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Best Waterproof Drones 2017-2018 – Guide for Beginners & Professionals

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible”
– Lord Kelvin –

Well, Lord Kelvin couldn’t be any more wrong. Drones have gained significant popularity over the last few years and whether you’re just a recreational flyer, a professional aerial photographer, or you’re simply searching for a birthday or Christmas gift, it might be a good idea to invest in a waterproof drone – yup, we said it, a waterproof drone.

What is the best waterproof drone?

Most drones on the market aren’t built for rainy, wet conditions nor for flight over water, but we at All Things Waterproof have scoured the crevices of the web to bring to you the best waterproof drones – perfect for rainy, snowy weather, landing and floating on water, underwater filming, fishing, and a host of other outdoor activities.

We’ve spent countless hours reading the reviews and interviewing the experts in the field to help you quickly find what you need. We separated our list of the best waterproof drones in 3 categories: Beginner, Professional and Industrial use.

Our Editor’s Pick: The Swellpro Waterproof Splash Drone 3 Auto with 4K HD Camera Live Video and GPS is a 100% waterproof drone that can land and float on fresh, or salt, water, and is ideal for all-weather conditions. It’s versatility – ranging from fishing to filming, is one of the main attributes that earns its spot as our Editor’s Pick.

Waterproof Beginner Drones – Toy Grade Quadcopters

Goolsky JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone

Our Rating: (4 / 5)

Pros:

  • One-key return prevents fly-away
  • Easy to fly both day & night
  • Good stability

Cons:

  • Can not land on or take off from water

Specs:

Camera: not included | Range: 260 ft | Flight Time: 8 minutes | Charging Time: 60 minutes | Weight: 64 grams | Other Features: One-key return, 6-axis gyro, headless mode, 360° rolling action

The first in our Beginner’s Category is the JJRC H31, by Goolsky. This drone is easy, safe, and fun to fly. It’s a great beginner/trainer drone – especially due to its one key return function. This function allows the drone to easily find it’s way home, preventing fly-away.

Usually, with multi-rotor drones, the flying direction is the same as the nose direction of the drone, but the JJRC H31 features a headless mode that allows you to fly forward regardless of the direction of the nose.

A 6-axis flight control system offers added stability and enhances precision positioning in the air. LED lights allow for night flight, and an overcharged-protection helps preserve the battery.

As great as it is for beginners, on the downside, a number of reviews weren’t 100% pleased with the quality of the controller included. Although it is easy to operate, some described it as “twitchy” and others preferred a centering throttle – although this is one of the attributes that make it a good trainer.

As far as waterproofing is concerned, this drone is quite fine for rain and other wet conditions, but we wouldn’t recommend it for submersion in deep water – especially since the batteries and motors are exposed. In all, it’s a fun, easy, beginner drone.

GoolRC T6 Waterproof Drone

Our Rating: (4 / 5)

Pros:

  • One-key return prevents fly-away
  • Easy to fly both day & night
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Durable airframe

Cons:

  • Does not float on water

Specs:

Camera: not included | Range: 260 ft | Flight Time: 8 minutes | Charging Time: 60 minutes | Weight: 85 grams | Other Features: One-key return, headless mode, 360° rolling action, 6-axis gyro

The GoolRC T6 has striking similarities to the H31, but the one feature that sets it apart from the H31 is it’s durable airframe design. Yet another drone that’s great for beginners, the T6 features headless-mode and one-key return, and it’s 360° eversion function makes it fun to fly, executing flips with the roll of a key.

The T6 features a 6-axis gyro flight control system making it stable in the air – another quality attribute for beginners and amateur aerial photography. Over-charged protection assists in preserving the battery and the drone doesn’t seem phased by exposure to water.

The T6 requires little assembly and features LED lights for night flight and low visibility conditions. The LED lights will also blink when battery power is low but this can be difficult to see during daylight, so pay close attention to this as the drone will fall from the sky once battery power cuts out. We must also mention that the altitude hold feature on this waterproof drone refers to altitude hold in flips and not in normal, steady flight.

It’s a great overall beginner drone, quite fast and agile for the price tag, but lacks flat out performance like a standard drone – which contributes to its beginner attributes.

