Which is the best maple tree tap kit to make maple syrup at home? That’s a question I personally researched when I started in this hobby a few years ago.
There are three main designs to consider when picking the best maple tree tap to get started with sugaring:
- Spile style with buckets or pails
- Tubing style with drop lines and buckets
- Bag style where sap is collected in plastic bags
Which style is the best? They all will help you collect sap efficiently so that you can make your own maple syrup at home. Each design has pros and cons and a few options you can customize to pick the one that sounds best for your own situation.
But don’t worry, I will walk through each of the options here so you can buy the best maple tree kit.
Spile-style maple tree tap kits
Let’s get started with the classic style of maple tree tap and explore all the options to determine which is the best. Is this what you picture, when you think about collecting sap to make maple syrup?
Well, maybe not the wagon wheel…what’s that doing in the picture, anyway? Where’s the rest of the wagon? That’s a mystery we should explore in a different article.
The iconic image of metal buckets hanging from trees, like in the image above, is what most people imagine when they think about maple tree taps.
Most of the spile style maple tree tap kits come with metal spiles, like the one shown below:
The spile is generally made from stainless steel–because it has to be tough. The metal spiles are engineered to channel the sap from inside the tree to inside the bucket, as well as to hold the entire weight of a sap-filled bucket. There is a hook that is held in place against the trunk of the tree. The hook fits into a reinforced pail that is either made of aluminum or plastic.
The aluminum pail kit comes with:
The plastic pail kit comes with:
The iconic look and simplicity here will take you back to more gentle times. The design hasn’t changed for many, many years–because it works!
The design for these maple tapping kits hasn’t changed in a long, long time. Because the design is a bit older and since the spile has to be able to hold the weight of a pail full of sap, this design has the largest diameter spiles (taps).
Large taps mean large holes in the tree. Larger holes mean larger wounds, which means more stress for the tree.
Tubing kit for tapping maple trees
The next maple tree tap kit option is called the tubing kit.
These kits come with a lower-profile, generally plastic tap that sends the sap down a plastic tube to the collection bucket.
Number of Taps
The first and most obvious way all of these maple tapping kits differ is in the number of taps in each kit.
Length of drop line
The next thing you have to decide is how long you want the drop line to be–will you be connecting this tube to a series of tubes or will you be dropping it to a bucket at the base of the tree?
If you plan to drop the line to a bucket, you probably want a 3-foot drop line. If you plan to daisy-chain your trees, you can probably deal with the 2-foot drop line.
Some kits come with a drill bit, so you know you have exactly the right size for your taps (generally 5/16 inch).
Maple syrup filters
Some kits come with filters so that you can remove particles from your sap (wood shavings, dirt, bugs, twigs).
Getting started guide
Most of the kits have a short pamphlet that describes the basics, to help you get started.
This kit has everything you need to start making maple syrup at home, except for the containers to collect all the sap you’re going to get.
The taps included in this kit are smaller in diameter than the old-school spiles, which means it will create a smaller wound in the tree–which is a good thing for the tree.
The drop lines attached to the tap make it nice and easy to collect the sap.
10 taps and drop lines should be enough to tap a bunch of trees.
Really, the only major con I can think of, for this kit, is that you have to supply your own buckets or containers to collect the sap in.
One minor con to consider is the price. Considering this kit is mostly plastic pieces, it can seem a bit pricey, but the cost is within the normal range of the kits available online.
The next maple tree tap kit option is called the sap bags kit. This is what it looks like on your tree:
This is more like what the kit looks like online:
Rather than running the sap into a bucket, these kits direct the sap into a bag.
There is the metal clamp option shown above, and a PVC-tube option shown below, here:
The concept is still quite similar. You drill a hole in the tree and insert your tap. Instead of hanging a bucket on the spile or putting a drop line into a bucket on the ground, the sap fills up in bags that hang down the side.
The design also prevents rainwater from dripping down into the sap. That’s definitely a huge plus.
I also like it because I can see from my window whether or not there is sap that needs to be collected, instead of making it all the way across the lawn (not that it’s that far…) to find an empty bucket.
This kit is the ultimate convenience. You don’t have to worry about sanitizing buckets, the sap fills up in those disposable bags.
You will have to buy and replace bags, as you go.
The bags come with these very scary warnings from the State of California that these products have chemicals linked to bad things.
Best maple tree tap kit value
In my opinion, the best maple tree tap kit value is
It has almost everything you need to get started making your own maple syrup at home. The only things missing are a few supplies you probably already have around the house (drill bit and plastic containers).
Best all-inclusive maple tree tap kit
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a kit that literally has everything you need, check out
This maple tree tap kit costs a little bit more, but you will have everything you need AND you are going to look like a PRO. There is a similar-style kit with blue buckets, but it comes with plastic taps, which is why I recommend this kit.
What do you think?
Please leave a comment below if you have experience with any of the maple tree tap kits listed above.