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Vislon or coil or Uretek zipper; sewing zipper on curve; #2 coil zipper source?


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Home Forums Gear Forums Make Your Own Gear Vislon or coil or Uretek zipper; sewing zipper on curve; #2 coil zipper source?

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 29 total)
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  • #3736746
    Moab Randy
    BPL Member

    @moab-randy

    For the door to my new tent build, I’ve read that Vislon zippers are less likely to ice up than coils, but my greater concern is durability over time in a very sandy environment. Is Vislon still the best choice? Any experience/opinion with this?

    This will be an exposed zipper and I’ve been planning to use a storm flap. I’m inclined to go with a regular Vislon or coil and not a Uretek water-resistant because the ones I’ve seen seem very hard to open (need two hands–no casual open/close there) and I’m thinking the vinyl “seals” will not hold up in a sandy environment. Anybody think I’m mistaken in this?

    Do you have any special guidelines or precautions about sewing #3 or #2 coil zippers into curves on netting, e.g., minimum radius etc.?

    Anybody know a source for #2 YKK coil zippers?

    Thanks!

    #3736774
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    #2 zips are very much in the ‘concealed dress zip’ class. I would not use that size on a tent.

    Many tent mfrs use a #5 or even bigger on their tents and sleeping bags, but from discussions with several of them (I know the owners or managers) the reason is that the novice market tends to trash anything less than a Sherman Tank. I suggest that does not apply here?

    Me, I use plastic #3 coil-coil zips on my tents (summer and winter versions), and they have lasted for many years with no problems.

    Cheers

    #3736965
    Moab Randy
    BPL Member

    @moab-randy

    Thanks, Roger. I had assumed I would be using a #5 zipper for the main door, as I’ve read others say they regretted using a #3, but maybe I should reconsider.

    I know you aren’t a Warmlite fan, but I’ve had them for 40 years and both iterations use #2 zippers on exterior flaps (not for routine access) and for vents, and I’ve had no problem, with careful use. Maybe I could get them from Warmlite. . . .

    #3736989
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    The difference in weight between #2 and #3 is very small. The point of #2 is to make an ‘invisible’ zip for a dress, so it is low-profile.

    There are very few vendors for #2, and what I found was only short zips – dress length. That is, maybe 8″, to ease the dress over the hips.

    But you can buy #3 plastic coil-coil zip on a reel from OWFINC, and various sliders to suit. I bought a reel of it, and since it has lasted so well on my tents I still have a lot of that reel left.

    If you are rough with any zip it will fail. If you use two hands to do the zip up, and bring the edges together yourself before doing the zip up, rather than dragging them together by the slider, you will get a long life.

    Cheers

    #3736995
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    I assume it’s #2 coil zippers that are used on the lightest wind jackets. I’ve searched the web for a source but to no avail. They would be perfect for my uberlight bug nets. If anyone knows where the #2 coil can be found please let me know. I’d even order from China if it’s the only option.

    #3736996
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    You can find #2 zips on the web, just search for ‘coil zip #2’.
    But note that most web sites do say the #2 should not be used where any strength is required.

    Cheers

    #3737036
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Tents can be designed so that zips are not curved, but rather operate in a straight line.  Suggest this reduces the chances of snags or failure.  Even for an inner bug net door on a side-entry tent, an upside down T shape is not as fancy as the curved shapes that TT and others use; but the T reduces chances of jamming, especially for the very light YKK no. 3 zips used for the inside net door(s) and you can pick which side of the T you want to open, or even open one side and all or part of the other.  So there is a lot of flexibility.  And the weight penalty of the T on a solo tent with access on only one side is negligible.

    Have decided to use the rear vestibule on a side entry solo tent to extend the floor and add space, sans zips, which makes for substantial weight savings.  While the front door has just one near vertical center zip, and the beaks can be opened together or separately on either side, for both convenience and further weight savings.

    Fully agree with your concerns about the water resistant zips.  They are not fully waterproof, and for small tents in bad weather are a PITA,  Getting in or out of a tent in bad weather can be a challenge, and the ability to open or close doors with one hand is for me a big plus.

