Best Helmet Camera 2017 – Capture and Share Your World
Want to easily capture your extreme escapades on the go with a helmet camera? These one dozen action cameras allow you to be part of the experience and never miss out on the moment’s action for later.
The best wearable helmet cameras available now are nothing short of extreme—that’s what some of them are meant for, after all, extreme outdoor activity. A couple of other action sports cameras are not as subtle, and they instead, offer greater durability, sharper imagery and, ultimately, help log your adventurous life like no helmet camera before.
Our take on the best helmet camera comprises of jewels from a couple of stables, so if it’s worth its megapixels in gold, then it should be here.
One wearable helmet camera will slow down the action clips in dramatic slow motion video. Another one is a sleek, small-form-factor sports camera designed to sneak in almost everywhere—even underneath your skateboard, or towards the tip of your surfboard too; without you having to pull out your smartphone (or press buttons on your action camera) to take in all the kinetics or stills.
If you are enthusiastic about buying a helmet camera, but you don’t want to raid your savings account, there are some decent options to check out. And if you do have a little more to spend, you may want to watch that the many choices do not spoil you.
Important Things to Consider while Choosing the Best Helmet Camera
The resolution of your action cam comes to focus here. The higher, the better, but that might mean paying more for the sports camera. Also important is to consider the type and resolution score of the display you’d like to playback the footage. You’ll derive the best watching experience from an HD (720pixels) or Full HD (1080pixels) action camera that matches your HD or Full HD computer display or TV, resolution wise.
Frames per Second (fps)
This entails how fast your footage gets captured under the lens. 30 fps is the industry standard, and can be pretty good for your viewing needs though some action cameras have upped the ante—up to 120fps.
Watch out for strings-attached helmet cameras that may need wireless accessories, mounting equipment, settings adjusters, an off-camera viewfinder, and so on. If you can get one with a supporting smartphone app, that’d be a smart move.
Your Actions Matters
Even the seemingly most sturdy, best wearable helmet cameras on the market now can be overwhelmed and break in certain conditions. Be sure to select and choose an action camera that caters to your specific action. For example, a waterproof action camera is what you want sticking to your surfboard. Also, you likely won’t be needing a GoPro 4 for your shirt—your workmates would run for cover, or keep making faces and giggling like it’s Friday.
Best Action Camera 2017 – Premium Cams
So let’s get to the heart of the action already. Here’s a list of the best, connected cameras to help capture awesome action shots. You’ll find that one unit serves one purpose best while another handles quite a load pretty well, so we’d rather keep the list numbers-less, but to keep it clean and tidy, we will use numbers.
1. GoPro Hero 4 Black
- 4K (Ultra High Definition) Video shooting capability
- One of (if not THE) most rugged, most action-oriented helmet camera on the planet—but the price could make some quiver
- Use the Android/IOS smartphone app as a remote using Bluetooth
- Protected HDMI-out, USB and MicroSD card (supporting up to 64GB Mem Card) ports
- Create 4K videos in 4K and 2.7K Res
- Incredible Slow Motion modes and more improvements
At least one of GoPro’s top performance sports cams was not going to miss out on this list. And the Hero 4 Black Edition takes the lead as perhaps the most advanced helmet action camera on the market right now.
Hero 4 Black captures footage at 30fps in the 4K resolution of 3840×2160, a jump from the 15fps the Hero 4 Silver and earlier Hero 3 Plus models shoot. You can capture Full HD video at 120fps and HD video at 240fps. Also, you can catch the action in a slo-mo mode in a ¼ speed at (Full HD) 1080p and 1/8 speed at (HD) 720p.
Capture the world around you with the Hero 4 Black 170-degree POV, and remove the blurring with the shooters’ advanced image stabilisation technology. Unfortunately, optical stabilisation is missing. What is there, though, is a top-of-the-class night mode that’s better than in the Hero 3 range, and a photo burst mode that threads the images together for you unlike before.
Optionally, you can go for the wide 12mp, wide and medium 7mp, and medium 5mp shooter. The Hero 4 Black helmet camera can shoot from almost anywhere conceivable, whenever and whatever. Think skiing, surfing, diving, biking, running, walking, camping, climbing, droning, and sky-diving, the list goes on. That means it is waterproof (up to 40m), avails up to 49 video modes, and is mountable, durable and strap-able to your apparel, bike, body part or helmet, and so on.
