the best zipper for a bag

8:24 p.m. on October 12, 2003 (EDT)

After reading numerous reviews on top of the line bags, it seems to come down to a few. Two of which I am considering is Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering. It seems the common flaw with Feathered F's is the zipper. I need a custom back (wider than 68" in the sholders) so F.F. may be the only choice for me. Since I can order what I want, what is the best quality zipper mfg., size (no.5,no.8,no. 10?) and best configuration for zipper tape?

1:01 p.m. on October 13, 2003 (EDT)
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I have had my FF Ptarmigan for a bit over 5 years, with typical usage being 20-30 nights a year (it's my winter and Alaska Range bag, I use other bags for other climates). I have had no problems with the zipper in that time. The usage on Denali included a number of days waiting out storms in the tent, so the zipper got opened and closed many times. I also have not had any problems with my Western bag (summer weight, so a good part of the rest of the year). I also have some items of down clothing from FF, and again, no problem with zippers.

The problems I have had with zippers over the years (and that's many decades for the Old Greybeard) have been with smaller zippers, metal zippers (these were common in sleeping bags until the 1970s), and mostly in bags from REI and EMS (went through several from each when I was using lots of synth for river running in the 70s and 80s - didn't stand up real well, but they were cheap and adequately warm when mudsoaked). The plastic (Delrin? Nylon?) large-tooth, "self-healing" zippers (mostly from YKK) are pretty dependable, although I have had some problems with some on gaiters. Most of the problems I have had with zippers have been with jackets and tent doors. We had a pyramidal tarp tent for a cook tent on Denali in 2002 that had the zippers on both doors fail by the time we got to the 14k camp. 3 of us had lots of experience repairing zippers in the field (you get that as a scout leader) and were comepletely unable to get the zippers working again, so we pretty much abandoned the tent at 14k (put it in the cache, retrieved it on the way down from the summit, and gave it to a guy in Talkeetna who planned to just replace the zippers with complete new ones).

In FF's case, just tell Tony what your use and concern is. I'm sure he will set your bag up right. In any case, FF has a lifetime guarantee and will replace the bag with a new one if something goes wrong that can't be repaired (no guarantee if you get into the bag with your crampons on, though, but they will repair it pretty cheaply, compared to buying a whole new bag).

Bill S

1:47 a.m. on October 14, 2003 (EDT)
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74 forum posts

I like the the #8 coil zipper. Had a # 5 YKK tooth zipper break a tooth on an REI bag way back when . Replaced it with the the #10 tooth YKK. That was 25 years ago. Decided later that #10 size was overkill.
I like the smooth action of a coil zip. I think these may differ if the zip is a locking style or not. Wife has a bag that doesn't seem to want to "lock" and it seems to want to pull down (hmm, that doesn't sound quite right!).

October 1, 2014
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