The 9 Best Kayak Bilge Pumps in 2021: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

By James @ Sea Kayak Explorer
Last updated

Looking for the best kayak bilge pump? Not sure which one to get? Well you’ve come to the right place. Kayak bilge pumps are an essential bit of safety kit that all serious paddlers should have in their kit. They can come in very handy when you take on too much water on your sit inside kayak. However, there are many different types and brands on the market today and knowing which ones are the good and which ones aren’t can be tricky.

In this post we’ll talk you through the different types of bilge pumps on the market, what important features you must have review some of the best ones on the market. Let’s get started.

Quick Answer: The Top Kayak Bilge Pumps

How to Choose a Kayak Bilge Pump: A Buyer’s Guide

All boaters carry safety gear that they hope they’ll never use. The lifevest is the perfect example–in all but the most extreme types of paddling, you’re unlikely to go swimming unless you want to. Likewise, kayakers carry paddle floats, first aid kits, whistles, lights, and bilge pumps.

Bilge pumps are used for dewatering boats. For a kayak, water gets in your boat after you’ve flipped and recovered or after a rainstorm. Or maybe you took a wave over the bow. Or maybe your paddling partner splashed you, which they thought was hilarious.

What is a Bilge Pump?

First, what the heck is a “bilge,” anyway? Bilge is a nautical term that is used in boats that have floorboards. The bilge is the lowest part of the boat, underwater and inside the hull, and under the floor. Sailors like to stash their rum down there, but that’s a story for another article.

Ideally, a bilge pump shouldn’t need to be used. In a perfect world, the bilges of your boat would always be dry. But the real world, especially when an ocean or river is involved, doesn’t play by those rules. Water gets in the boat in a wide variety of ways.

Sit-on-top kayaks generally do not need to carry pumps. They are more or less sealed, so if you flip the boat or take a wave, the water stays out of the inside of the sealed hull. The cockpit and storage might get wet, but they should have scupper holes that allow excess water to drain out, no pumping necessary.

Bilge or kayak pumps are safety or emergency use items. They are aboard to be used should the boat get swamped by a wave or accidentally capsized. They are not used regularly. Some people might never use them, but, that doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary. Like life vests, they are there as part of your safety net. And unless you’ve done a few things wrong or you’re having a very bad day, you shouldn’t need to rely on a last-resort safety device.

If you’re getting nuisance water in your kayak on every trip and you have to pump it out regularly, it’s time to investigate why. Make sure the hull is water-tight and figure out where that water is coming from! No, it’s not normal for the ocean to try to get in your kayak!

A common myth is that bilge pumps are designed to keep up with the flood of water should the hull become cracked or holed. This is not true, no matter what size vessel you are commanding. If the hull is taking on water, you have to figure out how to stop the water or get your boat up onto a beach and get out. You can stuff towels or clothes into a hole to plug it up, or you can try to use a tarp or waterproof chart from the outside to make a temporary patch. Once the water ingress has stopped, then your pump can help you dewater the boat.

Types Of Bilge Pumps

There are two types of bilge pumps that you’ll find:

  • Manual bilge pumps
  • Automatic bilge pumps

Let’s take a look at the two types and find out which ones are suitable for kayaks and which ones are not.

Manual Bilge Pumps

By far, the most common type of kayak pump is a manual one. These are plastic tubes, usually about 18 inches long, with a pull-push handle mounted on one end. The other end goes below the water, and as you pull the handle, water is drawn up the pump. When you push the handle, that water is expelled out the top of the pump and overboard.

Kayak pumps don’t need to be very large because you’re likely sitting right in the boat’s lowest point where water will collect. All a paddler should need to do is grab the pump, set it vertically beside them, and begin pumping the water out.

Automatic Bilge Pumps

Larger vessels with electrical systems, with battery banks and engine-run charging systems, have automatic bilge pumps. These are relatively complex systems built into the vessel. An electric pump is mounted in the lowest part of the bilge, and it is plumbed with a hose to a thru-hull fitting above the waterline. There is a float switch that activates the pump when the water level gets too high. Some pumps have the switch built-in, while others require a separate part.

Bilge pumps use electric motors that require quite a bit of power. Most work off the marine-equivalent of a car battery. They are also prone to failure due to dead batteries, clogged pumps, or burst hoses. For this reason, boaters always carry another method to dewater their boats in an emergency.

