Skip to main content


Zippers can be used to affix, close, and stabilize sports apparel and equipment to enhance athlete performance.

The top five considerations when selecting a zipper for use in sportswear or sports equipment are function, application, materials, aesthetics, and cost.

When you think of sporting goods, what types of sports do you associate with that industry? You might think about football, baseball, basketball, golf, or hockey, but what about diving, cycling, tennis, personal fitness, hiking, camping, fishing, boating, hunting, or shooting?

The truth is there are more than two hundred core sports created by humans with another 600+ subsidiary versions to develop your athletic and mental abilities, compete against yourself or others, and improve your physical and emotional health.

It is important to consider what type of equipment you will need to perform. Many garments, uniforms, and sports equipment have fasteners to affix, close and stabilize those items in order to perform your very best.

Here are the top five considerations when selecting a zipper for use in sportswear or sports equipment:


1) Function

Function should be the primary consideration when choosing a zipper.

Choose a VISLON® zipper for outdoor cold weather sports like skiing or snow shoeing.

YKK® VISLON® Standard zipper

Choose a coil zipper for a sleeping bag or tent for camping.

YKK Coil Zipper - Standard

The slider function determines how the zipper is opened and closed. Do you need a locking or non-locking function?  How about access to one or both sides of the apparel or sports gear? Does the tab require a special shape to grip or have a webbing strap attached?  These are all key considerations when selecting a zipper.

DA Automatic Lock Slider 5CN DFL Non-locking slider Double pull non-locking slider DU Reversible Automatic Lock Slider DSYG semi-autolock slider
Auto lock Non-locking Non-locking 2 pull (Sleeping bag) Reversible Semi auto lock (stationary tab)

2) Application

Another important consideration is the application. Where will the zipper be used? Will it be used in an outdoor environment?  Will it be exposed to moisture, cold, heat, or strain?  Will it need to keep you dry while you’re in water?  In other words, what stress factors will the zipper be exposed to? Is individual teeth construction important? Is continuous element construction more effective? How much abrasion will the zipper encounter? How durable does it need to be?  Should larger teeth size be considered?

Polyurethane coated Vislon zipper
PU coated zippers High strength nylon molded tooth AQUASEAL® Airtight / Watertight zipper

3) Materials

Materials must also be considered when selecting a zipper. The teeth of a zipper are usually metal, coil, or injection molded plastic.  Which of these materials is best? Generally, the weight and appearance of metal and plastic zippers are different.  For example, outdoor applications can benefit from zippers with plastic teeth, since plastic teeth are weather resistant and lightweight.  The tape material must also be considered.  For example, polyester tape has better UV resistance than nylon.  How will the zipper be installed?  Will it be sewn, or sewn and seam sealed in the case of a PU coated tape?  Compatibility to your substrate material is essential for proper installation.

4) Aesthetics

How should the zipper look? Does function matter more than appearance, or are they equally important to set the standard for the brand?  Should the zipper be barely visible or make a statement as a prominent feature?  Some of the more prominent backpack, cold weather outerwear, and dry suit manufacturers use the zipper as both a functional and aesthetic statement to enhance their brand.  Cyclist wear, gymnastics wear, and team uniforms tend to conceal the appearance of the zipper so it doesn’t disturb the look they are trying to convey.

Diving suit

5) Cost

Finally, zipper cost is always an important consideration and should be weighed against the value, durability, and the quality of the fastener.

Learn more

Contact us to learn more about YKK’s solutions for the sports and outdoor industries, or click here.


Leave a Reply