    But for outer doors, usually on vestibules, you need a flap, or flaps really, because rain is better blocked if there is a stiffer narrow flap on the inside, and an opposing wider flexible one on the outside.  Similar to what Montbell does on its bags in lieu of a large puffy inside flap, but have found the concept works well for outer tent zips, especially close to vertical ones where rain can come in under the larger outer flap.

    Fully agree with comments about #2 zips.  While the goal is light weight, more durability trumps weight on a shelter in severe weather.   As for #3 zips, glad that both Warmlite and Quest were mentioned.  While both are YKK, for some reason the Warmlite is more durable, but weighs very little more:  1.12 ounces per running foot vs 1 oz, not counting the pulls, which may vary in number.

    Haven’t used the tooth zips on tents, but you can weigh the Vislons and see how they compare to the YKK’s.  Agree that in blowing sand, the Vislons may be worth some added weight.

    Hope this is helpful.  For longer hikes, bringing along a small spray can of zipper lubricant or using it before setting out while cleaning the zips on an older tent may be a good idea.

    #3737038
    Christopher S
    BPL Member

    @chrisisinclair

    You can sew on a normal coil zipper in reverse so that the tape is on the outside and it is a good amount more water resistant. Not like a Uretek but pretty good.

    I would never go below #3 personally. Dont think I would use a shelter with even #3 on the fly. #5 for sure or even #8

    Snaps are great to use for the flaps – if you have a few mid way and at the ends you can also use them for venting options with the zip partially or all the way open.

    #3737042
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    I agree with Sam regarding straight zips with no curves. They’re easier to sew on but what’s more failures become far less likely. Most zippers fail at the curves.

    #3737043
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    NM, was a duplicate post. Sorry

    #3737048
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I put a #3 zip on a mid and it eventually failed – it came unzipped above the slider

    Currently, the #5 is doing the same thing.  There is too much sideways force across the zipper on a mid.

    I put some thin nylon laces on each side at several points and just tie it closed.  That seems to work pretty good.  Takes sideways force pretty good.  But, then there are gaps between ties but there’s nothing important below if it started to drip

    #3737136
    Moab Randy
    BPL Member

    @moab-randy

    Thank you all for your thoughtful ideas and opinions. That’s what this forum is for! I will consider them for my ultimate design, and report someday when it’s done.

    But reading around I still get directly contradicting opinions about the strength in tension of Vislon vs. coil. Probably either would be adequate in my application, but it would be interesting to know.

    #3737179
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Currently, the #5 is doing the same thing. There is too much sideways force across the zipper on a mid.
    Bingo!
    That is how to fail a zip every time.

    I agree about curved zips as well: another good failure mechanism.

    As for the strength of Vislon vs coil-coil – it may be a good question, but I suggest that your design should NEVER load the zip sideways that much!

    Cheers

    #3737209
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    On my front entry A frame bug nets I just went to sewing on a horizontal zip at the base and another going down one of the sides, with both meeting in the lower left or right corner. I take a hot knife held over a flame to cut the #3 coil to the correct angles. Then I clamp on #3 zipper stops. Only leaves a very small hole when everything is zipped closed.

    The 2 straight zipper technique also maximizes the entry/exit dimensions. I wouldn’t be one bit afraid to try a #2 coil on bug netting with 2 straight zippers. I could get my 0.5 noseeum bug nets down to weights never seen before.

    #3737253
    Moab Randy
    BPL Member

    @moab-randy

    Apologies to all for perhaps misleading: What I for some reason assumed were #2 zippers on my Warmlites turned out to actually be #3. I guess I’m enough of a tyro that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    #3738046
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Moab Randy,

    And if the #3 Warmlites are the ones for external use, like a vestibule door, they are beefier than the #3 zips sold by Quest and other suppliers, as I mentioned above.  Especially for external use, I think the extra 0.12 oz/ft is well worth it.

