When it comes to moving your kayak around or keeping it stored somewhere, there’s always this nagging worry that it will collect dirt or insects or even get scratched. And that’s where a cockpit cover is really useful.
These covers are excellent accessories that enable you to store and transport your kayak without worrying about its safety, and they provide convenient storage space for your kayaking gear, as you can stuff the cockpit with the equipment and just slip the cover on until your next trip.
Not to mention, there’s a little less known fact that a kayak cover reduces gas mileage as it enables the wind to travel more smoothly over the vessel, reducing the resistance, and consequently the power your car has to exert to move forward, which is essentially what affects gas mileage.
However, it might not be so easy to pick a cover that doesn’t feel like you’re wasting your money, and that’s why we’ve created this handy guide on how to choose a cover and added some recommendations for the best kayak cockpit covers on the market.
The 7 Best Kayak Cockpit Covers
Now, let’s delve into every last detail regarding each of the covers to form a better idea of the differences and why one of them would suit a purpose better than another.
1. Explore Land Universal Kayak Cockpit Drape - Best Overall
The Explore Land cockpit cover is ideal for those who are looking for ideal storage purposes, and that’s why it’s labeled as a drape. It comes in two sizes: a regular one measuring 44 x 28 inches and a large one measuring 60 x 29 inches, so it’s easy to fit it on plenty of cockpits.
It suits sit-in kayaks, whether they have protruding rims or not, and can also work for sit-on-top kayaks as well as the foam footpads of SUPs (Standup paddleboard), so it’s quite a versatile buy.
To secure the cover, you’ll get adjustable bungee cords, which you can tighten according to need to get a fit that’s as snug as possible. Also, to stop the drape from sliding and enhance the grip, the Explore Land cover comes with hooks attached to the deck lines.
With an ability to keep out dust, debris, rain, and sand, this cockpit cover will certainly keep your cockpit clean, tidy, and secure. And the best part is that it comes with a 3-year warranty, which speaks volumes on how durable and reliable the cover is.
- Installation is no hassle
- Highly durable material
- Standard sizes suit plenty of kayaks
- Only two sizes available
If you’re looking for a solid choice to use for storage and some transportation purposes, the Explore Land kayak drape is one of the best choices out there.
2. Seals Kayak Cockpit Drape Cover - Runner-up
Seals is a well-known brand in the world of kayaking and paddling, and this innovative cockpit drape is a great example of why it gained its popularity. The fact that it covers the opening of the kayak instead of wrapping around a cockpit rim makes it easy to slip on with little to no effort.
It’s made of a coated nylon packcloth that’s lightweight and UV-resistant, balancing durability with portability and convenience.
There’s a tether hook at the front of the cover to keep it anchored in place in the face of wind, and though it’s effective at that, it’s still not solid enough for use while driving. Still, you can use the bungee cords to tighten the cover around the hull in order to ensure that it stays in place.
This Seals cover comes in three sizes, one fits up to 44 inches, another ranges from 45 to 60 inches, and the third fits up to 104 inches.
- Easy to put into place
- Suits plenty of kayaks
- Not suitable for transportation
This durable and easily adjustable cover is a suitable choice for those who are looking for an innovative and easy way to provide protection for their cockpits during storage and transportation.
3. Docooler UV50+ Cockpit Cover - Budget Choice
For a budget-friendly yet durable cockpit cover, you should opt for the Docooler. This one comes in 5 sizes: X-small, small, medium, large, and X-large, so, whatever the size of your vessel, you’ll find the cover that suits it in either black or grey.
This cover is made of 100% oxford cloth, which means that it’s not waterproof but is water-repellent, which is good enough for indoor storage. It’s definitely great for transportation, thanks to the fact that it comes with UV50+ blocking protection, and the material itself is both durable and breathable.
For enhanced durability, the seams are sealed and have double stitching, while the shock cord gives you room for adjustments using the clip to attain the perfect fit over the pit.
- Guaranteed protection against UV rays
- Affordable price
- Durable and breathable material
- Not completely waterproof
- Straps are a little flimsy
Looking for something that’ll serve the purpose without costing you any more than you would have to pay? The Docooler is the perfect choice for that. Its material makes it good for indoor storage and transportation, but not so good for outdoor storage.
