1. Assigning fashion prestige based on function over form.
In Alaska, Vogue and GQ are shoved aside in favor of sensible periodicals like Alaska Magazine or Backpacker. Instead of looking to Paris, London, or Tokyo for our fashion trends, we take a more down-to-earth approach. Employing the Alaskan “comfy factor” scale of wearability, we assess things like pocket depth and quantity, general sturdiness, and whether or not buckles and snaps can hold up under rough use. “Designer fashion” in Alaska means such brands as North Face, Carhartt, REI, Columbia, Patagonia, Burton, LL Bean, Canada Goose and Cabella’s — all of which are worn with enviable pride.
2. Rocking a flannel shirt.
Deemed the “Alaskan Tuxedo” our men’s daily ensemble traditionally includes a flannel shirt, a pair of well-worn denim jeans and sensible work boots paired with a quality leather belt. If there was ever a place in the world that depended on flannel as a wardrobe foundation piece, it’s Alaska. Rain, shine, hot, or cold — the humble flannel shirt is every man’s and woman’s show-stopping staple.
3. Hoarding multi-tools.
Alaskans have this natural penchant for the practical — particularly when it comes to multi-use items. We are a people who still use our belts to attach important things to and not merely for holding up our breeches. In the early eighties when Leatherman came out with their first “Pocket Survival Tool,” the entire state adopted them courtesy of Santa and the birthday fairy. Be it Victornox, Gerber, or Leatherman, Alaskans have impressive collections of multi-tools they don’t really need but are hanging on to just in case the Zombie Apocalypse is a real thing.
4. Making long-distance travel seem easy.
Being Alaskan means you grow up traveling. Whether by land, air, or sea, the lengths we go to in order to get anywhere are time consuming. We transition from amateur to professional packers and trip planners extremely young. Like fine wine, our trip prep efficiency only increases with age. Any Alaskan who has traveled from Alaska to the East Coast, driven to Chicken, flown into the villages, worked on the North Slope or taken the ferry boat to Haines can say, “Psh! That was nothing compared to the time I went to….”
5. Keeping calm when everything falls apart.
One does simply not live in Alaska without experiencing various situations well outside the norm of the average. We become extremely good at dealing with crisis situations whether it be accidentally catching a jacket sleeve on fire (courtesy of the camper’s gas burner), stepping on a hornets nest while hiking and getting attacked by an army of angry yellow jackets, or crash landing a Piper Super Cub in the middle of the Alaskan bush. Point is, regardless of the scale of crisis, the Alaskan way is to handle it like a boss and then move on to the next one because in Alaska, there is always a “next one”.
6. Fixing things.
Alaskans have this innate capacity for fixing stuff. Broken stuff, bent stuff, crooked, out of joint stuff — you name it we can inexplicably make it better than new. For the times we can’t, we’re really good at getting things jury rigged until the conditions are better.
7. Keeping up with the Joneses.
As far as Alaskans are concerned, we are the Joneses. The rest of the lower 48 can’t keep up. We do however think they’re cute when they try.
8. Being their dog’s BFF.
Alaskans are overwhelmingly dog people. Yes, some have cats but, the vast majority of us are dog lovers. We take our dogs everywhere. Case in point, dog mushers even have vehicles specifically designed for transporting teams of dogs. Ever seen a truck roll by with ten dog heads hanging out the side enjoying the wind on their face? Exactly.
9. Flying tiny airplanes.
Alaska has more people with pilot licenses than any other state. We also have more private airplane owners than any other state with 1.3 airplanes per 100 residents. In fact, in Anchorage, at Lake Hood, we even have the world’s busiest seaplane base where approximately 200 flights go in and out daily.
10. Enduring delayed gratification.
For all the awesome things about Alaska, it has one major downside: it takes a good number of years before we get the latest shops. Take Target for example. I grew up in the day going to Target meant winning the cool kid admiration award. “Where’d you get that? It’s so cool!” “At Target. I just got back from spring break in Seattle.” “I wish we they would build one in Alaska.” We got it in 2008.
11. Growing gigantic produce.
With up to twenty hours of daylight in the warmer months, moderate temperatures, and a green thumb, Alaskans regularly grow impressive produce. The Matanuska-Susitna Valley (Mat-su), Alaska’s agriculture belt is especially known for breaking serious records. A thousand pound pumpkin or a hundred pound cabbage, anyone?