/ Zips on tents
See when you try and close a zip but it pops open again...?
See when it’s your tent and this means your only shelter is seriously compromised...?
Can anyone recommend any possible field repair or is this a professional job?
Safety pins? I have a few in my First Aid kit - probably not enough but better than nothing.
Depends what you have available. Pitch the door away from the prevailing weather conditions, and see what you can back the safety pins with. Can you pin a t shirt up to catch the worse of the weather for example. If you have anyone with hair clips they might help too.
repeg the tent!
Another suggestion would be to cut some fabric (eg from your shirt tuck in or similar) into strips. Then sew the strips to the opening so that you can tie them together. This has the advantage over safety pins in that they are easy to quickly tie and untie when using the door. I always carry a small sewing repair kit (needles and thread) with me when camping/travelling, and have used them for all sorts of repairs from repairing tears, repairing a worn rucksack strap and replacing buttons.
I agree with the re-pitching suggestion!
It could be because the zip is not meshing together properly. Often happens when the slider has become worn or stretched especially if it caught bits of material in with the zip teeth.
On long trips I always carry a spare slider plus needle and thread, but sometime it's possible to squeeze the two sides of the zipper back together again with the pliers on a Leatherman, etc. It can happen on the zip of a sleeping bag with equally worrying consequences in winter.
I've had it happen to me in a sleeping bag. I survived with safety pins. Lots of safety pins. Always useful to have.
It didn't occur to me that the pitching was the issue I just thought the zip was broken.
I agree with Jim - zips can most often be repaired by a gentle crushing force on the slider. Pliers, teeth (careful!) or a rock will do it.
Sew your flaps together.
Two thoughts in addition to all the suggestions above:
1 I realised too late that I had been putting too much strain on the zip by stretching the flysheet as taut as I could manage in order to avoid sagging raintraps. Getting it right is a delicate art.
2 As soon as you put a needle through your fabric you are compromising the tent's impermeability. I carry a small length of gaffer tape too, either to use for the repair itself or to seal off any holes made by my needle.
Better a needle hole than an open door. Rain won't get through a needle hole in any great quantity. Carry a small tube of seam sealer if you are bothered.
Thanks everyone, good tips there. Still alarming that the failure of a zip can allow the elements into a tent or turn it into a kite.
Said damage was caused by a sand storm in the Highlands of Iceland. After being tentbound for 46 hours I’ve managed to escape to a lower gentler place with an official campsite. At least I can escape to the toilet blocks here!
I’m pretty sure it was vast quantities of dust and sand being battered against the zip, together with me repeatedly opening and closing it that has done the damage. Hopefully with careful cleaning and tweaking of zip teeth I can get it working but as ever, if anyone has any more advice I’m all ears. Thanks!
The first decent tent I ever had - some one man jobbie from Ultimate, vintage circa late 70s - said in the instructions to reduce strain on the zip by crossing the pegging points at the corners of the door. Seemed like a good idea, and I've done it on every tent I've had ever since.
It is so odd when you hear such great advice for the first time, and you have to wonder why no one ever told you that before.
I am going to have to give that a try!
Ultimate were a good tent maker, and you can still see the odd example of them around. As I understand it - which means, I could be talking nonsense - they went the same way as Camera Care Systems in that when the main man wanted to retire (or was forced to by, eg, infirmity or death), no-one could be found to take the business on.
>....... said in the instructions to reduce strain on the zip by crossing the pegging points at the corners of the door. Seemed like a good idea, and I've done it on every tent I've had ever since.
I do this too.
It always amazes me how many tents you see badly pitched. Doesn't sound like this was the cause of the problem for the OP, but zips unable to close or strained (I always peg out with doors zipped closed).
> The first decent tent I ever had - some one man jobbie from Ultimate, vintage circa late 70s - said in the instructions to reduce strain on the zip by crossing the pegging points at the corners of the door. Seemed like a good idea, and I've done it on every tent I've had ever since.
Can you explain this? Sorry being particularly thick this morning.
Do you mean putting two pegs in at each corner?
Right flap pegged on the left and the left flap on the right, so the bungees cross to form an X. This holds the zip straight and in a closed position.