GoPro provides a host of accessories and attachments for easier, more convenient use although that could mean additional spending. Also, unless you have a larger, 4K display to watch the footage on, 4K recording is not much to shout about. It also kills the battery way quicker and takes up much more MicroSD real estate. We hope GoPro improve the battery life of this little, capable beast. As it is, it won’t hold on for longer than an hour and a quarter with Wi-Fi enabled.
2. Garmin VIRB XE
- Easy-to-use, wearable helmet camera that records 1440p video optimally at 30fps
- Integrated GPS and multiple sensors for better performance tracking for professionals.
- Use the Garmin Fenix 3 heart rate monitor as a smart remote control for the VIRB XE
- Submerge it down a watery, 50m path and it won’t wet or die, trying to stream a lag-free video to a smartphone via Wi-Fi
- Also features Bluetooth for connectivity and sharing
Wearables veteran, Garmin, features high on this list for two reasons, mostly: the ($299) Garmin VIRB X and Garmin VIRB XE helmet cameras. You can log footage in Full HD at 60fps, and shoot stills amid high-octane action in 12MP glory.
The VIRB XE is not immediately handsome but is nowhere near fragile either. It’s tough, dustproof and downright durable. This model can drop off your headgear, punch the ground from a sky-diving adventure and still manage to summon up the last GPS coordinates recorded.
Wherever you land, this Garmin wearable action camera will lead you back to your cave and let you superimpose the statistics collected by the GPS, Accelerometer, and Gyroscope sensors right on the footage. The sensors information (Power, Speed, and Cadence) display on the small screen up top together with battery capacity—as in how much to go in minutes.
You won’t struggle with clicking the video/photos mode switches and power button either, and Garmin made them large and intuitive. And neither will you need to disassemble the action camera to charge it. Instead, just connect it to the accompanying magnetic strip and leave it to sip some juice.
The battery is removable, and our tests indicate that it will log for about 1 hour 20 minutes (standard settings) on a single dose of power before it is empty. With its performance and sensory creds, we are not sure what to say about its battery life.
3. 4GEE Action Camera
- Live-stream footage (720p/30fps)
- Waterproof up to 60 meters—better than the top listers here
- Cellular network connection (over 4G network) and starts at under 10 GBP in the UK, but with a contract attached
- Can be used with various existing GoPro accessories and settings primed from its LCD screen
- Viewfinder Watch which also acts as a Live Watch display and regular watch
Now, you don’t have to wait until the action is over to delve into hours of footage to find and edit sessions anymore. You can have it streaming over a fast 4G connection as it happens. Then you can pay for the data usage on the go and with your current EE data contract.
Using the 4GEE Action Camera App, you’d be able to tweak the camera’s settings to fit your needs. 4GEE’s offering can record at 1080p/30fps and 480p/120fps. Not better than the competitors here but worthy, maybe. The 4GEE Action Camera is waterproof and decently durable. It also features large aptly coloured buttons for the power on/off, start/stop recording, and menu buttons make navigation easier and almost intuitive.
With the Viewfinder Watch, you can start/stop video capture, watch live footage directly from the action camera and snap photos. There’s a USB port included, but HDMI is missing. There’s also an SIM card port that is accessible by removing the back slide—meaning you can access the battery too, and make a swap in case the current one is dying, and you do have a spare battery.
Overall, image quality from the 4GEE Action Camera is vivid and bright, but it dumbs down in low light conditions. The fact that the live streaming is handled over your cellular network also means you may find variations in quality based on network strength.
Price: £229 for the camcorder, data starting from £9.99/month (contract)
4. GoPro Hero 4 Silver
- Inbuilt LED touch screen for better control and live streaming
- Better bargain than the Hero 4 Black
- Protune for both video and photos
- Smart Remote (included) and the GoPro App for smartphones are great
- Three field-of-view modes: Ultra-wide, Wide, and Narrow
Where the Hero 4 Black misses, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver fills with easy charm. The on-board touch screen display inclusion means you can now configure your helmet camera with a few touches for capturing cinema-quality videos and stills, scroll through the camera’s menu, and playback videos and photos.
