Battery life is a weak point of GoPros. The new Brunton All Day battery pack for the GoPro HERO4 series aims to do something about that. Here's my hands-on review.
The battery life of GoPros–or the lack of it–is one of the most frustrating things about using the cameras. There are ways to work around it, from spare batteries to external batteries or even solar arrays, but it is definitely something that you need to manage. To get longer battery life, you can, of course, hook up an external USB power bank, but that introduces two problems: it’s cumbersome, and it’s not waterproof. And you can carry spare batteries, but changing them out is fiddly and stops the shooting.
Brunton aims to solve that by making an extended battery for GoPros that attaches securely to the camera and is waterproof. Brunton’s original All Day battery for the GoPro HERO3 series was popular. They’ve only just come out with a new version, called, oddly enough, the All Day 2.0, that’s compatible with most of the current range of GoPro HERO4 and HERO cameras and their housings.
GoPro has a new deal offering $150 off either the GoPro HERO8 Black or the MAX when you bundle it with a 1-year subscription to GoPro PLUS.
GoPro PLUS includes unlimited cloud storage of your GoPro photos and footage, discounted rates for replacing damaged cameras, and up to 50% off GoPro mounts and accessories.
The up-front cost is $249.99 for the HERO8 Black and $349.99 for the MAX. You start with a 30-day free trial of GoPro PLUS, and will then be charged $49.99 per year after that. They're also throwing in a free SD card and 2-day shipping.
You can find the deal at GoPro.com.
This battery attaches to the camera and doesn’t replace the existing battery inside the camera–it’s used in addition to it.
Brunton claims it’ll increase the battery life of your GoPro by about 5.5 times. It snaps onto the back of the GoPros’ waterproof housing, replacing the regular backdoor, and is designed to be waterproof down to about 130 feet (40 meters).
I’ve been putting the latest model through its paces to see how it performs in real-world use.
First off, it’s worth clarifying exactly which GoPro cameras the Brunton All Day 2.0 works with, because while it’s compatible with most of the current GoPro range, it’s not compatible with all of them.
Specifically, it works with the GoPro HERO4 Black, HERO4 Silver, HERO+ LCD, HERO+, and HERO. It doesn’t work with the HERO4 Session, which is an entirely different shape (or form factor, if you will).
The All Day 2.0 will work with the HERO3 and HERO3+ so long as you’re using those cameras in the newer housing that comes with the HERO4 Black or Silver (this one) or the latest version of the Blackout Housing. It doesn’t work with the older-style HER03 or HERO3+ housings.
The battery replaces the entire back door of the housing. That means that it’s going to completely block the screens on the back of the HERO4 Silver and HERO+ LCD. It also means you can’t use it with other back door housings like the BacPac or floaty backdoor.
To charge the battery you use a micro USB cable. It’s worth pointing out that that isn’t the same plug that most of the GoPros use, which is a mini USB plug. So you’ll need to make sure to carry both types of cable.
The battery charges at 5V/1A, so you can charge it by connecting to a computer or any standard USB AC adapter or even another external power pack. Many USB power sources can now also output 2.1A or thereabouts. Most of them also automatically switch between 2.1A and 1A, but you’ll need to make sure that it’s not an older design that only outputs 2.1A.
There’s a regular USB output for charging from the battery to something else like a smartphone, another camera, or another external power pack. The output from the All Day 2.0 is 5V/2.1A.
The battery itself is rated for a capacity of 5000mAh, which is used in addition to the existing battery inside the GoPro, not in place of it.
On the back of the battery is a rather odd-looking arrangement of two mini USB sockets side-by-side. That’s to accommodate the slight variations in some models of the GoPros. One works with the HERO 3 and 4 series cameras, while the other is for the HERO (see above for compatibility with specific models in those ranges).
Once the battery is attached to the back door of the housing, you need to attach a small ribbon cable to run from the outlets on the battery to the mini USB plug on the camera. But make sure to insert your memory card first. The cable attachment can block access to the memory card slot.
It’s a simplified mini USB cable that just conveys power. The battery comes with two of the ribbons, so you have a spare. When attached, it’s designed to fit entirely inside the case, but you’ll need to take care not to jam the cable between the closing door of the housing. The need to make it very slim also means it’s pretty flimsy, and it’s pretty easy to break, particularly when you’re disconnecting. So that spare might come in handy.
Once the cable is attached and the housing lock is in place on the top, there should be a good seal thanks to the white rubber seal (again, there’s a spare in the box).
Accessing the controls on the battery itself–which essentially means the power button–is from a latch door on the side. For the entire package to be waterproof, that door has to be securely locked too, of course.
Inside the side door, there’s an LED that’s red or green to indicate the status of the battery. Red indicates less than 30% charge left. Flashing red means it needs to be charged. Solid red indicates that the battery is charging. Green indicates anywhere between 30% and 100% charge. But when the battery is fully sealed up, as it often would be when you’re actually using it, there’s no indication of the battery status on the exterior.
One annoyance when charging is that if you want to charge both the battery inside the camera as well as the Brunton battery, it’s a multi-step process. You can’t just plug in the Brunton to charge and have it automatically charge the internal battery. So you either have to remove the internal battery (with the models that allow that) and charge them separately, plug both the camera and the battery in with separate cables, or charge the Brunton, turn it on to charge the internal battery and then top up the Brunton. Once you plug in the cable to the Brunton, it cuts off charging to the camera. There might be very good safety or technical reasons for why it can’t accept incoming power at the same time as outputting power, but from a user perspective, it would be nice to be able to plug the cable in once and have it charge both batteries as part of a single process.
