Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (2022)

No matter how hard you try, there is always going to be water accumulation in a kayak. The worst-case scenario, ending up with a capsized kayak, can result in a lot of water in the hull when you’re finally able to self-recover. To get the water from the inside of the kayak to the outside where it belongs, there is really only one essential tool to get the job done. This is a bilge pump for kayaks.

The water inside a kayak can eventually weigh the kayak down, pushing your vessel closer to the waterline and making it more unstable. Having a lightweight and efficient kayak bilge pump on board can solve this problem.

But, not all bilge pumps for kayaks are created equal. This is why we broke down the best bilge pump for kayaks.

Quick Reference | Best Kayak Bilge Pump

What Does a Kayak Bilge Pump Do?

Bilge pumps are a common fixture in larger boats that can have sea or freshwater accumulation in the bilge wells, in addition to other fluids.

This can be due to things like leaking pipelines, leaky pumps, and machinery, or overflowing tanks. The resulting mixture is called bilge water. How to get rid of this water? A bilge pump.

Even having a small amount of water inside our vessel can be an issue. Especially when using a sit-in kayak that doesn’t have the advantage of scupper holes.

For that reason a bilge pump is still necessary, so what does a bilge pump do?

A bilge pump will either be an automatic electric unit or a simple hand pump with or without a hose attached. Both of these bilge pumps create suction for transferring water from inside your kayak to the outside.

Types of Kayak Bilge Pumps


A manual bilge pumpwill be the more economical and easier solution for getting the water out of your kayak.

Of course, as the name implies, you’ll be manually pumping the water out when necessary. But, if that doesn’t bother you, a manual bilge pump will be the way to go.


An automatic bilge pump can make life a lot easier for getting gallons of water out of the cockpit of the kayak automatically. It can even discharge water that’s splashed into the cockpit while you continue to paddle.

An automatic bilge pump is a great convenience, as most models can evacuate more than 500 gallons per hour. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery is often included for longer use and faster charging time.

Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks

Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (9)

Seattle Sports Breakaway Bilge Pump

Specs to Know

  • Length: 21.5 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Capacity: 8 gallons per minute


(Video) Top 5 Best Kayak Bilge Pumps Review In 2022

  • The modular construction of the bilge pump allows for easy disassembly and cleaning.
  • Lime green foam for best visibility and floatation
  • Aluminum shaft for extra strength

Specs to Know

  • Length: 18 inches
  • Weight: 16 ounces
  • Capacity: 6 strokes per gallon
  • Hose length: 24 inches


  • Self priming
  • Anti-leak design
  • Included hose attachment (removable)
  • Large handle grip
Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (11)

Seattle Sports Paddler’s Bilge Pump

Specs to Know

  • Length: 22 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Capacity: 8 gallons per minute


  • Easy-grip rubber handle
  • Neon green for high visibility and foam for flotation
  • 1″ hose is available for purchase separately
Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (12)

NRS Kayak Bilge Pump


Specs to Know

  • Length: 21 inches
  • Weight: 16 ounces
  • Capacity: 8 gallons per minute


  • Full length foam covering in bright yellow
  • Stainless-steel screws for rust resistance

Specs to Know

  • Length: 18 inches
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Capacity: 8 gallons per minute


  • Optional hose available for added discharge
  • Angled discharge sleeve
  • Self-priming plunger valve
  • Removable foot valve for cleaning
Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (14)

Trac-Outdoors Portable Bilge Pump

(Video) Best Bilge Pumps On The Market

Specs to Know

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Capacity: 250 gallons per hour


  • Powered with (3) D-cell batteries instead wiring to a power source
  • Submersible but also includes 36″ hose
  • Runs dry without damage
  • Suction cup or screw mounting
Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (15)

Sea to Summit Solution Bilge Pump

Specs to Know

  • Length: 20 inches
  • Weight: 14 ounces
  • Capacity: 8 gallons per minute


  • Stainless steel screws
  • Anodized alloy shaft for reduces wear and maintenance
  • High visibility with full length foam covering
  • Optional 1″ diameter hose available
Best Bilge Pump for Kayaks | Review and Guide | Actively Outdoor (16)

Eco-Worthy Electric Bilge Pump

Check Price on Amazon

(Video) Best Kayak Bilge Pump In 2021 - Top 10 Kayak Bilge Pumps Review

Specs to Know

  • Length: 7″
  • Weight: 1.23 pounds
  • Capacity: 1100 gallons per hour


  • Can be used with float for automatic pumping
  • Can be used in harsh environments
  • Moisture tight seals
  • No vibration
  • Totally submersible
  • Rust and corrosion protection
  • Can run dry without damage

How to Choose a Kayak Bilge Pump

When searching for a manual bilge pump, in particular, you’re going to want to identify a few features of a good bilge pump before you go spending your hard-earned cash on one. Make sure the one you choose has most or all of these features.

