A man that makes his solitary living in wilderness of Canada or the northern US, most often as trapper or hunter. One of the most recognizable characters in Westerns, the Mountain Man is always presented as a large man, covered from head to toe in fur and skins, even in seasons and areas where these would not be needed. When they want to get fancy, they'll wear fringes as well. The whole ensemble is often topped with a coonskin cap.
They also usually sport a very large beard and rather long hair, though if they are the main character they will often have no beard, or a much smaller, scruffier one.
Common equipment includes various traps, a rifle (often anachronistic), and of course a really big knife, either a Bowie Knife or an Arkansas Toothpick.
When they are the heroes of the piece, they are often employed as scouts or trackers.
As the heyday of mountain trappers was before that of cattle drives, he may be visibly older than the cowboys and other stock characters. His gun will often be out of date (as previously noted) and he may speak in a strange or antiquated way.
They are often shown alternating between fighting and hanging out with the local natives, sometimes doing both at the same time with two different tribes. Their other common enemy is the grizzly bear, and they are often shown killing them in hand to hand combat.
In newer media they are often portrayed having native wives. This was quite common historically but didn't appear in many older works due to stronger interracial marriage taboos than now.
- Wolverine breathes this trope, coming from the mountains of Canada. He's from Northern Alberta, which isn't exactly mountainous, but is inhospitable as anything.
- Robin: Tim comes across an odd long haired leather wearing old man in Appalachia who lives off the land and avoids all but the outskirts of civilization while Tim is trying to track a gun smuggler to his source. He quickly learns that "Stephan" gets away with this due to his ill defined powers that can make the forests into an Extra-Dimensional Shortcut.
- Jeremiah Johnson from the movie of the same name is probably one of the most famous examples of this character, he in turn is based of the real life John Johnson, or Liver Eatin' Johnson.
- Jeremiah from Grizzly Mountain and Escape From Grizzly Mountain. In these movies, Jeremiah is actually friendly with a bear — who he called Jack. In the latter, he helps a future boy rescue a bear from his abusive owners.
- The bearded, burly Hill Folk in Matewan, who only once come off of the high mountains to chase the Company men away because their cars "make too much noise". When asked how old their rifles are, they respond "from the war...between the states". The movie is set in 1920.
- Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles who speaks only "Authentic Frontier Gibberish".
- Leonardo DiCaprio plays legendary mountain man Hugh Glass in The Revenant, about how Glass was mauled by a bear, before miraculously recovering and seeking revenge on those who left him for dead.
- Diesel Buchanon, from Joan Hess's Maggody mysteries, is a non-period parody of this. He lives in a cave in the Ozarks, scares backpackers, and subsists on squirrels and roadkill.
- The outdoor humorist Patrick McManus often writes about his youthful adventures with the local mountain man, Rancid Crabtree.
- The poetry of Robert W Service features many of these. You'll probably only recognize The Cremation of Sam McGee.
- Robert E. Howard's Breckenridge Elkins: a 19th century Mountain Man, Played for Laughs and, although not well known now, at the time of his death, Howard's most popular character. These days it's Conan the Barbarian.
- Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods begins with the author detailing how his wish to become more of an outdoorsman led to him setting out to hike the Appalachian Trail.
"Daniel Boone didn't just wrestle bears, but tried to date their sisters."
- Alan Dean Foster wrote a series of short stories about Mad Amos Malone, a Genius Bruiser mountain man who wandered the west from Colorado to Hawaii and had a variety of supernatural adventures (fighting a Chinese dragon that was robbing stagecoaches, challenging an malevolent spirit to an insult contest, protecting an Indian Burial Ground from railroad developers, etc) with his Cool Horse, Worthless (1/4 Clydesdale, 1/4 Arabian, 1/4 Mustang, 1/4 Unicorn).
- James 'Grizzly' Adams and Mad Jack from The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.
- Joe Crane from The Saga Of Andy Burnett from Disneyland (who also appeared in a few episodes Disney's Zorro TV series).
- Earthquake from the MacGyver (1985) episode "The Spoilers" is a modern day mountain man.
- The villain of the week in the Highlander episode 'Mountain Man' was one. There were two, actually, Caleb Cole and the guy he killed, Carl the Hermit, who taught Duncan how to track. Caleb then got out-tracked,out-fought and beheaded by Macleod after kidnapping Tessa-instant Berserk Button for Duncan.
- In the Frontier Circus episode "The Shaggy Kings", Ben and Tony team up with a group of buffalo hunters. This includes an old mountain man named Tiber who laments how the West has changed since he first arrived.
- In the Kung Fu two part episode "Beseiged" we meet Tamo, a Chinese mountain man who lives on Cold Mountain. He's in his mid-70s and can still kick most people's ass.
- On Northern Exposure a recurring character is Walt, a trapper in his mid 60s who becomes a love interest for local shopkeeper Ruth-Anne.
- Singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton (who wrote "Still Alive") bases his image around one of these. He has a coonskin cap and everything.
