Kayaking is a brilliant watersport. It allows you to get out and enjoy being on the water without having to fork out a massive amount of money on a sailing boat or motorboat. Most kayaks are also easy to transport, too; just pop it on your car or truck roof rack or tie it to a lightweight trailer. Simple! Some are even inflatable or foldable for the ultimate in convenience.
Kayaks are more than just simple pleasure craft suitable for short trips; a nice touring kayak can carry you and your gear for miles, making them ideal for camping expeditions. Fishing from a kayak is also very popular. Fishing kayaks allow you to get far from the crowds and find untapped fishing areas. All you’ve got to do is paddle!
And there’s the rub; kayaks are usually propelled with paddles. Kayakers tend to favor twin-bladed paddles, which, while efficient and relatively easy to use, still involve muscle power, and also mean your hands are occupied.
Trolling Motors: Making Paddling Easier
Some kayaks have pedal propulsion. Pedal propulsion is just what it sounds like – you propel your kayak by pushing down on pedals, which drive the paddles located under your kayak. While pedal kayaks do mean you can keep your hands free, they still involve muscle power to push you through the water. Peddling while trying to tie a hook to your fishing line is the angling equivalent of rubbing your stomach with one hand and patting your head with the other. It’s a real test of coordination!
Another disadvantage with pedal kayaks is that they are usually much heavier than regular kayaks. They also don’t cope well with shallow water as the paddles extend quite a long way under your boat.
There is another alternative that will make your kayaking trips easier; a trolling motor. A trolling motor is a self-contained unit that includes a propeller, motor, and controls that can be attached to any suitable kayak. They can be removed for easy transport and storage, and also flipped up and out the way when not needed, such as in very shallow or rocky water. While there are gasoline-powered trolling motors around, the quietest and easiest to maintain trolling motors are battery-powered.
Arguably the most important thing to consider with using a trolling motor is the battery. Some motors come with batteries, but most require you to buy the battery separately. The battery will have a significant impact on the performance of your motor and, by default, your kayaking experience.
So, how do you choose the best trolling motor for your kayak? In this article, we will reveal all the different things you need to consider before buying a trolling motor battery. We’ll also provide you with our top five recommendations.
The 3 Things To Look For in a Kayak Trolling Motor Battery
There are three main things you need to think about before buying a kayak trolling motor battery. Those things are:
- Battery type
- Amperage hour rating
While you could just focus on one of these elements, doing so could mean you end up with a battery that isn’t fit for your purposes. For example, cheaper is not always better – even if you are on a tight budget.
Let’s take a quick look at all of these elements, so you are better equipped to choose the best battery for your kayak.
1. Battery type – FLA vs AGM vs Lithium-ion
FLA batteries: FLA is short for flooded lead-acid. This type of battery uses older technology, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still an option worth considering. That said, they aren’t that common anymore, and very few kayak trolling motors use this type of battery. They are also arguably the least environmentally friendly choice of marine battery.
FLA trolling batteries can stand up to a lot of use, and their performance won’t deteriorate much even if you discharge and recharge them often. This means that an FLA battery should last a long time.
On the downside, FLA batteries can leak. They also need regular maintenance and need to be topped up with distilled water. To work well, they need to be kept upright and level, which means they aren’t really suitable for rougher waters. This is another reason they are not very popular amongst kayakers. FLA batteries can also be a bit on the big and bulky side.
AGM batteries: Also known as valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA) or sealed lead-acid batteries (SLA), absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are made from fiberglass matting. They are sealed, which means they are leak-proof, maintenance-free, and will perform well even on rougher water.
AGM batteries are usually compact but powerful. They do well in the cold when other types of batteries tend to lose their charge more quickly. AGM batteries tend to charge quite rapidly and discharge slowly, so they give you a greater range. As a rule, these batteries are both durable and efficient, if a little more expensive than FLA batteries. On the downside, this kayak trolling motor battery isn’t the best performer in hot weather.
Lithium-ion batteries: If they are within your budget, lithium-ion budgets are an excellent option. They are very compact and light, and they charge quickly while discharging slowly. This is the same type of battery in your cellphone or laptop.
