Tompkins, who created the company known for its jackets, parkas, and other outdoor gear in the 1960s, was kayaking with a group of people in the Patagonia region of Chile when his boat capsized, The New York Times reported. He was transported to a hospital, where he died of extreme hypothermia. His death was confirmed Wednesday by the environmental foundation he created with his wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins.
Tompkins, who also founded the brand Esprit with his first wife, was an avid conservationist. He moved to South America in the 1980s and poured his fortunes into buying land in Argentina and Chile, according to the BBC. He and his wife conserved about 2.2 million acres of land through various charitable trusts and efforts, according to a statement from The Tompkins Conservation. The group praised its benefactor as "one of the Earth’s foremost conservationists."
Tributes to the late founder were also posted on the brand's social media accounts early Wednesday.
"He was a passionate advocate for the environment, and his legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day," a post on North Face's Instagram account read.
We are all deeply saddened by the news of Doug Tompkins’ passing. Doug was special to many of us. He founded The North Face in 1966 as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. He was a passionate advocate for the environment, and his legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day. He most recently visited our headquarters in Alameda, CA in 2013 and again inspired us to live a life of outdoor exploration. He will be missed.