With this $100 cheaper GoPro Hero 4 Black alternative, you can capture high-quality audio too–just about 2-times dynamic range. At peak speeds of up to 30fps you can still capture clean, 12-Megapixel photos. And GoPro includes built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities to connect to both the GoPro mobile app and Smart Remote (not bundled with the latest Hero 4 Black edition).
This GoPro connected action video and photos camera tick the standard GoPro list: wearable, durable and mountable—and is compatible with over 60 mounts from its parent stable. Not sure if you can use another brand’s, though. While the high-adrenaline camera maker touts the model’s 4K recording capabilities, the hidden truth is that it is only available in 15fps—which is below the standard 30fps. Also, the GoPro Software in this helmet camera needs some work.
Value For Money Cams
On a budget? No worries – all of these tiny, life-moments-capturers can record in high-quality, wide angle views, THE moments while you scale the Himalayas sides, manoeuvre the crest of a wave near the beach; dive with you and snap the Indian Ocean seabed for your summer souvenir; or capture that wild bike ride down the woods from your head camera – all that without breaking the bank.
5. Drift Stealth 2
- 137-degree wide FOV
- Good bargain compared to the competition, which includes GoPro
- Lens can rotate up to 300-degrees
- Useful as a dashcam for your car too
- 2hrs-2.5 hours of battery life (Drift claims it’s 3 hours)
- Weighs in at 97g and is (3.5×1.65×1.06)inches in size, pretty portable Monochrome backlit LCD screen for status reads
This wearable helmet camera from UK’s Drift is rugged, handy, portable and durable. Although we won’t claim it is “weatherproof,” a few shallow brushes with water won’t kill it, but we can’t say the same for deeper dives. However, you can get a waterproof case for an extra 24.98 pounds (direct from Drift) and kill its hydrophobia. You can even accessorise this action camera with replacement lens and two-way remote for about the same price for each.
For less than half of the price of the GoPro range, you get footage recorded by Drift’s palm-sized action cam at a maxed out 1980x1080p at 30fps. You can also record in HD at 30fps and 60fps, and also in 920p at 30fps. You won’t be complaining about image quality either, especially if you don’t get too close to the centre of the dark, where images may get a little grainy.
The big buttons on top also mean you can hit just the right one when you intend so, even without looking at it directly (e.g. when it’s strapped on your head), but you can also utilise the accompanying Android or IOS app as a Wi-Fi remote control. The task is fluid, but you might regret what that does to the battery juice.
6. Panasonic HX-A1ME
- Great design and quality images
- Panasonic Image App lets you share life moments directly to social media—YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter
- Wi-Fi enabled and can connect and work with some earlier models of Panasonic’s camcorders
- Shoots at Full HD for about 2h 45 minutes on a single charge, mountable, usable as webcam via USB connection to a computer
The HX-A1ME action camera is tiny, cylindrical and lightweight—only weighs 45 grams while the GoPro 4 Black weighs 78 grams. It comes with no cables attached, unlike its predecessor. Moreover, it is dustproof, shockproof (down from a 5ft drop), waterproof to depths of 1.5 meters (5ft), and even while operating at 10 degrees below 0, it won’t freeze.
Panasonic fitted this tiny, rugged helmet camera with a slo-mo mode that you can utilise at 720 pixels (60fps) or half the number of pixels for 120fps. Full blown, it captures point-of-view video (30fps) at 1080 pixels (Full HD), so you can, later on, playback the footage on your HD or Full HD display or TV. Expect to take 2.7 megapixels JPEG photos with this action camera.
We like that its size and shape make it much more aerodynamic than most of the competition, but to some of you this of no use, though. But if you are planning, or do run into darkness during the action, the cam still manages to fix Lux Night Mode to its tiny frame, so you can continue to log deep forest or dark caves’ moments to the MicroSD even in total darkness. That is possible since the HX-A1 supports Infrared use without using lights and even ships with an Infrared filter.
Body and Head Camera
Some cameras are stealthy little things that can clip to your top, your shirt, or strap to your arm, or leg, and no one else would notice.
