5hp outboard motors are relatively low in power, and are often matched with small, lightweight boats. Some boats that are commonly used with 5hp outboard motors include inflatables, canoes, and fishing boats. A 5hp outboard may also be carried on a sailboat as a backup in case the winds fail. Certain 5hp outboards can also be good trolling motors on slightly larger vessels.
Some 5hp outboards have two stroke motors, while others use a four stroke cycle. The two stroke units are typically better suited to operating at low engine speeds, so they can often be used as both the main and trolling motor for smaller boats. Four stroke outboard motors can have advantages as well, though they often operate better at higher speeds. A four stroke 5hp outboard might be better suited for use as the trolling motor on a larger vessel, where it would be able to operate at a normal speed without moving the boat too quickly.
Many inflatable boats are a good matches for 5hp outboards. These boats are usually very light, which can allow the low powered 5hp motor to move them through the water very quickly. Rigid inflatables are also typically light, so a 5hp outboard can often be a good choice for them as well.
A 5hp outboard motor is typically powerful enough to get a 10 foot (3 meter) aluminum fishing boat up on a plane. If the boat is loaded down with equipment, or is carrying more than one person, there may not be enough power to plane out, which can cause a rougher ride and worse fuel economy. For boats that are substantially longer than 10 feet (3 meters), made of heavier materials than aluminum, or that will be carrying more than one person, a larger outboard may be necessary.
Canoes are often paddled, though many people will carry an outboard along just in case. A 5hp motor usually offers more than enough power even for larger canoes, since they are typically lightweight and move through the water efficiently. Smaller electric motors may also be useful as an emergency method in a canoe, since they can represent less extra weight to paddle around.
Another common emergency use for a 5hp outboard is on a sailboat. These outboards are usually small enough that they can be carried around easily, and many even come equipped with a handle. Very large sailboats may require bigger outboards, though a 5hp motor is typically sufficient as long as it will be able to move the boat against the local tides or currents in the event that the winds die down.