Scupper Plugs – What Are They and Do You Need To Use Them? Everything You Need To Know

by John Wren
What are Scupper Plugs and Holes?

Ever wondered what those strange plugged up holes are in your Kayak? I certainly have.

When I bought my recent Kayak I noticed that there were a lot more of these holes than my old beat up Yak had.

So I decided to investigate further and it turns out that these are Scupper Plug. What follows is the information I discovered on my knowledge journey.

What is a Scupper Plug?

Essential Marine Products Universal Scupper Plug Kit (4)

You will also mostly find scupper holes/plugs on sit on top kayaks, which are very popular right now for kayak fishing and they tend to be self-bailing, meaning they will push excess water out of the kayak.

As I mentioned above, the first thing you need to know is that these plugs are designed to fill the holes in Kayaks (and possibly other floating vehicles such as some Canoes and boats).

These holes are designed to let water drain – both in and out of the boat – and are typically found in the cockpit and storage areas.

Think about the last time you went on a trip, how much water was collected inside your yak from water splashing and dripping off your paddle…maybe you have a small hole and water is leaking in…well these holes allow you to remove water more easily when back at home or base camp.

Do I Need Scupper Plugs?

Short Answer: Yes, you need scupper plug on your Yak to allow overwashed water that has washed on deck back out of the vessel.

Scupper plugs will let in SOME water, but they shouldn’t let in too much. Rest assured, because of the design and buoyant nature of a kayak, you’re not likely to sink.

Bestseller No. 1
CANALHOUT 12 Pieces Kayak Scupper Plug Kit TPE Scupper Plugs Drain Holes Stopper Bung with Handle (Coral-12 Pieces-Small)
  • Function:The multi-layer construction of the TPE material kayak scupper plug ensures that water does not seep into the kayak, keeping you dry on the water and keeping your kayak clean and tidy.
  • Fits most scupper holes: See measurements to verify fitment on your kayak(in fig 2 and 3). Small ones fit 0.75" to 1.25" scupper holes. Large ones fit 1.25" to 1.75" scupper holes.
  • TPE Material:The kayak scupper plug is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and has no odor. The conical hollow design of the kayak scupper plug makes it deformable and fits most kayaks.
  • Easy to use: Easy to install and remove.The top of the scupper plug has a pull ring, which is durable and beautiful.Avoid bad situations where the rope will rot in the water. The scupper plug floats...
  • This is a packaged item with a variety of options. Choose the correct size and quantity according to your needs.(3 colors, 2 sizes)
Bestseller No. 2
8 Pieces Universal Kayak Scupper Plug Kit Silicone Scupper Plugs Drain Holes Stopper Bung with Lanyard (Black)
  • About Size: each kayak scupper plug is approx. 1.5 inch in upper diameter and approx. 0.7 inch in lower diameter, fit kayak scupper hole ranging from 3/4 to 1.5 inches; Please confirm whether the size...
  • Sturdy to use: the scupper plugs are made of reliable silicone material, which is sturdy and strong enough for your applying, no worry about getting rotted when soaking in water
  • About size: each kayak scupper plug is approx. 1.5 inch in upper diameter and approx. 0.7 inch in lower diameter, fit kayak scupper hole ranging from 3/4 to 1.5 inches. Please confirm whether the size...
  • Easy to use: the scupper plugs easily be installed in your kayak, helpful in protecting water from getting into the kayak, lanyard design of the scupper plug allows you to pull out and replace...
  • Apply for: our kayak scupper plugs are compatible with most kayaks, effectively keep water from intruding into the kayak and will keep you dry out on the water
Bestseller No. 3
GanFindX 4 Pack Light Green Kayak Scupper Plug Kit, Fits 1.4-1.7" scuppers, High Elasticity Fits Most Drain Holes & EVA Meterial
  • SIZE CONFIRMATION: 1.8“ upper diameter, 1.1” lower diameter, 2.3" length, Recommended for 1.4-1.7" scuppers, Compatible with Most Drain Holes.
  • KITS:Includes 4 pieces of GREEN universal scupper plugs.
  • Material: EVA has excellent deformability and fits the drain perfectly, Keep water from entering into the kayak and will keep you dry out on the water.
  • Features: Each Scupper plug is lightweight and compact with a lanyard, portabe and easy installation and removal.
  • Notice: THREE vibrant colors for you to choose from, Please CHECK whether the SIZE meet your requirements before buying, GanFindX will serve you wholeheartedly.
Bestseller No. 4
Amarine Made Pack of 8 Universal Kayak Scupper Plug Kit,Silicone Scupper Plugs Drain Holes Stopper Bung with Lanyard Fit for Kayaks Canoes (Charcoal Black)
  • What you get:you will receive 8 pieces of universal kayak scupper plug kit, by taking care of your needs we think this quantities is enough for your daily use and replacement for a certain long...
  • The size (1.6“ upper diameter and 0.8” lower diameter) fits for scupper hole ranging from 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches, nice accessories for Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Native, Old Town, and all other major...
  • Each scupper plug is lightweight and small,equipped with a lanyard, convenient to use and portable, both installing and removing is easy.
  • Functions: Keep water from entering into the kayak and will keep you dry out on the water
  • Amarine Made ensures high quality throughout our whole product line. We focus on making sure your boating and fishing experience is enjoyable by taking care of all your boating and fishing needs. We...
Bestseller No. 5
AMURS 12 Pieces Kayak Scupper Plug Kit Scupper Plugs Drain Holes Stopper with Silicone Handle Universal Kayak Plugs for sit on top of Kayak Canoe Boat
  • 【Upgrade kayak drain plugs】The Silicone handles replace lanyards handles,Silicone handle,the pull handle and the connect point are double reinforced,No worry about when you pull them out the...
  • 【About size】Each kayak scupper plug is approx. 1.6 inch in upper diameter and approx. 1.3 inch in lower diameter, Fits most drain holes,Please check & confirm the size before purchasing.
  • 【Premium Material】Scupper plugs are made of durable Silicone,Wear-resistance,Strong and lightweight which is strong enough for your applying.Can be more closely fit with the drain holes
  • 【Easy to install】Kayak drain holes with handle design for you convenient to pull it down or Put it in your kayak,Easy to carry.The scupper plugs easily be installed in your kayak
  • 【Widely Use】 kayak scupper plugs accessories fits most drain holes of kayak, ocean kayak,Keep water from intruding into the kayak and will keep you dry out on the water.
Bestseller No. 6
Seattle Sports Universal Kayak Scupper Plugs - Neon Green
  • TIERED DESIGN - Allows for a Universal Fit for Scupper Kayaks
  • SOLID SILICONE - Heavy Duty Molded Silicone for Long Lasting Use
  • HIGH VISIBILITY GLOW IN THE DARK - Neon Green and Glow-in-the-Dark Silicone Allow You to Quickly Locate the Scupper Plugs When Needed, Even in the Dark
  • plug fits scupper holes to a diameter of 1.25”

