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‘The Flow State is being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter: Every action, movement and thought flows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, you're using your skills to the utmost and the result is a feeling of spontaneous joy.’ - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Live2Flow is the concept of a man trapped in an unfulfilling career who decided to pursue a life of Flow.  This blog is documents the activities of a man who swapped a desk for the great outdoors, dedicating himself to better his personal performance in his chosen sports and to pursue his passion of coaching and training others; the objective is to literally Live2Flow.  This is not a selfish obsession, Live2Flow aims to take these experiences to others and through passionate coaching and guiding help them experience Flow for themselves.

Jackson Levator GoPro Hero Pole Mount - Review

First I must come clean, I am not much of a handyman.  There are those that are often refer to the fact they could 'knock one of those up' given the right materials.  By contrast, I am more likely to knock things down whenever I approach a task with tools in hand.  So imagine my delight when I see that Jackson Kayaks has created the Levator, an aftermarket, accessible to all, kayak specific pole mount for the GoPro Hero that can be moved effortlessly from boat to boat.  No longer will I look wistfully at the pole mounts 'knocked up' by others and wonder what my footage would look like if I had access to such camera angles.

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:

Pros

-       Elevated camera mounting positions that take great shots from a number of angles that mostly include paddler, boat and river in the picture.

-       Steadier footage than helmet mount as boat generally moves more smoothly than your head.

-       Camera elevation and position behind boater (when rear mounted) generally minimizes splash on lens, especially compared to standard GoPro deck mounts.

Cons

-       The position and height of the pole can really 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.

-       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 Hero, regardless of the cons, and ignore these generic issues to concentrate solely on the Jackson Levator as a means of achieving the objective.

After waiting for shipping from the US my Levator arrived and first impressions were good.  This mount is solidly built and cleverly thought out.  A quick test on the Mamba and I had it fitted in less than a minute, including working out how to hook it on, and then transferred it to another position in a similar timeframe.  It really is easy to fit and, on the Dagger Mamba at least, it fitted solidly on every security bar.  The first part of the short video here shows how simple it is to fit the mount.

A few days later I took the mount and camera to Lee Valley to give it a test on the water and try it on a few other boats.  The mount proved solid in use but it would be fair to say it is not universally a great fit, which I guess is what you would expect.  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.  I tried to capture some of the options in the second half of the short video here by switching the mount position and then rotating the camera on the top of the pole.

It is worth noting that in most postions it is difficult or impossible to reach the camera to start and stop recording.  Clearly, if you have the new Hero3 with remote or the wifi backpack for the Hero2 this is not a problem but otherwise you do have to either get out of your boat or ask a friend to help you start and stop recording.  That said, this issue will not be unique to the Jackson Levator...

In use the mount seemed completely solid.  I enlisted the help of a far better freestyle paddler than myself to give it a working over on the bow of his playboat and the mount didn’t budge.  Clearly, this is hardly the kind of impact experienced from nailing a towering waterfall but the fact that you can pretty much drag the boat from the water holding the mount bodes well.  Knowing that you can then quickly remove it and stow it in the back of your boat is just a bonus.  Time will tell whether the mount stands up to sustained abuse on the water but so far it is hard to fault.

I ordered the mount directly from Jackson Kayaks in the US but there are a few UK retailers now starting to stock the item.  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.

A short video accompanying this review can be found here.

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Created on 01-Feb-2013 at 10:37