If lithium-ion batteries have a disadvantage, it is their tendency to overheat. Feel the back of your laptop after a few hours’ use, and you’ll see what we mean. But, if compact power is what you need, and you don’t mind paying a premium price, lithium-ion batteries are worth considering.
2. Amperage hour rating – how long your battery will last
Amperage hour rating, or amp-hours for short, is how long your battery will last on a single charge. Things that affect amp-hours include the type of battery, speed of travel, the weight being carried, the water conditions, temperature, and style of trolling motor being powered.
When it comes to amp-hour rating, higher is better. You want a battery that won’t run out of juice partway through your kayaking trip.
You can buy a battery with a lower amp-hour rating, and it’ll probably be cheaper, but it won’t hold as much power and could die out on the water. If you do buy a lower amp-hour battery, don’t forget your paddle, or you may find yourself stranded!
While higher amp-hour ratings are mostly advantageous, it’s important to mention they also take longer to charge.
3. Budget – bigger is not always better
Trolling motor batteries can vary enormously in price. A top-of-the-range lithium-ion battery could put you back over $1000, which is probably more than you paid for your kayak! While more expensive batteries usually offer better performance stats, that doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive battery.
For example, if you never intend to stray far from dry land, you don’t need an ultra-high-performance battery with a huge amp-hour rating. Similarly, if you are happy to charge your battery overnight, you don’t need to spend extra money on something with a fast-charge feature.
Ultimately, your battery should be something you feel comfortable buying. If the price tag makes you wince, you should probably consider a cheaper model.
The Best Kayak Trolling Motor Batteries Reviewed
Now you know all the ins, outs, and what to look for in a good kayak marine battery, you should have no problem choosing the right model for your needs.
Still not sure where to start? No worries! Here are our top five tested and reviewed trolling motor batteries for your kayak.
1. Mighty Max Battery 12V Trolling Motor Battery
You can pay a lot of money for a trolling battery for your kayak, but that doesn’t mean you have to. The Mighty Max Battery 12V 35AH Wilderness Tarpon 100 Kayak Trolling Motor Battery is very budget-friendly but is still a very good product that should keep you powering through the water for years to come.
- Dimensions: 7.68 inches x 5.16 inches x 7.13 inches
- SLA/AGM-type battery
- Leak-proof, spill-proof design
- 35 amp-hour rating
- 12-month warranty
While the 35 amp-hour rating is too low for long-haul kayaking trips, if you intend to stay close to the shore or only use your trolling motor to give your arms a break from paddling, this battery is more than adequate.
- Shock and vibration resistant
- Performs well in all temperatures
- Charges quickly
- Large size
- Low amp-hour rating
If you want a battery that will keep you moving for many hours at a time, Mighty Max Battery 12V 35AH Wilderness Tarpon 100 Kayak Trolling Motor Battery is not your best choice. It’ll soon run out of juice on a long trip. But, for short trips and occasional use, this budget-friendly battery is highly recommended and represents excellent value for money.
2. VMAXTANKS VMAX V35-857 12 Volt Battery
The VMAXTANKS VMAX V35-857 12 Volt 35AH AGM Battery Marine Deep Cycle HI Performance Battery is a well-respected battery with a very long expected lifespan. It’s not the cheapest AGM battery around, but it could be one of the most durable.
- Dimensions: 7.7 inches long x 5.0 inches wide x 6.1 inches high
- Sealed for maintenance-free operation
- 35 amp-hour rating
- Heavy-duty construction
The VMAXTANKS VMAX V35-857 12 Volt 35AH AGM Battery Marine Deep Cycle HI Performance Battery is built to last. It’s tough enough for the worst conditions you’ll face on the water. It’s 35 amp-hour capacity means it’s not ideal for long trips, but it’s perfect for short-haul fishing trips at low to moderate speeds.
- Fast recharge rate
- Long service life
- Built to last
- Relatively low capacity
If you want a really hardwearing, long-lasting battery for your kayak trolling motor, the VMAXTANKS VMAX V35-857 12 Volt 35AH AGM Battery Marine Deep Cycle HI Performance Battery is a very good choice. It’s not especially small or light, but it should provide many years of faithful, trouble-free service.
3. Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind Battery
Despite the misleading name, the Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind AGM SLA DEEP Cycle VRLA Battery 12V 24V 48V is not a solar or wind battery. Instead, it’s an SLA/AGM battery with a large charge capacity that makes it ideal for longer kayaking trolling motor trips. At 60 lbs. this is not a lightweight battery, but, for the price, it packs a big punch.
- Dimensions 12.17 inches length x 6.61 inches width x 9.16 inches height
- Very tough construction
- Built-in carrying handle
- Shock and vibration-resistant design
- Large working temperature range
This large capacity battery should provide many years of faithful use. It’s robust, can be mounted in any position, and is entirely maintenance-free. If you like to venture far from shore, the Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind AGM SLA DEEP Cycle VRLA Battery 12V 24V 48V 100 amp-hour battery is an excellent option that will not break the bank, despite its superior performance.
- Expected 3 to 5-year lifespan
- Very large capacity
- A lot of battery for a reasonable price
- Quite big and heavy
- Does not charge quickly
The Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind AGM SLA DEEP Cycle VRLA Battery 12V 24V 48V is a real workhorse, and that means it’s ideal for kayakers who want to travel far or stay out on the water for longer. This large capacity battery won’t let you down, although it is a big, heavy brute!
4. Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Marine Battery
It goes without saying that, to recharge a kayak marine battery, you need a charging unit. These are usually sold separately. And while you can buy this battery on its own, this package contains a charger and cables too. This means the Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Marine Battery + Digital 400 12V Performance Maintainer and Battery Charger has everything you need to get the most out of this excellent trolling motor battery.
- Dimensions: 10 inches long x 6 7/8 inches wide x 7 13/16 inches high
- 55 amp-hour capacity
- Highly shock and vibration resistant
- LCD/LED charging gauge
- Spark-free connectors
- Reserve charge of 120 minutes for emergencies
This light, compact battery will keep you powering through the water for many hours at a time. The supplied charger means keeping the Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Marine Battery is easy, and the display also reveals the health of the power cell, so you know it won’t let you down when you are out on the water.
- Fast charging
- High capacity
- Light and compact design
- Fully sealed and maintenance-free
- Can be mounted in any position
- Quite expensive
With its charger, the Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Marine Battery is ideal for kayakers who don’t already have the means to charge their new battery. It’s a solid performer, and its small size and weight mean that it won’t slow you down. The 55 amp-hour capacity makes this an excellent choice for all but the longest-ranging kayaking trips.
5. Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100Ah
Let’s get one thing straight, the Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100Ah is not cheap, but that’s because it uses state of the art technology and should last many, MANY years. It has a built-in management system that is designed to optimize performance and ensure that your kayak trolling motor never lets you down. Think of this battery as an investment.
- Dimensions: 10.24 inches long X 6.22 inches wide X 9.68 inches high
- Fully sealed and maintenance-free design
- 2,000+ discharge/charge cycle lifespan
- Impossible to over-charge
- Very low self-discharge – less than 3% per month
- 100 amp-hour capacity
- Very light
At only 28 lbs., the Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100Ah is less than half the weight of most standard marine batteries. Yet, it has a larger capacity and is packed with technology that helps ensure this power pack always performs at its best. So long as you don’t mind the hefty price tag, if you are looking for the ultimate in kayak trolling motor performance, this technological marvel is very hard to beat.
- Light, compact design
- Very large capacity
- Fast charging
- Minimal power loss if left unattended for long periods
- Very expensive
One day all batteries will be made this way. The Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100Ah is a top performer and is also safer and easier to use than other types of marine battery. Yes, it IS expensive, but it could be the last kayak trolling motor battery you ever need to buy.
The wrap-up: Picking A Trolling Motor Battery
Choosing the best trolling motor battery for your kayak is no easy job, but we hope we’ve made the process a little easier. Always start out with what you want to use your battery for, and then work back from there to determine the right one for your needs. After all, you don’t need a 150 amp-hour battery for just a couple of leisurely hours of slow river fishing.
Paired with your trolling motor and a suitable kayak, your battery should provide you with hours (and years!) of enjoyment on the water. Buy the right one for your needs, at the right budget, and you’ll enjoy your kayaking trips even more.