How to Fix RTIC Cooler Zipper: A Step-by-Step Guide

A cooler’s zipper is a critical component, ensuring that your cooler keeps its contents cold and protected. RTIC coolers are known for their durability, but over time, the zipper can wear out or become damaged. However, you don’t need to replace the entire cooler when this happens. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of fixing an RTIC cooler zipper.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin, gather the following tools and materials:

  1. Replacement Zipper: Ensure you have the correct size and type of replacement zipper. You can find replacement zippers at outdoor or camping supply stores.
  2. Seam Ripper or Scissors: You’ll need these to carefully remove the damaged zipper.
  3. Needle and Heavy-Duty Thread: Make sure your thread is strong enough to withstand the stress on the zipper.
  4. Pliers: These will be useful for removing any remaining zipper teeth or stops.
  5. Lighter: You’ll use this to seal the ends of the new zipper to prevent fraying.
  6. Wax or Lubricant: To ensure smooth zipper operation.
  7. Sewing Machine (optional): While you can hand-sew the zipper, a sewing machine can make the process faster and more secure.

Now that you have your tools and materials ready, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of fixing your RTIC cooler zipper.

Step 1: Remove the Old Zipper

  1. Empty the Cooler: Make sure your RTIC cooler is empty and clean.
  2. Locate the Stitching: On the inside of the cooler, you’ll find the stitching that holds the zipper in place. Use a seam ripper or scissors to carefully cut the stitching. Be cautious not to damage the fabric or insulation.
  3. Remove the Old Zipper: Once you’ve cut the stitching, gently pull the old zipper out of the cooler. You may need pliers to remove any remaining zipper teeth or stops.

Step 2: Prepare the New Zipper

  1. Measure and Cut: Lay the new zipper alongside the cooler to determine the correct length. Leave a bit of excess on both ends to ensure a secure fit. Use scissors to cut the zipper to the appropriate length.
  2. Seal the Ends: Before attaching the new zipper, use a lighter to melt and seal the cut ends of the zipper tape. This prevents fraying and ensures a clean finish.

Step 3: Attach the New Zipper

  1. Position the Zipper: Lay the prepared new zipper along the opening of the cooler where the old zipper was removed. Ensure that the zipper teeth align perfectly.
  2. Pin in Place (Optional): If you’re using a sewing machine, you can pin the zipper in place to keep it secure. If hand-sewing, you can skip this step.
  3. Sew the Zipper: Using a heavy-duty needle and thread, carefully sew the new zipper in place. If you’re using a sewing machine, set it to a straight stitch with a strong thread. Make sure your stitches are close together for added strength.
  4. Lubricate the Zipper: Once the zipper is securely attached, apply wax or a specialized zipper lubricant to ensure smooth operation.

Step 4: Test the Zipper

  1. Check for Smooth Operation: Carefully zip and unzip the cooler several times to ensure that the new zipper works smoothly without any snags.
  2. Inspect the Seam: Check your sewing to ensure it’s secure and won’t come undone with use.

Step 5: Reinforce the Zipper (Optional)

  1. For added durability, you can reinforce the zipper by sewing a strip of fabric over it. This additional layer can help distribute stress and protect the zipper.

Step 6: Clean Up

  1. Trim Excess Thread: Trim any excess thread, and make sure your cooler is clean both inside and out.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Repaired Cooler

Your RTIC cooler should now be ready for action with its newly fixed zipper. Properly maintaining your cooler by cleaning it after each use and periodically lubricating the zipper will help extend its lifespan.


Remember, repairing a zipper requires patience and attention to detail. If you’re uncomfortable with this DIY project, you can always seek the assistance of a professional who specializes in repairing outdoor gear.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can save money and reduce waste by extending the life of your RTIC cooler with a repaired zipper. Enjoy your outdoor adventures with confidence in your trusty cooler’s performance.

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