Last year, we lost three action cameras. It was less of a financial blow (although the good GoPros with vibration dampening are pretty pricey) as it was an emotional one because prior to 2020, we had never lost a camera despite all of our riding. To go from zero to three camera losses was incredibly frustrating particularly when considering how unnecessary their loss was. GoPro (and countless others) has been selling EVA foam floats for action cameras for over a decade – and in most cases, they’re relatively cheap and fit the camera.
Yet, that also implies that not all action camera floats are created equal. Online vendor outlets are rife with discount GoPro floaties that are ill-fitting, made from inferior materials and in a worse case scenario, fail to do the one job they were created for: float. In restocking our collection of action cameras we also bought half a dozen foam floats – some with 3M double-sided tape to adhere to the camera’s waterproof case, others molded to wrap around the waterproof camera as tight as possible.
For our replacement GoPro 8 Hero, we decided to be misers and hit up the old Amazon.com to see what cheaper options we had to choose from. We opted for the EVA foam Floatex Floaty case because it had the largest opening in back to block the GoPro’s LCD display, as well as openings for all of the camera’s buttons and front screens. Advertised as being “vibrant orange” and easy-to-spot, the Floatex is described as being “ultra-buoyant” and “being made from “only premium materials and expert design go into this “Best-In-Class” product.”
Often when riding, we use either a GoPro suction cup mount or the spring-loaded C-clamp (with the flexible arm) to attach to tight edges. Thankfully, the flexible arm is buoyant but both the clamp and the suction cup mount are pretty heavy, which had us concerned. Thankfully, Floatex assured that “[it] will work great paired with other mounts, bobbers, and buoyant poles,” so how could we loose, right? Unfortunately, pretty much everything we’ve quoted here was a lie.
It arrived quickly and we immediately slipped our GoPro 8 in the float. The fitment is loose, not sloppy loose, but loose enough that the camera lens can pick up on the outermost edge of the float. Access to the rear screen and buttons are wide open, which is appreciated, but the foam felt…well, old. Equally, the “vibrant orange” was really more of a dull tangerine. The color wasn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but it was worth noting how less-than-vibrant it really was.
Then came the real world testing. On it’s own, with the camera detached from the mounts, the Floatex keeps the GoPro bobbing at the surface. So much so that the camera could take clear pictures of the sky above without you knowing it was laying on the water’s surface. With the flexible arm, it maintained the same on-the-water buoyancy (of course, the arm itself is buoyant, as we noted so it’s not really working that hard, is it?). But when attached to either the GoPro C-clamp or suction cup mount, it sank like a stone.
Even with the help of the buoyant flexible arm the Floatex failed to keep the camera even somewhat afloat. Rather, it sank directly to the bottom of the sandbar. Curious whether an official GoPro float could withstand the pull of the C-clamp (our heaviest mount) we attached our tiny GoPro Session with a float without the buoyant arm – and it held the camera up. Not perfectly – just below the surface – but enough to be spotted and saved. If GoPro’s smallest float could keep the mount from sinking, why couldn’t Floatex’s far larger float?
It all comes down to EVA foam density. The denser the foam, the spongier the feel – and the Floatex just ain’t got it. Although Floatex advertises a “Quality Assurance” program (“We promise a hassle free 90 days warranty for any issue. 100% risk-free purchase. Contact our helpful customer support for assistance.”). When we called, all they could offer was to either replace the floaty with another identical one or return our money, a whopping $13.99. Best to save that money and pay for a superior float rather than risk losing another camera.