There are two cameras in GoPro’s HERO5 lineup: the Black and the Session.
Both are waterproof without requiring a separate waterproof housing if you’re taking it underwater. They’re rated to a depth of 10 meters / 33 feet.
For even stronger waterproof protection, you can put the cameras in a protective housing (details below).
GoPro HERO5 Waterproof Protection is Built-in
GoPros have long been designed for use in the water–they were basically invented for filming surfing with a POV perspective. But up to the HERO4, the cameras required a separate external housing to be waterproof.
With the HERO4 Session, GoPro unveiled a new design where the body of the camera was waterproof. So you didn’t need to go to the hassle and inconvenience of putting the camera inside another housing.
The HERO5 cameras continued that approach of making the camera body itself waterproof–as have more recent models. 1 You can make it even more waterproof by using a protective housing–and I have more on that below–but the HERO5 cameras are waterproof out of the box.
How to Make a GoPro HERO5 Even More Waterproof
The GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session are both rated for full submersion underwater to a depth of 10 meters, or 33 feet.
That’s good for many uses: swimming, surfing, snorkeling, rain, waterfalls, kayaking, paddleboarding, and so on.
But it’s not really enough for most Scuba diving. Even recreational Scuba dives will often comfortably go well below that. And the deeper you go, the greater the pressure and the greater the risk of water forcing itself into the camera’s seals. So if you’re going Scuba diving, it’s a good idea to put the camera in a protective housing.
For the HERO5 Black, you want the protective housing model known as the Super Suit.
It’s compatible with the HERO5, HERO6, and HERO7 Black, and it’s rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. That’s well below the depth of standard recreational Scuba diving.
- Ultimate protection for your HERO7 Black or HERO6 Black or HERO5 Black during extreme outdoor activities...
- Waterproof to 196ft (60m)
For the HERO5 Session, GoPro doesn’t have a currently available official protective housing, but you can find aftermarket housings.
- LIFE-TIME Warranty from FitStill and friendly 7 x 24 hours customer service.
- Specifically designed for Go Pro Hero 5 Session and Hero Session action
Adding Above-Water Protection
What are now known as protective housings used to be called dive housings. But they’re good for more than just diving.
Another reason that some GoPro users use a protective housing is to add protection out of the water. In situations where bumps and knocks are par for the course–think dirt bike racing or mountain biking–the housing provides extra protection against bumps as well as against mud and grit. And if it sustains a strong knock, it’s much cheaper and simpler to replace the housing than it is to replace the whole camera.
There are some tradeoffs to using a protective housing–there are reasons that GoPro moved away from this design by default, after all. The back touch screen won’t work normally (but you can still see it), it’s an extra step to remove the camera from the housing to charge the camera or switch out the battery or SD card, and the microphones don’t work in any meaningful sense.
Trade-Offs of a Housing-Less Waterproof Design
There are tradeoffs to the housing-less design, and for each there’s a reasonable workaround.
- There’s no way to mount the camera directly. GoPro solved this with subsequent models by introducing built-in mounting points that are attached to the camera body itself. But for the HERO5, you need to put them in a frame (the cameras come with one, and you can find aftermarket versions online).
- The waterproof housing contributes to making the performance of the onboard microphones sub-optimal. After all, you can’t have water coming in the microphone holes. A partial workaround is to use an external microphone. That gives you much better sound quality on the audio capture. But the catch is that this option only works in dry or mostly dry conditions.
- If the camera takes a heavy bump, you can’t just switch out the housing. The solution is to use some kind of frame or protecting housing. Replacing a housing is much cheaper and quicker than replacing the whole camera. There’s a bunch of different approaches using different options available, ranging from lightweight protection from bumps to heavy-duty protection for diving.
Things Worth Knowing
Waterproof protection is only as good as the weakest seal. So be sure that the camera’s door is properly locked in place and that its rubber seals are intact and don’t have any grit or sand that could create a gap for water to get in. And make sure that the lens cover is locked in place.
For the camera to be waterproof, the side door needs to be fully attached and closed. That means it’s not possible to access the USB port, which can be an issue for running your GoPro HERO5 from external power. There are some options available that can keep the camera water-resistant, but they’re not designed for full submersion underwater.
I have some more detailed recommendations on using GoPro cameras around water separately.
The touchscreen on the back of the HERO5 Black won’t work underwater—touchscreens don’t work underwater–but you can still use it as a viewing screen.
Neither GPS nor Wifi works underwater. Those are not shortcomings of the HERO5 camera–they’re limitations on the GPS and Wifi signals.
TIP: If you’re buying an accessory from GoPro.com’s store and have a GoPro subscription, be sure to sign into your account to see the special discounted pricing on accessories that’s available.
Is the GoPro HERO5 waterproof?
Yes, both cameras in GoPro’s HERO5 lineup–the Black and the Session–are waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof case or housing. Both cameras are rated for full submersion to a depth of 33 feet / 10 meters. You can add a protective dive housing to each to make it even more waterproof.
Does the GoPro HERO5 need a waterproof case?
Both cameras in GoPro’s HERO5 lineup–the Black and the Session–are waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof case or housing. Both cameras are rated for full submersion to a depth of 33 feet / 10 meters. You can add a protective dive housing to each to make it even more waterproof.
How deep can a GoPro HERO5 go?
The GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session are both rated for full submersion to a depth of 33 feet / 10 meters without an external waterproof housing.
By adding an external waterproof housing, you can take your GoPro deeper. The official protective housing for the GoPro HERO5 Black, the GoPro Super Suit, is rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. Aftermarket housings might be rated for different depths.
- An exception is the GoPro HERO10 Black Bones edition, which is weather-resistant but not waterproof.
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