Electric bilge pumps are not designed for use in an unpowered paddle vessel like a kayak. They theoretically could be modified to work with a custom-made rechargeable battery. But even then, the paddler would need to keep that battery charged at all times. To install it, you’ll have a drill some holes in your boat and deal with the hassle of keeping the battery and wires dry.

Other Dewatering Devices

Bailer – A bailer is a fancy word for a bucket. Buckets are too big for kayaks, but many items will work in a pinch to bail water. Plastic water bottles or milk jugs are great because they are usually just the right size to fit in small places. Plus, some even have ergonomic handles!

Sponge – For the occasional drip or that last little puddle that the pump can’t reach, a large absorbent sponge is the solution. Fill the sponge with the bilge water, then wring it out overboard. It’s incredible how much water a giant car washing sponge can hold!

Pump Storage

The key to successfully using a bilge pump in stressful situations is to have it handy. The best kayak pumps are the ones that are small enough to be kept close at hand, in the cockpit or on deck under bungees.

Remember, a pump is a safety device that you will most need should you capsize. If that happens, where will the pump go? It should float by design, and you should tie it to the boat with a lanyard.

Electric Pump Power Source and Installation

Kayaks don’t have electric systems, so it’s not possible to simply install an electric bilge pump. If you manage to find a portable, rechargeable battery solution, you’ll need to ensure that its voltage matches the pump and that it can run the pump for a useful amount of time.

Once you’ve figured out the power problem, you’ll have to figure out how and where to mount it. Electric pumps are designed to be permanently mounted into the bilge, so you’ll likely need to attach a mounting plate on the bottom of your kayak. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to install the hose and thru-hull to get the water out.

Not many people go this route because a kayak bilge pump usually doesn’t get much use. And unless you need the battery for other uses, like fish-finders or other gizmos, adding one is a big project with little return.

Flotation

Bilge pumps must be able to float. It does you no good to lose the bilge pump overboard just when you need it most. Plastic pumps usually have a foam sleeve on the outside that adds buoyancy.

Extra hose

Manual bilge pumps designed for bigger boats tend to come with a length of hose attached. This lets you run the pump up and overboard. It’s usually overkill for a kayak and probably will just make the pump harder to use. If you’re looking at this sort of pump, make sure that you can use the pump comfortably sitting down. Boat pumps are much larger than kayak pumps, and they may be hard to use in the tight confines of a kayak cockpit.

Size

The bilge pump’s overall size might not seem important, but it’s worth looking for one with compact dimensions. It will take up less space and be easier to use and maneuver around inside the kayak. The best paddling pumps are around 18 inches long. The 24-inch and longer pumps are designed for larger vessels and may be challenging to use in a kayak.

Capacity

Electric bilge pumps for boats are rated by how many gallons per hour of water they can move. These ratings are usually more aspirational than accurate. But they help classify pumps in terms of low, medium, or high-capacity.

Hand pumps are usually rated by how many pumps it takes to move one gallon of water.

Durability

Plastic pumps made for kayaking are pretty durable. The ones made for other types of boating are less sturdy since they are designed to be a last resort. Most of the time, these pumps live in a cabinet and never see the light of day.

Kayak pumps live a rugged life, though. They are lashed on deck in the sun, and they get a lot more bangs and bumps.

Handle

On manual pumps, the ergonomics of the handle are important. Make sure it’s comfortable on your hand because if you need to bail an entire kayak, it’s going to take quite a bit of pumping!

Cost

Finally, the cost of a quality kayak bilge pump shouldn’t be ridiculous. For between $20 and $40, you can find an excellent pump that will last you for years of paddling. A worth investment.

Best Kayak Bilge Pump Reviews

Now that we’ve looked at our kayak bilge pump buyers guide, it’s time to take a look at which brands and models we recommend in our kayak bilge pump reviews section.