1. Foam Covering

Any manual bilge pump should be partially or completely covered with foam that will allow the pump to float if it ends up in the water.

Bonus:If the bilge pump has full foam covering and includes an eyelet for tying the pump directly to the kayak for safekeeping in rough waters.

2. Pumping Capacity

Look for a manual bilge pump that will suction at least 8 gallons of water per minute. Others will suction 10 gallons per minute. This can also be listed as strokes to the gallon.

In that case, 6 strokes to the gallon would be 10 gallons per minute. 8 strokes to the gallon would be 8 gallons per minute.

3. Bright Color

Manual bilge pumps will come in various colors. Some gray and others with plain colors. It could be to your advantage to grab one that is a bright color.

If you happen to be kayaking at night or in low visibility you’ll want to be able to locate the pump.

If the pump falls in the water at night or at times of lower visibility, then the brighter color will make a huge difference.

4. Stainless Steel Hardware

A manual bilge pump will be 90 percent plastic, but the hardware that holds it together will normally consist of screws.

At a minimum, you’d like to see that the screws are stainless steel. Even freshwater can be corrosive and create rust for normal metal screws. Saltwater is even worse.

Bonus: Other bilge pumps take it a step further by offering a stainless-steel piston rod inside the pump.

5. Length

The longer the bilge pump the better, right? Most of the time, yes. For maximum suction, longer will be better. Also for reaching the pump further into the depths of the cockpit.

But, if storage space is at a premium and you don’t have room to store on the deck of the kayak, a shorter version might be better.

A good bilge pump for kayaking will typically be anywhere from 18″ to 24″ long.

6. Manual or Automatic

The biggest question you’ll need to ask yourself is do I want to fork over some cash for an automatic bilge pump or stick with the good ‘ole manual bilge pump.

We’ve been able to cover in detail the pros and cons for each in this article. It’s up to you, however, to decide which pump is better for your situation.

If money and kayak space are of no concern, you are decent at DIY and have an affinity for all things convenience, then by all means go for it. An automatic bilge pump is a great (and cool) thing to own.

On the other hand, if you just want a quick and easy solution to getting the water out of your kayak at an affordable price, then a manual bilge pump might be more your jam.

Final Thoughts

A bilge pump can really come in handy when using a sit-in-style kayak. It’s very difficult to keep water from running down the paddle shaft, splashing, or otherwise entering the cockpit if the kayak capsizes.

(Video) Top 5 Best Bilge Pumps Review in 2022

Having either a manual or automatic bilge pump on-board will having you asking why you didn’t buy one earlier!


How big of a bilge pump do I need? ›

A 500-gph pump should empty the bilge in 35 seconds if it's working at its rated capacity.
Table 1. Recommendations For Minimal Bilge Pump Sizing By Boat Length.
Boat LengthPump Output – Gallons Per Hour
To 18'300 to 500
18'-22'450 to 700
22'-26'600 to 1,200
26'-30'800 to 1,000
4 more rows

Should I leave bilge pump on while boating? ›

Built-in manual bilge pumps must be turned on when you need to drain the bilge. You can usually find an on/off switch at the helm in motorized boats. If your boat is equipped with one of these, be sure to keep an eye on the water levels inside the boat and turn it on before you take off from the dock.

How do I choose a bilge pump for my boat? ›

Total Capacity

I recommend the following total-bilge-pump capacities as rules of thumb. Boats less than 20 feet: 1,000 gph; 20 to 25 feet: 2,500 gph; 25 to 32 feet: 4,000 gph; 32 to 36 feet: 6,000 gph; 37 to 45 feet: 8,500 gph.

