Salewa Tour (1987) Backcountry Skiing Alpine Touring Binding

Salewa Tour alpne touring backcountry skiing binding (click image to enlarge).

Salewa Tour alpne touring backcountry skiing binding (click image to enlarge).

1987 was an interesting year in backcountry skiing for North America. Internet didn’t exist, and our only dedicated magazine (Couloir) began the next year as a couple of photocopied pages stapled together. The lack of information was a marketing dream, as everyone got much of their information from catalogs.

To that end, Chouinard Equipment (eventually to become Black Diamond) was making a mission of publishing informative and well written catalogs that sometimes devoted a whole printed page to one product — use of ink and paper that was excessive and appreciated. On page 47 of the 1987 Great Pacific (Chouinard) book was the Salewa Tour Binding, said to be “…cleaner, easier to use, and lighter than any other full-function randonnee binding we have used…” (While the Ramer binding also existed at the time, and was lighter at 26 oz per binding, it’s assumed the catalog authors had not used the Ramer so hence their copy writing was honest.)

As far as we can tell, this binding was first released for sale in 1985/1986, and the version shown here is a slightly improved one released for 1986/1987.

Salewa binding details.

Salewa binding details.

As with most bindings starting in this era, climbing lift was available. You implement this by flipping down the part as indicated above, and shown activated in our intro photo. Changing modes from alpine to touring and back is accomplished by pulling up and pressing down the mode change lever, which in turn moves a bar (not visible above, see underside photo below) in and out of a slot just behind the release stub area as shown above.

Both vertical and lateral release worked off the same machinery. In a twisting fall, the binding plate rotates around the stub/pivot which is fixed to the ski. In vertical mode, the plate pulls up and off the pivot, which has a couple of small inverted ramps that the binding rides on as it moves upward during the tension of a fall. In our experience testing this binding, it was prone to pre-release unless set to high DIN numbers, and we thus were not impressed by the binding’s ability to protect from injury.

In a lateral release, the binding pivots and looks as above, though it may pull up and off the center stub as well. Re-assembling the binding after a release can be frustrating but is doable.

In a lateral release, the binding pivots and looks as above, though it may pull up and off the center stub as well. Re-assembling the binding after a release can be frustrating but is doable.

Underside of binding showing release stub fixed to ski, as well as slot that mated with the stub.

Underside of binding showing release stub fixed to ski, as well as slot that mated with the stub.

In a lateral release, the binding toe moves to the side against this roller.

In a lateral release, the binding toe moves to the side against this roller.

To adjust release, you use a dedicated tool that's attached to the Salewa's release retention strap. You tighten or loosen two fittings, which makes you think one is for vertical and one for horizontal release, but they both combine for the two release modes so you just match the numbers for each.

To adjust release, you use a dedicated tool that’s attached to the Salewa’s release retention strap. You tighten or loosen two fittings, which makes you think one is for vertical and one for horizontal release, but they both combine for the two release modes so you just match the numbers for each.

Skiers of the mid 1980s liked the look of this binding, as it sat close to the ski (in fashion back than) and had a no nonsense vibe. More, it also worked with welted or crampon compatible climbing boots, and was thus favored by climbers as an approach or glacier binding. The Salewa Tour’s function didn’t live up to its looks, however, so it never achieved great popularity nor persisted as a model line.

Nonetheless, at least one well known Colorado 14er skier used this binding till the early millenium — something that always amazed and amused us.

Weight (one binding with screws, no brake): 33 oz, 936 gr

Aplogies to whomever donated this binding to the collection as I’ve misplaced your information. If you’ll drop us an email, we’d appreciate it.

Everyone, please enjoy the page excerpt below from the 1987 Great Pacific (Chouinard) Catalog.

Chouinard catalog page.

Chouinard catalog page.

Catalog page 44.

Catalog page 44.

Salewa thumbnail.

Salewa thumbnail.


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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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