How To Fix A Backpack Zipper Like A Pro

Have you ever wondered how to fix a backpack zipper?

The zipper is arguably the backpack’s most essential part, ensuring that the contents are safe and secure while keeping dust, moisture, and other undesirables out.

As stylish and spacious as your backpack might be, it would be practically useless if the zipper breaks.

Unfortunately, even the most durable and best-made backpacks can break down or become worn, and the zipper is the component most likely to fail.

And when that occurs on a day out, a trip, or while camping, it can be an inconvenience at best and a total disaster at worst. 

The good news is that you don’t have to throw out your favorite backpack when the zipper goes.

Learning how to fix a zipper on a backpack is surprisingly easy, and you could do so using items that you probably already have at home or are carrying with you on a trip.

how to fix a backpack zipper

Things That Could Go Wrong With Your Backpack Zipper & How You Could Fix Them

Learning how to fix a broken zipper on a backpack isn’t the solution for every possible situation. In some cases, you may need to have your backpack repaired by a professional.

In the worst-case scenario, even the most capable repair professional might not be able to restore the zipper to its former condition. 

Even so, the tips below should come in handy for most zipper-related mishaps on the road.

At the very least, it will keep your backpack functional until you can get more permanent repairs done. So read on to find out how to repair a zipper on a backpack.

These suggestions might just come in handy if your backpack’s zipper breaks while traveling or just before you leave on a trip.

1. Stuck Zippers

Stuck zippers are among the most common zipper-related issues by far.

We’ve all experienced this problem at one time or another, but it can be especially annoying when it happens during a backpacking trip or out in the woods. 

Fortunately, most cases of stuck zippers are easily fixable. Lubricating it is often the best course of action and should fix the majority of problems. 

Dish soap or liquid detergent should loosen up most zipper sliders if the problem is caused by dirt or debris buildup.

Simply apply a few drops of dish soap where the slider is stuck and wiggle it gently back and forth.

If the zipper remains stuck, consider washing the entire backpack and loosening the zipper while it is soaking in soapy water. 

Graphite pencils could also work, and there is a good chance that you already have one with you in your backpack.

To use this method, run the tip of the pencil along the area where the slider is stuck.

Some of the graphite will likely come off in the form of powder. Try to get this powder into the opening of the slider and over the teeth.

This should lubricate the zipper enough for you to move it. 

how to fix a broken backpack zipper

2. Bent Or Misaligned Zipper Teeth

If the zipper remains stuck even after lubricating it liberally, there might be a problem with the teeth.

These can become bent or misaligned over time, preventing the zipper from closing them together. When this happens to your zipper, no amount of lubrication can fix it.

Trying to force the zipper on its course might even make matters worse, as you bend even more teeth that are otherwise in good shape and the proper position. 

So how do you fix a zipper with bent or misaligned teeth? The first step is to see if any fabric or threads are preventing the zipper from moving.

If the path is all clear, grab a pair of long nose pliers so you can realign the bent teeth.

Get a good grip on the teeth you are trying to reposition but don’t use too much force to avoid pulling them out completely.

If that happens, you might have no other option but to have the entire zipper replaced. 

Gently bend the tooth into place or as close to its original position as possible. Do the same for all the other affected teeth.


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You’ll know you are done when the row of teeth on both sides of the zipper looks even. The zipper should then glide smoothly open and shut. 

3. Slider Going Off The Track 

Even if your backpack’s zipper doesn’t have any bent or misaligned teeth, the slider could still “go off the rails” from time to time.

This could be due to any number of reasons, including poor design, excessive force when opening or closing the zipper, or the presence of fabric, threads, or some other obstruction. 

Thankfully, this is usually an easy fix. Again, you should first check to make sure that nothing is blocking the slider from its path.

If there aren’t any foreign objects in the way and the teeth are still in good shape and properly positioned, you should be able to re-set the slider onto the zipper. 

Position the slider all the way to the ‘open’ end of the zipper, which is where it would normally be when the zipper is closed.

You should see a piece of metal or plastic clamped onto the end of each track. These prevent the slider from going any further when closing the zipper.  

In most cases, the slider is probably still attached to one track. You should try to insert the metal holding piece into the other side of the slider.

You might need to pull on the slider and the ‘free’ track in opposing directions a bit to hitch the slider over. 

Again, try not to use any more force than is necessary. With any luck, the slider should snap into place, and your zipper should work normally.

how to fix a zipper on a backpack

4. Broken Sliders 

If the slider itself is broken, you will probably have to replace it with a new one. See if you have scrap zippers that use the same components.

Otherwise, you may have to purchase a replacement kit, such as the Zipper Rescue repair kit. You could then attach the new slider following the directions outlined in the previous tip. 

If the slider is still attached to one or both tracks of the zipper, you will have to take it off first to put the replacement on.

You could either break off the damaged slider or cut the bottom end of the zipper where the stopper is to slip it off.

Whichever method you choose, avoid damaging the teeth if you want to keep using the same zipper with your new slider.

This will save you the trouble of having to replace the entire zipper. 

5. Broken Zipper Pulls

Some zippers‒even those on otherwise well-made backpacks‒have surprisingly flimsy pulls. Others are made of material that becomes brittle over time.

Whatever the reason, broken zipper pulls are unfortunately pretty common. But the good news is that they are among the easiest zipper-related problems to fix. 

If you have a keychain or paperclip handy, you could use these to replace a broken zipper pull. Some people have even used twist ties in a pinch, but this is a temporary solution at best. 

A keychain is probably the best option as it is more durable and doesn’t seem so makeshift.

With a stylish keychain‒say, something like a Maycom Retro Style–it might even look as if you’d replaced the zipper pull intentionally.

Whichever option you choose, fixing your zipper simply requires attaching your chosen object to the hole on the zipper’s slider.

As long as you can pull the zipper open and shut, this should be a feasible alternative until you can get a more permanent solution.

how to fix a broken zipper on a backpack

Final Thoughts

No matter how carefully you care for your backpack, issues are bound to come up sooner or later. Problems with the zipper will occur at some point‒it’s not even a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’.

Thankfully, there are solutions to most zipper-related mishaps, as we have outlined above.

So keep these tips in mind for the next time you are on a trip or camping out in the woods and your zipper decides to be uncooperative.

When you’re rushing to catch a flight or caught off-guard by a sudden rainstorm during monsoon season, one of these tips might just come in handy.

Before your next adventure, don’t forget to learn how to attach a sleeping back to a backpack!

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