No time like the present to start cross-training for ski season. PHOTO: Holly Mandarich
No time like the present to start cross-training for ski season. PHOTO: Holly Mandarich

The Best Summer Gear from Skier-Trusted Brands

Start cross-training with customized hiking boots, a four-season backpack, and versatile layers

The snow's receded to the alpine. That means hiking trails, singletrack, crags, and our favorite mountain lakes are back in play. Embrace summer with these picks from gear makers we trust--because they're skiers, too.

Tecnica Forge GTX, $250
Buy now.

Tecnica Forge GTX

It's no surprise a ski brand created the first fully customizable hiking boot. After all, we skiers make annual treks to bootfitters, who thermo-mold liners, sculpt footbeds, and punch shells for a high-performance fit. Manufacturers even design gear to make their work more effective.

That's the case with Tecnica's Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.) technology, introduced in 2014. A quick refresher: C.A.S. ski boots feature an anatomically shaped liner and boot, with materials and features that aid customization.

Tecnica brings those same principles to the new Forge hiking boot, with a custom fit process that takes just 20 minutes. Heat and pressure--thanks to pillowy booties that fill with compressed air--mold insoles to my individual feet, then shape boot uppers around my ankle, arch, and heel.

Instead of a typical shoe tongue, the cuff wraps the ankle; this makes for easy entry and exit. There are three pairs of metal lace hooks on each boot; the first, located at the ankle crease, is self-locking. Which means once I cinch laces, they never slip, even as I slog through snow, mud, and dust.

Vibram soles with toothy lugs supply traction and grip. The Gore-Tex liner adds waterproofness, and a leather upper soldiers through miles of trail without a scuff.

That adds up to a hefty package: the Forge weighs in at 1 pound, 2 ounces in a women's size 8 (1 pound, 5 ounces in men's size 9). But it's no clunker: The exceptional fit creates a supple, agile feel. I stepped deftly across ice, through rain-slick streambeds, up steep and loose rock slopes, and over summit blocks that required Class IV moves, all without pause. And minus any break-in discomfort--no hot spots here, even on a 24-mile outing.

The stiffer sole and high cuff offered ample support under loads up to 35 pounds. And the Gore-Tex shut out slush and muck on spring outings. With the Tecnica Forge, skiers now get performance and power from their footwear in the offseason, too.

Thule AllTrail 35L Women's Backpack, $160
Buy now.

PHOTO: Thule AllTrail 35L

Thule built a pack to carry gear through all four seasons. How? Start with the adjustable torso: Simply pull the padded back panel loose from Velcro anchors, and slide up or down the four-inch range. I can dial in a bespoke fit in bulky winter layers or a gossamer-thin T-shirt and comfortably carry 35 pounds. Plus, Thule loads the AllTrail with features that adapt to fit seasonal needs.

A roomy front zip pocket holds shovel and probe--or a rain jacket for summer squalls. Use four compression straps to carry skis in an A-frame or to hold a small tent for warm-weather overnights. Not convinced?

Check out the built-in rain fly, an extended zipper for wide-open access to the main compartment, external and internal pockets on the lid, and a hip belt pocket that fits smaller smartphones.

Then pick your preferred hydration setup: The AllTrail can stow water bottles in dual external pockets, or tuck a reservoir into an interior sleeve. Better still, after 10 months of ski tours and hikes, the AllTrail shows only cosmetic scratches. So I'm ready for whatever summer brings. For more storage space, check out the 45L option here.

Flylow Moonlight Shirt, $75
Buy now.

Flylow Moonlight Shirt

When snowmelt turns ski bums into river rats, they still need protection from the elements. Flylow delivers with the Moonlight, a breezy polyester layer that shields from skin-damaging ultraviolet rays with 50+ UPF rating. Cuffs with thumbholes and a roomy hood offer increased coverage.

Also notable: Seams drop below shoulders and curve across the front, not up the side. That means zero chafe when you shoulder an inflatable SUP or buckle into a PFD.

A touch of Spandex helps the Moonlight move through each paddle stroke, and splashes dried before I noticed a chill.

Maloja RosinaM Shorts, $99
Buy now.

Maloja RosinaM Shorts

Bike, hike, and climb--often in a single day? Reach for these versatile women's shorts. This German brand has designed mountain apparel since 2004; that experience translates to functional details and meticulous tailoring. Two interior Velcro tabs expand the waistband to accommodate a bike chamois.

A stretchy back panel and the 10.5-inch inseam offer coverage when you're in the saddle, but a nylon and polyester blend ensures full range of motion. Bonus: light rain beads on the water-repellent fabric.

Two front pockets keep essentials close when you're in town. For extra airflow on the trail or at the crag, unzip two thigh pockets with mesh backing.

My Maloja duds weathered six months of heavy use without a single popped thread. And when durable, high-performance layers keep you in motion all summer, you hit opening day at peak fitness.