Vintage Backcountry Skiing Bindings – Silvretta 404 Display and Mounting Instructions

Post by blogger | September 30, 2006      

Silvretta 404 ski touring binding is one of the true classics. A couple of people have asked me for mounting instructions as this binding is still a viable climber’s approach binding, though we don’t recommend any vintage or antique binding for backcountry skiing as none have as good a safety release as modern grabbers.

Inspired by the interest out there, we added the 404 to the virtual binding museum, and whipped up some mounting instructions and a template. (As always, no warranty on templates or mounting instructions, you use at your own risk.)

Museum Display – Silvretta 404 Backcountry Skiing Binding

Silvretta 404 Mounting Instructions

If you can find a pair, 404 still works well for stiff crampon-compatible mountaineering boots, and is popular as a climber's approach binding. Please note that safety release is compromised in such use.

404 still makes a good approach binding, but don’t use for actual downhill skiing or you could injure yourself. Modern version of 404 is the model 500, which still works with stiff welted boots.


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33 Responses to “Vintage Backcountry Skiing Bindings – Silvretta 404 Display and Mounting Instructions”

  1. alex doaga September 30th, 2006 5:27 pm

    well, my backup pair of skis is a pair of volkl with these 404. and ocasionally,at the beggining of the season or on August snow, I will give them a go. This with TLT 4 boots.
    Last year Ive bought 10 pairs of 400s and 404s for a club and noticed on the front piece letters for the lenght U, M, K and J for junior bindings. Much the same scheme as with actual pure bindings.
    Judicious cleaning and greasing are paramount if one considers using them. Check if the frame has lateral movement at the level of the rear locker, thats associated with heavy usage on the front part. If so, look for another binding since that slack will be a nuissance on uphill traverses with the heel riser.
    Just before the plastic era arrived, the 404 was produced with more metal parts, including the heel unit.
    Quite a few folks managed to break the heel lever from the metal version of the 404. Thats a non metal part, apparently the only one which can be broken on a mostly metal binding.
    Oh, forgot. We managed to spring out the front wire bail, while forcing a turn in heavy snow.
    Otherwise they seem pretty indestructable, at least compared with the first generations of Easy Go Or Diamir.
    Budget skiers and begginers still use this binding a lot.

  2. Doug-E-Fresh October 2nd, 2006 9:08 pm

    Vintage? But Lou, up until 2 years ago I used this as my primary binding, not only in the backcountry but at the resort (that’s what you do when you’re on a budget and these are available for $100 at Wilderness Exchange). Even skied moderate moguls on them and once took them into the halfpipe at Kirkwood (but very cautiously of course). Of coourse, I eventually realized I was pushing my luck after about 3 years of use and swapped for some Naxo’s, but I still keep these as loaners for friends on hut trips (you can put a leather boot in them). Thanks Lou.

  3. Lou October 3rd, 2006 5:39 am

    One man’s vintage is another’s modern. Heck, I drive a 1947 Jeep, albeit slightly improved.

    Seriously, the word “vintage” is used here as a term of art. Silvretta 404 is correctly termed a “classic,” and is indeed still in use worldwide, though I don’t recommend because latest bindings have safer release.

  4. FrameNZ November 13th, 2006 11:17 am

    Great how the 404 can adjust so easily. I reside in the UK, but was in Poland where my fiance’s father was born last Feb. He had driven out from France & met us in Poland to show us around Zakopane and the Tatra mountains, where he grew up. Having listened to my fiance wax lyrical about ski touring I got my first taste of it on these bindings ( not in Pink though ) which we adjusted to fit my rather large ski boots and did it in the snow at the back of the car. He was carrying his old boards & bindings & hoping i’d be keen.
    Not only did I discover the joy of ski touring but that the the local heated beer is a good way to warm up in a small mountain hut selling local delicacies for those in the know. Or for first timers with those in the know. Can’t wait to get back out their this winter.

  5. Chris December 8th, 2006 3:42 pm

    Hi Lou; I’v been riding on the Silvretta Easy Go for the last three years now, and unfortunately only about 5 days have been touring, with roughly 200 resort days. They’re still kicking! Immediately after having them mounted I searched the web and found dozens of foreboding reviews of parts breaking, but I’m a cliff hucker, and these things have seen serious impacts (granted, I’m only a slight 135lbs.) and stood the test. Though my limited touring experience can’t compare between different touring bindings much, I can say that my grossly underprepared first overnight experience, with not enough food and far too heavy pack, they rose and fell with ease and smoothness. Also, its nice to not have to worry about ripping the binding off in forward falls, although the knee pays the price when it hits the ski. Thanks for all the amazing articles – what a resource!
    P.S. sorry this isn’t about the 404’s – closest blog spot I could find!

