If you have a sit-inside kayak, then you’ve more than likely come across the problem of water getting in and staying in the cockpit of your kayak. No one, and we mean no one, wants to sit in a kayak that is slowly filling up with water but do not worry, kayak bilge pumps can come to the rescue.
This article is going to give you the full low down on kayak bilge pumps, including what they are, the different types of bilge pumps, and 13 of the best pumps that are currently on the market. So, if you’re sick sitting in puddles of water throughout your paddles, keep on reading!
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A kayak bilge pump is a handy little tool that removes water from the cockpit of a sit-inside kayak. Sit-inside kayaks don’t have scupper holes like their sit-on-top cousins, so to remove any water that has built up inside the boat, you’ll need to use a bilge pump.
Bilge pumps are extremely easy to operate, and if you don’t want to be sitting in a pool of water while paddling, we highly recommend you get one.
There are two different types of bilge pumps, manual bilge pumps, and automatic bilge pumps. Both types provide the same results, but you operate them very differently.
Manual bilge pumps, as their name suggests, are operated manually by lifting the pump handle and pumping out the water pooling in the bottom of your kayak. These pumps are lightweight and have spouts on the side, making them a great option for smaller kayaks or when you don’t think you’ll be taking in a lot of water.
If you’re after a budget option bilge pump that is easy to transport and store, then manual pumps come out on top.
Automatic bilge pumps, or electric bilge pumps as they’re often called, are powered by a motor, and although they’re slightly heavier than manual pumps, the motor does all the hard work for you.
If you have a slightly bigger kayak or if you plan to paddle in choppy waters where you’re guaranteed to take on water, automatic bilge pumps will remove the water pooling automatically without you having to cease paddling to pump it out.
Automatic bilge pumps are great, but as well as being heavy, they do have some other downsides. These downsides include the fact that they’re more difficult to install, take up more room in the kayak, and are more expensive than manual pumps.
One of the top automatic bilge pumps for kayaks is the Attwood Bilge Pump. As far as automatic pumps go, the Attwood kayak pump is relatively compact at 7.37 x 7.75 x 8.12 inches, and thanks to its ability to pump water from boats of 20 feet and over you, can use it on vessels of any size, making it extremely versatile if you have different types of watercraft.
The electric pump does have different pumping speeds meaning you can control how powerful you want the pump to be and how quickly the water is removed from your ‘yak.
Installation of the pump is fairly straightforward, and in the package, you’ll get the pump itself, wire seals, a strainer, and a mercury-free switch. You will need to buy a ¾ interior diameter hose to connect to the pump, but those are inexpensive and easy to find.
The Oasis Marine Automatic Bilge Pump is another fantastic automatic pump option that is water-tight and impact resistant. Oasis Marine wanted their bilge pumps to be heavy-duty, and thanks to the water-tight design, you can even throw this bilge pump overboard without causing any damage to the ignition or to the pump in general.
Something we particularly love is how easy the pump is to clean and service, thanks to the removable bottom strainer. And as no additional float switch is required, you’re guaranteed to be sitting in a dry kayak thanks to the automatic sensor.
The first and most expensive manual bilge pump to make our list is the Aqua-Bound Kayak Bilge Pump. This bright orange mechanism may not seem like much, but with just 8 pumps, you can remove an entire gallon of water from the hull of your kayak.
As well as maximum efficiency, Aqua-Bound also ensured that their kayak bilge pump would float on the water, and thanks to its bright orange design, you’ll be able to spot it fairly easily if it does happen to float away. To prevent that issue in the first place, however, you can attach a leash or tether to the eyelet at the top of the pump.
Durability and comfort were also huge focus points for Aqua-Bound, so they designed their bilge pump with stainless steel components and fitted it with an ergonomic T-grip handle.
In terms of bilge pumps, it doesn’t get much more simple than this one from Beckson. That old saying “less is more” comes into play here, however, as the pump weighs an impressive 1 lb. This incredibly lightweight design means you can store the pump on any type of kayak without noticing it is even there.
The Beckson Marine Bilge Pump was constructed with a polyvinyl body and shaft that were then welded to create a durable and easy-to-use pump. You can conveniently remove the foot valve to clean out the pump, and as it comes with a hose attached, it is ready to go as soon as you purchase it.
The next best kayak bilge pump to make our list is the Better Boat Bilge Pump, which comes in a large or regular size. Better Boat designed its bilge pump to expel unwanted water at a rapid rate, and with as little as 2 to 3 pumps, you can remove up to a gallon of water from the cockpit of your ‘yak.
And we know what you’re probably thinking, that with the rate this pump can expel water, the pump itself would be relatively heavy, but the opposite, in fact, is true. The Better Boat bilge pump weighs just over 1 lb, making it a great option for even the smallest kayak.
The final thing that we wanted to mention about this amazing bilge pump is that Better Boat constructed the pump from marine-grade materials and added a rubber watertight seal and a no-clog filter, so this pump can last you for years to come.
The Sea to Summit Manual Bilge Pump is 18 inches long and bright orange to help aid in recovery should your pump happen to fall overboard. Sea to Summit constructed its bilge pump out of ABS plastic and added stainless steel screws and an anodized alloy shaft for a durable yet smooth operating pump.
