Polar Pro Filters PowerPole Review

Polar Pro Filters recently introduced the PowerPole, a “selfie” extension pole for GoPro Hero cameras with a built-in 5200mAh battery. The concept is compelling – integrating much-needed additional battery power into a weather-resistant, aluminum pole in order to extend your GoPro adventures when power is not available. Unfortunately, Polar Pro’s execution falls short on two fronts, which limits its intended purpose. However, our long-term test revealed another utilization, which could make the PowerPole applicable to your filmmaking style.

Polar Pro Filters PowerPole Review

It’s obvious Polar Pro put some thought into the PowerPole to expand its capabilities beyond what other manufacturers are offering. First off, the PowerPole can extend from 17″ to 30″ with a ring locking system that performed without a hitch for all our evaluators (their comments in quotes below). There’s a spring-loaded mechanism as part of the extension apparatus, but that “lost it’s vigor” in short order and seems to “add unnecessary weight.” Near the top of the pole, where you attach your GoPro via their proprietary mount, you’ll find two, full-size USB ports for charging. The ports are covered with two rubber bands to help seal out the elements. For a product that positions itself to perform in the elements, this looked like “it could be the PowerPole’s achilles heel,” but none of our reviewers encountered any problems, even when using the PowerPole in the rain.

Polar Pro Filters PowerPole Review GoPro Mount


Polar Pro claims the internal 5200mAh battery can boost the GoPro’s battery life up to 10 hours, when using the frame or skeleton housing, but our evaluators weren’t so lucky. Outdoors when ambient temperatures were in the 70’s, we found the average was about 5.25 hours of film time. While on the ski slopes, it dropped to about 4 hours, which is expected considering the colder temps. However, using the frame housing while skiing/snowboarding, is certainly not recommended by Future Filmmaking, and was done so only for this review. Most likely, you’ll be charging at the lodge, on the lift, or wherever else you have a little downtime, in order to utilize the protective and water proof housing and safeguard your investment.

Polar Pro claims the weight of the PowerPole is 13 ounces, but “it feels like 13 pounds” after holding it for a few minutes, according to one of our evaluators. Even one of our beefier reviewers found it to be “fatiguing” halfway down a run. Comparing it to the Wyrd 22″ pole, which is nothing more than a GoPro mount on a ski pole, the PowerPole feels significantly heavier. It does come with a “dainty wrist strap,” in case you drop it, which one of our reviewers used to wrap around his forearm to alleviate some of the enervation on the carpal area, while holding the PowerPole in the middle, instead of on the intended grip.

Polar Pro Filters PowerPole Review
 

The other negative with the PowerPole is auditory rattle from two sources, the GoPro mount and the internal spring mechanism. For the former, the perpetrators are two vertical Torx screws, which hold the GoPro mount to the pole. In no time, they become loose very quickly, and lose their tension. This causes the head to “rattle,” which can contribute “additional shake to the footage” and external noise. Thinking that our review unit could be defective, since we initially thought the clatter was solely from the internal spring mechanism, we brought up the issue with Polar Pro. They immediately sent us a replacement, but we found the substitute had the same problems. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the design was to blame for both hiccups. For some reason, the Torx screws cannot securely affix the GoPro mount head to the body of the PowerPole. Worse, even if you happen to own a Torx screwdriver with a T8 bit, you cannot tighten the screws. They’re either already stripped or instantly become stripped when you attempt to fasten them down. The only solution is to insert a toothpick, or small wood shim in the gap and then use a little Gaffer’s or duct tape to secure it. Not pretty, but it works. However, there’s nothing you can do to solve the rattle from the internal components. Riding over any bumpy terrain, will make the PowerPole “add it’s own soundtrack” to your footage. Not good.

 

 

While the PowerPole doesn’t execute as selfie stick, it does work nicely as a budget steadicam. What? That’s right, by only extending the upper spar next to the mount, which acts as a nice contoured hand hold, you can grab the PowerPole by it’s “neck” and hold it vertically. In this application, the PowerPole’s heaviness actually works in its favor. The weight stabilizes the rig, and your arm acts as a shock absorber, allowing you to smoothly capture your adventures far better than how the product was designed.

Although we cannot recommend the PowerPole as an effective GoPro selfie stick, we do have to salute PolarPro for attempting to take the concept to the next level by adding some worthwhile functionality. The ability to extend the pole certainly makes it more versatile, and adding battery backup can be a godsend while camping or in the backcountry, but the addition of rattle for the former, and weight for the latter, unfortunately translates into a “one step forward, two steps back” solution. Not Recommended.

The Polar Pro Filters PowerPole costs $99 and is available now.

The Future: If Polar Pro decides to create a version 2.0 of the PowerPole, we’d suggest two modifications. First, replace the current extension methodology, with something from the collapsible backcountry ski or trekking pole market. This type of tech is quite robust, as well as lightweight. Second, remove the battery from the pole and make it an auxiliary “power puck” that you can use with your PowerPole, or just as an external power supply for your GoPro or smartphone. Simply run the USB cable inside the pole to a port on the base where you can plug in an extension cable to the “puck.” This way, you can run the extension cable inside the sleeve of your jacket and store it in an internal pocket. Not only does it take the weight off the pole, but in cold climates, it will actually extend the battery life, since it will be next to a heat source. For warmer activities, an armband housing would work nicely.


Polar Pro Filters PowerPole Steadicam Mode

Another suggestion would be to develop a protective, water-resistant, Polar Pro case for the GoPro. This case would allow users to protect their investment, but also accept USB power from the Pole/Puck combo. In addition, the custom case could also accept the Polar Pro’s own ProMic. It would even attract non PowerPole users who want to extend the GoPro’s pathetic battery life while still keeping their GoPro protected.
Polar Pro also needs to reevaluate the actual GoPro mount. If it’s not going to be replaceable, it should be made out of aluminum. However, instead of a fixed GoPro mount, we would suggest simply providing a 1/4″-20 female screw hole at the top for maximum versatility with a multitude of camera mounts, including smartphones. We would also add a tether ring to the pole near the top.
The pole is also on the short side; it should extend another 10-18 inches for full perspective, dynamic shots.
Finally, the security strap should be re-evaluated, it seems like an afterthought.
 

Cheers:

+ Innovative Concept

+ Quality Materials

+ Battery Level Indicator

+ Aesthetic

Jeers:

– Heavy

– Internal Rattle

– Battery Life

– Safety Strap

– Pole Extension Technology

– Short For Selfie Stick

– Plastic GoPro Mount

– Loose Torx GoPro Mount

PowerPole Torx Problems Closeup

Polar Pro PowerPole Review Rating

The Polar Pro Filters PowerPole can be purchased direct, or via Amazon.
 
 
Polar Pro Filters
 
 

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