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

But First, Is Your Backpack Zipper Coming off on One Side of the Track? 

And how did that happen? 

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.

Fixing broken zipper

To fix a zipper, you only need basic sewing skills and the following tools:

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

The whole procedure takes 20 – 30 minutes from start to finish and requires some concentration. 

Related Article: What Is the Relation between Rappelling and Backpacking?

Step 1

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.

Zippers for backpacks

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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. 

Broken Zipper fix for backpacks

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. 

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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. 

Fixing broken zipper on a backpack

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. 

Step 7

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. 

Step 8

Test the zipper to see if it’s working.

How to Fix Other Zipper Problems


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 such as:

  • 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. 

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.

Backpack zipper

The Dos and Don’ts 

1. Apply some lubricant in 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.

Wrap up 

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. 

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 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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