GPTOYS F51C RC Quadcopter

Our Rating: (4.2 / 5)

Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Waterproof camera included
  • Night-capable/low visibility operations
  • Blade protectors

Cons:

  • Not recommended for deep submersion

Specs:

Camera: 2.0MP waterproof camera | Range: 260 ft | Flight Time: 8 minutes | Charging Time: 45 minutes | Weight: 56 grams | Other Features: One-key return, headless mode, 360° rolling action, 6-axis gyro

The first thing that stood out for us with the Flymemo F51C RC Quadcopter is its waterproof 2.0MP Camera equipped with SD card and slot. It provides good enough pictures, however at this price point you can not expect a high quality camera. The 6-axis gyro flight system makes this little drone easy to control, especially for beginners. The one-key return feature prevents that the drone flys away out of range.

Other advanced functions of this waterproof drone are its 360° rolling action and it’s headless mode function, making it super fun for the beginner and even better for the expert.

Play time is generally around 8 minutes with a range of up to 260ft. LED lights allow for night flight and times of low visibility, and the durable, waterproof airframe can withstand rainy, wet conditions. Unlike the H31, this waterproof drone features waterproof batteries, and “God Vision” allows for easy-to-take, clear pictures and videos.

It’s a great beginner drone that nudges out the others, so far, especially due to the built-in camera. Much like the others, its 3-speed switching makes it versatile.

Don’t forget your waterproof rain jacket, when flying your drone in the rain…

Professional Waterproof Drones

Swellpro Waterproof Splash Drone 3 Auto with 4K HD Camera and GPS 

Our Rating: (5 / 5)

Ideal for land surveys, search-and-rescue operations, aerial photography and fishing

Pros:

  • GPS/GLONASS equipped
  • 4K quality waterproof camera
  • Large 5” LCD display
  • Buoyant

Cons:

  • Auto-return home not available if GPS signal is low

Specs:

Camera: 4K waterproof camera with 2-axis gimbal | Range: 3,280 ft (1km) | Flight Time: 18 minutes | Charging Time: 60 minutes | Weight: 3kg | Other Features: Release mechanism platform, position holding, auto-land, auto return home, follow-me, GPS/GLONASS technology, one-key takeoff

If nothing else, this drone is cool looking! Our Editor’s Pick, the Swellpro Splash Drone 3 is the world’s first modular, all-weather, waterproof drone. It’s exceptionally versatile due to its amphibious attributes – durable, waterproof frame and motor suited for salt or fresh water.

It’s great for professional aerial photo work with it’s 4K camera, with 2-axis gimbal, allowing you to capture sharp, clean, professional shots. We touched on its versatile nature previously, which is made possible through its changeable payload module. With a release mechanism, drone pilots can attach a fishing line for bait dropping or even life saving equipment – with a maximum payload of 1kg.

See this amazing drone in action in the video below:

The controller is equally as cool as the drone itself. It features a built-in 5” LCD monitor for live video feed, provides exceptional accuracy of position holding, auto-land, and automatic return home.

A mobile app, combined with a small, pocket-sized ground station allows for automatic “follow-me” function, along with one-key takeoff, waypoints, and tap to fly. These features make it especially preferred in aerial footage and mission-type flying. The controller will vibrate in the pilot’s hand once the drone is on low-battery power.

Fully loaded, the maximum flight time is 16 minutes and it features a buoyant, corrosion-free construct. External parts are made of stainless steel so there’s no need to worry about corrosion – although we still highly recommend rinsing with fresh water after saltwater use.

As per MIL-STD 810 specs, the Splash Drone 3 can stand up against rain and snow, along with winds up to Beaufort Force 4 – in layman’s terms, moderate breeze in waves of up to 4 feet. Automatic follow-me is made possible via GPS/GLONASS.

QuadH2O Waterproof Drone

Our Rating: (4.8 / 5)

Pros:

  • Durable airframe
  • Ideal for underwater or straight-down filming
  • Sturdy, carbon fibre legs
  • DIY kit can be tailored to user’s specific needs

Cons:

  • Only available in yellow
  • No follow-me mode

Specs:

Camera: not included | Range: 3,280 ft (1km) | Flight Time: 8-12 minutes | Weight: 1.6kg fully loaded | Other Features: 2-axis gimbal (optional),  800g max. payload, GPS support

Resembling a flying semi-submersible, the QuadH20 appeals to the DIY drone enthusiast. It can be paired with your favorite motors, flight controller, and gear to meet your exact waterproof drone taste.

