Fritschi FT-88 Vintage Backcountry Skiing Binding

Post by blogger | July 7, 2006      

Another display completed for the Virtual Museum of Backcountry Skiing Bindings. This time we’re featuring the venerable Fritschi FT88 circa 1982, precursor to the famous Fritschi Diamir series. Museum display here.

Fritschi FT88 in touring mode with heel lift. Click image to enlarge.

Fritschi FT88 in touring mode with heel lift. Click image to enlarge.


47 Responses to “Fritschi FT-88 Vintage Backcountry Skiing Binding”

  1. Mark July 8th, 2006 1:06 pm

    Interesting clamps. And that background music…reminds me of stuff I listened to in high school.

  2. M G Bermudez July 14th, 2006 9:37 am

    I was wandering when where the experts going to start noticing this great stuff. I bought a set of surplus Swiss skis with the FT88’s including vintage skins for $ 30!! Very heavy all of it but skied great in the icy Eastern downhill resort. I got exited and got me a snow camo suit to go with it….JAJAJA

  3. Bjørn Gjelsten February 16th, 2007 5:21 am

    Been using the FT88 for many years, but the front slider notch broke a couple of weeks ago. Combined with a Tua Excalibur from ’89 it has been an allrounder in my work as a UIAGM guide.

    Excellent binding for ice climbing boots and ski approaches to frozen waterfalls back home in Norway. Hopefully I’m able to get a pair or two of the white army type as replacement.

  4. Markus October 24th, 2007 7:18 am

    I have a pair of surplus Swiss/German army skis with a binding of that type as well – can anyone tell me how the settings on the release relate to bodyweight?

  5. Jeff January 19th, 2008 9:31 pm

    I have 6 pairs of Fritchi FT 88’s that still ski great except the rear plunger spring housing has several moderate radial cracks. All my bindings have the same-similar cracking. Im getting cautious about using them anymore. I tried to get anyone/everyone to honor the warranty that says they back their materials & design “without time limit” They say that warranty is only valid for the lifetime of the product which is over. Anybody else run into this baloney. Seems like when it says “without time limit” that’s what it means. Sorry they dont produce this anymore so send me some Freerides or cut a deal on trade in. Anyone have any spare parts- surplus or suggections. Why alieniate loyal first adopters?

  6. Evan Hill January 25th, 2008 7:06 am

    I’ve been skiing these for over a year now, and love them. I stockpiled a few pair before my source dried up. How can you beat great bindings like this for $25?

    I have seen the purple ones with my own eyes at a second hand store last year. If I remember, they weren’t just straight purple. Seems like there was purple and lime green and maybe white as well. That same store had a pair of new in the wrap Ramer skis last time I was in.

  7. sam February 24th, 2008 2:56 am

    great but heavy binding, bought a few sets to mount up as backup sets for early seson and my alpine sking friends. the binding skis well and tour nice, the return spring is large making reversing directions when cutting skin tracks nice, the downside is they are very heavy and you must remove the ski to change modes. one last nice thing about the binding is if you remove the front plastic around the wire you can use tele boots so you can convince some of your knee doping friends to try real skiing

  8. Tim Evans June 18th, 2008 9:26 am

    I have just been given a set of the above bindings (actually more red then purple) and noticed u were after some for the museum.
    I am happy to take a photo of them if you like, but intend on using them so unfortunately won’t be able to donate them as yet.

    If you would like a photo then let me know.


    Tim Evans

  9. Lou June 18th, 2008 10:11 am

    Tim, if you ever upgrade please keep the museum in mind. No need for photos.

  10. Armin September 6th, 2008 11:11 am


    I have 2 complete pairs of FT-88 circa 1986-87 vintage. The are red and white and preceded the purple/green model by a couple of years. A friend of mine has the newer purple model.

    My red/white ones have the original heel piece, same as the military version above, as well as the optional add-on step-in heel.

    They’ve been sitting on a shelf in my basement collecting dust ever since the original Diamir came out.

