Scout 281 XSS: 2023 Boat Buyers Guide

A solid build mixed with numerous fishing features.

Scout builds luxury sport-fishing center-console, dual-console and -inshore/bay-boat models ranging from 17 feet to 53 feet and, since its founding more than three decades ago, its goal has always been to manufacture the best boats in each of those sport-fishing niches.  

Scout boats, designed and produced in-house, are known for their all-hand-laid construction, smart and sharp designs, superior fit-and-finish, best-in-class strength-to-weight ratios, fuel-efficient hull designs, and completely finished bilges, lids, doors, and hatches. 

Scout 281 XSS inshore
The 281 XSS is a serious hybrid bay boat. Courtesy Scout Boats

Scout 281 XSS 

Scout’s new 281 XSS, one of three new Scout models this year, is a serious inshore/offshore hybrid bay boat. It complements the popular 251 XSS and the 231 XSB, boasting aggressive lines, high performance, and all-around fishability.

Built featuring carbon-epoxy construction, the new boat has large fore and rear casting decks, dual stern bait/fish boxes, and generous rod and tackle storage. Its all-composite hardtop includes a T-top superstructure built of carbon fiber, with fiberglass supports and an integrated acrylic wraparound windshield. Its dash can accommodate two 12-inch screens or a single 24-inch.

Scout 281 XSS overhead
The all-composite hardtop includes a T-top superstructure built of carbon fiber. Courtesy Scout Boats

Standard features include jack plate, custom transom storage boxes to house four fenders, and independent dual helm seats with flip-up bolsters. The leaning post has an acrylic-faced baitwell, Corian countertop, cutting board, freshwater and raw water washdown, and rod holders—all atop a 65-quart Yeti slide-out cooler. 

Among options are fish-box conversions to livewells, recirculating leaning-post livewell, bow rod/cup holders, Minn Kota trolling motor with iPilot, and Garmin electronics, stereo, and outrigger additions and upgrades. 

Manufacturer’s Remark

Our newest bay-boat model, the 281 XSS, couples the luxury of a Scout with all the characteristics of a serious bay boat.

Performance Data

  • Test Power: Mercury Verado 400 hp
  • Test Props: Enertia SS Series, 17p
  • Test Load: Two people, 84 gal. fuel, batteries, hardtop, and safety and test equipment
  • Test Speed: 55.3 mph at 6,800 rpm
  • Max Range: 295 miles. (90% of 126 gal. capacity at 2.6 mpg, 34.9 mph, 4,500 rpm)


Fuel Capacity:126 gal.
Dry Weight:5,457 lb. plus power
Max HP:450

Editor Says

The 281 XSS boasts advanced epoxy-infused carbon fiber and e-glass construction that minimizes weight, ensures long-term durability, and maximizes performance.  -Jim Hendricks, Staff Editor Boating and Fishing Group

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