But time must be taken to check over the plugs and holes before each outing to ensure they are in place and there are no signs of damage.

Of course, water will always enter your yak, be it from water slashing and lapping up and over the sides, of due to a heavy-laden boat and even dripping from the paddle itself. So some water is unavoidable.

As that water pools in your kayak, you will obviously get heavier and lower in the water. This is when the force from the water below forces the water to drain back out of the scuppers.

This helps to keep the water level even around the kayak. Without scuppers, you will simply take on water and become heavier over time, eventually, you’d capsize

Scupper Plugs – Open or Closed?

In most cases, you should leave the plugs open when traveling along the water. Sure, you will get a little wet in the feet and butt department, but they work very well and this will suffice for most occasions and conditions.

Most of us wear waterproof trousers anyway when out of the water and shoes that allow the water to drain out, so you won’t get soaked.

In some cases, if you’re taking on too much water then you can close the plugs, which will prevent water from entering the kayak from below.

This usually occurs when you’re approaching the max-load capacity and are sitting lower in the water than normal.

It all depends on the load you’re carrying and the conditions you’re paddling in. Just remember, if you close the scupper holes, then water that does enter the kayak will not be able to drain out.

There is also the option of plugging a few of the scuppers, perhaps the ones that are close to your seat and leaving the others open.

Where To Buy Scupper Plugs?

You can replace your scupper-plugs if they’ve become damaged over time. They’re relatively cheap to buy from most online stores such as Amazon. Here is one of my favorite brands.

You can also DIY your own scupper plugs using a method as shown in this video, where foam practice golf balls are used to full the scupper holes and provide a quick and cheap way of plugging and unplugging on the go.

There are also “one-way scupper plugs” for kayaks, now how well these work I’m not sure. Some people seem to swear by them, others…not so much.

Water will inevitably find its way into the yak and how you deal with it, I guess it all comes down to personal preference.

Can Scupper Plugs Fail/Leak?

Along the inside of the scupper-holes, you will notice a seam where the 2 pieces of material have been molded together.

It is very possible that this can be an entry point for water over time, depending on the build quality of your boat and it’s use and storage.

Of course, you should first check the outside of your SOTK first to ensure there is no obvious damage or pin-sized holes where water could enter from (easier said than done let me tell you!).

Carts can also be a cause of concern depending on the type you have. If your kayak cart has vertical upright supports that go through the scupper holes, then these can be troublesome over time and can cause damage to the molded plastic.

All it takes is a small dent or nick to break the scupper plug seal.

If you suspect that you have a leak in and around one of your scupper holes, you should contact the manufacturer in the first instance, as they will typically cover this kind o defect under their warranty.

How To Test Scupper Plugs?

If you need to test your supper plugs and holes for leaks, the best way to do this is by filling the boat with water whilst on-land, perhaps in the garden, and looking around the outside and underneath of the vessel in and around those scupper holes for any signs of leaking.

This is the best way to identify faults and/or damage and will save you a TON of time.

Getting Rid of Excess Water

If you’re troubled by excess water than I would highly suggest you carry a sponge or bilge pump. Both are quick and easy to use to get rid of excess water coming in through the scupper holes.

The sponge is a simple and easy choice, there’s nothing to break and they are extremely lightweight and absorbent.

The bilge pump is a little heavier and more expensive but makes light-work of pumping out excess water.

Wrapping It Up

So we’ve established that scupper plugs play an important part in letting water in/out of your kayak in order to aid buoyancy and keep you above water!

You can leave them either plugged in, or you can take them out. It all depends on how wet you’re comfortable getting and the laden-weight of your kayak. It’s your choice!

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