18 More Manly Smells

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 8, 2013 · 154 comments

in Diversions, Travel & Leisure


Just about four years ago we published a post on 15 Manly Smells. The article received a ton of comments from folks who wanted to add their own favorite manly smells to the list, and the other day I found myself lost in enjoyment reading over them all again. So many of the additions were so great and evocative and so worthy of mention, and as the first post was one of my all-time favorites, I couldn’t resist compiling another edition. Enjoy and add your still unmentioned favorites to the comments!

Black Coffee


“My favorite scent, not just manly scent, but scent-period: the smell of coffee percolating in one of those enamel coffee pots on a campfire on a cool autumn morning, right next to the river. Inhale the good, exhale the bad. Heal.” -PiperJon

“How about Cowboy Coffee?! Not that BS latte smell of hot milk, but the deep, powerful smell of cowboy coffee made by dumping grounds right into the pot, in deer camp, at 5 am, over a campfire.” -Wilson

Gasoline, Motor Oil, Grease, and Garage


“Every time I’m at a gas station, I can smell my father with his hands covered in engine oil and gasoline from splashing the red canister contents onto the funnel. Those red rags smell more like a man than most men do.” -James

“Gasoline and motor oil, like when you’re pulling a carburetor off a ’68 Plymouth Satellite with a 318cc V-8… mmmm…. and that smell of hydraulic fluid when you bleed the brakes, that’s a great smell.” -PiperJohn

“I drive an old Triumph Bonneville motorbike and I have to ‘tickle’ the carbs before starting it until a little gas comes out. The smell of it on my finger or leather gloves always makes me nostalgic for my dad’s bike on the carport…” -Matt

“My dad would smell like that after working on the family cars, my older brothers would smell like that after working on their cars, and my husband smells like that every day, as he is a mechanic. Too much is too much, but just the right amount of grease on his tan forearms, smelling manly…WOW. That is one hell of a manly smell.” -Alison

“The mixture of gasoline, WD-40, brake parts cleaner, grease, varsol, welding smoke, tires, and perhaps roll-your-own cigarettes in there somewhere.” -Josh K.

Freshly Churned Dirt


“For me… it’s the smell of freshly turned dirt – that earthy, loamy smell reminds me of the large garden we had in the backyard when I was a youngster. We emigrated from Hong Kong when I was a kid, and my father dreamed of having a farm or acreage in Canada. We never did get that farm, but the privilege of working on his *own* land meant spring and fall, my kid brother and I were outside mucking around in the garden with him as he toiled away. To this day, when I turn the dirt in my own garden, the smell of turned soil reminds me of ‘real’ work and what life is all about, not the antiseptic feel of my office, pushing electrons and paper around in an endless circle.” -Ozone

Airplane Cockpit


“I can think of two that make me just want to start combing my chest hair. The smell of an old airplane cockpit. I worked B-52s, and the smell of 40 years of sweat, burnt food, tension, and hard work just can’t be beat. I’m sure it’s one of those acquired smells, once you get it, you got it.” -Josh

(For the second thing that makes Josh comb his chest hair, see “old car” below.)

Aqua Velva

aqua velva man

It’s one of the best forgotten drugstore colognes and aftershaves and a smell many commenters felt was truly virile. Said Joe, “Whenever I put some on after shaving, I feel manly and confident!”

Aqua Velva has become a go-to aftershave for me recently. Love how it smells and feels.

Baseball Glove


“I remember when I played in Little League there was no smell like putting your glove on your face: leather, dirt, grass, sweat. Baseball is full of great manly smells.” -Sam

 The Interior of an Old Car


“Nothing beats getting into an old car (that hasn’t been completely restored from the ground up) and taking a big ol’ whiff and just smelling the years.” -Josh



“Anything to do with horses…dried manure, saddle leather, wet saddle blankets, even the smell of hay and sweet feed.” -Kerry

Locker Room


“I can’t believe no one mentioned the smell of a change room after a game of rugby. Sweat, grass, blood, and Deep Heat and after the showers, various types of stinkpretty. Just the smell of a change room almost has the power to impregnate any females passing by.” -Ben

Old Tackle Box


“The smell of the metal on old, worn-out pocket knives mixed with the remains of earthworms on fish hooks just brings me right back to fishing with my grandpa as a young buck.” -Mark

Construction Site


“The smell of a rough framed house, before the exterior doors, windows, and roofing are installed.” -Kerry

“Cutting steel with a torch. Creosote timber. That deep-down earth smell when excavating. Wet concrete. Someone mentioned construction site, but I figured it needed fleshing out!” -Jim



Many people couldn’t believe we left bacon off the original list…we can’t believe it either! One of my fondest memories as a kid was spending Thanksgiving at my grandpa’s ranch in Bosque Farms, NM. Every morning I’d wake up to the smell of pan fried bacon, pancakes, and black coffee. That’s what heaven smells like.

