The Best Deep Cycle Battery for Your Boat

OUTDOORS

   05.07.21

We all use batteries for some part of our daily life, whether it’s your cell phone, car, computer or more. Batteries are everywhere, including your fishing boat. Deep Cycle  batteries are what you need to run your boat’s trolling motor and other accessories. There are several different types of deep cycle marine batteries available, and in a wide range of prices, depending on the technology you opt for. If you need a new battery this season, we found the best deep cycle battery options for your boat.

We picked the batteries from this list based upon hands-on experience and user reviews from people we know. A deep cycle marine battery is a decent investment in your boating fun, be that fishing or just cruising around the lake. The batteries on this list should do the trick to run your trolling motor, fish finder, GPS and/or stereo system. Get out on the water and have some fun.

Cover image by author

1. Optima Blue Top – Editor’s Pick

If you look in my boat, you’re going to find the Optima battery. In fact, I have two of them, run in series. The Optima is a sweet battery in that it is both a deep cycle battery and a starting battery in one. I like Optima batteries because they are sealed and durable. I run one in my truck, too and let’s just say that it spends a lot of time off roading.

These batteries hold up and can take serious abuse, so rough waters will not affect your Optima blue top. Mountable in virtually any position. The Optima pumps out 900 cold cranking amps and it has a reserve capacity of 155 minutes for constant performance. This battery is more resistant to vibration for durability, and it works well as a boat battery or as an RV battery, which puts similar strain on a battery with all of the internal accessories. You add all of this up and you can see why I feel the Optima is the best deep cycle battery for your boat or RV.

Pros/The most dependable battery I’ve ever used. Extreme power and durability

Cons/While not the most expensive, they are still pricey

Bottom Line/If you want long-lasting battery that will help you enjoy your time on the water more, Get an Optima

2. Interstate Marine Deep Cycle – Budget Pick

My first interstate battery was one I put in my car while in college. My battery died on a Sunday while I was visiting a buddy, and his dad happened to work in the county road commission garage. He went down and grabbed a new Interstate battery that they used for the plow trucks. I paid him back for the battery and never had to worry about starting that car, even when it was well below zero.

These are great deep cycle batteries and pretty hard to beat for the price. No, they’re not the absolute cheapest batteries out there, but they are less expensive than many other mid-level batteries and are still under $100. A nice feature are the insert terminals that give you more options in how you attach your wires, while reducing the extra terminal space you find on other batteries.

Pros/Insert terminals and really good reliability

Cons/Huge price bump when you go to a more powerful battery

Bottom Line/A proven, reliable battery at a good price

3. BPS AGM Deep Cycle Battery – Mid-Level Performer

Bass Pro’s line of AGM batteries gives you outstanding vibration resistance and impact protection, something you may come to need in your boat batteries. These deep cycle batteries are hybrids like the Optima in that they can work well to run your boat’s trolling motor and electronics, and it can work well as your starter battery for your boat motor, as well. These batteries retail for $179.99 to $249.99 depending on the size you need to fit your boat. They have excellent cold cranking amperage, and being from Bass Pro, you know it’s going to work. They have a great warranty that goes along with the battery, too, which is something you don’t hear much of when it comes to batteries.

Pros/Has a great warranty and price to performance ratio

Cons/Strictly a Bass Pro/Cabela’s product

Bottom Line/A great mid-level marine deep cycle battery

4. Banshee Deep Cycle Lithium Marine Trolling Battery – Lightweight Pick

Lithium-Ion batteries are making headway into most areas, and marine batteries are a great fit for the technology. The Banshee battery is extremely cool, but falls seriously into the not-cheap category. With a price tag pushing $800, this is a great pick for the serious angler looking to shave weight off the boat. At just 13.8 pounds, this battery produces 800 cold-cranking amps.

A traditional lead-core battery in that range would weigh in around 60 pounds. That’s a big deal for anglers trying to keep the overall weight on the boat below the maximum allowed by the manufacturer. It will let a tournament angler store more tackle and gear on the boat, which may make the difference between a win and not finishing anywhere near the leaderboard.

Pros/Extremely lightweight compared to lead-core batteries

Cons/Did we mention it costs almost $800?

