How to Fix A Camping Tent Zipper

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It’s beautiful summer weather and you and your family head out to the woods for a great weekend of camping fun. You pull up to the campsite, take out your camping tent, set it up, and realize that the zipper isn’t working.

There’s no way you’re spending the whole trip fighting off mosquitos, so you need to know how to fix a camping tent zipper. The best time to learn is before you pack up and drive to the campsite. Luckily, fixing a camping tent zipper is easy, and you only need to bring along a few essential items to do it.

Tools You Need to Fix a Tent Zipper

Fix a Tent Zipper

Before you know how to fix a camping tent zipper, you need to know the problem you’re dealing with. No matter what the problem is, there are a few essential tools which will help you address any zipper problem that you encounter.

Here’s what you need:

Step-By-Step Instructions for Fixing a Zipper

As we mentioned, the first step to fixing a zipper is identifying the problem. There are three common problems which you may encounter with a tent zipper: it’s stuck, the slider is broken or the zipper teeth won’t mesh together. Here’s how to fix each of these problems.

More: Check our guide to best beginner backpacking tent

How to Fix a Stuck Tent Zipper

The first thing you need to check when your 4 person tent zipper won’t budge is whether any fabric is stuck in the teeth. If there is fabric stuck under the zipper pull, remove it and try the zipper again.

Maybe you find that your zipper is free of fabric but is still stuck or maybe it catches when you move the zipper pull. In this case, you’ll need the lubricant you brought along in your emergency kit.

Take the lubricant and spray it on a Q-tip or cloth. Run the Q-tip or cloth along the length of the zipper, paying particular attention to the zipper pull. Try to get some lubricant inside the zipper pull when it’s stuck in place. Then try to move the zipper to check if it moves freely.

The zipper is still stuck

If your zipper won’t budge after you’ve applied lubricant, the issue could be with the zipper pull itself. In that case, take out your pliers and lock them down gently on each side of the zipper pull. Don’t press down too hard or the zipper pull will be too close to the teeth and will still not move. 

You must press just hard enough so that the zipper pull can glide over the teeth and fit them together. If it’s too loose then it won’t guide them, and if it’s too tight, it also won’t guide them.

If this doesn’t solve your problem, check the zipper for missing teeth. Assuming all the teeth are present and accounted for, replace the zipper pull.

You should have a zipper pull in your kit. Remove the zipper stop using pliers, take off the broken zipper pull, put on the new zipper pull, and replace the zipper stop.

Some Teeth Are Missing

If there are teeth missing on your tent zipper, there are two options.

  • Replace the tooth or teeth
  • Replace the entire zipper

How to replace zipper teeth

Replacing teeth in your zipper is easy using your zipper kit. Simply take a replacement tooth out of the kit and replace it on the zipper. This will complete the zipper track, allowing the slider to open and close your tent zipper.

If you can’t manage to get the tooth to stay in place, grab your needle and thread and sew it in place or use the silicone sealant.

More: check our guide to best pop-up tent

Should you replace your tent zipper?

As you’re at a campsite, you probably don’t have a long enough zipper for an entire replacement, so replacing your tent zipper in the field isn’t the best option.

Instead, check for missing teeth, stuck fabric, or a broken zipper pull when you’re having tent zipper issues.

If you discover that your tent zipper needs replacing before leaving for your trip, you can buy a tent zipper and replace it.

How to Fix a Zipper Which Separates

When you pull your zipper closed for the night to keep bugs out, all you want is for it to close. If you have a zipper which separates, you need a quick fix so you can sleep well. Luckily, learning how to fix a zipper which separates is easy.

Bring the zipper pull back to the start, use your pliers to squeeze each side of the zipper pull, and as mentioned above, lubricate the zipper, and try closing the zipper once more. Keep tweaking the zipper pull until the zipper closes.

How to Make Your Zipper Last Longer

You want to make your tent zipper last as long as possible, so here are some tips to make sure it keeps working.

Never force your zipper

It can be frustrating when your zipper doesn’t work, and you may want to make it work by yanking or pulling with all your might. This is a sure-fire way to break your zipper beyond repair and cause you to have to replace the entire thing. So, if you’re having zipper issues, try the techniques above and never force your zipper open or closed.

Clean your zipper regularly

Grit and grime can ruin your tent zipper, rendering it useless. The last thing you want is for your zipper to stop working because of dirt stuck in it from your last trip. To prevent this, clean your zipper with vinegar to remove any dirt or grease. When you’re ready to use your tent, your zipper will be fresh, clean and in proper working order.

Lubricate the zipper

Proper lubrication can solve many zipper issues, so it makes sense that keeping a zipper lubricated will prevent problems arising in the first place. 

After you clean your tent’s zipper, put a bit of lubricant on the zipper to keep the zipper pull moving.

More: Check our guide to Best Beach Tent Here

Get a Good Night’s Sleep in Your Camping Tent

Camping Tent

Going camping in the great outdoors is a fun way to bond with your family and get back to nature. Now that you know how to fix a tent zipper, a broken zipper won’t ruin your trip. These easy tips will help you close up your 6-person tent in no time.

After all, it’s more affordable and convenient to fix a zipper than it is to buy a completely new tent. So, get out there and enjoy the sun.

Did these tips help you save your camping trip? What kind of problem were you having with your zipper? Let us know in the comments!

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Tim Fox

Tim Fox

Since the age of 10, Tim, a writer at Outdoor With J, has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors. Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Tim’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all. You can find more about him here

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