HomeKayak 101Are Kayaks supposed to have holes?

Are Kayaks supposed to have holes?

Are Kayaks Supposed to Have Holes? Understanding Scupper Holes and Plugs

Are Kayaks supposed to have holes – If you’ve ever wondered why your kayak has holes, you’re not alone. These holes, known as scupper holes, are an integral part of the kayak design, especially in sit-on kayaks. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about scupper holes and scupper plugs.

What are Scupper Holes?

Scupper holes are intentional holes found in kayaks, specifically in sit-on-top kayaks. They serve a crucial role in ensuring the safety and functionality of the kayak. Scupper holes allow water that splashes onto the kayak to drain away, preventing the kayak from becoming waterlogged and capsizing.

Why Do Kayaks Have Scupper Holes?

Scupper holes serve three main purposes:

  1. Water Drainage: They allow water that has splashed onto the kayak or entered during rough conditions to drain away.
  2. Ventilation: Scupper holes aid in ventilation, reducing the risk of capsizing.
  3. Buoyancy: By draining excess water, scupper holes help maintain the buoyancy of the kayak.

The Design and Placement of Scupper Holes

The number and placement of scupper holes can vary depending on the kayak’s design. Typically, a kayak will have between 4 to 8 scupper holes, located at the footwells, cockpit, or tank well. These holes are designed to be self-bailing, automatically draining any water that comes onto the deck.

Scupper Plugs: What They Are and When to Use Them

Scupper plugs are accessories that can be used to block the scupper holes. They are useful in certain situations, such as when you want to stay dry during your trip or when kayaking in cold conditions. However, it’s important to remember that plugging the scupper holes can affect the kayak’s stability and buoyancy.

The Debate: To Plug or Not to Plug?

Whether to plug the scupper holes or not is often a matter of personal preference and depends on the specific situation. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Keeps the kayak dry
  • Can potentially increase speed by reducing water resistance


  • Can decrease stability, especially in windy conditions
  • May increase the risk of the kayak becoming waterlogged if water enters the kayak

Common Misconceptions About Scupper Holes

One common misconception is that scupper holes can cause a kayak to sink. This is not true. Scupper holes are designed to drain water, not let it in. In fact, they make the kayak theoretically unsinkable by water.

FAQs About Scupper Holes and Plugs

Are kayaks supposed to have holes in them? Yes, sit-on-top kayaks are designed with scupper holes to drain water and provide structural integrity to the boat.

Why are there holes to sit on kayaks? The holes on a sit-on kayak, known as scuppers, drain water that accidentally gets into the boat when paddling or kayaking through waves and rapids.

What is the point of scupper holes? Scupper holes are designed to be self-bailing, automatically draining any water that comes into the boat, preventing it from overflowing on the deck.

Do all sit-on-top kayaks have holes? Yes, all sit-on-top kayaks are designed with scupper holes to drain water and provide structural integrity to the boat.

Tips for Managing Scupper Holes and Plugs

  1. Regularly check and clean your scupper holes to ensure they are not blocked.
  2. Always carry spare scupper plugs in case you lose one during your trip.
  3. Consider the water conditions and your personal comfort when deciding whether to plug the scupper holes.

In conclusion, understanding the purpose and function of scupper holes and plugs can greatly enhance your kayaking experience. Whether you choose to plug your scupper holes or leave them open, the most important thing is to ensure you are safe and comfortable on the water.


  1. Why Your Fishing Kayak Has Scupper Holes
  2. Do I Need Scupper Plugs?
  3. Are There Supposed to Be Holes in a Kayak? Scupper Plugs
  4. What Are Holes in a Kayak For? Should You Plug Them?

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Popular posts

My favorites

I'm social