When hiking down a trail one day trying to enjoy the serenity of nature, I found myself distracted by the repetitive sound of jangling metal. It wasn’t my keys or change in my pocket, and I soon became a bit annoyed at the intrusion. After stopping to check my pack, I realized it was just my zipper. But this left me searching for ways to silence zippers.
So, how to silence zippers? As it turns out, there are several ways to make your zipper less noisy. Not just when you’re walking, but also when you open it.
- Lubricate with Wax
- Replace Pull with Paracord
- Tie String Around Zipper
- Purchase Zipper Pull Kit
- Replace with Plastic Zipper
In this article, we’ll go in-depth about how to use each of these methods to silence your zippers. First, we should discuss exactly how and why zippers are noisy in the first place. After that, we’ll get into the specifics of how to cure all different types of zipper noise to help you achieve near-silence with your equipment.
Types of Zipper Noise
So what exactly causes all of the noise that zippers make? Most of it boils down to the fact that zippers are usually constructed from metal parts. This does make them more durable, but also makes them much noisier as well.
There are two main types of zipper noise. First, you have the noise caused by using the zipper. This noise occurs only when you zip and unzip it.
The second type of noise that zippers make is from movement. Since zippers are generally made from metal, the parts will make clanking noises when they come in contact with each other. The more motion a zipper is subject to, the more jangling noise it will make.
Now that we know the main types of zipper noise, let’s discuss what’s causing that noise to occur.
Why Do Zippers Make Noise?
When opening and closing a zipper, all of the teeth will briefly hit each other as the zipper is pulled past. The faster you move a zipper, the louder the sounds will be since the segments will be colliding with greater force, and you’ll be hearing more of the collisions in a shorter time period.
If you move the zipper slower it can help to mitigate the problem, though it won’t eradicate it. Holding a finger over the tape just in front of the slider as it moves can also help to make it just a bit quieter when using a zipper.
The other type of zipper noise is caused by the metal zipper pull jangling against the metal slider and elements. This happens when the zipper experiences motion, causing the pull to bounce around, slapping the other metal components in the process.
This type of zipper noise occurs most during movement instead of during use. Plastic zippers are much less likely to cause this since they don’t have metal parts to bang against each other.
Why Noisy Zippers Such a Big Problem?
Many situations call for minimizing noises and distractions such as a noisy zipper. In such cases, the noise may be nothing more than a minor annoyance, or it may be a real issue that’s plaguing you. Let’s go over a few situations where a noisy zipper can be a real hindrance.
Noisy Zipper in Tent
When you’re in your tent late at night with your significant other and suddenly nature calls, you don’t want your noisy zippers to wake up the other members of your tent. Moreover, there may be other campers around you that you also don’t want to disturb. Unfortunately, in the dead of night, that zipper can seem nearly as loud as an approaching vehicle.
Another issue with your tent zipper may be caused by wind. As the wind blows your tent walls, the zipper may jangle around, becoming loud enough to wake a light sleeper.
There aren’t very many other options that a tent could use though. The doorways need to be sealed against water while also being easy to access. Other alternatives like velcro might be even louder than a zipper.
Noisy Zipper on Backpack
Whether you’re running, hiking, or just commuting to work, a zipper on your backpack or camelback might become a frustrating annoyance very quickly as it continues to click and clack with every step you take.
If you work in a quiet office or if you’re perhaps a student in a near-silent classroom, the effect of opening a noisy backpack zipper can be the same. In the silence of the room, the sound of your zipper is amplified and can become a major distraction to the people around you.
Noisy Zippers on Shoes and Booties
If zippers on a backpack tend to get annoying when walking or running, then the effect that zippers on your shoes or booties may have could be even more pronounced. Every step taken will shake and jangle the zippers causing a chorus of a racket. While this is almost certainly annoying for the wearer, it’s even worse for the others around them.
Noisy Sleeping Bag Zippers
Similar to noisy tent zippers, your sleeping bag can make enough noise to awaken those around you when you arise in the middle of the night. Getting up for the bathroom at night may be inevitable, but making so much noise with your zipper doesn’t have to be. If you tend to move a lot while you sleep, then your zipper may also be jangling around, becoming a sleep deterrent for the other people in your tent or tents nearby.
How to Silence Zippers
1. Lubricate with Wax
If your zipper seems to make as much noise as an engine when you zip it, then you may try lubricating it with some wax to see how that affects the noise. For this, candle wax is perfectly adequate, though surf wax would be even better.
Start by opening your zipper. Gently rub the wax along the zipper segments from top to bottom and reverse. Make sure to change the angle of your wax to get better coverage on both sides of the zipper.
The wax in this method will act like a cushion that dampens the impacts of the zipper segments coming together, drastically reducing the amount of sound that the zipper makes. If you’re wondering how to make a tent zipper quiet, this method has worked very well for me.
