An excellent trolling motor needs a battery that’s just as capable as it is durable so you can make the most of it, and there’s no sense buying a top-of-the-line motor and then delivering power via a third-rate source.
Instead, kayak anglers need small, light, long-lasting batteries that won’t break the bank.
But that’s a tall order!
If you’re not sure where to start, we’d love to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of the best kayak trolling batteries, as well as a complete buying guide to get you started:
- Lithium Pros TM133 12.8V 33Ah- Smallest and Lightest Trolling Motor Battery for Kayaks
- Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah
- VMAX MR96-60 AGM Deep Cycle
- VMAX MR127 AGM Deep Cycle - Most Powerful Trolling Motor Battery for Kayaks
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 Best Kayak Trolling Motor Batteries Reviewed
- 2 How To Pick the Right Trolling Motor Battery for Your Needs
- 3 What We Consider When Selecting a Trolling Motor Battery
- 4 Final Thoughts
Best Kayak Trolling Motor Batteries Reviewed
Lithium Pros TM133 12.8V 33Ah - Smallest and Lightest Trolling Motor Battery for Kayaks
Type: Lithium Ion
RC: 65 minutes
Weight: 10 lbs.
Size: 5.12” x 7.75 x 6.37”
Lithium Pros are exactly what their name suggests: expert lithium battery makers. And for kayakers who need the smallest, lightest battery they can find, the TM133 is ideal.
Much smaller than the competition, this battery can fit into tighter spaces than a comparably powerful AGM model while still delivering plenty of power. But the real magic is the weight--just 10 pounds!
That’s game-changing on a kayak!
Those magical dimensions and that featherweight come at a performance cost, as you’d expect. The TM133 is rated to just 65 minutes of reserve capacity, meaning that it will discharge more quickly than heavier, larger power sources.
There’s no real surprise there--you can’t cheat physics.
But in the real world, an RC of 65 isn’t anything to sneeze at, and for most kayak anglers, this battery will provide more than enough juice for a day’s fishing. And the good news is that lithium batteries typically provide a longer service life than AGM technologies.
Powered by lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), this battery is compatible with trolling motors, according to the experts at Minn Kota, so no worries about lithium over-voltage issues.
- Crazy light!
- Very small!
- Competitively priced!
- Long service life
- The lowest RC on our list
RC: 165-170 minutes?
Weight: 63.93 lbs
Size: Group 27; 6.61” x 12.17” x 9.16” (with terminals)
UPG is a well-respected battery manufacturer, and their no-nonsense designs and performance have earned them a tremendous following on the water.
Their 12v trolling motor battery doesn’t feature flashy tech, but it does provide plenty of power. UPG won’t report the exact numbers for its reserve capacity, but independent testing reveals a number somewhere in the vicinity of 165 to 170, a very respectable number given the size and weight of this battery.
Definitely not lightweight at 64 pounds, you’ll need to check the capacity of your ‘yak and evaluate its trim with this big guy in place. And this Group 27 battery may not fit easily into the space you have planned, so measure carefully.
But if you can take the weight and size, this reasonably priced trolling motor battery recharges well and works flawlessly, as legions of anglers can attest.
- Good RC
- Durable and dependable in the real world
RC: 120 minutes
Weight: 43 lbs.
Size: 5.5” x 9.2" x 8.38” (with terminals)
VMAX makes some of the best dedicated trolling motor batteries you’ll find, and the MR96-60 is perhaps the best of the bunch. Lighter and smaller than most, it nevertheless delivers power to spare.
This AGM battery weighs in at just 43 pounds, making it svelte by battery standards. It’s also a lot easier to find a spot for than its competitors, given pretty slender dimensions. That said, it’s still in a different world than the Lithium Pros TM133, and if weight and size are critical, it’s hard to recommend anything else.
But the MR96-60 has almost twice the RC of its lithium competitor, providing more power over time. If you really push your battery, this might be the better option.
And if lithium battery compatibility with trolling motors worries you, this is clearly the lightest and most powerful AGM option you’ll find.
An excellent battery all around, you won’t be disappointed with the MR96-60 if you run a powerful trolling motor at maximum thrust for hours.
- Excellent RC
- Durable and dependable in the real world
- Ideal for high thrust motors and high throttle settings
- Much heavier than the TM133
- Bigger than the TM133
VMAX MR127 AGM Deep Cycle - Most Powerful Trolling Motor Battery for Kayaks
RC: 200 minutes
Weight: 68 lbs.
Size: Group 27; 6.75” x 12.1” x 8.2” (8.46” with terminals)
The VMAX MR 127 is a hard battery to beat if you can take the space and weight. Ideal as a dedicated trolling motor power source, with anything like reasonable throttle settings, many anglers find that they barely make a dent in this battery’s power reserves no matter what they do all day.
