I must come clean, I am not much of a handyman. Often people refer to the fact they could ‘knock one of those up’ given the right materials but I am more likely to knock things down when I approach a task with tool in hand. Therefore making a pole mount for my GoPro wasn’t an option so imagine my delight when Jackson Kayaks created the Levator, an aftermarket, accessible to all, kayak specific pole mount for a GoPro. Over the years the Levator has enabled me to access all sorts of interesting camera angles, and even now, with drone footage growing ever more popular, a pole mount provides a unique perspective of your kayaking adventures. I still don’t see that many on the water so thought it was worth revisiting the review I wrote back when I bought the Levator in 2013.
So, firstly, let’s get some of the wider pole mount advantages and disadvantages out of the way. This list is not definitive but the main points usually are:
- Interesting elevated camera mounting positions that take great shots from a number of angles that mostly include paddler, boat and river in the picture.
- Footage is steadier than a helmet mount as the boat generally moves more smoothly than your head.
- The camera elevation and position behind boater (when rear mounted) generally minimizes splash on lens, especially compared to mounting directly on the kayak deck.
- The position and height of the pole can affect the way the boat handles, especially when submerged (rolling, cartwheels, loops).
- It is a significant snagging hazard, standing proud of the boat, often out of reach and firmly connected. For this reason I personally don’t like to use the mount on any paddle where I might need to rescue other boaters.
- The mount obscures a safety loop wherever it is mounted.
- In positions close to the cockpit the mount can interfere with certain paddle strokes.
But, these factors affect every pole mount not just the Jackson Levator. Therefore, for the purpose of this review I am going to assume you are interested in a pole mount for your GoPro, regardless of the cons, and ignore these generic issues to concentrate solely on the Jackson Levator as a means of achieving the objective.
it can really give you some novel angles; shots from the bow looking back at the paddler through to over the shoulder shots or a great elevated position to film the paddler behind or in front of you…
The Jackson Levator
The mount is solidly built and cleverly thought out, can be fitted in less than a minute, and then transferred it to another position in a similar timeframe. The video below shows how to fit the mount, what camera angles it offers and how the mount stands up to some looping!
Will it fit my boat…
It is not a universally a great fit, which I guess is what you would expect as boat shapes and handle positions vary enormously. It would be easy to conclude that the mount fits best on the bulbous curves of creekers and river runners rather than radically shaped contours of playboats but there are exceptions to this assumption. Here are a few notes that might help guide you as to how well suited it is to your boat.
- The foot of the mount is about 8inchs/21cms in diameter so for best fit your security bar/grab handle needs to have that kind of area of boat around it.
- Even if the area is there, if the surface is radically angled the foot can end up only contacting the boat in a couple of places making for poor mounting.
- Metal security bars make the best fixing points, it works on soft grab handles but is less convincing, especially if there is a big loop on the handle.
Looking at what imagery can be achieved with the mount, it is its flexibility that really shines through. This thing can really give you some novel angles; shots from the bow looking back at the paddler through to over the shoulder shots or a great elevated position to film the paddler behind or in front of you. It has proved reliable, has never been knocked out of place by impacts and is still going strong after 4 years of creating great images and video. Knowing that at any time you can quickly remove it and stow it in the back of your boat is a bonus.
If you want to shake up your boating footage and find new angles I can thoroughly recommend the Jackson Levator as an accessible way to do this.
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