For the best results, you’ll need to repeat this waxing regularly. With use, the wax will wear off. Occasionally replacing it will ensure your zipper continues to function quietly.
2. Replace Pull with ParacordIf you need to solve a jangling metal zipper pull, then replacing it with paracord pulls may be the best solution to silence it completely. When trying to figure out how to silence backpack zippers, this was the most effective solution that I came across. Now, I use this method on all of my backpacks.
First, you’ll need to get some paracord and some metal snips. You will use the snips to cut the bottom loop of the zipper pull and remove it completely.
Next, you will cut your piece of paracord to the desired length, usually just a few inches. Tie the two ends together to form a loop. Straighten the loop out so the knot is at one end and the loop becomes two lines with a knot on one end and a point at the other.
Thread the end opposite of the knot through the zipper. Then feed the knotted end through the loop on the other side of the zipper hole, pulling the knot tight. You now have a paracord zipper pull that will not jangle or clank around as you walk.
3. Tie String Around Zipper
If you want to stop your zipper from jangling but you don’t want to remove your metal zipper pull completely, you can instead tie a string through and around the metal parts of the zipper. They will act as a barrier that stops the metal parts of the zipper from contacting each other. This will dampen all of the sound and drastically reduce it, though not as completely and effectively as removing the metal pull altogether and replacing it with paracord.
There are many styles of tying off your zipper pull, but two of the most popular and simple styles are the hitch and the figure 8.
For the figure 8, take your piece of string or paracord and thread it through one side of the zipper pull top hole, then bring it back through the bottom hole going the other way. Thread it back through the top hole in the opposite direction of the first time. Then tie the two ends together and your zipper is dampened!
For the hitch style, you’ll want to tie your string or paracord into a loop. Straighten out the loop with the knot on one end. Thread the other end through the bottom hole of the zipper pull, then back through the top hole. Take the knot and thread it through the loop that you just pushed through the top zipper-pull hole. Pull the knot to tighten.
Both of these are cheap and effective methods for stopping your zipper from clanking around. If you want to make it one step nicer, you can purchase a zipper pull kit.
4. Purchase Zipper Pull KitA zipper pull kit works the same way as tying your string through and around the zipper. It will act as a shock absorber that dampens the sound of the zipper pull rattling around. What makes it better than just using string or paracord is that you’ll usually get a nice plastic tab that you can use to pull that will also clamp the end closed and look much nicer than a simple knot.
In a pack, you’ll usually get enough pulls for ten or more zippers. Since they’re already cut to size and include a snap-together tab instead of a knot, they are very easy to install and look very nice.
Start by removing your existing metal zipper pull with snips. Then thread one side of the zipper pull string through the zipper hole. Even out the length, then snap the tab shut on the end. That’s it! Silent zippers achieved.
5. Plasti-DipIf you don’t like the look of paracord or string dangling from all of your zippers, then you may consider plasti-dipping your zipper pulls instead. This is a bit more time-consuming and difficult process than the other methods we’ve mentioned, but it’s an excellent solution for how to silence zippers on shoes.
The plasti-dip works as a sound-dampener, absorbing the impact of the zipper as it slaps around. While this won’t completely silence your zipper, it will dull the impact and stop the resonance, resulting in a very reduced amount of zipper noise.
Dip your zipper pull in the plasti dip. This may be difficult depending on what the zipper is on, so smaller items such as shoes and booties are excellent for this.
Once you dip the zipper pull, you’ll need to hang it so that it can dry without getting any of the plasti-dip on the item itself. Once it’s dry, your zipper is noise-dampened and rugged.
6. Replace with Plastic Zipper
Replacing your entire zipper can be a difficult and skill-intensive task, but many people may be comfortable taking it on. With traditional zippers, the metal parts are creating the noise when they make contact with each other. On the other hand, plastic parts don’t make the same loud clinking when they hit each other.
To replace your current zipper with a quieter plastic one, you’ll first need to remove the stitches along the tape of the zipper. Once all the stitches are removed, the zipper should come off with no problem.
Next, you’ll sew the new zipper into place, preferably with a sewing machine. While this can be done by hand, you’ll save a lot of time and effort by using a machine. Once it’s sewn in, your new zipper is installed and it should be much quieter!
You may need to stop your zippers from clanking around as you walk, or maybe you want to quiet a noisy tent zipper so it won’t wake your tent mates. Either way, the six methods of silencing a zipper that we’ve covered are effective ways of doing so. With so many easy and quick ways to stop your zipper from making excess noise, there’s no reason for being annoyed by that obnoxious zipper.
If you found this article to be useful in helping you quiet your zippers, please feel free to share it with others who may also need to silence some zippers in their lives! For questions and comments, please leave them in the comments box below so I can respond in kind.
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