Using a GoPro in the Canadian winter ❄️

May 25, 2022

If you ever used a GoPro in a very cold weather, I’m talking -20 or even -30 °C, you probably noticed that its battery dies extremely fast. It’s sometimes a matter of minutes before it shuts off and refuses to start again until it’s warmed up again.

The internet is full of people having issues with their GoPro (any version especially after HERO4) dying ridiculously fast after being used in cold weather, e.g. with winter sports.

In any conditions below 20 °F / -10 °C my GoPro HERO8 renders itself utterly useless with the battery dying after about 10 minutes of filming. [Source]

I am skiing right now with a GoPro max. I can’t even take it outside before it dies. 6-7 degrees below Celsius. [Source]

Found the same problem on my HERO8 Black. Tested in -27 here in Norway and it died immediately after 2-3 clips. [Source]

Battery life has been a real pain for me as well using it during the winter months. I keep my camera and batteries in my pants pockets until I need them but even doing that might yield me five minutes of recording once it’s exposed to sub-zero temps. [Source]

And it seems like it’s not just a problem with GoPro.

When the temperature is below -10 ℃, DJI Action 2 cannot be turned on.

There’s a number of tips, lots of them that I’m not really read for.

When you finish your line, stop and take the GoPro off and put it in a pocket or backpack, take the battery out and put it back in warm pocket. [Source]

Definitely worth buying an extra set of batteries. I’ve gone through 4+ on a good pow day. [Source]

If you want to capture winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, sled dog racing etc., don’t waste your hard earned money on a Go Pro. [Source]

You also see people putting it in a foam cover or others storing it in a bag with hand or feet warmers when not in use.

The problem with the default case

I was actually surprised the first time I mounted the GoPro on my helmet and I saw it die that fast. In the past I’ve used that same GoPro hand-held, an I remember being able to shoot quite a lot, and still had some battery left at the end of a ski day.

So what could be the culprit? Sure when it’s mounted on my helmet I tend to leave it outside a bit more, whereas before I would store it in my pocket when it’s not recording, but I’ve made a habit of taking it off my helmet and putting it in my pocket during the lifts too, and still had the same issues.

I’ve tried different pockets, jacket pocket, pants pocket, internal pocket, but it wouldn’t make much difference. It was always dead after a few hours of being outside, regardless if I was recording a lot or keeping it in my pocket most of the time.

One day, I’ve even kept the GoPro in my pants pocket (turned out to be the warmest) for an hour or two before first using it, and it was already dead when I tried to record! WTF?

So I decided to try something and just use it hand-held like I used to in the previous years, to see if my battery degraded significantly over time or something. Turned out it performed great and I could shoot plenty of hand-held shots the whole day without it dying at any point!

Then I realized: the only difference between that day where it died in my pocket before I even use it, and that time where I could record hand-held all day, was the plastic case.

When I plan to use it hand-held only, I don’t put it in the black plastic case that allows me to mount it.

Luckily if you have a newer GoPro, you don’t need a case to mount it anymore, so this shouldn’t be as much of a problem. But if using one of the GoPro that can only be mounted with a case, it’s a deal breaker!

Introducing the Super Suit

The Super Suit, alias “protection + dive housing” and now renamed to “protective housing + waterproof case” for the newer models, is a transparent waterproof case for your GoPro.

GoPro Super Suit

It’s designed to be used for diving under water, but as some users pointed out, it does a great job at protecting from the cold too. It seems this is a very little known trick for this problem!

I ordered one and was shocked of the difference it made. I was no longer running out of battery during the day.

I could record as much as I wanted at any time of the day and the GoPro was always there and had plenty of battery life!

I don’t record necessary a lot while I ski: between 30 minutes to 2 hours of content during a 6 hours ski day. Still, before the Super Suit, the GoPro would die in the first 2 hours of skiing, regardless of whether it was recording or stored in my pocket the whole time.

After the Super Suit, I can not only record over 2 hours of content, but I can do so over the course of the whole day, as long as I keep it in my pocket when it’s not recording!

Impact on audio

One of the known downsides of the waterproof housing is that it muffles the audio. It does sound like it’s inside a hermetic case.

This is a problem especially for voice: my own voice is somewhat audible although not super crisp, but we can barely hear people talking around me. This leads to some scenes where it sounds like I’m talking alone. 😂

But to be honest my HERO5 built-in audio has never been great, so if I want to record somewhat usable vocals, I need to bring a real microphone anyways. It seems that a lavalier microphone placed inside the collar of a ski jacket is fantastic at recording your voice while skiing, although I’ve never tried myself.

For the ambient sound though, I’ve found the muffled sound of the Super Suit perfect to cancel the wind while skiing, so that we just hear the skis gliding on the snow. This is in fact much better than what we would otherwise get with the default case or no case (mostly wind, skis not so much), and is actually usable as is!

I’ve also seen in this video a setup where they drilled tiny holes in the Super Suit around the different GoPro microphones locations, and covered them with a wind muff. It seems to give pretty solid results, but I don’t have the tools to do that myself, and I guess I like that I can actually use my Super Suit for diving if I want to. 😄

In short

GoPro dies in cold weather?

I hope those tips help you to record more cool content while you’re outside in the cold winter! If you found this post useful, you might also like my article about the best GoPro mount position for skiing, as well as my GoPro settings.

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