Do You Need Scupper Plugs in a Kayak?

Kayaking

Written by David Myers

October 10, 2019
kayaking with doggo

Photo of the week!

One of the inevitable consequences of being a regular kayaker is getting wet. It comes with the territory of taking part in water sports.

However there’s times when you’re kayaking where you want to keep how wet you get down to the bare minimum. For example if you’re fishing off a kayak at either end of the season and it’s getting a bit cold. Being wet in those conditions can put a real dampener on your fun!

Why do kayaks have holes in them?

Scupper holes are present on most kayaks, and during normal function, they are a way for water that splashes into your kayak to escape again. The water will drain via gravity out of them and into the lake or river you’re kayaking in.

However, one of the problems with having a hole in your boat of choice is that water will, unfortunately, splash up through it now and again. This isn’t too problematic in the summer months when it’s warm out, but it can be quite uncomfortable to have water splashing over your legs in autumn or winter.

Scupper plugs

Scupper plugs are the solution to this problem. They’re generally made of either rubber or plastic, and they’re designed to fit perfectly into the scupper holes thereby stopping water entering or escaping.

What are the alternatives?

Well I’ve seen people just jam some cloth into their scupper holes, but it’s not a very elegant solution and water can still quite easily make it back into the kayak through the cloth. Not an ideal solution, but certainly one to consider if price is an issue.

Types of scupper plugs

There’s two types of scupper plugs.

There’s the bog-standard scupper plug that functions much like the cork of a wine bottle. It will simply plug the hole, and no liquid will get in or out of that hole. A very simple and elegant solution, with the only major downside being that the holes will no longer drain the water back into the river/lake if it gets into the kayak. They are the cheapest of the options, though.

There’s also the valved variety of scupper plugs called scupper valves. These allow water to pass one way, but not the other. The advantage with these is that you still have functioning scupper holes. The water drains through them one way, but water is blocked from coming back up. The problem with these is that they involve moving parts (AKA things that can break, or need maintenance), and they are more expensive than scupper plugs.

Do you need scupper plugs?

To answer that question you essentially need to ask yourself whether the water that splashes up from your scupper holes is a big problem that’s negatively impacting your fun on the water. If the major source of water inside your kayak is coming from your scupper holes, and that water is bothering you, then they are probably well worth the investment.

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