16 Unique Outdoor Business Ideas To Start In 2020

In 2020 we've already had enough indoor activities (unfortunately).

People are looking to exercise, go cycling, camp, and other kinds of outdoor activities. Nature and fresh air are on the rise, so what better way to capitalize on that demand than to start a business related to those activities? The demand is already there!

Have an outdoor related business and want to get added to this list? Submit to share your story here.

Below we have listed some successful businesses that we have featured that excelled and which have been kind enough to share their stories so future entrepreneurs can learn from their stories. Check them out:

1. Origami folding kayaks ($4.8M/year)

The kayak store, Oru Kayak, was founded in Emeryville, Ontario, Canada about 8 years ago.

  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10
  • Location: Emeryville, Ontario, Canada

I grew up in the rural backwoods of Northern California. As a kid, I had two overwhelming passions: being outside, and making stuff. In college, I gravitated towards design and developed an obsession with boats- to me they really express the essence of design as a marriage between function and beauty.

It’s a lot easier to find a unique marketing or branding angle on something that’s already basically worked out, and that has factories ready to hit “go”.

Eventually, I went to graduate school for architecture and fixed up an old fiberglass kayak which I used to explore the San Francisco Bay on weekends. After graduating, I moved into a small apartment and had to put my kayak in storage. At the same time, I read a magazine article about origami and had the crazy idea to make a kayak that could fold up like a piece of paper.

how-we-started-a-400k-month-origami-folding-kayaks-business

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Anton Willis, on starting Oru Kayak ($400,000/month) full story ➜

2. Roof access device ($780K/year)

The home equipment business, Moki Doorstep, was founded in Newington, New Hampshire, USA over 3 years ago.

  • Revenue: $65,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Newington, New Hampshire, USA

My wife and I have always been travelers and the adventurous type. One thing always held my wife up from getting after the powder on a bluebird day on her own. Because of her height, she struggles to use car top racks. Come to find out, she wasn't alone.

Knowing when to launch and other key factors will help you not only reach your goal faster, you'll end up on the front pages of Kickstarter as well as crowdfunding tracker sites.

Depending on the vehicle and type of rack, I often struggle as well. Using my background as a firefighter I knew the anatomy of vehicles. This helped me formulate the design and placement of the Moki Doorstep.

how-this-65k-month-step-to-improve-car-roof-access-was-one-of-the-largest-shark-tank-on-air-deals

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Zachary Brown, on starting Moki Doorstep ($65,000/month) full story ➜

3. Portable pressurized showers ($1.8M/year)

The bathroom appliance business, RinseKit, was founded in Vista, California, USA almost 6 years ago.

  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Vista, California, USA

It all really just stemmed from my love for surfing. I was tired of getting in my car salty and dirty with no time to go home to shower before work and the only real portable shower available at the time was the cheap solar bag. I'd drive up and down the beach all the time looking for a good place to surf and saw that most people were just using old laundry detergent bottles to rinse themselves off. So I recognized that there was an opportunity to make a shower system that was portable and easy to use.

I had my own pool construction business at the time so I made the first version out of PVC pipe. I had several people ask me how I made the shower in the back of my truck so I started to sell them​. After making a few design changes, we launched the brand and ran the business out of my garage. It all just grew from there.

The worst thing you can do as a business owner or entrepreneur is to try to mundanely copy what other businesses around you are doing. Don’t be afraid to be a pioneer.. and don’t resort to outsourcing everything.

how-i-designed-a-150k-month-portable-pressurized-shower-and-went-on-shark-tank

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Chris Crawford, on starting RinseKit ($150,000/month) full story ➜

4. Mexican hammocks ($2.88K/year)

The hammock line, Maca, was founded in Remote over 3 years ago.

  • Revenue: $240/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Remote

Growing up in the wave of awesome companies like Airbnb, Instagram, Doordash, Facebook, Uber, etc. (too many to name), it was hard for me not to pay attention. I loved watching and reading about how big ideas turned into big companies and how these companies impact society and change the way we live and behave.

Being a solo founder is hard enough as it is, surround yourself with supportive, honest and like-minded people. It takes extreme discipline to keep up with a side project when you're the only one held accountable.

