With an incredible amount of options available on the market, choosing the right drone for you is not an easy task, let alone choosing the best drone that can mount your GoPro camera.
When we first started to research the drones that are compatible with GoPro Hero cameras, we were greatly surprised by the amount of outdated information available on the internet.
The problem is that many drone manufacturers have either pulled out of the market or went broke due to the increased regulation that has been recently imposed on the drone usage and tighter competition.
So we tasked ourselves to cut through the noise and clutter to give you a single resource with the most relevant and current information available on best drones for GoPro in 2018. The aim was to create an objective buyer’s guide which is useful and relatively concise. I hope you find it that way and get a great deal of value!
Best Drone For GoPro – Quick Comparison
GoPro is a well-established brand that has positioned itself as a market leader in action cameras. Since you have invested a lot of money buying one, finding the drone that is compatible with your camera will potentially save you some money as drones that come with integrated cameras are typically more expensive than drones that have a camera harness only.
There are however a couple of things you need to be aware of before making a decision and this review packs everything you need to know to help you choose the best drone for your GoPro camera.
The top 5 drones that are compatible with your GoPro Hero cameras are summarised in the table below. It is designed for people who do not have the time to go through the complete review and would only want to know the highlights.
At the same time, we would like to encourage you to read the entire review. We believe that it will help you make a better, more educated decision when buying the best drone for your GoPro camera and if you need a more detailed comparison between all the drones we have reviewed here – please see a more comprehensive table at the bottom of this review.
How do we test Drones?
We have seen a fairly rapid pace of drone development over the last couple of years. Drones have become smarter, lighter, portable and more feature-rich than ever. Some even come with integrated cameras capable of recording 4K videos and amazing quality controllers featuring live view displays.
For those of you who want to take their drone experience to the ultimate and the most immersive levels – you can opt for an FPV (i.e. First Person View) googles that allow you to have a bird’s eye view from the top or even a VR headset.
Despite the growing number of updates, enhancements, and features, the most important aspects to consider when buying a drone have not changed. You still want to have an easy to use operation, reasonable airtime, good range, swiftness and some handy perks to make your experience even more enjoyable.
As you may have guessed, below are the main aspects that we believe should be considered when choosing the best drone for GoPro or any drone for that matter:
- Performance (e.g. speed, control, maneuverability)
- Flight time (e.g. battery capacity, drone efficiency)
- Range (e.g. the maximum distance you can control the drone at)
- Feature set (e.g. drone’s technical and functional capabilities)
- Ease of use and control (
processof setting up, flying and maintaining the drone)
Our review concludes the top 5 drones that you can mount your GoPro Hero camera on. The options we have listed below will fit you if you are looking for the best budget drone for GoPro or a full-featured, best premium drone for your GoPro Hero camera. Rest assured, we have a drone pick for your needs and budget!
Once you have picked the best drone for your needs, please consider reading the drone code to ensure you have the required knowledge to be mindful and stay out of trouble.
Although this is an entry-level drone, it is a highly versatile, full-featured drone with a full-function remote control.
Design And Durability
The Ionic Stratus is one of the biggest and heaviest drones in our review. It spans 20 inches in width if you factor in the blade protectors. However, it is not the size that makes unportable, but rather the solid arms that do not fold like most of the drones in our review. In other words, although you could probably stick it into your backpack, it is a much more preferred to carry it in a car.
The drone comes with a 6-axis gyro system, which is a standout feature in this price range. In fact, Ionic Stratus was the first budget drone to feature such a gyro system. It makes the drone stable in mixed outdoor conditions allowing it to withstand a mild wind, as long as you are not pushing it too much.
It is great to see that budget drones are featuring more advanced systems now. After all, you’ll have your GoPro camera mounted on it, which is four times the price of the drone, so you do want to keep it safe.
In addition, the drone has a highly durable body. It comes with a shock absorbent cradle head and shock resistant landing gear to protect the drone and the camera from light to medium impacts and crashes.
