Does A Kayak Need Plugs?

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 23, 2022
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Whether a kayak needs plugs or not mostly depends on the size of the kayak. If you own a smaller one, you might not need plugs, but if you own one that is bigger than 12ft then you will have to use plugs. There are also two ways to plug in your kayak, top, and bottom.

Key Takeaways

  • Kayaks generally have a hole on the bottom for plugging the kayak in to avoid water from leaking
  • The bottom plug is usually more reliable because it goes into the back of the hull and not just the deck or floor of your kayak
  • Using a plugin your paddle can help you avoid capsizing when you’re catching an unexpected wave or take off too late while surfing
  • One disadvantage of using a plug on a kayak is, it can restrict your hands’ motion and force you to focus on catching waves instead of maneuvering yourself

What Are Kayak Plugs?

Kayak plugs are smaller rubber that is intended to fit the scupper holes of your SOT kayak. They are used to prevent water from entering your kayak from below. Several different designs are depending on the SOT kayak; the plug is made for. But the good thing is there are universal kayak plugs that are compatible with almost all SOT kayaks.

Moreover, there are kayak plugs with a screw-in design. If you select them, you ought to ensure it suits your particular kayak. The best one offers a water-tight fit and is effortless to fix and eliminate.

The plugs have a small piece of cord for easy removal when you no longer require them.

6 Reasons Of Why Kayak Plugs Are Essential

1. Whether you need kayak plugs mainly depends mainly on the kind of kayak you are paddling. If you are paddling a sit-on-top kayak, then you need a scupper plug.

2. But if you are using a sit-inside kayak, then you don’t need a cap. This is because there are no scupper holes that will let water inside your kayak from below.

3. The SOT kayaks have scupper holes that allow water to enter the cockpit of your kayak. Although they allow a small amount of water inside, you need plugs to achieve a drier ride, especially during the winter season. The good thing you can opt to remove plugs as the condition changes.

4. It is crucial to know that scupper holes are comprised of SOT kayaks for a particular reason. They serve as safety features and are perfect for novice kayakers.

5. Water does not only enter via supper holes but also over the sides of the kayak when moving over huge waves. So, you will need plugs to avoid a lot of water from accumulating in the cockpit of your kayak. 

6. Since there are no self-bailing holes in a sit-inside kayak, you need to find something else that can remove water that enters from the sides. You should buy a spray skit to combat the situation. But bear in mind that it’s quite challenging to remove water from the sit-inside kayak.


Why Do Kayaks Have Drain Plugs?

This is to allow bilge water out of the inside of your kayak. Nearly entire SOT kayaks are equipped with a drain plug.  It is sporadic to find a sit-inside kayak with a drain plug.

Scuppers holes allow water out of the cockpit of a SOT kayak.  You won’t find scuppers in sit-inside kayaks.

Always ensure that the drain plug is corked before you take your kayak to any water body. Failure to do that, there are high chances that you will experience flooding in your kayak.

All kayaks are prone to leak. That is the reason why there is a drain in your kayak to let water out.  A drain plug ought to be opened once you return to the shore. If you find out that your SOT kayak contains about a gallon of water inside, then know there is a problem somewhere that needs to be fixed. As for the recreational kayak, more than a quart of water inside indicates a problem.

How Do You Use A Kayak Plug?

The universal ones can be fixed while you are positioned in your kayak cockpit. Also, they can be fitted, whereas your kayak is on the land.

Some are installed by only pushing down into the scupper holes of your SOT kayak. The plugs contain cords that let you effortlessly remove them if you don’t want to drain water out.

Most scupper holes are a bit larger on one side when compared to the other side. That is why the ordinary kayak plug design isn’t an ideal cylinder.

Note- It is very easier to install the plug on the land than on the water.

Can You Plug The Hole In A Kayak?

Yes. Scupper holes found in SOT kayaks act as a safety measure to drain water out of the cockpit of your kayak. The water can make your kayak capsize and cause discomfort while you are paddling. The purpose of the plugs is to fit those scupper holes and prevent water from coming inside your kayak. So, it is advisable to plug the hole into a kayak.

Some water can still come in via the scupper hole. But don’t be upset, the incoming water does not necessarily make your vessel capsize.  Irrespective of your plug usage and kayak’s volume, water will still enter the boat in other ways, such as paddle splash, spray, and waves. Not unless it is excess will not cause any harm to your ship. If you don’t want to remove your plugs to drain excess water out, you opt for a bilge pump or a sponge. It is very recommendable that you always carry these products along with you for safety purposes.  Many people don’t like to get wet while paddling.

How Do You Install A Kayak Drain Plug?

Drill a hole in the anticipated site with a 1-inch drill bit. Place the drain plug inside the drilled hole. Thrust hard till the cap fits well. If it fails to plug into the hole, use a knife to carve out extra space. Smear waterproof silicone to the deck of your vessel and the lower part of the plug when preparing the place for installation. This ensures there is no leakage whatsoever.

How Can You Test Your Kayak Plugs?

To test if the new plugs work effectively or not, then you fix them on land first. Once you are done, pour water into the cockpit of your kayak.

Now check to see if the beneath and sides of your kayak leak or not. If there is leakage, then it means you did not install the plug expertly.

It is always wise to test your kayak plugs before you begin paddling in the water, as it will save you much time and prevent you from getting wet during the ride.

What Is The Kayak Plug Disadvantage?

When considering fixing a kayak plug on your kayak, it is as well crucial to take into consideration their disadvantages.  SOT kayaks come with scupper holes for a reason.

The fundamental purpose of the scupper holes in a SOT kayak is to let water out of the cockpit. This is very vital in case your vessel capsizes in rough seas. Now imagine if at the time your boat capsizes plugs are already installed. It will be a terrible experience because you will be taking away the kayak’s usual capability to drain water out. That is the reason why it is much easier to rescue yourself from SOT kayak than a sit-inside kayak.  

Once the Sit-inside kayak turn upside down, it allows water to fill the cockpit. So, climbing back inside your vessel will be very hard.

If you are planning, therefore, to install a kayak plug in your vessel, then it will be useful always to carry along the bilge pump and a kayak sponge on the board. This will enable you to pump excess water out without the need to eliminate the kayak plugs.

Using a sponge is the most lightweight and cost-effective method of eliminating water out of the cockpit. On the other hand, the bilge pump is perfect when it comes to removing excess water inside your kayak. However, it is a costly method.

What Are DIY Scupper Plugs?

There are many options for DIY scupper plugs. For instance, the use of a golf ball prevents water from coming inside. The challenge with this technique is that it is not easy to remove once installed.

Many manufacturers have well-made kayak plugs from rubber stoppers. These plugs are sold in different sizes. So, it is essential to ensure you measure the diameter of your vessel’s scupper holes. Failure to do that may end up with a stopper that doesn’t fit your vessel’s scupper hole.

Once you have these plugs, you can create a hole via the center and fix a minor length of the paracord. This is to make the removal of the stopper effortless.

Next, fix a minor metal washer at the end of the plug.  After that, tie a knot at the posterior end of the paranoid.

Final Words

Kayak plugs might not be among the essential accessory in your kayak but are sometimes very useful. For instance, it offers some extra buoyance once installed. So, you have to weigh your situation and decide whether it is necessary or not. Hopefully, you utilize the points given for informed decision-making.


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