Putting Your GoPro in a Life Vest with a Bodhi Floaty Case

GoPros don't float by themselves. So if you let it go or it gets knocked loose unintentionally, you'll need to add something to prevent it…

GoPros don’t float by themselves. So if you let it go or it comes loose unintentionally, you’ll need to add something to prevent it from sinking straight down to the bottom. This Bodhi Floating Case makes for a simple but effective option.

There are several different ways you can do that. They all involve adding some kind of float attachment or securing it to something else that’s not going to sink. You can use floating handle grips, or bobbers, which work well if you’re handholding it but don’t work well if you’re mounting the camera on something like a surfboard, kayak, or boat. You can get adhesive foam blocks that attach to the back. Those work much better if you’re mounting the camera, but they really only work well for older model GoPros that use a dedicated waterproof housing and where you don’t need access to a screen on the back of the camera. And you can get floating wrist straps, which is a traditional approach that other cameras use but again isn’t ideal if you’re mounting the camera.

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One of the simplest, easiest, and most flexible options is to put the camera inside a housing that floats. Although “housing” is overstating it a bit. It’s also not really a “case.” It’s more like putting your GoPro in a life vest.

That’s the approach used by the Bodhi Floaty, which is what I’m focusing on here. This version is designed specifically for the HERO7 (Black, Silver, and White), HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO (2018)–it’s cut for their shapes so that the camera fits in snugly as well as being able to access the buttons. But you can get similar products for other GoPro models, and you can find other brands that make much the same thing.

This one is a light-weight, semi-rigid foam. It doesn’t encase the whole camera–it’s not like waterproof housing. It just wraps float foam around the sides of the camera.

So it does add some cushioning protection against bumps and drops–at least, so long as it strikes the ground at such an angle that it hits the foam and not directly upon the lens port–but it doesn’t add any extra waterproofness. It does add some extra bulk, so the camera will be more susceptible to being buffeted by the wind (and wind noise) at high speed. It also makes the whole thing bigger, which can be an issue in places where it’s a very tight fit.

The foam is cut to the specific shape for the cameras that share the same body shape and controls layout as the current generation of GoPros. That includes all three models of HERO7, the HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO (2018). It doesn’t fit older GoPros or the cube-shaped Session models. For those, you’ll need to pick up a variation that’s designed to fit those models.

On one side is a recessed cutout for the power/mode button. Next to it is a recess for one of the onboard microphones.

The shutter/selection button is accessible through a recessed cutout on the top.

You’ll also need to use the camera in the standard frame that comes with the camera. That all then insert into the float. If you just try to put the camera directly into the float without using the frame it won’t fit snuggly and there’s a good chance that the camera will come out and sink to the bottom.

The frame’s mount point goes through a cutout in the bottom of the float.

In Use

There’s no real trick to installing it and nothing really to go wrong. Put the camera in the standard frame that comes with the camera, and then put the whole thing inside the float. It’s a snug fit, and it’s easiest if you slot the mount point into the hole in the bottom of the float first, but it just wraps around it.

I’ve used foam floats in the past that use a type of foam that is susceptible to tearing. But the foam here is very strong, and I haven’t run into any issues like that with this one. While it’s not indestructible, it’s as close to it as matters.

With the camera installed in the float, you can then mount it using the standard GoPro mount. So you can put it on a surfboard, for example, or anywhere else you’d typically mount the camera. You can even pair it with a floaty grip if you really want to. There is a slight recess to allow the screw to go in, although it’s a tight fit and a little harder to tighten the screw than it would be without the float.

The cutout on the front exposes both the front screen and the lens port. And because the front of the float remains flush with the front of the lens port, there’s no problem with it blocking the view through the lens and creating vignetting.

The entire back of the camera is exposed, so you can see and use the screen on the back of the camera as you normally would. The combination of a snug fit and the mount point going through the bottom mean that it won’t fall out.

To take it out, just do the reverse. You can remove and insert the camera from the housing in the float–sort of. But it’s cumbersome to do so. It’s much easier to take the frame housing out from the float and then work with it that way.

Pros:

  • Simple and effective.
  • Easy to install and uninstall even with wet/cold hands.
  • Doesn’t interfere with the camera’s buttons or screens.
  • Exposes the standard mount point on the frame, so it’s compatible with most standard mounting situations.
  • Works well enough for handheld shooting.
  • Comes in high-visibility orange, making it easier to see if you’re out in open water.

Cons:

  • There are less expensive methods for making your GoPro float.
  • While the camera’s controls and screens remain accessible, it does become a little more cumbersome to access the buttons.
  • The extra bulk exacerbates wind noise and increases water drag.

Other Alternatives

There are other ways to tackle the problem of making your GoPro float. I’ve rounded up some of the best options here.

Wrap Up

As you can see from the photo at the top of the page, it does what it’s supposed to do: it floats.

This is a simple way to make your GoPro float. There’s really nothing to go wrong–there’s nothing to leak and nothing to seal, so it’s pretty much foolproof. It also happens to be one of the more flexible ways to prevent your camera from sinking to the depths because it works well with standard mounting options.

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This post was last modified on October 12, 2020 8:17 am

View Comments

  • Hi! I bought a hero 7 black, and I plan to use it for filming water sports. I am debating between getting go pro's floaty backdoor and the bohdi floaty case.

    I am planning on purchasing the supersuit for my GoPro, as I am worried that more intense sports (and wipeouts) during water skiing and tubing will lead to water getting into my GoPro (I know it's waterproof, but I don't want to risk ruining it).

    I am noticing that the backdoor floaty is for the hero 4 model and previous models. I am wondering if it will also work for the 7?

    I was also wondering if the bodhi floaty would fit over top of go pro's supersuit?

    And which is better in quality - the backdoor floaty or the bodhi floaty?

    Thanks in advance!

    • I much prefer the Bodhi over the backdoor, but it doesn't work with the Super Suit. The floaty backdoor will technically work with the HERO7 Black in a Super Suit (you wouldn't use it directly on the camera), but it covers over the back screen which is a big negative.

      When I use a Super Suit on my camera--which is mainly when I'm diving or snorkeling--I use a floaty handle like The Handler. I don't usually use a Super Suit at the surface, so the Bodhi works well, and I've not had an issue with wipeouts damaging the camera, but obviously your mileage might vary on that depending on what it's hitting and how hard.

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