The Ionic Stratus can mount various ‘general’ size cameras, however, it has been specifically designed for GoPro Hero. At the time it was launched, the GoPro Hero 4 camera was out, which the harness that comes with the drone was tailored to support. You can still mount Hero 5 and 6 cameras just as easily, yet it will be a slightly less perfect fit.
Actually, the camera mount is probably the least impressive part of the drone as it does not use a gimbal and is fixed to the drone’s frame. We were not expecting a gimbal to come with a budget drone, as it would have been unreasonable, but what we’ve learned is the importance of having one.
Apart from the mount itself, it is not been positioned perfectly relative to the landing gear. This results in the landing gear getting into the video frame on most of the GoPro video settings, which is not an ideal footage (see the video above).
The 7.4V 1200MAh Lithium battery that comes with the drone allows for about 10 minutes of airtime. This is not too spectacular and is somewhat expected in the budget drone range.
It takes around 2.5 hours to recharge the battery, so we recommend buying at least one additional battery together with this drone.
The drone comes with a full-featured control stick that allows the quad to move in all directions and even perform some 360-degree flips. You do not need to train for the flip as it is a single button operation which initiates and completes the flip safely. The drone can also do a 3D roll in both forward and backward directions.
The remote is easy to use and allows the controls to be customized to your liking, which is also a bonus for a budget drone. It keeps a stable connection with the drone up to a 150 meters distance.
One of the features we do not often see on budget drones is the headless mode. It allows the pilot to control the drone and not worry about its orientation in the air when flying. The headless mode uses the pilot’s position as a reference point making it easier to control the drone, especially in the distance where you cannot tell the front and the rear of the drone apart. You can turn this mode on or off whilst the drone is in flight.
Moreover, the Ionic Stratus features an integrated, GPS based ‘return home’ functionality which makes sure that the drone will always find the way back to its take-off location.
The Ionic Stratus comes with some handy accessories such as protection frame, spare blades and landing skids making ready to use out of the box. In case you need more, there are plenty of other options and accessories to choose from at very affordable prices.
The Ionic Stratus allows you to select one of the three flying speed settings to tailor your flying experience. Enabling the fastest setting allows the drone to reach the speeds of around 30 miles per hour.
In addition to the straight line performance, the drone is able to perform a couple of tricks – the ‘one key roll’ and a 3D roll.
The One Key Roll function is triggered by pressing a button on the radio controller to roll forward once. There is nothing you need to do except pressing the button to have the drone execute this trick and then hover in the air.
The more interactive trick is a 3D roll, which allows the pilot to control the roll by pressing the roll button and navigating the control stick forward, backward or to the sides. In fact, you can do a whole sequence of the rolls, holding the button and alternating the control stick positions.
Although the Ionic Stratus is capable of performing a couple of air tricks, it does not have a full 3D movement support and it would not be fair to expect it to have it. This is a drone that makes a small step forward to introduce the user to some of the advanced and fun ways of playing with your quadcopter, but it is not tailored for expert use. If you are someone starting out and wanting to get a little bit of an exposure to what the big guys can do – the Ionic Stratus is one of the best RC drones for beginners out there.
- Features 90%
- Usability 90%
- Flight Time 60%
- Range 70%
|Amazing value, best budget drone for GoPro|
|Compatible with all GoPro Heros|
|3D roll is fun|
|Durable landing gear and body|
|Below average flying time|
|Takes too long to recharge the battery|
|Landing gear gets into the video frame|
|Shaky footage as the camera mount does not absorb motor vibration|
You can also use GoPro Hero 5 and 6, but you won’t be able to connect it to the drone to stream the video from the camera without having to remove it.
The drone is quite versatile and is suitable for a bit of everything – general use, sport flying, and even aerial photography.
Design And Durability
The design of the drone is eye-catching and practical at the same time. In fact, holding the drone in your hands gives you a feeling of a refined simplicity as it is one of the best-looking drones we have ever seen. In addition, it is also one of the most durable drones we have ever tested. The build is sturdy and the plastic is robust.
Reportedly, the x-shape body and sharp edges have been designed to be aerodynamically efficient and visually appealing. The drone’s body is made out of interchangeable modules that are easily swapped if required. For example, you can interchange the GoPro camera for a native camera quite easily and quickly.
