How To Fix A Tent Zipper?

Imagine that you are outdoors and your tent zipper breaks. What can you do to fix it?

Can you even fix it without replacing it? It is possible since I had the same situation last year when I was camping in the mountains.

fix a tent zipper 101

A tent without a zipper won’t protect you and the camping gear from the elements so it is important to know how to fix a tent zipper without replacing it. Can you do it by yourself?

Find out how to repair a tent zipper with just one tool and how to maintain it so it will run smoothly for years.

Can a tent zipper be repaired?

In some cases, a tent zipper can’t be repaired. If there is a hole or a broken tooth, a zipper repair can’t be done.

In this case, the zipper has to be replaced by a new one, if possible with the same color and technique (for example separating or non-separating).

Why do tent zippers break?

The broken tent zipper is one of the worst things that can happen to you when you are enjoying outdoors. The zipper is supposed to secure the tent’s interior from weather and animals.

It is likely to break when you mishandle it. Sometimes it jams and you are forced to use extra force to get it to work again.

In the heat of the moment, you use too much force that is required and you damage it completely.

It also gets damaged with continued use that brings about wear and tears. You are left with a broken zipper and the thought of getting wet and attacked by mosquitoes isn’t what you want, right?

broken tent zipper

You can avoid the situation and do a tent zipper repair with the right procedure. Let’s see how to get a tent zipper back on track and have a pleasant adventure further on.

6-step procedure of a tent door zipper repair

Do you have to do an emergency zipper repair? How do you fix a zipper on a tent without a tent zipper replacement?

Apparently, the only tool that you will need for this process is a pair of pliers. It will help you with a lot of things and not just repairing zippers so make sure to have one of these when heading to a camp.

Step 1: Remove it

First, you will have to remove the broken zipper. There is an iron stopper on the side of the slider where the zipper puller is used to prevent the puller from getting out of the slider when you pull it.

You will have to remove this stopper with pliers. When you are done with a zipper repair, you will have to create another stopper to prevent it from getting lost. You can thread the area several times to do that.

Step 2: Remove the zipper puller

Now you will have to remove the zipper pull to repair it. You will find that the pull has been distorted and this is the reason why it was not functioning properly.

Step 3: Adjust the puller

Use the pliers to adjust the puller sides and make them level again. Adjust one side of the puller to regain its shape and proceed to the next side.


With the ends back in shape, it should be able to work properly again. There are chances that your zipper is damaged beyond repair and if that’s the case, then you will have to replace it with another one.

There are a lot of tent zipper repair kits on the market that you can use to make the replacement. They usually have zipper pullers of different sizes so you won’t have a problem finding the right-size one.

Step 4: Return the puller to the zipper

After adjusting the sides, you will have to put back the puller. This may not be easy as you have reduced the size of the ends so you will have to be gentle.

Make sure that you return the puller just as you found it if you want it to function properly.

Step 5: Pull the slider to see if it works

After putting the puller back, you should pull the slider slightly to see if it is working properly.

camping tent zipper tips

If it comes out with one slider longer than the other, it means that you did not put the puller back properly and you should remove it and repeat the process again.

Step 6: Put back the stopper

If the zipper functions properly without any challenges, then you can put the stopper back in place. If you have misplaced it, you can create a few thread knots in the area that will act as the stopper.

How to unstick a zipper?

Do you have a tent zipper stuck in the tent fabric? You can repair it and use it further on with the help of my tips.

Remove the tent fabric

The first thing you should not do is to force the zipper to run. If it is stuck to the fabric make sure to remove it from its metal teeth. You can help yourself with needle-nose pliers or tweezers to get a better grip.

Zipper teeth realignment

If you see that the teeth of the zipper aren’t in their place, gently put them back in the row with your fingers.

How to fix a separated tent zipper?

Does your tent zipper keep separating? How to fix a zipper that keeps splitting?

tent zipper 101

If you have a separated zipper on a tent you will use pliers to fix the problem. The most obvious reason for a separated zipper is a broken slider.

If the metal zipper teeth are bent use the pliers to straighten them. Use your fingers if the teeth are plastic. Then you will have to reduce the slider’s size and remove and get the slider back so the zipper will work again.

How to remove a zipper slider and how to install it back so the zipper will work again? Check this article by Wikihow that also has pictures for demonstration.

How do you fix a zipper that came off both sides?

If you don’t have any repair tools with you on a camping trip you can still repair the broken zipper in your tent.

When you are sleeping in a tent it is important that you can get in and out without any problems, so if one side of the zipper breaks off you will need to fix it right away.

