I could have called this “How to fit a GoPro to your car or truck,” pointed you to a cheap suction mount, and told you to have fun.
But the problem with this is that this is a fast track to mayhem. If — or more likely, when — the GoPro flies off the car, the best you can hope for is that you’re down a GoPro. Worse, it could go through someone else’s windshield, hit a passerby, or damage something or someone.
And that someone or something might be you or yours or your stuff.
I always work to minimize the risk to others and other people’s property, and to minimize the risk to me and my property. This is why I only use good quality mounts such as the 3 Footed Monster Pro.
Yeah, I know, it can seem like a strange thing to do, but in the world of travel and adventure vloggers and YouTubers, attaching a GoPro to a vehicle is a common thing.
Not only is this a great way to capture footage of the area you’re in, but it can also great a great way to capture what’s called B-roll footage (footage that’s intertwined with the main footage to support the story, offer a different viewpoint, create tension, or to highlight a point).
Now the 3 Footed Monster Pro is big and expensive (and very often on back order). But it’s a high quality mount. The magnetic base is strong and does a good job of fixing to ferrous surfaces such as car body panels, street lights, and pretty much anything magnetic you can think of.
The magnets have spring shock absorbers that do a fantastic job at minimizing vibration, and the mount is more than enough to hold a GoPro or other action camera to your car or truck (there’s also a holder for a smartphone, although I wouldn’t recommend using your best daily-driver smartphone for this).
It’s also a good idea to clean the area you’re going to stick the magnets down onto of any dirt and grime. Not only will that mean the magnets stick better, it’ll also reduce any risk of damaging the paintwork.
Now, as good as this mount is, and as reliable it has been so far — it’s never let me down — I still wouldn’t be happy with relying solely on the magnets.
It’s a good idea to attach the mount to the vehicle using strong cord or straps. I use 550lb breaking strain paracord because I have loads of it, and it’s cheap and very reliable.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way secure the mount and camera to the car.
The wrong way is to dangle it from a wing mirror. If the mount breaks loose (which is very unlikely with a magnetic mount because magnets are always magnets), the it’s going to dangle and swing about uncontrollably and cause all sorts of pandemonium.
The right way is to attach it at both ends. Here I’ve wrapped the cord around the car door so even if the mount was to come loose, it can’t move much.
Here are some suggestions:
- On the door/wing
- On the roof
- On the hood pointing forward or backwards towards the occupants
- Underneath the car (be careful, this can be tricky, and if you hit the camera you could do damage to the camera or the vehicle)
Note that it’s very possible that you mount and the camera is going to get dirty and muddy, and that stones can fly up and hit the camera at high speed. This is something that can be harsh on cameras, and it’s why I don’t recommend using your smartphone.
I drove quite a few miles over rough and wet country roads with the mount attached, and it didn’t move in the least.
- Do use a quality mount
- Do clean the paintwork before attaching
- Do secure the mount with cord or a strap
- Do make sure that the surface you’re attaching the mount to is ferrous (magnetic) metal
- Do check that the mount is secure often
- Don’t rush or take shortcuts
- Don’t use poor quality mounts
- Don’t use a mount that’s showing signs of wear or damage
Final don’t: Don’t use suction mounts on a vehicle. Once a suction cup has broken free, it’s not going to stick back on like a magnet. And I’ve seen several cheap mounts with multiple suction cups give way within minutes of being attached, spilling expensive cameras in the process.
Alternatives to consider
OK, but what if you don’t want to spend $250 on a mount? Maybe you’re only going to use it a few times? Are there any options open to you?
SUREWO Magnetic Action Camera Mount for GoPro – Three magnetic feet make this a solid mount for under $50
Magnetic Mount Base Stand Kit – A very small, low profile mount that comes with a very nice swivel head
ULIBERMAGNET 60lb Magnetic Camera Mounting Base – A solid, sturdy magnetic mount
Pellking Magnet Camera Mount for GoPro – This uses two magnetic feet instead of three, making it a better solution where space is limited
Now you can go have fun!