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Is Your Silent Sport a Fad?

fishing kayak

Silent sports defined by a sports sole reliance on self-propulsion is the category of sports that paddlesports falls into. It’s joined by other sports such as biking, mountain biking, fat biking, hiking, running, climbing, snowshoeing and many other sports that don’t rely on fossil fuel or electronics to participate. Within the silent sport category, many sports have shined for a short time only to die out as a fad. Remember inline skating, anyone?

Here are a few silent sports that have stood up to the test of time as well as some that ended up as fads:

  • Canoeing – not a fad
  • Biking – not a fad
  • Cross Country Skiing – not a fad
  • Hiking – not a fad
  • Running – not a fad
  • Windsurfing – fad
  • Snowshoeing – fad
  • Kayaking – jury is still out
  • SUP – awaiting trial

What silent sports would you add to the list? Are they or were they a fad?


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  • My husband is 67 and still doing all the “not a fad” sports. Bought first Winona canoe in 1976. It is still wonderful, but we have three others and still live to paddle. He’s worn out a couple of bikes. I can’t bike (bad legs.) But, yeah, the silent sports nourish body and soul.

  • At the risk of stating the obvious, if it is “your” favorite sport, then it can’t be a fad…unless you are kidding yourself.

  • Kayaking is definitely not a fad for me. I discovered it in 1990 (before that I was a canoeist and a sailor – other silent sports – I like that designation), and I have been going strong ever since. Kayaking always provides new horizons and new challenges – places to paddle, skills to learn, conditions to deal with – so once bitten by its appeal, one won’t ever get bored. Sports that are just fads are those that become tiresome, always doing the same thing (hula hooping? yoyoing? ).

  • Launch at daybreak in the Lake Erie harbor and stroke to the sun…Nope, not a fad. Watch an eagle soaring over the FBH bluffs and think I’m not hooked! 10 years and counting .

  • The arctic population of peoples for the past millennium say kayaking is not a fad.

    SUP, definitely a fad. I mean, what’s the deal to begin with?

    • But it wasn’t a recreational pursuit for the historic people and few use kayaks for hunting anymore. Jury is still out on recreational kayaking.

  • have a nieghbour who enjoys rowing. def not a fad as it is an olympic sport for some years now. agree kayaking has been around for ever as well. now we have it as fishing as well

  • I paddled a kayak made of canvas and wood in 1967 and was hooked. I have two SOT plastic boats and Kudzu poca barta which I made myself. A fad of 49 years? I paddle all year round here in Australia. Winter is mild 0°C tomorrow morning. love your site.

  • Me thinks you’re trying to stir up the conversation. Challenge accepted. Tell the guys in this photo snowshoeing is a fad.

  • Interesting that surfing and swimming have been left out. And that kayaking is still considered to have the jury still out. The recent popularity of SUP has cause more to appreciate the single blade and created a lot of interest in outrigger paddling. It’s good that there is a lot to do outside. I wonder when surf rowing will take off?

    • I figured that 100ish years of strong recreational support would mean it isn’t a fad. For example, canoe sailing was huge in the early 20th Century, but it isn’t really practiced like it was. Kayaking isn’t there yet.

      Canoe sailing – fad

      I left out swimming and surfing because i didn’t think of them.

      Swimming – not a fad
      Surfing – ???? I don’t know the history well enough. Fad or not a fad?

  • Snowshoeing is a mode of transportation that is immune to any recreationalist’s opinion on “style”. Snowshoes will be used as long as there’s snow.

    • Snowshoeing for utility is different than snowshoeing for recreational sport. It is a fad in recreational sport. Not really concerned about whether or not it’s a fad for utility.

  • Catamaran sailing (beach cats). They normally don’t use engines, just sails. Basically, they are big stable windsurfers. While modern beach cats haven’t been around as long as canoes and kayaks they are certainly not a fad, and have stood the test of time.

  • Riverskiing on Riverskis might be added to this discussion . We might need a few more years to determine the category!

    • I’m stunned. This sport has me wordless and I’m not sure in a good way. I guess I would have to try it.

  • I think if you were going to look at kayaking as an entire sport I would say it isn’t a fad. There while there have been hills and valleys over the past 30 years, the sport as seen a general trend of overall growth throughout the years.

    That being said, kayaking can be split down into sub categories and in there are fads for sure.

    Here is my list:
    Recreational Kayaking – Not a fad. I think that as long as it stays economical to get into it’s going to be an attractive option for beginners.

    Sea Kayaking – I think right now it isn’t but it’s going to need to fight hard to keep relevant. First is that they are pricing themselves out of the market. $3000 for a poly and $4-5000 for a glass boat is way out of the reach for most beginners. Also, people don’t like to go camping like they used to. Both of those reasons will help steer people to the recreational market and potentially make this a very different sport in terms of popularity over the next 10 years.

    Kayak Fishing – Not going to be a fad. I think it’s always going to have regional popularity but those where it’s already gained traction it’s going to stay as an economical option for those who want to get into fishing but can’t afford a Bass boat.

    Whitewater Kayaking – Fad for sure. Though there are lots of sub categories, overall this is not a popular sport due to the lack of good whitewater in many parts of North America. Whitewater kayaking hit its popularity peak in 1999 and has never really recovered.

    Surf Kayaking – It’s neither a fad or not a fad. Like cave exploration, those who do it are super dedicated but it’s just never going to really catch on when you can get a surfboard for ½ the price and twice the cool factor.

    Greenland – Fad. This is a sub sport that 100% reached its peak of popularity 3 years ago and nobody noticed.

    Waveskis – I see potential growth here but not positive if it’s going to catch one in any mainstream way here in North America like it is in many parts of Australia, South Africa or New Zealand. Sea kayakers who are looking for speed and performance are attracted to it but real competitive people have already made the jump to K1 or K2 boats already.

    • The reason that I wrote that the jury is still out is that I was looking at a longer period of time. I was thinking a century. But, I agree with your assessments.

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