Maybe it was just watching “The Social Network” one to many times, but building something from scratch and paving my own way has always been an attractive pursuit to me. I might just be another person on the “entrepreneurship” bandwagon but it doesn’t take away the fact that I’m extremely passionate and pour my heart into Maca.

on-starting-a-handmade-mexican-travel-hammocks-business

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Ben Hancock, on starting Maca ($240/month) full story ➜

5. Camerpervan transformation service ($96K/year)

The campervan transformation service, ZENVANZ, was founded in Portland, Oregon, USA almost 2 years ago.

  • Revenue: $8,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3
  • Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

As a part of our nomadic lifestyle, we built out a campervan simply to facilitate our own travels, whether it be a summer spent on the coast of Baja or chasing snow from mountain to mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

We really never had the intention of starting a business… In fact, we said no for a couple of years to those asking us to either buy our campervan or for us to build one for them. We loved the process and loved the idea of helping others to get out and enjoy more nature/adventure the way we had, but the idea of giving up some of our own freedom to go back to working in the shop simply wasn’t attractive.

Eventually, friends came to us and convinced us to start the business. To simply show them how to do what we had learned and for us to simply continue “marketing” the business as we already had been (by camping and attending events and simply talking to others who saw the van when we opened the doors). Those friends were also looking to make a transition in life as they wanted out of their 9-5s, and we saw it as an opportunity we couldn’t refuse- both to help them and to help others we had talked to about van builds over the years.

how-we-started-a-8k-month-business-transforming-campervans-while-traveling

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Bryan and Jen Danger, on starting ZENVANZ ($8,000/month) full story ➜

6. Bicycle chain lubricant ($300K/year)

The bicycle company, Spoke Works cc, was founded in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa almost 13 years ago.

  • Revenue: $25,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5
  • Location: Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

At the age of 11, my friend’s dad bought him a Diamondback Topanga Mountainbike this was about 1989 - I still vividly remember how amazing it was and how badly I wanted something like that.

At the time, South Africa was still very much in the grip of the apartheid regime and due to the sanctions imposed by the rest of the world, most consumer goods were locally made.

I just wasn't earning enough money to support my wife and child, just having a basic lifestyle was making us get further into debt with every month that went by.

how-i-started-a-300k-year-bike-lube-business-from-south-africa

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Ruan Deyzel, on starting Spoke Works cc ($25,000/month) full story ➜

7. Ebikes ($3M/year)

The eBikes business, Tower Electric Bikes, was founded in San Diego, California, USA over 10 years ago.

  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 4
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA

I live right on the boardwalk on the beach in San Diego. I get a good sense of up and coming trends in beach lifestyle while just kicking back on my patio with a Margarita and watching the world go by. In the last three or four years, there has been an explosion in electric powered things buzzing down the boardwalk. They've always been there, but it used to be one dude cruising the boardwalk with some kind of homemade electric skateboard or something once a week. Then the trend started growing exponentially in the last few years and you could just see the future.

My main form of transportation down the boardwalk has always been a beach cruiser. While bikes are also recreation around the beach, unlike many places they're a central form of transportation for anyone who lives at the beach. Why sit in aggravating coastal traffic and then search for scarce parking when you can just cruise down the boardwalk with the wind in your hair and an ocean view. A rusty beach cruiser literally offers you a better quality of life than a car which might set you back $50K. Not to mention the rent for a garage to park said car might be $500/mo.

The thing about electric bikes that most people don't get is that they're basically the perfect form of transportation. This is NOT just a "different kind of bike". Aside from kids, beach dwellers like myself, and what my son refers to as "butt darts" (those odd and colorfully dressed Tour de France type road cyclists), normal people just don't use bikes as transportation in the US. Bikes are a recreation with a side of exercise. Electric bikes can be better described as a replacement for a car. It's like a scooter that doesn't require a helmet and you can ride on paths, boardwalks, sidewalks, across the lawn, wherever. The first time you ride one, the light bulb goes off in your head... wait, this is fun, requires no effort even up hills, let's me avoid traffic, doesn't require a parking spot, has a range of 30-60 miles, and if the battery does die I can just pedal the rest of the way home.

how-i-partnered-with-mark-cuban-to-start-a-250k-month-company-selling-ebikes

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Stephan Aarstol , on starting Tower Electric Bikes ($250,000/month) full story ➜

8. Accessories for dogs ($240K/year)

The pet store, Bike Tow Leash, was founded in Orlando, Florida, USA over 17 years ago.

