If you’ve ever tried to record your parts of trail ride with your smartphone, you can attest to how difficult it can be; poor video quality, jumpy footage that can make any viewer a little queasy, and the constant threat of destroying your phone in the process.
A helmet camera is a much better option for bicyclists. We will discuss some of the basics of helmet cameras, a few of their benefits, and some things to look for when buying one.
What Is A Helmet Camera?
A helmet cam, also known as an action camera or point of view (POV) camera, is a small camera that (much like the name suggests) mounts directly to a helmet. Action cameras aren’t just a favorite tech accessory for extreme sports enthusiasts, but they are also used in professions like law enforcement and firefighting.
While helmet cameras have been around for decades, the first helmet camera designed for bicyclists was created by Mark Schulze in the 1980’s. Schulze, an avid mountain biker, wanted to share his footage with others. During that time, he did trail rides with a bulky camcorder; today’s cameras are much smaller and later.
Most modern helmet cameras are one piece cameras, and there are no cords in the way. Some cameras come in two pieces, which can make it a little easier to work with if you are specific about a shooting angle.
Action cams are designed to record hours of footage, which is later downloaded with the option of editing.
Benefits Of A Helmet Camera
Many bicyclists consider a helmet cam to be a “must have” accessory on every ride. Have you thought about getting an action camera that attaches to your bike helmet, but is still undecided about if you should get one? Here are some benefits to consider:
Wear Your Helmet More
If you’re a “sometimes” helmet wearer when you ride, maybe you need a little bit of an incentive to wear your helmet more. While wearing a bike helmet is the best way to keep you free from traumatic brain injuries, attaching a camera to your helmet is a bonus.
Share Your Adventures With Others
Whether you want to share your biking experiences with others on social media (such as creating your own channel on YouTube) or just want to prove to your parents that you are safe when you ride down those steep inclines, a helmet cam is a great way to share your adventure.
Improve Your Riding Skills
Not only can some of the best action cameras help you create some unforgettable and breathtaking footage of your bike rides, but owning a camera can also help you become a better rider.
If you have specific goals for riding or want to improve on particular skills, you can use your camera to track your progress.
If you’re like other biking enthusiasts, you are most likely pretty active and have other outdoor hobbies. With a waterproof action camera, not only can you film your ride on a rainy day but you can also catch some footage while whitewater rafting.
An action camera offers quite a bit of versatility, and you’re definitely not limited to using it while riding your bike.
In Case Of An Accident
Whether you’re sharing the road with motorists or are planning to ride some unknown terrain, a helmet cam can be helpful if you’re in an accident. Even if you are a responsible and safe cyclist, there’s always the chance of being involved in an accident; it’s best to be prepared.
Things To Consider When Buying A Helmet Camera
Now that we’ve discussed some reasons why it’s a good idea to own an action camera for your bike helmet let’s take a look at some things to consider when shopping for a camera.
When it comes to biking accessories, helmet cameras can be a little expensive depending on your budget. While you might find some cameras under $100, many of the high-quality, waterproof and shockproof cameras may cost well over $300.
If you have a budget try to stick with it. It might take you longer to find a camera within your budget, but you’re likely to find one (even if it’s gently used). You can always decide to upgrade later.
Whether you ride your bike to and from work every day or you like the challenge of the rocky terrain of a mountain bike trail, the camera should be able to withstand more than just a little wear and tear.
While many of today’s helmet cams are waterproof, like some of the cameras by Contour, you will need to do a little extra research to make sure that the action camera is suitable (and durable) for your style of riding.
The Importance of Resolution
Most of today’s action cameras have decent resolution, but you’ll want to make sure it’s good enough for how you plan to use the camera. If you’re only using it to record your ride for training or as a safety precaution, a camera with lower resolution like 1080 (or even 720) may be sufficient.
Some experts recommend using a 4K resolution to make the most of your helmet cam, but again, it all depends on your budget and your needs.
Planning a bike trip and want to take an action camera along to strap to your helmet? Don’t forget to pay attention to the length of battery life. Some action cams, like the GoPro Hero5, have only about 60 minutes of battery life. Battery life of an hour may be more than enough for some, but if you’re planning on filming your whole ride, you’ll want a battery with longer life.
If you opt for a battery with a limited life, you may want to make sure that you have a fully-charged spare.
When you’re ready to upload or transfer your photos or video from the camera, you want it to be easy, and if you’re traveling, you may need some options. A camera that can connect to Wi-Fi can make it a more versatile device. It’s not a “must” for some users, but it is nice to have the option.
Consider Extra Accessories
When shopping around for the right action camera for your helmet, you may want to consider extra accessories like a memory card and a microphone (especially if you’re going to narrate your ride). Don’t forget to think about straps, pole mounts, or harnesses for attaching your camera to your helmet.
Mounting Your Helmet Camera
One of the great things about an action camera is that there are no strict rules on where you should mount it on your helmet. While many cyclists prefer to strap the camera to the top of their helmet, others like to put it on the front (near the forehead) or on the side (to provide a different perspective).
Where you decide to mount your camera will also depend on the type of helmet you have. If you have a half-shell mountain biking helmet, you may have a few more mounting options like putting the camera on the chin guard. If you wear a standard road bike helmet, your mounting options are a little more limited.
There are special mounts designed to secure your camera to your helmet; these will also help to keep your camera footage stabilized, and you’re less likely to lose your camera. If a camera mount is not in your current budget, you may be able to improvise with straps or even strips of velcro.
Regardless of how you decide to mount your action camera, make sure that it is secure and doesn’t obstruct your view of the road or trail.
Need some mounting tips or ideas? There are plenty of helpful online videos, but make sure that you aren’t damaging your camera or altering it in a way that may affect its function.
Once you’re ready to edit your footage, there are plenty of online tutorials that can guide you through the process depending on which operating system you use.
Before You Ride With Your Helmet Camera
Once you have found the right camera for all of your needs, make sure that you read the instructional manual before you mount it to your helmet.
It’s also important that you learn how to operate the camera before you head out on your bike so that you don’t have to fumble around with the camera; your action camera should be easy to use and should not be a distraction while you’re riding.
When you’re not using your camera, store it in a safe place and clean it off after each use. Even though it’s a durable device, keeping it clean and dry can help extend the life of the camera.