When zippers break they tend to fall down onto one side making it very difficult to unzip them and get in and out of the door.

The first thing you need to do is separate both sides of the zipper. If they are stuck together use a blunt knife or butter knife to gently push them apart.

Once this is done, take your needle and thread and sew up the part that broke off.

When you are doing this be sure to only sew them back together a little bit. You want to leave about a one-inch space so that you can still get in and out of your tent.

The last step is to flip the zipper around and sew it onto the bottom part of the tent door, again only sewing it from side to side a few inches. This will prevent the zipper from falling down and breaking again.

This process isn’t hard to do but it will take you a few minutes before you can get back in your tent to go to sleep.

It is also best if you have someone else helping you hold the fabric while you sew so that it doesn’t tear or rip any more than it already has.

How to fix salt corroded zipper?

If you see that salt built on the zipper and doesn’t run smoothly, you can still repair it. This is how you can fix the one that is salt corroded.

stuck salt zipper

The cleaning procedure

For the cleaning procedure, you will need an old toothbrush, freshwater, and white vinegar. Boil some fresh water and add white vinegar to it.

Put a toothbrush in the mixture and start scrubbing the zipper. The alternative is to use water and little dish soap.

When you are finished, rinse it with water and let it dry completely. When you see it is totally dry, grab the right lubricant and use it on it as the company of the product recommends.

How to replace a zipper slider?

If your experience a broken slider follow the next steps to repair it.

Locate the broken zipper and use pliers to remove the zipper stops. Pull the slider down so it will detach from the zipper till the starting point.

Put the top at the top and bottom and crimp the bottom and top stop with the pliers. Make a test and see if now it runs smoothly up and down. Apply a little amount of glue on the bottom.

How do you fix a zipper with a fork?

If you don’t have a zipper repair kit you can use a fork to solve the issue. Grab a fork and place the tines on either side of the zipper teeth.

Gently pull the fork towards you to close the gap made by the broken zipper. Press both sides of the zipper together, and slide it up and down to make sure it is working properly.

How do you replace a tent zipper with Velcro?

The first thing you need to do is remove the broken zipper of the fabric. This way, Velcro will be able to attach correctly. Then you can cut a piece of Velcro that fits with your tent’s width and sew it on your tarp.

If you are not sure about how to do this or if you don’t know how and where to start, you can take your broken zipper to a sewing store or tent shop. They will be able to help you.

How much does it cost to fix a tent zipper?

The cost of the tent zipper repair will depend on whether you can fix it yourself or will need to take it to the company that made your tent for repairs.

If you can do it yourself, you can expect to pay around $9 and spend 5 minutes of your time to make the patching and zipper replacement; otherwise, be ready to part with about $40 and wait up to a week in order to get your tent back.

How do you maintain a tent zipper?

I will show you several ways for tent zipper maintenance. This way you won’t face bug attacks and be exposed to the elements. Here is what you can do.

Prevent corrosion

Zippers can easily get corrosive so you will keep them free of salt, dirt, and grit.

After each camping, shake them out, wipe them with the cloth, use a brush on them, or rinse them with clean water. Let them dry so the corrosion won’t have a chance.


Their lubrication is important to make them work. So, after you washed them and left them to dry, it is time that you put some zipper lubricant on.

tent zipper lubricant

There are many of them on the market but make sure you have the right one for your zipper type.

You can have plastic or metal ones so make sure which lubricant you buy. Avoid using silicone in the product as it can attract debris.

The Star Bright makes one of the best zipper lubricants that will ease your camping experience.

Which are the best tent zippers to have?

Here are two of the companies I think are best in producing the quality zippers that are used in tents.

YKK manufacturer

YKK is the world’s largest zipper company. The initials YKK stand for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha which was the name from 1945-1994.

Today they make around 5 million zippers a day in a factory in Macon, Georgia.

YKK company makes slide fasteners, plastic hardware, hook and loop fasteners, webbing tapes, snap, and buttons.

YKK tent Zipper manufacturer

They manufacture a wide range of them but their main focus is on metal, coil, and VISLON® ones. Their zippers are made to last and are reliable to use year by year.

SBS company

This is a big zipper manufacturer that makes reliable and fashionable zippers and buttons since 1984.

They made a whole range of tent zippers that are made in different colors, are affordable, and have excellent quality.

Camp in a functional tent

A broken tent zipper is one of the common problems that occur when you least expect it.

It is a devastating feeling while this happens however it is quite simple to fix it with just one tool and little patience.

If you don’t want to end your getaway prematurely and buy a new tent, take my advice and repair the zipper without replacing it and proceed with your adventure satisfied and secure.

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