Leading Adventurous Lives Since 1968

Conceived on Half Dome. Born in basecamp. Our story begins in the 1960s when Royal Robbins met Liz Burkner, his future wife, in Yosemite’s Camp 4.

Royal had established himself as one of the world’s best climbers—his skill and curiosity pushed the sport and helped usher in the golden age of climbing. Liz, a young climber, had moved to Yosemite Valley looking for a life of adventure.

They were part of a band of climbers/philosophers who embraced “clean climbing” ethics, establishing practices and techniques that enabled them to push boundaries and climb big walls with little or no damage to the rock. They believed “the way you climb is more important than what you climb.”

Climbers had few options for durable, comfortable clothes that lived up to their demands. What you found at the local Army/Navy surplus store was the norm. Liz believed climbers deserved better. She and Royal ditched their worn-down garb, leaned into years of experience, and went into the clothing business.

For 55+ years, Royal Robbins has been trusted and worn by climbers and those seeking a life of adventure. As one of the original U.S. outdoor brands, our brand has revolutionized the industry by launching the first climbing shorts, the Billy Goat. Our commitment to innovation sparked the Desert Pucker, a category leader made from sustainably harvested beech trees. Additionally, our wool sweaters showcase our preference for natural fibers and our commitment to durable, versatile clothes made with the highest sustainability, social, and environmental standards.

Liz and Royal’s climbing legacy and bold vision for life influence everything we do. Royal had a firm belief that nature and adventure are good for the soul—a belief that continues to guide us today.


1950s and '60s

Royal Robbins: First Ascents

Royal Robbins forged a path for a new generation of climbers in the Yosemite Valley. Along with Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost, he was part of the iconic first ascents on Half Dome and El Capitan, including first solo ascents.


Conceived on Half Dome, Born in Basecamp

We love to tell the story of Liz and Royal on top of Half Dome after Liz’s historic first ascent... a tourist took their photo and they decided to get into the clothing business after seeing their dirty t-shirts and cutoffs. But, the truth is, it was a long time coming. Royal used to chuckle at this aha moment, but in reality, the clothes climbers were wearing just weren’t good enough.


Our First Store

Liz and Royal opened Mountain Paraphernalia in Modesto, California—the gateway to Yosemite. They imported sweaters, climbing gear, books, and apparel to cultivate an all-encompassing store and catalog. The original location still serves climbers as the Camp 4 Wine Cafe, owned and operated by their son Damon.


Basic and Advanced Rockcraft

Royal inspired and empowered a generation of climbers with his book Basic Rockcraft (followed by Advanced Rockcraft). These handbooks on climbing emphasized basic skills, clean-climbing ethics, route finding, and “walking the tightrope of one’s limits.” They are still highly regarded as some of the best climbing books available.


Leader in Performance Wool

Liz and Royal lead the push for natural fibers in performance apparel. They started importing 100% wool sweaters for their store in the early '70s. This began the brand’s legacy of creating durable, warm, and beautiful sweaters for climbing and adventure.


The Original Billy Goat

Liz designed the revolutionary Billy Goat Short, the first shorts created specifically for climbingBased on decades of climbing insights and boasting a clean aesthetic, they were functional, made from natural fibers and durable enough to withstand Yosemite’s granite.  


The 5.11 Pant

Named after—at the time—the hardest degree of climbing in the Yosemite Decimal System. As the standard in durability and versatility, they were adopted by the FBI and first responders, and eventually led to the creation of a separate company, 5.11 Tactical. 


First Descents

As arthritis in his hands limited his climbing, Royal quickly became one of the most prolific whitewater kayakers of his generation. Along with partners, including Doug Tompkins, Yvon Chouinard, and Reg Lake, Royal had numerous first descents and changed the face of the sport.  In the mid-'80s, the brand introduced the innovative family of White Water styles, with our trademark 3-in-1 pocket on the Waterline Short, that continue to influence outdoor clothing. 


Bluewater Short

The Bluewater Short brought the Billy Goat’s durability into a cargo short built for offshore sailing. With a reinforced seat and cargo pocket, these iconic designs have paved the way for the future of outdoor shorts.


Birth of the #1 Adventure Shirt

This cult-classic shirt is an icon with over a million sold—and counting. A basecamp essential, the Desert Pucker’s comfortable and cooling fabric is made with sustainably harvested beech trees. With a blend of carbon-zero TENCEL™ Modal fibers, (beech wood fibers certified as CarbonNeutral™ by Natural Capital Partners) and recycled polyester, the legend continues to grow. 


Yosemite Climbing Association Founded

Inspired in part by Royal and other climber conservationists, the Yosemite Climbing Association (YCA) was founded in 2003 for the specific purpose of preserving and protecting Yosemite climbing and stewardship of public lands through fundraising and awareness via engagement. Every year, the Royal Robbins team travels to our birthplace to participate in YCA’s Yosemite Facelift—the Valley’s largest cleanup event. Our founder, Liz, serves on their board today.  


Joined Forces with The Conservation Alliance

Royal Robbins initially joined the Conservation Alliance in 2012. The Conservation Alliance disburses funds to grassroots environmental organizations supporting community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitat and outdoor recreation areas. After a gap, we’ve recommitted ourselves to TCA, are a sponsor of their annual summit, participated in their annual D.C. Fly-In. and have committed thousands of hours to direct service. The Conservation Alliance has protected over 81 million acres (about the area of Arizona) and 3,580 river miles since 1989. We’re proud to have played a small part in that story.


Launched the Leading Adventure Dress

Our top women’s style, this lightweight adventure dress has enabled countless women to seek out adventure. The Spotless Traveler Tank Dress inspired a full collection of versatile performance styles: recycled poly, HeiQ Stain Away activewear, like shorts, joggers, pants, and tops. These styles pack tightly, resist wrinkles, and prove that recycled poly doesn’t sacrifice performance.


Joined Fenix Outdoor

The respected Swedish outdoor group, Fenix Outdoor, purchased Royal Robbins in 2018, providing additional sustainability, financial, and back-end support to allow us to continue our brand mission while reducing our impact on the planet.


Eliminated PFCs

We’ve been on a continuous journey for more sustainable production, including the reduction of chemicals. We eliminated PFCs, a man-made “forever chemical” from our sourcing in 2020. PFCs still exists in our industry, making the risk of contamination always present. We continue to support the efforts to keep PFCs and other toxins out of our products and supply chains. 


Sustainability Wins Continue

Our fall/winter '23 styles meet our highest sustainability standard yet. 83% of styles are made from materials that contain 50%+ lower-impact fibers. This fall, Royal Robbins is certified to the Responsible Wool Standard, certified by Control Union 895314, and we are working toward 100% of our merino wool products meeting RWS standards. While we are firmly on the path, we recognize that there is much to do in our journey to reduce our environmental impact.