  • Revenue: $20,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

I am a mechanical engineer graduate from Georgia Tech. My wife Betsy, GA Tech EE graduate, and I met her first day at school. We married after graduation. We have two daughters Jessica and Sam. After GA Tech I developed airline products up until when the 9-11 terrorist attacks occurred.

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Betsy and the girls, then 5 and 8, met Cindy at Publix getting groceries. She had a black Lab puppy in a light blue cape with her. From that encounter, my family and I volunteered raising service dog puppies for individuals with disabilities as a way of giving back to our community and country. In honor of those lost, we named our first puppy Tribute.

Raising service dog puppies is a wonderful volunteer opportunity, which ultimately provides companion animals to individuals who suffer from seizures, or who have mobility, vision or hearing impairments.

how-i-started-a-6-figures-business-selling-a-dog-accessory

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Mike Leon, on starting Bike Tow Leash ($20,000/month) full story ➜

9. Fixed gear bikes ecommerce ($3M/year)

The bicycle company, Santafixie, was founded in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain almost 11 years ago.

  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 15
  • Location: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Born in 1982 in Barcelona, I studied in a liberal and secular school where art and music were an important role in education.

My personal goals were focused on my music band, I love playing the guitar, but although it may sound weird, I ended up studying for a degree in Economics. But as you can imagine, I was not the typical economics student, it took awhile for me to finish my degree. I liked it, but it was just too soon for me to sit and decide what I would be.

A few years later, in 2010, I was working as a financial controller. Everything seemed to be fine, good salary, good position, and a whole career ahead to professionally grow. But I felt empty. I quit my music band and my job and I moved to London, where it all started.

how-we-built-a-250k-month-fixed-gear-bike-business

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Xavier Claveria Masip, on starting Santafixie ($250,000/month) full story ➜

10. Local plant nursery ($60K/year)

The backyard plant nursery, CamelliaShop, was founded in Georgia over 13 years ago.

  • Revenue: $5,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: Georgia

In 1991, I had the life-changing opportunity to become a part of Gene’s Nursery, one of the oldest nurseries in Savannah Georgia.

When I had the opportunity to leave my office job and get my hands into soil, I was happy and I was hooked.

Gene’s Nursery has its roots firmly planted in our quaint historic coastal city and it’s passion was the Camellia. Camellias are ornamental shrubs that produce brilliant blossoms during the fall and winter. They are the most unique flowering shrub species found today and are considered the Queen of Ornamental shrubs.

how-we-expanded-our-local-plant-nursery-to-an-online-business

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Debbie Odom, on starting CamelliaShop ($5,000/month) full story ➜

11. Tree tents ($600K/year)

The outdoor store, Tentsile, was founded in London, England, United Kingdom over 8 years ago.

  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 16
  • Location: London, England, United Kingdom

I am a qualified architect that specialized in treehouses for the most recent part of my career.

This was a childhood dream realized, as my love for treehouses was born when I was 6 years old and saw the first glimpse of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. I knew from that early age that putting people in trees, could be the only long term solution to saving the world’s forests.

From treehouses, I moved into tensile structures made from fabric materials, trying to create the biggest amount of usable space, using the least amount of materials. By combining the engineering practices of suspension bridges, with the biomimicry of a spider’s web, I was able to create space, made from pure tension, that created a 3D structure that could hold the load of a human.

how-i-m-fulfilling-my-childhood-dreams-with-a-portable-treehouse-business

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Alex Shirley-Smith, on starting Tentsile ($50,000/month) full story ➜

12. Iceless cooler for beer ($1.2M/year)

The drinkware brand, Kanga, was founded in Clemson, South Carolina, USA over 3 years ago.

  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 8
  • Location: Clemson, South Carolina, USA

how-we-launched-a-beer-cooler-and-landed-a-deal-with-mark-cuban

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Teddy Giard, on starting Kanga ($100,000/month) full story ➜

13. Urban hiking tours ($45K/year)

The tour company, Urban Hiker SF, was founded in San Francisco, California, USA about 8 years ago.

