Friday, November 14, 2014

Out Of The Woodlot: Meet The Lumbersexual

paul22newIt’s fitting that I just finished bringing in the wood for the season and had plopped down into my old wooden chair when I learned I was well attired for the latest fashion craze.

Apparently, according to Gear Junkie, your standard Adirondack men’s wear – work pants, a flannel, an unkept beard  – is a thing. Like a cool thing. With fashionistas and all.

Move on metrosexual, clear the way for the lumbersexual:

Today, the metrosexual is a disappearing breed being quickly replaced by men more concerned with existing in the outdoors, or the pseudo-outdoors, than meticulous grooming habits.

He is bar-hopping, but he looks like he could fell a Norway Pine.

Looking like you could fell a big pine has pretty much always been a thing here in the Adirondacks, where floating logs down rivers was invented and people still own axes. But now, as it often does, urban culture is taking a cue from their backwoods brethren:

Seen in New York, LA and everywhere in between, the Lumbersexual is bringing the outdoor industry’s clothing and accessories into the mainstream.

Whether the roots of the lumbersexual are a cultural shift toward environmentalism, rebellion against the grind of 9-5 office jobs, or simply recognition that outdoor gear is just more comfortable, functional and durable, the Lumbersexual is on the rise.

“Hey, we’ve seen this before!” you say. “What about grunge?”

bearded lumbersexualThe early 90s grunge scene was more punk, less bumpkin.   The lumbersexual exudes heteronormative manliness – he drinks craft beer, not pennyroyal tea.  He’s more beard, less bald-a-face. Though they both share a love of the flannel, the lumbersexual “will open your beer with an omni-present Buck knife.”  The lumbersexual is “a master of the retro Instagram filter.”

And in case you were wondering, here’s Cosmopolitan magazine’s take on what it means to date a lumbersexual:

Whenever you suggest a quick Ikea trip for a new dresser, he jumps in and volunteers to build you one and next thing you know, nine months later, you have a new dresser. You go to the grocery store to pick up basil and he says, “No need. I’m growing my own.” You go hiking and try to pack Power Bars but he tells you he already knows where the nearest patch of wild blackberries is. His beard looks long, bushy, and unkempt because he hasn’t looked in a mirror in months. You know why? Because mirrors aren’t found in nature.

One reader comment probably sums the whole phenomenon for most Adirondack men:

“What really sucks is that now the clothes you need for work shoots up in price since somebody thinks its cool.”

Photos: Above, Paul Bunyan at Enchanted Forest in Old Forge (from an old postcard); and below from

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.

17 Responses

  1. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:


    We toil and plod, article after article, topic after topic, year after year, trying our utmost – striving, really – with all our ego and id to find that one great touchstone, that unmistakably singular subject, that earthshaking combination of icon and revolution buried deep from mortal sight like hidden treasure sunk into the loam, that waits to be unearthed by our earnest talents so as to emerge into the light and forever change the world of our beloved Adirondacks. And we yearn to make upon this great find a commentary that is at once self-evident tautology and brilliant synthesis; a most perfect commentary, a paean of erudition and excellence that will mark us for all history as a member of the esteemed Adirondack pantheon.

    But then, bathed in exhaustion and sweat, plopping into an old wooden chair and washing down the bark and sawdust with a hard-earned glass of cider, comes one John Warren, who with apparent effortlessness on a Friday night, shows us with crystalline perfection how it’s done.

  2. Kim Ladd says:

    John, we have seen this very same man in nearly every bar in the Adirondacks! Usually with a tight-jeans-and-tall-boots-wearing babe on one arm and a keg on the other.

  3. Jim S. says:

    I mustache you how did you learn to write so beardifully?

  4. Running George says:

    After 35 years my dress has finally caught on although I guess mine would be a variation. More of a “lumber-agrisexual.

    Nice column, John.

  5. Bill Joplin Bill Joplin says:

    Brilliant and so funny, John. I’m sending a link to this to my daughters’ friends who have writing jobs (or at least internships) for magazines and TV shows in New York. And yes, Pete Nelson, you are so right about John’s “sprezzatura.”

  6. Er…right…whatever Pete just said. Great piece, wonderful writing. Should be in the New Yorker or Cosmo. Yikes, I know. In any event, its good to know that I can now shift between daily routine in my woodlot in Keene and the pop culture cauldron of Manhattan without a second thought or a shave!

    • ecolocalguy says:

      Indeed dano, come as you are! I had this look back in the 80’s. Nice to see it coming back around. Still got the same flannels, albeit a bit more worn

  7. Natty Bumpo says:

    “What really sucks is that now the clothes you need for work shoots up in price since somebody thinks its cool.” Nearly verbatim- my first thought.

    Question- now that I look good, do I have to smell good too?

  8. Will Doolittle says:

    I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra.

  9. Jim Frenette Sr. says:

    well the world of fashion is finally catching up with Tupper Lake. Next to the ball field grandstand there is a 10 foot high,chain saw carved lumberjack,modeling the outfit that,while it has been a standard here in Tupper for many years,now is the latest look.. welcome to our world.

  10. Paul says:

    “Remember it is better to look good than to feel good, and darling you look marvelous!” (Billy Crystal)

  11. sapien says:

    And the best part is, it only works one way — if you come out of NY or LA into the woods looking like Tim Gunn from Project Runway, I’m pretty sure you’ll get your ass kicked.

  12. Bob Eckert says:

    Thanks for this! I’m having a blast with this story with some of my woodsy buddies around the continent.

  13. Cait says:

    Oh, so true.

    And yet…when will I (flannel-clad, axe-wielding, female) become cool too?

  14. Mike S. says:

    Great musing John, Love the retro park scene. Have a great weekend

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