  6. Ryan March 12th, 2007 6:01 pm

    I have a pair of silvretta easy go and was wondering why they arnt in your collection

  7. scottyb December 24th, 2007 8:53 pm

    Just mounted some 404’s on to some Karhu surplus skis, can’t wait to use these “classics”. What a bomber unit!

  8. Jim February 13th, 2008 4:11 pm

    How did I get old? My “new” AT setup is a pair of blaze-orange TUA Excaliburs, Silvretta 404’s, and red Koflach boots. I put them together in about 1988 with money scrounged from my first “real” job.

    Unfortunately I ended up never skiing them backcountry. They were my resort setup for a couple years in conditions too rough for my skinny telemark skis. I actually had a lot of fun telemarking with this setup. Then newly married I decided to join the crowd and bought regular downhill gear. Now I’m hoping to get back into some backcountry skiing and am suprised that all my gear has gone past current, past vintage, all the way to “archaic”.

    With a mortgage, wife at home, and kids in school I’m shorter on cash than when I was 23. So I’ll just “run what I brung” and get a little life out of my old gear.

  9. Lou February 13th, 2008 6:48 pm

    Ryan, what you see on the web is only part of the collection. Jim, whatever…

  10. Tom February 2nd, 2009 4:51 am

    I still use one of these old warriors :). I had only one problem, it was broken plastic part on heel unit (silvretta 400). You can resolve it very easy. Cut old one and put there old marker rotamat spring heel unit (it has 15g less then original sillvreta heel unit 🙂 )
    This solution work perfectly ( also in hard usage.

  11. Dave February 19th, 2009 10:41 am

    Hi, I’ve just picked up an old pair of 400’s but the spring that holds down the hook on top of the heel unit on one of them is broken. Is this part of the DIN release setting? I can push the hook down to hold the heel unit in place fine, but want to be sure it doesn’t affect the proper release in a fall – or be rpone to releasing too early. These will only get used for occasional short trips in the UK (when we ever get enough snow!)

  12. Lou February 19th, 2009 11:49 am

    Dave, I’m not exactly in the business of recommending skiing on broken antique bindings. But if you insist (grin), Just release check them. If they work, then they work… that is all.

  13. Dave February 20th, 2009 2:37 am

    Thanks Lou. Your non-recommendation is understood 😉
    I don’t know that you could call what I’ll use these for as ‘skiing’ given the amount of snow we get in the UK. It’s more like rock hopping or grass skiing. Basically all I wanted was a binding that would let me do the occasional couple of hours tour with telemarking friends on local hills. They might get one or two uses per year – if I’m lucky.
    Do you happen to know if the top hook is related to the din setting in any way? From the checks I’ve tried, the binding still seems to release even if it is tied down hard – so my guess is that the DIN setting release works on hte body of the heel clamp and doesn’t rely on the top hook.
    Cheers, Dave

  14. Lou February 20th, 2009 6:36 am

    Dave, I think you are correct, though I’m a bit unclear on what you mean by the “top hook.” Like I said, just release check them, if they work, they work.

  15. cristian- romania December 16th, 2009 9:09 am

    Hi all,
    I still use this old soldiers – Silvretta 404- and i am satisfied of this.
    My bindings are used in 2 major touring ski competition( glacier patroll) and still do the job perfectly.
    I had the oportunity tu use also the other ski bindings new generation but this old ones are perfect.
    All the best.
    Cristian from Romania

  16. Marco Wikstrom February 18th, 2011 6:11 pm

    I found a little-used pair mounted to some old skis at a thrift shop. Cost me five bucks. When my first generation Diamir bindings broke I mounted the 404s and they work great (they are the dreaded pink color though).

  17. Lou February 18th, 2011 6:21 pm

    Ah, the dreaded pink!

  18. Mar' Himmerich August 14th, 2011 5:18 pm

    Hi— I’ve had Silvretta Saas Fee~ both versions, 300s, 400s and 500s. Got the “bear Plate” 300s with a pair of Salewa 120s from Chouinard in 1980. Those old Salewa 120s are still, but barely together but now have the 300 series bindings that were mounted in the late-ish 90s. I’ve had three vintages of the plain-jane 400.

    I wish I could find a real mounting jig for the 400 series binding, though. After having mounted all these different Silvrettas over the years, it’d be nice…?

  19. Keane Richards December 5th, 2011 6:52 pm

    Hey all,

    I have a pair of Scarpa Mantas and acquired a pair of 404s… Turns out they don’t work with the Mantas! I really like that the Manta is a lighter boot, and it fits me really well, but the indentation on the front of the boot doesn’t seem to be deep enough. The toe just slips right out whenever I barely start skiing.

    Does anybody have any advice on how to make the 404 compatible with a lighter boot like the Manta? Did anyone ever ski in the 404 with the Manta?

