Winter is, for many of us, gym season. With the forecast wavering between freezing-cold gusts and ice-cold downpours—or, worse, snow—for the next several months, those outdoor cross-training runs and bike rides start to look more like punishment than pace changers. Right?
Not necessarily. For decades, Alpine outdoor brands like Salomon, the North Face, and Patagonia have been designing gear to withstand the harsh conditions atop the world’s highest mountains, where Arctic winds and freak snowstorms make the flurries and slush outside your door look downright tropical by comparison.
But it’s more than just ice axes and anoraks. Today, these companies are innovating weatherproof apparel—barely there jackets and grippy, waterproof shoes—that are lightweight and breathable for high-elevation endurance sports like trail running. And for powderhounds, they’re creating versatile, rugged gear that’s quite literally tough enough to ski off the likes of Everest and Denali, so your local slopes shouldn’t be a problem. The upshot is that you can tackle winter training and ski trips in comfort and, yes, save your excuses.