TNF Founder Douglas Tompkins, 1943 – 2015

Douglas Tompkins, founder of outdoors juggernaut The North Face, died today. He was 71.

Doug Kris Tompkins
Douglas Tompkins and wife Kris; photo by Sam Beebe / Wikimedia Commons.

Tompkins is remembered not only for his huge contribution to the outdoors gear world, but also for his exceptional contributions to environmental conservation.

Tompkins died following a kayaking accident in Patagonia. He capsized in rough weather on Lake General Carrera with five companions around 11 a.m. He was airlifted to Coyhaique Regional Hospital. He died of severe hypothermia at 6:30 p.m.

According to The New York Times, the entire party capsized. A military patrol boat rescued three of the boaters, and a helicopter lifted out the other three, it said. No one else was seriously injured.

Tompkins co-founded The North Face with Kenneth “Hap” Klopp in 1964. He later founded the popular 80’s brand ESPRIT clothing with his then-wife Susie. The North Face is now one of the largest brands in the outdoors world and is widely recognized as a leader in high tech apparel and equipment. Tompkins has also dedicated much of his life to environmental activism. He and his wife Kris are credited with preserving millions of acres of wilderness in Chile and Argentina. The couple was dedicated to park creation, wildlife recovery, ecological agriculture and activism.

They also ran Tompkins Conservation, an environmental group aimed at protecting land in Argentina and Chile.

We recognize Tompkin’s tremendous contribution to outdoors recreation, and pass our condolences to his family.

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Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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