Businessman and crusading conservationist who cofounded the North Face and Esprit. Relying on knowledge gained through decades of rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, and mountaineering, Tompkins created TNF in San Francisco as a mail-order gear company that produced cutting-edge tents and hard goods beginning in the 1960s. Like his expedition partner and contemporary Yvon Chouinard, Tompkins helped shape the technology-and-performance mission of the modern outdoor industry. In the seventies, he founded women’s-apparel-and-footwear company Esprit with then wife Susie Buell. Today, the North Face moves more than $2 billion in product every year, and Esprit’s public stock is valued at more than $14 billion. Tompkins has since disavowed capitalism and lives in Patagonia, where he puts his efforts into conservation.
Lead Photo: Courtesy of The North Face