    Let me know if you’d like them or if you’d like to see a picture.


  11. Lou September 6th, 2008 2:50 pm

    Armin, I sent you an email. Thanks.

  12. André December 13th, 2008 3:18 am

    For the ones having contacts in Switzerland:
    There are still hundreds of Swiss Army skis with the FT88 binding + seal skins (with hooks, not self ahesive) for sale in Switzerland, at Militarymegastore (they are selling Swiss Army surplusses and modern military style junk)
    Price: 19 Swiss Francs (between 16 and 19 US$ -(the exchange rate is very unstable recently…).
    For location of stores:

  13. Jerzy December 25th, 2008 1:49 am

    I would like to give touring a try. Anybody using the straps that come with the bindings? If so how do you hook them up? Also what type of skis do you use for the seal skins with hooks. I am trying on shaped Atomic Tour Guide Super Light 96/67/86 skis and needed to bend hooks to put them on. Not sure if this will work but I will give it a try.

  14. Tim January 8th, 2009 8:11 pm

    Just bought a pair of these, and am wondering where I might find mounting instructions and/or templates. Preferably online.

  15. Chris March 3rd, 2009 2:19 pm

    I have a chance to get a pair of Swiss Army Alpine Skis and I’m pretty sure they have the FT88 bindings. What boots have you found to work best with this setup? I plan on doing primarily crosscountry skiing with some up/down moderate terrain. Do all boots fit with these bindings?

  16. Lou March 3rd, 2009 3:46 pm

    Chris, yes, all alpine or randonnee AT ski boots will work with those bindings.

  17. Greg April 1st, 2009 10:06 pm

    I just got my Fritschi FT-88s from eBay. I’m looking forward to next season when I can try some low-intensity alpine touring without springing for pricey gear right away. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of Swiss things, especially trains, roads, longboards and mountains. I honeymooned there and I’ve skied in the Alps. I didn’t even know there was an alternative to telemarking until I saw a magazine article two years ago. Just this past year I got back into skiing after a long, family-induced hiatus. I’ve been collecting alpine gear from the late 70s, 80s and early 90s, the decades I missed. So the money I would have spent on some Spademanns instead lifts me into the world of no lifts.

    Great to have Lou and all you guys providing this information for a newbie.

  18. Harvee Jarvi January 27th, 2010 4:13 pm

    Used a set of these bindigs mounted on rossi st comps in the late 80’s to do the Haute Route,Also used Saloman rear entry boots with vibram soles on em.This was high tech back then.Bindings worked great were hard to remount binding when and if they released.

  19. Gary February 8th, 2010 8:17 pm

    Thanks for your illustrated history of this binding. Due to your help I was able to get into the binding correctly. You won’t believe some of the methods I have tried!!!

    Bought them three or four years ago from a internet surplus store together with Swiss army skis, poles and skins for a very reasonable price. The skis and bindings are durable but quite heavy.

  20. jay wilson March 1st, 2010 6:26 am

    I have a set of these FT88 bindings for sale for 40 dollars.
    call 203 723-2080
    I’ll give you everthing you need to mount them correctly on your skis.

  21. Wyatt October 3rd, 2010 9:01 pm

    On the subject of swiss surplus skis, I’ve foune these:

    (I know they have cable bindings and not the FT-88, but the silvretta cable binding page has no comment section)

    Anyway, would theses be worth the price to get for a ghetto ice climbing approach ski? I can’t find any other mountaineering boot compatible bindings for under $50, and these come with skis. Is it worth the hassle or will they be too much trouble or just junk?

    Also of note, Coleman’s (site selling those skis), also has USGI Raymer cable bindings and some funky skins.

    Worth $10 each? (to use, not to have 😉 )

  22. Patrick Daigle November 8th, 2010 12:56 am

    Gawd they were heavy. Good thing I spent nearly all my time on tele gear during the years I had these particular Fritschis

  23. Lou November 8th, 2010 7:27 am

    Wyatt, I got some of those skis/bindings so I could acquire the bindings for my collection. Yeah, the bindings would work for approach bindings, but I’d recommend a more modern ski. Also, the bindings are tricky to mount correctly, so keep that in mind.

