Ramer Model R – Vintage Backcountry Skiing Binding

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 11, 2006      

If any backcountry skiing binding of the 1970s was a Jekyll and Hyde it was the Ramer model R. Lighter than just about anything else of the time. The first binding with a heel lift. Totally field maintainable. But in real-world the Ramer R had little if any effective safety release, required messy greasing, and if it did release the binding exploded apart and you needed a strong heart and hands of steel to snap it back together. Check out the museum display.

Ramer model R was good in concept, but lacked an effective release mechanism. Click image to enlarge.

Ramer model R was good in concept, but lacked an effective release mechanism. Click image to enlarge.


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21 Responses to “Ramer Model R – Vintage Backcountry Skiing Binding”

  1. Mark July 12th, 2006 4:23 am

    These look like the ones my buddy inherited–they were previously mounted backwards on some waxless fishscale XC skis. Funny, eh? Anyway, I’ve seen some of the release/prelease problems firsthand, but can’t help but be intrigued by all the Ramer mad science. Can’t wait to see some of the newer, better models in the collection and blog.

  2. John July 15th, 2006 5:18 am

    I was at Mistaya Lodge in March and a retro-guest from Boseman was on a pair of alpine skiis mounted with Ramer’s. I thought about my two ski buddies in Alasks who broke legs using Ramer’s back in the 1970’s. Wait, I had two pair, guess I was just lucky. I thought about taking up a collection to buy this guy a pair of Dynafits, until I saw that he skiied better than everyone else and was quite happy. I did have to show him how to adjust the tension. Go figure.

  3. Lou July 15th, 2006 8:15 am

    The people I know who had the most success with the R model Ramer either skied them with the release pretty much locked out, or skied them free-heel parallel without the heel clamp. Outward Bound ski mountaineering courses back in the late 1970s used this model Ramer without the heel clamp. The “Universal” model that came next, with steel spring bars, was much better and had safety release that could actually be tuned to be fairly effective, though it could still bind in a forward twisting fall.

  4. Dan July 15th, 2006 11:43 am

    Mark, I have a pair of newer (I believe) Ramer bindings that might appear to be mounted backwards since the fixed bail is to the back and their is a black plastic front bail that clamps down to the front. But if the pivot is mounted backwards?…

  5. Pat October 24th, 2007 11:05 pm

    I still have a pair of these mounted to Trucker BCPs out in my garage that I bought in Aspen in 1980. I’ll gladly donate them to your museum if you’ll pay the shipping from Alaska. The edges are a little on the rusty side though. I think I also have a tube of red Ramer grease in a box somewhere and one and a half Ramer poles too. I’ve always had a problems with getting rid of old ski equipment, so these moved up here with me 14 years ago.

    BTW Lou I was working as Highlands that fateful morning in 1982.

  6. Lou October 25th, 2007 6:08 am

    Hi Pat, I’ve got some BCPs in the collection so no need for those. Don’t throw them away, as they are a fairly rare ski in terms of collecting (compared to main stream skis). And thanks for leaving a comment here!

  7. Rick January 3rd, 2008 9:35 pm

    After loving 3-pin tele skiing, I wanted more and got a new pair of Ramer R’s. I caught a lil’ fir with a tip and went into a slow forward twisting fall that snapped the tip of my fibula (read broken ankle). It was a long slow trip out of the wilderness. I called Ramer to complain about lack of safety release and spoke to a Co. rep who was in a waist-high cast
    from a similar fall.
    Feeling somewhat lucky I went back to teles in soft boots. >Fast Forward 2 decades> marriage> kids>BC skiing on hold >
    Now my 16 yr old son thinks he has discovered the
    perfect sport: AT skiing and that we should try it sometime.
    Nice idea son, life is ironic.

  8. Billy May 13th, 2011 8:30 am

    I’d like to obtain a pair of these bindings to mount on a pair of Lapp skis I’ve had since the late 60’s and which had this model mounted on them at one time.

  9. JEAN VIVES May 4th, 2013 9:23 am

    I skied on the Ramer binding for many years and never had a problem with them.
    In one accident they saved my legs. I was skiing down tree run and ran straight first into a buried stump. The binding sheared straight forward in a release that pleasantly surprised me that’s for sure. The ball bearing toe system was actually a precursor of the Dynafit tech binding since it used a ball and pin system but in reverse. Many years and dollars later I was wearing my Diamirs thinking that I was being safe and responsible skiing on the Commando Run on Vail enroute to the Shrine Mt. Inn when I was skiing powder that promptly turned into muck and than I was traversing into a tree and fell sideways downhill slowly so my binding did not release and my ACL tore neatly in half. So much for expensive bindings. I have been on Dynafit Techs for many years and have had very good releases from such a simple mechanism. Cheers 🙂 jean vives

  10. John H May 15th, 2013 6:19 am

    Military Skiing and Ramers:

