North Face founder dies in kayak accident

The US billionaire who founded outdoor clothing brand the North Face has died in an accident in Chile.    


Douglas Tompkins, 72, died of hypothermia after his kayak was capsized by strong waves on Lake General Carrera. Five companions were rescued.


Tompkins was a prominent conservationist who spent hundreds of millions of dollars on large tracts of Chilean and Argentine countryside, which he aimed to preserve in their natural state. He thus became on of the world’s largest private landowners.

Tompkins’ land in Chile alone was three times the size of the lake District National Park. It includes the stunning Pumalin Park – 1,120 sq miles of forest, lakes and fjords.

He co-founded The North Face in 1966 as a small shop in San Francisico, selling skiing and backpacking equipment. By the time he sold his stake in 1969, its innovative tent designs had helped make the brand a market leader.

Tompkins went on to co-found the Esprit brand, but in 1989 left the US to live in Patagonia, where he enjoyed hiking, kayaking and exploring. There he founded the Foundation for Deep Ecology in 1990. He explains the values behind his conservation work here.


• More details of Tompkins’ life and death here.