Monday, July 8, 2013

I hate day hatches

Let me re-phrase that, I don't mind the little hatch in front of the cockpit. It is easy to get to, easy to use, a good idea across the board. When I talk about day hatches I am talking about this:

I am not exaggerating when I say I have had yoga instructors give me a hard time over how flexible I am. I can sit in full lotus on the back deck of my kayak. Dubside was impressed with my flexibility when I met him at the East Coast Kayak festival a few years ago. I am not mentioning this to brag, I am mentioning this to add weight to the next sentence. I can't reach that back day hatch! I can usually get the lid off, and can occasionally get something out of it. But there is no way I can get the cover back on. But you know what? That isn't my biggest problem with the aft day hatch.

My biggest problem is that a rear day hatch almost always adds an additional bulkhead - which does add nice rigidity to the hull - but it cuts the largest storage space in the boat in half. Making it hard to pack something big like food bags or a tent. They also generally have a pretty small hatch cover making it even harder to get things in there. For instance, The photo above is a Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 Pro. There is no way to get a normal sized pot in that hatch. You have to fill it with a lot of little stuff. Stuff I would normally pack around big stuff in my main compartment. Which means I am wasting space. Space that boat doesn't have to spare.

Because I was trained by NOLS, gear wise I am a pretty simple paddler. I think if you are going to need something while you are on the water, it should be in the cockpit with you. It helps that I am short, because in front of my feet - and the foot pegs - I can easily fit 3.5 gallons of water and my large expedition first aid kit. In front of that, between my shins, my VHF radio in a case and a 5 liter dry bag with things that I will need to access during the day (sunblock, sunglasses, powerfood, water additives, stuff like that)

Despite my disdain for the rear day hatch - which is on just about every modern touring kayak - I wouldn't NOT buy a kayak because of it, I would just make it a bit more specialized. If I owned a kayak with a rear day hatch I would do one of two things with it. I would create a bag system for food that would make it possible to pack it to the brim. Solely for food, I think it would work well.  My other option is to line it with spray foam insulation to turn it into a cooler - specifically for things like cheese and freshies (fresh vegetables that I normally pack on trips, onions, potatoes, carrots, peppers, cabbage, etc). This would take a problem and turn it into an asset.

Before writing this I did a google search, and found several discussions on kayaking forums that there are people who swear by their rear day hatch. I am glad that they find the feature useful. If however, you are like me, and find the rear day hatch a useless waste of space and valuable resources, then remember that you are not alone.


  1. Yeah I hear ya PO. My Delphin has a front day hatch and I love it but then again I wouldn't tour in it as it is a play kayak. A rear day hatch wouldn't be a showstopper for me if the kayak did everything else that I wanted it to do. So many pros and cons and I'm not sure there is the perfect kayak out there.


  2. I loved the front day hatch on the Etain I tested. It was particularly clever because you could remove it and carry it and its contents with you. But those rear ones.... I just don't like em. I do agree if there was a boat that had one and I loved everything else about the boat I would still get it, and learn to live with the day hatch. But unlike you, I am sure there is a perfect kayak out there.... It's called the Delta Seventeen... Seriously, I was thinking about it today. I would love to buy a beer for the guy who designed it. Oh, and by the way, happy Canada Day!


  3. I love my day hatch on my Wilderness Tempest 180 pro...and quite honestly, I would find it weird not having one...personal preference. It stores a lot of stuff that does not need to be packed in a bag. When I stop for lunch or on a break, I only need to go in my day hatch and no need to open the the stern and bow hatches. Very useful when it is raining.

  4. And that is the kind of thing I read when I started googling forums. there are people who love them, and like I say about a great many things, if it works for you great. For me the biggest problem is packing for two weeks or three or four, when the biggest compartment is chopped in half. Thanks for the comment Yves!


  5. Paddle a Seaward - we have lots of choice for you!
    But if you were NOLS trained you probably already know that!

    Seaward Kayaks

  6. Nick, It has been my great pleasure to paddle a number of seawards - both singles and tandems - at NOLS Alaska. Sensational boats. Loan me four high volume singles in Anchorage and I will use them on my next expedition.

    Thanks for stopping by!