Bottom Line/If weight on the boat is a concern, the price tag means less

5. VMAX AGM Deep Cycle Battery – Specific Application Pick

There is an older gentleman that lives nearby, who loves to fish from his small, 12-foot boat that he powers around with a smaller Minn Kota trolling motor. He and I have become pretty good friends over the years, and he often shares his leftover crappies and panfish with me. He’d power the trolling motor with the battery from his garden tractor, and I kept telling him that he ought to get the proper battery, or he was asking for trouble. All it took was the battery giving out on him, and he went in search of a better one.

The VMAX AGM Deep Cycle Trolling Motor battery is what he recently settled on, because of two reasons. One, it was relatively inexpensive at less than $90, and two – it is specifically designed for running a 36lb thrust trolling motor, which is what he runs. The VMax lineup is made of models specifically for different trolling motor options and brands. At low speed, the 36lb model will run for 3.7 hours continuously. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Pros/You get the perfect amount of AGM deep cycle battery performance for the trolling motor you’re using

Cons/If you switch trolling motors, you’ll likely need to switch batteries, too

Bottom Line/An inexpensive way to ensure you’re getting the proper battery for your setup

Deep cycle versus a regular marine battery

Honestly, there are two types of batteries that you’ll need for your fishing boat if you run a trolling motor. You’ll need a marine starting battery to keep the gas engine going whether that’s an outboard or an inboard motor.

For your electric trolling motor, and other accessories, you’ll need a deep cycle battery. A deep cycle battery gives you power over a long period of time, until it is 80% discharged or more. This is where deep cycle batteries differ from a standard lead-core battery, like you’d find in your car, as they shouldn’t run down even to 50% before a total recharge. Can you run a deep cycle as a starting battery? Sure, but a regular starting battery doesn’t do well for the same kind of uses as a deep cycle. It will discharge faster and often not last as long.

Charging deep-cycle marine batteries

As you’ve learned, deep cycle batteries allow you to run the charge down more so than standard batteries. You still need to charge them, and there are several ways to do so that will extend the life of your battery. 

Onboard chargers are mounted in your boat and all you need to do to charge up the battery is plug the unit into an AC outlet. The charger then runs the charge up and then goes into a trickle charge mode. These units work perfectly with your batteries to give you the best performance. The downfall is, they do add weight to your boat.

Trickle chargers are a must have for storing your batteries during the off-season. They keep your battery charged at the best levels to maintain the battery life. My favorite unit is from Optima. It is a digital charger that can operate as a full- battery charger, or a trickle charger. It also tests your battery every time it is used, and lets you know if there is an issue with your battery.

How long will my deep cycle battery last?

With proper care and charging, you should get a minimum of 5 years from your deep cycle marine battery depending upon the type of battery you buy. The higher-end batteries can last much longer. Generally, you’ll see a drop off in performance before the battery just won’t hold a charge.

Should I use a trickle charger with my deep cycle battery?

Yes, you should invest in a trickle charger for your deep cycle marine battery. I’d suggest a charger that can monitor your battery’s status and do both a regular charge and a trickle charge. And always take your batteries out when storing over winter, especially if you live somewhere cold.

How should I store my deep cycle battery when not in use?

If you take your battery out of your boat, be sure to not set it on the ground, or a cement floor. I have had great luck keeping mine on the wooden bench in my basement during the winter and running a trickle charger.

About the Author

Derrek Sigler has been a professional outdoor writer for more than two decades since earning his Master’s Degree in creative writing with a thesis about fishing humor. But if you ask anyone that knows him, he’s been telling fishin’ stories since he was old enough to hold a pole. He has written for Cabela’s and served as editorial director for Gun Digest books. Over the years, he has also written for Petersen’s Hunting, North American Whitetail Magazine, Wildfowl, Grand View Media, and has worked with Bass Pro Shops, Hard Core Brands and Bone Collector. Successful Farming had him write for their magazine and he has appeared on their TV show to discuss hunting and ATVs on multiple occasions. He writes about the things he loves – hunting, fishing, camping, trucks, ATVs, boating, snowmobiles and the outdoor lifestyle he enjoys with his family in their home state of Michigan and more as they adventure around North America.

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