Best Kayak Bilge Pump – An Easy Fix For Excess Water [2022 Edition]

When you’re out paddling, there’s always a chance that some water will find its way into your kayak. And sure, a few splashes here and there won’t be a life-or-death problem, but it can be very annoying. I’m willing to bet that sitting in a puddle isn’t your idea of fun.

But the thing is, if you don’t have a way of dealing with the excess water in a timely manner, a slight annoyance could quickly turn into actual danger

The truth is, you’re going to need a kayak bilge pump. It’s one of those must-have pieces of gear, no matter where or when you go paddling. How do you pick the best kayak bilge pump for the job, though?

That’s a good question, and it’s not always easy to answer. But don’t worry – we’re here to help. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the different types of kayak bilge pumps available on the market, as well as some of the factors you need to consider when making your purchase. We’ve also compiled 8 kayak bilge pump reviews and top recommendations to assist you in your decision.

So, without further ado, let’s get started

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In A Hurry? The Winner After 41 Hours Of Research:

Winner

AIRTAK Bilge Pump

Why is it better?

  • It’s a battery-powered, automatic bilge pump 
  • More efficient than manual alternatives and easier to use 
  • Fitted with a compact and highly efficient motor 
  • Capable of pumping out 25 gallons of water per minute 
  • Durable, reliable, and well-built pump 
  • The three-piece impeller ensures quiet, no-vibration operation 
  • Moisture-proof, sealed enclosure 
  • It’s protected against corrosion and completely submersible 
  • Has a detachable filter that makes it easy to clean 
  • It offers impressive features for the price

What Is A Kayak Bilge Pump, And Do I Need One?

Man drowning in sea after kayak capsizing

So, for those who technically know what a bilge pump is but aren’t sure if they need one – how about a little explanation to get things started? 

At its most basic form, a bilge pump is a device that helps remove excess water from the inside of a kayak. This is important, especially if you are going to be using your kayak in open water or in rough conditions – such as whitewater.  A kayak can easily take on water, and if left unchecked, it can end up capsizing and sinking.

Pretty simple, right?

Now, there are some more complex models, sure – but the “definition” above is essentially what they’re all about. 

I know what you’re thinking: 

A high-quality kayak will have scupper holes in place for such things, and good design shouldn’t allow water to get in in the first place, right? 

Well, yes, that’s technically true. But good design and a few scupper holes won’t help you much if you’re on a turbulent paddling trail. It’s surprising how fast kayaks can fill up due to seemingly minor splashes and waves. 

You can’t (and probably don’t want to) sit in a little puddle until you reach your take-out spot, can you? 

And then there’s capsizing – a paddler’s worst nightmare and the fastest way to fill your kayak’s cockpit up with water. 

The point is: 

Kayak bilge pumps are something you need to have on you at all times. It’s a simple “tool,” but it works like a charm whenever there’s excess water to take care of on the go.

Manual Or Electric: What’s The Best Pump For Me?

For some people, a manual pump might look like the obvious option, while others want to expel water from their ‘yak without having to go through the hassle of removing it by hand. 

Although both choices are entirely acceptable – each has advantages and disadvantages.

Ok, let’s dig a little deeper.

The first things you must consider are the conditions in which you usually paddle in and how you’ll be using the pump.

BWKW - Freedom 500 Electric Bilge Pump

If you kayak in open or rough waters where the risk of taking on water is significant due to waves, rolls, or possible capsizes, keeping the water level down in your’ yak will become more difficult.  In that situation, a manual bilge pump might not be the best choice as you might be forever bailing.

On the other hand, if you only paddle in flat-calm conditions, then a manual pump could be sufficient or even preferable to an automatic one – simply because they’re lower maintenance and less expensive.

The key problem with manual bilge pumps is that you might not have enough time to proactively keep your ‘yak dry if you’re rushing through some fast moving-water, such as class iii whitewater rapids.  And let’s face it: the most exciting trails don’t provide much opportunity for “coffee breaks,” when you have the chance.

Kayak- Manual Bilge Pump

Plus, it means you’ll have to drop everything – stop paddling, secure your fishing rod, or try to re-attach a spray skirt – to focus solely on using the pump. This could leave you in a vulnerable situation, especially if you are trying to bail water from a capsized and flooded kayak cockpit in icy waters.

Automatic pumps have an edge in that sense!  They can be set to run constantly, or kick in when water fills the bottom of your kayak – and automatically shut off when the water level drops below a set point. 

Thus leaving you free to do other important things – like fishing, paddling, or scouting ahead.

