5 Best Kayak Bilge Pumps for 2022

Canoes and Kayaks

If you are new to the kayaking community, you may have heard the words “bilge pump” now and then. If you are wondering what a bilge pump is or whether or not to invest in one, don’t worry! This article will take you through all the details, including types of bilge pumps and the best kayak bilge pumps on the market.

What is a Bilge Pump?

A bilge pump’s primary function is to remove excess water (bilge) that collects on the inside of the bottom of the kayak hull. Bilge pumps are rated by their ability to remove water, usually expressed in gallons per hour. A bilge pump can remove excess water from the boat without flipping the kayak upside down. In fact, with a bilge pump, you can remove excess water while still sitting in the kayak.

kayak bilge pump

Is a Bilge Pump Necessary?

Bilge pumps are essential for big boats to remove water from inside the hull and are usually attached to an automatic pump. For small boats however, although not necessary, bilge pumps are highly convenient. There are times that a kayak or canoe can flip over, filling the boat with water. Or you may encounter a rogue wave that not only leaves the kayakers drenched but leaves water in the bottom of the boat too. A bilge pump can be handy in these situations as it’s not always possible or practical to tip the boat over to remove the water.

Manual Bilge Pumps

Manual bilge pumps are hand-operated bilge pumps used to remove the excess water on the boat. They have a handle or lever and tube attached to a hose, where the water is sucked into the bottom of the tube and then expelled out the other end. Most manual bilge pumps are compact and small, so you can easily make space for them alongside other kayaking gear.

The compactness of manual bilge pumps also ensures water removal from hard-to-get areas. Since it’s small, it is easy to use, and you can expel water from areas that are otherwise not reachable.

You must push and pull on the handle or lever to remove water with manual bilge pumps. This means not only can you not paddle simultaneously, but it may take up a sizable chunk of energy to complete.

Having to stop paddling and pump out the water, means that manual bilge pumps are better suited for calmer waters of lakes and rivers.

Automatic Bilge Pumps

This kind of bilge pump is equipped with a float switch. They can detect water levels and turn on  by themselves, freeing you of the responsibility to remove the water.

With an automatic bilge pump, you will not have to stop paddling as they do all the work. Therefore, these pumps are better suited for choppy waters where you cannot afford to stop paddling to remove excess water, as with manual bilge pumps.

Automatic bilge pumps will need installation, which may be a little difficult. It is also essential to ensure that you haven’t installed the pump in a position that may get in the way of your paddling. They also need regular maintenance to continue working efficiently.

How To Use a Hand Bilge Pump

Using a hand bilge pump is similar to pumping air into tires. To remove excess water using a hand bilge pump, place the bottom of the pump inside your kayak where the water is. Push the handle or lever of the pump down, and then pull it back up.

This push and pull dynamic will suck the water from the inside of the boat and expel it outside. You will have to repeat over and over until all the water is pumped out of the water.

Tip: Keep a sponge with you onboard to quickly dry your kayak. When there is very little water left, such that it cannot be sucked out using the pump, you can wipe it clean with the sponge. Do not forget to squeeze the water out of the sponge so that it is dry to use the next time.

The Best Kayak Bilge Pumps

Seasense Bilge Pump

Weight: 0.62 Kilograms
Bilge Pump Hose Length: Varying
Dimensions: 3.5 x 4.5 x 20.75 inches

The SeaSense is a hand bilge pump that is lightweight and easy to use. If you are tight on storage space, the hose is easily removable and can be stored separately. In addition, it reaches small and compact areas quickly, so, in case of a tip-over, your kayak will be dry in no time.
Although advertised as anti-leakage, the hose sometimes leaks from where it is joined to the pump. This can be fixed by screwing the hose all the way into the pump. Unfortunately, SeaSense bilge pumps don’t come with instructions, so it’s not surprising to see leakage as a frequent complaint from customers.

What we like:
✅ Good price
✅ It will work in muddy water too; it doesn’t clog easily
✅ Corrosion-resistant

We don’t like:
⛔️ It leaks a little where the hose attaches to the pump

Seattle Sports Bilge Hand Pump For Kayaks

Push or Pull: Sucks water with a pull and removes it with a push
Weight: 0.36 Kilograms
Hose Length: 21 inches
Dimensions: 21 x 1.75 x 1 inches

Seattle Sports is a lightweight bilge pump that is easy to use. It works well with kayaks and small boats, sucking out all the water and leaving your boat as dry as a bone in no time. This kayak bilge pump is said to pump out around 5 gallons of water per minute but some customers say this is more like 3 gallons, which is still a good volume.  The main drawback for this pump is not having a hose attached to the outlet. When the pump is not near the edge of the boat the pump will struggle to push the expelled water far enough to land outside of the boat. This shouldn’t be an issue in most kayaks. 

What we like:
✅ Easy to use
✅ Lightweight

We don’t like:
⛔️ No hose attachment 

Perception

The volume of water per pump: 1 gallon per 13-14 pumps
Push or Pull: Expels water on both strokes
Weight: 0.88 Pounds
Dimensions: 4 x 21 x 4 inches

The Perception bilge pump is a quick and easy solution when your boat is filled with water. It expels out water in both movements, up and down, so it removes water in no time and also takes up less of your energy. Its removal function is not just restricted to water; it can also remove leaves, twigs, rocks, and sand, which means less work for you. Again the biggest complaint from users is the lack of a hose to go with the pump and difficulty finding a hose to fit.

What we like:
✅ It does not clog easily and can suck up leave, twigs, rocks, and even sand
✅ Quick and easy to operate

We don’t like:
⛔️ Does not come with a hose

Pelican Kayak Bilge Pump

Push or Pull: Expels water on both strokes
Weight: 0. 76 lb
Dimensions: 21” x 4” x 2.75”

Pelican is another excellent option to suck out water from small boats and kayaks. It works fast and is easy to operate, so removing water from the boat is a breeze. It tends to be on the bigger side, so that it may take up a bit of space on your kayak. Pelican also does not come with a hose which poses a problem when removing a lot of water. Overall, it is a good value for the price.

What we like:
✅ Lightweight
✅ The suction pump is easy to operate

We don’t like:
⛔️ Does not come with a hose

Attwood Kayak Bilge Pump

Weight: 0.61 kg
Hose Length: 32”
Dimensions: 28.2 x 8.5 x 2.2 inches

Attwood bilge pump has a good length that reaches right down to the bottom, ensuring all the water is pumped out. In addition, the hose is removable and flexible, so this bilge pump is easy to store and use. The length of the hose, on the other hand, is still the most common complaint from users.  A good all round pump that will do the job. 

What we like:
✅ Easy to use
✅ Good suction capability

We don’t like:
⛔️ May leak occasionally

Conclusion

A bilge pump can be a valuable addition to your gear. It saves a lot of work and energy and empties the kayak of water quickly. In case of a spill or tip-over, you can dig out your bilge pump and have the boat nice and dry in no time!

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