The GoPro HERO9 is waterproof without requiring a separate waterproof housing. It’s rated for full submersion to a depth of 10 meters / 33 feet.
For even stronger waterproof protection, you can put the HERO9 in a Protective Housing (I have more details on that below).
The GoPro HERO9 is Waterproof Without a Case
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 through 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 HERO9 Black–the only camera in the HERO9 lineup–is waterproof out of the box.
How to Make a GoPro HERO9 Even More Waterproof
The GoPro HERO9 Black rated for full submersion underwater to a depth of 10 meters, or 33 feet.
That’s good for many uses: swimming, snorkeling, rain, waterfalls, kayaking, paddle boarding, and so on.
But 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 HERO9 Black, you want the Protective Housing. It’s rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. That’s well below the depth of standard recreational Scuba diving. (You can also find aftermarket versions; quality control might vary.)
- Protects your GoPro from mud, dirt and debris during extreme activities
- Front LCD screen remains accessible for viewing
But be aware that GoPro has been recycling the name for the housings for other cameras, so be sure to get the one designed specifically for the HERO9/10 cameras (the others won’t fit).
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.
- 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 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 HERO9 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 HERO9 camera–they’re limitations on the GPS and Wifi signals.
Tip: If you’re buying a Protective Housing (or most other accessories) from GoPro.com 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 HERO9 waterproof?
Yes, the GoPro HERO9 is waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof case or housing. By itself, the camera is rated for 33 feet / 10 meters. You can add a Protective Housing to make it even more waterproof.
Does the GoPro HERO9 need a waterproof case?
The GoPro HERO9 is waterproof without needing a waterproof case or housing. By itself, the camera is rated for 33 feet / 10 meters. You can add a Protective Housing to make it even more waterproof.
How deep can the GoPro HERO9 go?
The GoPro HERO9 Black is 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 HERO9 Black, the Protective Housing, is rated to a depth of 196 feet / 60 meters. Aftermarket housings might be rated for different depths.
Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-09-25 at 16:43. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
New Model: GoPro HERO12 Black
Released in September 2023, the HERO12 Black is GoPro's newest model.
- 5.3K60 / 4K120 / 2.7K240 Video
- 27MP Photos
- Waterproof to 33ft/10m
- HyperSmooth 6.0 Stabilization
- Shoot 5.3K60 & 4K120 video at up to 120Mbps bitrate
- HDR video up to 5.3K30
- Horizon Lock keeps level even during movement
- Take 27MP photos (5568 x 4872 pixels)
- 1/1.9" CMOS sensor
- Waterproof to 33ft / 10m, so you can take it swimming, paddling, surfing, or snorkeling without a separate housing
- Built-in mount point
- HyperSmooth 6.0 In-camera Video Stabilization creates smooth video without a gimbal
- Shoot up to 8x slow motion