Kayak Fishing Bilge Pump Challenge | Electric VS Manual

Sure, electric bilge pumps might take up more space, cost more and can be tricky to install (depending on the model) – requiring you to drill holes in your kayak and fit batteries – but they will keep you safe and dry in moments when you need them the most. 

One more thing:

Automatic pump or not, I do prefer to have a manual kayak bilge pump around for an emergency – and I suggest making one part of your essential kayaking gear too.

Things To Consider When Shopping For A Bilge Pump

Kayak Bilge Pumps

Are all bilge pumps the same? No.  As I mentioned earlier, there are quite a few things that you need to consider when choosing a bilge pump. So, now that you’ve (hopefully) decided between a manual and electric pump, you can move on to the specifics.

The factors I’ll discuss below are all equally important because they dictate the performance of your new pump – and could make or break its usability. 

How Big Of A Bilge Pump Do I Need?

The size of the bilge pump that you’ll get depends on a few factors. 

How big of a ‘yak do you own? What’s its load capacity, and how much space do you have? How much water do you usually get in your kayak? Do you plan on tackling any harsher waters – be it whitewater rapids or open seas

Yes, you’ll need to answer all of these questions before getting a pump. And that’s regardless of whether you want to get a manual or an automatic pump, by the way. 

Bigger, stronger manual pumps take up as much space as the automatic ones – and you’ll need to find a good place to store them onboard. The automatic ones need to be stored, as well – but you’ll be good to go after tightening it down with a few screws as there’s no moving around after the initial setup. 

Does It Float?

When you think of a pump in any form – whether it’s a bicycle pump, air mattress pump, or bilge pump – you might not imagine the most premium materials construction-wise. 

Sure, it’s nice to have a metal pump that feels good in the hand, but at the end of the day, you’re just going to pump water or air through the darn thing. And plastic does the job rather well. 

But when you and your pump are spending most of your time out on the water, suddenly it starts to matter what the tool is made of – and how the choice of materials affects it. 

Where am I going with this? 

Be sure to check if the pump floats.

There’s a good chance – as with all accessories on your kayak – that it could end up in the water. If it falls or you drop your bilge pump overboard, you want to be able to retrieve it rather than watch it sink to the bottom or float away.

That being said, I propose a two-pronged strategy: one, attach the pump to your yak.  A leash (or the option to tie one) is a great thing to have out of the box. You can tie the pump down to something and know it’s not going anywhere.

Two, make sure the kayak bilge pump is made of buoyant material – many hand bilge pumps include a colorful high-density foam sleeve that makes them easy to see and helps them float.

While we’re on the subject, you should consider how the materials will handle those interactions with water; corrosion is the last thing you want. I know that sounds obvious, but we all know how some manufacturers cut corners. 

How Much Water Are You Realistically Pumping Out?

The final thing you might want to take a look at is the amount of water you need to get rid of on an average kayaking trip. We all have a certain intensity that we prefer – and, so, the amount of splashing water might vary. 

If you’re a fan of whitewater rapids, you might want to look into automatic bilge pumps. 

But if you tend to keep a relaxing pace when paddling about, a smaller manual pump should do the trick. 

Then, there’s the option of having both: 

The electric pump will have you covered in most situations – but you can always keep a smaller manual pump on board as a backup. 

Whatever you choose, remember to check the pump’s capacity – how much water it’s capable of pumping out per hour. 

You’ll notice that these numbers vary, but electric pumps are generally the more efficient option, with a water-removal rate of more than 1000 gallons per hour. 

8 Best Bilge Pumps In 2022 – Top Picks Reviewed & Rated

Best Manual Bilge Pump

Perception Kayak Bilge Pump For Kayaks

Perception’s pump is small in size, measuring a mere 20.25 inches in length and lightweight – seriously, it weighs 0.88 pounds – making it kayak-friendly. Plus, it pumps out a lot of water in both upward and downward motions. 

This nifty feature promises a water-removal rate of about one gallon per 13 to 14 pumps. Great, right? 

If you’re in a bigger kayak, it will take a bit of effort to get everything dry after a capsize, but it will get the job done – no doubt about that.

The foam-padded, non-slippery grip is also a nice addition, especially if you just rolled and need to get dry fast. Oh, and the nozzle is ribbed so that you can attach an extension hose. However, one doesn’t come in the package; that’s something you’ll have to get separately. 