Navy Ships


“The smell of warship. Having spent a lot of time at sea when I was in the US Navy, when I visit a warship museum such as USS Midway, the first thing I notice is the smell. Kind of a paint, hydraulic fluid, boiler exhaust, salt air mix.” -Perry

“I’m an old navy guy too and after 35 years I can still remember that smell. Red lead paint, bunker oil, steam, food from the galley, and gunpowder. Add several hundred – or several thousand – tired and often scared people. Put it all in a steel box and seal it up from the sunlight and fresh air. I visited the USS Texas about 15 years ago. She’d been cold iron since the late 1940s but when I went below decks I could still smell the ghost of that smell in the air.” -Dave



“Another one is the smell of newsprint. My dad would sit on the couch after work (whence by the way, he would come home smelling of machine grease) and read the paper, back in the days when the paper would really leave some color on your hands. I would sit next to him and that newsprint aroma would waft out when he spread the pages wide open. In the winter, he’d light an old kerosene heater just before he settled down to the paper. Talk about being engulfed in manliness.” -Hawkins

Splitting Firewood


“Hand splitting of firewood. You can’t use an electric or gas powered log splitter and get the same effect. From the metallic smell you get stuck in your nose as you use the double action file to restore the edge on your decades-old axe, to the one-of-a-kind aroma released by a length of red oak as it is cleaved in two, right on down to the combined smell of dank bark chips stuck to your sweaty flannel shirt. Much like the lawn mowing smell, I like to pause to enjoy it.” -Dave

Bay Rum


“Bay Rum shaving soap. The kind you have to whip to a lather with a badger hair brush. It is a clean, woodsy, herbal scent (yes it goes nicely with Old Spice) and women LOVE it.” -Dave

“Bay Rum. That’s one of the main ingredients in making a barber shop smell manly!” -Seth

The history of bay rum is as manly as it smells. Several centuries ago, sailors in the Caribbean had the idea to mix bay leaves and rum together to create a cologne that helped cover their stench on long voyages. Islanders took this basic recipe and began adding their own olfactory flourishes by mixing in cloves, citrus rind, and cinnamon. Thus was born an incredibly unique and wonderful fragrance that spread to the rest of the world and became popular among men as an aftershave scent and as a staple at classic barbershops. These days it’s having a resurgence as men rediscover the ritual of wet shaving

Canvas Tents


The distinct smell of canvas tents — a mixture of the scent of the fabric and a mildewy musk — was indelible for several commenters, whether associated with camping or life in the Army. This smell reminds me of Boy Scout camp in Colorado.

Burning Leaves


“Here’s a smell that’s hardly ever smelt these days. Probably because it’s illegal, but I loved the smell of burning leaves in the Autumn. It’s a shame kids these day won’t get to experience it.” -Gregg

I’m one of those “kids” who have never experienced the smell of burning leaves in the fall. Most cities in the US had banned it by the time I was born in 1982. My parents have told me about autumn leaf burnings. For about a month, all you could smell in most North American neighborhoods was the smell of burning leaves. I imagine it would have smelled like a campfire, magnified by ten. If you want to experience this smell today, just throw some leaves on your campfire the next time you build one.


Two Odes to Manly Smells

There were a couple of comments that listed a myriad of manly smells, and did so in a way that was down right poetic. Enjoy these two evocative odes to manly smells.

“The smell of a long used wood frame, dirt floored garage.
Canvas tents on a warm summer night
Coleman lanterns pushing the darkness back
The differing smells of ammunition being reloaded
A salt marsh, lake, river, pond or stream at dawn
The woods at dusk.
Driftwood burning on the beach
Lava Soap, the bar not that new fangled pump stuff
An old bar, well kept but permeated with the smells of constant patronage
Leather being worked into various items.
The fixative applied to old black and white Polaroid pictures.
An 16 mm movie projector running.
A flash bulb just after it it’s gone off.”

-Tom R.

