Why does my kayak have holes in the bottom?

hole in the bottom of kayak

Why do I need scupper holes anyway?

Kayakers should consider why their kayak’s bottom has small holes. Some people mistake these gaps for defects or leaks. You’ve come to the right place if you’re curious about these tiny holes and want to know why they happen. Here are some of the reasons why holes in kayaks’ bottoms exist, as well as the advantages they can provide.

Early kayaks were designed with the user sitting flat on the water and in the boat. The splash skirt keeps water out of the kayak and seals the kayaker in. When water gets into a kayak, it not only makes puddles, but it also adds weight to the kayak, making it heavier and more difficult to maneuver through the water.

To reduce drag and make paddling easier, sit-on-top kayaks usually have a rounded bottom. The kayak’s rounded bottom makes it less stable, but the paddler sits lower in the kayak, making it more stable. When returning to shore, sitting kayaks have a drain plug installed at the stern to allow water to drain.

Such a plug can be found in kayak drain plugs. One of the drain plugs we put in our customers’ kayaks is this one.

In recent years, sit-on-top kayaks (also known as sea kayaks) have become extremely popular, and they are by far the most common type of kayak purchased. The sea kayak evolved from the sea kayak, which needed to be strong enough to withstand the force of waves. The kayak’s bottom is flattened for stability, and there are flush holes for drainage.

Sit-on-top kayaks are air-filled plastic floats with flush holes that allow water to enter and exit without sinking the kayak. The paddler can also be seen above the water with this design. A sit-on-top (SOT) kayak is a good design for fishing because it combines a stable kayak with a high seating position.

Kayak fishing became popular during the 2008-2010 recession, when gas prices skyrocketed and recreational boats became more expensive. Kayaks for fishing are less expensive than traditional boats and can go anywhere a boat can go. Many companies have entered the kayak manufacturing business as a result of the popularity of kayak fishing, and many companies prefer the SOT kayak design. For the same reason, splash guards are still included in today’s kayaks. Few paddlers, however, like the original ocean kayaks, take their kayaks into rough seas.

As a result, there is a lot of discussion today about whether or not to use mud flaps. “It depends” is the correct answer. You can get away with it if you don’t mind sitting in the water or paddling in the breaking waves.

In the summer, it’s a lot of fun, but in the winter, it’s not. Plugs are the way to go if you want to paddle in calm waters and keep your seat dry. It’s best to keep them and bring them in and out as needed or as needed during the season.

Completely plugging the drainage holes is not a good idea. The kayak will flood, making it difficult to paddle. A decontamination plug is a better option because it is simple to install and remove as needed or as the situation requires.

Should I unplug it?

Water won’t accumulate in your kayak’s storage area or footwells thanks to drainage holes. The question of whether these holes should be plugged or left open is one that arises. The answer to this question is entirely dependent on the current state of the lake, as well as personal preferences and needs. To put it another way, you must first determine which factors make plugging beneficial and which factors make it risky before deciding whether or not to use them.

You should disconnect the cockpit of your kayak from the water at some point. A retractable plug comes in handy in this situation. These are rubber or silicone plugs that prevent water from entering or exiting the kayak after being inserted into the hole.


You don’t need to be concerned about these holes; in fact, they are necessary for the proper operation of your kayak. The bottom of most sit-on-top kayaks has four or more holes spaced evenly. Flush holes are holes that are purposefully designed to increase the unit’s stability.


Prevents cold water from entering

Water is an unavoidable part of kayaking. In the winter, however, bathing in cold water is not possible. All we can do is close the passages and holes beneath us and dress warmly in waterproof clothing to prevent water intrusion.

Keeping the kayak afloat

It is strictly forbidden to exceed the load limit of the boat. In fact, only about 75% of the total load capacity should be used. Some enthusiastic kayakers, on the other hand, disregard this precautionary principle and overfill their boats.

The equipment’s buoyancy is greatly affected as a result of this. The faster and heavier the water gets into the kayak, the more weight you put on it. Moving the hull at normal speed is extremely difficult due to this.

As a result, plugging the holes keeps water out of the cockpit while also reducing the kayak’s weight.

Continuous drainage

You’d like to take a gentle splash but are concerned about becoming too buoyant. If all of the holes are plugged, no water will be able to reach the bottom.

Here, plugging the nearest hole is the best option. The solution is to plug the nearest holes, creating a pleasant, damp sensation beneath your feet. The holes near the stern, where water is constantly flowing, should be plugged.


In some instances, plugging the holes in the bowls is not an option. As a result, it is not recommended to plug the holes in the kayak in these situations, as the following drawbacks may occur.