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Manual bilge pump
  • Weight: 0.88 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4 x 21 x 4 inches
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Small and lightweight, easily stored
  • The synthetic construction withstands corrosion from saltwater
  • For maximum efficiency water is expelled from both upward and downward strokes 
  • Foam-padded and non-slip handgrip
  • Buoyant and won’t sink if dropped in the water
  • Removes a great volume of water quickly for its size

Cons

  • No extension hose in the package
  • The materials are fine for the price but aren’t exactly high-quality
  • No leash to secure it on the kayak

The Perception Bilge pump is a small, convenient, and strong pump that’ll save you in a pinch and won’t take up too much space in your kayak’s cockpit. The durability is well above the low price – which is always a plus. A true bang-for-your-buck starter pump. 

Best Price-To-Quality Ratio

SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump

This manual bilge pump from SeaSense comes ready to use out of the box – hose attached and all – which already gives it an advantage over Perception’s model. 

It’s heavier than my previous pick, clocking in at 1.4 pounds, but it’s still manageable. On that note, it’s slightly bigger, too, measuring 3.5 x 4.5 x 20.75 inches.

With that said, it’s a simple, manual pump that works well – even in debris-filled water. It won’t suck up pebbles or tiny sticks – not as well as some other entries on the list, that is. The water removal rate isn’t all that impressive, but it makes up for it by including a hose of a pretty decent length (18 inches). 

And thanks to that, it can reach tight spaces, getting rid of any water that finds its way on the deck of your ‘yak. 

It’s corrosion-resistant and leak-proof – and the hose is removable. 

The only thing I’d mention as a flaw would be the spiral hose. It’s not durable and could crack if you’re not careful. But they’re cheap to replace and available in most hardware stores, so that’s far from a deal-breaker. 

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Manual bilge pump
  • Weight: 1.40 Pounds
  • Dimensions:‎ 3.5 x 4.5 x 20.75 inches
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Boasts a self-priming design 
  • Comes with an 18-inch removable hose 
  • Leak-proof and corrosion resistant
  • Compact and designed to reach small spaces

Cons

  • The spiral hose is prone to cracking
  • The plastic feels a bit cheap
  • No grip on the handle, so it gets slippery
  • One of the heaviest options I’ve tested

While it’s one of the heavier pumps on the list and doesn’t blow you away with its efficiency, the SeaSense manual pump is still a more-than-decent option to consider for small boats, kayaks and canoes.

Best Affordable Kayak Electric Bilge Pump

Sailflo Automatic Bilge Pump

With the first automatic entry on the list, I give you the Sailflo bilge pump, a submersible model that can pump out 1100 GPH (gallons-per-hour) of unwanted water, and comes with a float switch –   ideal for those who need to pump large volumes of water frequently.

It’s pretty small and fits into the bilge area nicely without eating away too much of your on-deck space. The exact measurements are 8 x 4.6 x 3.6 inches, and it’s pretty lightweight, too, coming in at 1.2 pounds. 

There’s a stainless steel motor on the inside, surrounded by high-quality thermoplastic that can last you a good amount of time. But in case something happens, know that Sailflo also offers a two-year warranty with the pump – which is a nice addition.

It needs a 12V power source, so the average battery should do the trick. However, some users have reported that because of a blocked float switch, it may drain the battery more frequently – so that is something to beware of and to keep an eye on.

Speaking of the switch, it works on a simple principle: 

If the pump starts floating, it knows that it’s time to turn on. 

It’ll still leave about an inch of water, but for this price, you’re still pumping water out your ‘yak without lifting a finger.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Automatic bilge pump
  • Capacity: 1100 GPH
  • Weight: 1.20 pounds
  • Dimensions:‎ 8 x 4.6 x 3.6 inches
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Relatively lightweight and doesn’t take up a lot of room
  • Can pump out 18.33 gallons per minute
  • Has a float switch
  • Covered by a two-year warranty
  • Affordably priced for an electric pump

Cons

  • The float switch can get stuck and drain the battery
  • The materials are pretty far from a premium feel

The Sailflo is a decent, cheap, and durable automatic bilge pump that should keep you dry in relatively mild waters – and sometimes, that’s more than enough to keep a paddler happy.

Best Small Bilge Pump For Kayak

Best Marine Manual Bilge Pump

Alright, let’s get back to the basics. 

The Best Marine manual pump is a simple, small, and lightweight pump with a detachable hose and can pump out four to six gallons of water per minute. Well, technically, you’re the one doing the work – so the number obviously depends on who’s using it. 

The exact measurements are 17 x 3 x 3 inches, so it’s incredibly compact compared to the other pumps on my list. Oh, and it weighs as little as a pound!

