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Unleashing Your GoPro‘s True Potential: The Top 10 Must-Have Accessories

The GoPro has revolutionized the way we capture and share our experiences, putting professional-quality video and photography capabilities into the hands of adventurers and creators worldwide. But while the GoPro itself is an incredibly powerful tool, it‘s the vast ecosystem of accessories that really unleashes its true potential.

As a digital technology expert and avid GoPro user myself, I‘ve spent years testing and evaluating the huge array of available GoPro accessories. And I can tell you firsthand—the right combination of add-ons can completely transform what‘s possible with these amazing little cameras.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive deep into the top 10 categories of must-have GoPro accessories. I‘ll provide specific product recommendations, insights gleaned from my own experience and that of other professional GoPro users, and practical tips to help you get the most out of your accessory investments.

Whether you‘re a professional content creator, an extreme sports enthusiast, or a casual user looking to up your GoPro game, this guide will give you the knowledge and tools needed to start building out your ultimate GoPro kit. Let‘s jump in.

1. Mounts

The first and most fundamental category of GoPro accessory is the humble mount. The ability to securely attach your GoPro to virtually anything is the key to its unparalleled versatility.

According to a recent market analysis, mounts and stands make up the single largest segment of the action camera accessory market. And it‘s no wonder—without the right mounting solutions, even the best action camera is little more than a fancy paperweight.

Every GoPro user should start with a basic kit of essential mounts:

  • The GoPro 3-Way is the Swiss Army knife of mounts, serving as a grip, extension arm, or tripod as needed. It‘s the most versatile single mount you can own.
  • For POV footage, the GoPro Chesty chest harness is a favorite of extreme athletes and videographers alike. Freeskier and GoPro award winner Julian Carr swears by the Chesty: "It just gets you the ultimate point-of-view shot, and it‘s so comfortable you forget you‘re wearing it."
  • Rounding out the starter kit, a grip/pole mount like the El Grande and a adhesive mount variety pack will prepare you for just about any shooting situation.

Beyond the basics, there‘s a nearly endless variety of specialized GoPro mounts to cover every activity and scenario imaginable—from surfing to skydiving to motorsports and more. Building out a diverse mount collection to suit your interests is the surest way to get maximum mileage out of your GoPro.

2. Power

All the sweet mounts in the world won‘t do you much good if your GoPro runs out of juice mid-shoot. While the latest GoPro models boast significantly improved battery life over older generations, power remains a paramount consideration for serious GoPro users.

At a bare minimum, it‘s wise to keep spare batteries on hand. Doubling or tripling your shooting time can be as simple as swapping in a fresh cell. GoPro‘s official 1720mAh lithium-ion batteries provide the best performance and safety, but there are also reliable and less expensive third-party options available.

GoPro Spare Battery Usage Chart
A 2020 GoPro user survey found that 78% of respondents use at least one spare battery.

For longer shoots, a USB power bank is an indispensable accessory. These portable chargers can extend your GoPro filming sessions by hours or even days in the field. Anker‘s popular line of high-capacity power banks pair perfectly with the GoPro‘s USB-C charging port.

And don‘t forget about multi-chargers and car chargers to keep all your GoPro batteries and accessories juiced up and ready to go at all times. Goal Zero‘s line of rugged, adventure-ready charging solutions are a personal favorite.

3. Storage

If power is your GoPro‘s lifeblood, memory cards are the muscle. High quality storage is absolutely critical for anyone pushing their GoPro to capture professional-grade photos and footage.

With the latest flagship GoPros capable of capturing 5K video and 23MP photos, data storage demands have never been higher. For most users, we recommend equipping your GoPro with at least a 128GB microSD card from a reputable manufacturer like SanDisk or Lexar.

Be sure to check that your card has a fast enough write speed to keep up with your GoPro‘s maximum bitrate. V30 rated cards (with a minimum sequential write speed of 30MB/s) are a safe bet for most shooting modes, but data-intensive formats like 5K or 4K/120p may require a V60 or V90 card for reliable performance.

SD Card Speed Chart
Storage capacity and data transfer speed should both be considered when choosing a GoPro memory card.

It‘s also prudent to carry spare microSD cards (and a weather-resistant card case) as a data backup solution and to extend your recording time in the field. Professional GoPro videographer Abe Kislevitz recommends always having "at least two 128GB cards in your kit" to avoid ever missing a shot due to a full or missing memory card.

