annoying hatches

I have only had one kayak that has the neoprene hatch cover (with plastic strap-down cover over the top of the neoprene), and I hate it! It’s so difficult to get the neoprene on with just two hands. I always either need someone to hold one end down while I work it around the rest of the hatch, or I use my knee or muddy boot to hold it down on one end while using both hands to get the rest of it down. Does anybody else have this problem, and if so, how do you deal with it? Do you find it exceedingly annoying?

This is factoring into a decision I’m trying to make about a new touring kayak. Obviously, it’s not the deciding factor, but it is something to be considered. Are some manufacturers’ neoprene hatch covers easier to deal with than others? Or should I just resign myself to only considering those with rubber snap-on hatch covers?

For example, I like the Prijons but they all have the neoprene hatch covers and if they are as difficult to deal with as my other kayak, I have no desire to “go there” again. But so many kayak manufacturers use the neoprene, I keep thinking there must be something superior about them that I’m just missing. Help me out here. Thanks,


Hatch Covers
Yeah, I hate the neoprene covers too, but all the good kayaks seem to have them. I have a prijon with the annoying covers, but I also have a dagger Catalyst that has rubber hatch covers. They are twice as easy to use and don’t seem to ever leak, I don’t understand why all manufacturers don’t put these on their kayaks.


rubber hatches

My first boat was a perception brand with the neoprene cover with plastic cover over it…hated it!. I then got a Current designs GTS with the buckle system and that was a huge improvement. Nearly water tight but easy to get on

& off. Up to that point I never cared for the looks of the Tupperware style VCP & Kayaksport hatches…that was until I got a boat with them. Now it’s a must when looking at boats. 100% water tight & easy on & off. I prefer the VCP brand and with periodic 303 care have not had any rot issues. I have played in the surf for hours without a drop inside the compartments, (remember to tuck in the lower seal edge)

I have not used these style on plastic boats where the seal ridge is part of the

boat. My 10 cents


Fitted Composit Hatches
are found on some boats. Many of these leak as evidenced by the various posts here on the P.Net. I either have hatches that are new enough to have been fixed during the manufacturing process or I’m just lucky. I have two boats with composit hatches and all four hatches are easy to open and close and are watertight. Hum, actually six hatches, I have two extra forward hatches with compasses mounted in them and they are also easy to operate and are water proof.

happy paddling,


Putting on the neoprene
Try putting it on wide side first, stretching it across the boat. Opposite the stern-bow type stretch. Seems much easier for me that way.

"all the good kayaks seem to have them."
IMHO, all the best sea kayaks have Valley or Kajak-Sport hatches neither of which leak.

Yup, Side-on, Inside Out Works for Us
My wife’s Cape Horn 15 has neoprene covers, and they can be a female canine to get on. Finally found the best way for us is to turn the cover inside-out, then hook the hem along the length of one hatch side rim, and drag it across the opening - seems to not slip off the rim nearly as much.

Simply hook one side
of the neoprene cover, hold it down with your knee then use your hands to finish it. You will get to the point that you won’t need your knee, just takes a bit of practice.

composite hatches
Mark, I’m not sure what you mean when you talk about “composite hatches”. Can you describe them? Do they involve neoprene?

I’m not really addressing the question of whether or not they leak; mine is reasonably water-tight. Just don’t like how hard it is to get it on, and can’t understand why a manufacturer would choose to use that kind.

thanks Jeremy
Exactly what I’m talking about. I nearly traded my Necky Manitou for a Dagger Catalyst just because of the hatch cover issue. (I have test-paddled the Catalyst; it’s a nice kayak.) Haven’t done it yet but still might.

I appreciate the helpful hints
about how to get the neoprene on (start on the side, rather than bow-to-stern) and the idea about turning it inside-out first is something to experiment with…

However, my main question isn’t about how to get them on… I can do it using my knee or foot as a third hand, but it’s a PITA.

I’m mainly wondering WHY manufacturers use them? Is it a cost-cutting measure (are they cheaper than the “Tupperware” ones)? Or maybe better in some way? I’d just like to understand the logic.



Probably has to do with style.

You have to admit, some of the clean lines from a flush fit hatch look pretty darn good. That said, I’m glad my Sirocco has the rubber hatch covers.

And they don’t end up supporting their competition like Valley and Kajak Sport. I don’t really mind either system, though all of my current boats have rubber covers.

I have noticed that…
A little bit of armorall on the inside lip of tight or stubborn rubber hatch cover lids (like the ones on Eddyline’s boats) make them go on like a snap and I have not encountered the hatch coming off accidentally as a result of using this trick.

Here we go again. Armorall is bad, bad, bad for kayaks. I use a thin coat of 303 and my rubber hatch covers are easy to put on and off, totally waterproof, and stay looking new. Armorall destroys, it does not protect. Before anyone claims that 303 is too expensive, please note that I have used only half of a 16 ounce bottle on two kayaks, applying it regularly for nearly three years. A thin layer is all that is needed.

I agree about the better look of a flush hatch cover if you’re talking about composites (hmmm… maybe that’s what Mark was referring to) like on Seaward kayaks, for example. (Love the Seawards in terms of looks… never paddled one though.) But Prijon has the ugly black hatch covers that look really unattractive in addition to being hard to deal with because of the neoprene. I’d probably buy a Prijon touring boat if it weren’t for that.

Think "mounting bicycle tire"
Putting neoprene undercovers on securely and quickly is a lot like installing a bicycle tire on a rim. You need to start at one point and then center yourself over the thing. Put a hand on each side of that point and give the cover a bit of a tug from that point to stretch it using BOTH hands simultaneously. Make sure the edges are definitely over the lips from your starting point, and work your way upwards, always giving equal pressure and movement to both sides at the same time.

I had a kayak with the neoprene covers and hard lids and now have one with bottle-cap style ones. The bottlecap lids work much better than the neoprene system at keeping water out.

Sit on it!
I straddle the boat, put one end of the cover down, and sit on it.

(Most of my boats have “other than neoprene” covers – but for the ones that do, this works just fine).

Armor All on its use on plastic boats
I was challenged by someone (who later removed his or her message) to cite proof that Armor All is bad for kayaks. Here is the response from Armor All to my question posed through their web site:

October 28, 2005

Reference Number: 4254184

Thank you for contacting us about Armor All Protectant - Original. We always appreciate hearing from our consumers.

We would not recommend that you use this product on a plastic boat. There are two reasons, the first is it is not waterproof and it will streak and the second is that many boat manufacturers treat the boats with something that may react with the silicone in the protectant. Please contact us at any time if you have additional questions.

Again, thank you for contacting us.


Patti Copper

Consumer Response Representative

Consumer Services

difficult to get on with just two hands?
how many hands do you have?