If you have a GoPro Hero 3 or 4 cameras, then you will get to benefit from the FPV (i.e. First Person View) feature by using your phone. Not only you can have a live view from your drone’s cockpit, you can also define a course for the drone to fly.
The battery that comes with the drone is a custom shape, so you won’t be able to use a generic type battery. Not that there is a great need for it, as the stock battery comes with 5200 mAh capacity that will give you up to 25 minutes of airtime.
Charging the battery requires 30 to 40 minutes, which is superior to many other drones out there.
The Xiro Explorer is extremely easy to fly due to a very comfortable remote and stable positioning in the air. The controller has an ergonomic shape and is made using quality materials.
The controller looks and feels simple and neat partially due to a smart button layout.
The Xiro Xplorer G is packed with features, some of which are typically found in premium drones.
One of the most basic features is a ‘return home’ which enables the drone to remember the take-off position and safely return at a push of a button. The feature auto enables if the drone loses the connection with the controller or battery levels get critically low.
The ‘follow me’ feature is engaged via a mobile phone application. It tells the drone to follow your movement and track you. Additionally, you can engage a ‘self-circling’ option which would make the drone hover over you capturing you in a circular fashion with the drone and the camera facing your way.
The ‘follow-snap’ feature is a more advanced version of the ‘follow me’ feature which allows you to pick an object on the screen for the drone to follow and rotate around it.
The ‘waypoint navigation’ feature is impressive. It allows you to place up to 16 points using the mobile application on the map. Once done, you can engage the Xiro Xplorer G to execute the defined route. Whilst the drone is following the waypoints, you can control it to turn in a way that captures the best frame.
The Xiro Xplorer G comes with three different flight modes designed to cater for any experience level the users might have.
The first mode is designed for beginner users in mind and represents the safest option if you are just starting out. Before flying the drone the system checks that it has a solid GPS signal with at least six satellites. Whilst in flight, the speed is limited to 2 meters per second, the fly-away distance to 100 meters and the maximum height to 50 meters.
The second mode is designed for people with flying experience and sets fewer constraints. It allows the drone to fly without having a GPS connection. The horizontal speed is now limited to 6 meters per second, fly-away distance to 300 meters and altitude ceiling to 120 meters.
The third mode increases the vertical speed to 3 meters per second, horizontal speed to 8 meters per second, fly-away distance to 600 meters and vertical ceiling to 120 meters. This mode is for exper use only and should not be engages unless you feel extremely comfortable with drone’s controls.
- Features 90%
- Usability 80%
- Flight Time 90%
- Performance 80%
|Consistent and stable aerial video|
|Great range and flight time|
|Easy to use, ergonomic controls|
|Beautiful and compact design|
|Great value, affordable|
|No native support for GoPro 5 and 6|
|Unable to add extra batteries|
|Does not take photos|
At first, the initial batch came out with a battery defect, causing GoPro to recall the drones.
With the issue being fixed now, is it the best drone for GoPro on the market today? Let’s find out.
Design And Durability
The GoPro Karma has been designed with a strong focus on portability. This quadcopter with GPS built-in is lightweight and comes in a compact case with rotors and the landing gear nicely folded.
The GoPro camera is designed to be mounted at the front of the drone rather than underneath it, which allows the drone to have a slimmer profiler compared to the competition.
The gimbal the camera is mounted on can be used as a stick gimbal, so if you don’t have a gimbal stick for your camera yet, this is a good way to save some money. In fact, the gimbal that comes in a package is of a great quality and is one of the best drone gimbal for GoPro we have ever seen.
Despite the drone being light, it is also extremely rugged. The drone’s body, controller, grip and the camera itself are tough and capable of withstanding some physical impacts.
Most of the critical drone components such as arms, landing gear, propellers or gimbal are made easy to remove and replace in case of a damage or fault.
Out of the box, the GoPro Karma is designed to work with GoPro Hero 5 and 6 cameras, however, if you buy an additional harness, GoPro 4 Silver and Black cameras would mount just as easily.
