hatch cover question

Since the inland waters around here lend themselves more to rec kayaks than to ocean kayaks, I haven’t seriously investigated the latter (beyond drooling over boats I have no real need for).

That said, it’s been my perception that two part kayak hatches (stretchy neoprene cover topped with a solid plastic or fiberglass cap) were the best option available.

I sort of thought that the rubber one-piece covers were the economy solution. And this was reinforced a couple of years on a paddling course. I watched a beginner in a rec boat doing a scramble rescue.

While doing so, he managed to peel off the single rubber hatch cover and (since he only had one bulkhead) his boat promptly sunk beneath him. “Lesson learned,” I thought.

Now, however, I seem to see more high-end kayaks with rubber hatch covers.

So… what are the pros and cons? Is one clearly better than the other? Is the difference between them significant when choosing a boat?

PS; it’s minus 13 C here, 25 cm of snow on the ground, more falling, and the river’s been frozen for two weeks. But I’m already eager to get on the water next spring.

have both types and both work well
My Prijon has neoprene with a protective cover and my Valley has the solid rubber type. Both may get tiny bits of leakage over time and neither comes off easily (such as when being bumped and pulled a bit on rescues). I have however seen some poorer solid rubber types that don’t seal well at all and would likely come off if someone sneezes. So the bottom line from my experience is to inspect them, bump them around and bit and see how each unique kayak’s hatches work for you.

Quality matters
Well designed and manufactured ‘rubber’ hatches such as Valley and Kajak-Sport tend to be the most waterproof and are not likely to implode or be removed by accident.

Inferior ‘rubber’ style hatches are not so good - such as the ones on some rec boats and even some sea kayaks whose manufactuers are trying to save money.

It seems that most responsible kayak manufactures who choose rubber hatch covers use Valley (Valley, Necky, Impex, North Shore, etc…) or Kajak-Sport (Kajak-sport, NDK/SKUK, Current Designs, TideRace, P&H, Swift, etc…).

In cold weather the rubber hatch covers (especially Valley) can be a bear to take off.

Well designed, manufactuered, and installed hatch covers of either type are fine.

Agree with wilsoj2
I’ve had boats with the neoprene and fiberglass cover combo that were pretty good, but could leak a little from rolling practice. I have no direct experience with Kajak Sport, but they’re reputed to be very good. I’m extremely happy with the hatches on my Valley boats - rolling, thrash and bash, surf sessions, etc. and they’re bone dry.

Thanks, folks!
…clears up my ignorance.

have both - prefer 2 stage
I have both. Had a couple of Necky Lookshas, and they stay nice and watertight. Neoprene does the watertight, hard cover provides mechanical protection. Downside is that it is easy to forget to put the neoprene on and go paddling (there is only a little tab that sticks out to let you visually know it is on).

Have the single stage plastic ones on my girlfriend’s Chatham and my Valley. Her Chatham leaks, but not due to the hatch (instead due to how they installed the hatch combing). The Valley is dry. But both are challenging to get on (which I guess is part of what makes them watertight).

stretchy neo
The stretchy neo covers tend to leak a little, more if you roll alot, that’s what’s used under the hard covers to seal the hatch. The better rubber covers are as close to waterproof as you can get, assuming they are completely closed, which sometimes doesn’t happen.

No hatch is perfect.

Bill H.