If you already have an Intex inflatable boat or are looking to get one soon, getting an electric trolling motor is a great upgrade.
An Intex raft paired with a motor opens up a lot of possibilities out on the water and is a lot of fun for kids and adults alike:
- fishing is made so much easier without the need for handling the oars,
- kids love cruising with a motorized boat,
- paddling is hard with many people in the boat.
This article will list the best electric trolling motors for Intex inflatable boats (Mariner, Excursion, Seahawk, Challenger), and answer a few questions you may have before committing to a motor.
Which Intex rafts can be motorized?
There are 4 classes of Intex inflatable boats that are suitable for equipping a motor:
- Intex Excursion 3, 4, 5
- Intex Challenger 3
- Intex Seahawk 2, 3, 4 and Seahawk II
- Intex Mariner 3, 4
All of the above boats are strong enough to support a motor mount and the motor itself.
The Mariner 3 and 4 are meant specifically for motorized boating, since they have an inflatable keel, which makes them easier to control the boat.
Best electric trolling motors for Intex boats
Here are the best electric trolling motors you can get for Intex Excursion, Challenger, Mariner, and Seahawk SIBs.
I chose these motors specifically for Intex boats keeping the following in mind:
- 36-inch shaft length (as recommended by Intex)
- Transom mountable
- Thrust between 40-80 lbs. Anything less is not enough, but more than 80 is not rational for Intex rafts as the marginal performance gains do not offset the added expenses.
- The motor requires a single 12V deep cycle battery.
You basically have 2 brands that manufacture suitable motors at affordable prices: Newport Vessels’ NV and X series, and Minn Kota’s Endura line of motors.
In this category, I prefer Newport Vessels, because they offer more features.
|Newport Vessels||Minn Kota|
|Warranty||2 years||2 years|
Minn Kota makes good motors in the high-end range, but in this category, your best bet is Newport Vessels.
Newport Vessels trolling motors
Newport Vessels manufactures high quality trolling motors that are suitable for both freshwater and saltwater use. These motors come with a 2-year warranty, and replacement parts are readily available. They come with a circuit breaker, so you can’t overload the motor. Each motor also has an LED battery meter, so you can see your battery’s charge level.
This is my #1 choice, it has great features and ample power. Extendable handle, 30° adjustable tiller, 10 point battery meter, 3 blade prop.
|Max 4 MPH|
Extendable handle, 30° adjustable tiller, 10 pint battery meter.
|Max 3.5 MPH|
Extendable handle, 5 point battery meter.
|Max 4.5 MPH|
These motors cost between $140 to $270. As prices change over time, please use the price check button to see their current price.
Minn Kota Endura trolling motors
Even though I recommend Newport Vessels in this category, Minn Kota deserves a mention as well.
Minn Kota is a USA based company. Their Endura series trolling motors are similar to that of Newport Vessels’ X and NV series, but with fewer features. Most importantly, their motors in this price class are for freshwater use only. They do have saltwater ready motors, but those are way more expensive.
Also, their motors do not come with a circuit breaker, nor a battery meter. However, they do offer a 2-year warranty, and you can easily order replacement parts.
|40lb Endura C2||45lb Endura C2||55lb Endura C2|
|Max speed||3.5 MPH||4 MPH||4.5 MPH|
|Speeds||5 Fwd/3 Rev||5 Fwd/3 Rev||5 Fwd/3 Rev|
The pricing of Minn Kota trolling motors is between $160 to $240. Their price tends to vary by season, so please use the price check button to see their current price.
Minn Kota also has a Max version of the Endura motor. These are called Endura Max. These provide better power usage for longer battery life at slower speeds (great for fishing), and also offer a battery meter. Here is how they work.
The Endura Max motors are a bit more expensive though and are not saltwater friendly, check out their prices on Amazon.
Intex 40 lb trolling motor
Intex actually has a trolling motor under their brand.
It provides 40 lb of thrust, which is not much. But it does come with impressive features though:
- extending + tilting handle
- suitable for saltwater and freshwater
- built-in battery power meter
- has an auto-prop oscillation mode, which turns the prop left-right to shake off weeds caught on the propeller
I like the features, but would prefer more than 40 lb of thrust.
The truth is that I don’t have any experience with this motor though, you can read what customers think about it here on Amazon.
How strong should the trolling motor be?
