A zipper may seem like a minor part of your jacket or tent–until it fails! Zipper failure is eventually unavoidable. However, there are steps you can take to prolong zipper, and therefore gear life.
To clean any piece of gear, always follow cleaning instructions on the item. Follow manufacturers' recommended cleaning method on a regular basis.
Care begins with cleaning, as dirt is the main cause of zipper problems. Fine dust gets embedded into the teeth and ribbon of the zipper. This dust then acts as an abrasive, wearing out the zipper over time. Avoid or reduce this wear by washing your gear, ensuring that your zippers work better for a longer period of time.
The next step involves treating your (dry) zippers with a lubricant like Gear Aid or Aquaseal. The Gear Aid product is excellent for tents, jackets, and sleeping bags, while the Aquaseal product is ideal for drysuits, and wetsuits. Don’t use wax to lubricate your zippers because dust will stick to the wax and then the zipper will wear out faster.
Allow treatment to dry, then store as you normally do.
Care extends to how you treat your gear in use, too! Make sure the zipper pin is fully inserted into the zipper box at its base before zipping up. If a zipper slider becomes stuck—stop! Be gentle trying to get it unstuck: in most cases, using force can make the problem worse.
Replacing a Zipper Slider
Here's where we can help!
It is time to replace a zipper slider (the little mechanism you pull to open and close the zipper teeth) when:
- It wears out from use so that it no longer pinches the teeth closed as it should
- It becomes corroded due to exposure to saltwater (sea, sweat...)
- The pull tab comes off
- It is smooshed, broken, or otherwise incapable of performing its duties.
Replacing a Full Zipper
It is time to replace a full zipper when:
- The box at the base is missing
- The pin at the base is missing
- There is damage to the teeth (molded or coil)
- Teeth are separating from the zipper tape
- Zipper tape is damaged