September 15, 2021

How to Fix Zippers on Backpacks: a Step-by-Step Guide

by Roger

There is nothing that can annoyingly itch your brain like a broken backpack zipper that happens when you are just about to go on a trip. 

As time goes by, the zipper’s teeth mismatches against themselves and get stuck.

The backpack becomes unusable. However, its use is not yet outlived.

Hang on. We got ways to get the bag and the functional zipper gain.

With these basic steps, sewing knowledge, a needle, thread, and pliers, we will show you how to fix zippers on backpacks.


Table of Contents
How to Fix Zippers on Backpacks
How to Fix Zippers on Backpacks: a Step-by-Step Guide?

In What Ways Can Your Backpack Zipper Go Wrong and How You Could Fix Them?

There are two ways to get rid of the problems with backpack zippers.

You can learn how to fix zippers on backpacks by yourself or call a professional to do the job.

Even calling professional help does not ensure complete repair of the zipper as replacement is the only solution for some issues.

You can also look for some zipper hacks to assemble it for some time during hiking.

You can take it to a professional repair technician after you reach your destination.

We have compiled a list of some of the most common issues with zippers.

You will find many tips in this article also to ensure your zipper stays perfect during your outdoor journeys.

1. What to Do with Stuck Backpack Zippers?

A stuck zipper is easy to identify as you cannot open it after using full force from your hand.

It is one of the most common zipper problems.

It will not bother you much when trying to open a zipper at your home.

Climbers can get frustrated when facing this issue during a long hiking trip.

The biggest reason for the stuck zippers is the increase in resistance.

It can be due to many reasons.

Rust or something stuck in the zipper can cause the resistance to increase.

You can use different types of lubricants to resolve this issue.

The dishwasher is perfect for loosening the zippers.

It can also remove some debris and dust stuck in the zipper.

You may apply pressure to the zipper by moving it back and forth.

You can also put some water on the zipper after applying pressure.

You can put water if the pressure does not solve the zipper issues.

You can create lubrication by rubbing the upper part of the graphite along the side of the zipper.

Some graphite powder will come off at the sides of the zipper.

It will become easy to open the zipper when some powder goes between the zipper.

2. How to Fix Misaligned Backpack Zipper Teeth?

You could go to the second step of resolving the zipper problem if the lubrication did not work.

If there is an alignment issue in the zipper teeth, lubrication will not open the zipper.

You can learn other ways how to fix zippers on backpacks.

You should not apply more force to the zipper when there is a misaligned tooth, as it can break the zipper.

Lubrication will not work in this case also.

The misalignment can get worse if you keep applying the force.

You can start the procedure of resolving the misaligned zipper teeth issues by identifying the tooth or fabric causing the issue.

The nose piler can help you improve the alignment of the zipper teeth.

You have to use a medium-level force to align the zipper teeth.

Intense force can force the teeth out of the fabric.

There is no other option to fix the zipper if you accidentally removed one zipper tooth.

You may have to remove the entire zipper in this case.

It is easier to fix the tooth alignment as you have to make it in line with the other teeth nearby.

3. How to Fix Backpack Zipper Slider Going off the Track?

Usually, when the zipper is on one side of the track, the slider is to blame.

It becomes worse from closing and opening.

This can be attributed to the wearing off of the bar. 

The bar inside the slider has to be intact to keep the slider firmly attached to the track.

When it’s worn out, the clamp space opens up on both sides. 

Also, one track may cause the slider to lie on one side.

In such a scenario, you have to improve the slider’s compressing effect.

Zipper slider can go off the track occasionally due to different reasons.

There is no reason to worry about it as you can fix it quickly.

Finding the cause of the slider going off the track is better.

Poor zipper design is one of the leading causes.

Excessive force can force the slider to go off the track.

Fabric or thread obstruction is also one of the leading causes as it will remove one side of the slider go off.

You can prevent it by using medium-level force and ensuring nothing blocks the slider’s path.

You can also reset the slider on the zipper.

