Best Small Outboard Motor

With so many options to choose from, there is a lot more to think about when it comes to finding the best small outboard motor. You need to look into the engine’s power and whether you need an electric or gas-powered motor.

Keeping these factors in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best small outboard motors on the market.

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Small outboard motors are portable and user-friendly. These motors are easy to handle by hand and are simple to mount on and detach from the boat. They are ideal for small sailboats like kayaks, inflatable, and fishing vessels.

However, finding the best small outboard motors isn’t as easy as it used to be. Back then, you could simply go to your local dealer and get a 2.5 HP motor. It didn’t even count which brand to get as they were all the same.

But over the years, outboard motors have become more powerful, reliable, and even surprisingly quiet. Outboards now have good power and weight ratios and are easy to maintain with superb corrosion resistance. As a result, choosing the best small outboard motors surely has gotten a little more difficult.

Outboard motors are available in electric and fuel models, so you’ll want to decide which one is more efficient for you. You must also look at which one has the ideal balance of power, weight, range, weight, and durability.

But then again, there are many options on the market and it can be difficult to tell which motor will work best for you and suit your budget. So we got on the hunt and compiled a list of some of the best small outboard motors available, as rated by boat owners.

Why Go for an Outboard Motor?

Many boatbuilders emphasize outboard power’s greater versatility. Aside from that, these motors excel in a few departments.


Outboards outperform inboards in terms of power and speed. But, the maximum speed will still depend on the size of the motor you pick. You can trim it for best performance or allow you to explore shallow waters. And when it’s not in use, you can simply lift it out of the water to keep it from corroding.

Another thing that makes outboards a great option is that they are several hundred pounds lighter than inboards. The more lightweight your boat is, the quicker, easier it is to pull, and more fuel efficient.


An outboard engine is vital if you wish to traverse any significant distance on the water. You may even refill your gas tank if you wish to take a night out in the water.

Save time and energy

As we’ve mentioned earlier, outboards are efficient. Paddling a boat requires a lot of energy and an outboard engine can help you conserve. And since outboards are fast, you can get to your destination in no time, which is better than rowing your boat.

The Best Small Outboard Motors

Selecting the best small outboard motor for boats is important for excellent efficiency. And while there are several options on the market, not all of them are the same. So, which one is the ideal choice for you?

Let’s find out by diving into some of our favorite outboards!

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55

Designed specifically for kayaks, the Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55 delivers 55 lbs of thrust through a 24-inch fiberglass shaft. Which makes it a lightweight and sturdy option.

In terms of control, this motor offers eight different speed settings. This includes five forwards and three reverses for smooth operation in easy-to-adjust increments. And with its 6-inch collapsible soft-grip carrying handle, you gain complete control of the engine.

It features an extended battery cabling of 5 feet and 6 inches. This allows for flexible battery installation and compatibility with almost all transom mount kayaks. The electric engine also has extra-long battery cords. We appreciate this feature since you can store the batteries anywhere on your vessel.

​​This 55-lb engine also comes with a three-blade propeller. Such a feature will come in handy since it reduces drag. And it does so while balancing efficiency and thrust for better performance. The motor’s aluminum motor head and corrosion-resistant components make it suitable for saltwater applications.

On the downsides, some users say the motor is just too heavy for their kayaks, while otters complain about vibration in the propeller. And this may create annoying noise. Just a few things to keep in mind here.

• Lightweight and durable design
• Comes with 8 variable settings
• Offers straightforward battery installation
• Great for kayaks and canoes
• Can withstand salt water uses
• Some boaters find it too heavy for their kayaks
• Propeller vibrates, which creates noise

Minn Kota 1368720 Traxxis

Minn Kota 1368720 Traxxis

Equipped with technology that can contend with many motors on the market, the Minn Kota 1368720 Traxxis could be the best outboard motor for your boat.

It’s a 42-inch shaft motor with the same configuration as the Newport Vessels, but it delivers 80 lbs of thrust. We love the durable composite shaft of this motor since it flexes on impact and doesn’t break.

This high-performance motor features a quick-cam depth adjuster that allows you to move it 180 degrees by simply turning the tiller 45 degrees. It makes the motor much more sensitive to inputs and allows for easy steering.

Another feature we appreciate about this motor is the digital maximizer. This feature allows for up to 5 times more run time on a single battery charge. It allows you to fish for a whole day while saving energy. You choose the ideal maximum speed and it just supplies enough power output to keep your boat running.

The Traxxis may be stowed with one hand. Without any button or release gear lever, you can simply pull up and forward to stow the engine. And when you’re ready to set off, you can utilize its simple thumb release to deploy the motor into any of ten various positions.

Some users, however, reported that you can’t use this engine at full power for more than a minute or two at a time or it may burn itself.

In addition, some customers have reported that their motors arrived damaged, so make sure to inspect your equipment immediately. Also, the motor does not seem to last as long as that of some other models.