The pump is double action, and with each pump, you can remove 14 ounces of water, meaning it would take you roughly 9 pumps to remove a gallon. This isn’t the most efficient bilge pump on our list, but it is relatively compact and floats on the water, so it is worth considering if you’re in the market for a bilge pump.
The Best Marine Kayak Bilge Pump can remove 4 to 6 gallons of water per minute without a power source, making it an amazing option for those who regularly paddle in choppy water. At just 17 inches long and 2.5 inches wide, the Best Marine Manual Bilge Pump is an extremely compact option that can fit in the footwell of any size kayak, canoe, or dinghy.
Best Marine also added a hose to their pump so you can easily pump out of the water from your kayak, even if it is slightly out of reach.
A fantastic budget option automatic bilge pump is the Automatic Bilge Pump from Aurelio Tech. This pump can expel a whopping 47.5 liters of water per minute even though it measures in at just 5.71” x 3.27” x 4.05”.
The ignition in the pump is protected, and Aurelio Tech gave their pump a tough plastic body with a built-in float switch to automatically pump out the water when your kayak starts to fill up.
It doesn’t get much more lightweight than the 0.7 lbs Seattle Sports Kayak Bilge Pump. If you’re after a pump that will add little to no weight to your total weight capacity, then this is the one for you.
As well as being lightweight and easy to store, Seattle Sports wanted their bilge pump to be comfortable and simple to use, so they added an ergonomic easy-grip rubber handle that is grippy even when wet.
Seattle Sports also designed their bilge pump to float and be highly visible on the water so you can retrieve it fairly easily if it floats away from your kayak.
If you’re shopping on a budget, then the Perception Kayak Bilge Pump is an ideal option as it not only sits under the $20 mark but it also performs considerably well in your kayak.
The Perception Bilge Pump has a foam-padded handgrip handle which not only improves overall comfort when pumping out water but it also makes the pump buoyant if it ends up falling overboard.
To improve the pump's durability, Perception constructed it with a synthetic body and shaft that can withstand corrosion, and as you’ll more than likely be using this pump in salt water, this material composition will allow you to keep this pump in your collection for years to come.
You’ll be happy to know the NRS Kayak Bilge Pump is not only budget-friendly, but it is also able to pump out 8 gallons of water per minute, which in our opinion, is pretty impressive. And if your NRS Bilge Pump happens to fall overboard, you can easily retrieve it thanks to its flotation properties and the fact that it is bright yellow and highly visible on the water.
You can purchase the Amarine Made Bilge Pump with or without a hose to help evacuate water from the bottom of your kayak. Amarine Made designed its hand-powered bilge pump out of polypropylene and EVA wrapping, which not only helps it remain durable in the water, but it also means the pump can float.
You’ll also find this pump fairly compact at just 18 inches, and to improve overall comfort, Amarine Made added an ergonomic handle to make pumping that little bit easier.
The SeaSense Hang Bilge Pump comes in a range of different sizes, but for a kayak, the smallest 18-inch pump would be sufficient. SeaSense has done a fantastic job of creating an affordable bilge pump that works well out on the water, and if you’re shopping on a really tight budget, then this hand pump would be a worthy investment.
SeaSense made their hand pump from corrosion-resistant plastic and added an ergonomic-grip high-impact handle that makes pumping a comfortable process. You will also receive a removable hose with the pump to help you expel water more precisely.
Deciding on which pump is right for you all comes down to personal preference, but you should also take into consideration the type of kayak you’ll be paddling, along with how often you’ll be using the pump.
Your kayak size will play a huge role in whether you’ll need a manual pump or an automatic pump. If you have a smaller kayak with limited storage space and a low weight capacity, then a manual pump would be the better bilge pump option for you. Manual bilge pumps are compact and lightweight, meaning you can easily store them inside your kayak with little to no trouble.
If you have a larger kayak with a higher weight and more storage space, then you’d be able to install an automatic bilge pump to remove any unwanted water from your kayak. Automatic boat bilge pumps take away all the hassle of pumping, which comes in handy if you’re racing or touring in choppy waters.
Bilge pumps aren’t the most expensive kayaking accessory out there, but there is still no point splashing out unnecessary money if you’ll only be using your pump a handful of times. For those who typically paddle in calm flat waters, then an inexpensive manual bilge pump for those occasions when you do paddle in slightly choppier waters will be more than sufficient.
If you regularly paddle in the ocean or in wet weather conditions, on the other hand, then an automatic bilge pump that is slightly higher up the price scale wouldn’t be the worst investment.
If you have a sit-inside kayak and you paddle in choppy waters, then you’d more than likely need a bilge pump to remove any water that builds up in the cockpit. For those with a sit-on-top kayak, or if you even just paddle on flat waters in your sit-inside ‘yak, then a bilge pump isn’t a necessity, and you can probably cope without one.
A bilge pump is a tool that removes water from the inside of a sit-inside kayak. Bilge pumps can be automatic or manual, with the latter being inexpensive, lightweight, and compact. Manual bilge pumps are a great option for smaller ‘yaks, whereas automatic pumps are better suited to bigger kayaks or kayaks that you often use for touring or racing purposes.
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