Why Does My Kayak Want Plug Holes?

You could have observed that your kayak has holes and questioned why.

In spite of everything, in case you’re in a vessel on the water, it appears counterproductive for the vessel to have holes in it.

Fairly quite the opposite, there’s numerous good explanation why kayaks plug holes are helpful, so let me clarify.

What Are Kayak Plug Holes?

Plug holes, or scupper holes, are small holes within the backside of sit-on-top kayaks. They’re organized to enhance the buoyancy of the kayak by draining water that enters it.

With a sit-on-top, you sit open on the kayak and never in a closed cockpit as standard. Because of this splashing water will get into the kayak extra simply. Because the kayak is slowly crammed with water, it loses its flotation which makes it more durable to take care of steadiness and proceed paddling.

That’s the place kayak plug holes come in useful. You possibly can loosen up and revel in paddling with out having to fret about draining the water with sponges or different mechanical means.

Why Does My Kayak Want Plug Holes?

Drainage holes are for security, to permit water to empty out of the kayak from the highest down, and forestall you from sitting in a puddle. However which sorts of kayaks have to have them?

Sit-on-top (ocean kayaks)

Any such kayak originated in sea kayaking. It has a extra steady development with a flatter backside in order that the kayak wouldn’t sink in greater waves.

But, this flat form requires an environment friendly method of letting the water out and in of the kayak with out sinking. This is the reason SOT kayaks will at all times have kayak plug holes.

sit on top kayaks

Sit-in kayaks

Sit-in kayaks help you sit at water stage and contained in the boat. Splash skirts stop water from splashing into the kayak, Ought to water nonetheless leak inside, it may be drained by way of a drain plug on the stern – however solely when you’re again on land.

In a sit-in kayak, the kayaker doesn’t have easy accessibility to the within of the kayak, so that you’ll be sitting in a puddle of water every so often.

Nonetheless, a sit-in normally has a rounder backside to cut back drag, so it’s nonetheless simpler to paddle even when it’s crammed with water.

sit-in kayaks

Fishing Kayak

There isn’t a particularly designed fishing kayak, however the sit-on-top (or SOT) kayak is mostly used. Relying on the season and length of your outing, it may be very disagreeable to have water within the kayak – not due to the danger of sinking, however for consolation causes.

Nonetheless, fishing normally takes place in calmer waters, so it is extremely unlikely that water will enter the SOT when you are calmly ready for the fish to chew. However who is aware of, generally it could get barely extra adventurous than you anticipated.

Ought to Scupper Plugs Be In or Out?

First, let’s begin by reviewing what scupper plugs even are, and what their goal is.

What are Scupper Plugs?

Scupper plugs are small rubber or plastic items that match into the scupper holes of a kayak and block or cowl the drain holes. This prevents the kayak from draining itself.

Now, it’s possible you’ll be asking your self – why put holes in a kayak if you’ll want to seal them shut anyway?

Scupper holes include these purpose-built scupper plugs for the occasions the place the drain holes are an issue reasonably than an answer.

Since in sit-on kayaks the deck is way nearer to the water floor. This might let water enter the cockpit by means of the drainage holes, for instance in excessive waters.

The aim of a scupper plug (or quick, scupper) that matches into the drain holes is to maintain water out of the cockpit. This may occur in tough seas or when the hull of the kayak is pushed deep sufficient into the water to drive water into the cockpit.

Plugging the holes will assist your kayak preserve its stability and steadiness.

So Ought to the Scupper Plugs Be In or Out?

Scupper plugs that cowl scupper holes could be useful in a wide range of conditions. Take into consideration paddling in tough water; the fixed circulation of water can have an effect on the pure buoyancy of your kayak, necessitating using scupper plugs.

Furthermore, in case you are paddling with a big load, it is best to put the scuppers in earlier than paddling, as the additional weight will dig your kayak in deeper and the water will rise out of the holes.

