Bilge Pump

Hi Folks:

Which kayak bilge pumps are of the highest quality, most durable and have a high capacity? Thanks in advance for your responses.


with the big discharge and works on both the push and pull.

Don’t get one with the small 1" discharge



a bucket
NOTHING works as fast and well as a bucket used by a paddler who is terrified of sinking!

Honestly, I have both, a collapsable bucket stashed by my seat and a pump.

I use the bucket at first, then when the boat is high enough to prevent being reflooded with every wave, I will switch to the pump to get the rest of the water out.

Then a super-shammy to dry the interior.

Pumps work, but they take a LOT of work and when each wave refills your boat, the pump is useless because it cannot keep up.

The Harmony high volume pump will empty your cockpit lickity split.

You do use a good sprayskirt?

foot operated
Nothing beats a foot operated bilge pump! then you can empty your boat with the skirt on and paddle away from what forced you out of your boat.

actually it does
nothing beats a foot operated pump? actually it does: an electric bilge pump.

While not very common in USA they are very popular in Australia and UK.

I had the foot operated pump and I replaced it with an electric one.

For install details:

while electric would be nice
I am not so handy… so my little atwood cordless pump that runs on 3 D batteries works better than those hand held pumps.

1 gallon plastic milk jug…
and a big sponge. Cut the top off a 1 gal milk jug, leaving the handle intact. You’ll find it makes a great scoop and folds flat to store. I also keep a big car wash sponge in the jug. Home Depot has them in the wall paper department.

You are right.
Friends of ours have one in their Texas water Safari boat, and this year when we were doing a practice run prior to the Suwannee River 52 mile race, they ran the class III rapid, (which most of us portage)and ended up swimming.

They got back in the boat, and later on when we all stopped down river on a sand bar, I was quite surprised to see water coming out of the little hose, while both of them were standing on the bar.

He explained, “just getting the rest of the water out” !



Beckson Thirsty-Mate
The Beckson Thirsty-Mate is the fastest hand-operated bilge pump I’ve used. It’s also durable and lasts for a long time, unlike some other brands (NRS being the worst).

3D gel cell batteries
if you replace the 3 1.5v alkalines with 3 2v. D size gel cells it’ll pump a LOT faster as well as pump more often on a given charge. The Attwood I had broke or the seals leaked before the motor burnt out. 6v moved water faster than 4.5v.

pump for kayak
Most non-paddling pumps sink like a stone, specially when full of water, so those don’t count. I’d recommend any that have a stainless rod instead of those that are all plastic, the stainless holds up longer.

Btw, the outlet size means little, have tested bigger and smaller and they all pump about the same.

Bill H.

Harry showed me this.
He does the milk bucket & sponge too, though I perfer a bleech bottle and shammy.

Harry found some netting somewhere and made a bag that fits the sponge.

Then he tied a bit of string or bungie to the bag, the other end to a small cheap carabiner to the deck-line and tossed it behind his seat.

When he needs it, he pulls the carabiner (always knows where his sponge is) to get the sponge to hand and the string/bungie ensures that the sponge is never lost while the net-bag allows the sponge to work without falling apart.