Updated: May 9, 2015

Helmet Cam Reviews and Buying Guide:

How would you make a how-to video on mountain biking with standard cameras? You could capture the action from a distant view, a rather impersonal one that doesn't give the full effect of what it feels like to be hurtling down a mountain trail or bumping up over rocks and roots. Mark Schulze solved this problem in 1987, when he created "The Great Mountain Biking Video," the world's first how-to video guide for mountain biking. The result: a more "hands-on" feel for bikers. These were the early days of mini cameras, which weren't so "mini" by today's standards. We now have access to tiny cameras, also referred to as lipstick cameras, that can go with us anywhere. Today's versions of the helmet camera are very small, about the size of a marker, and add very little weight to the helmet. They are widely used by athletes and sports enthusiasts, including cyclists, dirt bikers, paragliders, snowboarders, skiers, paint ball players, and rock climbers. They are also ideal for anyone who needs their hands free while filming.
helmet cameras


What to Look for in a Helmet Camera - Choosing the right helmet, or point of view, camera is essential; not only do you want to make sure that it is suitable for your application, you want to ensure that it is lightweight, has the features you want, and is within your budget. Before you buy, there are some considerations that you should keep in mind:

*The first is price range. It is best to set a budget first, and then stick to it. You can buy a low end or "starter" camera for less than $200, or you can get a professional grade camera for more than 10 times that. You want quality, but it's nice to have some money left over to fund your adventures.
*STD or HD. Of the two options, HD will provide better quality video, as well as widescreen filming. For most people, a standard definition camera is fine, as well as much less expensive. If you do opt for HD, make sure that your computer can handle HD video files for editing, playing, and sharing. Besides the initial cost, HD may require expensive upgrades to your computer programs and software.
*Size and construction. You can get a 1-piece or 2-piece POV camera. A 1-piece typically costs between $200 and $500, and they include everything you'll need to start filming. The advantage is that they're convenient, inexpensive, light, and compact. Those with 2 pieces cost a few hundred more, and you'll get better quality. The camera is connected to a separate recording device with a cable, which is one of its disadvantages. The trade-off is more professional results.
*Field of view. You want whoever is viewing your video to see as much of what you saw as possible. The field of view will determine this. With a narrow point of view, the subject of your shot will fill most of the screen without capturing as much surrounding detail. In addition, it can look shaky because you've got less room to compensate for any movement of your hand. A wide field of view offers just that - more of the field, or mountain or whatever you're filming. You will also get smoother videos. A field of view that is too wide (say over 170 degrees) will distort the edges of your shot. Look for 110 to 170 degrees.
*Ease of use. If you're flying down a mountain on your snowboard, you don't want to have to do much to activate the camera. Ease of use is essential, as is usability by touch.
*Other things to look for include microphone quality, water and weather proofing, manufacturers' warranties, battery type, and accessories.

RECOMMENDED - Helmetcamreview.com is a website with comparisons and opinions from experts on the the various helmet cameras on the market. You can browse the best selling helmet cameras here.


Best Helmet Cameras:

The best helmet cameras for your needs will depend, in some part, on the type of activity you plan to use it for most. For instance, if you're waterskiing, you certainly want a helmet video camera that is water and weather proof. In general, though, you will find the following brands among the best in the industry:

*Elmo *Hoyt Technologies
*Vio
*Sony
*Xtreme Recall
*GoPro
*Drift Innovations
*Oregon Scientific
*VholdrR

The GoPro Hero Helmet Camera - The GoPro Hero camera has earned accolades from CNET, Gizmodo, Popular Mechanics, Backpacker Magazine, and more for its compact design, ease of use, and overall quality. The Hero offers pro-grade full HD video, 60 frames per second in 720p and WVGA resolutions, slow motion playback, 32GB, compatibility with iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, 170-degree field of view, easy to apply mounts for use with motorcycles, cars, ATVs, jet skis, snow machines, boats, and much more. It can handle any job you need it to with its impact-resistant, waterproof housing (submergible up to 170 feet). The HD Hero is $300. You can go with the standard for just over $122. The standard GoPro Hero helmet cam is a great choice and Amazon customers give it consistently high marks.