#1. Seattle Sports Paddler’s Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks

Sale
Seattle Sports Paddler's Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Small Boats
1,107 Reviews
Seattle Sports Paddler's Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Small Boats
  • Ergonomic - comfortable, easy-grip rubber overmolded handle makes pumping easy and comfortable when wet
  • Visible - high visibility neon yellow Stock for fast acquisition and safety
  • Floating - foam collar adds buoyancy in the event the pump goes overboard

In at number one we have this great little kayak bilge pump from Seattle Sports. It’s a lightweight, inexpensive, compact bilge pump that’s ideal to grab and throw in with all your gear for your next paddling trip. With an ergonomic handle that’s made of rubber to make it comfortable and give you a good grip when pumping, it’s super easy and efficient to use. It’s got all the simple features you need in a bilge pump like the foam collar to ensure it’s extremely buoyant should you drop it overboard, high visible colors, and a high capacity to mean you have to pump less to get rid of more water.

The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a hose but the pressure it pumps at means for most kayaks you won’t need one. If you do, just grab a cheap hose from a local hardware store. All in all, it’s a solid choice that gets very good reviews and will serve you well. Check it out below.

#2. Aqua Bound Bilge Master For Kayaks

AQUA BOUND Kayak Bilge Pump One Color, 17in
14 Reviews
AQUA BOUND Kayak Bilge Pump One Color, 17in
  • High-Volume, compact canoe, kayak or dinghy water pump - 17" Long
  • Best Performance: Only 8 strokes to expel 1 gallon. Accepts 1" inner diameter (ID) hoses
  • Floats & Easy to See: Bright orange, high density foam sleeve. Attachable eyelet for leash or tether

The Aqua Bound Bilge Master is a highly efficient bilge pump that takes less than eight strokes to expel one gallon of water. It can easily attach to a hose with an inner diameter of one inch. The solid steel piston shaft promises persistence, and the foam exterior allows a firm grip. The ergonomic T design prevents exhaustion while operating.

The movable inlet cover makes it easy to clean out debris. For a comfortable reach, you can tie it to the front of your kayak or canoe with the eyelet. Even if it falls into the water by accident, the orange shade will quickly catch sight. It is one of the most recommended bilge pumps on various websites.

#3. Beckson Thirsty Mate Bilge Pump With Hose 

Sale
Beckson 124PF Thirsty-Mate Pump - 24' with 24' Hose , Beige
40 Reviews
Beckson 124PF Thirsty-Mate Pump - 24" with 24" Hose , Beige
  • Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • Solvent Welded Construction
  • Special Polyvinyl Grey Body And Shaft

One word that defines the Beckson Thirsty Mate Pump is simplicity. The slim plastic rod is almost weightless and can pump out ten gallons of water within a minute with only six pump strokes. It is rust and corrosion-free, so you can use it worry-free for years to come. 

Although the pump is an ideal length, it comes with a 24-inch hose for extra support and better reachability inside the narrow kayak space. It’s called mate because it will be there when you most need it.

#4. NRS 21 Bilge Pump for Kayaks

A water-clogged kayak is such a turnoff. That is why the NRS 21 gets rid of it all, so you can roll your kayak gently down the stream or wherever you want. The ABS plastic and foam exterior with rust-proof screws ensure longevity and will prevent the pump from sinking.

It works without the need for any additional attachments and drains out water from the side of the kayak or canoe. It will drain out eight gallons of water per minute. It sports a bright yellow hue, so you can spot it even from a faraway distance.

Another option is going for the NRS Basic Touring Safety Kit, which contains the bilge pump, paddle float, a whistle, and a boat sponge. The kit also includes a storage bag that you can carry without having to lose any of the components.

#5. Beckson Marine Kayak Bilge Pump

Kayak/canoe Pump With Float
21 Reviews
Kayak/canoe Pump With Float
  • Gallons Per Hour 480; Volts NONE
  • Gallons Per Minute 8
  • Operation NONE

The Beckson Marine pump belongs to a variety of basic bilge pumps. The initial idea was to provide sea kayakers with a bilge pump that can handle seawater pressure and not interfere with a compass. 

With a sleek, self-priming plastic rod, it removes eight gallons of water per minute. You can add an extended hose for better water flow. The attached float will never let it sink, and you can purchase clips to secure it to your kayak or canoe. 

#6. Better Boat Kayak Bilge Pump

Bilge Pump Manual Water Pump for Boats | Hand Pumps Siphon Boat
840 Reviews
Bilge Pump Manual Water Pump for Boats | Hand Pumps Siphon Boat
  • LONG HOSE MAKES WATER REMOVAL EASIER: Our manual bilge pump features a 39" long hose that makes reaching the bottom of your boat...
  • FEATURES A NO CLOG FILTER & A WATERTIGHT GASKET: The premium rubber seal on this waste water pump creates a watertight seal that...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT, PORTABLE, MANUAL DESIGN IDEAL FOR EMERGENCIES: This hand suction pump is light, easy to handle and store making it...