The battery life is the Achilles heel of GoPro Karma as it only lasts 17 minutes in the air. This is almost 10 minutes shorter than the best results we’ve seen amongst other drones of the same class such as Yuneec Typhoon or Xiro Xplorer G.
The drone and the controller communicate with each over the Wi-Fi network, which allows a smooth operation up to 1.86 miles or 3-kilometer distance. This is definitely a great result, yet if you compare it to DJI Mavic Pro’s range of 4.3 miles of 7 kilometers, it is obviously inferior.
The controller is well built and is made of a quality plastic that grips well and has a good feel. The top part of the controller features a touchscreen display. The best part is that you can adjust the camera settings including the shooting mode or the shutter via the controller.
To improve the video and photo quality, the GoPro Karma comes with a built-in gimbal. In fact, the gimbal can be taken out and mounted on the grip which also comes in the package to get yourself a camera stabilizer. The grip also works with a standard GoPro mount system, which can be attached to a motorbike or a car.
Amongst the typical options of most drones, the GoPro Karma features an automated landing and take-off ability.
The drone comes with a ‘return home’ feature allowing the drone to return to the original take-off location in case of low battery or signal loss.
Drones in this price range more often than not come with collision detection system and unfortunately it is not the case for GoPro Karma which makes it feel under-equipped compared to the rivals.
In our tests, the GoPro Karma demonstrated a maximum speed of 35 miles or 56 kilometers per hour. Although this is not the best result we’ve seen in drones, it is definitely good.
The real highlight of GoPro Karma is the best in class video quality and the footage looks crisp with vibrant colors the GoPro cameras are known for.
The three-axis gimbal works extremely well with the drone’s rotors event at high speeds and at tight turns. The video frame is being kept consistently stable allowing the camera to do its best job possible.
Whilst the drone is in flight, the video signal is being sent to the transmitter which shows a live ‘cockpit’ view of the camera. The image quality on the transmitter is crisp when the drone is in short range, yet degrades sharply as soon as the distance increases.
- Features 80%
- Usability 90%
- Flight Time 60%
- Performance 80%
|Compact, slim and portable|
|Great camera stabilization|
|Best GoPro integration on the market|
|Good biuld quality|
|Does not have a collision detection system|
|Battery life is poor|
|Not the smartest drone for the money|
|Short transmission range|
The objective that Traxxas has set for themselves when designing the Aton Plus is to create an ultimate quad that is so versatile that it appeals and works for the users of any skill levels.
Has Traxxas managed to pull it off? Let’s check this quad out!
Design And Durability
As soon as you unpack the box, the ‘wow’ factor just screams at you. The colors are super vivid and the body profile has some great looking, sleek curves. In fact, it reminds you of a racing car, which is the Traxass pedigree they are so well known for.
You will also find a Quick Start guide in the box advising you to get familiar with Know Before You Fly responsibilities as a pilot.
The frame is made of a molded plastic which has a sturdy feel and holds the drone and electronics together.
The canopy is made of a quality rugged plastic giving the drone the necessary protection for beginner pilots who are just starting out.
Putting the drone together completes the image and exhibits the feel of toughness, aggressiveness, durability, and performance making you extremely impatient to fly it.
At the back of the quad, you will find the four light indicators that represent the level of readiness of Power, GPS, Home Location, and Info. It may take the quad up to a minute to check and initialize all the systems before you can safely fly it.
Each arm has a very bright LED to help you understand the drone’s orientation in the air. The LED lights are very bright and are highly visible even during the daytime. If you like colors other than red and white, which it comes with, you can purchase different color lenses separately.
The Aton Plus comes with a high capacity 5000mAh 3S LiPo battery allowing you over 30 minutes of airtime. This is one of the best results we have seen in ready to fly drones, big or small.
Flying the Aton Plus with the GoPro camera mounted reduces the overall airtime by 3-4 minutes. Nevertheless, it still represents an exceptional result compared to the competition.
The radio that comes with the Aton Plus is almost the same radio that came with the LaTrax Alias (if you know). It has more buttons to accommodate more advanced features of the drone, yet in essence, it is the same unit. The controller is simple, has a fairly generic feel, looks plain and feels somewhat cheap, but it gets the job done well and reliably.
