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In-field Zipper Repairs

Some tricks to know if your tent zipper fails.

zipper
Try to loosen stuck zippers by putting pressure on the pull tab with pliers.

Tent zippers are key components to tents. They keep wind, rain and bugs out, but when they fail, be prepared with some knowledge and tools to do on-site repairs to your tent.

Zippers consist of nylon, plastic or metal teeth or coils and a slider or grab tab pull that brings the teeth or coil tracks together. Many tents come with closed-end zippers, which means the zipper is stitched together at both ends. Closed-end zippers can be harder to repair in the field unless you have some good tools in a repair kit. Open-end zippers are much like those on a jacket where the two sides of the zipper come apart; these zippers are somewhat easier to repair.

Zipper maintenance can help extend its life span and keep problems to a minimum. Keeping the zipper free of dirt and sand will help keep it in good working order. Running a damp washcloth along the zipper track will clean most sand and dirt while in the field. A small can of keyboard air cleaner in a repair kit is great for flushing debris out of a zipper track.

If a zipper is only misaligned, you might fix the problem by working the slider back and forth a couple of times to make it run more smoothly.

If the slider is broken, there are things you can do to try to fix it. If the slider is stuck, try using some lubricant to make it run more smoothly on the zipper track. There are dry lubricants made just for zippers or try using a graphite pencil by running the graphite along the zipper’s teeth to lubricate the track.

Other lubricants can be used but be careful that they do not attract sand and dirt. Lip balm or WD-40 can be used when you do not have any other options; run a light layer of either along the teeth of the zipper and see if that helps the slider pull the two teeth sides together.

If this doesn’t work, try putting some pressure on the slider’s back side by squeezing the top and bottom together on each side of the slider pull tab with pliers; squeeze one side of the slider at a time and then run the slider up and down on the teeth until it hopefully closes the zipper.

The FixnZip makes repairing a zipper simple with no tools or sewing required.
The FixnZip makes repairing a zipper simple with no tools or sewing required.

If the slider is not working at all, a quick solution to the problem is a zipper repair kit like FixnZip. The sliders in the FixnZip make repairing a zipper fast and simple with no other tools or sewing needed like other conventional zipper repair kits. The FixnZip sliders work by finding the right size of slider, then loosening a screw on the top of the slider, attaching it to the zipper teeth on both sides of the slide and tightening the slider down on the zipper. FixnZip replaces old zipper sliders or repairs broken zippers that separate or come undone. They work on zippers made of coils or plastic or metal teeth, and can be used on opened and closed zippers. They also fit many zipper sizes.

The FixnZip makes repairing a zipper simple with no tools or sewing required.
The FixnZip works on zippers made with coils or plastic or metal teeth.

The zipper sliders that I purchased online came with three different zipper slider sizes, which ensures that one will fit your tent, sleeping bag, jackets or other equipment. These sliders are a lifesaver when zippers break on a camping trip and will save tent owners a lot of money by fixing a zipper instead of replacing a tent.  ■

Written by Julie Geiser

About julie geiser

Julie Geiser is a Public Information Officer and NEBRASKAland Regional Editor based out of North Platte, where she was born and still happily resides. Geiser worked for the commission previously for over 10 years as an outdoor education instructor – teaching people of all ages about Nebraska’s outdoor offerings. She also coordinates the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC). Geiser went on to work in marketing and writing an outdoor column for the North Platte Telegraph before returning to NGPC in her current position. She loves spending time outdoors with her family and getting others involved in her passions of hunting, fishing, camping, boating, hiking and enjoying Nebraska’s great outdoors.