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How To Fix A Tent Zipper

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in the woods, ready to get some shut eye in my tent, only to find that the zipper is broken and I can’t close the darn thing. 

Not only can this ruin the fun of camping, but not knowing how to fix a tent zipper leaves you susceptible to the elements, bugs and other critters throughout the night. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common problem that can occur at random.

how to fix a tent zipper
Hand pulling in the zipper of a tent

Luckily, over the years I’ve been taught a few ways to get a tent zipper to work properly again once it breaks. In this article, I’m going to share these methods with you to hopefully help you the next time a tent zipper (or any zipper for that matter) stops working.

How To Fix A Tent Zipper

Even the investment of a small amount of your time and effort can keep your tent’s zipper in good working order. 

With dedicated care and responsible maintenance of your tent and its zipper you will ensure they both remain in good working condition for a long time to come. 

Clean The Tent Zipper

When particles, like dust, sand or dirt get trapped in the zipper, they can cause the teeth of the zipper to stop functioning properly. 

The simple solution entails regular cleaning of the zipper teeth. As part of the overall maintenance of the tent, the cleaning of the zipper provides a good starting point to ensure the overall longevity of the tent.

To remove any dirt or grainy build-up in the teeth of the zipper it’s best to use an old toothbrush and sweep it across the teeth. This will help remove any unwanted particles and is a technique that will keep the zipper working right.

Resist The Urge to Force The Zipper to Run

Rather than trying to force a stubborn zipper to run, it is best to go slow and tend to the problem causing the disruption. 

While you may be able to rush it through every now and then, the stuck zipper will stop working overtime unless the problem is addressed.

Carefully Get The Zipper to Move Properly

Instead of trying to get a stubborn zipper to work again by forcing it to move, it’s better to try and open and close the zipper carefully. This will help you avoid breaking it altogether.

Properly Mount Your Stakes

Be mindful of how tightly you mount the stakes of the tent, as this can also contribute to how the zipper functions. If you ground the stakes in too tight and taut, it can place undue pressure on the zipper, resulting in difficulties moving the zipper up and down. 

Keep The Zipper Teeth Lubricated

To keep the zipper in good working condition, it is helpful to lubricate the teeth of the zipper. Suggested lubricants include things like a Windex spray or a graphite pencil

I don’t recommend using Vaseline and other thicker substances, as they may leave excess residue behind. 

Quick Tent Zipper Repair

How To Fix A Tent Zipper 1

Most of the issues you’ll find with tent zippers stem from the slider. I recommend that you first check the teeth of the zipper. If they are free of debris and other trappings, then you may proceed to try one of the following solutions:

Use Pliers to Press Down on The Slider

Gently apply pressure to both slides of the zipper’s fastener using pliers. It’s important to note: tightening the slider in this way only provides a short-term solution. 

You should really try to replace the slider as soon as possible. While the tightening application works well with metallic sliders, it’s not the greatest when it comes to plastic sliders as they are less pliable and will require more effort on your part.  

Get a Replacement Slider

Though a bit more complex, replacing the slider can still be a very convenient solution. You will need a few tools, including needle nose pliers, a suitable replacement slider, and an end nipper tool

Here’s how you can fix the zipper by replacing the slider:    

  • Move the old slider to the bottom of the zipper.
  • Applying pressure with the end nipper, hold the stopper firmly.
  • Remove the stopper from the fabric carefully to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.
  • Take off the old slider.
  • Position the replacement slider on the zipper. It may help to use a zipper repair kit, but make sure the replacement slider has the same up and down motion as the original.
  • Gently use the nose pliers to attach the replacement stopper.
  • Check your work! Test the slider’s mobility as it should now move up and down smoothly.

Stopgap Replacement Of The Zipper Slider

Unfortunately, you might not have all of the tools necessary to replace the slider on-hand. Fortunately, there are a few simple quick fixes.  For example, the FixnZip Replacement Slider lives up to its name, in that it provides a one-stop solution to solve the problem fast and with minimal effort. 

All you need to do is place the new zipper in the correct spot and secure the fastener. When you can make a full repair, simply unscrew the bolt and dislodge the slider. This can be a useful, albeit temporary, fix when you’re in a pinch.

Should I Replace The Zipper With Velcro?

You might be tempted to remove the entire zipper arrangement and replace it with velcro instead. However, I don’t recommend doing this, as velcro isn’t as secure as a zipper and can’t be easily managed.

Velcro also doesn’t waterproof that well. I must admit, it may be something to consider, especially if you’re on a budget, but you can always get a quote from a professional zipper repair company before looking into other replacement options.

Wrapping Up How To Fix A Tent Zipper

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, broken zippers are a common problem. With that said, if you know how to fix them you can save yourself the trouble of having to deal with a tent that’s forced to stay open throughout the night.