Why Do Kayaks Have Scupper Holes? Reasons and Risks – 2022

Have you ever wondered, why do kayaks have scupper holes? The answer is very simple. Scupper holes are drain holes designed to allow water that has come into the kayak to be drained back out again through the scupper hole.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the purpose of scupper holes and what happens if they’re not present on your kayak. Stay safe out there!

Are Scupper Holes Risky?

Some kayaks do have scupper holes, some don’t. Why? The answer is pretty simple – the level of risk that comes with having scupper holes and the degree to which they can contribute to problems like capsize or flooding. Having said that, it’s important to remember that all modern day kayaks are designed with safety as a priority, so even if they do include scupper holes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be concerned about any safety risks or problems arising from them.

Why Do Kayaks Have Scupper Holes? 

The following  is a list of reasons:

Relieve pressure:  

As we’ve already mentioned, if water accumulates inside the kayak and you don’t get rid of it, it builds up pressure on the boat and may cause problems with performance.

Drain water: 

A secondary purpose of scupper holes is to drain water from your kayak so that you can stay as dry as possible.

Escape from a sinking kayak: 

If your kayak does start to sink because of the weight of the water inside it, you can climb out through one of the scupper holes.

Provide ventilation: 

If you’re kayaking in hot conditions, the air inside your boat can become very humid and uncomfortable. Scupper holes provide ventilation to combat this problem and allow an escape route for any air that does get trapped inside the kayak.

Keep the kayak afloat: 

If your kayak does sink and you manage to swim to safety, scupper holes also provide an escape route for any air trapped in the cockpit of the kayak which in turn prevents it from sinking.

Preventing water seeping through: 

Last but not least, along with draining water that’s already accumulated in the kayak, scupper holes prevent any water that may get in through other means, for example spray skirts (which we’ll talk about later) or various leaks around hatches etc., from entering your cockpit.

Why Do Some Kayaks Not Have Scupper Holes?

We’ve already mentioned the reason why some kayaks don’t have scupper holes – because of possible dangers involved with including them. Why don’t all kayaks have scupper holes, then? Well, as we mentioned before, this depends on the level of risk involved with having scupper holes and some manufacturers believe that they’re not necessary even though the water inside your kayak builds up.

If you’re choosing a new kayak or thinking about buying one without scupper holes, the reason why might simply be because you don’t intend to do any kayaking in conditions that would require drainage and ventilation – in other words, in calm waters with no waves and very little wind.

Some kayaks made for river running or white water kayaking may also not come with scupper holes since they’re designed to be used in narrow, shallow waterways where drainage and ventilation aren’t needed.


Hopefully, now that you know the answer to Why Do Kayaks Have Scupper Holes?, you’re also aware of why scupper holes are important and understand why they should be present on your kayak.

If you’re still in doubt, don’t worry. There are plenty of kayaks out there without scupper holes that are perfectly safe to paddle if you enjoy kayaking in calm conditions.


Why Do Some Kayaks Have Scupper plugs?

Scupper plugs are used when you don’t want water to drain out of your kayak. Especially in cold conditions, these help keep the warmth inside your cockpit and prevent any leakage from your kayak.

Why Do Scupper Holes Need To Be Cleaned?

Scupper holes need to be cleaned because if water builds up, it can contain all sorts of dirt, sand and mud that would enter your kayak. This might damage the inside of your kayak’s cockpit. If this happens, you should always drain it completely after each use.

Why Do Some Kayaks Have Waterproof Bulkheads? 

Bulkheads are used to make the cockpit of your kayak waterproof. They prevent leakage from entering your kayak through the scupper holes and keep water out, preventing it from building up inside the cockpit as well as obstructing your movement.

Why Do Some Kayaks Have Cockpit Covers?

Cockpit covers are used to protect your kayak from harsh weather conditions and to keep water out. They’re usually made of strong, light fabric and fitted with adjustable straps that snap onto the rim of your cockpit. These will help prevent any water from entering through the scupper holes and help you stay dry and comfortable.

Why Do Kayaks Have Drain Holes? 

As we already said, drain holes are designed to allow water that has come into your kayak to be drained back out again. They’re very helpful if you want to drain or dry out your kayak after use, especially in calm conditions when waves don’t splash enough water onto the deck.

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