As far as component installation goes, the QuadH20 kit comes equipped with everything you need to get started, but QuadH20 recommends the NazaV2 flight controller, and T-motor or Team Black Sheep for propulsion.

Pilots can fly up to 45mph with GPS support – making ideal for aerial footage, and it’s versatile enough that it can be enjoyed by amateurs and experts alike. It’s epoxy, fibre shell airframe is durable and waterproof, and carbon fibre legs can withstand landing on most terrain.

This drone is approved for use in rain or snow and land or water, and can film underwater or straight down. The max. flight time is 12 minutes and supports an optional 2-axis gimbal for the Sony FPV and GoPro Hero 3, 3+, 4 or 5.

Although its motors are exposed, they can run if wet, but as always we highly recommend rinsing after salt water use. The only thing wrong with this waterproof drone is if you’re not fond of the color yellow, then sadly, that’s the only color it’s available in.

Waterproof Drones for Industrial Use

HexH2O Pro v2

Our Rating: (5 / 5)

Pros:

  • Adjustable maneuverability
  • Significant payload support
  • Numerous protection systems
  • Return home function
  • Exceptional range

Cons:

  • No follow-me mode

Specs:

Camera: DJI X3 12.4MP, 4k camera/gimbal system (not included) | Range: up to 2.17 miles (3.5km) | Flight Time: up to 30 minutes | Weight: 5.4kg fully loaded | Other Features: 2kg max payload, 1080P downlink quality, no fly zone protection

Family to the QuadH20 this waterproof drone facilitates some of the best technology on the market. It’s specifically designed for the DJI N3 flight controller, X3 4K camera/gimbal system, and Lightbridge 2 for system downlink.

The HexH20 ProV2 has been described as their most powerful waterproof drone with exceptional range of up to 2.17 miles, with a sealed waterproof body – ideal for rain, snow, and over-water flight. What makes the HexH20 ProV2 so great for industrial use is it’s ability to fly for up to 30 minutes – significantly longer than the other drones we’ve reviewed thus far.

A DJI X3 camera/gimbal assembly allows for 12.4MP, 4K video and photo recording, with provisions for high-def video downlink. Built-in functions like sport mode allow for adjustable maneuverability, along with intelligent flight mode for automated features.

An optional payload release assembly, with a max payload of up to 2kg, makes it great for fishing, and mission-oriented flight. It’s no doubt that this waterproof drone is a work horse, being able to withstand up to 25mph winds, and temperatures from 32° to 89°F.

The HexH20 Pro V2 also features some pretty nifty protection systems including; motor fail protection, propulsion system protection from motor overload, return home functions, low battery voltage protection and, believe it, no fly zone protection.

Prodrone PD4-AW

Pros:

  • Small & compact design
  • Unlimited flight time with cable
  • Multiple axis gimbal
  • Ideal for land surveying
  • Great for aerial & underwater photography

Cons:

  • There doesn’t seem to be any online shop for it

Specs:

Camera: not included, Tri-axis gimbal, dual-axis servo gimbal, and tri-axis servo gimbal | Flight Time: unlimited flight time (w/cable), 10 – 40 minutes flight time (w/out cable) | Max. Speed: 60km/h | Weight: 2.4kg | Other Features: 3.5kg max payload, land surveying variant, rope decoupler variant

The PD4-AW is a small, four-rotor drone that is one of the top drones in the industrial category. It’s capable for flight in almost any weather conditions and can withstand water landings. This waterproof drone is ideal for aerial photography, surveying, filming, and spot inspections.

The most outstanding feature of the PD4-AW is its unlimited flight time capability – once the power supply cable is connected. Without the power supply cable, flight time ranges from 10 to 40 minutes. It supports small tri-axis gimbal, dual-axis servo gimbal, and tri-axis servo gimbal making it incredibly versatile.

The PD4-AW’s max payload is 3.5kg – the greatest payload of all the drones we’ve reviewed, and the airframe weight is 2.4kg. The cable power supply system also transmits video footage and acts as a fail-safe in the event of radio signal interruption.

Customizable for land surveying, the gimbal can hold two compact cameras, and comes with surveying tool software, and a rope decoupler variant allows for carrying and release of payload. This drone doesn’t seem to be available online.

