How to Get a Zipper Unstuck

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Trying to figure out how to get a zipper unstuck isn’t typically a life or death situation – at least if you’re standing in your warm foyer of the house and your jacket zipper just froze up.

But, think about being out on a camping or wilderness trip. Maybe you are getting ready to set up camp for the night, and it’s just a fun, casual overnight. As you begin to unpack your pack, or set up your tent or sleeping bag, the ol’ familiar YKK (one of the oldest and most well-known brands of zippers, by the way, having been around since the 1930s) doesn’t budge.

It happens to almost everyone at some point or another. Usually, in a few minutes, you’ve got it sorted out, and you go back to business as usual. But, what about if you have been hiking in freezing rain, and suddenly, getting into a dry tent or bag is not a casual thought, but a potentially life-saving activity?

We searched around for a few videos and tips for this specific purpose. Let’s look at a few scenarios, along with a few examples.

Be Prepared BEFORE You Need a Fix

So, the very first thing – assuming you’re still in a cozy safe place while you read this – is to take some precautionary measures before you head out. In this video, the narrator talks about what he does to his tent zipper that has become corroded over the years.

In this video he demonstrates using 3-in-1 oil and an ordinary bar of soap. Watch, and then take his advice today, before you head into the field:

Of course, if your tent zipper fails while you are in the field, it’s a different story. There are a number of field fixes, but you will be well advised to carry a zipper repair kit, or at least a small pair of pliers.

If the zipper is “stuck” in the cloth/fabric don’t force it. Just gently work to pull the fabric away from the pull. If it isn’t caught up in the fabric, most experts will agree that rubbing pencil “graphite” – (it turns out that graphite is a good dry lubricant) – or a little petroleum jelly, soap (as you saw above) or olive oil should help.

Check out this vid to see this fix in action. At about the 18 second mark, you’ll see the way they rub the pencil on the zipper.

So, does this mean you need to carry a jar of petroleum jelly on every camping trip? Not at all. But, considering you are likely going to have a first aid kit with you, it might not be a bad idea to slip a small zip bag of jelly, along with a few cotton swabs and – why not a good old-fashioned pencil!

How about just one more… This from the folks at HowCast. It pretty much reiterates what we’ve seen earlier, but in this one, it shows how your lip balm could also help.