Dust off your carabiners and wax your skis, because it’s officially time for the latest version of our Top Outdoor Brands on Social Media report!
We wish we could say we’d written this whole thing between snowboard runs, but instead we stayed inside to bring you the latest and greatest from top outdoor gear and apparel brands on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.
Look for tons of case studies from the outdoor brands raking in the engagement on social, plus oodles of trends to help your brand plan for the year ahead.
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Top Overall Outdoor Brands on Social Media
We have a winner! Burton Snowboards grabbed the gold out of all the outdoor brands we studied this year thanks to lots and lots (and lots) of dynamic content shot in the mountains. Winter gear rival Atomic and outdoor apparel brand Filson definitely gave Burton a run for its money, landing squarely on the winner’s podium.
|Overall Rank||Outdoor Brands||Rank||Rank||Rank||Rank|
|4||Simms Fishing Products||1||7||66||19|
|7||Specialized Bicycle Components||5||53||34||9|
Other outdoor brands like Simms Fishing Products, YETI, Patagonia, Specialized Bicycles, Hydro Flask, Arc’teryx, and Oakley stood out across multiple channels as well to finish out the year in our overall top 10.
Since we’re all about competitive benchmarking here at Rival IQ, we can tell you that outdoor brands and the retail industry in general lagged a little behind other industries in our annual Social Media Industry Benchmark Report. The outdoor brands in this study still have plenty to be proud of this year, so let’s get into spotlighting the strategic moves Burton used to come out on top and a few industry-wide top trends.
Top Brand: Burton Snowboards
Burton excelled across nearly every channel this year with especially strong performances on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (and ranking 22nd on Facebook is nothing to be ashamed of). It’s no surprise that many of Burton’s most engaging posts by rate focused on one thing: bringing fans to the mountain year-round. It can feel tempting for retail brands to focus the majority of their content on directly selling their products, but Burton’s success with showcasing what it feels like to be in the mountains reminds us that outdoor brands are lifestyle brands as much as anything else. Fans left comments in every season wishing for time on the slopes, which helped drive up Burton’s engagement even when there wasn’t snow on the ground.
The snowboard brand also had a lot of success with video, with Reels standing out on Instagram and videos dominating on Twitter and TikTok. Professionally-shot and user-generated content (UGC) also went a long way towards helping followers visualize themselves boarding down the slopes from their couches, and is definitely part of the larger trend we’re seeing of video’s popularity remaining on the rise.
Burton earned the silver on Instagram this year thanks in part to dynamite videos like this one featuring a snowboarder hitting a rail at top speed with a surprising amount of flex from his board. The Reel rocked a 7.57% engagement rate, which is more than 22x the outdoor brands median on Instagram this year. The post also earned more than 111K engagements and almost 2 million estimated impressions by showing off just how tough Burton gear is in the wild without being overly salesy.
Sourcing content from influencers and followers is a tried and true way to expand your content team’s footprint, and this top-performing post is a great example of how powerful UGC can be for outdoor brands.
The snowboarding brand wasn’t afraid to get a little cheeky on social this year, like in this throwback Facebook post featuring a news article that talked some serious smack about snowboarding. The photo post performed 8x better than the competitive median for outdoor brands on Facebook by turning bad press into good press and eliciting many a giggle from followers.
Burton could’ve posted a link directly to their blog post, but chose instead to screenshot the image directly. Since photo posts often outperform link posts on social, this move is a smart one.
Many outdoor brands stopped posting on Twitter this year, but Burton stayed strong and wound up grabbing the silver on this channel too. Video continues to stand out for the snowboarding brand, like this one which rocked a 1.32% engagement rate by follower and more than 75K estimated impressions. The video is a simple one: just a 10-second video of a snowboarder sliding peacefully down the mountain into the sunset–no production studio required. Repurposing content from other channels can help breathe a second life into videos your brand has worked so hard to create.
TikTok definitely requires a different type of content to catch people scrolling through their For You Page (FYP), and Burton wasn’t afraid to raise the stakes with their content for this channel. This video combines the magic of a brave boarder and a GoPro to show off an absolutely epic jump off the side of the mountain that definitely got people talking. The video earned more than 500K views and an engagement rate by view of 18.9%, which is more than 5x the median for outdoor brands on TikTok. Are we saying you have to jump off a cliff to get views on TikTok? Not necessarily, but it is the perfect channel for shaking up your content strategy and trying new things.
