Zippers and Pliers
While planting, there's a few things you see plenty of: Peanut butter, duct tape, zippers.
If your contract isn't based out of a motel, logging or outfitter camp (often called motel show), there's big chances that many everyday life necessities will come with a zipper: Tent, sleeping bag, rain jacket...Therefore, there's a big chance than some of those zippers, confronted to the extremes of climate, wilderness and personal abuse will break.
And trust me, there's nothing worse than a zipper breaking off on a buggy night.
To avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, many planters will jump in their tent, opening and closing the entrance as fast as possible to let as few little buggers as possible in. Repeated a minimum of four times a day, usually more (a tent is the perfect place to feel an urge to pee at 3AM, but there's a solution to this as well; a piss bottle!) for at least 2 months, often more, and combined with dust and rain, it's no wonder than many zippers won't zip.
Therefore, the first tip is to simply take your time. It won't be the end of the world if a few bugs get in! If you'd rather have them all dead before going to bed, use a lamp and hunt them down, it shouldn't be too hard! The same applies for anything else, from your hoodie to your sleeping bag. The label might say it will resist to -10 celsius, but if it isn't sealed, you'll shiver yourself to sleep!
But even the best zippers might finally give up after years of loyal services. It's 11PM, you're tired, the bugs won't let you rest and the chick/dude you had your eyes on just hooked up with someone else! Don't panic, you won't have to sleep in the bus/crummy/minivan yet!
Here's the trick: Simply use pliers to press the sides of the zipper. Don't press too hard, as you'll block the mechanism, but just force the sides closer, it should do the trick.
It's not a trick you can do over and over again, as you'll end up breaking the zipper permanently, but it will save your ass in case of emergency and will usually allow you to finish the season, or at least the shift before considering replacing the defective piece of equipment.
Also, here's what former planter Chomko had to add to the subject:
"Zippers often break cuz they're full of dirt. If you take Mink oil or Silicone (the kind of stuff normally used to waterproof boots) and rub it on the zipper, a cloth will take off both the dust/dirt and the oil and you'll be good to go.
Also, there are tent stores that will replace your zippers if you have a warranty on them."
Enjoy your "retirement", miss. Think of us while enjoying the "real world"...