“Loads of great memories here. Add a few more, some subtle like:
fresh maple syrup in the morning when my dad made pancakes (or the smell of ANYTHING cooking for breakfast after a long night camping);
the whiff of scent of a freshly lit Zippo lighter;
the faint ozone and oil of slot car racing or model railroad engines;
that sweet airplane glue or the clear dope you painted on tissue paper covered balsa airplane wings;
and Cox model airplane fuel burning in a micro two-stroke spittin’ and barking in your hands.
The sulphur of model rocket engines when they launch;
the fresh pigskin smell of a brand new football.
The grassy plastic smell of “Jarts” on a summer afternoon before do-gooders made them illegal.
And a few not so subtle:
August-hot creosote on the fresh telephone poles my dad would climb when he was a lineman;
the smell of engine, black grease, dust and the acres and acres of crop you were working under your grampa’s tractor when he trusted you to do the field when you were just 11 years old;
black powder smoke from the shooter’s point of view on a firing line of muskets in a Civil War reenactment;
ether engine starter spray;
waterproofing on G.I. tent halves;
mothproofing stuff on canvas webgear and new uniforms;
LSA cleaning solvent for your M-16 or M-60 (and the sulfur, burning grass, and white-hot metal smell whenever you had to change barrels);
deuce-and-a-half diesel exhaust; the smell of the inside of your combat helmet (the steel pot kind);
jet exhaust, dust and just a hint of somebody else’s barf as you exit the tail of a C-130 over a blistering hot tarmac – weird as it might sound, still striking good manly memory smells.”

-B.S. Whitmore

{ 154 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve July 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Good call on the cockpit smell. Or really any part of the fuselage–bunch of guys in IBA sitting across from each other in a loud C-130 over a hot desert. That’s a smell you don’t soon forget!

2 Michael Brokate July 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

You forgot gunpowder! Nothing smells more manly than a good whiff of powder.

3 Lane July 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

the smell of tubes heated up inside an amplifier, it reminds me that its real, just like things were in the 50s and 60s, and not just digital

4 andyinsdca July 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I’ll second the “Navy ship” smell. I haven’t been on a ship since I got out of the Navy in Aug 95, was on the USS Midway for July 4 fireworks and the smells came right back to me.

5 Richard Williams July 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Freshwater fish, just caught and taken off the hook.

6 Steve July 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm

A codicil to the oil, gasoline and grease smell of a garage: the sharp,pungency of new, rubber tires. My grandfather ran the local John Deere tractor dealership when I was a kid and visiting him at the shop was an event. Those monster tires and machines, serviced by laconic rugged men, bought by other men just as laconic, their pickups smelling of hay–takes me back just thinking of it!

7 Daniel July 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Nothing beats the smell of jet exhaust!

8 Rob July 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm

You forgot my favorite. Freshly cut grass mixed with lawnmower exaust. I know its weird, but that is one of my all time favorite smells.

9 Adam Casalino July 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm

How ’bout the smell of a steak or burger roasting on the grill? The sizzling of meaty fat is to die for.

Also, for me, the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil. As an artist, it’s a smell I experience regularly and makes me feel connected to the ancient and manly practice of drawing.

10 Jim Collins July 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Esteemed Smellers,

I will address this subject as an aspect of manly sensuality. Men have tended, sadly, to renounce the notion of being sensualists. I hereby announce with pride that I love to smell the world. I’ve a particular fondness for petunias – how manly is that? I’m glad that a couple of boys and a young man see me take the time to put my nose to those petunias each time I pass our front door. Fresh bread — that smell is a miracle. I must limit my enthusiastic enumeration both out of respect for the readers and because I am inviting all readers of AoM to direct their noses to the world.

Smell is our most primitive sense. By that I mean that before there were eyes and ears and tactile sensors in our ancestors, they were engaged ( as our molecular phylogeny tells us ) in positive and negative chemo-taxis. That is to say, even bacteria had motives for tending towards some chemicals and avoiding others. Smell interacts more directly with our emotions than our other senses, and is more ineffable. It was not until the 1990s that an understanding of how we can recognize tens of thousands of scents with only about a thousand genes for olfactory receptors. The scientists who unraveled this mystery were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology and medicine. The recipients were Richard Axel and the Grande Dame Linda Buck, whom I was privileged to hear speak several times in grad-school.

One of the most powerful impacts smell has on a man’s life is in sex. I needn’t elaborate here – you know what I’m saying. I hesitate to wash my face afterwards and lose carrying the smell with me. Like the moon’s face changes with the passing of the month, your lover’s smell changes – pay attention. Working out afterwards the heat raises the smell again and makes me very glad to be alive.