Top Trend 1: User-generated content
UGC makes sense in any industry, but is an especially smart move for outdoor brands who might not be able to spend every minute shooting content in the mountains or among the trees. We used our post-tagging feature to automatically tag every UGC post in the time period, and we found that user-generated content led to an engagement rate lift on every channel except for Twitter for outdoor brands.
Pivot Cycles finished 17th overall and 8th on Facebook thanks in part to strong UGC posts like this one focused on one of their core products, the Switchblade. The glamour shot of this stunning bike in the mountains earned a 3.09% engagement rate by follower on Facebook, which is 103x (!) times higher than the median Facebook engagement rate for outdoor brands this year. Likely putting some dollars behind the post and partnering up with a professional photographer also helped the post fly on Facebook.
This mesmerizing Reel from Jones Snowboards helped the brand rank 13th overall this year with nothing more than a killer vantage point and a boatload of fresh powder. The Reel earned a 16.7% engagement rate and more than 56K engagements as fans jumped into the comments to express their jealousy and tag their friends to plan their next snowboarding adventure. So many great outdoor posts like this one depend on one thing over all others: being in the right place at the right time. Relying on followers and friends of the brand to catch your products in action is an important tool in the toolbox of any outdoor brand’s social media marketing team.
Top Trend 2: Video
Unless you’ve been living under a social media rock, it’ll come as no surprise that video was the name of the post type game for outdoor brands this year. Reels were the top-performing content type for outdoor brands on Instagram, and TikTok’s exponentially larger engagement rates speak for themselves. As we saw in the previous trend, video content doesn’t have to be professionally shot or edited to go a long way on social.
This Reel from Atomic helped the brand earn second place overall and fourth place on Instagram with an eye-catching POV on an epic ski run. The Reel earned a 17.5% engagement rate and more than 71K engagements thanks to excited fans hopping into the comments to express their jealousy or inquire about gear. With nearly every outdoor brand upping their video game this year, unique perspectives like this one are a reminder that it’s important to shake up your content creation every once in a while.
Fishing retailer Shimano really puts the “bait” in clickbait with Facebook videos like this one featuring a POV of an amazing reef fishing catch. The video earned nearly three million views and an impressive 14.1% engagement rate by encouraging viewers to watch to the end of the video to see an epic catch. Video lends so much to storytelling, especially for industries like outdoor which rely so much on action and stunning views to help potential customers visualize using their gear and apparel.
Top Trend 3: Contests–especially on Instagram
Contests and giveaways have been a top-performing social media strategy for years, since it’s hard to turn down the allure of free stuff. The giveaway trend is alive and well for outdoor brands this year, but there’s a little nuance to the story: many of the most engaging posts of the year by rate for outdoor brands on Instagram featured giveaways, while there was no major lift for these types of posts on Facebook or Twitter. Contest posts contributed to a 1.7x engagement rate lift on Instagram and a 2x lift on TikTok, reminding outdoor brands that varying your content strategy by channel is just as important as ever.
Hydro Flask finished 8th overall and 3rd on TikTok thanks in part to the success of giveaway posts like this one offering followers the chance to win on the Boise State University campus. Hydro Flask didn’t need to get specific about their offerings to win big engagement to the tune of a 9.85% engagement rate by view and more than 55K views. A silly intro to the video also helped get people talking in the comments about where the brand’s Spring College Tour should head next, which further drove up engagement.
Giveaways like this one helped 31st place finisher Wild Country earn 14th on Instagram, one of its strongest channels. The climbing gear brand employed a few other smart strategies to catch attention for its giveaway: requiring low effort from followers to enter and posting a carousel instead of a static photo image helped the giveaway reach extra far on Instagram (no coincidence, since across all industries, carousel posts have higher engagement rates by follower than any other post type). Encouraging entrants to share their favorite motivational soundbite in the comments also helped spark conversation and drive engagement way, way up to the tune of a 12.6% engagement rate.
