What is a scupper plug?
A scupper plug is a device inserted into scupper holes in the hull of a sit-on-top kayak.
Scupper plugs are made of different materials including rubber, plastic, and composite materials, they may be inserted temporarily or permanently into scupper holes.
Scupper plugs are available in a wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes to fit different sized scupper holes of various sit-on-top models of kayaks.
The best scupper plugs have a one-way valve that keeps water out but allows the scupper hole to drain excess water preventing the kayak from turning into a small pool.
Why do kayaks have scupper holes?
The main disadvantage of the flat open deck of a sit-on-top kayak is the ease with which water enters the vessel.
Spray, paddle splash, breaking waves, or entering and exiting your kayak can allow water in.
Every experienced kayaker knows that a little water in the vessel is perfectly normal, but the excess water can get pretty annoying, especially during the winter.
Apart from the discomfort of the excess water, you are exposed to safety risks as kayaks with high levels of water can make your kayak un-stable and less efficient to paddle.
The sit-on-top kayak’s designers found a creative solution to the problem of excess water settling in the kayak.
They strategically built holes, known as scupper holes into the kayak’s hull as a safety and convenience feature to allow easy drainage of excess water settled on the deck, around the cockpit, and in the footwells.
In most instances, the scupper holes work fine; however, scupper holes may make the problem worse in certain water conditions.
Ironically, if the water is a bit choppy, water may be forced into the vessel through the scupper holes.
Water may also be forced into the vessel through the scupper holes if there is too much weight on the kayak forcing its hull deeper below the water level.
The water’s buoyant force will cause it to push up against the hull, through the scupper holes, and into the kayak’s cockpit.
So, do you need scupper plugs?
The need for scupper plugs all depends on your circumstances. Scupper plugs can be an essential safety item that prevents your kayak from filling up with water in certain conditions.
If you tend to kayak on calmer waters such as calm coastal areas and lakes it’s is unlikely that you will soon end up in a situation where your kayak is filled with dangerous water levels if you don’t use scupper plugs.
But, if you tend to use your kayak in choppy or cold waters or during the winter, then getting a scupper plug is certainly a good idea.
Most experienced kayakers who use sit-on-top kayaks know that a little water getting in the vessel is normal and they also know of the great danger of overloading their kayak.
If the waters are calm and the kayak has an appropriate load, there is no need for scupper plugs.
My best recommendation is to get temporary or removable scupper plugs if you do plan to get scupper plugs.
Your other option would be to get scupper plugs with a one-way valve that prevents water from coming in through the scupper holes while allowing drainage.
As you can see, scupper holes and scupper plugs can have their advantages and disadvantages.
In normal circumstances and water conditions, very little water will enter through the scupper holes and its not going to be an issue.
In fact, you’ll be better off without scupper plugs, as the holes will drain away any water which enters the kayak via splashes and drips from your
However, if you have a sit-on-top kayak that is constantly filling up with water via the scupper holes due to extra-load (usually the case with fishing kayaks, due to heavy gear) then you should get yourself a set of scupper plugs.
We hope that this post has helped you answer ‘what is a scupper plug?’ and gave you an insight into whether you may need them or not.
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