Culturally, different attitudes towards personal smell have been the basis of prejudice which I think we ought to consider carefully. There was a time when a common complaint about Southern Europeans was that they smelled of garlic. On this note, I ask all readers to consider whether it is responsible to wear artificial scents, colognes for instance. Most would agree that it is inappropriate to play music loudly on the bus or at work – others have no choice but to hear it. Why then is it acceptable to impose scents on our fellows, particularly since these same scents are making people physically ill? I’m not making that up: the Center for Disease Control informs us that 1 to 2% of people experience symptoms ranging from coughing, sneezing, gagging, shortness of breath, rhinitis and asthma attacks, to debilitating headaches, anxiety and dizziness. Is that a nice thing to do to people?

Animals smell the world, and if we do not pay attention to our noses we cannot be the good animals Emerson rightly enjoined us to be.


Jim Collins

11 Will July 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I can just picture myself finally being able to grow a beard if I could only manage to mix all those scents together and take a big whiff of it. Instant lumber jack the bear wrestler.

12 Steven P July 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Should have stopped at the car smells. I love cars. Unfortunately I can’t really smell very well, my sense of smell being weak. Oh well.

Now for an article on manly sounds? My vote goes for a car engine.

13 Alex July 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

There aren’t many smells on that list that I’m particularly familiar with.

One scent that I particularly enjoy and brings back some great memories is the smell of PA speakers and other instrument speakers being pushed hard. If memory serves the smell is Ozone but the memories that go along with that scent, being in a small room with 3 to 4 other guys creating music that is completely new and never to be heard again is a memory not soon forgotten.

14 Chad July 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm

My dad was in the navy when I was a kid and to this day, the smell of tar reminds me of the sea and going down to the docks to meet his ship.

15 Jake C July 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Two lists, can’t believe no one has brought up Diesel

16 Rob July 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Steve- Looks like someone has been brushing up on their SAT words!

I’ll add the smell of a hot shower on cold glass. It’s kinds like cold rain on hot asphalt (known as Petrichor) but different. It brings me back to washing windows with real hot water its a smell of work and isolated mornings. That, or my morning shower.

17 Erik July 8, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Hoppes #9

18 steve July 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm

my Grandfather was a watch/clock repairman, and the oil-tools-solvent is an awesome smell( with some cigar smoke thrown in also),
I’ve taken up repairing old clocks, and try as I might the smell from years ago just keeps eluding me.

19 Shaun S. July 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I have a few. New Craftsman screw drivers. Money. Old ford trucks seats. WD 40. I think someone mentioned the tractor dealership, but the smell of a John Deere while plowing after a nice little rain = heaven.

20 Will July 8, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Marine fuel. I don’t honestly know why but it smells different in a boat. Dad ran a Service station when I was a kid, I ran around locking and unlocking the pumps for people as a kid wearing a Chevy Jumper my Mom made for me. I was serious business and the smell of gas and oil is very familiar. But something about the fuel smell coming from boats just always gives me fits of nostalgia.

21 Bob Peterson July 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Hoppes #9 bore cleaning solvent, gun oil and new mowed hay.

22 Scott July 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I normally just go for a splash of brut and be done with it.

Although, i do like the sound of splitting firewood before meeting up with my mrs!


23 Andrew July 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Diesel and cigarettes on hot asphalt.

Stubble fields and dust.

An well-used ill-kept saltwater boat.

Fresh beer on someone’s breath.

24 steven July 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I love the smell of slow cooked ribs. The smoke from applewood or hickory, the fresh ribs, the smell of homemade barbecue sauce. It is an undoubtedly mouthwatering and manly smell.

25 Hollis Webb July 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Nailed it. The post AND the comments. I’ve heard that the sense of smell is the closest to memory. Is nostalgia manly? I’d add to the list pine from any part of the country–the sweet, sticky smell that gets all over you from burning tinder of a campfire.

26 jerry July 8, 2013 at 9:11 pm

The smell of linseed oil being hot hand rubbed into the stock of an m-14 rifle by 13 marines just after at 3 day ambush. We all lived.

27 jerry July 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm

4711 cologne…reminds me of my youthful good looks and beautiful women turning and looking at me in uniform. I wish I knew then that I would someday become a decent man.

28 Smerf July 8, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Fresh cut grass. Allergies be damned, that’s a great smell!

29 Samuel V. July 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Another one: smell of army surplus store. Reminds me of my teenage years, going with my dad and checking out all the stuff they had there, with him explaining every detail about how some of the items were (or are) used. Good times.