    Haven’t done snow camping lately, so haven’t had freeze-up issues.  If I did, would opt for the Vislons, or the YKK #3’s.  Warmlite used to sell these tooth zips, and probably still do.  Also have not camped in the desert, and have no desire to do so; but if I did, might use the tooth zips, and take care not to force them until the sand or ice were brushed off.

    Monte’s photo is more what I like.  As I used to say about Colorado, “All grass and no grizzlies.”  Until you get further up to the solid rock, which is not my cup of tea.

    #3738447
    Eric Blanche
    BPL Member

    @eblanche

    Locale: Northeast US

    Lots of zipper discussion here. I recently had some questions I asked a buddy of mine. He works with ykk zip mainly for outerwear. I thought some of his thoughts and insight could be useful here:

    “The #5 viz is heavier than the #3 coil, but I don’t really like #3 coil at CF because the plastic pin box at the bottom is prone to failure. If you like coil, there’s a 4.5 with a metal pin box and it’s a little bigger. I use this on my 20d pu coated ripstop wind shell for example. On my 10d down I actually have plastic snaps for even more weight savings and it layers well. YKK also gave #5 viz slim which are similar to the #3 in weight but the thickness of the teeth is a little less and the flex is a little more. For all my 20d down ins I use #3 viz though – can’t beat viz function and 5 slim are so new they’re harder to get and less puller options. I’d go 3 viz if you want a zip with a plastic slider/puller if you can.”

     

    The 5 slim viz sounds interesting. Who knows if these other zips are even available at consumer levels!?

    Oh yeah and I walked into my local Hobby Lobby for the first time and they have YKK #3 coils, #5 coils, vizlons, and the 2.5? invisible zips. I’m in New England USA.

    #3738473
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    The sliders for my #3 coil-coil zips are metal. As the stuff came in a big 50 m coil there are no end clips, so I sew them together with heavy thread.

    In my experience it is the sliders which ‘fail’ in practice. What that really means is that the insides wear a bit so the slider does not push the coils together properly. I fix that with a little carefully-controlled squeeze shut. Very little needed.

    Cheers

    #3738491
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    “I don’t really like #3 coil at CF because the plastic pin box at the bottom is prone to failure.”

    For a tent outer door, but not a garment, there need not be a pin box at the bottom.  However, some form a reinforcement is needed at the bottom to insure that when slid to the bottom to close the door the zip does not fail and the door remains shut under pressures to pull it apart.

    #3738504
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I will suggest tipping the whole thing upside down. It solves a lot of problems. Here is in interior photo of one of my blue summer tunnel tents.

    You will notice that the zips run from the bottom upwards, not from the top downwards. This has several benefits:
    * There is no strain at the bottom of the zip to damage it. In fact, there is reinforcing across the bottom end to take all the tension OFF the zip.
    * When the door is partly unzipped, the verandah hood outside protects the inside from falling rain.
    * In hot weather I can unzip the door very low, making a huge window for ventilation. In bad weather I can make the window at the top quite small.
    * The fixed width at the bottom of the door makes pitching the tent properly much easier.

    This does mean the door may be on the ground when it is wide open. I bunch it up and step over it. I have never tripped over it.

    This may be counter-intuitive and ‘unconventional’. But . . . so what? It works.

    Cheers

    #3738505
    Eric Blanche
    BPL Member

    @eblanche

    Locale: Northeast US

    Absolutely, Sam, I agree completely!

    Roger, I should have mentioned my questions were more oriented toward closed/finished one end zippers.. Such as found on lightweight down jackets (Which im making and was the intent of the original inquiry).

     

    As Roger has mentioned, sewing through with heavy thread works well. I prefer to sew a piece of heavier fabric (hyperd300) on top/through the tip of the remaining zipper portion rather than folding the zipper tape over/under as some manuf. do.

     

    My concerns are that a plastic/vislon zip when damaged is essentially a catastrophic failure where as (as we’ve all been taught) the coil zip can be “fixed” back to working order.

     

    Jerry, I’m curious as to your thoughts as towards the #5 zip slowly showing signs of not holding up towards sideways/pulling force? I’ve thought the #5 to be pretty stellar however MLD has gone to #8 wicked heavy zips.

