Ported Spray Skirt vs Foot Pump

I’ve always been dubious about pumping out a kayak in heavy weather. Of course it is best to not come out of the kayak in the first place, but lets say you do, and that you are able to get back in. At this point, you will want to pump out the kayak. To do so with a hand held pump seems challenging, since you need two hands to operate the pump, which leaves zero hands on the paddle. And you can’t pump with the spray skirt on, so it seems like this heavy weather could dump more water into the boat.

It has been on my list of modifications I’d like to make to my sea kayak to install a foot-operated pump. At the local kayak store, I was asking them if they install pumps. We got to talking and the guy at the store suggested a spray skirt (Seals Mariner) that has a port built into it for a hand pump, so you could pump the boat out with the spray skirt on. This skirt also has a paddle holder strap attached to it, so you’d even have a place for the paddle while you pumped. There’s still nobody paddling while you pump, but at least the skirt is on, so this seems an improvement over my existing skirt (which is ready for replacement).

Neoprene skirts are so much better than the nylon coated skirts that I am hesitant to buy the Mariner. It is made of breathable fabric. And it has all these bungees and pockets. I’m used to just a clean, neoprene skirt, and the Mariner just seems too tricked out.


What do you like in your spray skirt, and what do you use?

Are there any other skirts besides Seals Mariner that have pump port?

Do you think the pump port improves the ability to pump out in heavy weather?

Any foot pump recommendations?

TIA ~~Chip


– Last Updated: Aug-30-09 10:50 PM EST –


This one does


and this one.....

Chris Mitchel is the US importer.....he sometimes reads this forum

Best Wishes

The pump goes thru the tunnel between your legs. You don’t have to pump it overboard, you pump it onto the skirt and it runs overboard.

Do it right and you can hold it in place with your legs and the skirt helps too, so need one hand.

Bill H.

Seal makes a neoprene skirt
with a pump portal. I have one that I use for winter paddling. Here is a link to the site.


how about a deck pump?
Foot pumps are cool because of the hands-free aspect, but I’ve heard from some who have them that they may not really be fast enough to pump out a whole cockpit after a swim. Better for pumping out water that has seeped in during surf sessions, etc.

Second hand info though. Maybe someone with a foot pump will weigh in.

I’ve got a deck-mounted pump, and while it does require one hand off the paddle, it is very fast, and simple to use.

In Europe…
Zoelzer makes this one:


You can hold the pump between your legs while pumping.

It’s nylon but fits exactly, water (if any) only comes through the tunnel.

I still think a self-bailer, like in small sailboats but even smaller, would be a nice thing to try…

Electric pump…through the hull
’course you might just as well run the outlet up through the skirt tunnel…


Build your own…instructions with photos…

Pumping out the boat
Hopefully you don’t do a lot of rough water paddling alone. The idea of assisted rescues in most conditions is the primary reason that the spray skirt pump port has not become that popular. Capsizes are actually rare and usually occur in surf or when people go out in waters beyond their ability. I’m not diminishing your concerns and your thinking about realities is good. Whenever I do a paddle float demo, the thing I always do is put the skirt back on and paddle around a bit with the boat full of water. Practice that! Practice leaning and bracing with the water in there. It’s easier than you think. In most cases you can paddle out of the danger area or to a sheltered area to do the pump out. Or even in to shore. The automatic assumption doesn’t have to be, re-enter and pump out the boat.

Boat Full of Water
One of the CPA guys I paddled with got out of his boat while supporting the cross-Chesapeake Swim a couple years back. The conditions had gotten rough. After he got back in his boat he gave up trying to pump and finished the crossing with a boat full of water. So clearly, that’s an option.

I think that’s about when I started thinking a foot pump is the way to go. Electric pumps would be nice, but rechargeables need minding. I’d rather not have to fuss with it and just know it was there.


water buster
For about $40 you can buy an Atwood Waterbuster pump. It runs on D-cell batteries, and is a little bigger than a coffee can. You could strap it behind your seat and run the outlet through your skirt tunnel when needed.

"This skirt also has a paddle holder strap attached to it, so you’d even have a place for the paddle while you pumped. "

there is no way in hell that i would be using that strap!!!no way am i going to have my paddle attached to my skirt…

it is rare enough that i actually use one of my paddle leashes…

i am intrigued (and have been for awhile) by the bale hole…hmmm