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Top Outdoor Brands on Instagram
Outdoor brands had a field day on Instagram this year with a median engagement rate of 0.33%, which is way higher than these brands earned on Facebook and Twitter (but way lower than on TikTok). Outdoor brands posted about 3.5 times per week on Instagram, or about every other day.
|Rank||Outdoor Brands||Total Engagement||Engagement Rate|
|1||Simms Fishing Products||4,300,298||2.66%|
|8||Santa Cruz Bicycles||1,976,214||0.57%|
Simms Fishing Products took the gold on Instagram this year, with Burton Snowboards and Trek Bicycle rounding out the medalists. Overall top 10 finishers Atomic, Specialized Bicycles, and Oakley also stood out on Instagram, while Jones, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Petzl, and Pivot Cycles stood out on Instagram but didn’t do well enough on other channels to make it into the top 10.
Featured brand: Simms Fishing Products
Fishing brand Simms managed a big win on Instagram this year thanks to inspiring posts and more than its fair share of humor. The brand also finished in the top 10 in our overall rankings and on Facebook, but was further behind its competitors on Twitter and TikTok.
Simms managed to outdo its competition on both Instagram engagement rate and total: the brand earned a median engagement rate of 2.66% and more than 4.3M total engagements. Good content helped, but so did consistent posting at about twice the rate of other outdoor brands. Growing its follower count by 25% this year could’ve also played a role in the brand’s standout Instagram success.
UGC+humor=a match made in heaven for Simms and lots of other outdoor brands. This post featuring a fishing mishap in New Zealand entertained fans to the tune of a 16.8% engagement rate, which is more than 50x the outdoor brands median on Instagram. Fans ate up the video, and Simms benefitted a ton from being able to borrow content rather than having to create it all from scratch. As much as the social media managers for outdoor brands would probably love to be on adventures constantly to showcase gear, it’s not always logistically possible to be everywhere at once. Featuring content from other creators is a great way for brands to expand their footprint and build trust with followers about how their gear really holds up when put to the test.
Simms earned an even stronger 17.7% engagement rate with a quick looped Reel of fly fishing from an aerial view set to a Ferris Bueller soundbite. The video stood out thanks to a unique vantage point, a beloved movie reference, and some seriously amazing fish action to the tune of more than 115K engagements and nearly two million estimated impressions. UGC and a strong hashtag game also helped Simms boost its reach on this post.
This heartfelt Reel featuring a father-son duo fishing and talking about the finer points of life resonated with followers in a big way, earning an impressive 81.1% engagement rate and nearly half a million total engagements. Reminding viewers that buying (their) fishing gear can lead to precious moments like this is always a good way to show off what your brand can do for buyers. It’s also strong social media storytelling any way you slice it.
Top Outdoor Brands on TikTok
Congrats to Rossignol on the TikTok gold this year, and to overall top 10 finishers Arc’teryx and Hydro Flask for joining the ski and apparel brand on the winner’s podium. Burton Snowboards, our overall winner, also had a top-notch performance on TikTok, as did outdoor apparel brands Patagonia, Billabong, Quiksilver, and Chaco Footwear. REI was the standout retailer on the list, while Specialized Bicycles was the top-performing bike brand on TikTok.
|Rank||Outdoor Brands||Total Engagement||Eng. Rate by View*|
|9||Specialized Bicycle Components||1,048,082||5.62%|
Anyone who’s been paying attention to TikTok benchmarks knows engagement rates are much higher on this channel than on any of the others. Superfans of our TikTok benchmarking content will also remember that we measure engagement rate by view instead of by follower, because counting the number of times a viewer liked, commented, or shared and dividing it by the overall number of views measures just how compelling your content was.
Outdoor brands earned a whopping 3.46% engagement rate by view on TikTok this year and posted less than once a week at just 0.7 videos per week.
Featured brand: Hydro Flask
Hydro Flask has always been a serious contender in the race for outdoor brands social media gold, but the insulated water bottle brand set itself apart even more this year by standing out on TikTok. How did Hydro Flask land the bronze on this tricky, high-intensity channel? Doubling its follower count and publishing videos at nearly 3x the rate of the median outdoor brand definitely helped. The brand rocked a median engagement rate by view of 7.35%, which is more than 2x the outdoor brands median, and also earned four times as many views as its average competitor. Let’s dive into the content that helped Hydro Flask soar on TikTok.
