These Summer Must-Haves Could Soon Be Impossible to Find
A shortage of these seasonal essentials could make planning a summer getaway challenging.
We're far from back to normal, but after more than a year of living through a pandemic, there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Increased vaccinations and declining COVID numbers across the U.S. have many of us feeling like a better day is just around the corner. With that in mind, we've begun planning for what could be a great summer—but we may not have started planning early enough. A shortage of some key summer essentials could make the next few months feel a little lacking. Read on to find out what you should make sure to get your hands on as soon as possible.
Camping gear is in short supply.
If you want to go camping, you may have trouble finding some of the basics. Sporting good stores have struggled to keep camping supplies in stock across North America, the Canadian Press reported. Must-haves like tents, backpacks, and hiking boots are all getting snatched up faster than some stores can acquire them. And it's not just the staples either. Per the Canadian Press, L.L. Bean said they expect to see a 360 percent rise in demand for adventure duffel bags, a 400 percent rise in demand for paddleboards, and a 500 percent rise for outdoor furniture.
The Canadian Press interviewed David Keay, the general manager of Robinson's Outdoor Store in Victoria, British Columbia, who said he stocked up as much as he could on tents in February, anticipating a rush in sales. His supply did not even last the month. "A lot of consumers don't even need to be told, they're fully aware that supply is limited, and there's probably a lot of people who tried to buy a tent last year and couldn't get it," Keay said.
There are supply chain issues keeping stores from restocking.
The camping gear shortage has been an ongoing problem. In April, The Denver Post advised their readers that they may soon encounter challenges trying to buy backpacks, tents, and bikes. According to their reporting, shop owners are pointing to supply chain issues, including a shortage of commercial truck drivers and delayed container ships.
"We're already beginning to see shortages in those hard goods that we were seeing last summer with supply chains internationally," John Weir, marketing manager for Bentgate Mountaineering, told The Denver Post. "A lot of the more techie camping materials—tents, techie camp chairs, that sort of stuff—are already in short supply."
Jimmy Funkhouser, the owner of Feral Mountain Co., told the outlet that his suppliers said to expect significantly fewer tents being shipped out, and that some brands won't be shipping any tents at all. That means would-be-campers may not find the supplies they're looking for when they go shopping.
Camping supplies have been tough to come by for the last year.
If this all sounds familiar, that's because it happened just last year. As sporting good store owners have noted, the situation is getting worse as we move closer to summer and demand increases, but camping supplies have been limited throughout the pandemic. In Aug. 2020, The New York Times reported on outdoor gear—including tents and kayaks—as "the new panic buys."
At the time, COVID outbreaks in the U.S. were widespread and hard to control. People turned to outdoor activities, like socially distanced camping and backyard staycations, in lieu of riskier excursions. The result was a shortage of a number of associated supplies, exacerbated by the supply chain challenges that have faced countless industries during the pandemic.
"We're probably in the early days of feeling some constraints on tents, sleeping bags, and camping furniture," Paul Calandrella, a merchandising manager at REI, told The New York Times in August.
You should still be able to find what you need if you buy now.
Thankfully, you should still be able to get the camping gear you need at this point, though your selection may be a bit more limited and you could have to pay more. The Denver Post reported that demand for bikes, which has remained high throughout the pandemic, has some people paying double what they intended. Nevertheless, it's wise to snag what you can now, if you haven't already: Shop owners told the outlet that if they sell out their limited camping gear inventories in the spring, they may not be able to restock for the summer.
The New York Times' product review website Wirecutter acknowledges that while some of their picks for camping supplies are currently hard to find, "most previously hard-to-find essentials, such as tents and lanterns, are back." Wirecutter adds that if you're still having trouble procuring exactly what you want, you can always rent camping gear for the time being.