Not suitable for rough seas

The waves can be brutal. The effects of the strong waves are putting boats, canoes, kayaks, and other equipment at risk. The relentless waves are no match for professional kayakers. The sea, on the other hand, will be able to push more water into the kayak as time goes on.

If not immediately drained, the splashing water will turn into a puddle. Don’t make the mistake of plugging a hole in this situation if you need to ensure the safety of your boat on a long trip or tour.

An unplugged hole will allow the deck to drain and dry as quickly as possible, ensuring the safety of you and your kayak equipment.

If you’re going on a longer trip, make sure there’s enough room in your kayak for water to drain. If your kayak, on the other hand, has a plug, you’ll have to scoop the water out by hand or use a bilge pump to siphon it out when you get home or to shore.

turn kayak over

Even if you’ve taken all the necessary safety precautions, one wrong move or a sudden wave can completely turn your kayak around. When the boat changes direction, a vacuum forms between the seat and the seawater, which can cause issues. The plugging of the holes is what creates this vacuum.

In order to cope more easily with such incidents, beginners and inexperienced kayakers are advised to avoid using scupper plugs.

Scupper plugs increase weight

You must carry safety equipment such as a bilge pump and a sponge to remove water from the sides if you use a scupper plug. These extras raise the value of your kayak significantly. As a result, rather than adding extra equipment to your kayak, you should use the standard self-bailing system.

Not suitable for rainy days

If you close the flush opening, you can prevent seawater from entering. ## Not suitable for rainy days You can close the flush hole to prevent sea water from entering. The rain accumulates in the kayak, making it heavier and soaking it more.

How to use it properly?

If everything is used properly, it can be used to its maximum potential. Drain plugs must be handled with care in order to function properly.

It’s a one-man job to install the drain plug. In the drain hole, firmly place the plug. Pull it out of the back end by the string or ring.

Be careful when purchasing a drain plug. Only plugs with the same diameter and size as the hole should be purchased. The hole in most kayaks is about 1-1.5 inches in diameter. Check the size of the hole in your kayak, though, just to be sure.

If the plug is loose, it will continue to come out until it leaks. As a result, it’s a good idea to test the plug’s functionality before using it or installing it.

See what happens when you pour half a bucket of water into the boat. Water should not be able to escape from the bottom. If it leaks from the bottom, it was either installed incorrectly or the plug was too small. If you use a larger plug, make sure it isn’t too tight.

Don’t leave a clogged drain if the water has completely drained after a trip. Because drain holes swell during the hot summer months, the plug can be damaged.

To check the drain, it’s also a good idea to plug a few of the holes. It’s best to plug the holes under the seat of your kayak if you want to keep your footwell dry. The drain holes will not be completely blocked, and your comfort will not be jeopardized as a result.

Know what’s normal

It’s crucial to understand what’s normal and what’s not when kayaking. This will help you and your family stay safe while avoiding unnecessary anxiety.

When kayaking, a small amount of water will naturally pass through the release valve.

There’s no need to panic if a small amount of water leaks from the drain plug even if the valve is completely closed.

While there is no such thing as too much water, you can tell the difference between a leaking drain plug and structural damage to your boat.

Ways to get rid of extra water

Adjusting valves or removing drain plugs after a wave in choppy seas can be challenging. So, what are your options if this occurs?

Buying a bilge pump or a large sponge to remove excess water as needed is a quick, easy, and cost-effective solution.

It’s never a bad idea to keep one or two of these items on hand in your kayak because you never know when they’ll come in handy.

A bilge pump and sponge should definitely be on your list if you don’t like being in the water with your kayak or paddling in cold weather.

safety and maintenance bilge plugs

Before each trip, inspect the seals on your bilge plugs to ensure that there are no issues or damage.

It will not function properly and will be difficult to adjust if the bilge plug is not installed properly or is damaged. You don’t want to find out about this while you’re out on the water.


The kayak’s structure incorporates surf holes. The vehicle is not intended to be submerged in water. It’s a channel or access point where you can empty your kayak after fishing or surfing.

It can be used instead of a bilge pump or a sponge to relieve you of the burden of draining water. All that remains is for us to put it to use.

Drain plugs should not be used on rainy days, rough seas, or if you are inexperienced with kayaking. Limited drainage increases the chances of water accumulating in the kayak, which can be a problem. Also, if you are not confident in your ability to keep the kayak upright, disconnect the self-rescue system.

It is safer to use a sink in the winter or when the kayak is fully loaded.