A little LCD screen on the radio will help you stay in touch with the current settings, such as transmitter and receiver battery levels, throttle rate, current flight mode and helicopter lights on/off.
The Aton Plus comes with multiple features that are not only fancy but also practical. Below are some of the most important ones:
Traxxas has recently updated their not-so-great gimbal system from 2-axis to 3-axis support. The updated system results in a better camera stability and reduced camera vibration caused by the rotors.
Whenever you find yourself in panic situation losing the control over the drone, you can hit the ‘Airbrake’ button to get the drone auto-stabilize, hover and wait for your further commands. This feature is extremely handy irrespective if you are a beginner or an expert pilot.
If you want to have your drone return to its take-off position, you can use a ‘Return home’ button. Engaging this mode will see the drone elevate to take a 45-degree angle to the original takeoff position and commence the descent.
Keep in mind that the drone does not have a collision avoidance system, hence you need to consider the path it will roughly take and ensure that there are no obstacles in the way.
Traxxas Flight Link App
A highly customizable mobile phone application that can be downloaded from the Apple or Google stores. It allows you to customize almost all Aton’s controls and settings for each flight mode.
The performance of the Aton Plus is dependent on one of the three modes that you can choose from. They are Film, Sport, and Expert.
This mode is designed for the drone to maintain a stable position in the air using the 6-axis stabilizing gyro system. Minimizing the vibration and quad movement improves the video and photo shot quality allowing the pilot to focus on the object being filmed. The result is exceptional images and amazing video quality.
When using the default Film mode setting, you may find the controls feel quite docile. If you do, those settings can be changed to be more responsive which is handy when filming fast moving targets.
The Film mode is great for learning the basic drone controls. It is perfect for beginner pilots who want to take it safe and easy.
The Sport mode is all about fun as it allows the drone to show its athletic nature and perform some acrobatic maneuvres. When engaged, it gives an additional control over the drone’s features allowing it to perform controlled flips and rolls, engage an air brake and get the drone to ‘come back home’.
We found the ‘air brake’ feature to be exceptionally handy as it stabilizes the drone and makes it hover when engaged. This is a really handy feature to prevent a drone crash whenever you start losing control over it. It is not about being an expert or a beginner, any of us may find this feature helpful given the right circumstances.
The Expert mode disables any type of assistance or aid such as an accelerometer and gyroscope. IT allows the drone to fly at a speed greater than 50 mph and maneuver at extreme roll and pitch angles.
Despite the size of the drone, it can forward, backward or side flip with ease.
As the name suggests, the Expert mode is not for everyone and requires a certain level of skill to unleash the full potential of Aton Plus. At the same time, if you want to learn some of the air acrobatic tricks, you can safely do it. The ‘air brake’ is only a button click away to prevent a drone crash and regain your composure. You just need to make sure that you have one of your fingers close to the ‘air brake’ button.
- Features 80%
- Usability 90%
- Flight Time 100%
- Performance 90%
|Best in class airtime|
|Truly versatile having 3 flight modes|
|High-quality aerial image and video|
|Radio transmitter feels cheap|
The Airdog ADII is a very special drone built with a strong sports-action focus. The company motto is “The Future is Hands-Free” and the drone definitely lives up to that promise.
Design And Durability
When designing the Airdog ADII, the engineers had a clear, but a farily contradictive set of objectives. The drone had to be light, portable yet very durable. Those usually mutually exclusive factors come with a couple of constraints making it tricky to achieve, but we think AirDog has done just that.
Light, durable plastic and aluminum materials have been predominantly used to make the drone rugged yet light at the same time. You can fold the drone away in your backpack by removing the propellers and folding the arms and although it may take some room in your backpack, it is still reasonably portable.
The arms have a very sturdy feel and do not wobble which is a great sign as foldable parts are prone to excessive play and ‘flop’.
Overall, the physical design has not changed much compared to the original AirDog, but the color scheme has. It no longer looks like a toy drone and portraits an image of a serious, advanced and sophisticated machinery.