The quality is pretty great for the price, but to be honest, the Perception gives you more bang for the buck. Not that this is a bad pump – far from it. However, it lost some points due to things like the complete lack of padding on the grip. 

The only real downside is that the materials don’t fare well in all types of water; salt could be a bit of a challenge. Also, don’t expect to get debris out easily. 

That aside, it’s a handy, little pump – and it floats, too!

Technical Specs

  • Type: Manual bilge pump
  • Capacity: 5 GPM
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimensions:‎ 8 x 4.6 x 3.6 inches
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Small, lightweight, and portable design
  • Detachable, two-foot hose included in the box
  • The pump has a floatable design 
  • Suitable for use in smaller spaces 

Cons

  • Not the most durable materials 
  • Needs to be lubricated often when used in saltwater
  • Pricey when compared to what the competition offers

The Best Marine pump really isn’t the best manual pump on the list, but it still does the job well and has some great features for the price. I’d paddle peacefully with this at my side.

Most Effective Manual Kayak Bilge Pump

DasMarine Diaphragm Boat Manual Bilge Pump

The DasMarine Diaphragm boat bilge pump is a well-built, robust option I recommend checking out if you don’t want a “traditional” design. Both traditionally-designed pumps and DasMarine’s Diaphragm require the same amount of effort, so choose whatever you think you’ll prefer.

I just have to get the one main problem out of the way, though: 

You’ll have to attach it to your kayak for it to work.

You mount it with four screws (they’re not in the box, by the way, which is a bummer) and pump the water through a hose using the handle. 

The actual pump measures only 12.24 x 5.67 inches, so it genuinely stays out of the way most of the time. The hose isn’t included, but to be honest, given the price, you probably wouldn’t get a good one, anyway. 

Depending on the effort, it can pump out 720 GPH. Since you can attach two hoses on each side, you can get the corners and hard-to-reach spots – and still have a long enough hose to ensure that the water is, indeed, on its way out the entire time.

It’s pricier than other manual pumps, sure – but I think it’s well worth the money.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Manual bilge pump
  • Capacity: 720 GPH
  • Weight: 1.16 pounds 
  • Dimensions: ‎12.24 x 5.67 x 3.11 inches
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Great design and easy set-up
  • Durable materials are used
  • Can pump out more water than your traditional manual pump
  • Lightweight and small

Cons

  • No mounting screws or hose in the package
  • The design isn’t to everyone’s liking
  • Needs to be mounted to your kayak to work

This manual pump will cost you a bit more than the “standard” models – but for the money, you’ll get a good quality, reliable pump that will keep you dry at all times. Plus, in an emergency, you’ll know exactly where to find it since it’s mounted to your ‘yak!

Best Lightweight Manual Pump For Kayaks

Seattle Sports Paddlers Bilge Hand Pump

The Perception kayak bilge pump has reigned supreme in the manual pumps category since it came out, with its rubberized pump handle, lightweight design, and excellent pumping performance.

However, I believe we have discovered a respectable adversary and new heir to the throne in Seattle Sports Paddlers’ manual hand pump.

The Seattle Sports Paddler’s is a well-built pump that falls right around the Best Marine and Perception price point – but it offers a bit more bang for your buck. 

Well, in my humble opinion, anyway.

The pump’s design is ergonomic as it boasts an easy-grip rubberized handle. Plus, it’s compact and lightweight, measuring 21 inches long and weighing in at only 0.8 pounds. 

It’s an all-around plastic built with the addition of the already mentioned rubber and a foam collar that helps with the pump’s buoyancy – meaning that, yes, it can float. 

The color is also something worth mentioning here. It’s made out of a high-visibility, neon yellow plastic that makes a real difference in a low-light environment. 

You don’t get the hose in the package – but it’s still a good deal all-around. You genuinely can’t go wrong with Seattle Sport’s manual pump.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Manual bilge pump
  • Weight: 0.80 pounds
  • Dimensions: 21 x 1.75 x 1 inches
  • Materials: Plastic, rubber, and foam

Pros

  • Very lightweight and portable design
  • The foam collar helps with buoyancy
  • The neon yellow color makes it highly visible in low-light situations
  • Rubberized, molded grip for better handling 

Cons

  • A hose is not included in the package
  • Build quality is not as good as in similarly-priced competition

If you’re the type to go paddling at night, you know that visibility is everything. So, why not add a brightly colored, neon yellow pump to your collection?