• Has a quick-cam depth adjuster for effortless steering
• Features a digital maximizer for better energy efficiency
• Flexible shaft resists impacts
• Easy to stow
• Might fry itself if used at maximum power output for more than a minute
• Doesn’t seem to be as durable as other models

Coleman Powersports 2.6 HP Outboard Motor

Coleman Powersports 2.6 HP Outboard Motor

The Coleman Powersports 2.6 HP Outboard Motor is a reliable, small boat motor. It’s a four-stroke OHV (Overhead Valve) engine that runs quietly. This machine features a Transistor Controlled Ignition system (TCI) for quick starting, as well as fan shifting and 360-degree steering.

We appreciate how it has several handy features including adjustable steering friction, shallow-water drive, noise reduction, and a twisting grip throttle. It has plenty of power for a 12-foot rowboat and idles quite low.

Another thing we like about this outboard is that the vent screw on its gas cap closes itself as you race across the lake, allowing it to shut down. And it will not start unless you open the vent. Isn’t that convenient?

For corrosion resistance, this outboard motor is built of marine aluminum alloy.

On the downside, the fuel tank is small, about a third of a gallon, and might only be good for about an hour at 3/4 throttle. There’s also a minor design flaw. If you attach it straight on the transom, rotating it 180 degrees in reverse will result in the cooling water entering the boat.

However, if you are using an external motor mount, this should not be an issue.

• Runs quiet
• Starts quickly
• Comes with several handy features
• Auto shuts
• Resistance to corrosion
• Has a small tank
• May require an external mount

HANGKAI 3.5 HP Outboard Motor

HANGKAI 3.5 HP Outboard Motor

Lightweight and powerful, the HANGKAI 3.5 HP Outboard Motor is suitable for small vessels weighing 100 kg or less. This 2-stroke outboard uses water-cooled technology to absorb heat from the engine and keep it cool.

Besides being so powerful, another thing we like about this engine is its compact design. This makes it simple to transport and hoist as necessary. It’s crafted from high-quality marine material for maximum corrosion resistance. The propeller is also resistant to both fresh and saltwater.

Keep in mind, though, that this machine is noisy. But that should be expected with gas-powered motors.

• Lightweight yet powerful
• Durable and compact design
• Hold up well to fresh and saltwater
• Noisy, though this is common with gasoline motors

SEA DOG WATER SPORTS 2.5 HP Outboard Motor

SEA DOG WATER SPORTS 2.5 HP Outboard Motor

Ideal for inflatables, fishing boats, and small yachts, the SEA DOG WATER SPORTS 2.5 HP Outboard Motor features a built-in propeller and strong thrust for superior performance. This outboard is designed to be easy to use, even for beginners. And it can work well as an auxiliary trolling motor.

It’s a maneuverable motor with a secure twist grip throttle that gives you full control. The height adjustment of the machine works smoothly and is simple to use since it functions like a large screw.

This motor may run with a little noise, though. Some boaters also find the throttle arm a bit short. However, it is still dependent on how comfortable you are with using it. Overall, we consider this an excellent investment.

• Powerful thrust
• Maneuverable and lets you have full control
• Easy height adjustment
• Short throttle arm

Things To Consider in Choosing the Best Small Outboard Motor

When looking for the best small outboard motor for a boat, there are things you need to consider.

Electric vs Gas

Outboards come in either electric or gas models, and both are widely available.

Gas-powered outboard motors are common and can be operated by a throttle on the end of an arm or hydraulically linked to a steering wheel. These motors come in several engine configurations, ranging from 1 to 8 cylinders and either 2 or 4-stroke. And they can deliver anything from 1.4 to more than 300 HP.

However, while gasoline engines have certain advantages, they may not be your most eco-friendly option.

Electric outboards, on the other hand, are gaining popularity. They are typically much smaller than gas motors. These motors are great for occasional boating and they come in handy for docking your boat at night. They are also ideal for fishing boats, kayaks, and small yachts.

One thing you’ll appreciate about electric outboards is that they’re quite compared to their gas-powered counterparts. They are also low-maintenance motors and often inexpensive. While gasoline engines are rated in horsepower (HP), electric outboard motors are measured in pounds of thrust.

Hull Design

The hull of your vessel has a crucial influence in picking the best outboard motors for your boat. You can refer to the Coast Guard mark on your boat. This mark indicates the maximum horsepower and weight capacity you need in an outboard.


Small outboard motors don’t have to be powerful since compact boats frequently do not require a lot of power. All you need is something that’s powerful enough to propel your boat so that it can work efficiently. If you usually go to tiny streams and ponds, you may not need a high-powered engine.

Shaft Length

The shaft length of your outboard will depend on the length of the transom of your boat. A shaft that’s too long or too short will just cause mishaps.

The key to getting the right shaft length is by measuring from top to bottom at the very center of the transom. If it’s less than 15 inches, opt for a short shaft outboard. For lengths between 17 and 22 inches, a longer shaft outboard will be preferable.


