OUTDOORS

Tent Zipper Repair: Zipper Facts and How to Repair a Broken, Separated, or Stuck Zipper

Tent zipper repair
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Camping or any other overnight outdoor activity is not fun without a tent. Well, there are other sleeping gears that you can carry or make, but a tent is the most convenient choice.

However, there is one fundamental issue that you must deal with, which is the tent zipper. Be put on the alert that zippers on a tent are the very first thing to fail, and they will definitely need repair. Tent zipper repairis not difficult as most people would imagine.

This posting offers you crucial tent zipper repairing info, which you can use to make the necessary repairs.

What is a Tent Zipper?

Zippers have plastic or metal teeth, or a synthetic coil of nylon or polyester attached to a woven tape. Usually, all types of zips come in all-purpose weights. Coil zippers are normally rustproof, heat-resistant, more flexible, and lightweight. Metal zips come in heavier weights.

Tent zipper

Even though zippers are normally made to blend into the tent fabric, some are big, intriguing, and made to be shown off. The durability of your tent zipper depends on the type and anatomy of the zip. There are some types that get damaged easily while others do not.

Types of zipper

Coil Zipper

They have a continuous binding of nylon filament, which interlocks as the slider is passed over. These closures are basically lightweight when compared to tooth zippers, and are found in waterproof varieties. Coil zippers are known to wear slowly than tooth zippers. This means that you are less likely to face problems in the field when using a tent made of coil zips.

Coil zipper

Tooth Zipper

They are also referred to as vision locks. They have separate blocks of nylon that intertwine as the slider is passed over. Tooth closures are exceptionally rugged; however, they are slightly heavier and bulkier when compared to coils. Tooth zips are prone to catastrophic failure when a single tooth cracks off. In most cases, the zip is proximately short with less hope for repair.

Tooth zipper

Conventional Zipper

These fasteners are made of strong as well as flexible continuous spiral threads of polyester or nylon fitted to a synthetic tape. These closures are appropriate for light to medium weight tent fabrics. The most popular conventional zippers are the centered zippers.

Conventional zipper

Zipper Anatomy

Knowing the types of zippers is not enough knowledge; you need to know the anatomy. There are various zipper anatomies, which include:

Separating Zippers

They are common on jackets and sweaters, but they are among the best tent closures. They are fasteners that come apart at both ends. Separating zips release half of the closures for easy entry and exit from the tent. This minimizes the strain on a zip, and at the same time reduces the likelihood of broken zips.

Separating zippers

The most common separating zips are two-way, which have two zipper pulls. You can choose tents that have exposed, lapped, or centered separating zips. To make sure that the zippers will last a while before needing repair, you must ensure that the zips finish on the tent fabric is durable.

Non-Separating Zippers

These are fasteners that are fused on each end. They open and close, but stay permanently connected at one end. Most tent doors are fitted with this kind of zips. Unlike separating zips, non-separating are prone to failure, especially when something gets trapped in between.

A good number of low-quality tents are installed with non-separating zippered doors. It is usually challenging as far as keeping the door from damage is concerned. You need to be extremely careful when handling the zip. However, they are not difficult to repair.

Non-separating zippers

Other anatomies include: slider (small device that passes over the zip to align and join the two sides); tape (the fabric on either side of the zipper); stop (small plastic blocks at each end of the zipper that prevent the slider from coming of the tape); and pull (is the grab tab that connects to the slider).

How to Fix a Tent Zipper

Irrespective of how effective a tent zipper is; the problem is that they tend to gridlock, break, or separate. Therefore, it pays to know how to fix them properly.

There are a number of things that can happen to your tent zipper, including separation, breaking, or jamming. Regardless of whether it is a broken, separated, or jammed zip, the slider is the main component to check first. In most cases, the teeth may fail to connect or the slider detaches. The bottom line is that you cannot close your tent door, and that is kind of a big problem, especially when camping in the cold.

A tent zipper repair

Whether the zipper needs repair or replacement depends entirely on the quality of the zip and the tent material. It is quite unfortunate if you are forced by circumstances to replace a zipper of a new tent that you have just bought.