Waterproof Drones Buyer’s Guide

Fear not, we won’t leave you stranded in the search for the perfect waterproof drone, so we’ve put together our Buyer’s Guide to give help you quickly find exactly what you want in a waterproof quadcopter.

Registration and License

Apart from the obvious outdoor enthusiast benefits, a waterproof drone can be a useful tool to make some money. However, if you’re going to go that route you’ll need a drone pilot license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – the governing aviation body in the United States.

Most toy drones do not need a FAA registration, but if you are flying a professional drone you’ll need to register your drone with the FAA. Details on drone registration and other helpful information can be found on the FAA’s website.

Waterproof drones vs. Water-resistant drones

You would’ve seen us mention in some of our reviews, like the Goolsky H31, that some drones aren’t suitable for deep submersion, wheras, drones like the Swellpro Waterproof Splash Drone 3 or the PD4-AW are more suited for underwater photography. Well, essentially this is the main difference between purchasing a waterproof vs. a water-resistant drone.

However, it’s not to say that water-resistant drones aren’t suitable for any water use at all, truth is they can still stand their ground in rainy conditions, just remember if you’re looking for a drone for full submersion, we always recommend going the waterproof route. Essentially, waterproof drones can be fully submerged in water without damage, while water-resistant drones can become damaged in the event of submersion.

Additionally, some products may be advertised as being waterproof, but if it comes with a “too good to be true” price tag – it probably is not really waterproof but only splashproof. Always read the descriptions and reviews carefully before making your drone purchase.

Features

The advantage to living in this modern age is that drone technology is some of the most advanced technology on the market. Features to look out for – especially for beginners, are things like; return-to-home (RTH) where your drone can find it’s way back to your location with the simple flip of a switch/button – more than likely this relies on GPS connectivity.

Speaking of which, GPS technology, especially for professional drone pilots is an almost uncompromisable feature. Features such as release mechanisms and built-in, or attachable, cameras are also great, though they may cost more, depending on your intended use for your waterproof drone.

Range and Flight time

When looking up waterproof drones, you’ll often come across range and flight time specifications. It’s easy to just run and grab the first drone that may seem to be able to fly around the globe for 10 hours at a time, however, always bear in mind that range and flight time varies based on how loaded your drone is.

For example, a drone with next to nothing in payload, will fly for a significantly extended period of time as compared to a drone with a GoPro and fishing line assembly.

“You Spin My Head Right Round”

A really great feature to look out for when choosing a waterproof drone is its ability to operate in headless mode. This makes it especially easy for beginners since the drone’s nose doesn’t necessarily need to point in the direction of flight – it’s kind of like grab and go.

Additionally, the drones axis contributes significantly to its flying stability and handling characteristics. Drones with 6-axis gyro tend to have easier handling characteristics – making them especially good for beginners and amateurs, and are also easier to hand launch.

Drone Care Instructions

Like any true pilot with his/her plane, your drone will last a significantly longer period of time if you take proper care of it. Here are a few tips in drone care.

  1. After salt water use, or exposure, always rinse drone to avoid potential corrosion – even if the drone advertised as being corrosion-resistant.
  2. Always take the time to read user instructions and manuals before drone assembly and operation. Spending the time up front may save your from spending the money later.
  3. Like any good pilot would, always preflight your drone before use. Ensure the motors and propellers are clear of any obstructions and debris.
  4. For beginners, take your time in getting into it. As we can all appreciate, drones are a costly investment and the last thing you need is to wreck your drone trying to be Maverick or Iceman on the first day of flight – of course, this isn’t to say not to have fun!
  5. At all costs avoid congested areas with power lines, large gathering of people (unless of course it’s part of your drone flying mission/job), and by all means avoid unauthorized operation in the vicinity of aircraft.
  6. Adhere to all the user manual limitations and restrictions as far as flying conditions, weather conditions, and terrain are concerned.

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have been able to give you a much clearer understanding of what to look out for when purchasing these fun-filled unmanned flying machines.

Our Buyer’s Guide will help you establish your own criteria when searching the market, our review section will hopefully narrow your search down and get your eyes to skies in no time, and of course, our care instructions should help keep your drone airborne for time to come. For most people, the sky is the limit, but with these waterproof drones, the sky is the playground. Blue skies and happy flying!

Image credits: All product images courtesy of the respective manufacturers