Lost GoPro? – Tips and Tricks for Finding Your Lost GoPro


GoPro Image of a Cutthroat Trout feeding Behind Kokanee Salmon in Idaho. A GoPro Makes Shots Like This Possible, But At a Risk.

Losing gear to the river, waves, or bottom of the lake is a pretty good way to ruin your day. It’s a bummer, and can get pretty costly, pretty quickly.

Losing your memories is even worse. And that’s exactly what happens when you lose a GoPro that’s full of images and video that may have been once in a lifetime memories. That’s what happened to me on a trip to Alaska last Fall, losing two GoPro’s that were full of amazing imagery that I’d been waiting and trying for years to capture will my vlogging cameras. GoPro cameras have changed what’s possible to see and capture through the lens, but that also means using them in some high risk conditions. Mounting them on your helmet, on your kayak, on sticks you cut from the bank, whatever, if you do it enough, eventually something bad will happen. There’s a very distinct sinking feeling in your gut when you helplessly watch one sink to the bottom, or float down the river.


In remote locations, backing up is difficult, and you never know when those magic few seconds will come together. Capturing those moments is elation. Losing them is torture.

But, not all may be lost. In this article I’ll discuss a few best practices that I now do, and may help that lost GoPro show back up on your doorstep. I call it, The Message in a Bottle Technique.

If sticking notes in notes in bottles and throwing them in the ocean worked for shipwrecked sailors, this is the modern day version. The premise is the same, leave a note with the camera to help rescue it. I do it in two ways, with external labels, and with internal data.

1) Mailing Labels

Do you ever receive those sticker address labels in the mail? Usually they are from a non-profit organization seeking support or membership. They are definitely handy for envelopes, but they are also perfectly sized to fit on the bottom side of the camera itself. I slap one on every one of my cameras now. They are completely protected in the waterproof case, and quickly and easily tell the finder, who the the rightful camera owner is. Even if found years later, odds are the label will still be perfectly legible.


Mailing Address Label on the Bottom of a GoPro

2) Put a Read-Me Letter or Reward On the Memory Card

Along with the external label, I now put a ‘Read Me’ text file on every memory card that goes into the camera.

I have found lost GoPro’s before, and returned them to their owner simply by loading the memory card and seeing whose face was in the images. That’s great when you know the person, but odds are that won’t happen when you’re traveling and lose a camera where nobody knows you.

It’s very easy to create a Read-Me file with your contact information, phone, etc, even offering a reward to the person who finds the camera. For me, the most important thing is the memory card, not the camera itself. Cameras can be replaced, photo and video content cannot.

To do this, simply create a text file, and save it to the base directory on the memory card. It will be the first thing someone sees when they load the memory card of a lost GoPro.

The image below shows where I put mine, and how I title the file.


Ream Me File Structure

This is how my file reads.


Read Me File Contents

That file is easily seen by the finder, makes it easy for them to contact you, and hopefully puts a surprise package on your doorstep one day. The rest is left to fate and karma.

As more and more GoPro’s travel with us on our adventures, only more and more are being lost. There are now Facebook Lost and Found groups, and a growing web registry where people are sharing where and when they lost their cameras.

Hopefully some of the tips here will make the finders lives easier.

Happy GoPro’ing….


Comments on “Lost GoPro? – Tips and Tricks for Finding Your Lost GoPro”

  1. Kristi
    July 19, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    I dropped my gopro in my 15 foot silty lake which has snapping turtles and gets really dark half way down, do you have any ideas on how i may be able to retrieve it?

    1. July 22, 2018 at 5:07 pm

      Yes! Find a friend who likes to free dive or scuba with lights (and dont’ tell them about the turtles). More seriously… that sounds like a challenge. You could try a fish-finder and long pole with a net but sounds like the hours you may spend looking could be better spent searching e-bay for a good used replacement or just an upgrade. Sorry for your loss! Clay

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