Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

What camera should I use while kayaking?

I want to be able to take short videos and still shots when I am out on my kayak. Sometimes I won't be able to use my hands so I think about a Go Pro and don't know anything about them. I am just beginning and want something simple. It has to be waterproof. I want to be able to take pictures of eagles in flight and perched. Also short videos as I go through a rapid. I kayak on streams and rivers but no real whitewater.

Any suggestions  about cameras or whom to talk to?


6 Replies

Hey @StevenF - Thanks for bringing this question to the community!

GoPros are great for being able to attach to you/your boat with all of the mounting accessories available. One thing that comes to mind with them is the type of zooming they can do. While the Hero8 and Hero9 do have the ability to zoom, it is a digital zoom vs an optical zoom, so the photo quality will be lessened when using it. With this, it would be harder to get sharp photos of eagles in flight unless they were quite small in the frame. GoPros are more known for point of view/wide angle photos and videos and that is where you will see their best results. If a higher quality zoom is not a concern, GoPro could be a great option, especially with their stabilization features, which would allow for smoother videos while going down the river.

For waterproof cameras with an optical zoom (meaning the lens itself shifts to keep quality high), my suggestions would be the following:

There are other folks here in the community who have photographed while on their kayaks too. Hopefully some of them can weigh in with their recommendations!

@GregA@KayakTony@Paalbaal@Philreedshikes@vgrindst@PatrickB - do you have any suggestions for what cameras are best for while out paddling?



Hoping you have lots of good days out on the water with eagles! I know I have really loved the times I've been able to be out in a boat around them!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

JonesLake52021.JPGRobertsonMillPond1.jpgManitou4.jpgThe resolution, simplicity and convenience of a smartphone makes it had to beat. A drawback with most phones in the SE is the heat inside the boat will sometimes cause an overheat fault depending on how it's stored. I miss my DSLR and occasionally pack it along.

I also have a few GoPro's. They are rugged, waterproof. Great for a hands off video record but you need a good video editing app to maximize your video.

For quick videos I like the convenience of the GoPro. For most trips I still lug around a full sized dslr, normally in an outtex case when rafting or fishing to protect it from water. 



@StevenF if you have a dslr and want to protect it for kayaking the Outtex is a great choice. Sadly getting photos of eagles won’t be possible with the GoPro. I agree with @REI-CarterC about the Olympus TG-6  being a great choice for kayaking. There are fewer mounting options for hands free shooting but it has a tripod mount on the bottom so I’m sure there are solutions out there. 


I used a gopro7 for an everglades 8 day trip (canoe, with kayakers), waterproof and easy to use ( 1 of 4)

REI Member Since 1979

Honestly, I used to take a DSLR, but with the dumbphone cameras shooting 6-10 MP, I take that. I miss the versatility of the DSLR having cut my teeth on a SLR, but the dumbphone is already there unless I intentionally leave it behind. An act that becomes more and more common.

Thanks @REI-CarterC for mentioning me :-).

Normally the gear we choose, reflect the level we want things to be at. For most hobby photo and film, a Gopro will do the job for capturing memories. In my experience, the Gopro 7 is still the one to go for. However, if the intention is to step it up quality wise, a combination of a system camera and a Gopro is a logical choice. The next level is of course multiple Gopro's with nd-filter, waterhouse and other relevant accessories. The same goes for the system camera. Add a quality drone with the same accessories, the results can be fantastic.

My experience is that more gear leads to the need for accessories like powerbanks, solarpanels, cables, water and chock prof bags etc, filers, stands etc. Another side to be aware of is the connection between more/better gear and the need for both plan/write/think how we want to direct the material we film.

The last part I would like to mention is about that "the map is not the terrain". What we plan, how we think and how things actually plays out in the wilderness, is in my experience two very different  things. Conditions and weather is one major player. Another aspect is that when filming or shooting photos from a packraft, canoe or a kayak, water is a hazard. Water can easily destroy a camera, or like many others, loose gear, like a branch knock the Gopro on a headband of your head and deep into the river.

Last but not least, it's important to know your gear. So we practice a lot before longer hikes, both with Gopro's, system cameras and drones to get a feel for what actually gonna play out when out in the wilderness for weeks.