is in our world today. Considering the outdoor and sport gear equipment segment, the sector has not traditionally been planet friendly. From sourcing the raw materials, other related products, creating and building new products, shipping these to consumers and retailers – all these fundamentally have been non sustainable practices. 

Today the sector and industry at large and as a whole is focused on lessening the impact with more solution oriented design that is focused on sustainable manufacturing, sustainable materials and making more functional pieces of equipment.

Brands like Matador and Big Agnes are known to have been using recycled materials in their production cycles. Another example is that of the brand Prana where sustainability is the core of every product with their unique Fair-trade partnerships which brings to their products a strong value proposition.

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Biggest trend today in product design is innovating product lines to suit all types of people. From different age groups, sizes to differently abled people.

Designers today need to keep in mind how they are creating clothing, tents, sleeping bags and other sports equipment that will fit in easily for different sizes and fit many body types. Gear that is highly functional is one of the core focus areas of the global brand Big Agnes where they want their sleeping bags to be accessible to all genders and different body shapes.

A brand like Cotopaxi, they are creating a line of products that are vibrant, colorful and accessible for many. Outdoor as a concept should feel more accessible to many people hence the product categories should be able to define the same with approachable gear.

With the way it’s growing, we are bound to see our outdoor kits and regular clothes merge further into one item in the near future. A strong emphasis on buying better quality and less frequently.

Read more: Top trends shaping the UX design industry

Does product design for outdoor and sports gear excite you?
At Strate’s product design program, you will be able to focus on your core design industry and get to learn from industry experts who have been at the heart of these innovative trends. Interactive workshops and masterclasses are part of your regular modules and they help you to network, connect and communicate better with your peers, experts, mentors and more.

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