It was August 1994. GoLite founders Kim and Demetri (Coup) Coupounas had found their
first opportunity in years to escape the paper-pushing, fluorescent-lit bustle of
city life. A fun-filled backpacking trip in New England – alleluia! A float plane
deposited them and their humongous backpacks at a lake near Monson, Maine, at the
southern end of the Appalachian Trail’s One Hundred Mile Wilderness.
To return to the real world in time to keep their jobs, they needed to hike just
ten miles per day. Through the first two days, they were on pace, but they had yet
to experience a single moment of fun. Their back-breaking loads had turned their
desperately-needed holiday into a nightmare. They sat down on a boulder, shell-shocked
There come moments in life when you realize that there just has to be a better way.
For Kim and Coup, this was that moment.
Fast forward several years and dozens of global mountaineering expeditions and hiking
adventures later. For each trip, Kim and Coup earnestly tried to cut weight: they
trimmed map corners, cut toothbrush handles in half, sliced off straps, and left
behind their creature comforts. But their noblest efforts barely moved the needle.
Their suffering persisted because their core items – their packs, sleeping bags,
shelters, and clothing – were way over-built and over-engineered (read: HEAVY) for
even their toughest "big mountain" trips.
Kim + Coup before going lite: winter camping in New Hampshire. Base backpack loads:
55 pounds each!
Then in 1998 they picked up a copy of a book by a well-known outdoor adventurer
that outlined some pretty radical ideas about how to "lighten up” in the outdoors.
Kim and Coup saw it as a handbook for revolutionaries – gear revolutionaries!
They launched GoLite in July 1998, and after an initial introduction of an integrated
system of 12 ultra-lite backpacking products, GoLite now offers a full range of
lightweight, innovative and sustainable apparel and equipment designed specifically
for outdoor athletes.
Since its founding, GoLite has remained true to its roots with one primary obsession:
to bring to market simple, beautiful, high performance products that let people
experience nature more with less. GoLite is also committed to building a truly sustainable
business, one that minimizes its environmental impacts and produces its products
in factories that are fair, safe, and non-discriminatory. GoLite products are now
available in 23 countries worldwide.
Kim + Coup after going lite: approach hike to summit 22,831 ft Cerro Aconcagua in
Argentina. Base backpack loads: 10 pounds each!
GoLite and the "Lite-Weight Revolution
"Every generation needs a new revolution." – Thomas Jefferson
GoLite’s arrival on the outdoor gear scene caused quite a stir in 1999. Though still
young, GoLite has taken its place among the leading brands in the outdoor industry.
In the early years, Kim and Coup stayed true to their vision despite the snickers,
stares and even outright insults of traditionalists, some of whom even wrote articles
about how little time it would take for the ‘go lite’ crowd to go away!
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
– Mahatma Ghandi
Today, the company is widely viewed as the single driving force that sparked an
industry-wide shift towards lighter and more functional gear. GoLite is extremely
proud to have created, and to continue to fuel, this "Lite-Weight Revolution" that
has enabled ever more people around the world to benefit from the freedom and joy
of going lite in their chosen adventures.
"No backpack company embraces the fast-and-light movement more evangelically than
GoLite." National Geographic Adventure, March 2002
"With a name that defines the direction of the outdoors market, GoLite continues
to make its mark in the category." Outdoor Edge Magazine, January 2003
"…GoLite, the company often recognized for spearheading the ultralight campaign."