  24. Rob December 4th, 2010 5:15 pm

    I was give older no wax xc skis and poles. Can i put the US Army bindings on them and use my hiking boots? Thanks rob

  25. SteveG December 5th, 2010 9:12 am

    I believe your boots would need to have a groove around the heel for the wires of the binding to rest in.

  26. Lou December 5th, 2010 4:23 pm

    Yeah, there is a minimum boot configuration for a “hiking boot,” it needs to be pretty heavy duty. If so, It’ll work in the military bindings that have all the straps to hold in just about anything. Don’t expect much in the way of downhill control, a setup like that is for slogging on level ground.

  27. Brent January 5th, 2011 3:53 pm

    I bought a pair of the Swiss surplus skis for slogging around the shelter belts here in North Dakota where there is an abundance of level ground. Anyway, my question is- do I put the bail up or down underneath my heel for slogging? I’m using a pair of German military surplus mountaineering boots in the binding they work great but I’d like to get some input.

    Thanks for providing the information on the binding it was very helpful in getting me started.

  28. Zach January 5th, 2011 11:01 pm

    I recently picked up a pair of these FT88’s for a casual touring set up, but I realized, that I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m hoping to mate them to some circa 1990 K2 Piste Stinx tele skis, but I’m not sure where to align the boot center. The skis have a “Chord Center” label on the top sheet that (I think) corresponds to the waist of the ski, as well as a K2 logo that is (I think) located at the highest point of the vertical arch (camber?) of the ski. Should I align the boot center with this “Chord Center” or the arch center when I go for the mount? Is all this moot since the tele ski design has a different center of balance? I’m not overly concerned about downhill performance since this ski will mostly be used to go on flat picnic tours, but I would rather not mess it up TOO badly if I can help it. I throughly enjoy this awesome resource.

  29. Ben January 6th, 2011 4:10 am

    Zach, tele skis were traditionally mounted with the pin line at the balance point or the chord center, which are pretty close to each other. That line is about at the toe of the tele boot. So the hypothetical boot center mark would be well back of chord center. I would guess that the boot toe should go somewhere near the chord center mark, although it may not be exactly the same given the difference between tele and AT pivot location, etc.

  30. Sam November 7th, 2011 3:48 pm

    Hi there, I am keen to get my hands on some of these bindings, but I was wondering if anyone out there can tell me if the FT88s come in different sizes, or whether they would be able to take a size 32 ski boot (actual boot length 348mm)? I have big feet and trying to get AT gear second hand is a nightmare! Thanks, Sam

  31. Lou November 7th, 2011 4:04 pm

    Sam, these are antique bindings, not made anymore. Look for other options.

  32. Sam November 8th, 2011 11:54 am

    Thanks Lou. Are you recommending against the bindings because they are antique, or simply because they won’t be big enough for my boots? Many thanks, Sam

  33. Lou November 8th, 2011 12:04 pm

    Because they are antique. Would you put antique tires on your car?

  34. bobby December 28th, 2011 10:58 pm

    I have a Crampon set for Fritschi FT88 tour. They are available for $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping.

  35. Justin January 7th, 2012 5:50 pm

    You can adjust the bindings to different size boots by unscrewing the heel cable body from the side of the binding and moving to another hole. I unscrew this just a little for fine adjustment on boot size, but I am not sure if Fritschi recommends that part-check.

    Here is a video on basic skiing with the Fritschi:

  36. Justin January 8th, 2012 5:17 am

    I would love two crampon sets even. How can I reach you? Or maybe you can email:

  37. Justin January 8th, 2012 5:20 am

    The straps that come wrapped around the two ends of skis were just safety straps to keep boots linked to skis when the skis fell off in a fall

  38. Justin January 18th, 2012 8:48 pm

    The fine adjustment was obtained by loosening the turnbuckle like joint on the heel cable that I unscrewed completely to change holes on the side of the binding.

