Waterproof action cameras are an amateur photo/videographer’s dream come true. You can jump right in and film your swimming, diving, and snorkel adventures. With an extension mount, you can even get in the action! (But first, a selfie!) We took our brand new GoPole Evo under the sea. Here’s what happened. You can see the aftermath in the video, with more details below.
Evo is advertised as a floating extension pole for GoPro* cameras. The pole is 14-inches, and extends out to 24-inches, and is less than 1.5-inches in diameter. It fits nicely in a backpack, and is not so long that it’s difficult to carry. The grip is rubberized and comfortable, so it’s easy to manage. It’s also transparent, although it’s still easily visible in photographs and videos.
We love that the hollow plastic body is so lightweight. We noticed it listed by Amazon at .03 pounds, which is about a half-ounce. It’s more likely they meant .3 pounds, or about 5 ounces. At one end is a quarter-inch, 20 thread insert, which you can use to mount on a tripod or other base, or insert the included wrist strap. It also comes with a clip-on holder for a GoPro Smart Remote, which held our remote very securely in a variety of conditions.
*Although GoPole markets itself for GoPro, it all comes down to the mount. If your camera has a case with a mount similar to GoPro’s, the GoPole Evo (and other mounts) will work just fine. That is, when it works…read on.
The Problems Begin
If we were smart (a big IF where RobRob is concerned), we would have paid more attention to reviews on Amazon, and conducted a bathtub test before heading out to snorkel. While the reviews are far from horrible – it currently ranks 3.7 out of 5 stars based on more than 400 reviews – they point out the fatal flaw that we discovered the hard way: it does not perform well underwater.
The 1 and 2-star reviews center on the GoPole Evo’s inability to keep out water and, therefore, inability to float. In their defense, it does work if you don’t extend the pole while underwater. If you consider the physics, this makes sense. And we will give you this warning: You have to try hard to extend it underwater because of the vacuum created by the air-filled chamber. But (in our best Yoda voice) extend it you will. Fill with water, it will.
As we point out in our video, and as shown in this photo from GoPole, there is a twisting extension lock which forms a watertight seal. Until that seal is broken, the Evo works as advertised: It floats at the surface, grip end up. Likewise, if you extend the pole and tighten the extension lock out of the water, it will float. That air filled chamber is what keeps it up and, though inconvenient, it seems to work well if you don’t mind surfacing to extend your GoPole Evo.
Breaking the Seal
What’s important about the twisting extension lock is the silicone gasket inside, which provides the airtight seal. Here’s where science kicks in: There is a finite amount of air in the pole. When you extend the pole, you increase the volume, which means more air gets sucked in to fill the space. That means the gasket is not air tight. If it truly was, you could not extend the pole.
When you’re underwater, there is no air to fill the gap caused when you extend the GoPole Evo. Instead, water will be sucked in, and the extension pole loses its buoyancy. When you stop to think about it, this makes perfect sense. Problem is, when you’re out snorkeling or diving, that’s probably the last thing you’re likely to stop and think about.
Adding to the issue, once water gets in, it’s nearly impossible to get out. Displacement will squeeze out a certain amount of water when you collapse the GoPole Duo. As you can see in the video, it does not get out all of the water. Repeatedly extending and collapsing the pole got some more out, but most of it drained slowly over time, leaving little puddles of water everywhere we set the pole down over the next few days. Even when we returned it, there was still water inside.
Wrist Strap to the Rescue!
We mentioned earlier that a wrist strap is included, and it screws into the adapter at the bottom of the grip. Very handy, and very secure. There is a spring loaded, sliding catch meant to adjust how tightly it fits around your wrist, ankle, or whatever you tether it to. This worked fantastically…for one day. Somewhere along the line, the spring mechanism broke, and the catch simply slid up and down at will. The strap would slide right off, especially in the water.
The result was dropping the GoPro Evo, with our camera attached, and watching it sink to the sea bed. Thankfully, we were only in about six feet of crystal clear water at the time, so it was easy to find and retrieve. That was the last time the GoPole Evo was used. Certainly, a new wrist strap should be easy to order, if not covered under the one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Would We Recommend the GoPole Evo?
Given our experience, we will not buy another GoPole Evo, and have returned ours for a refund. That said, it’s not the worst option out there. So long as you’re okay with not extending it underwater, you might be happy with it. We purchased it for two reasons: flotation, and use underwater, which includes extending the pole. It simply did not meet our expectations.
After using it, we’ve decided the 24-inch reach is just okay, but something a bit longer would have been helpful. The threaded insert is a good design, and attaches things securely. What we found most useful and well-designed was the remote clip. Because it simply snaps onto the pole, we were not sure how secure it would be. However, it never came off the pole, and it held the remote securely. It is easy to position in a convenient location on the pole, and stayed there until we moved it ourselves. Sadly, that was the highlight for us.
The GoPole Evo gets a recommendation with an asterisk. Good, if not short, extension pole, but does not perform in the water exactly as advertised.
GoPole makes a wide range of accessories for GoPro cameras, many of which we are eager to try out. Despite being named for their extending mount, they make cases, lens caps, batteries and chargers, and our next can’t-live-without gadget, the GoPole Dome. We’ve seen some fantastic above-and-below-waterline shots, and that’s how they’re done. Can. Not. Wait! We just need to schedule another snorkel run.
We also like GoPole Reach, a 40-inch extension arm that feels pretty sturdy and gives us the distance we were hoping for. They also have an innovative time-lapse device, the GoPole GPSL-16 Scenelapse, a rotating time lapse mount. The device rotates up to 360-degrees in 60 minutes to capture panoramic photos and videos. Not something we need, but definitely a toy we want. (Let’s face it, we don’t need most of the gadgets in our bag!)
GoPole Evo Pros & Cons
- Purchased at Target for $29.95, but it’s available online for $23.99
- Available on Amazon as low as $22.77 (our link below)
- Available directly from GoPole for $49.99
Have you used the GoPole Evo or other floating extension pole for action cameras? We would love to hear about your experiences and recommendations. Please let us know if we’ve influenced your decisions, too. Feel free to share in the comments, and check out our recommended GoPole goodies for action cameras.