It’s finally your choice whether or not or to not plug the scupper holes, though the plugs are actually helpful. You possibly can paddle on easy water and never want plugs, or you possibly can paddle on rougher water and want them.

Learn our 12-Step Information to Changing into a Water-Aware Traveler

Forms of Scupper Plugs

One of the best sort of plug, after all, is the one which seals tightly and stays in place. By design, they match a particular gap dimension and are appropriate for a slender vary of functions.


Rubber and cord: The only there’s – stable rubber stoppers with a conical form. You press them into the drain gap or take away them by tugging on the hooked up skinny string. The draw back is that their high quality will degrade over time because of publicity to solar and water. One-size-fits-all plugs additionally don’t guarantee a really tight seal, would possibly fall out, or enable for leakage. Tka

Molded nylon: These can include a particular gasket that you simply adhere to the scupper gap, after which screw the plug into the sleeve – circuitously into the hull. Usually, when you screw the gaskets into the kayak physique, you possibly can at all times purchase substitute plugs. Use a sealant corresponding to silicone for a 100% waterproof plug.


Press-in: Common, match most SOT kayaks, are straightforward to search out, and inexpensive.

Screw-in: Some plugs are screw-on to make sure a watertight match. As a result of sealant used to connect the gasket into the kayak gap, and the rubber insulation ring on the plug itself, this sort is tremendous waterproof.


Self-draining: They stop water from rising by means of the scupper holes, whereas nonetheless permitting splash water to empty out freely.

Pull loop: A standard design with a heavy-duty rope pull which you could take away simply with out particular instruments. The ropes don’t protrude as excessive as cast-in pull loops, making the deck extra snug to stroll on whereas fishing or paddling.

Store for scupper plugs on-line or at your native out of doors retailer.

Distinction between Scupper Plugs and Drain Plugs

When searching for kayak plugs, be sure you are buying the right ones. The distinction right here is generally in the kind of kayak you personal.

If in case you have a sit-in kayak, you most likely have a drain plug. Similar to in a ship, water that accumulates throughout a day on the water must be eliminated after use. Normally, there’s a drain plug on the underside of the kayak on the lowest level to permit the water to empty out when you get again on land.

However, with a sit-on-top kayak, the water drains out of the boat by itself regularly. This can be a considerate design as a result of it prevents water from accumulating an excessive amount of. Versus the drain plug, the overflow plugs will drain themselves regularly when you are nonetheless paddling.

So there you’ve gotten it. A drain plug and a scupper plug carry out the identical primary duties, however on two very completely different kayak designs.

Will My Kayak Sink With out Scupper Plugs?

In calm water, no sit-on-top kayak will sink if the holes aren’t plugged. In rougher water, a kayak could start taking over extra water than vital if the holes aren’t plugged. If something this may increasingly trigger some discomfort to the kayaker in colder circumstances.

The query of whether or not you completely have to or not could be answered definitively with: It relies upon.

For those who don’t thoughts sitting in water or are paddling in breaking waves, you possibly can go away them out. It might even be fairly refreshing in the summertime, however perhaps not within the winter. Scupper plugs are a sensible choice in case you are paddling in calm waters and need a dry place to sit down.

In any case, it’s not a good suggestion to utterly plug the scupper holes. This might trigger your kayak to flood and change into too heavy to paddle with no option to shortly drain it. It’s most likely finest to have well-fitting scuppers at hand and to connect or take away them as wanted.

You possibly can even go away a gap or two open to attain a perfect steadiness between draining and conserving the deck dry.

Closing Ideas

Kayaking is changing into an increasing number of in style with the rise of ecotourism and gradual journey. It’s a good way to benefit from the sight of nature undisturbed and with none dangerous emissions.

However kayaking may also be a pleasant endurance sport that trains the entire physique. You possibly can have a correct journey or simply let your self be guided by the course of the river or lake you might be in.

Both method, whether or not you already personal a kayak otherwise you’re about to take your first paddling journey – now you understand what these kayak plug holes are for.

There may be much more you are able to do to change into a extra reponsible traveller!

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