Do I need a bilge pump for my kayak? ›

Bilge pumps are designed to remove any excess water inside a boat and are a must when kayaking. Regarding a kayak, a bilge pump is helpful because it clears away water that has been splashed back into the kayak from waves or your paddles. It can also remove any leftover water inside your vessel after you capsize.

Do I need a bilge pump for a sit on top kayak? ›

Note: sit-on-top kayaks (with no cockpit) and SUP's don't need bailers or pumps as they cannot hold enough water to capsize.

Do I need 2 bilge pumps? ›

So from a safety standpoint, having one pump to fail and another as a backup is just good seamanship skills. The bilge pumps are primarily a safety devise and are best designed to move a high volume of water, in order to keep the boat in trim and to prevent it from sinking.

How far will a bilge pump push water? ›

According to Rule's technical documents, the pump will put out 1,620gph against a 1m (3ft 4in) head or 1,300gph against 2m (6ft 8in). In other words, you lose around 20 percent of your pump's output when it has to lift the bilge water more than 3ft and 30 percent at 6ft 8in.

How often should bilge pump run? ›

It should check for water every two minutes. Nothing should come out of the bilge unless it has been raining or you have been in rough water.

How long will battery last with bilge pump? ›

Brand new battery should be fine for 8-10 days.

What is a bilge pump for a kayak? ›

A kayak bilge pump is a tool that is designed to remove water from the inside of your boat (and keep your posterior dry). Fortunately, it is really simple to operate. To use a kayak bilge pump, hold the bottom of the pump in the water that has pooled inside your boat.

Can I run a bilge pump dry? ›

The last sentence on this pump label reads, "Do not run dry." This is sound advice. Avoid cycling your bilge pump if there's no water in the bilge to lubricate it.

Where should I put my bilge pump outlet? ›

The bilge pump needs to be at the rear of the tinnie, as this is generally the lowest point and where all the water will pool as you propel. Work out where you want your outlet to be. It's generally at the transom or rear side just below the gunnel.

Do bilge pumps come on automatically? ›

Do Bilge Pumps Come On Automatically? Today, most bilge pumps come on automatically. This is because they are built with an automatic float switch that turns the bilge pump on when water levels in the bilge start to rise.

Where do you put a bilge pump on a boat? ›

The pump will need to go in an area at the lowest point of your bilge and preferably as far back in the boat as possible. That's because bilge water generally runs aft. Once you've figured out your spot, scrub the area clean, and then dry it as best as you can. This is the strainer base of a submersible bilge pump.

How do you use a bilge pump on a kayak? ›

Kayak- Manual Bilge Pump - YouTube

How do you attach a bilge pump to a kayak? ›

Kayak Bilge pump and MagnetX switch install - YouTube

What size boat requires a manual bilge pump? ›

Manual water pump requirements

Sail and power boats between 9 and 12 m in length are required to have a manual water pump on board. Smaller vessels and PWCs can have a manual water pump or a bailer. The pump must be equipped with a hose long enough to reach from the bilge space over the side of the boat.

What pump do you use for inflatable kayak? ›

Single Action Hand Pump

These pumps are excellent for high pressure inflatables, as they are much easier to pump up to 10+PSI – the standard pressure used for inflatable paddle boards.

What kind of pump do you need for an inflatable kayak? ›

Double Action Hand Pump – this is a barrel-type cylindrical pump that pushes air in on the up and the down stroke. Tougher than a foot pump, but also larger. Typically has an inflate and deflate position on the pump handle. These are great for lower pressure inflatables, up to about 4PSI.

What PSI should my inflatable kayak be? ›

What is the recommended air pressure for inflatable kayaks? The recommended air pressure for inflatable kayak walls is between 1.5 – 2.5 PSI. This varies by kayak, so make sure you check the instruction manual for your specific model.

How long should a kayak tow line be? ›

Use a length of cord about four to five millimeters wide and three times the length of the distance between your deck lines.

How do you pump up an inflatable kayak? ›

How to use hand pump to inflate inflatable kayak or ... - YouTube

Can you use bike pump for kayak? ›

Can I use my existing pump to inflate my Advanced Elements kayak?

Can you use electric pump on inflatable kayak? ›

Yes. All pumps for inflatable paddle boards these days have the same nozzle for blowing up SUPs. Each electric air pump also comes with a different number of valve adaptors making it more or less versatile when it comes to inflating other types of inflatables.


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