What Are Kayak Scupper Plugs: Do I need them? 

For kayakers, a leaky scupper hole can dampen the fun. But never fear, Kayak Scupper Plugs are here! These handy little devices are essential for any paddler looking to stay high and dry while out on the water. Scupper plugs seamlessly block water from entering your kayak through the drainage holes, allowing you to paddle carefree without worrying about taking on excess water.

Kayak Scupper Plugs

Easy to install and easier to remove, Kayak Scupper Plugs are a must-have accessory that every kayaker should keep stashed in their gear bag. Whether you’re navigating calm lakes or riding ocean swells, scupper plugs help prevent swamping so you can focus on the serene beauty surrounding you.

Sit-on-top kayaks have holes in them to let water out. These holes are called scupper holes. Scupper plugs are small rubber pieces that can cover the scupper holes, stopping water from coming in. You may want to use scupper plugs when the water is calm and cold, or when you have heavy gear on your kayak.

What Are Kayak Scupper Plugs?

Scupper Plugs

Sit-on-top kayaks have holes called scupper holes that let water drain out. But water can also come into the holes from underneath. Scupper plugs block the holes so water doesn’t get in.

Sit-in kayaks don’t have scupper holes. The cockpit is closed. So you don’t need scupper plugs with a sit-in kayak.

What Do Scupper Plugs Do? 

Kayak Scupper Plugs are rubber stoppers that block the drainage holes (scuppers) in sit-on-top kayaks. They have pros and cons:


  • Keep water out that splashes over the sides in choppy water or waves. This helps you stay drier in cold weather.
  • Allow you to carry gear and camping equipment that you want to keep dry.


  • Any water that comes over the sides gets trapped in the kayak cockpit instead of draining out. Too much-pooled water can make the kayak unstable and lead to capsizing.
  • Beginners should leave the scuppers open so excess water can drain out easily.

So scupper plugs help keep you and your gear drier but can also lead to potential safety issues if too much water builds up in the cockpit. Most paddlers recommend beginners leave the scuppers open when learning.

Do You Need Kayak Scupper Plugs?

Kayak Scupper Plugs stop water from coming into your boat from the bottom. You might want to use them for some reason. When you are on a boat in rough water, water can get on your boat from the top or the bottom. This is OK if it is warm outside.

 But, if it is cold outside, you want to stay dry. Scupper plugs can help keep water out of your boat. Also, scupper plugs can be good when you have things on your boat that you do not want to get wet.

But, there is a problem. If water gets on your boat from the top, it will stay there. This can make your boat heavy and hard to control. It can even make your boat flip over. So, if you are new to boating, you should not use scupper plugs.

How Do You Use Scupper Plugs?

How to Test the Fit Kayak Scupper Plugs

Make sure your scupper plugs are the perfect size! Start by measuring your kayak’s holes. Get plugs that match.

To test the fit, put the plugs in the holes. Add a little water inside the kayak. Check if the water drips out. Do this test on land.

If no drips – success! The plugs fit great. But if you see leaks, get wider plugs.

Finding the right fit means no more wet surprises on the water: just snug, staying-put scupper plugs. So take a minute to test. Your dry ride awaits!

Should Scupper Plugs Be In or Out?

Having scupper plugs lets you adapt to changing conditions while wear kayaking. Follow these tips on when to use them:

  • Leave them out when paddling on flat water or learning how to kayak. A little water inside is normal.
  • Use them if too much water is splashing up from underneath your kayak. This helps keep the inside drier.
  • Use them in cold weather to prevent your cockpit from getting too wet.
  • You can plug some holes but leave others open. Plugging the ones by your seat and feet helps keep you driest.
  • Use them when carrying a lot of gear or two people in a tandem kayak. The extra weight sinks the kayak lower so more water comes in.
  • Beginners should leave all scuppers open to allow self-draining while learning.

Scupper plugs help keep you drier in rougher conditions. But leave them out when stability and self-draining are more important. Adjust to match the water and weather conditions.

How to Deal With Excess Water

A sponge is good for a kayak with holes that you can close. It is light, soaks water well, and does not cost much. You may have one at home. Put it near you when you kayak and use it to dry the seat. Then, wring the sponge over the water and leave it on the kayak.

You can also open the holes to let the water out. Or you can take out the plugs if the water is too much.

Remove Scupper Plugs Before Storing Your Kayak

Remove Scupper Plugs

Don’t leave your scupper plugs in when storing your kayak! The hot sun makes the plastic swell. Plugs can get stuck – or even damage the hull. So always take plugs out after paddling. Give them a rinse too to remove salt and dirt. Checking them over means no surprises later.

Removing plugs also lets air circulate inside. This keeps your kayak happy and healthy between adventures. A quick pre-launch plug check then ensures you’re sealed up and ready to paddle. So show your kayak some love – free it from plugs before tucking it away. 

How Do You Make Scupper Plugs?

Consider making your scupper plugs if you’re up for a cool do-it-yourself project! It’s a breeze – just set aside an hour or two, depending on how many plugs you need for your kayak. The best part? No fancy tools are required!

What You’ll Need

  • Cord
  • Foam or rubber balls (big enough for your kayak holes)
  • Plastic washers
  • Long nail (about 5mm wide)
  • Pliers or heat-resistant gloves
  • Metal hanger or wire (for pulling the cord through balls)
  • Lighter, candle, or stove (to heat the nail)

How to Make Scupper Plugs

  • Melt a hole in the ball with a hot nail.
  • Bend the hanger into a loop.
  • Push the hanger through the ball. Add washer.
  • Thread the cord through the loop.
  • Pull the cord through the washer & ball. Knot ends.
  • Push the ball down onto the knot.
  • Plug is ready!

If DIY isn’t your thing, you can easily buy scupper plugs online or at kayak shops


Scuppers are holes in a ship’s walls that let water on deck drain away. Scupper plugs are put in these holes when getting oil or doing other cargo tasks on the ship.

Scuppers are like little helpers that let water escape from a roof without going inside the building. If they get blocked, water can’t drain, and that might lead to puddles or leaks on the roof.

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