Can A Kayak Sink, Or Do They Float In Every Condition?

Can a kayak sink? As a result of your questions, we have prepared this guide. This will help you stay dry as you go into the water for adventure and excitement on your next paddling trip.

If you’re paddling along and having a great time, a sinking kayak will eventually ruin your paddling experience. So, how easy is it to sink a kayak and what can you do in order to prevent this from happening?

Do Kayaks Sink?

The simple answer is yes. While kayaks can potentially sink, most of the time it is not something that will happen. In fact, with some vessels such as a canoe or inflatable rafts, sinking them may be difficult to do at all.

The factors that determine whether your kayak can sink or not include the type of boat, how much weight it has onboard, and if there are bulkheads or a sealed hull.

Most of the time, A sit-on-top kayak will not sink because it has scupper holes and a sealed hull. When the water gets into a sit-on-top kayak, these features allow that boat to bail out any excess water so you won’t have to worry about sinking. The molded design of the vessel’s hull acts like bulkheads; they trap air inside which increases buoyancy.

If your boat is a sit-in, the cockpit can fill with water and sink if you do not have any bulkheads to add buoyancy.

How To Prevent A Sit-In Kayak From Filling With Water

To make your sit-inside safer, you need to ensure that there are bulkheads in the boat. Bulkheads on a sit-in craft allow access to storage space within the hull of the vessel without exposing it directly to water.

Check: Guide To The Kayak Bulkheads

A sealed hatch creates a watertight and airtight pocket. This means that when these hatches are sealed, even if you capsize or the boat is swamped with water, no more will enter into it.

The kayak can take in water and sink if you don’t seal the bulkheads. You can choose to add a set of bulkheads that is either bow or stern that would improve buoyancy. A good idea is to add a 3-inch specific type of foam.

Why Does A Kayak Sink?

If we imagine a man of average size, In order to understand what could cause a lightweight kayak to sink, we’ll first define all the major forces working on it.

The buoyancy force and gravity act on the kayak. The gravity adds up the kayak weight, the user’s weight, and all the gear on the kayak. These two forces are equal when added together, resulting in zero total force acting upon the boat.

When the kayak starts getting filled with water until its total mass is greater than what would be displaced by a volume equal to itself; in other words when the sum of their weights exceeds their own displacement capacity, it causes them to sink down.


Now, it is easy to understand why the kayak would sink. When using a sit-on-top kayak, you usually won’t have to worry about sinking. If you are using a sit-inside kayak, it is important that the other spaces stay sealed to avoid water.