What is a Portable Outboard Motor? [Explained]

As the name suggests, portable outboards are small lightweight boat motors designed for easy transport. They feature 2.5-25 HP engines, weigh only 29-150 pounds, and cost from $900-$6,000.

If you want to find out more about portable outboard motors, you’ve come to the right place.

We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know under one roof!

What is a Portable Outboard Motor?

Purpose of Use

Portable outboard motors are typically used on jon boats, utility boats, aluminum fishing boats,and even pontoon boats.

What’s more, they often appear on the stern of sailboats to help sailors in windless weather.

The key advantage of portable outboards is their light weight and compact size. They are easy to move by hand and you can even transport them in a car.


The engines of portable outboard motors are typically single- or twin-cylinder, 50-432cc engines rated at 2.3-25 HP.

Single-cylinder models displace anywhere from 50-140cc, while their twin brothers displace from 210-432cc. These models are typically rated at 8-25 HP.

Certain manufacturers offer 25 HP outboards as portable units, but as you can imagine, handling these heavy motors is not at all easy.

Fuel System

As a rule of thumb, smaller (2-10 HP) portable outboards are designed with regular carburetors.

Outboards with 10 HP and above are more likely to have an electric fuel injection system.

This advanced fuel system ensures easier and quicker starts as well as a great throttle response, regardless of weather conditions.

What’s more, EFI portable outboards don’t require “carb work,” which translates to easier maintenance and fewer headaches.

In return, the fuel injection system adds more complexity to the engine and increases manufacturing costs as well.

Starting System

Smaller and cheaper portable outboards come with a simple recoil starter, commonly known as a “pull-start.”

Operating a pull-start can sometimes be tricky, especially on older outboards, as these systems underwent a significant evolution over time.

Today’s pull-start portable outboards are much easier to start than their outdated predecessors thanks to the innovative automatic decompression system, which is designed to reduce cylinder pressure and that translates to easier starts.

In contrast, with an electric starter, you can fire up the engine with a press of a button.


Certain portable outboards are paired with a remote mechanical steering system, while simpler models are only available with a tiller.

The mechanical steering option becomes more prevalent on larger (10-25 HP) portable outboards, while the smaller 2.3-8 HP models are usually designed with tiller steering.


As a rule of thumb, 2.3-25 HP portable outboard motors can weigh anywhere from 29 to 150 pounds.

As we discussed, some manufacturers offer outboards with 25 HP engine options, and the dry weight of these models varies between 130 and 170 pounds.

Although they can be mounted with clamps on the boat, these models are not easy to transport and handle, especially if you are by yourself.

Portable Outboard Specs Chart

For your convenience, we’ve listed the key features of portable outboards by categories in one chart:

HPHPPrices (USD)Dry Weight (lbs)CylindersDispl.
2.32.3 HP$900-$1,10029-31 lbs.150-55cc
2.52.5 HP$900-$1,20030-60 lbs.170-130cc
3.53.5 HP$1,100-$1,30040-45 lbs.185-90cc
44 HP$1,300-$1,70050-60 lbs.1120-140cc
55 HP$1,500-$2,10050-60 lbs.1120-140cc
66 HP$1,600-$2,20050-60 lbs.1140-210cc
88 HP$2,000-$3,40080-115 lbs.2210-225cc
1010 HP$2,500-$4,00080-130 lbs.2210-333cc
1515 HP$2,900-$4,50095-140 lbs.2320-360cc
2020 HP$3,200-$5,60095-150 lbs.2320-432cc
2525 HP$3,600-$6,000130-150 lbs.2432cc

Disclaimer: This chart is for informational purposes only! For more information, please check the factory manuals.


Portable outboards are small lightweight boat motors that are easy to transport and handle even by one person.

The key advantage of these models is that they can be removed from the boat when it’s out of use.

In terms of specifications, most portable outboards are powered by 50-432cc, single or twin engines and weigh about 29-150 pounds.

The prices of portable outboard motors start at $900 and go up to $6,000.

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