7. Narrative Clip-on Wearable Cam
- Accompanying IOS and Android smartphone apps handy—The Narrative App
- Improved Cam
- Introducing video recording to the Narrative Community
- Better connectivity options
- Water-resistant (not waterproof, so take care)
Less of a true action camera, but more of a life companion – meet the second installment of the highly successful Narrative Clip-on Wearable Cam. Noticeably, the sensor in Narrative’s Clip 2 helmet camera has been ramped up to 8MP from 5MP in the original Clip. The 90-degree, first-person point of view shooter still shoots every 30 seconds in the hope that it captures the moment of a lifetime for you.
Exclusive to the second generation action camera model, however, is the ability to take 10-second long videos, which you can watch from the accompanying smartphone app via Bluetooth, or upload to the Narrative Cloud service when Wi-Fi is available. The cloud storage augments the 8GB in-built memory in the Clip 2, and maybe it could last a couple of days depending on the settings and time-lapse bursts you take. The internal memory could take up to 6000 photos, though. We are excited that the Clip two brought in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity onboard. That means users can now watch the action instantly rolling from their smartphone (via The Narrative App) without unclipping the little, connected camcorder. Users can as well send those life logs to the computer, or other Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled device, wirelessly. The Clip 2 also features “geotagging”, and photo location data is embedded in the images.
The 300mAh Lithium Polymer battery can hold its own for up to 30hours, according to the makers. We’ll have to get acquainted well with the Clip 2 to pin that figure, though.
Price: €229 (ca. £169)
8. Geco Mark II
- Blazes 1080p despite its tiny size
- Weighs an unreal 20g so clipping to apparel or body is a breeze100-degree lens
- Commendable battery for its size
It is tiny. It is ultra light. It is Geco’s Mark II wearable head camera. Google Glass has a real competitor in the Mark II. No doubt.
The Mark II head camera logs the action in Full HD glory at 30fps, in HD at 60fps or 30fps. Record movies in 1080p and the battery lasts you about 45 minutes. In 720p, C.C. Weiss of GizMag received an hour’s worth of rolling.
You can connect the unit to external peripherals via the onboard MicroUSB port, get alerts through the LED status light, and store recorded footage via the inbuilt MicroSD port. For the price, the company will ship the action camera, an 8 GB MicroSD card and a couple of elastic straps together. That means the Mark II is not restricted to glass mounting only, and you can get a little more creative with this tiny number.
There are things you won’t film with a “huge” GoPro or Panasonic HX-A1, but that a Mark II will undetectably. Geco’s inconspicuous wearable clips to any choice of sunglasses or eyeglasses, so you have more choice unlike what Google Glass, PivotGlasses, and Eyez Glasses offer. Call it the Narrative Clip of eyewear.
Price: $199.99 (ca. £134)
Sports Cameras – Honorable Mentions
The above WACs are some of the best helmet cameras in the market right now, but to select and choose the best one, you’d need to consider your unique needs. If, for example, you only need a unit for fun times or casual recording, you don’t have to spend $400 for the made-for-professionals-in-mind GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition. You can improvise.
The wearable action cameras niche is becoming crowded really fast, and quite some companies are doing it right. So, since we couldn’t practically list all the greats on one column (and not have to pen an e-book), here are some other best wearable action cameras to consider.
- Contour Camera (from £99)
- ION Air Pro 3 Wi-Fi (from £199)
- Sony X1000VR (from £249)
- Autographer Wearable Camera (from £149)
- TomTom Bandit Action Camera (from £199)
- JVC Adixxion GC-XA2 (from £191)
- Polaroid Cube (from £89)
About Wearable Helmet Cameras
GoPro invented this category of helmet cameras made for serious outdoor action that you can clip on, strap on, and mount on whatever item, apparel, body part or place you wish. Whether you are biking, diving in a pool or sea, sky-diving, running, walking, partying, or just taking a vacation with loved ones, and would like to capture those intimate and fun moments, an inconspicuous helmet camera can capture the footage in high-definition and record high fidelity sound.
The wearable action camera category has grown by leaps and bounds and even the U.S Police Department is set to receive 50,000 of them after President Obama made an order for them. In 2014, the wearable action camera market soared (44%) to a worth of $3.2 billion in sales from an estimated 7.6 million units, according to research firm FutureSource. The reports also forecast year-on-year growth for the worldwide industry at least up until 2019.