Best No-Hose Bilge Pump

NRS Kayak Bilge Pump

The NRS Kayak Bilge Pump is the last of the manual hand pumps on the list, and it has a trick up its sleeve that wraps up this category with a bang: 

Most manual pumps I’ve mentioned so far are built solely with plastic components, the NRS boasts stainless steel screws for additional rust resistance – which makes it incredibly durable and robust. 

It’s about the same length as the other manual pumps on the list, coming in at about 21 inches. Oh, and it still weighs only 0.85 pounds! 

The design is convenient, too. You don’t need to attach a hose to the pump, which is great for carrying it around – although it’s not as great for those hard-to-reach places. 

Still, you can pump out about 8 gallons per minute, which is decent enough for most scenarios. 

The pump’s body is surrounded by a yellow foam that makes it easy to spot. It’s not as bright as the Seattle Sports Paddler’s neon yellow, but it’s still a helpful addition. 

The foam also means that the pump floats – no matter where you drop it. All in all, this is a great combination of high-quality materials and simple-yet-effective features. 

Technical Specs

  • Type: Manual bilge pump
  • Capacity: 8 GPM
  • Weight: 0.85 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4 x 21 x 3 inches
  • Materials: Plastic, stainless steel, and foam

Pros

  • Among the most lightweight options 
  • Features stainless steel components 
  • Bright yellow foam sleeve makes the pump comfortable and visible
  • It’s designed to float 
  • Extremely well built for the price point 

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a hose and is unsuitable for hard-to-reach spaces
  • Attaching a hose might be tricky

There are a couple of drawbacks to its design, but the NRS pump’s stainless steel components and eight-gallons-per-minute pumping capabilities make up for them. If you want a rugged and durable pump to have in an emergency, don’t overlook NRS. 

Overall Best Kayak Bilge Pump

AIRTAK Bilge Pump

The AIRTAK Bilge Pump is an automatic pump that promises to pump out 1500 GPH out of your kayak – making it an excellent choice for bigger boats or for times you need to pump water out fast, like a righting a fully flooded capsized ‘yak.

It’s a small but oh-so-mighty pump, coming in at about 9.45 x 7.68 inches and about 1.8 pounds. 

Now, the 1500 GPH of pumping power I mentioned sounds great and all – but you are probably wondering how much that is in relative terms. Well, the AIRTAK can pump out about 25 gallons per minute. It’ll also cope well with brown water and isn’t phased debris, too.

When you compare that to the price point, and how much you would manage to pump out with a manual bilge pump, the result is an absolute bang for your buck.

It needs a 12V power source to work, which is pretty standard for the pumps in this range. Sure, it’s a bit more complicated by design – but the convenience and efficiency are well worth it. 

Thanks to the plastic acrylonitrile butadiene styrene build – which is the fancy way of saying it’s made of ABS plastic and won’t corrode – the AIRTAK will last you a long time. 

The pump works on the same float switch system as the Sailflo – though this one is much more reliable if I’m being completely honest. 

Technical Specs

  • Type: Automatic bilge pump
  • Capacity: 1500 GPH
  • Weight: 1.81 Pounds
  • Dimensions:‎  9.45 x 3.74 x 7.68 inches
  • Materials: ABS plastic 

Pros

  • Pumps out 1500 gallons per hour (25 gallons per minute)
  • The pump is protected against corrosion
  • Small and lightweight design 
  • Operates with minimal noise 
  • Excellent quality and efficiency for the price 

Cons

  • The float switch can take a while to activate 
  • There’s no hose included in the package 

All things considered, the AIRTAK is arguably the best pump on the list. Not everyone wants an automatic pump; the manual option seems more reliable in the long run. Still, this is a well-built and durable electric pump that’ll keep you dry in pretty much all conditions!

Best Bilge Pump For Kayak: Final Verdict & Recommendations 

So, what’s the best kayak bilge pump, then? 

In my humble opinion, there are two winners in this round-up. 

The number one gold medalist I think you should consider is AIRTAK’s Bilge Pump. It’s cheap, durable, and incredibly efficient in pretty much all situations. 

I said that there are two winners for one reason – and that’s that you always need a manual backup if you opt for an automatic pump. And let’s face it: 

Some people just want a good old-fashioned manual pump in their ‘yak. 

So, in that sense, you can’t go wrong with the Perception Kayak Manual Bilge Pump. It’s comfortable, easy to use, works fast – and it’s durable, too. 

If you go for the AIRTAK as the main pump and the Perception as the back-up, I promise you’ll be all set for years to come. These are, hands down, the two best kayak bilge pumps out there!