Tupper Lake: Home of the



A New Style?

It seems like lately everywhere you turn there is a new article featuring the latest and greatest in men’s fashion: the Lumbersexual. Urban Dictionary has even gone as far as defining the Lumbersexual as, “A metro-sexual who has the need to hold on to some outdoor based ruggedness, thus opting to keep a finely trimmed beard.”

Gear Junkie's header image from "The Rise of the Lumbersexual" - October 2014

Over the past few months as Lumbersexual headlines have appeared in your social media feed, you may have found yourself questioning whether you or your guy is one. Maybe you have even taken one of the online quizzes, “How Lumbersexual are you?” or “Are you dating a Lumbersexual?” as you sipped on your morning latte. All I can say is SERIOUSLY? This is a new style? Did you just crawl out of a hole? Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh here, but I have some simple advice for you: if you think you or someone you know might be a Lumbersexual and are uncertain, don’t take an online quiz! Instead, take a look at Tupper Lake, NY, where this has been the style all along. In fact, I don’t think it has ever been a “style” more than simply a way of life. 

Home of the Lumberjacks

Let's first start with the backstory. Long before the term "Lumbersexual" was showing up on BuzzFeed (or BuzzFeed was even a thing), Tupper Lake was founded as a logging town in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. In the 1850s the first logging operation came to the area and soon thereafter the town started emerging alongside a growing number of sawmills. By the turn of the 20th century, the logging industry was booming and Tupper Lake was holding world records in the industry. My family ties (like most who live here) go back to the lumbering community and these lumberjacks still continue to be a major part of Tupper Lake's present day life.  

Big Mill - April 1900. Photo from The Malone Paladium (John Kopp Library)

Today, while the logging industry is not operating at the scale that it was at the turn of the 20th century, it is still a major part of Tupper Lake's economy and culture. The town has always embraced their heritage of being "Home of the Lumberjacks," and everywhere from the school mascot to annual summer festivals you will see the face of the authentic lumberjack.

The lumberjack statue at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park. He looks kind of lonely standing there in the snow... Maybe he should use the WiFi in the park to search for his soul mate on the online dating site where, and I quote: "beardies meet beauties." (Yes, this is a real website.)

The Tupper Lake Style

Also Known As: The Original Lumbersexual

As the Lumbersexual and Metrojack (the cleaner, more urban version of the Lumbersexual) trends become more and more mainstream, the style around Tupper Lake has pretty much maintained status quo. Recently I came across an article that broke down the Lumbersexual based on 5 traits: scruff, wardrobe, habitat, diet and lifestyle. While these traits show many similarities between the rugged Adirondack Lumberjack and the urban Lumbersexual, the two looks still vary in many ways...

1. The Scruff (or beard)

The urban Lumbersexual typically maintains a well sculpted beard that is meant to look rugged, yet it is still surprisingly well-trimmed. While in the Adirondacks, you will find facial hair of all shapes and sizes. It's simply about what works for you. It's about being practical - it's a shield from the elements and it's about making a conscious choice between spending your time in front of a mirror or outdoors.

Find a local on the job site and ask them for a photo - odds are they will look this enthused.

Even the next generation is already looking forward to this style, so it looks like "the scruff" isn't going anywhere soon!

2. The Wardrobe (it's more than just a flannel)

According to an article titled How to be a Lumbersexual, when it comes to the wardrobe the Lumbersexual "cares about his overall clothing style which includes more 'outdoorsy' pieces mixed and matched with sleeker clothing options. Example being, comfortable flannel shirts with skinny jeans or similarly snugger fitting pants."

When it comes to the traditional Lumberjack look it is not about following the latest fashion trend by mixing and matching, it's again about being practical. The "outdoorsy" pieces are because you are no doubt going to be out in the rugged Adirondack wilderness. It's not always about wearing a flannel shirt like one would imagine (although you will see a good number of those if you look through any crowd). The everyday wear is typically made up of a mix of a tough durable shirt, thick denim or Carhartt pants to protect your legs, and boots and a hat because you actually need them, not just because they help finish "the look."

From day to night: 6 outfits that will have you transitioning from job site to after-hours drinks with friends in no time. (ROOST/Shaun Ondak photo)

While we are on the topic of clothing, I have to say that I find the following very amusing. When I was Christmas shopping for my son, I was browsing through Abercrombie & Fitch's website and to my surprise, found this: (hint check out the clothing names)

Screen shot of the Abercrombie & Fitch Tupper Lake clothing line.

Yup, you have it right... there's actually a Tupper Lake clothing line! Looks like even major retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch recognize Tupper Lake as the trend setter for this pop-culture fad. I do however question how authentic this apparel is to Tupper Lake's style. My guess is that the "Tupper Lake Twill Parka" wouldn't hold up to the elements or wear and tear of a real Adirondack winter. And on a final note, I don't think I have ever even heard a guy from Tupper Lake use the word twill.

3. The Habitat (talk about true outdoors!)

This is where the two differ greatly. The Lumbersexual wants to look like he lives, and maybe even dreams about living, in a place like Tupper Lake. Can you find a place that is more "outdoorsy" than being situated in the middle of the 6-million acre Adirondack Park? If you were to translate that into city blocks, you would be able to fit more than 15 million blocks within the park, and Tupper Lake would be in the center of that city. But this isn't a city, it's a mix of public land that provides endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, and private land which can give you the "space" that Lumbersexuals crave.

