How To Create A Handy Zip-Pull For Your Rucksacks And Travel Luggage


In this video I’d like to share with you a simple tip. It’s something I like to apply to all my rucksacks, all my luggage, bags and the like – anything that I use that has any sort of zip-pull on it.

The type of thing I mean is where you have a zip-pull on the top pocket of your rucksack or the zipper on the main opening of a duffel bag or travel holdall.

It’s generally useful wherever you are but is an important consideration when you are operating in cold conditions.

The type of zip-pull I share in this video allows you to open zips easily when wearing gloves, mittens or when you have cold hands.

Remember – you lose dexterity when you have cold hands. So, being able to access your kit easily – to get at spare clothes, gloves or a warm drink for example – is doubly important in this situation.

To make each zip-pull you need a length of paracord (or similar cordage) about 40 cm (18 inches) long. Melt the ends so they don’t fray.

The only knot you need to produce this is an overhand knot – which is explained clearly in the video.

I hope you find this useful. Please do let us know in the comments.

Also, let us know in the comments section below if you have found other applications for this type of zip-pull or if you have another method of achieving the same thing.

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Paul Kirtley is Founder and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog. He is the author of Wilderness Axe Skills and Campcraft, as well as having contributed to several other books. Paul has been involved in teaching bushcraft since 2003. He is also a Canoe Leader, British Canoeing Level 3 Canoe Coach and UK Summer Mountain Leader.

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19 Responses

  1. David
    | Reply

    Very handy article.

  2. Leena
    | Reply

    Hi Paul

    Content of video- very handy, simple, clear instructions, simple knot, very do-able.
    As usual..great video! thanks.

    My version and adaptation- when the metal zip pull tab actually comes off and one is stuck…in an emergency and the paracord will not thread through the slider or not available…use a bit of wire clasp, plastic coated…the kind that comes with bread loaf covers, and use to make a pull…. to tide thru crisis.

    I liked the bit that the paracord was actually used to go through both ends of the zip -pulltab – this actually stabilises the metal zip-pull, giving more leverage.

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Leena,

      Thanks for your comment – as detailed and engaging as ever. I like your crisis zip repair tip. I’ll file this one away in the the mental database.

      Warm regards,


  3. Nige
    | Reply

    Great tip Paul. My new rucksack gonna get some zip pulls now!


  4. Aidan
    | Reply

    I did something very similar to reinforce some zipper pulls on some kit bags and rain jackets. I added a key ring, about 1.5m of paracord and a carabiner. Used a cobra knot on the paracord to bind the key ring on one end and the carabiner on the other, attached the key ring to where the zipper pull attaches to the zipper and now I have some extra cordage and a place to clip something in a pinch. Total length was about 12cm once attached.


    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Aidan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      That’s a neat and compact solution. Thanks for sharing.

      Warm regards,


  5. Craig
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,
    Is there a way to secure a rucksack draw string with a padlock, I m thinking security to stop thieves when travelling through airports, hostels etc.

  6. jim schofield
    | Reply

    Thanks Paul
    very useful, I’m getting ready to guide group in Sweden this winter and have shared this little tip with my potential guide as I train them.

  7. Bill Jackson
    | Reply

    Thanks! Great tip. Simple, practical, looks obvious after someone points it out!
    Thanks to Leena, too, for the temporary repair tip.

  8. Kevin Reitr
    | Reply

    Great video, as always, Paul.

    Over the years I’ve done the same thing with rawhide, paracord, or whatever I had laying around.

    I also put them on all cold-weather gear, such as jackets etc.

    My only suggestion (that I’ve learned over the years) is to use contrasting colors on the cord, to make it easier to locate in low light conditions.

    Keep up the great work.


  9. Jim
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,

    I did something similar but made more a fob using some paracord woven in a cobra braid (after removing the metal tab). Yours is much simpler and I would suggest more effective as; a) it’ssomewhat longer and b) doesn’t affect the integrity of the zipper head. In fact it probably strengthens it as the cordage is doing most of the work.

  10. Stephen Richardson
    | Reply

    Thanks Paul.

    Where’s that paracord 🙂

  11. Dave Howard
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for another useful tip. Simple to make, easy to tie, and definitely essential in the cold, (and in the warm with arthritic hands), I used to make zip-pulls out of old shoe laces using”French plaiting”, (a series of bytes pulled tight) which is nice and chunky to hold.
    All the best, Dave.

  12. John Broadleday
    | Reply

    Hi Paul. Fabulous article as always and I already implement these on all of my rucksacks and even on zipped jackets too. Keep up the good work.

  13. Gareth Shaw
    | Reply

    Great tip Paul, I have used these also and really understand you point about trying to using small fiddly items with cold/wet hands. Thanks

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Gareth,

      I’m glad you can see the value in this. Thanks for your comments.

      Warm regards,


  14. OErjan
    | Reply

    om clothing and some gear I actually remove that rattling metal tab (yes, overkill but wildlife can be easily spooked) all together and use 1.8mm braided line (dynema, spectra… tradename for more or less same material) takes 250kg+ before it breaks so plenty strong.
    The dynema is cut to 45cm and on that I make a McDonald-Brummel eyesplice (it forms a loop on the end and turns the two ends into a single strand).
    from there it is almost same, I thread the paracord through the eye and make a overhand knot with all three strands for the first knot and at the end I use a ashley stopperknot (slightly larger).

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