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Replace tent zipper?

I have a Kelty Ridgeway 3-man tent.  Got it as a gift quite a few years ago so I don't know how expensive it was.  The zipper for the door is shot making the tent useless if I don't repair it.  I'm wondering if anyone has ever replaced their tent door zipper with success and how much it cost?  I believe a good tent, awning, tarp repair place could do the job I'm just not sure it's worth it.  Tent also has two broken poles that need replacing but buying those isn't that much trouble.  Thanks for any suggestions.  

5 Replies

I have sown a tent, a tarp, and multiple other outdoor pieces of equipment. I would not consider replacing a zipper on a tent that old no matter how much I loved the tent. It's not easy to do and it makes the tent not quite fit correctly anymore. It would be quite expensive to have someone else accomplish this with experience.

Might I recommend an attempt at repair? I'm sure you have attempted to clean the zipper trackway. Make sure there is no residue left as that attracts debris.

The other issue is the slider. Many sliders can lose effectiveness and disengage. If this is the issue and you are able to get the zipper to re-engage correctly at any point in the zipper track, I recommend taking a pair of needle nose pliers and applying a light amount of pressure first on the center part of the zipper slider, and then on the side parts above each zipper track. Light pressure.

You are attempting to close the gap a little bit as sometimes the zipper sliders can open slightly over time. Too much pressure and it makes it difficult to slide the slider.

Too much pressure can also break the slider on cheap zippers.

My experience with Kelty is that they in general have higher quality zippers. My experience with Kelty in the past was that they would replace zippers on their own equipment. Perhaps you can inquire with them.


yes, the first thing you need to do is wash the zipper as @SolaceEasy said, however you didn't make clear what the issue the fabric separating from the zipper cloth? or is the zipper not holding fast? would it be possible to post a pix?

REI Member Since 1979

also, again as @SolaceEasy stated, pinching the zipper slider sometimes works wonders, if that's the issue...

REI Member Since 1979

I'm coping with the same issue with two tents.  

There used to be an outdoor retailer where I live that would repair zippers.   Often they could fix a whole zipper just by putting on a new slider.  The trick is, you need the right size slider.  They fixed one of my sleeping bags by turning the double slider 180 degrees and putting it back on, which might work for a tent too if the zipper teeth aren't actually broken.  Unfortunately, the store is no longer there so I need to find a new source for zipper repairs. 

This weekend I've actually been trying to reclaim some broken tent zippers by brushing the zipper teeth with a toothbrush and applying "gear aid" zipper lubricant.  It seems to be working, but I haven't actually field tested any of the zippers yet. 



Similar tents like the Colman Sundome 3P (probably)  sell for less than $100 so it is unlikely that it is worth sewing a new zip and replacing the poles from a strictly economic point of view.

Note that fiberglass tent poles are notorious for breaking particularly as they age out.  The waterproofness of tents also degrades with time.  You can renew it to a degree but it is a lot of work and does not always end with a satisfactory result.

Just be aware what you are getting into.   Check the fabric is on good condition and waterproof before you put any money into it.

Really depends why you want to fix this tent.  If it is to actually go camping I'd probably just buy a better one.