Zipper Repair Travel Tip

Zipper Repair Travel Tip
Is your zipper jumping off track, here is a solution

This may be the most important travel tip I have ever written, there is nothing more important than a zipper to a backpacker. When the zipper on your backpack breaks, you are screwed.

Or at least I thought I was…

Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road - Center of Backpacker Universe
Southeast Asia
Monday, June 15, 2009


The two sides of the slider of a zipper can widen, when this happens it allow the zipper to jump off track. If you carefully squeeze it back together a little it will force the zipper to align properly again.

I have a special Computer / Camera bag, the zipper was jumping track and I was truly worried. I was in Isiolo, Kenya, up to my ears in travel and it was no time to have a broken day bag. I found a shoe repairperson in the market and was hoping the person could replace the zipper. There was another huge problem, there were no long zippers to be found in the city, I was going to have to purchase another backpack, cut the zipper out of it and use it to replace the zipper.

The man who did the repairs in Isiolo, Kenya was gone, only an assistant woman was there. I told her I would return later. As I was walking down the road past the Mosque, she comes running after me. She says,
“Come, I remember how he fixes zippers.”

She squeezed the two sides of the slider together and I was back in the safety zone.

I was skeptical this would work, however it has held now for about three months. This small process of squeezing the sides of the zipper pull has allowed me to continue to use my Computer / Camera bag.

I was excited about this Travel Tip, however, I have learned my lesson, make sure a good idea last before I open my mouth. Since Kenya, I have visited Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania and then flew from Kenya to Thailand; this was truly a welcome lesson to learn.

Zipper Repair Travel Tip


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Careful when doing this. You can break the zipper or squeeze it too much. It is not just squeezing the sides. If you look at a broken zipper, you will see that the tail end is cantilevered. You want to squeeze tail the end down some too. The tail end may be the real key to making this work as it will bend more without breaking.

Bob L

Thanks Bob for more clarification. This worked good for me, I know the metal could be brittle and there could be all sorts of problems. On the other hand, I had nothing to lose, the zipper was not working.

That is an OLD backpacking trick! Im surprised you were not aware of that already. You should skim through a backpacking book to learn a few tricks you may not be familiar with.

I very much appreciate learning from you.


it was kind of hazy, however after the woman helped me remembered reading somewhere of something like this. I think it was here, I am now near more information, not that it helped me when I was there.

Hopefully the poignancy of this story goes farther to help some travelers remember, I was lucky to have the help of this women.

Look at her black hand holding the pliers, she was intent on helping me and she did. if was one of them lonely days, I just got of a 27 hours truck trip from Moyale, Kenya at the Ethiopia Border and was beat.

Funny, later i realized that Paul Theroux also wrote about being in the back of the same type of truck and a person coming to rob them on that same trip.

Somehow, somewhere, when a person keeps pushing down the path for some strange reasons answers are found to keep us on the path.

hello Andy Hobo ,

im a french guy who discover your site today when i was looking for a hotel in Iraq
at Erbil exactly .
Firstable excuse me for my english wich is probably the most horrible of the world !

Is it possible to change messages with you about Erbil if you please ?
I want to go there to look for business .

Last question , why are you a treveler ?

Best wishes

A french friend

1 minute Zipper repair Brilliant ANDY !!

Look for my New NANA Plaza Zipper Repair shop soon. Going to make brazillions. Cant go home with a broken zipper after a night out with the boys now can ya ? NOOO sirree Somchai !

for 100 baht I can save your relationship.

SOON Franchising in Soi Cowboy,Patpong,Pattaya,Phuket,and Indianapolis

I have this amazing piece from RIck Steves -- Its a convertible backpack that I can carry on too. It has a lot of zippers that have held up well for traveling. I have never had a problem. Its not an expensive piece either, but well made.

Rick Steves is a Flashpacker....

The more zippers you have on a pack, the more pocket you have on the OUTSIDE of a bag the more problems you will have as a professional traveler. I am perpetually traveling, I do return home to buy another backpack, the pack must stay the course, it is not a fashion statement, it is not Flash. However, understand 99 percent of people carrying backpacks in the last 5 years are probably Flashpackers, I am not so I am the exception.

Clarity is a problem...

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