Trying to picture what this looks like? Take a virtual tour from the firetower on the top of Mount Arab.

4. The Diet (you are what you eat...)

I am obviously not a Lumbersexual (or a Lumberjack for that matter), so when it comes to analyzing the diets of these two breeds of fine gentleman, I turned to the "experts." Besides watching them flock to the local diners on any given morning, it is a little more challenging to observe the rest of their daily food consumption.

Let's begin with the Lumbersexual. Birchbox's article The 5 Definitive Traits of a Lumbersexual, states that "the Lumbersexual eats organic foods. He drinks craft beers and cocktails. You'll find him at locally owned coffee shops and farm-to-table establishments, eating well and savoring each hearty bite."

Did you say farm-to-table or lake-to-table? (Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby - ROOST/Shaun Ondak photo)

As for the "Lumberjack," for this I turned to a local:

Question: "Can you describe to me what your typical diet consists of over the course of an average day?" 

Answer: "The day typically starts off with an authentic woodsman breakfast, eaten quickly and beginning before 6 am. Most often it is consumed in a local diner, and includes high energy protein and plenty of grease. Popular fare includes 'two eggs side by side, 2 lines of bacon, a pair of toast' coupled with a pair of flapjacks, home fries, and a few cups of coffee to wash it all down. Lunch, like revenge, is a meal best served cold. Sandwiches, fruit, trail mix, and yogurt. Something you can carry with you and eat on the run. When the temperatures fall below zero, you typically aren't in the mood to sit around and enjoy your meal. Dinner is the meal I find most enjoyable. In my opinion, and many locals with me, the best Adirondack meal one can enjoy involves a thick piece of locally harvested hindquarter venison grilled six minutes per side, served with potatoes, onions, and a salad picked from the raised-bed gardens in the backyard. The meal pairs nicely with a Red Ale or Stout from Raquette River Brewing, and nothing warms you up and improves your outlook quite like a glass of single malt Scotch for dessert."

Processed foods? That's not the case here, you can't really get more organic than a fresh buck.

5. The Lifestyle 

For lifestyle, most of the articles I found were very vague. They focused in on the urban Lumbersexual's desire for quality made products as opposed to needing the "latest and greatest" thing. That is,  unless it was technology based - then apparently, they do want the latest iPhones, MacBooks, etc. I'm sure there is more to the Lumbersexual's lifestyle than wanting quality made products and the latest technology, so if you consider yourself to be a Lumbersexual, I encourage you to share with us a little about your lifestyle in the comment section below.

"An authentic Adirondack lifestyle can be characterized by two words: hard work."

As for the locals, here is what they have to say: "An authentic Adirondack lifestyle can be characterized in two words: hard work. Many locals still make their living outdoors which can make for long, hot summer days, and short, cold, dark days in winter. During the deep freeze you often leave before the sun is up in the morning and return home after sundown. You load the wood stove at night as you retire, fill it again first thing in the morning, and typically have to bring more wood into the house at night when you return. You drink your coffee black, your closet is filled with stained blue jeans and flannels, and your night out is probably spent around a campfire with a few close friends and a couple of 12-packs. We typically work on our own houses and vehicles, or know a close friend who can. We live within a few miles of our extended family and are fiercely loyal to our hometowns. Our way of life is best summed up by Josh Thompson who crooned: 'We won't take a dime if we ain't earned it, when it comes to weight, brother, we pull our own. If it's our backwoods way of livin' you're concerned with, you can leave us alone. We're about John Wayne, Johnny Cash, and John Deere, way out here.'"

The Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days

Tupper Lake Municipal Park - July 11-12, 2015

Wood carving competition during the annual Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days. (ROOST/Shaun Ondak photo)

Before we move on, I should let you know that not only is the lumberjack culture part of our everyday lifestyle, but also every summer on the second weekend of July, masses actually flock to Tupper Lake to celebrate the lumberjack heritage and show off their skill. The annual Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days, scheduled for July 11-12 would be the perfect time to come mix and mingle your Lumbersexual look with the real McCoy. From lumberjack and lumberjill demos and competition, to the gala parade and infamous Greased Pole Climb, the Tupper Lake Woodmen's Days is something that Lumbersexual or not, you won't want to miss. 


Bring Your Beard Home!

So now that we have covered the basic traits of the Lumbersexual and cross-referenced it against the actual Lumberjack look, we would like to invite you to come expose your beard to the natural habitat that it craves. Ask the locals, nothing airs your beard out like a good breeze from the top of an Adirondack Mountain peak. Let it soak up the smell of a campfire as you kick back and enjoy a cold growler of beer from the local brewery. Wash the day away with a refreshing dip in the waters of our local lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Then follow it up with a good hearty meal at The Lumberjack Inn and a cold pint at a local tavern. Somewhere along this course of activity, you will suddenly realize that the spirit of the lumberjack has actually become part of you and is no longer just your style. But consider yourself warned... odds are that your beard (or bearded guy) will not want to leave!

Header Image: "Certified Lumbersexual Holiday Ornament" a Spruce & Hemlock Country Store exclusive. (made in Tupper Lake, NY)

About the Author: 

Michelle Clement is the Director of Marketing for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. She is not a style expert and does not fear the beard. (T-shirt provided by Stacked Graphics in Tupper Lake.)