You don’t need to replace a good sleeping bag because of a broken zipper. Repairing a broken zipper is easy and quick. And if it’s not possible to repair it, you can easily replace it with a new zipper.
Here’s a quick guide on how to fix a sleeping bag zipper.
Can I Repair A Sleeping Bag Zipper Myself?
Doing any kind of repair on your sleeping bag may feel daunting for good reason. When you are camping, it’s your only defense against the cold.
You don’t want to do anything that worsens the damage and affects the sleeping bag’s performance and comfort.
There are some situations when seeking out a professional sleeping bag repair service is the best choice, such as if you have a big tear on your sleeping bag.
But a damaged zipper is one of the easiest repairs you can do yourself. It’s super easy and you won’t damage anything.
How To Repair A Sleeping Bag Zipper That Won’t Close
The most common issue people face with zippers, whether it’s on a sleeping bag or a jacket, is the zipper not closing.
It simply moves along the tracks without closing the zipper teeth.
This typically happens due to age and use. With repeated use, the gap between the two halves of the zipper slider gets wider.
The slider loses its strong grip on the zipper tracks and is unable to bring the two tracks together.
There are two solutions to this problem. One, quickly repairing the zipper slider with a pair of pliers. Two, replacing the zipper slider/head.
The first solution is ideal if you want to use the sleeping bag soon or you are already out camping. It works great as a short term solution.
All you need to do is press the two halves of the slider with a pair of pliers to reduce the gap between them.
Needle nose pliers work perfectly for this. Don’t use too much force as you don’t want to damage or break the zipper. Pinch each side of the zipper and then test the zipper to see if it’s working.
If it’s not working, pinch some more. Here’s a video showing how to do this quick fix.
Tip: Always check the condition of your sleeping bag before you go camping. You don’t want to be caught outdoors with a sleeping bag that can’t close because the zipper is broken and you don’t have the tools to fix it.
How To Reattach A Zipper That Has Come Off On One Side?
If one of the tracks has come off the zipper, you’ll need to widen the slider so that you can re-insert the track.
You can do this using a butter knife, nippers or any tool that can get in that small gap. Insert the tool between the bottom and top parts of the zipper slider and gently twist to widen the gap between them.
Once the gap is wide enough, insert the track and then use pliers to pinch it back closed.
Test the zipper to see if it’s working.
How To Replace A Broken Zipper Slider
The second way to deal with a broken zipper slider is to replace it. This is the best long term solution.
The quick fix with pliers we’ve described above can work in the short term, but the zipper might cause trouble again after a short time.
You have two options when it comes to replacing a broken zipper slider on your sleeping bag. We’ll start with the easiest one – using FixnZip.
FixnZip is a zipper replacement kit that makes it easy and quick to replace a damaged zipper slider without making any cuts or removing stitches.
- The FixnZip slider has a screw that you loosen by hand. This separates the two halves of the slider, and you can then insert each track of the sleeping bag zipper into the slider.
- Tighten the thumbscrew to bring the two halves of the slider closer together. This allows the FixnZip slider to grip onto the zipper truck.
- Pull on the new slider to see if the zipper now closes.
- Remove the old slider by widening it so that it comes off the zipper tracks.
Here’s a video demo of the FixnZip in action.
The other option is to replace the broken slider with a similar slider. You can get a zipper repair kit online that includes multiple zipper sliders (usually in various sizes), zipper stops and other components.
Here’s how to replace a broken zipper slide with a new slider.
- Order the new zipper slider, making sure it is the same size as the current slider. Make sure the kit includes new zipper stops as well as zipper pulls. We recommend ordering a kit with several sliders of different sizes so you can find the perfect size for your sleeping bag.
- You’ll need to remove the zipper stops at the end of the zipper tracks. These are small metal pieces that stop the slider from sliding off the tracks when you zip up the sleeping bag.
- Use nipper pliers to remove these stops. Now you can remove the broken slider by sliding it all the way until it’s off the tracks.
- Insert the zipper tracks into the new slider. This should be fairly easy to do since you’ve removed the stops at the end of the tracks. Test the new slider to make sure it’s working well.
- Put in the new stops and pinch them closed with a pair of pliers.
Here’s a video from REI with easy steps you can follow.
How To Fix A Sleeping Bag With Broken Teeth
If your sleeping bag zipper has broken or missing teeth that keep the zipper from closing, your best option is replacing the entire zipper.
This is a bit more work than other types of repairs.
You’ll need to remove the old zipper tape using a seam ripper and then sew on a new zipper. You can easily find a new zipper online.
Unless you have some sewing experience, we recommend taking the sleeping bag to a seamstress or a sleeping bag repair shop. It doesn’t cost much to get the zipper replaced.
Can You Replace A Zipper Box and Pin?
The box and pin are two pieces at the end of the zipper tape that allow the two tracks to be joined. They are found in open ended sleeping bag and quilt zippers.
Although not a common problem, your zipper’s box or pin might get loose and fall off. If that happens, you won’t be able to close the zipper.
We recommend replacing the entire zipper assembly. Unstitch the current zipper with a seam ripper and sew in a new one that comes with a box and pin already attached (here’s a good heavy duty zipper replacement from YaHoGa).
That’s because it’s difficult to replace just the box or pin yourself. These pieces are stamped onto the zipper tape in the factory by a machine.
You can find replacement box and pin kits online, but they don’t work very well. It’s easier to replace the entire zipper.
If you are not sure about your sewing skills, a good seamstress will replace the zipper for you in no time.
How To Fix A Stuck or Jammed Zipper On A Sleeping Bag
If the zipper on your sleeping bag won’t slide beyond a certain point, there could be several reasons why it’s jammed.
- In many cases, the sleeping bag fabric has caught onto the zipper’s teeth. Just move the zipper back and clear away the fabric while sliding the zipper.
- If there’s no fabric in the way, your zipper might have broken teeth. Slide the zipper back and take a look at the teeth in that spot. If they are bent, broken or missing, you’ll need to replace the entire zipper.
- The zipper slider is too tight. This can happen if you’ve done the quick pliers fix to repair a zipper that won’t close. You may have pinched the zipper too tightly, making it hard for it to slide. Use a butter knife or nippers to slightly widen the slider.
- The zipper may need some lubrication. Clean the zipper teeth with a toothbrush to remove any dirt particles or grit that may be jamming the slider. You can also spray some WD-40 Specialist Silicone Lubricant on the zipper to help unjam it and make it easy for it to slide along the tracks.
Tip: Do not lubricate the zipper using oil or vaseline as these substances will attract dirt that gets the zipper stuck or damages it. We recommend WD-40 Specialist Silicone Lubricant because it quickly dries up into a film and dirt doesn’t stick on it.