The VholdR ContourHD - Another favorite with critics and consumers alike is the ContourHD from VholdR. This 1-piece camera offers 2 video settings (HD at 30 frames per second and High Action at 60 frames per second), 2 lasers for easy alignment, 135-degree field of view, MicroSD memory card compatibility, full audio with noise reduction so you can hear something other than wind, Mac and PC compatibility, up to 8 hours of video on internal memory, and excellent housing for durability. The ContourHD is in the same ballpark as the GoPro, and reviewers rate it just as favorably. One Amazon reviewer says he has the higher priced Vio POV1, and with his ContourHD he gets much better video quality and colors. At half the price, that's a deal you can certainly live with. Pick this up for under $250.

These two options are both reasonably priced and will offer excellent results. If you stick to the big brands named above and keep yourself within your budget, you'll be filming your own adventures and sharing them in no time. Look here for top rated helmet cams.

UPDATE - Drift HD170 Review: We recently got our hands on a demo unit sent to us (DISCLAIMER: yes, they sent us a free unit to test) from Drift Innovation -- the HD170. This rubber-protected camera is about the size and weight of your average wireless telephone handset you have at home, and it looks like something from the Black and Decker hardware line, all orange and black (perhaps a laser level or something..). It has a fisheye lens on the tip, with controls and small LCD (1.5") on the front side, battery and accessory port on the tail end, and a connector on the back for hooking it to clamps, helmet straps, etc. The controls are pretty simple - an on/off button, a menu button, and up/down selection arrows. The only difficulty I had was in figuring out how to playback videos - you have to go to Menu, use the arrows to highlight the video playback option, then push the on/off button to actually select the video playback option -- kind of counter-intuitive for me. The buttons are large enough to access even when wearing gloves, while a large, 2-button remote is also included. So if you are shooting video, hold down the on/off button to turn the camera on, then press the same button to begin or stop recording. The key features of this camera are the HD video it captures (full 1080P in .MOV format, 30FPS), it's rotating lense (rotates up to 300 degrees and records in a rounded, fish-eye mode of 127 degrees in 1080HD mode or 170 degrees in 720 mode) which lets you orient the camera in many strange configurations if needed (side of something, on top of something, under something hanging upside down, etc.) while still shooting regular, upright video, and it's bevy of connector/mount options such as handlebar grip, goggle mount, head strap, helmet grip, and generic velcro strap.

It uses SD video cards (up tp 32GB) for storing the video and photos you shoot, and comes with a rechargeable Li battery. While it is not meant for underwater shooting, it is described as "water resistant to .5m", which in our books means getting splashed, rained on, snowed on, or dropped in snow probably won't hurt it, but we didn't test any of those things. In terms of actually shooting video, we did everything from putting it on our dog's collar (he didn't like it) to strapping it around ankles, onto car door handles, skateboard decks, bicycle handlebars, and scooters. It takes a few times to get the hang of using the various connectors, but before long the young teens were having a blast with it. While you need to be careful for the lens, the rest of the camera felt pretty rugged and we weren't too worried about it getting bumped around a bit. We played back our videos on an HDTV screen by copying the SD memory card first to our computer, then onto a USB drive which our TV accepts (it also comes with component video cables and a USB cable). The results? Some really eye-popping effects, especially when you see things from new angles. There's no anti-shake technology, so if you are riding down a bumpy road, your video will be bumpy. But our shots were crisp, well-focused, and bright, with good HD detail as expected. You can check out DriftInnovation.com for more info and some cool sample videos from skydivers, paragliders, and more -- if you are looking for inspiration. Be aware that the similarly named x170 is their older, non-HD model -- don't confuse it with the HD170 if shopping or comparing prices. The lowest online price we saw was $329 (as of 8/10), which was matched by Amazon. The Drift HD170 is a great option if you're looking to shoot action, sport-related HD videos -- very versatile, tough enough to entrust your teens with, and competitive price-wise with other HD contenders.