Drones have one big weakness - water!
So, if you are thinking about buying a drone for use around water, it might be a great idea to get a waterproof drone.
In this guide I will cover a range of drones that can be operated either in or around water. Yes, you read that right - in the water! There are some drones that double as amphibious vehicles. Cool, huh?
Time to literally dive into the water and see what waterproof drones hold up when they get wet...
Choosing A Waterproof Drone
There are two major things you need to think about when reading this review:
1. Am I using this drone as a toy or for more serious professional work
2. What features do I need with it
Once you have those two things straight, the rest of the decision becomes quite simple.
Toy Or Pro
Most of the waterproof drones out there are just toys, and don't even have cameras. So the choice is quite simple in that area.
If you want something reasonably priced that is still a great drone, with good flight time, camera etc. the Splash might be the only option.
Battery Life, Flight Time etc
If you are looking at more of the toy range of drones, then there are a few areas you want to check such as
- battery life / flight time and range. How many batteries you get with it too.
- Whether it has a controller or you use your phone (most have a simple controller)
- How good the reviews are on Amazon (the Parrot is not well reviewed for example)
Either way, have a scan through all the options, check out the videos I have included as this gives you a good idea of how they work, and then check them out on Amazon (except the QuadH2O which can only be purchased on their site).
When it comes to making a drone that can handle air and water, the SwellPro team have got it nailed.
The SwellPro Splash is kind of insane. It is a fully capable drone with a 4K camera, that can also be flown into the water!
Yes, that's right. It is not just waterproof, it is rated IP67 which means it can go up to 1 meter (3 feet) under water with no problem. Even salt water!
This baby is seriously waterproof. Almost like a boat.
In fact, you can even use it as a kind of boat/drone hybrid and capture footage underwater at a distance (ie. like a drone would) and then take off again. Just keep in mind it is not designed to be a submarine, so take it easy :>
Want to see it in action? Check out what this guy does with the Splash (he has the older model with the GoPro) in Hawaii out on the reefs!
The Splash remote is also well designed with an integrated screen (unlike most DJI products where you need to have a phone or tablet to really be able to fly it). So it is ready to go when you buy it.
The screen is a 5" one which also shows the camera view of the drone (or FPV as it's called) as well as useful information about what is happening with the Splash as it flies.
If you want, you can actually control the Splash with a phone and use some of the intelligent flight modes like:
- Follow Me
- Tap To Fly
- Flight Planning
And as you would expect from such a pro level drone it also has killer safety built in to bring it home if it loses connection with the remote or has a low battery.
Note: There is also a fisherman's version with a bait dropper (so a hook/grip you can control remotely) if that is something you need on your drone.
- Size: 23.6 x 18.1 x 7.1 inches
- Weight: 8.8 pounds / 4kg
- Flight Time: Approx. 15min
- Max Flight Distance: 1km/0.6 miles (1.4km/1 mile in some situations)
- Camera: Waterproof 4K with 2-axis Gimbal
- Frame: Durable waterproof
- Colors: Red
The Goolsky Q353 is a cool toy drone that can fly, land and be used on the water (like a hovercraft).
It that is what you are after, this drone might be the perfect choice.
It includes features like:
- 3 options: Air, Land, Water
- Headless mode: which means it can flip and fly (either way)
- Water recovery: if you land it upside down in water, it can recover and flip
This drone is on the cheaper side, although not throw away cheap. But it is a pretty cool toy.
You can see it in action in the video below (warning: there is some annoying loud music with it, so turn down the sound!)
- Size: 14.3 x 14.3 x 4.7 inches
- Weight: 323g (11.4 oz)
- Max Flight Time: 6-7 minutes
- Max Flight Distance: 450ft (or 150m)
- Colors: Orange and black
Goolsky seem to have focused quite a bit on waterproofing their drones, and the JJRXC H31 is a very agile drone that you can also dunk in the water.
After watching a few people abuse this drone on Youtube I can also say that it looks pretty bullet proof too (one guy stamped on it a few times!).
It includes fun features like:
- 6 Axis Gyro for super maneuverable flight (flips, tilts etc)
- Water proof: can be flown along the water, dunked upside down in water etc.
- One key return to home
Below is a review of the JJRC but I have cut you in halfway through to see it flying (right at the very end he dunks it in the water).
- Size: 9.8 x 9.8 x 2.2in
- Weight: 2.25 ounces (64g)
- Max Flight Time: 8 minutes
- Max Flight Distance: up to 250ft (or 70-80m)
The Hosim Aviax is another great option for those looking for a very waterproof drone that is also great fun to fly.
Like most drones in this review, it does not come with a camera.
It is quite simply a drone that can land (crash or otherwise) in the water, take off from the water, but otherwise just fly like any other drone.
It's features include
- Waterproof drone
- 6 axis gyro - for stabil flight
Here is a review of the same drone with a different supplier name on it - GP Toys (typical of Chinese imports I think).
- Size: 15.74 x 12.80 x 3.14 inches
- Max Flight Time: 8-10 minutes (comes with 2 batteries though)
- Max Flight Distance: 300 ft / 100m
- Waterproof to 20cm (possibly down to 70cm they say, I would not suggest it though)
I have included the Parrot Hydrofoil here just for the sake of completeness. It is a drone with lots of bad reviews, so I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to buy it.
It is a bit of a weird one in this case because the drone can fly on it's own, or you can attach it to the hydrofoil, tilt it, then use it as a kind of sail/motor to drive that.
It's features include
- Camera: VGA video (480X640)
- Drone and Hydrofoil
- Smart Phone as remote
- Size: 11 x 8.7 x 3.1 inches
- Weight: 13.5oz (385g)
- Max Flight Time: 9 minutes
- Max Flight Distance: 300ft (or 100m)
- Camera: VGA viewable on phone app
QUADH20 Waterproof Drones (Industrial Level)
Just to round out this full review of all waterproof drones on the market, it is worth mentioning the insane range of high quality (and super expensive) waterproof drones from QUADH20.
Most of their drones are DIY, except the Sara which comes ready to fly but costs nearly $5000. They all vary in their specific purpose, so you should check each one out to see what fits your purpose.
These drones include such pro features as:
- GoPro Cameras
- High speeds (keeps up with boats)
- Heavy Loads
- Long flight times (up to 30min)
- Quality Video - 4K
How To Choose A Waterproof Drone
In the case of a waterproof drone the choices are actually quite limited.
The Splash is the best mid-range drone with great capabilities both in and out of the water, with decent flight time and range too. It also won't break the bank at just over the $1k mark in most cases. It also has the carry option (Fisherman model) too, which is quite cool
Of the more "toy" options I think Goolsky has some great choices with the Triphibian which is perhaps less fun to fly, and the JRRC H31 which seems a great combination of "fun to fly" and super waterproof.
Of course, if you are in need of a pro waterproof drone, the QuadH2O are the only range out there from what I can see. (There are lots of examples of Kickstarter campaigns in this area that have never come to market).
If you own a DJI Mavic on the other hand or are thinking about getting one, they are not super waterproof, but you can get a nice float kit to make then land and take off on water. Something I am adding to mine soon!