Zipper Riding Boot Care

Zippers fail at the most inconvenient times.

Duct tape is a great emergency fix for broken zippers (maybe due to wrinkles!).

Zipper care is more than a cleaner, polish and a rag. You also need a brush, cleaning agent/lubricant for zippers.

Good zipper-care product choices include Zipper Ease (from AGS Company), Gear Aid’s Zip Cleaner and Lubricantand Hypofekfrom Pharmaka, most available from your tack retailer. (Always test a small spot before getting any zipper cleaner/lubricant on the leather.)

Rules For Cleaning:

1. Don’t get any leather cleaner on the zipper. Residue attacts dirt.

2. Brush off the teeth of the zipper before closing it up.

3. Regularly apply a zip-cleaning agent/lubricant, allowing it to dry before closing the zippers for storage. Avoid cleaners that contain silicone because these can attract dirt — in fact make sure that your coat-shining products don’t get sprayed on your boots. If you use those spongy silicone shiners (you shouldn’t because they can dry the boots, but yeah, they do a great last-minute job at a show), don’t run them over the zippers.

4. Use a boot cream on your boots rather than saddle soap. Sure, they’re both leather, but saddle soap is too harsh for most boot.

Storage Guidelines:

1. When the zippers are dry, close them up. Zipper-cleaning agents may recommend that the zippers stay open, but we disagree. We want the leather in our boots to retain its shape and not sink down into wrinkles. Zip that zipper.

2. Put boot jacks or a tube of newspapers into the boots to straighten out the wrinkles. Otherwise the zippers are constantly distorted. And wrinkles lessen zipper life.

3. Dry boots at room temperature, away from direct heat and sun. Allow at least 12 hours between wearing the boots, if possible.

4. Boot hangers are great for drying upside down and preventing wrinkles.

Stuck Zipper:

1. Don’t force the zipper. Wiggle it gently. Swipe some vinegar over the zipper. This gentle acid can dissolve the tiny bits of flotsam.

2. If you’re wearing the boots, try bending your knees to straighten out a wrinkle that may be causing the jam. In fact, it’s a good idea to bend at the knees whenever pulling up your zippers to prevent wrinkles in the first place.

3. Get someone else to work the zipper, as they’ll have a better angle to work from.

4. Apply a cleaning agent/lubricant to the zipper after you get it unstuck to get the dirt out that caused the blockage.

Check out this video from English Riding Supply. Not only does it explain measuring for a boot, but note how the model handles a zipper that doesn’t initially slide freely:

Emergency Fixes:

1. Keep a roll of black (or brown, to match your boots) duct tape in your tack box. If your zipper breaks, tape yourself into your boots and you’re good to go until you can get your boots fixed.

2. If the zipper pull breaks, make a thin roll out of the duct tape and run it through the two loops on the slider where the tab pulled loose.

3. If the slider’s loose, pinch it on both sides with a pair of pliers.

Article by Associate Editor Margaret Freeman.

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