How to Repair a Closed-End Tent Zip

One of the most popular zipper door found on most contemporary tents is the closed-end zipper, which you can also refer to as a non-separating zipper. It is always closed at one end, meaning that it is sewn together. You can use a fixing slider if the original slider fails to work or if the zip keeps on opening at some point once the slider has passed.

This can save you replacement cost because if the slider fails to lock the tent door, you can easily fit a fixing slider in its place. The following are the basic steps to follow.

Step 1: Make sure the screw on the fixing slider is in the direction of the outside of the tent door.

Step 2: Then untie the screw on the fixing slider.

Step 3: Go ahead and slide the fixing slider over a single row of the zip teeth.

Step 4: Once the first row is in, go ahead and fix the second row. Make sure you place the slider so close to the retaining box.

Step 5: Gently tighten up the thumbscrew on the slider so that the zip stiffens.

Step 6: Have the bottom and top of the slider squeezed at the same time. Make sure your second hand has a strong grip on the zipper box.

Step 7: Go ahead and pull the slider to lock the two rows together. Retighten the slider’s thumbscrew where necessary as you continue moving the slider to tighten.

Repair a closed-end tent zip

How to Repair a Broken Tent Zipper

Step 1: Examine the tent zipper to know the extent of the damage. It is usually easy to fix broken slider towards the top. You will be forced to replace the entire zip if the following happens:

  • The stops at the bottom of the zipper fall off.
  • Broken teeth at the middle of the zipper.
  • Missing / broken teeth towards the zipper’s end.

Step 2: You can proceed if your zipper misses teeth towards the top. Use a pair of pliers to pull out the stops at the top of the zip. You might need to apply some pressure when pulling off the stops and you will need to remove stops from both rows.

Step 3: You can either replace or fix the slider. To fix the slider, remove it from the zipper and access any damage. Sometimes the slider may only need a little squeeze to provide it with the power needed to close the zip. Balance the two rows and then place the slider. If required, you will have to use a pair of pliers to bend either side of the slider. You might still have to replace the slider if the rows do not balance and fasten together properly.

Step 4: You will have to replace the stops since the removed stops are damaged from the pressure you applied when removing them. Replacing them is easy all you have to do is place new stops at the zipper’s top. Then use a pair of pliers to fasten and put them in position. The top, as well as bottom stops, are crucial because they prevent the slider from falling off.

Broken tent zipper

How to Repair Separated Zippers

It is unlikely for your tent zipper door to separate from normal use. However, there are times when your children or even you might apply pressure on the fabric near the zipper causing the teeth to separate. Apart from pressure applied on either side of the zipper; sometimes the teeth can separate due to dirt.

Step 1: Pull the slider to the other end. Usually, the teeth separate when they are locked. Use cleaning agent to remove any dirt that is trapped in between the teeth. You can use soap and water to remove any sediment. Take a clean cloth, dip it in the soapy water, and then use it to clean the teeth. Once you have done this, use a damp cloth to wipe off the soap from the teeth.

Step 2: Then gently pull the slider towards the bottom to remove the separation. You might want to use a little force when doing this. The zipper should be able to fasten smoothly once the sediments are removed.

Step 3: You might want to straighten twisted teeth. Any bent/twisted teeth can significantly cause the zipper to separate at some point. You can easily correct the bent teeth with the help of needle nose pliers or tweezers. Hold the teeth firmly and attempt to straighten them. Repeat as needed.

Camping tent zipper

How to Fix a Stuck/Jam Zipper

There are a number of reasons that can cause a zipper to jam or stuck. As mentioned earlier, any form of sediment can cause the zip to jam. If you rush into your tent and then pull the slider swiftly and carelessly, you might cause some teeth to bend. As a result, the zipper may stick at the point where the teeth bent.

Step 1: Use soap and water to clean any dirt from the zipper. Then use a damp piece of cloth to remove any soap. Try to close and open the zipper; it should open smoothly.

