Can You Install a Hatch on Your Kayak?

A woman paddling a Sit on Top Kayak to go snorkeling at the home reef of Tokoriki Island, Fiji.
Lars Schneider / Getty Images

One of the draws of sit-on-top kayaks is that you don’t have to sit in a cockpit to paddle it. That benefit is actually a downside when it comes to trying to keep things like cell phones and wallets dry or just keeping things from falling into the water. It is for this reason that dry storage in the form of kayak hatches comes in handy. If you have a sit-on-top kayak or another type of kayak that doesn’t have a hatch, here’s a guide on how you can tell if you can install a hatch on your plastic kayak.

What You’ll Need

  • A sit-on-top kayak
  • A tape measure or ruler
  • A local outfitter or kayak shop

The Main Places to Place a Kayak Hatch

There are really only three places where a kayak hatch can be installed on a sit-on-top kayak. The first thing you’ll need to do if you desire to install a hatch in your kayak is to locate where it can go. A kayak hatch can be installed in the bow, in the stern, or in between the kayaker’s legs just in front of the seat.  Or, simply put, it could be placed in the front, the back or middle of the kayak. 

The space between a kayaker’s legs is the most convenient location for the kayak hatch. However, this is also one of the lower lying areas on the surface of a sit-on-top kayak. The bow will be the furthest from your seat, but it also usually has the most space under it. A kayak hatch in the stern means you’d have to turn around in your seat to access it while on the water. This may or may not be possible depending on the particular kayak. Survey your kayak and see where the hatch could go, where you’d like it, and what would prevent it from fitting in the three areas already mentioned.

Considerations When Choosing the Area

In assessing where you want to and are able to place a kayak hatch, there are four main considerations to factor in. The location must be:

  • Flat so the hatch rim can be installed without gaps
  • 6 inches or more in diameter
  • Not in a low spot so water doesn’t collect on top of the hatch
  • Deep enough that there is room to store the gear you want

In most cases, the decision is already made for you as there will generally be only one place the hatch can go. Often there is a circular flat spot on the bow of the kayak or in front of the seat between where your legs will go where they intend for a hatch to be installed.

Do Your Research

Once you know where you can physically place the hatch without interference, its time to research which kayak hatches will work for your particular application. You can go to a kayaking outfitter or even a big box retailer to see what they have available. As always, an online search will give you the best information on what’s out there and how much it should cost.