Chalk that up to 200 minutes of reserve capacity, a number that’s definitely at the high end of battery performance. Rest assured, no matter how powerful your trolling motor and high your throttle settings, the VMAX MR127 will provide a full fishing day’s juice.
This Group 27 battery isn’t a lightweight--a testament to its thick plates--but that’s the trade-off for this level of RC. At 68 pounds, many kayaks are going to find this at the top-end of acceptable weight, and if that worries you, there are better--but less powerful--options on our list.
But for kayak anglers who need to run hard all day, the MR127 is the battery to beat.
- Awesome RC
- Durable and reliable in the real world
- Ideal for powerful trolling motors run at high throttle settings all day
- Very heavy
How To Pick the Right Trolling Motor Battery for Your Needs
You’d think that one battery is pretty much like any other, but you’d be dead wrong!
Even among battery types, specific applications determine the way in which they’re made as well as the conditions in which they’ll operate well. For instance, the deep cycle batteries designed to power an RV can’t take the constant pounding of waves or the high heat that the summer sun can create.
And that’s just the beginning of the confusion.
The three most common battery types--dual-use, starting, and deep cycle--offer very different power outputs over time. For instance, an excellent starting battery will simply fail when connected to a trolling motor, and you’re pretty much wasting your money by purchasing a dual-use battery when you don’t need to start an outboard.
It’s absolutely essential that you understand which battery you need!
Battery Types: Know the Difference!
- Deep cycle batteries - Designed with thick, solid plates bathed in a catalyst medium, they’re not intended to generate the instantaneous power needed to turn over an outboard motor. Instead, they’re very good at delivering constant, low-level power over a long time, and they tolerate deep discharge and recharging cycles really well.
That’s why they’re called “deep cycle;” they can take repeated deep discharges (20 percent of maximum) without damage or reduction in efficiency.
These are dedicated trolling motor batteries, and they’re what you’re looking for.
- Starting batteries - are equipped with sponge-like plates that offer maximum surface area to the catalyst bath. This enables them to produce plenty of immediate power to crank an engine, but without massive plates, they can’t produce that output for very long.
Instead, they’re only useful for starting a gasoline-powered motor.
Starting batteries demand constant recharging through an alternator, as you probably know if you’ve ever had yours fail. Without that constant tickle, they quickly discharge and won’t run the electrical system of a car--or a trolling motor.
- Dual-use batteries - are a compromise between a starting and a deep cycle battery. Their plates offer enough surface area exposed to the catalyst to deliver an engine-starting burst of power, but they’re also thick enough to deliver reliable electricity to your trolling motor.
They’re not ideal for running trolling motors because they lack the long RCs of a true deep cycle battery, and taking them below about 50 percent of their maximum charge will affect battery life.
Intended for anglers who need one battery to do it all, these are not the best choice for a dedicated trolling motor battery.
- “Marine” batteries - sometimes used as a synonym for “deep cycle,” marine batteries can consist of any of the other types, depending on their purpose.
Battery Tech: Wet-Cell vs. SLA/VRLA/AGM vs. Lithium-Ion
The wet-cell batteries of yesteryear are falling by the wayside. In their place, you’ll find a new generation of lead-acid batteries and revolutionary tech like lithium-ion.
Knowing the basics about these technology options can help you make the best choice for your needs.
- Sealed Lead-Acid (SLA), Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA), and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) - Essentially three terms for the same chemical system, SLA/VRLA batteries use lead plates and acid as their basic components. AGM batteries add one additional chemical trick. The result of this tech is that they’re all heavy and safe--and that they don’t require the maintenance of traditional wet cell batteries.
These batteries hold a charge well, but they are quite a bit more expensive than typical wet-cell alternatives, and they can be damaged by overcharging.
- Gel batteries - Gel batteries also use lead plates and acid, but the addition of silica to the electrolyte turns it into a thick gel. This provides them with superior long-term storage capacity, and like standard AGM batteries, they’re very safe and maintenance-free.
But they don’t like sudden, powerful discharges, which can lead to damage to the plates. And they must be recharged carefully, never exceeding a maximum charge.
- Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) -These batteries switch the lead and acid of traditional tech for carbon and lithium salts, making them smaller and lighter than equally powerful SLA or AGM batteries.
That said, most trolling motor manufacturers insist that they deliver a higher voltage than they’re stated rating, meaning that a lithium 12v may deliver 14 to 16 volts of power.
Minn Kota has this to say. “Minn Kota trolling motors can run on Lithium Ion batteries. However, they are specifically designed to run on traditional lead acid batteries (flooded, AGM or GEL). Lithium Ion batteries maintain higher voltages for longer periods of time than lead acid. Therefore, running a Minn Kota trolling motor at speeds higher than 85% for a prolonged period could cause permanent damage to the motor.”
