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Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack?
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Raphael Palmer
(RticleOne) - F
Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack? on 07/14/2009 09:44:56 MDT Print View

Hi everyone,

I found this place by looking around for "waterproof zippers". I'm not much of a camper, but I am getting interested in carrying day-to-day gear around with me in a good pack.

The one I'm looking at is this:

It seems perfect for me needs, but the zippers aren't waterproof. Some have suggested on another forum that I use a pack cover for wet weather, which I intend to do anyway, but since it seems that some of you have experience in using waterproof zippers -

- do you have any advice or cautions about trying to modify such a pack by replacing the factory zippers with waterproof ones?

I'm not very handy, nor do I use a sewing machine. Do you think that the pack could be damaged by attempting to remove the original zippers, or could the fabric be compromised by trying to stitch new ones on?

I'd try a tailor or a shoemaker/repair-place (accustomed as they are to dealing with tough material), but I'd like to know what you all think.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Replacing zippers. on 07/14/2009 11:41:11 MDT Print View

That pack looks heavy, complex and expensive for what it is. Also, 1400 cu inches isn't very much. Once you replaced the zippers the $89 plus zippers plus labor would be getting expensive. I have a similar sized Northface daypack with the same number of compartments I use around town. It achieves partial waterproofness by having flaps over each zipper. Go to REI or EMS or a good outfitter and find a pack that meets your needs without modification, OR go to Walmart and find a cheapo pack to modify.

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack? on 07/14/2009 13:33:51 MDT Print View

I sew, and zippers are not the funnest feature to toy with, especially without experience.

Additionally, looking at the description of the pack, it only claims, water resistance, not waterproof-ness, and so "waterproof" zippers would be overkill. And on top of all of that, I think there is only such a thing as water-resistant zippers anyway - like the smooth-faced zippers you on fancy Patagonia rain gear - those are water resistent and not waterproof.

The only true waterproof zippers I know of appear on dry suits and the like, and don't much resemble conventional zippers.

You are much better off getting your self a waterproof pack liner. They can be had here for a few dollars for the plastic ones, or you can use a simple trash-compactor bag. If you want to get fancier, you can use a sil-nylon or a true dry bag. Any of these should offer you the protection you need - ESPECIALLY if you're using it in conjunction with a pack cover. In conjunction with a pack liner, the pack cover would be most useful in prevent that heavy fabric from absorbing tons of water.

I'd definitely check out a pack that has either covered zippers, or which is just waterproof from the outset, rather than trying to modify that bag to meet your needs.

Raphael Palmer
(RticleOne) - F
Followup on 07/14/2009 15:23:32 MDT Print View

Hi guys,

Thanks for the suggestions.

I realize the pack is a bit pricey, and it's not that large, either; however, I'm looking at it as an around-town/on a farm pack, so I'm actually trying to keep the size down; essentially it's for things I'd use/carry every day, with a bit of leftover room in case I pick something up along the way.

I do like it because they have a reputation for tough build quality, and its many pockets and capacity for adding pouches on appeals to me greatly. One of the things I've noticed about a lot of packs is that they seem to only have two spacious pockets, and I carry around a lot of individual pieces of small gear, which always gets lost in big pockets.

I've seen some great waterproof packs out there, but they often start at much higher prices, or simply don't have the format I'm after - or are huge, for three day mountain hikes.

Though, those North Face packs don't look too bad...

What do you all think of improving the water resistance of the fabric by using a spray, such as:


Hmm. I guess I'll check out a pack cover and a bag liner. See if I can find a way to permanently attach the cover to the bag so it's always ready to deploy.

There must be an "ultimate backpack" out there that marries compartmentalization and durability with waterproofness...

Thanks again, and if you've got any more thoughts, let me know!


Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack on 07/14/2009 15:58:57 MDT Print View

If you are looking for a custom pack, there are certainly places that do it. R2 used to make packs for skiing that sound exactly like what you are shopping for. There are all sorts of custom pack designers, McHale for one.

The major consideration here is that custom packs aren't cheap. That said, if you want a day pack that you can wear in the bathtub, but want it durable and sporty looking, you'll have to go custom.

Honestly though? My suggestion: get a cheap camelback/daypack style pack, add a couple little ditty bags for organization and put them all in a trash compactor bag for water proofness.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack? on 07/14/2009 16:11:04 MDT Print View

I wouldn't bother. Few packs are really waterproof, and adding a waterproof zip to a pack might be a bit licke putting lipstick on a pig ...

Use a genuine waterproof liner.


Raphael Palmer
(RticleOne) - F
News to me! on 07/14/2009 19:01:02 MDT Print View

Hey again,

Thank you for ideas! For some reason, the thought of custom packs never entered my mind; or maybe, I subconsciously barred it, knowing that it probably costs a fortune. ;) Well, if ever I have that much money I may consider it.

I read today on another forum, someone sharing a similar lament to mine; most of the waterproof packs out there are more like shells that you simply stuff full of things, ending up as a big jumble, and they finished by asking something like, "why can't manufacturers make more "tactical"/every-day-carry bags just as they do, but make them waterproof?!"

I just looked for R2, but it seems like their website is defunct. It gives me some "" thing. Do you know if they've relocated to some other part of the 'net? The McHale stuff sounds good, too. Ahh, but I'm dreaming right now. Don't have that kind of money at the moment.

Yeah, I guess I'll be using liners/covers/drybags and maybe some spray for now, until I win the lottery or get some serious cash saved up.

Thanks, all of you!

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack? on 07/14/2009 19:26:25 MDT Print View

I love the Vaude packs with their Aeroflex suspension. they make a *waterproof* pack called the Aracanda that seems pretty solid:


Edited by retropump on 07/14/2009 19:27:57 MDT.

liping liang
(huadizip) - F
Re: Re: Re: Sewing waterproof zippers on an off-the-shelf pack? on 05/22/2011 21:40:02 MDT Print View

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