You can insert the slider from one side of the zipper after opening the entire zipper.

You can find the metal clamps on one side of the zipper.

These are to prevent the slider from going off.

You have to put the slider on the other side of the zipper.

If there are clamps on both sides, you may have to remove the clamps from one side to fix the slider.

A slider should snap onto the right place by using the accurate technique.

It is better to avoid putting more pressure on the zipper.

4. How to Fix Backpack Zipper’s Broken Sliders?

Zipper sliders can break if you apply intense physical force during zipper opening.

It can also damage due to high resistance levels in the zipper.

There is no other option than replacing the slider if it is damaged.

There are some slider replacement kits on the market.

You can buy these kits and replace the slider.

Sometimes, the slider is stuck on the zipper due to damage.

You have to remove this slider before installing the new one.

If the old slider is not coming off, you can use a cutter to break the slider to remove it.

Cutting the bottom end is easy.

You must be careful while removing the slider with the cutter equipment as it can damage the zipper.

You have to replace the zipper in the case of teeth damage.

Doing this procedure with care will save your money and time.

5. How to Fix Backpack Broken Zipper Pulls?

Most backpack manufacturers do not focus on the quality of the zipper pulls.

You may see brittle pulls on the backpacks of the high-quality backpacks.

Zipper pulls consist of materials of low durability.

They become brittle over time.

A sudden force can break the pull easily when it becomes brittle.

You will be happy to know solving the problems of the zipper pulls will cost less.

These are some of the easily solvable problems.

If you do not have a zipper pull, you can use the keychain ring instead of the zipper pulls.

Climbers use cable ties in the place of the broken zipper pull temporarily.

It will help you solve the problem till you get the authentic zipper pull.

6. How to Lubricate the Backpack Zipper Correctly?

If the slider gets stuck while moving up and down the zipper, then there’s not enough lubricant.

You can fix this problem with household items.

  • A pencil. Graphite is the best lubricant for zippers. Rub the graphite tip of your pencil on the section that the slider can’t get past. If adequately lubricated, the slider should move up and down with ease.
  • Soap. Take a small piece of laundry soap and mix it with a few tablespoons of water in a dish. Stir until you get a viscous solution. Soak a cotton swab in the solution until it is drenched, then rub it against the zipper. Move the slider to see if the problem is resolved.
  • Wax. If graphite and soap don’t provide enough lubrication, rub some candle wax or a crayon on the zipper and try again. 

7. How to Fix Backpack Zipper’s Bent Teeth?

You can straighten out bent teeth using a pair of needle-nose pliers. 

Grab a bent tooth and maneuver the pliers until it straightens.

Repeat this until all the crooked zipper teeth are straight.

What Tools Do You Need to Fix a Backpack Zipper?

The entire procedure to fix a backpack zipper takes 20-30 minutes from start to finish and requires some concentration and basic tools.

  • A sewing needle
  • Thread in the color of the backpack
  • Pliers
  • Scissors

1. The first step is to start with the slider edges

It’s easy and common for individuals to skip these steps.

Despite that, it could help you save time.

Both slider edges, for instance, may have reduced their gripping force and expanded. 

As a result, if the zipper appears to hang by one line, it may give the impression that the other is flawless.

If you don’t look at your zipper closely, there’s no way to know.

Damaged or twisted teeth are yet another flaw that may be discovered by checking the zippers and lines. 

To repair zippers with missing teeth, insert a stopper at the point in which the track’s edges run.

Doing this will help prevent the slider from getting off through the blank spots.

For the bent teeth, you have to straighten them using a plier or fork, provided that the teeth are metal.

If they are made of plastic, you can use your fingers to align them. 

Further paying a knee look at the zipper could reveal if the issue is with the track stopper.

Should they be a problem, you will have to address it before proceeding to the next step.

2. The second step is to remove the slider by widening it

The slider is the moving component of your backpack zipper that allows you to close and open the bag. 

Remove the slider by moving it to the side without a stopper.

When you get to the end, you can pull it off the zipper track completely. 