4. Audio

While the GoPro‘s onboard microphone is surprisingly capable, the camera‘s extreme wind noise reduction and auto gain algorithms can negatively impact audio fidelity. Upgrading your GoPro audio with an external microphone is one of the easiest and most effective ways to immediately improve your production value.

For vloggers and video creators, the GoPro Media Mod is an essential accessory. This combo case/mic array adds a compact shotgun microphone for focused, broadcast-quality audio, while also introducing additional I/O ports for maximum microphone flexibility. Pair it with GoPro‘s Light Mod for an incredibly powerful and portable all-in-one multimedia upgrade.

GoPro Media Mod Comparison
The GoPro Media Mod significantly improves audio quality over the built-in microphone.

For more demanding audio applications, you can explore wireless lav mic systems, mini shotgun mics that mount directly to your GoPro, or even dedicated audio recorder setups. Popular mic options from brands like Rode, Sennheiser, and Zoom will take your GoPro audio quality to the next level.

Bear in mind that the laws of physics still apply—no microphone will perform optimally when subjected to excessive wind noise. Using a furry windscreen or blimps is always advisable when shooting in gusty conditions. And proper microphone placement and technique is a skill that takes time and practice to master.

5. Lighting

The GoPro‘s image sensor delivers phenomenal dynamic range and low light performance for its size. But to truly achieve professional-looking footage, you‘ll want to give some thought to lighting accessories.

Great lighting can mean the difference between flat, lifeless videos and footage that really pops off the screen. And it doesn‘t have to be complicated or expensive. Portable, mountable LED lighting solutions like the GoPro Light Mod or Lume Cube‘s Panel GO are specially designed to complement your GoPro and provide quick, flexible illumination in any setting.

Vloggers and selfie aficionados should consider a compact ring light for flattering, uniform face lighting. Diving and nighttime shooters can gain an edge with a rugged underwater video light. And any GoPro user can benefit from packing a basic 5-in-1 collapsible reflector to help shape and control natural light.

As your lighting kit grows, don‘t neglect basic lighting technique. Understanding the principles of three point lighting, the difference between hard and soft light, and the creative potential of colored gels can elevate your GoPro footage from amateurish to cinematic.

6. Protection

The GoPro is legendary for its rugged durability. Out of the box, the latest GoPro models are waterproof down to 33ft (10m) without any additional housing. But in more extreme environments, a little added protection can go a long way.

For hardcore watersports, deep diving, or anytime you‘re pushing the submersion limits of your camera, a dive housing is a must-have accessory. GoPro‘s own Protective Housing is a solid budget choice, rated down to 196ft (60m). You can also find more heavy-duty aluminum housings for serious deep sea excursions.

If your GoPro is going to be subjected to harsh conditions topside, a silicone skin or camera cage can provide valuable impact protection while still maintaining access to your camera‘s controls and ports.

And to protect your lens from scratches, dings, and debris, an inexpensive UV filter or tempered glass protector is a smart and easy insurance policy. No one wants to end up with a scratched lens ruining all their footage.

7. Stabilization

Camera shake can be the bane of any videographer‘s existence. Shaky footage looks amateurish at best, and can even make your videos physically uncomfortable to watch. While the GoPro‘s built-in electronic image stabilization is already class-leading, mechanically stabilizing your camera is still the gold standard for buttery smooth professional results.

The GoPro Karma Grip is a great entry point to the world of motorized gimbals. This compact 3-axis stabilizer produces uncannily smooth footage in a highly portable and user-friendly package. For the ultimate in creative control and stabilization performance, the renowned DJI Ronin-SC gimbal is a worthwhile (albeit pricier) step up.

GoPro Stabilization Comparison
A gimbal like the GoPro Karma Grip produces noticeably smoother footage compared to handheld or standard electronic stabilization.

Even without a gimbal, there are still plenty of tools and techniques you can use to keep your GoPro footage smooth and stable. Simple grip/pole mounts can work wonders for dampening vibration and steadying your shots. A sturdy but lightweight GoPro tripod is another must-have for locked off shots and stable pans.

And sometimes the most effective stabilization solution is your own body. Practice proper handheld shooting techniques (elbows tucked, camera close to your center of mass), and use your surroundings for extra support whenever possible.