If cleaning and tweaking doesn't work you should be able to replace the zip. Either yourself if you have a little skill with a sewing machine, or you can send it back to the OEM. Possibly a dress repair shop would do it cheaper, not tried that myself.
My tent (a Vango Spirit - 3 hoop tunnel tent with side door) has a length of webbing that runs under the door to carry the tension when the door is open. I still always zip up before dropping the tent, or when tensioning/pitching. A major bugbear is that the door has two zippers on the same zip - one at the bottom that opens the door, and one at the top which goes all the way to the bottom but then can't release, leaving a triangular opening (it's hard to explain). When we had these tents at scouts people would go for the top zip as it is closer to the eye-line/easier to reach, they would then attempt to climb in through the partly opened door, inevitably tripping and destroying the zip or ripping the flysheet. My eventual solution was to sew the upper zipper so it couldn't move.
I don't buy the crossed pegs solution - too much faff, and zips fail when you close them, not from sustained tension. Geometries with unstressed doors would probably be best for zip longevity, such as the Terra Nova Quasar.
I think that overtensioning of modern tents is unavoidable because the fabrics get looser when wet, just when you need it to be tight. You therefore tension up when it rains, and in the morning sun your tent dries out and stretches. Canvas goes the other way (tighter when wet) which seems better. If anyone knows of a brand with dimensionally stable (moisture-neutral?) flysheet fabric I would be interested.
Pheonix was set up by some of the Ultimate staff. I think the reason they both stopped traiding was because the equipment they made lasted too long. Still got a Pheonix single skin mountain tent that works.
> Right flap pegged on the left and the left flap on the right, so the bungees cross to form an X. This holds the zip straight and in a closed position.
Doesn't that mean the tent is inaccessible and twisted.
I googled "cross pegging" and I don't think the results were suitable, oh my!
Do you have pictures or a video, not any like the ones I've already seem, preferably something to do with tents?
I have Henry Shires Moment and Notch TarpTents; they both have at the zip a male and female clasp to be clipped together to take the strain off the zip. If you can get the clips (ebay) they could easily be sewn on either side of the zip and then the stiching seam sealed.
This image sort of shows the case but exaggerated:
The point is to use a peg to pull the bottom corner of the door closed and so reduce tension on the zip before you do it up. To open the door you need to undo the zip and then unhook the bottom corner of the door from the peg (or lazily leave it on the peg and force your way out).
> This image sort of shows the case but exaggerated:
Nice one, thanks, it was sort of what I had in mind, but not quite as extreme. Cheers.
While safety pins sound fine for this I usually carry a few nappy pins: much stronger, less danger of opening and impaling when used with clothing, don't rust.
I wish that more sleeping bags were still made without zips: the entry contortions and difficulty keeping cool in hot conditions seem a worthwhile tradeoff for durability (cheaper and probably slightly lighter too).
Also good for children refusing to get out of bed!
Get a tent with cuben (DCF) fibre flysheet. It doesn't stretch so much due to water. Tarptent have the Notch Li and Terra Nova have the ultra tents.
Most tent instructions tell you to loosen the tent if you are leaving it pitched in hot weather.
Thanks, I will investigate (not that I am really in the market for a new tent at the moment).
I agree with the sentiment of loosening the fly fabric in hot weather (and like to take care of my tent). The problem is that the fabric inevitably slackens at night (high relative humidity). If it is windy and/or raining it is necessary to tighten up to prevent water coming through and reduce noise. I can never be bothered to crawl out of bed at sunrise to loosen it off in anticipation of the sun drying the fabric. Hence the appeal of a tent that doesn't need so much adjustment.
Back to the subject of tent zips, our old canvas scout tents have lace-up doors, but are there any lightweight modern tents without zips on either the fly or inner? I guess it is hard to get a weathertight opening any other way, and zips apply tension to the fabric evenly which is good for modern stressed fabric designs.
I have a TarpTent Notch which in most conditions it can set up with four pegs, however it has other tie out point including for lines from the apex. I have extra four thin bungee cords with small carabiners the can be clipped onto the shelter tabs quickly; loops for pegs are already on the bungee. If windy, or likely to be, I put these on to get a tight pitch, avoid flapping and protect the zips. I might omit the carabiners and put the bungees on permanently. I have already learnt before pitching anywhere to test the ease that pegs go in the ground. If difficult I move on.
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