    It would be great to get them working, the setup would be awesome for me.



  20. Lou December 5th, 2011 8:36 pm

    Keane, I’m not sure if you’re joking or not, but the Manta setup pictured above is more for walking on snow than actual skiing. Also, the boots I tested did stay in the toe, so they must have had a deeper groove than yours. You could probably grind the groove slightly deeper with a disk grinder, but why? There are plenty of other welted boots out there that would work for an “approach ski” setup. Lou

  21. Keane Richards December 5th, 2011 10:50 pm

    Hey Lou,

    Thanks for the reply. No I’m not joking actually, I grew up in the Alaska bush skiing with leather boots and three-pin bindings. I’m sure I can’t telemark like I’d be able to with rigid boots, but I’ve also done just fine skiing down hills and such. (It helps growing up doing these things.)

    Anyway, what I’m looking for is a setup that will allow me to (comfortably) hike up in the Alaska Range and then ski back down (telemark style; I’m not interested in locking down the heel). I’d also like to be able to ski with my Scarpas out on the trails near home with my dogs (I skijor a lot).

    It seems like the indentation is indeed far too small to hold in the boot. It comes out right away. My foot size is fairly small (8.5)–I wonder is that the problem?

    So grinding down the indent might work? I’ve thought about it, so I might give it a try, if there are no other options to be had.



  22. Mark W December 5th, 2011 11:17 pm

    Having skied a couple times on a Silvretta 300 with Scarpa Cerro Torre boot, it is a fearsome downhill combo! If you want to work on your balance, this setup is the ticket.

  23. Keane Richards December 7th, 2011 6:23 pm

    I tested the bindings in a pair of sturdier mountaineering boots, and sure enough they work fine. Those boots definitely have a deeper groove. So I think I might try and grind the indent a little deeper, although I’m a bit concerned about messing up the boots, so we’ll see. But it definitely seems like that’s the problem…

    I’ll report back if I gain the courage to do it!


  24. Keane Richards December 7th, 2011 6:31 pm

    Ah, I have discovered the problem. Unbeknownst to me until now, there are two types of Manta: the Gsb and the, well, non Gsb. It seems like Gsb is Scarpa’s new crampon setup. Translated into tele-speak, this means Gsb boots have a really shallow indent, and don’t work for the 404 or related bindings! (This is why I thought that the boot in the above photo looked different.) How I wish I had known these things before I bought the boot…


  25. Lou December 7th, 2011 6:42 pm

    You can’t telemark on this rig. Forget it. Just get a telemark setup.

  26. J Davies December 3rd, 2012 10:07 am

    The front wire bail popped out of my 404s after some hard turns – any idea how to get it back in? The bail itself is hooked at both ends so doesn’t just slot back in.

  27. Lou Dawson December 3rd, 2012 11:32 am

    Take the toe apart, screws on underside. Then get some bindings that will support your style of skiing instead of flying apart in the middle of a turn… Lou

  28. Aaron Anderson December 25th, 2012 7:13 pm


    Thank you for your advice! I appreciate the quick response over this busy holiday season. I guess the next step is to find a pair of 404’s that will accommodate my size 11.

    Happy holidays,


  29. Ron Schiller July 16th, 2013 10:15 pm

    A buddy of mine has some Silvretta 400’s and I have the 404’s. We were talking the other day about trying to mount the 400’s on a used pair of skiis he has lying around. And I’ll need to switch mine someday. Where do you find mounting screws for these bindings? Thanks.

  30. David January 5th, 2014 7:50 pm

    Does anyone know about sizing on the 404’s? I’m looking at a pair on ebay that says size “N”. Did they make more than one size? How adjustable are they? I see one comment from 2006 that says they fit large boots which is encouraging- my mountaineering boots are size 13. Any info is appreciated. Thanks.

  31. Eugene Tsiang June 2nd, 2016 8:16 pm

    I’m still using these on a pair of Hagan skiboards which have to do duty as a touring ski and as an approach ski. The greatest thing about these bindings is universality. It doesn’t matter what boot you have, as long as it has a welt (Norwegian or crampon style), the ski will attach to your boot in both uphill and downhill modes. For guerilla type ski mountaineering where you’re packing only a golfbag, these are the ticket to impromptu decisions to attempt a nearby peak armed only with a pair of leather boots. For example, you may be near a desert with giant sanddunes. Check with local authorities first before you tear up the sand.

  32. chris woods December 30th, 2016 9:58 pm

    I’m having a hard time getting to the third screw that holds down the heel piece on a pair of 404s. Is there an easy way to get it off? What am I missing?

  33. Lou Dawson 2 December 31st, 2016 7:40 am

    Chris, I’m not clear on what you’re asking. Did you remove the cover over the screw? Let me know, happy to help. Lou

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