The better boat bilge pump is your best friend in case of an emergency. The 39-inch long hose easily reaches the bottom of the kayak or canoe and gets the job done faster. It requires no electric power to operate. 

The pump is equipped with a clog-free filter which keeps debris, seaweed, and leaves at bay. It can pump out 25 gallons of water per minute, so you can imagine the good it can do in hard times.

#7. Best Marine Kayak Bilge Pump

Sale
Best Marine Kayak Bilge Pump Accessory for Kayaks, Canoe and Boats. 17 Inch...
335 Reviews
Best Marine Kayak Bilge Pump Accessory for Kayaks, Canoe and Boats. 17 Inch...
  • How Are We Different? - Unlike other models, our bilge pump floats, has a two foot long hose that attaches to either end, is easy...
  • Why Best Marine & Outdoors? - Our company goal and mission is to help people find inner peace and purpose through kayaking and...
  • Who Is Our Bilge Pump For? - Whether you’re fishing, kayaking, canoeing or sailing, sometimes things can happen while out on the...

If you are a water sports enthusiast, you will probably need a bilge pump now and then. Best Marine bilge pump is a lightweight yet powerful companion for your kayak, canoe, or boat. It comes with a two ft. long hose for easy reach and water evacuation. The padded exterior supports a relaxed grip and flotation. 

Sporting a short built and weighing only one pound allows it to perfectly fit into your kayak storage. If you have heard of the quote, all good things come in small packages; the Best Marine fits the bill. 

#8. Attwood 24″ Hand Bilge Pump for Kayaks

Attwood 11596-2 Emergency Hand-Operated Livewell Bilge Pump with Removable...
306 Reviews
Attwood 11596-2 Emergency Hand-Operated Livewell Bilge Pump with Removable...
  • Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • Country of Origin:China
  • Color Name:White

The Attwood bilge pump is your best bet if you are looking for a lightweight, pocket-friendly pump for your kayaking needs. Its slender design, plastic corrosion-proof, heavy-duty body assures durability and keeps it ready for tough weather. The handle replicates a hand grasp which is helpful when the pump is in use.

It pumps out eight gallons of water per minute, and the 32 inches removable hose aids proper water drainage. It is meant for use with kayaks, canoes, and small boats. 

#9. Perception Kayak Bilge Pump

Perception Bilge Pump for Kayaks - Expels Water From Your Boat
376 Reviews
Perception Bilge Pump for Kayaks - Expels Water From Your Boat
  • Keeps you dry and safe by removing unwanted water from your kayak
  • Expels water on both upward and downward strokes for maximum efficiency and less fatigue
  • Ribbed output nozzle for attachment of extension hose

The Perception bilge pump uses both strokes, upward as well as downward, to pump out excess water. It will remove a gallon of water per 13 to 14 strokes and last a good time due to the tough, corrosion-proof rod. The ribbed output nozzle allows you to attach a hose when needed. The foam outer keeps it afloat and reduces stress while pumping. 

You can stow it inside the kayak as it requires less space and will not disturb your paddling. You can also leash it to the front of the kayak deck, so it’s never out of sight.

Conclusion: Which One Should You Buy?

With the wide range of bilge pumps out in the market, it’s not easy to determine which one will work for you. From our research, we’ve concluded that manual bilge pumps are a more feasible option as well as the kayak community preference. 

We recommend the Seattle Sports Kayak Bilge Pump because it conforms to all requirements of an efficient, lasting, easy to operate bilge pump. With a sturdy design, comfortable grip, and budget-friendly price tag, it is all aces. The bright neon yellow color adds a modern touch, and one may call it a kayak accessory, and we think every kayaker deserves one.

Sale
Seattle Sports Paddler's Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Small Boats
1,107 Reviews
Seattle Sports Paddler's Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Small Boats
  • Ergonomic - comfortable, easy-grip rubber overmolded handle makes pumping easy and comfortable when wet
  • Visible - high visibility neon yellow Stock for fast acquisition and safety
  • Floating - foam collar adds buoyancy in the event the pump goes overboard