Inside Outdoor Magazine (UK), February 2003
"…the small Boulder, Colo., company with a big name..." USA Today, December 2003
"…Coupounas and Jordan, regarded as the ‘wizards of ultralight backpacking,’ are
leading a revolution that strips conventional hiking down to its sparest essentials,
enabling adherents to go further, faster, and reportedly with more joy in their
stride than their modern counterparts." The Christian Science Monitor, September
"Over the past several years, the trend towards ultralight camping gear has gone
mainstream…Now even traditional gear companies have jumped on board…" The New York
Times, July 2005
"The main trend coming from hardgoods companies is the transformation of lite-weight
gear from a trend or a niche category into an established, almost mainstream category
that was first envisioned by brands like GoLite." The B.O.S.S. Report, August 2005
"After...GoLite emerged seven years ago by making gear exclusively designed for
fastpacking, the larger gear manufacturers – MSR, Salomon, North Face, Marmot, and
Mountain Hardwear – have since followed suit with their own "fast and light" line
of products." U.S. Airways Attaché Magazine, October 2005
Since its founding, GoLite and its founders have been the recipient of numerous
professional awards, including the 2007 Esprit Award for Entrepreneurship, the 2006
Outdoor Industry Pioneering Woman Award, the 2003 Athena Award for Leadership, SportsEdge
Magazine’s 25 Leaders to Watch, Denver Business Journal’s 2002 Outstanding Woman
in Business, Denver Business Journal’s 2002 Family Business Award, Boulder County
Business Report’s 2001 and 2003 IQ Award for Innovation, numerous Editor’s Choice
and Gear of the Year awards for GoLite products, and the U.K. Outdoor Writer’s Guild’s
2002 Crystal Bowl Award for Innovation.
GoLite and its founders, staff, and athletes have also appeared in thousands of
television, online, and print media stories around the world, including on The Today
Show, CNN, The Early Show, Fox News, MTV, the Weather Channel, OLN, CBS News, and
NBC News, and in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company,
O Magazine, Time, USA Today, Inc, Los Angeles Times, The Great Outdoors (UK), The
Sunday Times (UK), Popular Science, Be-Pal (Japan), Op-Pad (Holland), Outdoor (Germany),
Ute (Sweden), Alpin (Germany), Men’s Journal, Fortune, Christian Science Monitor,
Fortune Small Business, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Backpacker, Runner’s World,
Trail Runner, Health, National Geographic, Adventure, Walking, Men’s Fitness, Shape,
Spirit, and many others.
- GoLite co-founders, Kim & Demetri (Coup) Coupounas climb Kilimanjaro for their honeymoon
- Kim & Coup climb the highest peak in all 50 U.S. states, including Mt. McKinley
where they haul 60-lb packs
- Kim & Coup found GoLite in Boulder, Colorado
- GoLite launches its first 12 products at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (the
2000 - 2002
- I.Q. Award for Innovation in Outdoor Sports Products, Boulder County Business Journal
- Family Business Award, Denver Business Journal
- Crystal Bowl Award for Innovation, Outdoor Writer's Guild (UK), first American company
to win this award
- Backpacker Magazine names GoLite Den 2 the "Tent of the Future"
- I.Q. Award for Innovation in Outdoor Sports Products, Boulder County Business Journal
(first company ever to receive this award twice)
- 1999 Outside Magazine article "Wonk on the Wild Side" included in Outside 25, a
commemorative book featuring the best articles of Outside’s first 25 years
- Polartec’s Apex Award for Product Excellence
- Backpacker Magazine 's Editors Choice Award (GoLite Kinetic jacket)
- AmericanTri Magazine's Editor's Pick Award (GoLite Fruita pack)
- GoLite co-founder, “Coup,” hikes the John Muir Trail, Long Trail, and Colorado Trail
all without resupply, a.k.a. "alpine style"
- Backpacking Light Magazine's Lightitude Award (GoLite Momentum jacket)
- GoLite co-founder, Kim Coupounas, elected Chairperson of the Outdoor Industry Association
Board of Directors
- Team GoLite ambassador Andrew Skurka becomes first person to hike the entire 7,800-mile
Sea-to-Sea Route and is named Backpacker Magazine's "Person of the Year"
- Backpacker's Editors Choice Award (GoLite Xirtam jacket)
