In preparation for any camping trip, I always have to inspect the condition of all my camping gear and emergency kits to make sure I enjoy my trip without any problems. So a second look at my camping tent, I realized that the zipper is not working. Instead of buying a new camping tent, I have a repair kit that can help fix the zipper on my tent.

A zipper repair depends on the zipper’s problem; you can use lubricant or some light cleaning with soapy water to dislodge a stuck slider. You can straighten bent zipper teeth with some handy pliers, you can also replace a broken slider with an identical one from the repair kit, and you can also remove the whole zipper and sew another one. Read more on our comprehensive guide to fixing and maintaining the tent zipper.

How to repair a tent zipper

Follow the steps below to repair your tent zipper without replacing it.

Things you’ll need

Directions

Identify the problem with your zipper to understand how to fix it. There are several reasons that can cause a tent zipper to fail; a stuck zipper that isn’t sliding, a  loose zipper pull that’s sliding but teeth are not locking, a zipper with torn seams, or separated zipper teeth.

Fixing a stuck tent zipper

  • Inspect the zipper and see what can be preventing the zipper slide from moving; it could be the tent fabric or dirt. Do not try to pull the zipper roughly, as you may bend the teeth and make it worse.
  • Take some lubricant or petroleum jelly and apply it around the zipper slide. Alternatively, you can clean the zipper with some soap and water to remove the dirt, then wiggle the slider back and forth until it starts to glide smoothly.
  • A zipper won’t move if the slider is biting down on the track too tightly. Use a pair of pliers to lift the stuck side of the slider slightly. Move the slider up and down the zipper, then press it down again. Do put press too tight; if the slider is too tight, it will not move.
  • If the zipper teeth are bent and blocking movement, use some pliers or tweezers to straighten the teeth, grease the zipper, and the slider will be able to close and open easily.

Fixing a separated zipper

If your zipper’s teeth are not connecting, but the slider is moving, that is a problem with the slider.

  • Move the slider to the beginning of the zipper, use pliers to press down on each side of the slider, but do not press it too hard.
  • Lubricate the slider and move the slider back and forth.
  • If the teeth do not connect, move the slider to the start and keep squeezing the slider’s sides until the zipper closes well.

Fixing a broken slider

If the zipper slider is damaged, you have to replace it with a spare from the zipper repair kit.

  • Note how the older slider is facing and try to match the new one’s placement. Looking at the slider, you will notice one side is thicker than the other, the top is thicker, and the bottom is thinner.
  • Use a pair of pliers to remove the seam or the track end stopper.
  • Remove the slider off the zipper.
  • Get the same size of a replacement slider from the zipper repair kit and slide it on the zipper with the pointed side facing forward. If the slider fits correctly, the zipper will close behind it.
  • Move the slider a couple of inches further, then reset the stopper with the pliers and sew the zipper’s end with a needle and thread to secure the zipper. Make sure the threads do not tag in the zipper.

How to replace a tent zipper

You will have to replace the entire zipper track if nothing works. It is a simple replacement since the slide and zipper are already compatible.

  • Before removing the older zipper, make sure to note which direction the zipper faces and which side of the slider faces up.
  • Remove the older zipper using a seam ripper or even a utility knife. Get a durable tent zipper that matches the length of the damaged one.
  • Line up your zipper along the zipper opening correctly.  Zippers also have a top and bottom, the top has the raised coils, and the flat side is the bottom.
  • Slowly stitch the zipper on the tent using needle and thread on both sides of the zipper. Make sure that no threads cross the slider.
  • Alternatively, if you cannot stitch, you can use a silicone sealant to attach the zipper to the tent material and let it cure for about 24 hours. Ensure the adhesive does not get on the zipper or slider.

How to make a tent zipper last longer

Here are some tips you can use to ensure your tent zipper lasts as long as possible.

  • Avoid exhausting the zipper mechanism when using it or when it gets stuck. Be gentle when closing and opening, and do not force a stuck zipper. Always hold the zipper with one hand on the side where the slider is coming from to make the zipper track tight, then pull the slider gently with the other hand.
  • Regularly clean your zipper with some soapy water and a toothbrush or cloth to reduce dirt build-up. Dust and dirt will always stick in between the zipper teeth or along the fabric of the zipper. This dirt will prevent the slider’s movement or even get it stuck, damaging the slider or the teeth.
  • After cleaning the tent zipper, allow it to air dry before storing it. Storing it when wet may cause the slider to rust, or bacteria and gunk may develop along the zipper and m
  • When the tent zipper is dry, is it best to apply some lubricant along the zipper. It prevents the slider from rusting and allows it to glide along the zipper track smoothly. Lubricants you can use for zip care are;  paraffin wax, pastels or powdered graphite, beeswax softened with a hairdryer, and Teflon-Silicone lubricant.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to fix a tent zipper, a broken zipper should not ruin your camping plans. Remember always to carry a zipper kit, a replacement zipper, and some pliers in case the problem reoccurs while in the woods.  You should also observe the simple zipper maintenance of cleaning, drying, and greasing the zipper to prevent damage when in storage.