Valley Hatch Covers: A Solution

The going price for Valley covers is…
…$40 for the 8" and ~$75 for the oval.

holy cow
They were $25 when i was selling them at GRO.

I’m getting old.

then why
cracking on the inside only on the one’s I’ve seen? I have them and can take a pic. Something is going on in the inside while the outside are fine.

I’ve seen the Tiderace one’s and I wouldn’t trust them to stay on. If mine last 5 years I’ll just replace with original and hope Valley makes more improvement. Cheers.

Cracking on the inside
is the usual beginning of the end. The cracks deepen, the material deteriorates, and the center section of the cover breaks apart. On a Valley kayak, with the triple seal, sometimes the upper and lower parts of the rim will just tear apart with the effort of removing them. Ultimately, the entire cover will crumble into tiny pieces. This happens with plastic and composite kayaks. Vented compartments or not. In any event, two to three years of heavy use is all I get out of them.

Salt Water
I had some one mention that the combination of salt water and UV rays really does a number on the hatch covers. Just a thought – particularly here in Fla.

Who knows?
The material is obviously not very UV resistant, but that shouldn’t affect the inside, either. On glass boats, it’s possible the deterioration could be related to outgassing of the laminate, but if that was the case, there would be fewer problems with plastic boats.

The bottom line is that the material Valley uses is a poor choice for the application. As for “improvements”, I don’t think they’ve made any.

I know of two people who’s hatch covers fell apart after 3-5 years. Granted one of them didn’t wash them that often.

It’s a shame they are having issues because they are so well designed.

Every time this thread comes up I lather mine up with plenty of 303 inside and out. Mine are still looking new at almost 2 years, so will hope for the best.

Anyway its good to know there is another option. Look forward to seeing how they hold up.


my guess
My guess is they crack on the inside because that’s where you bend them when you take them off.

kind of curious about this thread…

The possiability that the problems some are incuring are related to air quality where the kayak is stored or used

the break down of Valley hatches seems to not be across the board.

I have several that are over 10 years old and never been replaced.

auto emissions might be a factor. mine are stored outside and still seem to have no issue, but where I live, the air is clean…no smog etc , not stored in a garage where a car is started and run either.

Best Wishes


“The possibility that the problems…”
“The possiability that the problems some are incuring are related to air quality where the kayak is stored or used” - fadedred

I concur. As I noted above, 5 of our 6 sea kayaks have at least 1 Valley hatch cover (our 2 NDK boats and Elaho DS have Valley day hatches). These boats and hatch covers range in age from 9+ years to 3 years. Of all these, only 1 hatch cover, on a Valley boat in use for 7 years, is starting to crack.

So, in my use Valley hatch covers hold up well. I am therefore replacing the cracked hatch cover with another Valley. Obviously, others have less success with durability of their Valley hatch covers and are wise to seek alternatives.

But the OP is from Wisconsin …
… Same as you. Same air I would think. I could see if LA or some other such place was involved.

Rubber can be deteriorated by exposure too extremes in heat and cold; UV, chemicals, salt, can play a role. And what about protectants used, such as 303, ArmorAll, etc? I recall reading somewhere that some rubber protectants are actually not that good.

As a new Valley owner, and having looked for years with envy at boats with Valley hatches, I can say they have lived up (so far) to expectations: bone dry compartments. Sure look and feel like the best hatches I’ve seen on any brand of boat. I’m expecting that they last a long time.

I rinse the boat with fresh water after use, as much as possible let the boat air dry before sealing back up. I have always use 303 very liberally inside and out on hatch covers, 2 - 3 times per season. Boat is stored out of the sun in a ventiled area … outside, year round, covered with plastic in the winter.

Perhaps the failure is from hatches on boats stored in full sun, in climates where the rubber freezes at night and heats up on warmer days through out the winter, perhaps spend a lot of time on top of vehicles, where they get more sun and possibly road smog and chemicals, get rinsed off in fresh water less frequently, and have little or no rubber protectants on them?

In my mind…the air quality in say Racine, Milwaulkee, Madison (Southern Wisconsin) is not the same as in the woods of Northern Wisconsin say in Maple, Poplar, Brule, Iron River, Bayfield…

all these towns are in Wisconsin.

