What is a Two-Way Zipper and What is its Purpose?

Have you seen those jackets with two zipper slider heads that have the ability to move in different directions to both open and close the zipper at opposite ends? They are a common feature among outerwear jackets for enhanced functionality.

Two-way tail to tail zippers, as commonly used in jackets, are lengthy front zippers with two (dual) sliding zipper heads made of metal or plastic, that can be moved along the zipper to open or close in opposite directions at the same time. When the zipper heads move toward each other the zipper opens, and when they move away from each other the zipper closes. This unique zipper design allows the wearer of the jacket to adjust the opening or closing of the jacket to at both ends for the purposes of:

  • Allowing more breathability up top (chest) or below (abdomen and crotch) by increasing or decreasing exposure to the environment
  • Enhancing the wearer’s ability to control body temperature while remaining zipped by opening the lower portion
  • Increasing comfort by unzipping at the bottom to reduce restriction and allow greater freedom of movement when sitting
  • Enabling easier access to an inside pocket by opening the lower portion


How do you use a two-way zipper?

The main requirement for ease of use is to make sure that both zipper sliders or heads are completely seated at the bottom of the zipper before inserting the free zip edge into both. Then, while maintaining the bottom zipper head firmly in place, pull the top zipper head slider upwards. You can then pull the bottom zipper head up to open the bottom section of the zipper. To completely unzip, pull both zipper heads toward the very bottom of the zipper and off the edge with a force-counterforce motion.

Two Way Zipper

Are there other types of two-way zippers?

Yes, but they are not used on clothing items like jackets. There are “head to head” zippers where the zipper heads are facing each other and meet each other when the zipper is closed. These types of zippers are more commonly used on bags, backpacks, and luggage items. A unique benefit here is that it is easier to close filled to capacity luggage by pulling from both sides of the zipper. If you are hauling a backpack around it is convenient to be able to unzip the pack on one side, or both sides, and avoid completely unzipping the entire zipper. Being able to open or close a tent zipper at one or both ends is also helpful

Two Way Zipper PartsWhat are the basic parts of a two-way zipper called?

Slider or Head: the component that works to either engage and lock the zipper or separate and unlock the zipper. It has a mobile component for easy grasping when in use.

Teeth or Elements: that parts on each side of the zipper that engage to lock or disengage to unlock as the head or slider passes over them. When the zipper teeth are interlocked (zipped) it is referred to as forming a “chain”.

Zip Edge or Insert Pin: Both zip edges come together at the bottom of the zipper to engage the slider.

Tape: specifically made for zippers, the tape is typically a polyester material to which the teeth are woven to for the zipper.

Top Stop: the top part of the zipper chain that terminates the interlocking teeth and keeps the slider’s movement.