30 Brian July 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Hoppes #9, Fresh Cut Grass, Old Baseball Glove

31 Ben Callicoat July 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Apropos of black coffee:

The late, great John Senior on Cowboy Coffee:

“The immediate (practical) purpose of drinking a cup of coffee is to wash the biscuit down; the proximate (ethical), the intimate communion of, say, cowboys standing around a campfire in a drenching rain, water curling off their Stetsons, over yellow slickers, splashing on the rowels of spurs, their faces creased with squinting at the sun, drawing the bitter liquid down their several throats into the single moral belly of their comradeship. The remote (political) purpose of coffee at the campfire, especially in the rain, is the making of Americans — born on the frontier, free, frank, friendly, touchy about honor, despisers of fences, lovers of horses, worshippers of eagles and women. Nations have their drinks: the English, tea, the Irish, whiskey, the Germans, beer. Drinking coffee from a can is us. The ultimate purpose is mystical. To drink a can of coffee with the cowboys in the rain is as Odysseus said of Alcinous’s banquet: “something like perfection.”

32 little b July 8, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Shoe polish

33 Jeff July 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Hoppe’s #9 Gun Cleaning Solvent

34 Mark July 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm

VHT traction compound, any weekend at the drag strip isn’t complete without a deep inhale of that wonderful aroma.

35 Nathan Magnuson July 8, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Fresh cut grass and old, sweat stained football shoulder pads!

36 Willy July 8, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Coal fire smoke from the forge, Iron, cold and hot. Pine tar soap, pine tar on cross country skis (40 years ago), pine tar on horse hooves.

37 Mladen July 8, 2013 at 10:47 pm

GUNPOWDER !!! the manliest smell of them all

38 Kevin July 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Before you smell the fresh split Oak, you smell the sawdust as you buck it. I also submit the smell of a fresh killed and dressed deer. The mixture of the musk and blood odors is unique in this world. I also didn’t see mentioned pipe smoke or cigar smoke, both definitely manly smells.
Going back to my Navy days, the mixture of JP5 and seawater when running the unrep refueling rigs is an odor I remember fondly. There are many smells from my Navy days. How about this one for you Old Salts; the smell of the freshly issued dungarees. Unforgettable.

39 Brian July 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm

To me nothing beats the the smell of diesel smoke and hay dust mingled together while the slow chugging of the baler tries to lull you to sleep.

40 Ryan July 8, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Here’s some: Clubman, gunpowder, CLP (military people know,) sandalwood, whiskey, tires, killed game, leather, cigars, pipes, Humvees.

41 Zach S July 8, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I agree with cutting torch, but this particular article reeks of “golden age” mentality. Canvas tents smell of mold, there is nothing charming about that other than that it is familiar to your grandfather. Aqua velva smells of players from the 1980s and sleazy commercials. How about smells related to masculine activities now? Cutting torch and welding smoke was on the right track. Maybe the smell of shotgun shells? That is timeless. Hoppes No 9? Ditto. The sawdust from a chainsaw. Smoked Sockeye. Tundra. A tundra fire. Those are manly smells.

42 Ken July 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Hoppes #9 (females aught to use it as perfume).
Gun smoke.
Field Kill.
Snow-go/boat/airplane/vehicle smells.
Stretched fur drying.
Carhart horse blanket coat as a pillow.
Perking Coffee.
Dutch oven cobbler.
Smoke from a dampered down wood stove door being opend.
A barn.
Cut hay/grass.
Mountain stream.
Mountain air.
The woods, especially when damp.
Nitro/Race fuel and burning rubber.
Av fuel/jet fuel/Round engines firing up.
Steel being worked.
Cutting wood (chain or Skil)
Home and the smells a good women will will caused to come out of her kitchen!
Especially the scent of my wife in my arms.

43 Bill July 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Cigars should be on this list.

44 Jonathan Gerber July 9, 2013 at 12:16 am

One of my favorite smells: a freshly opened can of tennis balls! Brings back good summer memories of playing evening games of tennis with my dad.

45 Richie Richardson July 9, 2013 at 12:48 am

you Missed the smell of sweat. It is the most manly smell of all.

46 Frankie Karbitz July 9, 2013 at 12:54 am

Old books.
New books.
Unfired tobacco.
Burning tobacco.
Wild hops.
Oil paints and turpentine.
Freshly cloven wood.

47 Morgan July 9, 2013 at 1:50 am

For me, gunpowder is one of the manliest scents out there. The smell not only reminds me of hunting elk with my muzzleloader, but also my six years working as a professional pyrotechnician. There’s nothing quite like standing in the smokey silence in the moments right after the grande finale. Ears ringing, adrenaline finally wearing off. The scent of that moment is completely intoxicating, and combined with the feel of sticky, dirty sweat on your brow in the July heat, and the salty taste of ash in your mouth, you can’t help but feel like a man. The addictive effect of firework smoke has been immortalized in the Pyrotechnician’s Motto: “He who hath smelt the smoke is ne’er again free.”

