Sit. Rep. #144: Zapped Zippers, Oh No!, Gear Repair

Repair Tool:

1-   Save all your old toothbrushes.  You can use fingernail polish to paint the tip of the handle BLACK to remind you that it is not a “toothbrush” anymore.  Don’t put it in your shaving kit — put it with your knife or multi-tool.  It is now a parts brush.  Here is an example of when you need a “parts” brush on a camping trip.


2-   If a zipper gets stuck, jammed, or damaged; repairing the zipper using your parts brush in the field is a handy trick to know.

  • First: New zippers should get a coat of WD-40, Silicone spray, or Teflon spray.
  • Second: Zippers should be kept clean at all times.
  • Third: Wash dirty zippers with soap, water, and scrub clean with your parts brush.  Be very particular about how clean you get the zipper.
  • Fourth: Re-lube the zipper.  In the field, you can use pencil lead, bar soap, Vaseline, or lip balm (ChapStick).
  • Fifth: Inspect and observe the “slider” part of the zipper to see if it needs crimping.  (crimp ever so slightly and re-inspect… maybe multiple times are necessary)
  • Sixth: Be very careful, deliberate, and slow until you are sure that the zipper is fully repaired and operational.

Hint: re-wash & re-lube at home after the trip.  Do NOT use anything that smells in the field.
One way to keep stuff from getting zipped and jammed into your zippers is to run a finger ahead of the slider.

Jammed / Stuck Material:

2B- If something is stuck in the zipper; soak the jammed material with liquid soap, window cleaner, or lightweight oil.  When the intrusion material is slick from the soaking; it will slide out of the zipper teeth and slider easier.  Be firm but gentle when pulling.

Alternate Repairs:

3-  A zipper can not always be repaired in the field.  Alternates to repairs: Duct Tape, Athletic Tape, Band-Aids, Sewing the fabric together, Tape or sew a “flap” over the damaged spot.


4-   Try adding a short zipper pull.  Tie 3-6″ of paracord or like rope (old shoestring also works) to the zipper pull to make life easier in the dark or when you are wearing gloves.  I have some duffel bags that have twin sliders on the same zipper.  I tie 2 different colors of line to the 2 different slider pulls.

Meeting Plans & Notes:

5- Coach on The Outdoor Code. 
Practice setting up tents.
Practice setting up a dining fly/tarp.
Use EDGE when teaching the knots used.  See Sit. Rep #97.

A: Teacher would you punish me for something I did not do?
B: No. Of course not.
A: Good.  I didn’t do my homework.

Esto Paratus,

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