- Lots of newer indie folk artists in general lean towards this look (the male ones, at least). See Devendra Banhart, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Iron and Wine for a few examples.
- Dinosaur Jr. have a song called "Mountain Man" on their first album.
- Seattle grunge band TAD were often marketed◊ as being forest-dwelling lumberjack types early in their career, even though they were actually all suburban kids.
- Jethro Tull's song "Mountain Men" from their album Crest of a Knave. Ian Anderson being Scottish, it is, of course, about the Highlanders.
- Parodied in The Far Side with "Seymour Frishberg: Accountant of the Wild Frontier," who totes his briefcase up mountain ridges.
- The mascot for the West Virginia University Mountaineers is the platonic ideal of this trope, complete with a black powder musket that is fired off during sports events.
- Ned and Colton White from the game GUN are both portrayed as mountain men, (although Colton ends up going through nearly every other western character trope, including ranch hand and member of the pony express.)
- Punch-Out!!'s Bear Hugger probably qualifies, but he isn't the enemy of the grizzly bear. He befriends 'em.
- Pokémon: The "Hiker", one of the many different standard Trainer types, is represented as cheerful, somewhat heavyset, bearded men in alpine gear, and universally found strolling up on high mountains and other difficult terrain to train their Rock- and Fighting-type Pokémon.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has the Mountaineer who lives on Mount Generic with his little daughter Jolene.
- In The Simpsons, the founder and namesake of Springfield was Jedediah Springfield, a mountain man who settled the untamed lands that would become the town and once killed a bear with his bare hands — or at least, that's how history recorded him. In reality, he was little more than a charlatan — and the bear killed him.
- Buckle from American Dad! is one of these. He used to be an "Imagineer" for Disney, which allowed him to build his Treehouse of Fun. He left civilization when Disney started stealing his dreams.
Buckle: No, seriously. They had this... machine.
- The "mountain men" proper (that is, fur company-contracted American men who trapped in the West) existed for a little over one generation in the 19th century, but had antecedents in the North American colonial period going back several centuries. The voyageur was essentially the same man, but 200 years earlier and Canadian French. They, in turn, descended from the coureurs des bois, who were independent rather than being tied to a particular fur company.
- One notable real life example is the enigmatic "Leatherman" (no, not that kind), who toured the northeastern United States in the late 19th century.
- The Devil's Brigade was the name of a U.S./Canadian joint special forces group during World War II. They recruited men from rural areas that were experienced in hunting and survival skills to fight in the cold harsh mountains of northern Italy.
- It was common for the first people traveling the Oregon Trail to hire mountain men as guides, but later they were replaced by books and at the migration's peak the wagon ruts were so deep they could be followed across the country. These ruts are still visible in parts of Wyoming.
- In 1984, a father and son pair of these abducted Olympic biathlete Kari Swenson while she was out for a training run, wanting a wife for the son. She was rescued after a harrowing 18 hours, but not before being shot, caught in the crossfire between her kidnappers and would-be saviors.
- In 1966, another one of these kidnapped Peggy Ann Bradnick as she walked home from school, for the same purpose. After 8 days, she was finally rescued and her abductor shot dead.
- Non-American examples:
- The Gurkhas. The ultimate men from the ultimate mountains.
- Italy has the Alpini, raised among the inhabitants of the Alps specifically to defend that border from Austro-Hungarian attacks in case of war. They're considered the mountain troops, and have managed to outfight the Red Army in winter (they had been sent to the Eastern Front in World War II with plans to deploy them in the Caucasus, and in the meantime they were deployed in the plains. They all happened to be very good skiers, and the Alps in winter are just as cold as Russian plains...).
- Austria-Hungary's Landesschützen/Kaiserschützen, originally a territorial militia, later Austria-Hungary counter to the Alpini. They finally fought each other during World War I, with both forces blowing up multiple mountains because it's easier to do that than to straight-out assaulting it, and found each others' Worthy Opponents.
- And, of course, Scots. The Scottish Highlands and the Peak District just over the border in Yorkshire are some of the most notoriously unforgiving terrain in Europe, more so than the Alps in some ways thanks to being right on the Atlantic coast.
- In Sweden a mountain man was a person who worked in the mountain iron mines, most famously in Berslagen and Dalarna. They were nearly always armed (since the Swedish Yeomen - much like the English - were required by law to own a certain set of weapons during the middle ages.) And occasionally used them against the King, the Sherriff, or anyone else they felt threatened their interests. Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson is the most famous example of a Swedish mountain man rebel. Sometimes however, they fought for the king, like in the case of Gustav Vasa and his Dalecarlians (men from Dalarna.) In a similar vein, people who had committed crimes would always received amnesty, if they took up work in a mountain mine (except if they had done murder or high treason.) Where they were guarded by "mountain soldiers" who most likely were serving a sentence themselves. Needless to say, they were not nice people.
- Fidel Castro and his guerrillas deliberately cultivated this image, when fighting the Cuban government forces from their mountain hideouts.