How to Find a Lost GoPro With a Metal Detector

How to Find a Lost GoPro With a Metal Detector

If you've lost your GoPro or other action camera, you may think it's gone for good. Whether you were mountain biking, skiing, swimming, or skydiving, your action camera can be hard to find once lost.

But fear not. With a metal detector, you can recover your lost GoPro. In this article, we'll dive in to the features you need in a metal detector to find a GoPro. Next, we'll walk you through, step by step, just how to use that detector to find it.

What is a GoPro?

A GoPro is a portable, rugged action camera that you can mount to almost anything with suction cups, clamps, or zip ties. It's popular among travelers, athletes, and extreme sports enthusiasts because it can capture hands-free high-quality video in tight or otherwise impractical situations.

The cameras are small, waterproof, and nearly indestructible. These attributes can also make them easy to lose.

Can a metal detector find a lost GoPro?

A GoPro, like most other action cameras, contains roughly the same amount of metal as a smartphone. They contain mostly lithium, copper and silver, all of which are good conductors of electricity. Since a metal detector can find a phone, a metal detector can also find a lost GoPro. But not just any detector will do.

Cheap metal detectors (like these) are analog machines that lack the features you need to find a GoPro.

Without the ability to discriminate between metals, adjust the sensitivity, or monitor the depth of what you're detecting, you're not equipped to find it, unless you're incredibly lucky. So let's dive in to the features you do need.


The most important feature you'll need to find a GoPro is discrimination. Discrimination relies on a metal detector's Target Identification system, which does the computing to determine what kind of metal is being detected.

A metal detector's search modes differentiate between metals using discrimination patterns. They ignore the types of metal you're not searching for (like iron), and focus only on those that you're trying to find (like copper and silver). You can also set custom discrimination patterns.

Adjustable Sensitivity

Adjustable sensitivity helps you to differentiate between metal on the surface, and metal that's underground. The higher you set the sensitivity, the deeper you can detect. To tell whether the metal you're detecting is on the surface or underground, watch the metal detector's depth monitor.

Waterproof Detector

If you've lost your GoPro in water or deep snow, you'll need a fully waterproof metal detector.

Adjust Your Metal Detector's Settings

Whether you've rented a metal detector or purchased one like Minelab's Vanquish 440 or the Minelab Equinox 600, you'll need to adjust its settings before you start searching.

1. Turn the Detector On

First, turn the metal detector on by pressing the power button. On a Garrett ACE 300 or AT Pro, this button is in the bottom-left of the controls. On a Minelab Vanquish 440 or Equinox 600, the button is on the left-hand side of the controls.

2. Choose a Search Mode

For Garrett-brand detectors, you'll use the left and right arrow buttons labeled MODE to cycle through the search modes until you reach All Metal or Zero-Disc.

On a Minelab Vanquish 440, press the Search Mode button to cycle through until you reach Jewelry. Or, on a Minelab Equinox, press the Detect Mode button to cycle through until you reach Park 2.

3. Adjust Sensitivity

Next, we'll adjust the sensitivity. The higher we set the sensitivity, the deeper our metal detector can detect a metal object. It also improves our ability to detect objects that are smaller than a coin. However, if we set the sensitivity too high, most of what we'll be detecting is metal that is underground. This includes things like pipes, water valves, and buried trash.

Since we're looking for a lost GoPro, we know that our search target (the object we're searching for) is probably on the surface. So let's set the sensitivity to about three notches.

If yours is buried in snow, leaves, or dirt, consider setting it to the halfway point.

Search Tips and Techniques

Now that you've adjusted your metal detector's settings, it's time to start searching. To help you out, we've got several search tips and techniques to set you up for success.

Watch Your Numbers

Your metal detector will show a number in the center of the screen every time it detects metal. These numbers correspond to the Target ID reference scale above the screen. Generally speaking, the types of metal in a GoPro will be at the higher end of the scale.

And, always check the depth reading. If you're not searching in a foot of snow or dirt, and the metal being detected is deeper than 2-4" (5 to 10 cm), it's probably a pipe or something else underground.

Search Coil Orientation

Keep the search coil (the round thing at the bottom of the detector) parallel with the ground. You'll want to hold the detector about an inch (2.5 cm) from the surface at most. Don’t be afraid to swing it into snow, leaves, or other debris.

Sweeping the Detector

As you walk across your search area, slowly sweep the detector from side to side in a continuous motion. If the detector isn’t moving, it won't work properly. That said, there’s a sweet spot between being too slow—and too fast—that will yield the best results. Swinging it like a baseball bat is too fast, for instance.

An ideal sweeping speed is around 3 to 4 seconds from side to side.

Use a Grid Pattern

Imagine a grid overlaid on the area you're searching. This lets you divide the ground you have to cover into manageable chunks. Use rocks, staking flags, or sticks to mark the areas you've searched.

It also helps you to move slowly and methodically. When using a grid, its a best practice to search each chunk from multiple directions. Depending on the orientation of your GoPro, a metal detector may not be able to detect it from one direction (East to West, for example) but would detect it from North to South, or vice-versa.

About the Author

Gary Iverson

Gary Iverson is a staff writer at Metro Metal Detectors covering all things metal and metal-adjacent.

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