I've had my backpack for 8 years so I guess it should come as no surprise that my zipper-pulls are finally falling apart.

However, is there an effective substitute zipper-pull I can make from everyday supplies from homes? Or is it something I should buy from the internet?

  • You can indeed buy replacement zipper-pulls in any good sewing supplies shop.
    – RedSonja
    Feb 13, 2017 at 11:34

4 Answers 4


Depending on how large the opening in the slider is, you might be able to slide a piece of small cord1 through- even better if you can double the cord and tie a larks head knot- then finish off by tying the ends of the cord together in an overhand knot. I've seen ones where the maker got fancy with the end knot as well, such as a monkey's fist or diamond knot.

enter image description here

1 My original draft used the term "paracord." Thanks to Willeke for pointing out that other kinds of cord, not necessarily paracord, may be more suitable.

  • 1
    Mostly the zipper pulls are added to the pull part of the zipper. I have never seen a zipper that is big enough to accommodate normal size paracord, even a single strand. But there are many strong kinds of thinner string, some of which are certainly thin enough.
    – Willeke
    Feb 8, 2017 at 19:17
  • Nice cord in the photo but way thinner than paracord.
    – Willeke
    Feb 8, 2017 at 19:30

I've replaced a broken pull (just the tab part that lets you get a grip on the slider) with a small split ring, similar to what are used for key rings only smaller. These are available in hardware or home improvement stores, where the key rings are shelved. I had a pair of boots with such a split ring that I wore that way for three years, pulling the zipper up and down at least once a day each direction.

If the whole slider is failing, you might want to contact an outdoor gear repairer (yes, there are people who repair things like tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks professionally) to see what it would cost to have the complete zipper replaced. It's unlikely to be economical relative to buying a new backpack, but if there's sentimental value there, money may be a lesser concern.

  • 2
    Sometimes paperclips can do the job, certainly strong clips.
    – Willeke
    Feb 7, 2017 at 21:03
  • In fact any old piece of wire will do, but it may not look very smart.
    – RedSonja
    Feb 13, 2017 at 11:35

Check out this material from Indiegogo.com. It's a moldable plastic material that you just heat up in water to soften it. Another product called FORMcard does the same thing. I fixed a broken zipper pull with this stuff on a hydration pack that had a broken pull. Only I made the new pull bigger and easier to grab since my hands are often wet and cold when using this hydration pack. Since I wanted the new pull to be waterproof, I first looped a small zip tie through the zipper opening to form a connection to the zipper body, then molded the new plastic pull handle around the little zip tie loop. So now there is no metal to corrode, and the new pull is big and easy to grab onto. It's also lime green so I can see it in the dark!


Check out this link on how you can do it using sugru and a paper clip. https://sugru.com/sport-outdoor/fix-any-zip-with-sugru

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