How To Fix A Zipper On A Backpack (Common Issues & Solutions)

While a sturdy backpack can come in handy for so many different things, your backpack is only as good as its zipper. If a zipper snags, gets stuck or slides off entirely, the bag is essentially useless. Your items are no longer secure and protected, completely at risk of being stolen or falling out.

Zipper problems aren’t uncommon; there are many different answers on why backpack zippers break. Whether you’re using a hiking backpack or a backpack diaper bag, there’s a very good chance that you have (or will) experience issues with the zipper at some point. When that happens, you can use this guide on how to fix a zipper on a backpack to find the solution.

3 Different Types of Backpack Zippers

While all zippers work towards the same goal, there are actually a few different kinds on the market when it comes to what’s keeping your backpack secure:

  1. 1
    Molded (Plastic) Zippers - Molded zippers have separately molded teeth made from durable polyethylene and polyacetal resins. This type of zipper is common in heavy-duty backpacks used for hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, etc. The main drawback of molded zippers is that the entire zipper needs replacing if even just one of the teeth is damaged.
  2. 2
    Coil Zippers - These are made from polyester material and they’re the best in terms of zipping flexibility. Coil zippers are cheap and easy to zip, and they also come in a huge variety of different designs. However, they need regular cleaning since they become dirty easily.
  3. 3
    Metal Zippers - The metal design dates back to the 1800s, when zippers were first invented. They’re sturdy at first but can get rusted and corroded over time, plus they’re a lot bulkier than molded and coil zippers.
How To Fix A Zipper On A Backpack

How to Fix a Zipper on a Backpack (Most Common Fixes)

Before you can fix your broken backpack zipper, you first need to know what the issue is. There are 4 common reasons why a zipper is no longer working as it should, including:

  • The zipper is stuck on the track
  • The zipper teeth are bent
  • The zipper pull is broken
  • The zipper slider is broken

For each of these problems, there is a different solution, and sometimes, there’s more than one method for how to fix a broken zipper on a backpack.

How to Fix a Stuck Zipper on a Backpack

A stuck backpack zipper is probably the most common problem you’ll face. Most of the time, it happens because the zipper has become dirty or gummed up. To solve the problem, it’s usually as simple as cleaning or lubricating the zipper and the zipper teeth.

To lubricate the zipper, you can start by using a bit of laundry detergent and warm water. Then dip a cotton swab into the mixture and clean along the entire zipper line. The goal here is for the detergent to start breaking up whatever has built up in the zipper and teeth and get it unstuck.

Another option for lubrication is to use a graphite pencil. Just rub the lead tip of the pencil up and down the zipper line, focusing on the area where it is stuck. Using a crayon or household wax (like beeswax) is another option.

How to Fix Bent Zipper Teeth

The next most common issue is for zipper teeth to become bent, which can happen with time and normal wear and tear. When it happens, use a pair of pliers to fix the bent teeth.

Depending on the teeth material, you should be able to manipulate them to fix the bend and get the teeth back to their original position. Just be sure to be gentle; applying too much force or pressure could break the teeth, in which case you’d have to replace the zipper entirely.

How to Fix a Zipper Pull/Slider on a Backpack

One of the simplest repairs is fixing the zipper slider or pull. If it’s a broken zipper slider, all you need is a pair of pliers and a flat head screwdriver to remove the slider, then attach a new slider in its place.

For a broken pull, just add a makeshift pull in its place, like a paperclip or keychain. You can even use a small piece of string or ribbon.

How to Replace a Zipper on a Backpack

Sometimes the solutions above aren’t enough to fix a zipper on a backpack. If that’s the case, the next step is to replace the zipper altogether. You don’t have to be a DIY master to do this; all you need is some patience, basic sewing skills, and the right materials.

However, if you’re not comfortable doing this on your own, take the backpack to your closest shoe repair store, and they should be able to replace the zipper for you. Another option is to get in touch with the manufacturer; sometimes, issues like these are covered under warranty, so if that's the case, you might just be able to get a brand new backpack.

How To Replace a Backpack ZIp

How to Prevent Most Common Zipper Problems

Zipper problem prevention probably isn’t at the forefront of your mind as you carry around your backpack, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent the problems listed above from happening. Here’s what they are:

  • Never force a zipper snag
  • Avoid overloading/stretching the backpack
  • Regularly clean and lubricate the zipper
  • Always dry the zipper if it gets wet

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do you reattach a zipper with a fork?

This is actually a very simple trick and a helpful lifehack. It’s hard to explain, though, so watch this video tutorial to learn how.

How do you fix a zipper on one side of a backpack?

Sometimes a backpack zipper unattaches on just one side of the zipper track. When that happens, there are 4 steps involved to get it back on track:

  1. 1
    Inspect your zipper and its tracks, and fix underlying issues (you might have to fix bent teeth, lubricate the zipper, etc.)
  2. 2
    Use pliers to widen the slider on the zip tag
  3. 3
    Put the tracks back on the slider
  4. 4
    Tighten the sliders with the pliers
How much does it cost to replace a zipper?

It depends. The Sewing Garden says that when it comes to the cost to replace a zipper, “there are so many variations to zippers and zipper replacement that it is difficult to give you a flat rate without explaining each of them. But typically, a zipper replacement can cost anywhere from $8-$75 (or more) depending on the item.”

Can you replace missing zipper teeth?

Yes, it’s possible, but it’s actually easier just to replace the zipper altogether. If you really want to replace the missing teeth, though, you can follow these steps

How do you make a zipper slide easier?

Regular cleaning and lubrication is the best thing you can do for that. You can use dish soap, a graphite pencil, household wax, or even a crayon to keep the zipper sliding smoothly.

How do you fix a zipper on a Jansport backpack?

It depends on the issue; the steps are different based on whether the zipper is stuck, the teeth are bent, etc. The good news is that Jansport has a lifetime warranty policy, stating that “JanSport branded products covered by this warranty are warranted to the original owner against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product.”


Whether your zipper is stuck on the track, has bent teeth, or the zipper pull has broken off, there is a solution out there. In some cases, you might have to replace the zipper altogether, but the good news is that it’s not a difficult DIY project, you won't have to choose a new backpack, and you always have the option to hire someone to help you out if it comes to that.

  • Updated October 30, 2021