Sometimes you’re not in the mood to paddle and you still want to go out on the water. You want to go farther away and you’re not sure you have the paddling endurance to do it. Maybe you have an injury that makes paddling difficult. Maybe you really like fishing from a kayak but you don’t like paddling a kayak. There are many reasons you might want to put a motor on your kayak. Can you put a motor on a kayak? Absolutely you can. There are both kits, DIY ways to do it and kayaks that come from the factory with motors. Let’s explore some of the options for putting a motor on your kayak.
Can you put a motor on a kayak? Available options
There are a ton of ways to put a motor on a kayak. They range from really simple DIY options to pretty fancy kit solutions.
DIY motor mounts
A DIY mount can be as simple as a 2×4 screwed to your kayak. Some things to consider. You need to be able to reach the motor to control it. If your motor doesn’t have a remote way to control speed and direction it needs to be where you can comfortable reach it. The closer to the middle of the kayak you put the motor, the harder it will be to steer the kayak.
When the motor is at the end and you turn it, the thrust from the motor will turn the kayak. When the motor is at the middle of the kayak and you turn it, the thrust will try to flip your kayak over. The below video is a good example of a really simple DIY mount that could be applied to almost any kayak.
What if you have an inflatable kayak and want to add a motor mount to it? Can you still do it? Yes, no problem. Below is an example of a mount built for a cheap inflatable kayak.
Some people have done pretty involved things to their inflatable kayaks. The below example shows where they made a complete floorboard. With some creativity you can do some amazing things to inflatable kayaks.
Kit motor mounts
There is kit made kayak mounts for those less adventurous or who want something more professional looking than a 2×4. An aluminum or stainless steel bar may also last longer than a 2×4 out in the sun and water. Below are examples of kit kayak motor mounts for rigid and inflatable kayaks.
Kayaks with motors
Most popular kayak makers such as Old Town and Hobie produce powered kayaks. Many of their non-powered kayaks have motor options available. Below is one of the more popular motorized kayaks available.
- Equipped with a saltwater-ready, GPS-enabled Minn Kota trolling motor, the Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 motorized kayak allows you to propel and maneuver using the Bluetooth-connected i-Pilot remote. Motor battery is not included.
- This high-end fishing machine gets you to your favorite fishing spot faster and keeps you “anchored” using Minn Kota’s Spot-Lock technology to maintain position on the water so your hands are free to cast, change lures, and reel in the big ones.
- All Old Town Sportsman fishing kayaks are packed with handy convenience features, including customizable accessory tracks, cushioned floor pads for both better comfort and grip, a custom tackle box, and plenty of rod holders.
Motor options for your kayak
Electric trolling motors
Minn Kota is the most popular brand of electric trolling motor. There are many options out there. You should choose a motor that has the shortest shaft possible. A 30 inch or less shaft is long enough. You are mounting your trolling motor much closer to the water than on a bass boat.
You don’t need much power. A small motor is enough to get your moving as fast as you could paddle your kayak. If your motor has too much thrust you will have problems controlling the kayak. It will roll easily when you try to turn.
You will normally get several hours of run time out of your trolling motor. The duration you get will depend on your motor and battery combination. Pay attention to the current draw of the motor and capacity of the battery to determine how long you can run.
- Lever Lock Bracket: This solid 10-position bracket features a quick-release lever lock and reinforced composite material that resists flexing, warping, and UV damage
- Telescoping Tiller: Get easy, comfortable, intuitive operation of your trolling motor with the six-inch telescoping tiller.
- 5 Fwd/3 Rev Speed Settings: Five speed settings for forward and three speed settings for reverse.
- Power Prop: For 3-1/4″ motor diameters, this prop delivers extra power to push throw heavy vegetation. Includes prop pin, nut and washer.
- Indestructible Composite Shaft — for Life: At the core of your Minn Kota trolling motor is an indestructable composite shaft. It’s a Minn Kota exclusive, and we it for life.
Some smart individual came up with a motor attached to an SUP fin that could be attached to SUP boards. There is no reason you can’t attach these to kayak. The below video shows an example mounted to an inflatable SUP. It attaches under an inflatable kayak in the same way.
- INCLUDES 20-30 Days arrive!! Brushless Motorized fin, Wireless Remote control, High Efficient lithium Battery, Charger
- SPEED OF YOUR SUP Use the E-fin for touring, fishing, recreation, lessons or as a board speed booster. The E-Fin fits in a standard SUP or surfboard center fin box. A multi-speed remote control, the fin with motor, battery in water resistant case and a battery charger are included.
- PROFESSIONAL WATERPROOF BATTERY Water resistant ( IP67), Features anon -off switch, 1 charge port, and 1 power cable port. The battery should be lashed securely to the board deck via, bungee cords on 2 TO 4 tie down plugs , or with a 1” rack tie down strap, around the entire board if your board does not have rear tie down plugs.The Electric Fin battery should be charged for 6 hours before use.
To use with an inflatable kayak you need to add a fin box. Below is an adhesive US Fin box that can be glued onto the bottom of any inflatable kayak.
- GENUINE AIR7 FIN BOX (V2) : the industry standard since we introduced it in 2010, we are the manufacturer and trademark owner of AIR7 products! US box is used on most leading brand inflatable SUP and surfboards, go with the industry leader : Genuine AIR7 !
- TOUGH POLYCARBONATE PLASTIC fin box, to see how we test, search YouTube for “air7 fin box testing”, we also have instructional videos showing how to install , repair , replace or upgrade your SUP.
- PVC FABRIC ATTACHED, the fin box is ready to install on your inflatable SUP as a replacement or upgrade part, you only need to supply the PVC glue: apply glue to both SUP and the PVC attached to the box, wait a few minutes and press together, smooth out bubbles with a mallet or handle of a screw driver.
Small gas outboards
For those who don’t want to use an electric motor and battery, you can use a small gas outboard too. A less than 2 hp motor is preferred. They mount the same way as a trolling motor on the same type of mounts. Most have self contained fuel tansk so you don’t need to figure out where to put a gas tank in your kayak.
- Lightweight (37.5lb), quiet, 4-stroke motor, 31 gallon internal gas Tank
- Easy start tci ignition
- F-n/360 degree steering
- 1 cylinder OHV engine
- CE & epa Approval
- Quiet efficient 4 stroke motor
- Engineered for lightweight, quiet, reliable operation, the Coleman Four Stroke Outboard Motor is great for small boats, inflatable boats or used as an auxiliary trolling motor.
For fun, below is a video of someone who put a 5hp engine on their kayak. It looks like a lot of fun. Do so at your own risk. Gear Craver is not responsible for anyone trying to do something like this.
How fast can a trolling motor push a kayak
You will probably not be rocketing along up on plane on your motorized kayak. Your kayak will go as fast as you could paddle it. Somewhere in the neighborhood 5 miles per hour. A longer kayak that could paddle faster is going to be faster with a motor on it than a short slow kayak.
Kayak hulls aren’t shaped to plane out. They won’t plane easily and won’t handle well if they do. Unless you really overpower it with a 5hp or more outboard you won’t get it to plane and go above hull speed. Look here to learn more about hull speed.
I hope this answered the question of can you put a motor on a kayak for you. Yes you can. You can have a lot of fun doing it. It is an inexpensive way to have a different kind of fun with your kayak. Why not give it a try with your kayak.
You might also like:
- The Best Inflatable Fishing Kayaks Helpful Guide
- The Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks Helpful Guide
- Inflatable Kayak Vs Hardshell Kayak. What Is Best? 7 Considerations
- The Best Kayak Anchors And Helpful Anchoring Tips
About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Gear Craver as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.