The Best Luggage Zippers
Luggage zippers tend to be the weakest link where luggage is concerned, as every luggage repair shop around the globe can verify. Moreover, when the suitcase zipper breaks you usually cannot use your luggage, not until you have the zipper replaced or repaired.
There are several different types of zippers that can be used for zipped luggage but two types are most commonly used.
Coil Zippers Or Chain Zippers
The most popular luggage zippers today are coil zippers but they are flexible, smooth to operate but still strong, making them good zippers for bags.
Coil zippers consist of two coils on each side, stitched onto the zipper tape. The zipper teeth's are formed by the winding of the coils and are made from polyester or nylon, hence also called polyester zippers or nylon zippers.
One of the benefit of coil zippers is that they self-heal easily, i.e. if the zipper is distorted it can easily be restored to its original condition by pulling the slider backward.
Coil zippers are durable but not as durable as chain zippers. Chain zippers can be made of metal (originally) or molded plastic (more popular now a days). They have individual interlocking teeth's that are fused directly onto the zipper tape and are the most durable luggage zippers available, as well as the most secure.
Chain zippers are however more expensive and not as flexible as coil zippers, making them relatively rare in modern luggage.
Luggage Zipper Tips
There are few things worth having in mind when evaluating zipped luggage.
No matter what type of zipper it is, the larger the zipper, the stronger it will be.
Closed-end zippers, that open up at the opposite ends and come together in the middle, are the best zippers for luggage as you can still use the bag even if one zip breaks (just slide the broken zip back to the end and use the other one).
In some cases, like for your camera bag, you want water resistant or even waterproof zippers. Water resistant zippers are sufficient for heavy rain and even quick plunge into water but you need waterproof zipper for your equipments to survive serious soaking.
Waterproof zippers can be tricky to open and close, which can be inconvenient if you need to access your camera quickly. Lubricating luggage zippers on regular basis with silicone grease, Teflon spray, or paraffin will make the zippers easier to operate as well as protect them.
Never use the zipper to force your bag closed, it is the easiest way to damage them.
Most luggage experts consider YKK zippers to be the best luggage zippers available. The Japanese company Yoshida manufactures YKK zippers and you will recognize them when you see them as it says YKK on the zipper pull (just check your trouser zip, there is a good chance it reads YKK).
Many luggage brands however manufacture their own suitcase zippers and the quality manufacturers vigorously test their zippers quality.
You can get luggage (e.g. Pacsafe) with so-called smart zippers, i.e. with tamper resistant zipper pulls, fastened to concealed clips making it hard for pickpockets to unzip them without you noticing.
Many luggage locks (e.g. most combination locks) go through holes in the zipper pulls so make sure the holes are big enough to slip small combination lock through them.
Zipped luggage is surprisingly vulnerable for tampering and soft-sided zipped bag is more vulnerable than hard-sided luggage. Even if you secure your bag with luggage lock, it is still shockingly easy to access most zipped luggage without your knowledge.
Always take your luggage security seriously and look for ways to minimize the risk of your luggage being tampered with.
Repair Or Replace Luggage Zippers
The most common luggage repair is to replace or repair broken suitcase zippers. However, if your zipped luggage breaks while travelling, you may not have the option of having it fixed in time for your return journey.
Knowing how to repair minor zipper damage is therefore useful and can save you both money and trouble. You may even be able to replace the luggage zipper yourself.