How to Fix Your Sleeping Bag and Tent Zipper

Imagine you’re gearing up for a backcountry trip and pull out your trusty NEMO tent. You set the tent up in your living room because you’re a prepared individual and it’s been a while since you’ve slept on the ground. The poles are clipped, the rainfly is on and you’re ready to jump inside. You go to pull the zipper and enter your home-inside-your-home but the wrench has been thrown. The zipper won’t move an inch. Where have things gone wrong?! You think back to your last adventure and remember it was raining … and the trip before that was in the desert. In fact, it hasn’t been washed since you bought it! Take a deep breath, all that is broken can be fixed. In this article, we’ll address all aspects of zipper repair and the tips and tricks to get your tent back to that smooth zipper experience you remember.

The first step is to identify why the zipper is broken. There are only a few ways that a zipper stops working. The zipper track can often get dirty or “frozen” from residues, making it very difficult to move the zipper pull at all. The zipper pull itself can also be the issue, sometimes becoming bent, causing the tracks to split and not close correctly.

Luckily, these issues are easy fixes.

Let’s start by cleaning and lubing the zipper track. If the zipper track is stuck open, use a stiff toothed brush such as a toothbrush or a nail brush to each side of the zipper tape and zipper track. Using a specific zipper cleaner such as Gear Aid Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant or a simple silicone spray along with the brush to remove any debris or build up that may be blocking the zipper pull will also work.

Use a toothbrush or a paintbrush to clean the zipper teeth.

Once the zipper is cleaned and lubricated, check the track for any bent teeth or loose fabric that may prevent zipper movement. The teeth can sometimes be bent back into the track for a temporary fix.

If the zipper is moving but the track comes apart immediately after, it’s probably an issue with the zipper pull. You can tighten the pull with pliers by squeezing each half of the slider. Don’t squeeze too much as the pull can crimp the zipper track — or worse, break the pull altogether.

A pair of pliers can be used to gently tighten a loose zipper pull.

If after careful inspection and rigorous tinkering the zipper is still not functioning, please get in touch with us and we are happy to help. If the zipper cannot be repaired, we will replace it and return your tent to its smooth zipping self. Typically, zipper repairs can take up to 3 weeks so be sure to check your zippers often and ensure your gear is ready for action on your next adventure.

Request a repair here! Have other questions? Contact us and we are happy to help you.