You have to get the feeling of a strap clamping together like a new backpack.

The sliders must first be opened with your pliers, and the ends of the tracks must be unstitched so that the track ends can be seen. 

This is the step where extreme care must be taken to avoid breaking the slider.

Remember, the paint on the zipper could be chipped if too much force is applied.

Only when the slider is wide can you move to the next step.

3. The third step is to slip the track into the slider

When you have widened your slider, the next step is to slip the tracks into the slider so that the zipper can be threaded (if your backpack zipper came off on one side). 

You have two ways of approach: you either can use a fork to fix the bad zipper or simply use your hands instead of a fork. 

Rather than opening your backpack from the front, you should start from the back.

It’s far easier to fix it with a fork than by hand.

To use the slider, first, you must secure the middle thongs to the slider.

Again, it will be best if you place the other thong close to the end of the backpack.

Once you have the fork raised, pull it up.

When both sides of the slider are attached, the job is nearly complete.

Nevertheless, you will need to align both tracks. 

It would help if you also moved the zipper up and down to ensure that it works.

But make sure they don’t run off the tracks. Adjust the sliders as needed.

After the sliders are tightened, pinch them together.

Again, pinching hard may result in the same problem you had before: an edge with a zipper.

After you’ve tightened your zipper, give it a run. 

You must repeat step 2 if the floss does not glide through the teeth.

As long as your zipper’s slider functions properly, you should be proud of your work.

Use the pliers to remove four or more zipper teeth on either side of the track.

This is to create room to sew it shut.

Grab each tooth, one at a time, and pull away from the zipper track until they come off. 

Don’t worry if the zipper fabric rips in the process. You will fix it in the following steps.

Please keep track of the small, sharp parts as you will need to get rid of them later.

Also, be careful not to hurt your hand when pulling the zipper teeth back. 

4. The fourth step is to thread the needle

To thread the needle, insert one end of the string through the needle’s eye, then pull it until the needle is at the center.

There should be two equal lengths of string on either side. 

Tie up loose ends into a knot.

Make the knot big enough to stop the thread from sliding all the way through the zipper fabric.

5. The fifth step is to slide the slider up the zipper

Slide the slider up the zipper starting with the end that has a divider in the middle. 

Once you’re done with one side, test it to see whether it’s moving smoothly.

If it is, do the other side and check whether the zip closes and opens as required.

6. The sixth step is to begin sewing the ends of the zipper together

Once you get the slider back on, you can begin sewing the ends of the zipper together.

You’re doing this to stop it from sliding off.

Carefully thread the needle through one side of the zipper fabric, then pull on the string until you reach the knot. 

Do the same with the other side of the zipper fabric.

Pull the string until both sides are tied together.

Repeat this process several times until the ends seem secure.

Next, tie the length of string attached to the needle into a knot to secure it from sliding out.

Make sure it’s just as big as the first knot.

Cut off the excess length of string using a pair of scissors. 

The seventh step is to tuck the end of the zipper fabric

Tuck the end of the zipper fabric under the flap at the side of the backpack.

This will protect it from damage.

To ensure that it is secure, sew the fabric onto the backpack using the same process in Step 6. 

The last, eight-step is to test the zipper

Test the zipper to see if it’s working.

Final Thoughts on How to Fix Backpack Zippers 

When your backpack zipper gets damaged, the solution is not getting a new backpack.

Neither do you need to purchase a sewing machine to repair the damage. 

Remember to try these three easy fixes to the zipper of your backpack.

  1. Apply some lubricant to the teeth but ensure the lubricant does not stick on the tracks.
  2. Do not use your teeth to fix the zipper, as it will damage the zipper further.
  3. Use masking tape to align the zipper.

If you follow the ways mentioned above, you can get your zipper working again.

And you don’t need much. Just simple pliers, non-sticky lubricant, and a fork.

Only consider buying a new backpack when it isn’t much you can do about saving it.

Here is our recommendation about what to do with your old backpack.

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About the author 

Roger

Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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