The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

Take great action shots wherever you are with these awesome connected cameras
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Wearable action cams and head-mounted cameras are big business, and with 4K video, underwater recording and some of the best frame rates on the market, you can see why.

Whether you're snowboarding down Mount Fuji, swimming with dolphins in the Caribbean or just spending quality time with the kids on your holiday in the Med, the first-person videos created by wearable cameras capture the most natural memories when they matter most.

Read this: Best wearable lifelogging cameras

Their diminutive proportions, robust design, simple mechanics, ultra-wide fields of view and ability to be worn on the body and used from almost any vantage point help give video footage and stills a real sense of drama.

Here's our pick of the top wearable action cameras on the market...

GoPro Hero6 Black

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

We called the Hero5 Black "the best action camera ever made", so yeah, there's some high expectations for its latest flagship, the Hero6 Black.

The Hero6 improves on the Hero5 by gutting the inside and replacing it with GoPro's first custom processor, the GP1. The company promises that the new processor will result in 2x the performance, which will include increased frame rates and improved dynamic range in low light.

GoPro fans will be happy to know that you can now record 4K video at 60fps. If you want higher frame rates, you can also get 2.7K at 120fps and 1080p at 240fps. There's also a digital zoom. All of this builds on what's already there in the Hero5, including a similar form factor. You've still got built-in GPS, waterproof up to 33m, and 12-megapixel photos in either JPG or RAW. Oh, that new processor will also make Wi-Fi transfers much master.

If the Hero6 is too expensive for you, the Hero5 is still around at a more affordable .


Garmin Virb Ultra 30

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

We were impressed with Garmin's Virb X and XE cams, but it's now given them an overhaul with the Virb Ultra 30. With built-in GPS, 3-axis optical stabilisation, livestreaming capabilities and a waterproof case, Gamin's offering up the works.

You've also got voice controls to play with, but note that, while the Ultra 30 captures 4K video, its 3-axis stabilisation doesn't work when shooting in this resolution. Shooting 1080p at 30fps will get you about 2 hours 15 minutes of power from the battery, while 4K capture knocks that down by an hour.

Overall you're looking at a pretty robust action camera that also pairs with a list of Garmin's other sensors for capturing even more data in those high-octane moments.

, | Amazon

TomTom Bandit

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

The Bandit's 16MP sensor shoots 4K videos as well as 1080p footage at up to 60fps and 720p at up to 120fps. It rocks slow mo (1080p/720p), timelapse (4K/1080p) and burst modes, as well as Bluetooth Smart and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Essential reading: TomTom Bandit review

What sets it apart is a built-in media server, processing and auto-editing on the camera itself. That means the footage stays on the camera and you can review your mini movie on a smartphone companion app before shaking it to get an edited highlights reel.

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Olympus Stylus Tough TG-Tracker

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

This action cam from Olympus is mid range in price but impressive on features. First up, there's a 1.5-inch LCD that tilts out, which you don't get on most rivals. The 8MP CMOS sensor shoots 4K video at 30fps and has a 204 degree wide angle lens and 5-axis image stabilisation.

As for the TG-Tracker's action capabilities, it's waterproof to 30m, shockproof to 2.1m, dustproof, freezeproof to -10 celsius and even crushproof up to 220 pounds of force. There's GPS/GLONASS for geo-tagging, Wi-Fi to connect to your phone and a separate housing accessory available. Look for a review on the site very soon.

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Nikon KeyMission 360

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

Nikon is one of the few traditional camera giants to try its hand at action cameras. The KeyMission is capable of 360 degree video capture, which means it has one (fish)eye on the upcoming VR revolution.

It boasts 4K resolution even during 360 capture, is waterproof to 30m and will withstand drops of up to 2m. If the idea of playing back your adventures on a Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift appeals, this is an easy 360-degree camera to get to grips with, even if the battery life leaves a little to be desired.

, | Amazon

Garmin VIRB 360

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

If you need something a little bolder for recording your adventures in 360, there's Garmin's action cam to consider. It does 5.7K at 30fps with four built-in mics and a rugged design capable of withstanding water up to 30 feet and high temperatures. There's also GPS and GLONASS, you can stream to Facebook and Twitter if you're paired to your phone, and there's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC.

Everything stitches right on the camera too, so you don't have to waste time putting it all together yourself. You can spend that time jumping off a mountain, if you wish. And what's really cool is that it has some light AR features, and can display your speed, distance and GPS info over your footage.

, | Amazon

GoPro Hero5 Session

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

The Hero5 Black is joined by a smaller sibling in the form of the Session, an incredibly durable camera that also benefits from waterproofing without the need for any additional armour.

Read next: How to shoot amazing GoPro videos

Like the Black, it shoots 4K at 30 fps but lacks the built-in GPS, while images are limited to 10MP. It also doesn't shoot RAW - but for these limits you get reduced price, obviously.

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Drift Stealth 2

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

Drift's newest Stealth camera has a lot to recommend, and it doubles as a less expensive alternative to the GoPro range. The design is solid and rugged, so it should survive all of the weather conditions you can throw at it, and the simple integrated display lets you know what mode you're in. It's also tiny and light, built to be "stealthy" so you barely notice it while doing your thing.

High-definition video, photos, time lapses — the Stealth 2 can handle it all. There's even a dedicated car dashcam mode that you can make use of, where new footage is recorded over old as you motor down the road. There's an app for controlling the camera via your smartphone as well.

, | Amazon

Sony X3000R

The best wearable action cameras for extreme sports and more

Sony's line of action cameras have slowly but surely been growing in quality, and the X3000R is its best effort yet. It can easily do 4K video recording - and comes with SteadyShot camera-shake compensation to make up for your not-still hands. It's also in a compact bullet-shaped case, and offers extras such as GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi (for remote control).

There are also two little accessories that come bundled in, a live-view remote so you can see what you're shooting. You can even get a little finger holster to make it easier to grasp as you go on your adventure. As with its rivals, there's a free mobile app available, and GoPro executives will be looking over their shoulders with concern.

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How we test


David is a freelance tech writer who has been writing about technology, gadgets and gizmos for more than 20 years.

You can find his work on The Guardian, Wired, Gizmodo, PopSci, TechRadar, T3 and many other major publications on the web and in print.

He spends all day, (almost) every day testing out, explaining, and reviewing smartphones, laptops, smart home kit, wearables, and other essential devices.

From iOS to Wear OS, from Samsung to Sony, he's got an intimate knowledge of almost everything going on in the world of technology right now. When it comes to wearables, there aren't many smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR headsets that he hasn't tried and tested – which means he has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to talking about something new or the market in general.

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