  39. Andy March 28th, 2012 9:31 pm

    I actually learned to ski and did a season worth of touring on these bindings. They are a total and complete pain in the ass to get back into without taking the plate off the boot once you unclip in deep snow. Still it was a great binding for $50….but now-a-days I am in love with my dynafits. These seem to have dried up on the surplus market these days however.

  40. Justin March 28th, 2012 10:47 pm

    I give away my source since I can’t seem to sell internet items and drive truck at the same time. You can purchase Swiss Telemark skis with FT88 bindings, poles, and skins for $20!? at Swiss Link out of paradise California. The shipping is another $20. One secret to the bindings: Don’t tighten the heel cable elbows too much once you choose what hole you need on the side of your binding to fit your foot. If they are narrower than your heel, it will pop your boot off the ski.

    You can also get the original 1960’s-’70’s Swiss Mountain boot with the ski groove in the heel that fit these from Waphaus or Hessian Antiques. They are great for ice and hiking too.

  41. Skyler January 17th, 2013 8:09 pm

    Do these bindings release if you wreck? Or are you locked in for ride?

  42. Lou Dawson January 17th, 2013 8:21 pm

    Hi Skyler, yes, they release. How well they release is another matter. Not much elasticity, they tended to pre release unless you set them high. Lou

  43. Colin Haley May 23rd, 2014 2:55 am

    Hi Lou,
    I have a favor to ask, if you’re near your museum and have a spare minute. If you pop the plate out of the release units, and weigh it on it’s own, how much does it weigh (in grams)?

    It seems like one could drill the plate directly onto a ski (perhaps compromising the flex of the ski too much), and achieve a simple plate binding without release capability. However, unless it’s significantly lighter in that configuration than a Silvretta 500 there isn’t much point in doing so.


  44. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 4:58 am

    Colin, the European extreme skiers over the years have cobbled up various bindings with no release, and super low weight, but basically taking binding parts and screwing them to your skis. The ones I’ve seen over the years were usually based on a toe wire with heel latch type of configuration. I made some myself in the 1970s, using a Silvretta toe and a Marker racing heel unit that had a simple cam latch with no release, based on a Silvetta plate. Some of the bindings I’ve seen had no touring capability, they were just a way to lock your boot onto your ski. No release, super light. You get the idea. Pretty specialized! Could be some fun experimentation, I’ll weigh those for you when I get a chance probably later today. Lou

  45. Colin Haley May 23rd, 2014 8:00 am

    Yeah, I have actually often thought of bolting on a ski binding with no touring capability, just for summer descent use (for example, climbing Liberty Ridge, but not wanting to walk all the way down the normal route).

    In the case of the Fritschi FT88, I’m hoping to maybe use it with climbing boots as an approach binding, but it all depends on how much it weighs relative to a Silvretta 500 without all the release pieces in front and back.

    Thanks for the weight info later on!

  46. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 10:16 am

    Colin, the plate when removed from the Fritschi FT88 binding weighs 27.3 ounces, 774 grams. Still quite heavy. As you know but should be said, the plate incorporates the touring mechanism and could be bolted to a ski or snowboard for a non-release touring binding (without heel lift). You could also probably make a super light no-release binding by stripping off the toe wire and heel clamp parts, and somehow mounting them on a ski without the plates.

    There are probably easier bindings to work with if you want to construct a no-release superlight. Any of the guys you ski with in Europe use bindings like that?


  47. Colin Haley May 23rd, 2014 11:31 am

    No one I know in Cham has any non-release bindings. People here generally trust the low-tech bindings for steep skiing.

    Ah, too bad. At 774 grams it’s not enough lighter than a Silvretta 500 to be worth using. The white plastic plate itself might be worth mounting on a pair of light, little skis as a no-tour descent setup.

    Well, thanks anyways for checking for me!

    Too bad I can’t find any of the “Evolution Light” bindings by “Nic Impex” – they look like a good, light approach binding:

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