How to Repair a Tent Zipper

Knowing how to fix a tent zipper is essential knowledge to have in your back pocket when you're outdoors!

There’s no denying camping and being outdoors is fantastic, but it’s nothing without a good tent. 

There are several things you can do on the go or take with you, but having a tent is a must. Tents are one of the few things you have to protect yourself against the elements!

A broken tent zipper can take your mind off the adventure and into the negative if you let it.

It’s always worth carrying a tent zipper repair kit with you, but you may be wondering how to fix a tent zipper without one. I’ve got you covered in both cases!

 

How to Fix a Tent Zipper Using a Repair Kit

There’s plenty of choices when it comes to tent repair kits. Some of them use sliders and thread to fix the seam. 

These kits are small and cheap enough to pack away in your pocket without breaking the budget. It’s advised that you also keep a pair of pliers with you as not every kit has them, and you might need them. 

  1. If the zipper stops at the end of the track, then start by removing the seam. You can remove the seam using pliers or the seam reaper. Tent zipper seams are generally sewn-in to prevent them from opening too much. Start by removing the seam before moving on to the rest of the repair. 
  2. Pull the slider off of the track and put it to one side. You can use the pliers to get rid of the slider if it doesn’t come off easily or is trapped in the fabric. 
  3. Take your new slider out of the kit and place it in the grooves of the track. The pull should be facing inside the tent. Install the new slider starting with the pointed or nose part, or your zip won’t work correctly. 
  4. Pull along the zipper until a couple of inches of zip have locked up. This step ensures the zipper works properly and gives you some extra room to resew the stop. Don’t worry if problems arise. Just unzip it and reinstall it. Install a few different sized zippers until you get the right one for the job. 
  5. Use the needle in the kit to sew the seam back at the end. Be sure to sew the part where the fabric and track meet. Applying 15-20 stitches to a 1-inch zipper should be more than enough to keep it firmly in place. 

 

How to Fix a Tent Zipper Without a Repair Kit 

Zippers can break at any time and you might be caught out without a repair kit.

Even if you don’t have a kit, you likely have some pliers and zip ties, which are things many campers consider essential. That’s all you need to know how to fix a zipper on a tent. 

  1. If you’re having trouble pulling down the zipper because it is broken, then you can rig up a DIY solution with a zip tie. This is an excellent option for people who want to know how to repair a tent zipper and don’t have the repair kit. Slide the pointed end of a zip tie through the eye of the zipper and place the fastener on the cord. Pull the cord to tighten the zipper until the loop is around 2.5cm. 
  2. If the problem is caused by a separating track, then adjustable pliers are the solution. Unzip the tent until the slider is at the end of the zipper. Set the pliers around the left of the zipper and keep the nose and zipper parallel for the best results. Apply some pressure and then do the same again for the other side. 
  3. Ensure that the zipper isn’t secured, so you’ve got full access to both sides. 
  4. Avoid applying too much pressure as this could break or jam the slider. 
  5. If the zipper lags, then you can fix the issue with a pencil. Run the pencil along the teeth of the zipper to move things along. Lagging zippers are small problems at best, but they are annoying nonetheless. Using a pencil puts some graphite on the slider, which makes it run smoother. 
  6. Remove any fabric or trapped clothing from the zipper with a wet bar of soap. Check the zipper to make sure nothing is stuck if it won’t move along the track. You can use soap to remove anything that is trapped. The soap will loosen the fabric up, and you can gently pull it out. 
  7. Be gentle and patient when pulling fabric. You could damage the zipper by pulling too roughly on trapped material. 
  8. If the trapped fabric still doesn’t move then, you can use a knife to make a small cut in the track under the trapped fabric. A needle can also help to get material through zippers. 

If you have to repair the tent by yourself without a kit, then it’s recommended you take it to a professional when you get home. 

They can double-check the work and replace any broken or missing zipper teeth. 

 

Conclusion 

Now you know how to repair a broken tent zipper. You’ll be able to make some repairs of your own that will save you a lot of hassle. Wikipedia also has some good info.

Aim to keep a repair kit on hand, but don’t worry too much if you can’t. There are still options available for fixing a broken zipper. 

The key is taking your time and going slowly while repairing to avoid doing further damage to the tent. 

Get it good enough and have it looked over when you get home to check for other damage and ensure the repairs were completed correctly. 

Want to take your tent knowledge even further? Click here to learn how to waterproof your tent.