48 Jim July 9, 2013 at 2:46 am

“Petrichor,” which is the smell of the first drops of rain on dust or hot pavement.

49 Seth July 9, 2013 at 4:34 am

Gun oil, cordite, Brut 33, cigar smoke, Ralgex (liniment), the mud that falls off the bottom of football boots, real ale, wet hessian (sandbags), bracken.

50 Ryan July 9, 2013 at 5:24 am

I love the smell of a good old fashioned coal fire and newly forged metal.

51 Dave S. July 9, 2013 at 5:52 am

The smell of gas/oil pre-mix exhaust from a 2-stroke dirt bike. Nothing like being out with a group of friends exploring the woods on bikes. Great times.

52 andy July 9, 2013 at 5:59 am

Old car smells might be ok if you have the right metal, go for a ride on an old motorcycle and you will get the lot. Smoke of all kinds, flowering trees and plants, turned earth, fuel burning vehicles of various states of use and sweet fresh air among it all dunno how manly it is but its all there, very underated sense is our smell.

53 Eric July 9, 2013 at 6:09 am

The smell of a freshly struck strike-anywhere match…..Always brings me back to camping or lighting a cigar or pipe.

54 Mark July 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

A coal fire in my forge.
Steam engine trains.
Sea air.
Mountain air after an autumn rain.
Camp breakfast.

55 Henry July 9, 2013 at 6:28 am

Yeah, as many of the above manly men have pointed out, I can’t believe you guys left out outdoor cooking/grilling.

Another one is the smell of gadgets and electronics- some you remember walking into Circuit City (where service is state of the art) and immediately thinking about your father’s new computer or gadgets.

A man’s office is another good one. The smell of older, leather-bound books, mahogony, maybe his computuer hardware. For me, the smell of faded cologne and concentration.

56 Dustin July 9, 2013 at 6:33 am

Machine shop smell. I’m a machinist and when I come home my wife hugs me and inhales. She says there’s nothing sexier than a man that smells like oil and hot metal.

57 Sahaj July 9, 2013 at 6:39 am

Ancient Indian medicine called “Ashwagandha” – literal translation “smell of stallion”

58 Kevin July 9, 2013 at 6:46 am

The smell of a field of freshly mowed alfalfa hay. I don’t live on a farm any more but every time I drive through the country in the summer and inhale that smell it takes me back to my youth and mowing those fields. And I do agree with the garage/car smells

59 Jason Gaines July 9, 2013 at 6:50 am

NAPALM…in the morning.

But seriously, great post. Thinking of these smells brings back a lot of great memories; especially the baseball glove.

60 Brendan July 9, 2013 at 7:01 am

A garden shed with the mix of fertilizer, dust, tools, and oil.

61 Charlie July 9, 2013 at 7:13 am

For me I Love the smell of Hops. I brew my own beer at home and when I open a packet of hops the first thing I have to do is smell it. I try to get my wife to smell but she doesn’t understand.

62 Rich Heaston July 9, 2013 at 7:17 am

Nothing better than the smell of my grandpa’s pipe tobacco. He’d always give me a whiff when opening a new pouch.

63 Skweekah July 9, 2013 at 7:18 am

Petrichor, nothing more manly than Petrichor. Rain, pavement, dust. That is some manly stuff.

64 MatthewSD July 9, 2013 at 7:41 am

Pipe tobacco

The air in the seconds before a summer downpour

Pine and cedar wood

Tomato plants (Not tomato flesh, but the stem and leaves of the plant itself)

Crabs – Freshly pulled up crabs have a brackish water, mud smell to them that is so unique

Zatarain’s Crab Boil – Reminds me of my grandfather and father on those lazy summer family crawfish, shrimp, and crab boils.

65 ronfurg July 9, 2013 at 7:53 am

Several guys mentioned baseball gloves, and I agree. But, I would also include the scent of a well-used Louisville Slugger. I love the smell of of that most wondrous application of ash.

66 Holli July 9, 2013 at 7:56 am

Freedent chewing gum and Grain Bins. My dad aways keeps a pack of Freedent, along with a pen and notepad, in the chest pocket of his western shirts. He manages a seed processing plant, and comes home for lunch everyday. My sister and I would always run to the door and greet him with a hug. My cheek came up to his chest pocket, where I was always greeted with the smell of Freedent and the earthy aroma of grain.

67 Rob July 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

My Grandfather used to roll his own cigarettes. When he opened the top to the large tin of tobacco, the smell filled the room. To this day (sadly) when I open a packet of cigarettes, the smell of the unlit tobacco reminds me of him.