4. NRS Super Stretch Cockpit Cover - Best Stretching Cover
Instead of opting for a cockpit cover of a certain size, you can opt for this flexible and stretchy cover from NRS. It’s made from stretchy neoprene, which can extend to accommodate various cockpit sizes. Still, it gives you the option to buy it in “Universal” or “Universal Plus” sizes to give you a wider range of options.
The material itself is 1mm thick and resists abrasion as well as provides protection for a long period. And in the case that you want to tighten the cover on the cockpit, you can use the adjustable shock cord band to get it just right.
And though the cover is water-resistant to keep the cockpit dry, it’s not completely waterproof, so don’t count on storing your kayak outside.
- High-quality materials
- Stretches to match the size of the cockpit
- Fit can be a little too tight
- Not completely waterproof
If you want to escape the hassle of sizes and fits, you can opt for the NRS neoprene stretchy cover, which can fit almost any cockpit size.
5. Seals Cockpit Seal Cover - Most Versatile Sizing
Yet another Seals cover, this one is a traditional cover that wraps around the kayak’s cockpit. It’s made of a tear-resistant cargo material that offers excellent UV protection. It’s available in 15 sizes, ranging between 1.2 deck and up to 7.0 deck.
Moreover, it comes with rim grip technology to sit tightly on the cockpit, with adjustable bungee cords to enable you to tighten or loosen the grip according to your needs. There’s even a hull strap security feature, and the cover’s seams have double stitching for ultimate protection and security.
- Highly durable materials
- System of sizes is a little baffling
- Fixing it on the cockpit can be a little tough
Stretchy and durable, this Seals cover is ideal for those looking for a practical yet sustainable way to provide protection to their stored kayak. It might take you a little while to figure out which size you need exactly, but once you do, you’ll definitely enjoy its functionality.
6. Harmony Gear Cockpit Cover - Best for Breathability
Coming off as a basic cockpit cover, the Harmony Gear is far from basic. Its 210 denier nylon coated with urethane construction gives it reliable durability, while the sealed seams with double stitching only add to it.
It comes with adjustable shock cords for the rims to get the fit just right. And while it’s water-resistant, it’s still breathable enough to keep the cockpit ventilated during storage.
- Lightweight and durable
- Installment isn’t so easy
- Doesn’t suit transportation on top of a car
If you’re looking for a cover that won’t leave your cockpit smelling musty after a long period of storage, you’ll love the Harmony Gear cockpit cover. It’s quite breathable and lightweight, but still protective enough to spare you the worry that your cockpit will collect dust and insects during storage.
7. Seals Tandem Cockpit Cover - Best for Tandem Kayaks
Kayaking with company? Don’t worry, Seals has you covered with its innovative tandem cockpit cover! Despite its big size and how durable it is, this cover is pretty affordable.
It’s made of coated nylon of medium-weight, making it sufficiently breathable. And for tightening, it comes with rim grip technology, adjustable hull straps, and adjustable bungee cords, along with the front tether hook. Of course, with its size, you’ll need further tightening, and that’s why Seals gives you all the methods and mechanisms that will help you rest assured that your tandem kayak’s cockpit is sealed and safe.
- Durable yet breathable
- Plenty of tightening techniques
- Not aesthetically pleasing
Being the one and only tandem kayak cockpit cover on our list, this is truly the best option you can get for your kayak if you’re a paddler that loves company. It’s durable and strong, yet breathable and lightweight. And the best part is that it comes at an affordable price.
How to Choose a Cockpit Cover?
There are a couple of aspects that you should pay attention to when you’re shopping for a cockpit cover in order to make sure you’re getting the one that’s right for you and that would suit the purpose for which you’re getting it. In this section, I’ll tell you exactly what those aspects are.
When it comes to settling on a material, it’s not just a matter of what would provide protection, but what exactly this protection would be for. Of course, durable materials are non-negotiable, so don’t settle for anything that isn’t abrasion and tear-resistant.