Replies are an important piece of the TikTok puzzle because they help fans who engaged on one video find their way to your next piece of content. This video replying to a comment from a Hydro Flask fan earned an impressive 11.3% engagement rate by view and nearly 6 million views with nothing more than a close-up product shot and a Little Mermaid audio clip. Combining the oomph of a reply with a product announcement tease certainly didn’t hurt either.
Speaking of product announcements, Hydro Flask was all about the video equivalent of glamour shots on TikTok this year to tease new releases. The video featured some behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot plus the gorgeous main event in the thumbnail above to tease fans about the newest color in the Hydro Flask family. Hydro Flask has built a business on the “if I like it, I’ll buy it in another color” mindset, so finding a way to get existing Hydro Flask owners excited about their new drops is key. This video earned a 17.4% engagement rate by view and more than 1.3M views from people excited to add grapefruit to their collection.
Many of Hydro Flask’s most engaging videos on TikTok were under or around 10 seconds and focused on the product rather than the people behind it or customers. This video, which rocked a 10.9% engagement rate by view is no exception. Outdoor brands can show off their value to customers by showcasing their products in the wild, like in this video featuring a quick and easy infused water recipe using the Hydro Flask travel tumbler. Varying straight-up product marketing videos with ones where you give something like a recipe away for free can help fans stay engaged with your page and ultimately develop a relationship with your brand.
Top Outdoor Brands on Facebook
Outdoor brands earned a median engagement rate of 0.03% this year, which is about half what the average brand in our 2023 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report earned this year. Outdoor brands were also less active on Facebook than the average brand in that study, posting just 2.4 times per week. There were still tons of engaging posts from the slopes and the mountains for outdoor brands on Facebook this year, so let’s get into what worked well for these brands.
|Rank||Outdoor Brands||Total Engagement||Engagement Rate|
|2||Shimano Fishing North America||126,454||0.365%|
|4||The Orvis Company||182,153||0.088%|
|7||Simms Fishing Products||40,246||0.101%|
Way to go, Atomic! This ski brand grabbed the gold on Facebook and just missed out on the overall gold thanks to the valiant efforts of Burton Snowboards. Shimano and Petzl also rocked hard on Facebook this year, as did overall top 10 finishers YETI and Simms Fishing Products. The Orvis Company, Yeti Cycles (not to be confused with YETI coolers), Pivot Cycles, Fjallraven, and Exped rounded out the top 10 outdoor brands on Facebook this year.
Featured brand: Atomic
Atomic was all about athlete influencers on social this year, which helped the winter apparel and equipment brand secure gold on Facebook and rank second overall for outdoor brands on social media. They were no slouches on TikTok either, grabbing 11th, but didn’t tweet a single time this year, proving you don’t need the bird to soar on outdoor social media.
With a smaller follower count on Facebook than the average outdoor brand, you’d think Atomic would struggle for engagement, but it was quite the opposite: Atomic rocked the second highest engagement total and rate of all the outdoor brands we studied on Facebook this year thanks to rabid fans who couldn’t get enough of their content.
If you’re a fan of skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, you probably own a pair of Atomic skis. The brand went all in on Mikaela this year with an ironclad partnership that had the skier popping up in many of Atomic’s most engaging posts on Facebook. This photo featuring Mikaela posing with a pair of Atomic skis sported an 11.6% engagement rate by follower and more than 26K engagements, with fans racing to the comments to congratulate their favorite skier on another epic season.
Speaking of influencer partnership and epic wins, Atomic wasn’t afraid to show off other top athletes affiliated with its brand, like this post about Aleksander Kilde’s big win in the Super 6 at the World Cup. The post excited fans to the tune of a 1.78% engagement rate, which is nearly 60x the outdoor brands median Facebook engagement rate. Like many brands who pay to play in 2023, Atomic took advantage of Facebook’s continuing relevance by boosting many of its top posts on Facebook, and this one is very likely no exception.
International audience? No problem. Atomic is actually based in Austria, and having a multilingual Facebook feed didn’t slow them down. This post featuring Swiss alpine skier Anuk Braendli written totally in German had an engagement rate on par with the English language post above this one. It can be tempting for brands to cater to English or Western audiences, but part of Atomic’s strength on Facebook comes from knowing where its customers are and the type of content that’ll work best for them, even if it might not work for every follower.
