How to repair a zipper
Nothing as annoying when the zipper of your tent derails, leaving you with flapping doors. Nothing quite as disappointing when your expensive tent is prone to wearing out, just as any other brand.
Don’t worry. Every zipper will derail, it is just a matter of time and usage. Simply because the slider will wear out due to sand particles.
Here is how to repair your zipper. Step by step in 9 easy to follow instructions.
What you need
Thread (dental floss)
Sharp knife (or seam ripper)
Tiny clamps (optional)
Before you navigate on a long tour be sure to request a few spare sliders from the company where you bought your tent. Hilleberg did send out several times to me.
Note: I had opened the seams of the zippers before I made photo’s of this instruction, that’s why you already see the usage of dental floss.
1) Remove the little clamps at the beginning of the zipper. You can use a scissor or a seam ripper for the little clamps.
2) Open the stitches to where the zipper is connected.
3) Do this far enough so you can slide a new slider on but no too far as you need to close it by hand.
4) When the end of each zipper is loose, you can slide the slider off. Be watchful that you remember how the old slider is positioned.
5) It might need a bit of wriggling and practice, but the slider should grip both zipper sides symmetrically. You will immediately feel that the touch is smooth again.
6) The little clamps that you had to remove at step 1 must be placed back, either by a few stitches or by the original (included in your manufactures spare parts kit).
7) When using the original clamps, use a pincer to jam them.
8) Then stitching of the seams starts; be sure to do this as neatly as it was done before you opened them, so the fabric can not get stuck between the zippers.
9) Fold the zipper ends neatly in as was originally done, so no bulky stockpiling will be created.
Your stitching does not have to be immaculate as you will most probably open it again to renew the worn out sliders. But by then you know how to : )
I hope this manual was useful to you. If you have any tips, I am interested to hear them from you.
Here is more on tent repair and the Hillerberg review.
10 replies on “Zipper Repair”
Thank you, that’s really really handy. I haven’t had to do this yet but as you say the time will come. There’s just one thing that I don’t understand, why can’t it be done by just removing the end clips…and leaving the stitching intact? I’m good with pliers but needles are not my strong side.
The zipper ends have to be opened, as you can not get an old slider nor a new slider on a zipper when the ends are folded. See it like a train: it can not ride when the rails is folded. The ends of the zippers are always folded, otherwise the zipper would come off by first use. The end clips are more or less there to perfectize the end of the zippers, without the clips it would work too.
Good luck for when you need to fix it. And don’t worry, sewing does not have to be beautiful.
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Thank you, that makes sense now. I didn’t realise that the zipper sides were sawn folded back on them selves. Happy riding to you.
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My tip to maintain zippers is to pamper them by sliding a (black, regular) pencil over them a few times. You will be surprised how well they run then !
A pencil has a kernel of graphite which does the trick and it is not at all greasy so it does not attract any dirt etc. This is a very old trick which I actually forgot about. But I just experienced this once again at my tentzippers. Great result, and very simple, fast and clean to apply !
That’s right! I remember this one as well, but can not remember from where exactly.
Thank you for adding this simple and cheap tip. Do you think many people will carry a pencil?
There are graphite kernels without wood around them, just a thick stick of graphite. This might be a good thing to add to the basic gear outfit.
I always have my pencil around since many people ask for my signature !
But I don’t know about graphite sticks, so “pencils without wood”. I suspect them to break very easily since graphite is not very strong (sideways).
You can easily create such a stick by putting electricity (ie 12vdc carbattery) on both ends of a pencil. Graphite is a very good conductor so it then will start to burn (glow). Shortly after it is easy to push the stick out of the remaining wood.
The best might be to have a so called carpenter’s pencil. They are thicker and have a bigger graphite kernel.
I bought a pencil in a giftshop and store it in my small toolsbag. Which is deep down in a pannier, so I had to stop the signature sessions.
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Wilfried, the signature habit I believe at once. I also carried a pencil, especially in Iran, not to give signatures but to note down the number plates of cars which bothered me. That happened often and I found out this trick had magical effects.
Since I was in art school I know heavy graphite chuncks exist. They will break easier, that’s correct. I would suggest to roll them into a piece of used innertube or Ortlieb-bag-alike material. These two items one need anyway, to fix gear.
Its a pity you had to stop the signature sessions, as fame makes life on the road oh so pleasant ; )
Happy cycle, greetings Cindy