The PaddleCam mounts your waterproof camera to your kayak paddle for easy access
Product Dimensions: 3 x 3.25 x 1.5”
(76 x 83 x 38mm)
Weight 1.4 oz (40g)
- Durable Nylon Construction
- Quick-release camera foot
- Stainless-steel hardware
- Available to fit either standard round paddle shafts or bent shafts
- Choice of six high-visibility colors
- Also available to fit GoPro or Apple iPhone
A couple of years ago, in the middle of a three-mile crossing to our island campsite, my paddling buddy and I were caught off-guard by a violent, unpredicted Lake Superior squall.
As the leading edge of the roll cloud descended on us like a dark horizon-spanning steamroller, the winds suddenly rose to 50-plus knots. Unable to outrun the storm and make it safely to shore, we dropped our skegs, threw our best low braces, and hunkered down to ride it out. The wind howled in my ears, the surface of the water was shredded to foam, and I glanced over to see my partner doing the same, wreathed in the descending gloom and barely visible through the flying spray.
The worst of it was over within a terrifying minute or two when the wind finally subsided, and we simultaneously whooped in relief at both finding ourselves upright and alive.
Still stunned, I glanced down to see my waterproof camera safely perched on its foredeck mini-tripod, asleep. The image is forever etched in my mind, of my intrepid partner riding out perhaps the worst Lake Superior squall of our paddling careers, but in the heat of the moment I’d neglected to pivot the tripod and hit the Start button to capture even a single photo or video clip …
The PaddleCam by Edgewater Innovation aims to help kayakers avoid such missed photo-ops by putting your action camera right at your fingertips, securely attached to your paddle shaft rather than packed away or mounted on deck during all the exciting stuff.
The PaddleCam is packaged in a basic plastic bag with header card. No instructions are included, but it’s a simple enough product design that the three photos are enough to get you started.
Included in the package with the PaddleCam itself is tiny hex key for attaching/removing from your paddle, and a small nylon security clip.
The PaddleCam is a sleek, low-profile and lightweight design made of a rigid nylon material with no sharp edges or corners. The entire assembly has a coarsely textured surface which makes for easy handling, even with wet or gloved hands. The few metal parts are made of stainless-steel.
Installation is straightforward. Use the included hex key to loosen the two small screws in the band clamps (I like that these utilize small retainers to prevent the bolts slipping out and falling overboard), and slip the PaddleCam over the shaft of your paddle, then tighten the screws. (The hex key is quite small and could be lost; once mounted you’ll seldom need it again, but be sure to carry a spare tucked away somewhere safe.) The band clamps feature thin rubber liners for a slip-proof grip and to prevent marring your shaft. The PaddleCam can be mounted either forward or aft of your paddle shaft; forward offers more clearance between you and your paddle for those short strokes.
Press the button on the underside of the quick-release foot to remove it from the main body. Your camera is attached in the usual way, with an integrated 1/4-20 screw to fit any camera with a standard tripod mount. The screw, though small, features a tiny slot in the edge of the hinged D-ring, to help your fingernail flip the D-ring open. The screw also has a slot for loosening & tightening with an American nickel or other small coin. The PaddleCam quick-release foot also has two small rubber pads to better grip the underside of your camera.
After attaching your camera to the quick-release foot, simply snap it back into the main body of the PaddleCam. The quick-release mechanism is surprisingly solid, and I was unable to ‘accidently’ knock it loose or even to force it to break free. Yet the release button is easy to press even with gloved hands, allowing the foot to easily disconnect.
To quickly swap your camera from one paddle to another, even while on the water, simply purchase two PaddleCams and leave the main bodies attached to their respective paddle shafts; the quick-release foot can easily interchange from one to the other.
The underside of the PaddleCam also features an integrated loop for attaching the included nylon snap clip; just attach your camera’s wrist lanyard to the snap clip, then clip it onto the PaddleCam’s integrated security loop.
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For simplicity and balance, you’ll probably want to mount the PaddleCam in the center of your paddle shaft (though I wonder what kind of cool shots I could get with the PaddleCam mounted near the end of my paddle like a boom?). The PaddleCam weighs next to nothing, but of course your camera is likely several ounces. Because your camera is mounted either forward or aft of the paddle’s center-of-gravity, this offset weight tends to rotate the shaft in your hands if you have a loose grip on the paddle. The solution, of course, is to maintain a firmer grip, and carrying the PaddleCam on your paddle soon becomes second nature.
Having your camera so close at hand only encourages more photography, and eliminates many of those missed shots. I also find that having the camera mounted to the paddle helps to stablise the camera, the paddle acting like a Steadicam armature to absorb the shakes and jouncing common in on-the-water photos and especially video.
I often shoot video with the camera mounted to the kayak foredeck using a flexible compact tripod, and this is complicated by having my camera instead attached to the PaddleCam. Because the quick-releases are different, I must completely detach the camera from the PaddleCam, then reattach it to the tripod quick-release, or vice-versa. Though an inconvenience, this is certainly possible even while on the water, and the advantages of the PaddleCam are definitely worth it.
The PaddleCam keeps your camera handy both on quiet flatwater but especially in the more dramatic rough stuff. Rather than fumbling for your camera in a PFD pocket or beneath a deck bungee, then trying to compose and shoot while bobbing around paddle-less, the PaddleCam allows you to start shooting quickly, all while maintaining boat control and without ever setting aside your paddle.
In The Long Run
Aside from a crude DIY solution, or a proprietary mount made to work only with a GoPro Hero or similar, there really is no better solution than the PaddleCam. With its lightweight and compact design, and quick-release foot, the PaddleCam is a great solution for on-the-water photography and video.
Now, when you bravely ride out a storm front or your paddling partner boldly throws himself into that rocky tide race, you’ll have some photos or video to show to the authorities and his next-of-kin.
Since starting to use the PaddleCam, I find myself taking more kayaking action photos and video, because the camera is so immediately handy, and I no longer have any excuses for missing a great shot!
Hits: keeps camera close-at-hand; lightweight, compact, durable design; quick and easy attachment even while wearing wet gloves; very secure connection
Misses: camera weight tends to rotate paddle shaft for those with loose grips; somewhat complicates switching camera to other mounts; works best with center-mounted cameras
Notes: when ordering, be sure to specify Type “R” to fit most round paddle shafts, or Type “O” to fit most Werner bent-shaft paddles.