The thrust of electric trolling motors is measured in pounds (lbs).
If you can budget it, I would recommend at least a 50lb thrust motor.
Stronger motors will drive your boat a bit faster, but more importantly, can handle larger payloads.
If you know you will be taking many adults at a time, or you’ll be fishing with a lot of heavy gear, you should definitely get a stronger motor.
There is also a safety advantage of stronger motors. If the weather turns bad, a weak motor may not be able to push your boat against the wind/waves. This can become a serious problem out on the water, especially if you go further from shore.
How do you put a motor on an Intex boat?
Intex sells a dedicated motor mount, which fits all of its boats from above. Here it is on Amazon.
The mount attaches and detaches to Intex boats very quickly. There are 4 connection points welded onto each Intex boat. The motor mount attaches to these points.
The motor mount can support any trolling motor, and even gasoline powered motors up to 3.5 HP.
What kind of battery do I need?
The motors listed above require a single 12V deep cycle marine battery.
I like using batteries that provide at least 50 AH, as lower AH batteries drain too quickly.
Here are 2 great choices. Choose the bigger one if you know you need extended time out on the water, for example, if you go fishing for many hours at a time.
55 AH battery
This is the Mighty Max 12V 55Ah battery.
It is a deep cycle, AGM marine battery, so it is suitable for use on the water to power inflatable boat electric motors.
It has a 1-year warranty and has a 4.4 rating on Amazon.
100 Ah battery
This is the VMAX 12V 100Ah battery.
It is also a deep cycle, AGM marine battery, so it will perform wonderfully powering the motor on your Intex raft. This is a very popular battery as well, it has a 4.5 customer rating on Amazon.
This battery will power your motor all day long if you keep the speed at the 2-3 setting. I know, I have this battery.
The only problem with this battery is its heavy weight. I would recommend it only if you have (or are building) a hard floor in your boat.
If the weight of the battery is a concern, you might consider a more expensive Lithium battery instead of these AGM ones. Check out this post on lightweight marine batteries if you like.
You will also need a battery charger to charge your battery.
Getting a good charger is important, as you can easily kill your battery if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The mostly flat bottom of Intex inflatable boats means that they are hard to steer straight, and are highly affected by wind and currents.
The solution to this problem is getting a clamp-on rudder, like this one.
It is affordable, and really helps gain control of motorized flat-bottom inflatable boats. You simply clamp it onto the shaft (it fits 1 1/8″ shaft diameter), and you’re ready to go.
It effectively creates a rudder to help steer your boat.
How fast can an Intex inflatable boat go with a trolling motor?
Regardless of the thrust of your electric trolling motor, you can reach a maximum speed of 4-5 MPH.
Reaching this speed depends on several factors though:
- the power of your motor
- the charge of your battery
- wind & currents
Registering your motorized boat
If you equip your Intex inflatable boat with a motor, you will need to register it with your state authorities.
Here is a guide on how to do this in each state.
Before registering your boat, you will need to get a Certificate of Origin from Intex directly. This can be done online automatically as follows:
- Find your boat’s Hull Identification Number (you may find it at the bottom of the capacity label on the stern of the boat)
- Know your boat’s model name
- Click this link to be taken to Intex’s boat registration page: https://www.intexcorp.com/boat-certificates
- Select your boat
- Enter your Hill ID Number
- Print the automatically generated Certificate of Origin
After you print the certificate, you will have to fill out a few blanks sections with a pen.
Would a gasoline outboard motor be better?
You can mount gasoline-powered outboard motors on Intex inflatable boats the same way you can mount an electric trolling motor. The Intex motor mount can handle a motor of max 3 HP on the Mariner.
Owning one and the experience of using one is very different for the 2 types of motors.
The advantage gasoline powered motors have over trolling motors is that they can go much faster, and that you don’t need to haul and charge a battery.
However, there are many disadvantages:
- gasoline motors are very loud, while electric trolling motors basically don’t make any noise
- some lakes do not allow the use of gasoline motors
- Intex rafts are light, so a gasoline motor can flip the raft over on a wave or against wind, if there is no weight in the front
- gasoline motors require a lot of maintenance and cleaning, while electric motors do not
I prefer using an electric trolling motors on my Intex raft, but if you don’t mind the above, the Hangkai 3.5 HP motor is a good value.
It can go about 6 MPH, and is suitable for saltwater as well as fresh water.