An action camera like a GoPro is one of the first things I pack in my bag when I plan to race with our team or just for fun. Creating some shaky yet dynamic material is the main focus.
There are countless Youtube videos showing more or less the same visual experience of a race – tackling multiple obstacles, running, and splashing into water. But the issue here, undoubtedly, is not that every OCR race is a painfully boring experience, always following the same template – the problem is the point of view those reels show and it’s always the same angle. Most of these videos are produced using a very basic set of head mounts and chest straps, thus resulting in something you have already seen before but with a new Nickelback song as a soundtrack. However there is a whole world of accessories you can buy or create yourself (my favourite part) to improve your racing action pack today.
Accordingly, we’ve split the following article into 3 parts: describing the default set of GoPro mounts and pro tips on achieving best results, introducing unusual mounts which can often cost you a fortune and finally, we’ll show you some DIY mounts, which will get you producing spectacular cinematic videos on the cheap.
Best Default GoPro Mounts
The Typical Head Mount
With its own set of perks and perils, this mount is a go-to accessory which gives you an ability to produce one of the ‘safe’ and, previously mentioned, common race videos found online. This configuration of this head mount is extremely stable, making it the least shaky of all the standard GoPro straps. Why is that? Mainly because your neck and spine is designed to stabilise your head during sudden movements in order to avoid chronic concussions, thus attaching a cam to your forehead results in pretty decent and stable footage.
Main cons of this item are mainly around comfortability and the looks. In order to keep the camcorder safe during underwater swims, jumps into deep water and general hits from branches you must secure the mount as tight as possible. This results in restricted blood flow and, personally, it gives me headaches.
The Upgraded Head Mount aka the ‘Mud Cyborg From the Future’ Mount
If you don’t want to go for that mineshaft explorer look you might want to do exactly what I did. The main perks of this custom head strap are quick and easy removal, and the different filming angle – your limbs are more visible throughout the footage whilst also keeping the wide view of the horizon.
To make this mount you will need an extra head strap, a couple of additional attachment screws in order to make a custom frame and a pair of scissors. Simply cut the top strap off and combine attachment screws into this frame and use typical mount sideways:
Final result should look something like this:
This mount will make you look like a badass mud cyborg from the future rather than a mineshaft worker and it will enable you to capture more actionable and physical footage, unless of course the typical miner look is what you are after.
Every single video I made to this day was made using this custom mount – here’s the latest example:
If a head mount wasn’t an option for you, a shoulder mount would probably give you the results you’re looking for. The main pros include that you can tightly secure it, and that the camera is better protected from crawling damage and mud smears on the lens. However there is also a weighty con you should consider: the mount at some points will limit the captured view. For example, under barbed wire it will show just the dirt you’re crawling on instead of what you might be seeing. In this case I would suggest to simply unmount the camera and hold it in your hands and then use it as usual for the remainder of the race. You could also have a friend hold it while you do rope climbs and related multi-axis view activities.
Never choose a chest mount. It might be a good pick for surfing and running videos, but never for obstacle races, with the constant crawls, scratches and such. From personal experience, I can tell you that you will make countless breaks in order to check that your camera’s lens is clean enough to continue filming your action reel. Once the lens gets dirty it usually stays that way for the rest of the race, unless you carry a ziplock bag with tissues. Ask yourself first: do you really want to sacrifice your adventurous experiences going to that level of effort?
Mounts You Have Never Seen Before
This could be an exaggeration, but these mounts are very unusual, rare and mostly custom made.
Third Person View Camera Mount by sailvideosystems
This is by far the most original mount on the market, allowing you to capture a unique perspective. It goes away from the typical 1st person with 170degrees view, which became a trademark for action cameras across the manufacturers and adventure folks world. Needless to say it is still the same lens vision, but the angle and the increased stable height of the camera creates an experience very similar to that of an adventure game. The strap can be fixed around the waist with increased stability due to the thicker band.
VuPackPro by VuVantage
With slightly different angle this mount gives you a similar 3rd person perspective view as the one before, however the main differences lay in how it is adjusted and fixed to your body. The VuPack Pro comes in a neatly manufactured pseudo-backpack. The camera can be adjusted and seems to be a little bit more flexible than the previous examples.
The downside of such mounts is its inflexibility during obstacles with limited space like the barb wire crawl we discussed above. The manufacturer (not affiliated) provides user with the ability to quickly and single-handedly unplug the camera pole from its base, which could then be used to temporarily film the surroundings freestyle. Is it worth the hassle? You decide.
Here’s an example of in-field footage to give you an idea of what the final reel could look like:
Do-It-Yourself Recipes Across the Web
If you feel like dusting off your DIY skills and getting creative, there are plenty of how-to’s on Instructables, Youtube and elsewhere online. You might be able to produce more sturdy and robust structures, however it might not look the best or be as flexible as the professionally manufactured mounts and frames.
Hydration Pack Mount by timran
One of the most interesting and probably the easiest to do over the weekend is something you can attach to your ultra hydration bag. In this case you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or go overboard having multiple items which are strapped around your body. Moreover it seems like a good companion for the longer races such as spartan super and beast. To make this mount you will need just a few PVC pipes and joints, glue and other household items.
The final footage looks pretty unusual: the previously described third person angle now has a closeup or pet hawk on your shoulder vision:
DIY Over the Shoulder GoPro Camera Rig by Brook Dain
The high-fidelity complex mounts, like those described before, can be expensive. This example and a how-to video shows how to make your own 3rd person POV backpack mount. Needless to say it incorporates the best of both worlds: over-the-shoulder view and the ability to fit in your hydration backpack. As with previous example, the PVC pipes seem to be the main item with other essentials being fixing agents and tools:
The only cons to both of the DIY items is their inflexibility, which can make you spend precious racing time clumsily rearranging equipment and, let’s be real, you could also end up looking like a complete dork.
Let us know which mount is your favourite and good luck with GoPro action filming in your next race!