You should opt for those that provide protection against UV rays when you transport your kayak on top of a car or even for storage outside. Moreover, a waterproof cover so that it won’t let any water inside the cockpit if you’re planning on storing your equipment inside. And generally, it’s more advisable to choose waterproof and water-repellent materials to keep your vessel protected and extend its lifespan.
Generally, if you’re looking for both looks and performance, you should opt for nylon covers. They’re strong and have a shine to them, which makes them more aesthetically pleasing. However, you might want to opt for polyester and neoprene if you’re looking for something more affordable.
However, it’s also worth mentioning that nylon covers are known to come off during high-speed highway drives. So, they’re not the best choice if you’re going to be transporting your kayak on top of your car, especially if you’re going to go long distances.
Degree of Waterproofing
Kayaking is an outdoor, marine activity, which means that you and your equipment will be in direct contact with water a lot. But the good news is that your kayak’s cover doesn’t have to completely seal water out until you’re planning on storing the vessel outside. Again, for this particular purpose, a nylon cover would be the best bet.
Sealing Against External Factors
While nylon seems like the better choice for many purposes, including a combination between looks and performance and waterproofing, neoprene would be a better choice if you’re looking for something to provide surefire protection against dirt since it’s heavier, sits tighters on the vessel, and doesn’t come off easily.
Kayak cockpit covers are another one of those products that don’t have standard sizing, so it depends on the style and brand of the kayak and of the cover itself. This is why it’s advisable to measure the width and length of your cockpit and kayak and then find a cover that matches depending on the dimensions themselves and not the nominal size (i.e., small, x-large).
While getting the perfect fit isn’t crucial, it’s important the cover you opt for isn’t too small to fit the kayak and not too big to allow dirt and uninvited creatures in.
Cords or Clips
You should decide whether you want a cockpit cover with clips or cords for securing in place. The vast majority of covers come with built-in spaces for cords, which you can use to hold the cover in place over the cockpit. Admittedly, however, clips are much easier and faster to employ.
Should You Opt for Covers or Spray Skirts?
This is actually one of the most crucial questions to ask yourself as it can save you some needed bucks. If you’re going to kayak on warm waters and in temperatures that don’t require much protection, whatever the thickness of your material, it’ll serve you well, and that’s why a cockpit cover would do just fine.
However, if you’ll be kayaking in cold waters, rapid currents, or temperatures that are lower than average, you might want to think about opting for a spray skirt, as they provide you better protection against both the cold and the water.
This is because spray skirts comprise four parts: a grab loop, a tunnel, a deck, and a rand. They can be made of either neoprene or nylon like most cockpit covers are, but they’re usually thicker and provide better protection overall.
Bear in mind, though, that nylon options are usually easier to attach or release, as opposed to neoprene, which will provide complete sealing and prevent any water from getting into the kayak.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How To Properly Install a Cockpit Cover?
It’s evidently a bit easier to install the cover if you have someone around to help, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t feasible to do it on your own, just follow these steps: Slide one end of the cover over the kayak’s edge then, little by little, adjust the cover to entirely go over the cockpit’s opening. Finally, make sure that the cover is sitting securely over the rim of the kayak’s cockpit.
How To Measure a Cockpit Rim?
You have to break it down into three factors: The length, the width, and the circumference of the rim. The length is measured from one edge to another with the length of the kayak, the width from side to side around the seat tower, and the circumference can be measured by marking a spot on the rim and wrapping a tape measure around until you reach that point.
If you don’t have a tape measure, you can wrap a rope or even a string around the rim and measure it using whatever tool you have.
Now that we’re done with our reviews on the best kayak cockpit covers and how to choose them, hopefully, you’ve managed to make up your mind on what you prioritize in order to make the best decision.
If you’re looking for a solid choice overall, the Explore Land cockpit cover would be a good investment as its construction is durable, its installation is easy, and it suits plenty of kayak sizes despite being available in only two.
The Seals drape is an excellent choice for kayakers that don’t want the hassle of tightening the cover around rims and just want something they can place on the cockpit but still provides enough protection. However, it’s not a viable choice for transportation, especially not if you’re going to transport the kayak on top of your car.
Finally, if you’re seeking a budget-friendly cover for indoor storage, you should consider the Docooler for what it offers in terms of UV protection, durability, breathability, and affordability.