So how much extra shooting time will the All Day 2.0 give you? That’s hard to pin a precise number to, because different shooting modes, styles, and different settings on your GoPro use varying amounts of power. And most people aren’t shooting continuously non-stop for hours on end but rather stopping and starting in shorter clips.
It’s a 5000mAh lithium polymer battery Brunton claims that a fully charged setup will give you about 5.5 times your regular shooting time once added to the camera’s standard internal battery. The rating for the current batch of GoPro cameras varies slightly between some models, but for comparison’s sake, the GoPro HERO4 Black’s battery is rated for 1160mAH. So when added to the Brunton ALL Day 2.0 you get about 6160mAh to play with.
In my shooting, I’ve found the 5 or so times to be about right, give or take. Most of my video shooting is in relatively short bursts–not hours on end–but the cumulative total seems to align roughly with Brunton’s claims.
One thing to watch, though, is that you have to turn the All Day 2.0’s power button on separately. That might sound obvious, but it’s an easy thing to forget, especially because you can’t see the green/red light once the cover is closed. And even when you do have the door open, the green light is unnecessarily small and hard to see in sunlight. But, basically, it’s not enough to just connect the battery–you have to also hit the power button.
The previous model, designed for the GoPro HERO3 and HERO3+ models, was weatherproof but wasn’t waterproof and couldn’t be submerged. That’s been upgraded significantly in the new version.
The All Day 2.0 is rated to be waterproof down to a depth of around 130 feet (40 meters), which, not coincidentally, is the depth rating for the housings for the GoPro cameras it’s designed to work with.
For it to be waterproof, there are two areas to be sealed. One is the main area around the back door of the GoPro housing. If that’s not properly closed and sealed it’s going to brick your camera as well as the battery. The other is the latch door on the battery itself that protects the charging ports.
Both doors have thin white rubber seals running around their rim. If the device leaks, these rubber seals are the likely culprits. They’re designed to be squished up hard against the door’s frame, but I’ve found it’s also possible for them to catch and create a bit of a kink, which in turn can create a break in the seal. So I highly recommend checking all the way around the seal every time you close the main door. A spare set of the rubber seals is included in the box.
One handy feature of the All Day 2.0 is that while it’s shaped to snap onto a GoPro, it can still function just like any other external USB power pack. And because the power output is accessed from the side door, it means you can power your GoPro and charge your smartphone at the same time.
In practice, that’s not something I’m personally going to use a lot. If I’m shooting, I’m probably moving the camera around and not wanting to attach a smartphone to it. And if I wanted the extra hassle of cables running from the camera I could attach a much larger and less expensive external power pack. But it’s an option you have if you’re in a pinch or just trying to keep the stuff you’re hauling around to the bare minimum.
If you’re looking to do a time lapse capture longer than a few hours in a setting that doesn’t lend itself to adding a standard external USB power pack, the All Day 2.0 might be a good option. The maximum duration of continuous shooting you get will vary depending on the settings you use and even things like the temperature, but as a point of reference, I ran it continuously at a 60-second interval for a little over 17 hours before it shut down from lack of power.
The All Day 2.0 weighs 5.3 oz (150g). That doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the context of using the camera, it matters.
The battery is quite a lot heavier than the camera itself, and when attached it becomes quite back-heavy. That’s going to be a consideration in usage scenarios where size and weight matter, and you’ll need to take extra precautions if you’re mounting it somewhere it’s going to bounce around (like a surfboard or snowboard) or when using something like a suction-cup mount on a car that might come undone.
The battery also sticks out quite a lot at the back–it’s significantly thicker than the camera itself. It’s actual dimensions are 2.6 x 2.2 x 1.7 in (6.5 x 5.5 x 4.25 cm).
Model Numbers: F-ALLDAY-2.0BK (Black); F-ALLDAY-2.0YL (Yellow)
Compatible with: GoPro HERO, HERO3+, and HERO4 (excluding HERO4 Session). It will not fit other models. I can work with the HERO3 if you use it in the HERO3+ or HERO4 case.
Rated Capacity: Lithium-polymer 5000 mAh/18.5WH
Weight: 5.3 oz / 150 g
Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.2 x 1.7 in / 6.5 x 5.5 x 4.25 cm
Made In: China
Brunton offers an unusually good warranty for their products. In their words: “No matter wherever, whenever or however you use a Brunton Product, if you break it, we’ll fix or replace it. So treat it like it’s indestructible because, as far as YOU are concerned, it is.”
The original Brunton All Day battery for the HERO3 range was well-rated, but the new version that works with the newer HERO4 cameras has received mixed reviews so far. Most of the criticism seems to relate mainly to the seal on the waterproof housing with the battery attached. That’s a pretty important feature. If the seal leaks when you’re using it in a wet environment, you’ll very quickly end up with a very expensive and not very effective GoPro-shaped paperweight. So far I’ve used it in heavy rain and immersed in shallow water and haven’t run into any leak issues. I haven’t had a chance to take it diving yet.
Because the consequences of a leak are pretty serious for your camera, I strongly recommend testing the seal before taking the camera underwater. While my copy sealed well, other users have reported issues. And I found that the design and type of seal meant that it could sometimes become bunched up and create a gap.
The overall build quality isn’t as solid as I’ve come to expect from Brunton. In particular, I’m underwhelmed by the locking mechanism of the side door. It works, but it doesn’t feel like a solid lock and doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. And it’s probably unavoidable given the tight space they’re working with, but the power ribbon that attaches the battery to the camera is flimsy and easily pinched when closing the housing door.
But all that said, it’s been working well for me. Mine hasn’t leaked, and the extra power it provides significantly improved shooting times, which I’ve particularly appreciated for longer time-lapse captures.
This post was last modified on April 8, 2020 3:15 pm