68 jim July 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

I am not affiliated with this company other than we are in the same town but they do offer a product along these lines. Exceptional Masculine Fragrances (candles, etc) – Humidor, Fairway, Leather, Kona, etc. Valor Candles http://www.valorcandles.com/category_s/49.htm

69 DJ July 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

I know its not a widely known smell, but the cockpit and warship made me think of the smell inside a tank turret. The memory of the smell of sweat and dirt baked into the seats, the combination of gunpowder, chordite (used in the rounds), with the faint scent of hydraulic fluid bring back some memories of the group of men I worked and fought along side for several years. I still miss that job.

70 Stuart July 9, 2013 at 8:47 am

Another great post. Than you Brett and Kate. Since I was a boy, I’ve always loved this poem:


by Christopher Morley.

Why is it that the poet tells
So little of the sense of smell?
These are the odors I love well:

The smell of coffee freshly ground;
Or rich plum pudding, holly crowned;
Or onions fried and deeply browned.

The fragrance of a fumy pipe;
The smell of apples, newly ripe;
And printer’s ink on leaden type.

Woods by moonlight in September
Breathe most sweet, and I remember
Many a smoky camp-fire ember.

Camphor, turpentine, and tea,
The balsam of a Christmas tree,
These are whiffs of gramarye. . .
A ship smells best of all to me!

71 Thom V. July 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

There truly is an interesting correlation between specific smells and ideals pertaining to manhood. I suspect there is a story with all of this that hasn’t been told yet.

72 Robert July 9, 2013 at 9:23 am

Cigars and pipe tobacco, how could these not be on the list? Also, old time hardware store! No mega stores here. Your local small hardware store, to me,is the epitome of manly smell!

73 Moeregaard July 9, 2013 at 10:02 am

Ditto with the old-car interior, particularly British ones. The smell of old leather, gasoline, that on oil leak you can never find–it all just works. Another is the smell of 100LL aviation gasoline. Since it still contains a TON of lead, it has that really cool smell those of us lucky enough to remember the “Ethyl” pump will instantly recognize. Standing behind a friend’s 1958 Cessna 310B during startup brought it all back!

74 Samuel Warren July 9, 2013 at 10:13 am

My Dad’s truck always smelled of fresh cut sawdust mixed with sweat. It’s an interesting salty mixed with wood smell that I never will forget.

75 Bryan Bailey July 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

The old smoke house. I didn’t notice anybody having mentioned the smell of an old smoke house in the country. When I was a kid visiting the grandparents’ farms, the smoke house had an almost mystic lure about it. You could catch the scent just passing by. Papaw Bailey’s hadn’t been used in years. But that wonderful smell never leaves as long as it’s still standing. The mixture of curing salt and smoke infused into countless carcasses of hand raised hogs, slaughtered and dressed on a cold morning. It attaches itself to every fiber of wood in the smoke house which stands as a monument to the farmer’s hard work years after he’s gone.

76 Mountainman Sam July 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

I agree with pretty much all the add-ons but along the lines of the Horse, I’d also add the smell of a working ranch. The mingling of cow breath with the smoke of a branding iron and role-yer-own cigarets and old men spittin’ chew and the dust off the cattle as they move along mixed with the sweet smell of dried manure rising in the air and the leather of your saddle plus the sweat of horses and men baked by the hot Summer sun…Now that’s a manly smell!

77 Tim Hardy July 9, 2013 at 11:15 am

Great lot of smells but surely leather should feature more :)

78 Bryan Bailey July 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

The most manly smell I know, my father.
My dad ran a sawmill supply business for his entire working life and new every piece of every saw and machine by heart. As a boy, I would watch for him to come walking up the street after work and meet him at the door with a hug when he got home.
And for a moment, I enjoyed the most comforting smell in my world. His jacket, his clothes, and his skin, all shared the smell of his life. It was the faded smell of the aftershave he used that morning. It was the smell of Brylcreem in his hair. It was the smell of JFG Coffee. It was the smell of the many Camel cigarettes he smoked that day. It was the smell of chainsaw gas and bar chain oil and of saw dust. It was the smell of a dark, musty warehouse full of lumber equipment waiting to be used. It was the smell of a tiny office visited by countless lumber men for so many decades.
It was the smell of a man who carried a quiet, constant love for his wife and children and home. It was the smell of a man whose sole commitment was to provide for those of us who depended on him for so much.

79 Victor July 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

The smell of Bactine, or isopropol alcohol. Nothing cleans a wound like them. Worn boxing gloves and a beat up heavy bag come to mind (Mine are in a very old wood framed garage that’s seen its fair share).

