Boondocking Basics

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How to Fix a Broken Zipper

How to Fix a Broken Zipper


That $400.00 sleeping bag you bought at REI becomes useless once its Chinese-made zipper breaks. How do you fix a broken zipper? In many cases, you replace the zipper slider. It’s almost always poorly-designed zipper sliders that cause 90% of the problems.

how to fix a broken zipper
Fixing a tent zipper that separated in the middle

How to Fix a Broken Zipper

Most problems with zippers are due to cheaply-made zipper sliders. Often times it’s because the zipper slider is too loose, causing the zipper teeth to not fully connect together, or connect out of alignment. Other times it’s because the head is made of cheap plastic, and tugging on it too hard causes it to flex and warp, resulting in improper teeth alignment.

Other reasons is because fabric gets stuck in the zipper slider. This won’t happen with properly designed zipper sliders.

The Best Way to Fix a Broken Zipper is to Replace the Slider

A company called “FixnZip” makes a universal zipper slider that can fit on to most zippers, and will work better than the stock head. It will work on your sleeping bag, tent, jacket, bug screen, and a wide variety of other camping and boondocking gear.

It comes with a tightener so that you can adjust the slider tightness to ensure proper alignment and closure of zipper teeth. It comes in three different sizes to accommodate just about any zipper you have.

FixnZip works with both metal and plastic zippers.

Using a FixnZip to repair a broken tent zipper

If You Have a Metal Zipper Slider

If the zipper slider you have is made of metal, you can try squeezing it with a pair of pliers. Needlenose pliers will work even better. Make sure you have these in your boondocking tools. The goal is to make the slider more tight against the teeth so that it remains firmly on track and forces the zipper teeth to close in alignment.

If the zipper slider is made of plastic, you cannot squeeze it. You’ll have to replace it with a new slider.

Bent Zipper Teeth

You may have to carefully inspect the zipper teeth, particularly where the zipper slider is getting stuck. Use a pair of needlenose pliers to bend the tooth back straight.

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