It’s official. Lumbersexuals are real. It’s not just a clever euphemism for those who thrive at the intersection of barista and hipster.
I know this not because they were crawling all over Cisero’s Bar in Park City a couple of weeks ago, where they ordered Old Fashions with a straw and sported horizontal stripe socks over leg tattoos and above Red Wing Iron Rangers, but
because Forbes Magazine—Forbes—explained their reason for being in a write up about Winter Outdoor Retailer.
Tight jeans. One-size-fits-none flannels. Ironic mustaches or well-manicured facial hair of some kind. An old-school vest. Maybe a thick-knit, loose fitting beanie made by an Etsy shop that donates proceeds to Fair Trade sandal makers in Ecuador. To the informed, the Lumbersexual is easily identified, like the goth kid at a young Republican’s Club meeting.
But to the non-cognoscente, they can be confused with a more authentic subset of the outdoor lifestyle community: the dirtbag.
Now, having a tremendous amount of respect for the latter, and living as one for at least a few weeks in total every year, I think it’s critical that society be educated on how to separate the two classes. So here’s how to tell the difference. Read carefully.
1. Mode of Transportation
This is pretty easy. Fiat. Mini. Scion? Lumbersexual. Subaru. Sprinter. Tacoma with a cap: Dirtbag. I know, many are quick to ask why a dirtbag wouldn’t be out cragging in a Prius. They tend to be pricey and more than that, they’re not great for crashpads or rainy-night Monopoly games. Still, it’s not unheard of, and there is some overlap. If unsure, examine the sticker compendium. A Backcountry.com goat or a Petzl logo adhered to the back window will ensure the driver’s level of outdoor authenticity. Sportsmobile, small RV or Minivan? Dirtbag.
To the informed, the Lumbersexual is easily identified, like the goth kid at a young Republican’s Club meeting.
2. Condition of Clothing
If it’s Goodwill-fresh, pleated, and somehow meant to look old, you have yourself a Lumbersexual. If the pants are dirty and the down jacket is patched in at least in one spot with duct tape, that person’s spent a great deal of time in places that lack rudimentary plumbing infrastructure. Flannel shirts are common among both demographics, but the amount of distance between fabric and the wearer’s skin can be correlated directly with the actual number of nights per year the person has spent in a tent. Same goes with pants. Also, to identify a dirtbag, look for fleece, specific brand trucker hats, approach shoes, and tattoos not purposely exposed.
3. Grooming State of Beard
This is real difference maker. If it’s clear the beard exists simply due to a lack of time in front of a mirror or general apathy, it’s a dirtbag. A beard deliberately cultivated and overtly styled is easy to spot. Look along the neckline if there’s any reasonable doubt. If the mustache somehow stands out or looks like it belongs on the face of a circus strong man, you’re not looking at a dirtbag. Many believe the beard is what’s driving the confusion, and leading some to believe its wearer is authentically rugged. Make no such assumption.
Flannel shirts are common among both demographics, but the amount of distance between fabric and the wearer’s skin can be correlated directly with the actual number of nights per year the person has spent in a tent.
Take in the habitat, it can be very telling. If you need some coffee and the only options are pour over or french press, the odds are very good in you’re in a place populated with Lumbersexuals. In fact, one is probably serving you. His “name” will be Marcel or Felix. This will happen in Manhattan, anywhere close to San Francisco, or according to recent reports, Downtown Nashville. Pizza counters and taco stands are known places to spot dirtbags. They flock to feed at places with the best possible calorie-to-affordability ratio possible. See: Roberto’s in Las Vegas, Flagstaff’s Diablo Burger, the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, or Davanza’s in Park City.
I should caveat this brief guide by saying that we all have our uniforms, our dress choices. The key for the dirtbag is utility and durability. How many days was it tucked under a harness, singed by campfire ash, and permeated with thick, warm sweat before it was stuffed under the back seat? (Only to be put back into rotation when in town to pirate WiFi.)
I’m all for everyone enjoying the outdoors, and support this expansion of the adventure travel gear and apparel industries into markets considered “less core.” It’s important to the future of the business.
But so is authenticity. And if you are, you are. It doesn’t matter what I think of your jeans.