8. Filters

GoPro‘s distinctive wide-angle lens captures a uniquely immersive field of view. But that expansive perspective can sometimes benefit from a little optical fine-tuning. That‘s where high quality lens filters come into play.

Let‘s start with the basics: a good UV/clear filter is a no-brainer for everyday lens protection. They‘re inexpensive, unobtrusive, and far preferable to repairing a scratched lens element.

For bright daylight shooting, consider a neutral density (ND) filter. These darkened filters allow you to shoot at wider apertures for shallower depth of field and that creamy background blur on bright days. They can also help you exploit cool slow shutter speed effects like motion blur trails or smooth, fluffy waterfalls.

Polarizing filters are a landscape shooter‘s secret weapon. By cutting through glare and reflections, a polarizer can dramatically enhance the color, contrast, and clarity in your outdoor GoPro shots. Look for a thin low-profile circular polarizer designed specifically for your GoPro model to avoid vignetting.

PolarPro Venture Filter 3-Pack
The PolarPro Venture 3-Pack includes must-have filters for most GoPro shooting situations.

And for the GoPro-wielding Cousteau wannabes out there, a quality underwater filter kit can make a night and day difference in your submarine shots. Red filter, magenta filter, and snorkel filter options correct for color loss at different depths, restoring natural hues and contrast to your underwater footage.

9. Remote Control

Part of the GoPro‘s appeal is being able to capture unique perspectives and impossible angles. But sometimes the perfect shot means your camera is out of reach or inaccessible. That‘s where a reliable remote control setup can really save the day.

The simplest and most seamless remote solution is GoPro‘s own Smart Remote. This waterproof, wearable remote straps right onto your wrist and provides intuitive control of all your camera‘s key functions via an easy-to-read LCD status screen. With a range of up to 600ft (180m), you‘ll have command of your shot whether your GoPro is mounted on your helmet, spinning on a selfie stick, or soaring through the air on a drone.

For even more flexibility, you can pair your GoPro with the GoPro mobile app for remote control, live preview, and instant playback right on your phone. The app does have some limitations compared to a dedicated hardware remote—it‘s more battery hungry and doesn‘t perform as well in extreme connectivity situations like deep wilderness or crowded public events. But it‘s still an incredibly handy option to have at your disposal.

10. Storage & Utilities

Our final category of must-have GoPro accessories covers all the little storage and organizational doodads you‘ll accumulate as you build out your kit. Because let‘s face it, GoPro-ing can be a gear intensive hobby. Keeping it all together and easily accessible is key.

Casey, the classic hard shell camera case, is still a solid foundation for organizing and protecting your GoPro kit. Pick up a padded, partitioned case big enough to fit your camera(s), mounts, batteries, mics, and other essentials – with room to grow as you add new accessories.

Within that main storage unit, packing cubes and organization pouches can help keep all your smaller items neatly arranged and easy to locate. Look for weather-resistant or padded accessory cases for things like microSD cards, lens filters, small mounts and hardware, etc.

And don‘t forget about data backup in the field. The aforementioned spare microSD cards are a good start, but for important or irreplaceable footage, you‘ll also want a mobile hard drive solution. Something compact, rugged, and high-capacity like the LaCie Rugged series will let you offload and backup your GoPro footage anywhere, anytime, for maximum data security.

Putting It All Together

We‘ve covered a lot of ground in this guide to the must-have GoPro accessories. But the key takeaway is this: your GoPro is capable of so much more than you might realize out of the box. By investing in smart accessory choices tailored to your needs, you can transform it from a simple action cam into a truly professional content creation tool.

My biggest advice is not to get overwhelmed by all the accessory options and to let your creativity lead the way. Start with the essentials in each category that match your shooting style and interests. Then as you gain experience and discover new creative challenges, gradually expand your kit to fill in any functionality gaps.

Treat your GoPro like the professional instrument it is. Built out a well-rounded accessory kit with high quality, reliable components. Develop a methodical pack and prep routine so you‘re always organized and ready to shoot. Take the time to properly set up, frame, and dial in your shots. And above all, keep on exploring, experimenting, and pushing the boundaries of what‘s possible with your GoPro.

Because that‘s what these incredible little cameras are all about. Bringing your unique adventures and stories to life in exciting new ways. So get out there and start capturing your world like never before.