  • Revenue: $3,750/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA

Before starting Urban Hiker SF, I worked as a marketing manager at Google from 2007 to 2012. By the end of my time there, I was very burned out on big company politics—and mainly on commuting (up to three hours a day), so I knew I needed to leave. I had saved a bunch of money and knew I had enough funds to take some time off.

After I quit, I took some time off to explore San Francisco. By that time, I had lived in the city for 4.5 years, but I didn’t know it that well as I spent most days at Google headquarters in Mountain View. With my time off, I explored our city’s mosaic stairways, our beautiful beaches, our “wave organ”—all the places I had wanted to visit, but never had the time to.

Take actionable steps toward your goals every day and you’ll make progress. Also, once you get started, you’ll meet people along your way to help you. You won’t necessarily find those people if you’re only doing research and not actually launching.

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Alexandra Kenin, on starting Urban Hiker SF ($3,750/month) full story ➜

14. Bicycle accessories ($1.8M/year)

The bicycle company, SEATYLOCK, was founded in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tel Aviv District, Israel almost 9 years ago.

  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 18
  • Location: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tel Aviv District, Israel

Well, this is a long story….

I have been in the manufacturing business for 20 years now and I had a lot of experience with all aspects of manufacturing and logistics in China.

Having a good idea is crucial, but this is just a small part of the big picture, which is execution and how to take that idea and turn it into reality.

how-i-started-an-innovative-bike-lock-generating-over-1m-year

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Michael Shenkerman, on starting SEATYLOCK ($150,000/month) full story ➜

15. Campervan rentals ($120K/year)

The RV rental business, ROAMERICA, was founded in Portland, Oregon, USA almost 5 years ago.

  • Revenue: $10,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 5
  • Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

We are two adventurous souls who met on the Oregon Coast in February 2010. In the beginning, it was all about traveling to find surf and deep snow without the crowds. We originally traveled around in a 1998 Toyota Tacoma with a canopy. It was a great vehicle for accessing all sorts of amazing places but when it turned cold and wet, it became quite uncomfortable, especially with our 2 dogs.

You have to play the long game, and during that game you will most likely be close to broke, SO YOU MUST LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO CARRY YOU THROUGH THOSE HARD TIMES. The ones who press on and don’t quit, are the ones who reap the rewards.

We always dreamt of having a vehicle that could keep us dry throughout the Northwest winters and allow us to access snowy mountains and desolate sandy beaches. In 2013, we upgraded our vehicle to a 2006 4x4 Ford Econoline cargo van. We threw a cooler, futon mattress and a couple seats inside, we had our perfect set up. 6 years later, we have a toddler and baby #2 due in May so we’ve upgraded the layout of a newer Ford Econoline to include a sofa bed that has seat belts for the car seats, a portable fridge/freezer and plenty of storage and room for the 2 pups and all our gear. As our life changes so does the layout of our van. See a little more about our family on our Instagram Highlight Reel.

how-we-started-a-camper-van-rental-business-and-quit-our-full-time-jobs

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Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood, on starting ROAMERICA ($10,000/month) full story ➜

16. Animal bone cleaning service ($24K/year)

The animal bone cleaning service, Dermestidarium, was founded in Dallas, Oregon, USA almost 7 years ago.

  • Revenue: $2,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1
  • Location: Dallas, Oregon, USA

The first time it occurred to me to clean a skull was over 10 years ago, when I was interning at a goat meat ranch to learn about sustainable farming.

We were harvesting some of the older bucks for meat, and they had long, beautiful horns. It seemed like such a waste to discard what I knew could be a beautiful and fascinating skull, so I tried to clean it. I had NO idea what I was doing, and it turned out to be a mess. But the idea stuck with me, and as I continued working with livestock I ended up with the occasional skull to attempt to clean.

Give yourself the opportunity to try and the room to fail. Take calculated risks, have backup plans, avoid debt wherever possible, and measure success by the value your business is bringing to your life, not by your perception of how well other people are doing.

how-i-started-a-successful-side-business-cleaning-animal-skulls

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Carla Brauer, on starting Dermestidarium ($2,000/month) full story ➜

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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