The GoPro HERO6 is waterproof without requiring a separate waterproof housing. It’s rated to a depth of 10 meters / 33 feet.
For even stronger waterproof protection, you can put the HERO6 in a Super Suit protective housing (more details on that below).
GoPro HERO6 Has Waterproof Protection Built-in
GoPros have long been designed for use in the water–they were basically invented for filming surfing with a POV perspective. Before that, waterproof cameras were mostly big and clumsy. The innovation GoPro brought to the table was that the cameras were tiny, highly portable, and could go just about anywhere–including the waves.
But up to the HERO4, the cameras required a separate external housing to be waterproof. The cameras usually (but not always) came with a clear plastic waterproof housing.
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 last several generations of GoPro cameras have all adopted that approach, where the camera body itself is waterproof. You can make it even more waterproof by using a protective housing–and I have more on that below–but the HERO6 Black–the only camera in the HERO6 lineup–is waterproof out of the box.
How to Make a GoPro HERO6 Even More Waterproof
The GoPro HERO6 Black is rated for full submersion underwater to a depth of 10 meters, or 33 feet.
The depth rating refers to water pressure–the deeper you go, the higher the pressure. And higher pressure is more demanding of the camera’s waterproof seals.
A depth rating of 10 meters (33 feet) is good for many recreational uses: swimming, surfing, snorkeling, rain, waterfalls, kayaking, paddle boarding, 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 (aka dive housing).
For the HERO6 Black, you want the protective housing model known as the Super Suit.
It’s compatible with the HERO6, HERO7, and HERO5 Black, and it’s rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. That’s well below the depth of standard recreational Scuba diving.
And a heads up that GoPro has other dive housings under the name Protective Housing. Those are designed for different camera models and won’t fit on the HERO6.
You can also find aftermarket versions. Some work very well and can be cheaper, although you’re taking bit of a leap of faith on the manufacturer’s quality control.
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 HERO6, you need to put them in a frame (the HERO6 camera comes with one, or you can buy aftermarket versions.).
- 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 are 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 side 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 HERO6 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.
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 HERO6 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 HERO6 waterproof?
Yes, the GoPro HERO6 is waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof case or housing. By itself, the camera is rated to depth of 33 feet / 10 meters. You can add a Protective Housing to make it even more waterproof.
Does the GoPro HERO6 need a waterproof case?
The GoPro HERO6 is waterproof without needing a waterproof case or housing. By itself, the camera is rated down to a depth of 33 feet / 10 meters. You can add a Protective Housing to make it even more waterproof.
How deep can the GoPro HERO6 go?
The GoPro HERO6 Black is rated for full submersion to a submerged 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 HERO6 Black, the GoPro Super Suit, is rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. Aftermarket housings might be rated for different depths.
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