I just proposed the idea because people might not be doing their kayak any favor by storing it in their garage where they tend to start and run their car (blowing exhaust all around the kayak) or by living where the radio reports daily on the air condition and smog index…Just a thought, since it would explain the diversity among owners.

Best Wishes


You would know best …
… Guess I’m jumping to a conclusion about a place I’ve never been. When I think of Wisconsin, what comes to mind is a pristine place, rather than a place where air quality is an issue.

Valley hatches and smog
Just to complicate the analysis, my impex boat has 2 valley ovals and the valley day hatch. We live on and the boats are stored near a very busy semi-urban street. The ovals are completely fine on a 7 year old boat, while I now need to replace the day hatch for the second time. All hatches were 303’d at the same intervals. So it may be more related to the stiffness and the relative flexibility of the hatch cover than just the exposure to the elements


analysis with pictures
A friend gave me these three Valley hatch covers that she had to replace. I’m going to cut holes in them and put screen over them to keep bugs out when I store my kayak.

  1. All three are cracking on the inside and not on the outside. And with all thee hatches it’s not just from bending. The inside is hardened and failing while the outside is still good.

  2. The hatches on this kayak, a Necky, leaked all the time, salt water, and was routinely left up on top of the car. The hatch covers were removed and put in the kayak when transporting.

  3. I don’t know if the kayak was stored up off the ground or not. I’m pretty sure it was usually stored in a detached garage with no cars.

  4. Kayak had heavy use about once a week all year.

  5. Hatches lasted 3 years.

  6. no vents on hatches

    From these it appears that the salt water inside the hatches, combined with the heat, contributed to the inside failing, while the outside is fine.

    There may have been other contributing factors, such as not washing the inside of the hatches, not 303 inside, chemicals, road smog build up inside the hatches, etc. But what jumps out is the leaking hatches, salt water, and heat.

    Just trying to state the facts. We hear a lot of complaints but not a lot of pictures or exact use.

    I don’t think these were neglected but with more washing, 303, and less heat they probably wouldn’t have failed this soon. Maybe others fail for other reasons? Pictures and exact info would be nice.

Good point
The cracks typically form right about where your thumbs would push when you’re yanking on the edge of the covers.

I just received a Sea-Dog hatch cover
I just received one of their 8" Valley covers and it looks really good and fits well. It’s a rigid, gloss black Nylon cover with a molded to a rubber base and edge. The underside of the edge is tapered, so you can just slap it over the hatch ring and press it - or whack it - down to seal. It has both internal and external tether points, which is important because it definitely will not float.

I haven’t had the chance to try it out, but I’ll report back once I do, perhaps next weekend.

I just found the 8" covers for $23.32 (part number 746080) here:

Valley’s not rubber
I think this is one of the reasons why people question why Valley’s hatches rot and others don’t. Valley hatches are made of a dense foam. that is also why they float whereas Kajak Sport and other hatches don’t. It’s also nice to have two tie down points on these Sea-Lect hatches because they too do not float and need to be tethered.

My Sea-Lect Designs
hatch cover arrived yesterday. It looks very much like the Sea-Dog that Brian describes, but a bit more expensive. Mine was ordered from Rutabaga. It looks good, fits well, and can be removed while seated in the kayak. It will be a bit more difficult to snap it back down, but I’m sure it will be fine. A bit of 303 makes the process easier. It will be getting a good sea test this weekend, and a follow up as I gain experience with it. As future replacements are required, I will almost certainly be ordering more, as opposed to buying the VCP product.

There have been a lot of possible causes offered for the failure of VCP covers. All have their points. But as I stated in the beginning, my covers have been treated to extreme care. And although failure almost always appears first on the inside center portion as a matrix of cracks, the failure quickly progresses to the rest of the material. Even the outer rim will eventually crumble, and inspection often shows voids and flaws in the molding process.

Whatever the cause, most of us agree that the VCP product has it’s problems. For whatever reason, some seem to last longer than others, whether it be latitude, temperature, air quality, humidity, salt or simply luck of the draw. I am just happy to finally have a choice when it comes to selecting a replacement. Time will tell which product is superior. I really appreciate all of the response this thread has encouraged. Thanks, Ken

They’re identical products
No difference.