And Newport Vessels shares this concern. “Similar to all other trolling motor brands, we also advise against using lithium batteries with our products. Lithium batteries tend to run at a higher voltage for longer durations (14-16V) than Lead-Acid batteries (13V). Trolling motors are designed to be used with batteries that output around 13V at most and then primarily 12V. Using a higher voltage can put wear and tear on the motor and potentially damage some of the internal components and ruin your motor.”
The lithium battery on our list uses lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), which Minn Kota accepts as a viable power source. “The LiFePO4 Lithium batteries can be used with our motor. LiFePO4 batteries that have a maximum continuous output current ratings need to be higher than the maximum current ratings of the trolling motor or the battery will turn off.”
- Wet-Cell Batteries - Wet-cell batteries have remained pretty much unchanged since their introduction in the late 19th century. Their low initial price point has kept them popular, and if cared for, they can survive quite a few charging cycles. They’re also resistant to damage from overcharging and weigh in a bit under typical SLA or AGM alternatives.
But they require proper ventilation, can leak and spill acid, don’t hold a charge as well in storage, and can be damaged by the vibrations typical in marine use.
We don’t recommend that you choose a wet-cell battery for your trolling motor.
What We Consider When Selecting a Trolling Motor Battery
As Simon Slayford of Hunkerexplains, “Reserve capacity is defined as the number of minutes a fully charged 12-volt battery at 80 degrees Fahrenheit can provide 25 amperes at 10.5 volts until the voltage decreases.” That definition can be hard to wrap your head around, so let’s keep it simple: reserve capacity is just a measure of how long a battery can supply constant, continuous power at 80F.
Lots of people say that RC is “just a number.” There’s some truth to that. A battery’s RC rating can’t tell you how long it will run your trolling motor as there are too many variables beyond that number: temperature, draw, how well you’ve performed basic battery maintenance, etc.
But all other things being equal, higher RC numbers mean longer run times for your trolling motor.
Look for batteries with the highest RCs you can afford, but recognize the trade-off of weight and size as you step up in RC. Larger, heavier batteries will typically provide more power over time, but their size and weight can quickly become an issue on a ‘yak.
Heat and vibration are the enemies of battery performance, and a good trolling motor battery is going to be built tough as nails to resist both.
The batteries on our list are proven performers that can take the summer sun and the jostling of waves on your kayak. And in my experience, kayaks just don’t put batteries through the pounding that a bass boat does, so there’s less to worry about there.
Price to Performance Ratio
You typically get the performance you pay for, and that’s as true for batteries as it is for anything else.
Higher prices buy you longer RC times, as well as smaller, lighter batteries.
For a kayak trolling motor, maximum RC may not be critical, but size and weight are real worries.
I recommend that you buy the smallest, lightest battery you can afford that provides enough power for you to run your trolling motor at the throttle settings and for the durations that you commonly demand.
All batteries demand reasonable maintenance:
- Charge your battery after each use
- Never discharge your battery fully
- Use a multi-stage charger to provide the right voltage at the right time
- Store your batteries in cool, but not ice-cold temperatures
- Never store an uncharged battery
- Keep the terminals clean
Weight vs. Performance
Bass boats don’t need to worry too much about battery weight, but even there, a big bank of heavy batteries can become a problem.
On a kayak, where both capacity and space are at a premium, a big, heavy battery just might not be an option.
Typically, a larger, heavier battery can generate more power over time as more massive plates simply provide more capacity to generate electricity. But on a kayak, loading 60 pounds into the bow or stern can have tremendous effects on trim and handling, and you may find that the most powerful battery you can afford just won’t work well with your ‘yak.
Instead, pay close attention to weight and size when comparing performance. A smaller, lighter battery may not hold as much juice, but it might just be the best option for you.
Size and Placement
Before you pull the trigger on a trolling motor battery for your kayak, give some careful thought to where you plan to place it.
You'll need enough space for the battery and cables long enough to reach the motor.
And measure carefully--a battery that doesn’t fit won’t do you any good. But don’t just measure the space for the body of the battery: take the terminals into account, too!
Batteries come in multiple sizes called “groups,” though dimensions can vary.
In practice, batteries within a given group will have slightly different dimensions, so never assume.
We can’t tell you which battery is the best fit for your ‘yak and your needs, but we can assure that every product we reviewed will offer impressive performance.
That said, most kayakers will be well-served by the Lithium Pros TM133, unless their trolling motor isn’t compatible with any type of lithium battery. Smaller than the competition and much, much lighter than you’d imagine, it’s easy to find a place for this power source and just as easy to keep it charged and running well.
Whatever your pick, we hope you found this article useful, but if you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.
Please leave a comment below!