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Berkeley Premium Cork Grease

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo:   Berkeley Premium Cork Grease equipment cleaner/treatment

Ever been desperate to get a zipper open on a backpack, tent, or clothing item and it sticks ... even jams shut? Ever have physical connector/connection problems with outing gear?

Brings up a memory or two for some of us?

I've tried different things over the years, and the best most permanent fix I've found is the cork grease used for lubricating critical moving parts on brass and woodwind musical instruments. Get it at any music store or online.


  • MULTI-USE: Works every time on every kind of zipper, metal connection surface, gasket or physical material interface causing trouble
  • EASY to apply, does not drip or run
  • Treatment is typically long lasting
  • One tube might be enough for a decade supply
  • Will not melt plastic or corrode metal (actually helps protect many metal from corrosion)
  • Quite inexpensive ($1 to $2.50 per tube)
  • Almost any brand will work the same.
  • If you have a kid in a band, or have been in a band yourself, you might already have it nearby.


  • Looks like lip balm...and generally is often quite safe
  • However, do not mistake for lip balm, may not taste great or be inedible
  • Keep out of direct sun and keep in a plastic sandwich bag in hot climates, may melt and make a mess.
  • .... others may not know it is not lip balm

Any one else have trouble with Zippers, plastic or metal on backpacks, tents, clothing, fuel tanks, cooking gear connection etc?  Ever have a squeaky hinge pin on a backpack?

Salts and grit get onto the teeth of essentially all kinds or zippers, then slow and may freeze the action. On my backpack waist belt pockets zippers tend to seize up. I can't get out a snack bar, lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc fast enough, and sometimes not at all on a hike. 

I've also seen hikers with fuel connectors that are hard to remove from cooking stoves, or even leaking fuel (= potentially cold dinners or explosive flaming hiker experiences). Then there are those squeaky backpack metal/metal interfaces or tools or folding knives that want to be difficult to operate.

There is a simple solution for almost all of these situations, be it plastic to plastic, plastic to metal, metal to metal, rubber to etc etc. 

ANY BRAND of musical instrument cork grease works even better than lubricating oils or paraffin wax to lubricate and protect zippers, gaskets, fuel connections and other material interfaces to protect against causing grief.  Ingredients typically include a Vaseline like petroleum jelly base, beeswax, hard natural waxes (e.g, carnuba), camphor, menthol, and/or other scented oils as fragrances and/or natural preservatives. Being used on musical instruments near or potentially in your mouth, ingredients are typically safe.

The one I've used is Berkeley Premium Cork Grease (sold for saxophones and other woodwinds).


The most similar product sold directly for outing gear zipper lubricant might be McNett Zip Tech (also reviewed here on Trailspace by others). Packaged the same way, it is 5 times more expensive and designed more directly for wetsuit zipper sealing and lubrication.

With either product just take the cap off and run the waxy lubricant lightly down the edge of the zipper teeth or the sealing surface or the connection/gasket area for the length of the item.  Apply the lubricant lightly and it will not drip. Over time the lubricant will distribute itself even more evenly.

Apply carefully to zippers and other items removing excess blobs with a tissue.  Work the zipper up down several times to spread it around.  Remove excess on the outside surfaces of the closed zipper with a tissue.


In my experience, the gear that needs the most treatment are the zippers on backpack waist belt pockets used for our ~weekly year round hikes. These need treatment ~2 times a year. Fuel connections and gaskets to cooking stoves need treatment about once a year.

Verified that Cork Grease does not taste as good as lip balm


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $1/tube eBay vendor in 5 pack

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