     

    Thanks everyone!!!

    #3738506
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Eric

    Roger, I should have mentioned my questions were more oriented toward closed/finished one end zippers.. Such as found on lightweight down jackets
    Yeah, we drift around a bit at times.

    In such cases the zips I need are a bit shorter that what i have on my tents, so I buy them complete. But still as #3 plastic coil-coil, with metal sliders.

    Cheers

    #3738615
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    “My concerns are that a plastic/vislon zip when damaged is essentially a catastrophic failure where as (as we’ve all been taught) the coil zip can be “fixed” back to working order.”

    Don’t know if “we’ve all been taught,” because marketing is not necessarily teaching.  But will concede it’s the ‘conventional wisdom.’  Despite that, for adverse conditions like blowing sand or icing sleet I’d rather have a tooth zipper, like a vislon tooth or a #3 YKK tooth from Warmlite.  But that is just an educated guess, and not a conclusion based on testing.  Suspect that the Warmlite is lighter than the Vislon, and would choose the Warmlite if that is true.  Appreciate the post about Vislon’s being available at Jo-Ann fabrics, because I’d like to compare them to the #3 Warmlite tooth YKK that I have.

    As stated above, I’ve no reason to use the heavier tooth zippers instead of the coil, as I hike for fun not competition.  Next to poles, zippers are probably the 2d heaviest item we put into tents.  Which is a good reason to use them only on the downwind side of a solo tent, and that also cuts the zipper weight in half, both for outside and inside zips.  Expanding the floor into what would otherwise be a rear vestibule also adds a lot of floor space, allowing for a smaller and lighter main canopy.  And if part of the expanded space is used for storage, the gear will be a lot more protected inside the bathtub floor.  Of course this does not apply to larger tents 2P and up, where zipped doors are installed on both the front and rear of the tent so one partner need not crawl over another.

    Also think that beak outer doors on the downwind side of the tent should allow the tent to be opened from either (or both) sides, so that you can get in and out on the side of the tent that is more accessible, and pitch in a spot where a trees, bushes, or rocks block access thru one of the beak doors.

    But any weight savings from halving the doors would be lost if two parallel zippers, side-by-side, are used on the downwind vestibule side, albeit that might be the more protective and sturdy approach.  To avoid that, the one zipper joining the two beaks must be flapped on both inside and outside, and as mentioned above, there must be separate way to secure either one or both of the two beak doors at the bottom of the zip. This could be done with velcro tapes at the bottom of the zip, or with D-rings that can be hooked to one or both of two guylines coming up from a single front stake.  Note that a slider can also still be installed on the top of the single zipper for a an integral vent to avoid adding vent zips.  Also note that this approach works only if unzipping just one beak allows ample space to get in and out.  That probably rules out using Trekking poles or the like to support the tent, as they will reduce the size of the opening.

    All of this may be hard to follow, and hope to get the next tent done before heck freezes over so all the gab like the above can be illustrated by photos.  All these different ways of cutting down on zipper length can produce a lot of weight reduction, so I think are worth exploring.

    #3738617
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    The orange winter tent I showed above (some way) had doors at each end, but that was a very early design.
    My current red winter tent has a small ‘window/door’ at the rear end which can be shut completely, and it only opens part way. In extremis you could get out there, but not easily. The opening is meant just for ventilation. That means the zips are short, and much lighter.

    Of course, with a tunnel tent there is no problem for either person to get out – as long as I am not cooking dinner in the vestibule at the time! Perhaps a similar arrangement could be had for some of the tents being discussed here?

    Cheers

    #3738945
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Roger, I think a tunnel tent that widens near the front door would be perfect for two.  Black Diamond made at tent like this that had two doors, side-by-side in the front of the tent that could be opened separately.  But it was kinda heavy, and think they may have dropped it.

    Were a side-entry tent made to be for two persons, would think there would need to be s second vestibule in back for the 2d person.  Problem is, then you need to pitch in a place that has plenty of room for access and egress on both sides of the tent.  Better to use the BD approach and scrap the weight of a full size second vestibule.

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