Top Outdoor Brands on Twitter
Shimano Fishing North America reeled in the Twitter gold this year, with Burton Snowboards and 5.11 Tactical hot on its heels. Patagonia and Burton were the only two overall top 10 finishers to also snag top 10 glory on Twitter this year, reminding us that individualized channel strategy really does matter. Columbia, HOKA, Brooks Running, Danner, Zpacks, and Trek Bikes rounded out the Twitter top 10 with standout performances.
|Rank||Outdoor Brands||Total Engagement||Engagement Rate|
|1||Shimano Fishing North America||61,304||0.29%|
Outdoor brands earned their lowest engagement rates of the year on Twitter at just 0.01%. Not too surprising, since they were tweeting on average just 0.02 times per week (and no, that’s not a typo). Twitter’s adoption rate is definitely on the decline for outdoor brands this year.
Featured brand: Patagonia
Patagonia used its way above average platform to do more than sell outdoor apparel on Twitter this year. The brand was all about activism, and its more than 600K Twitter followers ate it up to help Patagonia earn the second highest engagement total in the landscape. Frequency also helped Patagonia cut through the noise on Twitter: the brand tweeted a little more than once per day, which far outpaced other outdoor brands on this channel.
Patagonia wasn’t afraid to encourage followers to take action against projects and laws that it believed would harm the environment, like in this tweet about oil drilling initiative the Willow Project. The tweet combined urgency with a compelling video to earn an impressive 0.78% engagement rate by follower and more than 223K estimated impressions. The work of Patagonia and many other climate activists hasn’t managed to stop the project yet, but kudos to the brand for using its platform to take a stand.
The apparel brand leavened tweets about serious issues like the Willow Project with fun tweets like this one encouraging followers to reply with their guesses about the name of this mountain. Fans hopped into the reply stream with a mix of goofy and serious guesses alongside lots of love for their favorite California mountain to the tune of a 0.28% engagement rate and nearly 300K estimated impressions.
Stunning nature photography also helped Patagonia stand out on Twitter this year, like this tweet featuring a tree stump and likely the saw that felled it. Beautiful snaps like this prompted conservation dialogue and retweets among followers, which helped the tweet snag a 0.22% engagement rate.
It’s worth noting that there wasn’t a jacket or shoe in sight in Patagonia’s most engaging tweets by rate, reminding us that embodying your outdoor brand’s values can be just as impactful to your business as highlighting your latest product release.
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How is my Outdoor Brand Performing on Social Media?
Comparing your outdoor brand’s social media performance has never been easier.
Browse our Live Outdoor Brand Social Media Benchmarks for a real-time look at top posts, engagement rates, high-performing hashtags, and tons more. You can even add these benchmarks directly into your Rival IQ account for always-on monitoring of these top brands.
Need even more competitive analytics? Go head-to-head with a free report on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to see how you stack up against your top competition. See what makes your competitors tick with key insights and actionable advice you can start using now to come out on top.
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We surveyed 120 outdoor brands on social media between January 1, 2023 and October 31, 2023 on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Using this data and a weighted formula, we generated an overall engagement ranking for each brand. The top-ranked outdoor brands on social media have high engagement rates with average or better audience size and posting volumes.
We define engagement as measurable interaction on social media posts, including likes, comments, favorites, retweets, shares, and reactions. We used engagement rate by follower to measure engagement on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which is defined as the total engagement divided by the number of followers. We used engagement rate by view to measure engagement on TikTok, which is defined as the total engagement divided by the number of views.
The case for benchmarking
Why benchmark instead of just measuring how your outdoor brand’s social media individual performance changes over time? Because social success is relative. Benchmarking means figuring out what’s working (and what isn’t) in your industry and measuring your success against that.
It’s crucial to go beyond likes and favorites because audience size is hugely important: 100 likes is great engagement for a brand with 1,000 followers but is a drop in the bucket to a brand with 100,000 followers. Engagement rate helps us take audience size into account to see who’s really reaching the highest percentage of their fans and followers with their social posts, which are the outdoor brands you need to beat.
Wrapping it up
We hope you had as much fun as we did digging into what made outdoor brands stand out on social media (and were at least a little inspired to plan your next hike or trip to the slopes).
Did we miss an outdoor brand on social media you love? Want to share another industry we should rank on social? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Twitter.
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