    Way back in the 1980’s I remember 10th Special Forces using Ramer bindings and skis at Fort Devens, MA. The skis came were ordered with 1/2 fishscale on the bottom in the camper pockets and came with full cover fish scales! The green beenies sent them back and Ramer had to replace them. I don’t remember what model bindings they had, but I believe that the bindings had a release capability in case of a fall. When I went to to the Army National Guard 3/172nd Mountain Infantry Battalion in 1985, we had Silveretta 400 bindings on Dynastar Yeti 180’s with Kastinger Peak Ice climbing boots and standard issue U.S. Army ski poles. The skis were standard non fish scale bases. The instructors at mountain school at Camp Eathan Allan in Vermont had Ramer adjustable avalanche ski poles with self arrest hooks on the handles in case you fell in steel terrain. I liked the Silveretta’s so much, that I bought a pair of 402 bindings and put them on pair of Karhu XCD Extreme 198’s that I still have till today. I just bought a pair of unknown used model Ramers from Wardens Supply for shits and giggles just to add to my collection. I may buy a pair of ONS ex military skis floating out there in surplus land. The Karhu XCD’s were the first skis addopted by the cadre in the 3/172nd in 1982, when the unit was born. I don’t know if they even teach skiing at the mountain school in Vermont and more during the basic mountaineering course winter phase anymore? They may teach skiing still during the winter phase of the advanced/assault climber course still. I served in the Combat Support Company 3/172nd Mountain Infantry Battalion from the mid to late 1980’s as a “Commo Man” and attended mountain school in 1987.

  11. Lou Dawson May 15th, 2013 7:19 am

    John, thanks for contributing the history!

  12. Kris Kingery May 17th, 2013 1:12 pm

    Good Morning! My father had a small collection of ski equipment that I am currently going through and I have discovered a Ramer Alpine Ski touring/Ski mountaineering binding that is still in the original box with all the instructions and paperwork. Does any one know if this is worth something to a collector, and if so, what it would be worth?? Thank you for your time and information.

  13. Lou Dawson May 17th, 2013 1:20 pm

    Hi Kns, they’re worth shipping cost plus perhaps $15.00, if someone really wants them you could perhaps get more for them. This stuff is simply worth what people will pay, and there are very few collectors out there. Put ’em on Ebay and see what happens. Lou

  14. Billy Roos May 17th, 2013 8:10 pm

    If they are a model R, as above, I’m interested. Let me know how to contact you.

  15. dirtfarmer May 21st, 2014 4:59 pm

    Still have a set from the last time I skied. Mostly used them as a lift attendant, first aid responder, dumb guy who has to climb the messed up lift tower wearing double lace up ski boots. (Okay, laugh if you want to, but this was the best way I found to get around a ski area as Mr. Fixit.) Much better to ski up the hill than to slog on up wearing snowmobile boots. Had a lift attendant at Killington pull me out of line– “Hey, are those Ramers?” Spent 20 minutes talking with the guy while I wound loading skiers on the lift- – – “Are you really sure you want your bindings cranked down to TEN?”
    Short version, ramer bindings were one of the most useful gadgets I know of if you worked at a ski area, way back when. Yes, even then everyone knew they had the exact opposite of an optimal release. We all knew it was less than optimal, but it WORKED,most of the time.

  16. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2014 5:09 pm

    A little history story now and then spices it up! Thanks!

  17. dirtfarmer May 27th, 2014 6:33 pm

    Prehistory 101, the owner of the ski area had a barn full of wood skis with steel edges, complete with rat trap?, bear trap? anyway something trap bindings. That’s where I picked up my lace up boots. Horrible ankle support, but regular work boots won’t lock into any bindings, and modern ski boots don’t work for hanging half upside down at night trying to repair or (you didn’t hear it from me) BYPASS the safety cutouts on the sheaves on the lift cable. ( Sure, Boss, It’ll be fine. I got it. No worry, No problem.) Ramers were so nice compared to rusty rat traps. I think I still have the number 00 sized philips screwdriver for the replacement edges.

  18. Jeff Popnoe June 21st, 2014 9:02 am

    Hello, I enjoy wildsnow much! I had Ramers on Trucker BCP skis in 1980,after a fall resulting in no release and slight sprain,I sold them. I had no idea then they would be museum pieces. I was at June Mtn, Ca.then. Some patrollers had powder skis w/Marker TRs. We used to see the Mtn.Warfare training soldiers(Bridgeport Ca) skiing on white mickey mouse boots. Their instructor would be a civilian w/ leather boots & tele skis. I bought the ramers used so I had no idea they were even adjustable! Some of the things we did working & skiing in those days still amaze me. I’m glad I still have functioning body parts. Cheers,from an ex patroller. Jeff

  19. Lou Dawson June 21st, 2014 9:47 am

    Hi Jeff, thanks for dropping by! Lou

  20. Greg Balco September 25th, 2015 10:14 pm

    OK folks, a seriously obscure question about antique bindings. Some while ago I wound up with a set of Ramer model R bindings, never mounted, in original box, complete with the “superclimber kit” and the instructions. The only problem is, the toe bails are missing. Toe bails, of course, are critical for the most likely use of these bindings as a wall display. The instruction manual contains a spare parts price list and order form indicating that I can get replacements from Ramer for 50 cents each, but it also states that the prices are only guaranteed until 1976, so although I am tempted to send in the order form with $1 and see what happens, I’m not really sure it would work. However, I have some vague recollection that Ramer toe bails are the same as the toe bails for Lowe Foot Fang crampons (which are cheaply available on eBay). Does anyone know if that is really true?

    — greg

  21. Lou Dawson 2 September 26th, 2015 8:00 am

    Greg, send in the order form and do a Throwback Thursday guest blog? Probably not… I probably have an extra bail kicking around in my museum archive, would you like me to dig it up and send it over to you? I’ll only send one, that way you won’t be able to use the antiques on snow. Lou

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