As you shop for outboard motors, you’ll come across models that are equipped with three gears: forward, neutral, and reverse. There are also outboards that feature only forward and neutral gears. The two-geared outboards should also come with a 360-degree shaft: to reverse, crank the propeller all the way around.

Outboards with three gears are more maneuverable. However, you can expect them to be on the pricier end.


Outboard motors come with a range of features. You can go with whatever meets your requirements.

Among the most essential features for smaller boats is the ability to easily handle slower waters. Outboard motors with power thrust features help increase the force by about 60 percent in reverse and 15 percent in forward.

This feature lets you accelerate quickly and smoothly and control the boat skillfully in tricky or rough water. An outboard’s fuel efficiency is also important. Some outboards may consume far more than they should, while others help with fuel efficiency and can save you money, and are eco-friendly.

Quick Tips

Small outboard motors are designed for smaller vessels. While you don’t need a super powerful engine, make sure not to get one that is too underpowered. Using an underpowered motor is a common source of frustration among boat owners.

For 2-stroke small outboard motors, you need to combine them with fuel. You may refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding this.

Lastly, before purchasing an outboard motor, you need to measure the transom of your boat to ensure that you are getting a suitable shaft length.

Best Small Outboard Motor FAQs

Which is better: 2 stroke or 4-stroke outboard motor?

A 4-stroke motor’s fuel efficiency can be 50 percent higher than that of a 2-stroke motor with the same horsepower. With regards to the environment, 4-stroke outboard motors emit much less harmful emissions. And this can go up to 90 percent cleaner than those produced by a comparable-sized 2-stroke motor.

However, 4-stroke motors tend to be on the pricier end. But, keep in mind that both types of small outboard motors have pros and cons. While 2-stroke motors are less expensive, they need to mix 2-stroke oil with the fuel and will require more maintenance.

What HP outboard do I need?

Knowing the overall weight of your boat is the safest approach to estimating how much horsepower you need for it. A good rule of thumb you can follow is 25 to 40 lbs of weight per horsepower. So, if your boat weighed 800 lbs, for example,  you would have to go with a 32 to 20 HP motor.

What is the easiest outboard motor to work on?

Two-stroke small outboard motors are the easiest to operate. Since these engines lack valves, their design is simpler and many mechanics believe they are simpler to work on. Also, since there are twice as many strokes for each rotation, a two-stroke engine has twice the power for its size.

Which outboard motor is the most reliable for fishing?

If you’re going fishing, an electric outboard motor would be ideal. These motors are practically silent and do not drive the fish away. However, if you need to go in rough water or over long distances, a fuel outboard motor may be useful.

Can I test an outboard motor out of water?

You can test your outboard engine without a boat or the ocean. Just connect it to a stable platform, lay a large bucket beneath it, and fill it with water to completely immerse the propeller.

How hot should an outboard run?

About 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider that most boat water temperature gauges are not precise instruments. Some 2-stroke engines run a little hotter. While that may sound reasonable, it may not always be accurate.

How often should you start your outboard motor?

A few hours per week helps keep the engine in decent condition than two or three full days a month. As with any vehicle, the more often you use it, the better it will operate. Your boat’s components deteriorate faster when you keep them idle at the marina or in your garage most of the time.

How deep in the water should my outboard be?

If you have a short shaft outboard engine, the distance between the top of the transom and the bottom of your boat should be roughly 15 to 16 inches. But if your engine has a lengthy shaft, 17 to 22 inches would be ideal.

Where should water come out on an outboard motor?

With many outboards, you can simply put on the muffs and start the engine. A continuous stream of water should be flowing out of the vents on the top of the motor. But, certain brands can produce a stream, although it may not appear to be consistent. While this may be concerning, it is very usual for such models.

Final Thoughts

Since various boat owners have unique goals, we can draw a conclusion for choosing any of the engines we have on the list. Some boaters prefer simplicity and reliability more than anything else. Others pick one over the other for its elegant and compact design.

Meanwhile, unless affordability is your first priority, it will be tough to look past the allure of the latest electric models. With the exception of a minor dip in overall efficiency, electric motors can outperform petrol engines in nearly every way.

Electric outboard motors run quieter, are easier to handle, and stow. And you can operate without spending a great deal of time and dime in the long run since they also encourage fuel efficiency.

But, whichever type of outboard motor you want to get for your vessel, make sure to consider your boat’s hull design. The hull of your boat will determine the allowable horsepower and weight that your vessel can handle. ​​But, make sure you get a motor that is neither inefficient nor overpowered.

Also, consider brand recognition. Anyway, your local dealer should assist you in finding the ideal small outboard engine for your boat based on its specs.

We hope you’ve found our guide helpful in finding the best small outboard motors for your boat. And don’t forget to check out the latest prices and discounts on these outboard motors we’ve discussed above.

Good luck!

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