The AirDog ADII has been designed to be the best sport-tracking action drone around. It is not a general purpose drone and hence most of the design philosophy revolves around the hands-free tracking rather than the manual control. Due to that, the drone does not come with the radio controller but has a small waterproof transmitter pod called AirLeash instead.
The drone and AirLeash work in a tandem communicating with each other and exchanging the GPS and barometer readings to maintain a consistent awareness of each other’s positioning. In other words, AirDog must always have an AirLeash to fly (got it?). In fact, there is a whole lot of sensors used on the drone such as a gyroscope, GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, and LiDAR to improve tracking and positioning precision.
The battery is mounted into the drone’s body from the back door which can be easily removed or replaced if required. It allows the flying time to range between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the flying habits, which is an average result.
Although 15 minutes flying time on average may not seem to bad, we would have expected a better result from a drone that costs north of 1k. At the end of the day, having multiple spare batteries is highly recommended.
Updated Gimbal System
The AirDog ADII features an updated and enhanced 3-axis gimbal system that is compatible with GoPro Hero 5 and Hero 6 cameras. The clip-on mechanism is very similar to the one GoPro have introduced on their Karma drone.
You will also find the adaptor on the gimbal which connects to the GoPro camera to recharge its battery and take over the camera controls.
There are two main modes the AirDog can track you – hover and follow, which you can toggle between the two by pressing the play/pause button on the AirLeash.
In both modes, you can specify the elevation and the orientation by pressing the arrow buttons at any time, even whilst the drone is in action.
Choosing the hover mode will park the drone in the air and make it stick to the defined position no matter what. Since you have the AirLeash with you, the drone will always face you no matter how close or far you are, making sure that you are in the frame.
The follow mode is where the AirDog ADII truly shines and outperforms any other drone ever created. It has two sub-modes – fixed and adaptive.
Opting for the fixed mode will make the quad stay at a predetermined distance away from the AirLeash and will maintain it no matter what you do and where you go.
With the adaptive mode, you can choose one of the existing presets to make the drone follow you swinging, changing the elevation and proximity in a predefined way. The 3D tracking makes the video footage more dynamic and captures you from all possible angles. You can also create your own preset and have the drone follow you in the exact way you prefer. Moreover, you can use an app to set the entire course using the map to define the waypoints. For each of the waypoints, you can set the elevation making your course as custom as you want it to be.
Return Home and Spot
Getting the drone back is pretty easy and there are two ways to do it. You can engage the return home mode, which will elevate the drone high enough so that it can decent to the take-off location at 45-degree angle.
Alternatively, you can use the spot function which will bring the drone to where you are.
The AirDog ADII is a capable performance machine that is able to travel at speeds of 45 miles or over 70 kilometers per hour. This is not as fast as the Traxxas Aton Plus, but it gets close, which is quite impressive for a non-race drone.
Another important point worth mentioning is how well does the drone perform in a windy environment. This is probably the best wind resistant drone we have ever tested. Irrespective of the wind direction, the drone stays level and barely ever flinches.
As for the maximum operational ceiling, it is 11 500 feet or 3500 meters which is probably more than you’ll ever need.
- Features 80%
- Usability 100%
- Flight Time 70%
- Performance 90%
|The best drone for filming yourself|
|State of the art tracking/follow system|
|No obstacle avoidance system|
|Average battery life|
|Xiro Xplorer G||Ionic Stratus||GoPro Karma||Traxxas Aton Plus||Airdog ADII|
|Max. Range||1 640 feet||492 feet||9 840 feet||3 280 feet||492 feet|
|Max. Altitude||1 968 feet||262 feet||10 400 feet||394 feet||11 500 feet|
|Max. Speed||34 mph||N/A||35 mph||50+ mph||45 mph|
|Air Time||< 25 min||< 10 min||< 20 min||< 30 min||< 15 min|
|Dimensions||15″ x 14″ x 6.4″||20″ x 7″ x 8″||12″ x 16″ x 4.6″||18″ x 18″ x 3.7″||24.7″ x 24.7″ x 5.4″|
|Weight||43 oz||60 oz||35.5oz||30.33oz||75.68 oz|