80 vel July 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

oh yes, the canvas smell. Add that to a little sweat, motor oil, and a bit of cordite smell and you have my husband just come home from his two weeks Reserve camp (combat engineer). Growwwl.

I’d add Boraxo and Lava soap, silage and even a bit of manure.

81 hexi July 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

diesel smoke on a cold morning.

used to do medieval re-enactment. First year, husband didn’t do the fighting. Rest of the guys went off to play soldier. Husband stayed in camp and split wood like the massively muscled farmboy he was. With all the appreciative ladies.

82 Jim July 9, 2013 at 11:46 am

WD-40. There are products that I like better for doing the things that it’s supposed to do, but none of them smell nearly as good.

83 Margo July 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Very emotionally packed article! Love it!
Gave me goosbumps, especially splitting firewood, old car and dirt.

84 TOS July 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

The memory of raking and burning leaves in the fall is one of my favorites. The chill of the air was lessened when you stood near the burning pile. The smokey smell stayed on our clothes and in our hair till bath time. My young son lamented that he couldn’t experience this. So, i loaded up the grill with dry leaves, and burned them. We had so much fun enjoying the smell, and my memories of the 50′s as we drank apple cider.

85 Ara Bedrossian July 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I’m with Charlie. Hops are floral, yet manly. And the sweet smell of the mash…barley starches being converted to sugars as you change cereal grains to create something new. That’s man right there.

86 Toni July 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Any sort of meat grilling or in the smoker.

For those of us that have kids: Babies. Coz, I made that!

87 Tim July 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Paint drying in the sun on an old fence, mixed with the smell of your sweat because you spent all day on it.

88 Matt July 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm

The smell (and accompanying burn in the back of the throat) of burnt racing fuel coming out of the side pipes on my dad’s big block Corvette.

89 Randy July 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

The smell of a freshly sharpened pencil is, to me, the smell of “I’m about to get something done.” Whether that is writing a simple note or marking wood with a construction pencil that smell triggers TCB (Taken Care of Business).

90 Tucker July 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Being in the Navy, I love the smell of ships. I also love the smell of gunpowder and of my diesel truck.

91 Taylor July 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

+1 on the tube smell!!

Might be weird but I’ve always been enticed by the smell of old/beatup/vintage electric guitars, their cases, and their accompanying amplifiers. There’s just something about the smell of a closet queen guitar that has been well played but left in a case for a while, or a guitar amp that just got fired up but has been sitting in a basement for ages. I love those smells.

92 Dan C. July 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Campfire. It has a very distinct scent from other fires, including in a fireplace.

Charcoal, for grilling. Whether for grilling our smoking, that woodsy tone just can’t be beat.

93 Rob Clinton July 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Oh man, I can remember old spice. That was my grandpa’s smell, and in grandma and grandmas house there are many old smells that I can almost pick-up but can’t fully describe, but as a kid naturally would have taken for granted… I still have some of their old books and even grandpa’s cribbage set, and when I open them, I can smell them and everything about that old house that brings a kid back to playing his siblings and cousins.

Also, I like how you put Aqua Velva… That smell takes me back to Parris Island, on graduation day.

94 Donald July 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm

New car tires. Just had a new set put on the Jeep two weeks ago and the garage smelled like new tires for several days. Great smell.

95 Daryl Bernhardt July 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Carnauba Wax. Need I say more? Perhaps one of the most appealing smells out there.

96 minuteman July 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Great comments. Bringing back all kinds of memories. Smells are great at making me remember times past. I still go camping every year as a 50 year old, but every time I smell Pic mosquito coils I am a 10 year old boy at the family camp in northern Ontario. The smell of the exhaust of a diesel bus takes me back to my time as a tank commander.

97 Scott Simpson July 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Reminds me of the funny video we showed in church this past Father’s Day called “Mandles: Candles for Men”. It highlighted a lot of these smells and really struck a chord with the men ‘cuz it’s true! You can see the vid on You Tube http://youtu.be/u-6ph7NWoBM

I second the comment about freshly cut grass.

98 ken July 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Opening the summer cottage Memorial weekend!

99 Obsidian July 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Fast Orange hand cleaner, the gritty orange soap you use to get grease off your hands from working on your truck all day.

Also, 2nd on gunpowder and new tires.

100 ken July 9, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Furniture refinishing chemicals.
My dad was a furniture craftsmen and refinished furniture on the side. Probably not the best stuff for a kid to be around but I like the smell of turpentine and shellac.

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