Step 2: Use graphite to grease the zipper. If dirt is not the issue, then a little graphite can do the trick. Sometimes the problem may exist on the tracks and not the teeth. Applying graphite or any other lubricant can loosen the tracks and allow the slider to move effortlessly back and forth.

Step 3:  In thecase of bent teeth, the trick is still the same as the one discussed earlier. Use a pair of pliers or tweezers to straighten the teeth. The slider should be able to move back and forth effortlessly once the teeth are straight.

Fixing a stuck zipper

You can choose to replace the entire zipper if all the above methods fail to repair your tent zipper door. To successfully implement all the above-mentioned processes, you need zipper repair kit. Here are a few kits that you can consider to buy.

4 Best Zipper Repair Kits

Zipper Repair Kit

This is one of the best kits to use, especially for broken zips that require slider replacement. The kit consists of a repair manual, a sewing kit, and a number of sliders. You will find the following inside the kit: five teeth zip sliders, ten coil zip sliders, five double pull coil zip slider, and eight double pull coil zip sliders.

Zipper repair kit

All the accessories are top quality, and they will perform exceptionally. All you have to do is follow the manual on how to use each kit, but it is normally straightforward.

ZipperStop Repair Kit

This is another amazing kit for the money. It provides you with the most popular replacement sliders that you might need to fix your tent zipper. It is the ideal kit for replacing broken or worn out zip sliders. The contents of the kit can consist of10/7/5 or 3 aluminum automatic lock sliders with bottom and top stoppers.

ZipperStop repair kit

Dritz Zipper Repair Kit-Clothing

This kit is mostly recommended for clothing, such as coats and jackets, but it can come in handy when dealing with your tent zipper. The kit is equipped with all the necessary accessories you might need to repair a broken tent zipper that is not separated towards the bottom.

Dritz Zipper repair kit-clothing

However, the kit does not contain everything that you might need. The quality of the individual parts is fine. It will save you a great deal of time and keep any frustrations off your reach. The sliders’ sizes might be an issue though. Compare the sizes before you buy the kit.

Zipper Rescue Kit, Outdoor

This is the real deal because it comprises of the most popular accessories you might need for repairing tent, backpack, duffle bag, or sleeping bag zipper. The sliders along with the tops are classified according to the weight as well as type to cover most zipper repair requirements.

Zipper rescue kit, outdoor

The kit offers you the following: 2 top stops; 2 bottom stops; 2 (8 mm) coil sliders; 2 (5mm) coil sliders; 2 (4.5 mm) coil sliders; and 2 (5 mm) tooth sliders. You should not be worried when you inadvertently the zipper slider on your camping tent when busy setting up the tent. You can use this kit to easily repair the slider or even replace it within a few moments.

Preventing Damage to Tent Zipper

Usually, prevention is the best care. Do not be too pushy with the slider, especially when you pull it up and you experience some resistance. A piece of cloth or sand can get trapped in between the teeth causing the slider to jam. The best thing you can do to avoid damaging the zipper is stop pulling. Then inspect the zip to single out the problem.

Camping tent

Once you have identified the problem, go ahead and eliminate the problem. Be very gentle with those ultra-lightweight zippers on your new lightweight tent. They are even more vulnerable to malfunction.

Be sure to correctly align the zipper sides prior to pulling on the slider, and stop tugging if you encounter a hitch. The good news is that many broken tent zips can be repaired using a small set of pliers. In the case of fabric getting caught in the zipper, use your pliers to gently pull the fabric out.

Make a habit of using lubes to lubricate your tent zipper. This should make fastening and loose easy. However, be careful not to apply too much oil since this may lead to grit sticking on the zipper.

In Conclusion

The very first thing that you must do is buy a quality tent. This way, you will be able to avoid zipper repairs. Low-quality tents tend to have loose clothing that gets trapped in the teeth and cause a number of zipper problems.

Tent zipper repair

Know the various types of zipper and the anatomy of the zipper. This will make repairs easy since you will know exactly what you are dealing with. With that said, never force a zipper if it rejects to budge. Stop and fix the problem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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