Outdoor gear hard to come by this summer as Calgarians snap up kayaks, paddleboards and skateboards

“Maybe this is the summer to get a stand-up paddleboard” — said everyone in Alberta at the same time.

Obviously, this is the summer of the staycation.

But gearing up to stay close to home has proven difficult, especially for those on the hunt for the popular and elusive stand-up paddleboards.

“We have friends and neighbours who have been trying all summer long to find them and they can’t find them,” said Kevin Lickiss, out enjoying the water at Bowness Park with his family and neighbours on Friday.

Lickiss is one of the lucky ones — he bought the stand-up paddleboards at the end of last season.

Kevin Lickiss with his daughter Emmaline at Bowness Park on July 31. Lickiss said he feels lucky to have bought his family’s stand-up paddleboards last season. (Helen Pike/CBC)

But he knows others who are still on the hunt.

“We are loving them, our kids are loving them,” he said. “This is our first actual day, and they’re just having fun.”

Lickiss said his family also does a bit of mountain biking, and they plan to stay close to home this summer, trying new outdoor activities with the kids.

“Just like everybody else, we can’t go anywhere,” he said. “So we’re kind of staying local in Alberta.”

Many retailers with large online retails are not offering any guarantees on delivery times.

At Inside Mountain Cultures, a ski and board shop in northwest Calgary, many of the displays are empty.

Manager Cameron Nunn said they can barely keep kayaks, skateboards and stand-up paddleboards on the shelf — demand is high and supply is sporadic.

“It’s been a crazy summer, crazy busy for sales,” Nunn said. “We’ve been in operation here for 10 years now, and it’s easily been our biggest summer.”

Cameron Nunn, manager of Mountain Cultures, a ski and board shop in northwest Calgary. Nunn said it has been a “crazy” summer for sales of kayaks, skateboards and stand-up paddleboards. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Summer is usually the slow season, but not this year.

“Paddleboards have definitely been a big one this year,” he said. “After being locked up during COVID, it’s a great way to get out and enjoy this beautiful weather we’ve been having these last couple of weeks.”

Nunn, who also stocks trampolines, skateboards and longboards, said he gets more than a dozen calls daily from people desperate to buy.

“We’ve had multiple people come in from Edmonton, just order stuff online, local pickup, they want it quick and they need it, can’t get it anywhere else. So yeah, great lengths to get their hands on boards and different equipment.”

Keeping active and outdoors

Nunn said some customers run the gamut — some are rediscovering a sport they used to do, others are looking to keep themselves active while having a staycation.

“We’ve done a lot of online sales to not only B.C. but Ontario, Quebec all over the place, the States as well. A lot of people are going out of their way to get the stock no matter the cost — it’s crazy.”

Nunn expects the enthusiasm for outdoor sports to continue into the fall and winter at his ski and board shop.

“Summer is normally pretty quiet for us, our main focus is on winter gear, but we’re sort of going into the back half of summer now, still going strong.”