Since 2009 GoPro has sold more than 30,000,000… that’s million with an “M”… Hero cameras. Think about that for a minute. That is a lot of action cameras, but have you seen typical GoPro footage? Most of it isn’t worth sharing with your mother. It’s shaky, and jittery, and likely to make you motion sick just sitting on your couch. And filming while trail running… That has to be one of the worst case scenarios.
But today we’re here to help. The video above was shot on a GoPro Hero5, and while we don’t claim to be expert videographers, we have spent quite a bit of time running around with GoPros attached to various things. During that time we have stumbled upon a few options that work quite well. Below we will go over a few of our favorites.
But First… Here are some things to stay away from.
The Chest Mount… For running this thing is junk. It doesn’t offer a great perspective, it’s not very versatile, and it does not produce stable footage.
The Head Strap… Again for running this thing is no good. It lacks versatility, and it’s just not secure enough on your head to produce footage that doesn’t make you want to vomit.
So what should you look for? Well, there are a couple of considerations.
First… Stable footage. That’s the whole point. If your system isn’t going to produce watchable footage why spend the money. Why carry all this extra stuff with you. Why waste storage on hard drive. Stable footage… That’s the top priority.
Second… Compactness. If you want to create awesome footage there is a ton of equipment available that will produce a higher quality product than a GoPro. The problem is that this equipment is big and heavy. The advantage of a GoPro is that you have a lot of capability in a small package. Ideally your stabilization system will be small as well.
Third… Ease of deployment. Running isn’t a stop and wait activity, but capturing video can be. You want your system to be easy to deploy and put away so that you running partners don’t start hating you, and you don’t start hating the process.
Ok. That’s about it. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite gopro tools for running.
The first option we are going to look at his the Grill Mount. The grill mount was originally designed for surfing. It allowed you to paddle with both hands and still capture the perfect perspective that seems as though you’re viewing the scene directly through the person’s eyes.
For running this mount is great because it’s super compact. It folds up and is barely bigger than the Gopro itself. It easily fits into the front pocket on my running vest and is super easy and quick to deploy and stash without stopping.
Where it suffers a little is in the stability department. Of the three options we’re reviewing today the grill mount falls in the middle stability-wise. That said, it’s really pretty good. Your head is very stable and being attached to your head with a rigid structure makes for pretty stable footage. The little bounce that you do get isn’t too bad as it matches the rhythm of the running.
The original version of this sells online for $30 or more dollars, but you can find knock-offs for around $10. If shopping around stay away from the versions that use any kind of soft material. All of the benefits of this mount come from the fact that the material is very rigid and holds the camera in place well.
Next up we have the UltraPod. Of the three options we’re looking at today this one produces the least stable footage while on the run. That said, the UltraPod gets bonus points for for its versatility. You can hold it in your hand, use it as a tripod, or strap it to a tree or branch. This versatility is what makes this a super useful tool.
Take a look at the video above which was shot using the UltraPod. The on-the-move footage is pretty shaky. However, a little shaky footage is ok when mixed in with footage that’s not shaky. It’s when everything is shaky all the time that a video becomes unwatchable.
When it comes to compactness and ease of deployment the UltraPod falls in the middle of our options here. It’s not the smallest, but it’s not the biggest. It’s not the fastest to deploy or put away, but it’s not the slowest. It will barely fit in the front pocket of my Salomon running vest, but it does. You can squeeze it in there, and it won’t fall out, and it’s not uncomfortable.
You can pick up one of these things for about $20.
For our finale we’ve got the G5 gimbal from Feiyu Tech. A gimbal provides the ultimate in stable and smooth footage. But, it’s heavy, it’s kind of big, and it’s the slowest to deploy. When shooting with the gimbal I use my running vest and the gimbal slides in sword style in the big main compartment. The nice thing is that I don’t have to stop to take it out, or put it away. The hassle is that I keep it in it’s neoprene case in the pack as it’s more comfortable. But this means that I have to take it out of the case and put it back in the case when I want to use it. It’s definitely the most inconvenient of the options here, but it’s not too bad.
There are a lot of GoPro gimbals out there, and we went with the G5 because it’s splash proof and wasn’t too terribly expensive. You can pick one up for ~$150-$200. A gimbal produces great footage, but I do wish it were easier to set down and film. Because you can set it down easily the gimbal loses points in versatility and this makes it not the best option when filming alone.
So let’s quickly recap…
If you’re running technical trails and need the use of both hands our goto GoPro mount is the grill mount as it will allow us to film during the super technical parts which are the parts we most want to capture and share.
If you’re headed out alone go with the UltraPod. It’s not the most stable, but it’s the most versatile and you’ll be able to capture a huge variety of shots by yourself which makes for a better final product.
If you have to have smooth footage and you’re running with other people the gimbal is the only consideration. It’s expensive, kind of heavy, and a little big and awkward to carry, but it will produce the best quality material.
We are working with Ironwood Adventure Works to try and organize a trail running film festival this fall and our hope is that people from the community will create and submit some stuff. Hopefully these tips will help inspire you to get out there are capture your favorite run, or go on an adventure and share that story.
Thank you for taking the time to read this far and remember…