- Backpacker Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for "Favorite Ultralight Pack"
- GoLite founders sell GoLite trademark to The Timberland Company
- GoLite Footwear launched
- National Geographic Society’s "Best of Adventure Gear" awards (GoLite Chrome Dome
hiking umbrella and GoLite Sun Dragon shoe)
- Certified as a PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) business, Boulder, Colorado
- Backpacker Magazine “Ultralight Pick” (GoLite Lite-Speed pack)
- Outside Magazine “Green Gear of the Year” award (GoLite DriMove Cocona tops)
- Outside Magazine “Killer Value” recognition (GoLite Gamut jacket)
- Outside Magazine “Overachiever” recognition for weekend hiking packs (GoLite Pursuit
- Outside Magazine “Most Versatile Backpack” recognition (GoLite Lite-Speed pack)
- National Geographic Adventure Magazine “The Trend Setter” recognition for trail
(GoLite Wisp wind shirt)
- The Great Outdoors Magazine (TGO) (UK) “Best Buy” recognition (GoLite Pinnacle pack)
- Esprit Award for Entrepreneurship (GoLite Founders Kim + Demetri Coupounas)
- Team GoLite ambassador Andrew Skurka becomes first person to complete the 6,875-mile
"Great Western Loop" passing through 12 national parks and over 75 wilderness areas
and named "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic
- The Great Outdoors Magazine (TGO) (UK) "Best Buy" (GoLite Pinnacle pack)
- GoLite certified as a “B Corporation” (www.bcorporation.net). “B Corporation” is
a third-party certification for companies that meet comprehensive, transparent social
and environmental performance standards as well as high performance and legal standards
that institutionalize stakeholder interests.
- Backpacker Magazine “Editor’s Choice” award (GoLite Adrenaline sleeping bags)
- Backpacker Magazine “Top Daypacks” recognition (GoLite Rush pack)
- Men’s Fitness Magazine “The Lightest Gear Ever” recognition (GoLite Jam pack)
- Mountain Biking Magazine “Editor’s Choice” award (GoLite Adrenaline 20 sleeping
- Backpackinglight.com Magazine “Recommends” recognition (GoLite Ultra sleeping quilt)
- Trail Runner Magazine “Sprout Award” for Best Sustainable Practices (GoLite)
- Outside Magazine “Gear of the Year” award (GoLite Adrenaline 20 Sleeping Bag)
- The Great Outdoors Magazine (TGO) (UK) “TGO Recommends” recognition (GoLite Shangri-La
- The Great Outdoors Magazine (TGO) (UK) “TGO Recommends” and “Lightest in Test” recognition
(GoLite women’s Quest pack)
- Outdoor Enthusiast Magazine (OE) (UK) “Editor’s Choice” award (GoLite Pursuit Pack)
- Backpacker Magazine “Best for Wet Weather” pick (GoLite DriMove BL-2 base layer)
- Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide Editor’s Pick (GoLite Reverb jacket)
- Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide “Extreme Weight Saver” recognition (GoLite Ultra
20 sleeping bag)
- Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide “All-Conditions Champ” recognition (GoLite Valhalla
- Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide “Best All-Purpose” pack recognition (GoLite Pursuit
- Backpacker Magazine Readers’ Choice Award “Best Overall Weekend Pack” (GoLite Lite-Speed
- Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice “Green Award” for use of Tier 1 recycled nylon
throughout GoLite’s backpack line
- Backpacker Magazine’s “Best Weekend Pack” (Quest pack)
- GoLite selected by State of Colorado as Bronze Environmental Achievement Award
- Apparel Magazine’s 2010 Sustainability All-Star Award recognizing companies that
have made significant steps toward implementing more environmentally and socially
conscious practices into their businesses.
- GoLite selected as finalist for 2010 Ethical Corporation Awards in the categories
of Innovative Reporting, Authentic Communications, and Individual Leader, alongside
such notable companies as Intel, Starbucks, Sony, and Nokia, recognizing GoLite
for its industry-leading responsible business practices.
- GoLite releases first formal Sustainability Report representing GoLite’s first effort
at full-spectrum transparency and fulfilling the A+ standards of the Global Reporting
Initiative (GRI), arguably the world’s most credible and trusted framework for corporate
responsibility and sustainability reporting.
- Backpacker Magazine “Best All-Around Weeklong Pack” (Terrono pack)