Comfortable boots? Check
Plenty of food and water? Check
Good quality camera? …
Hiking is about spending time with mother nature and witnessing the marvels of this wonderful world that we live in. However, as beautiful as mother nature can be, she is also incredibly unpredictable. To capture her at her best, you need a camera that is light, quick on the trigger and powerful.
Our team have been playing around with some of the best cameras for hiking, and we have narrowed our favorites down into a list of five.
The Absolute Best Hiking Camera On The Market!
- World's fastest Auto Focus speed (0.05 sec.)
- 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor w/ accelerated readout
- Up to 11fps continuous shooting w/Auto Focus and Exposure
- Internal UHD 4K30 & 1080p120 Recording; Lens Mount:E-mount; Lens compatibilit : Sony E-mount lenses
- Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body
When you are looking for an outdoor digital camera that can be considered the best camera for hiking, there are a few criteria it has to meet. First of all, it has to be lightweight, for obvious reasons. It also has to be rugged enough to survive the bumps and knocks that are inevitable when out on your treks. Last but not least, it has to take amazing photos.
If there was ever a camera that fits these criteria down to a T, it would be the Alpha A6300 from Sony. We have tested out several ‘hiking-friendly’ cameras in the build-up to this review article, but none of them stood out to us like this one did.
Being a mirrorless camera, the A6300 is as light as a regular point-and-shoot digital camera, but it has the image quality of a top-end (and not to mention, extremely heavy) DSLR camera. It’s the best of both worlds.
The camera shoots at 24.2 megapixels, and can record 4K videos up to 30 frames per second. If 4K isn’t your thing, then you can expect at least 120 FPS when shooting a regular 1080p HD.
One feature of the Alpha A6300 that completely blew our minds was how fast it was able to focus. We knew going into the review that this camera supposedly had the fastest auto focus speed in the world, but we were still surprised with how fast it could focus on any object. Point the camera at whatever you want to shoot, and by the time you look down at the screen, it will be completely focused. It’s really that fast!
Our Final Verdict…
After spending just a couple of hours with this camera, we knew it would be our number one recommendation as a hiking camera. The hard-bodied exterior is weather-sealed, so it’s rugged enough to take on all of the elements, it’s extremely light (14.8 ounces) and the image quality is on par with the DSLR cameras that are double its cost.
To sum things up: If you need the best hiking camera to accompany you on your future adventures, this is the one you need.
The Second Best Backpacking Camera On The Market
- World's first1 20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS, High resolution 4K movie recording with direct pixel readout and no pixel binning, Super slow-motion movie3 HFR (High frame rate) up to 960 fps (40x)
- Super-speed Anti-Distortion Shutter at max. 1/32000 sec. up to 16fps, Bright F1.8- F2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonar T* lens (24-70mm), Fast Intelligent AF thanks to the new Exmor RS CMOS sensor
- Retractable XGA OLED Tru-Finer viewfinder and Sharp 3" multi-angle LCD, Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi and NFC w/ camera apps, Dual record of 16.8MP photos while shooting movie w/ auto settings
- Enhanced pro-video functions and NTSC switchable
Next up on our list, we have another camera from Sony – only this time it’s a point-and-shoot camera, as opposed to the mirrorless option that we previously mentioned.
Being a point-and-shoot camera, the RX100 is considerably cheaper than the A6300, but with the drop in price, you inevitably lose a few of the features that make the Alpha A6300 such a great camera. With that being said, the Cybershot is certainly no push over! It’s still an amazing outdoor digital camera that is perfect for backpacking.
The 20.1-megapixel camera, combined with the 1-inch CMOS image sensor is capable of taking unbelievably clear and vivid photographs in all lighting conditions. It can also shoot short, 5 minute videos in 4K resolution, and super slow motion videos if that is something you are into. We were toying around with the slow-motion video feature, which can shoot videos up to 40 times slower than real life speed. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun!
One of the features that really made a difference to the final images was the amazing shutter speeds that this thing possesses. With shutter speeds of up to 1/32000 of a second, theRX100 is perfect for those we need to take photographs in fast paced environments, or places where the light is extremely bright. Fast flowing rivers on a sunny day, being a perfect example.
Our Final Verdict…
Although the RX100 is cheaper than the A6300, it’s still not a cheap camera. If you are looking for a cheap point-and-shoot camera to take mediocre photos on your backpacking expeditions, you should probably give this one a pass.
However, if you need a good outdoor digital camera that is rugged, easy to carry around and capable of producing professional standard photographs no matter how extreme the surroundings are, you will absolutely love theRX100.
The Third Best Camera For Backpacking and Hiking
- Stunning 4K video and 12MP photos in Single, Burst and Time Lapse modes.
- Durable by design, HERO5 Black is waterproof to 33ft (10m) without a housing
- Additional GoPro HERO5 Black Features + Benefits below on item page.
- Preview and playback your shots, change settings and trim your footage, all on your GoPro.
- Battery can sustain 60-90 minutes of continuous 4K video recording
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you will have undoubtedly already heard of GoPro cameras. The brand has become synonymous with extreme sports and adventure, of which backpacking falls into the latter category.
For a long time, the industry standard camera for those who like to live life on the edge was the Hero 4, but due to its phenomenal success, GoPro have recently released its successor – The GoPro Hero5.
The biggest advantage of purchasing a GoPro over any other camera for backpacking is the fact that it’s (almost) indestructible. Maybe not literally speaking, but it’s as close to indestructible as any other camera on the market. It’s completely waterproof (up to 10m) and shockproof, so if your wanderlust decides to take you to some extreme places, there is no better camera to be equipped with, in our opinion.
A couple of the new features that are exclusive to the Hero 5 are flawless 4K video capabilities, voice-control and even a 2-inch touch screen that lets you view, crop and share your videos straight from your camera.
What surprised us the most when we took this baby for a test drive was how smooth the videos turned out to be. No matter where you decide to strap the Hero5, whether it be to a helmet, your backpack or even your dog’s collar, the videos will always turn out smooth and easy to watch.
Our Final Verdict…
Although some people say that the GoPro Hero 5 isn’t ‘technically’ a camera, we have to respectfully disagree. We would agree, however, that it’s definitely made for video recording more than it is for point-and-shoot photography, so if you are more interested in capturing action packed videos rather than stills of birds and pretty sunsets, the Hero5 is absolutely the right choice for you.
An All Round Good Camera For Hiking
- 4X wide-angle optical zoom with fast f2.0 high speed lens
- Waterproof to depths of 50 feet, freeze proof to 14 degrees f, shockproof to 7 feet, crushproof to 220 lb.
- Raw capture, live composite, underwater modes with underwater hdr
- Wi-Fi / GPS / e. compass
If you are looking for a quality hiking camera that is also rugged and versatile, but suited more for point-and-shoot photography, the TG-4 is probably the camera you are looking for. It’s made by Olympus, who are well-known for making tough cameras.
Before we discuss the image quality of this beast of a camera, there are a few statistics we want to throw at you… The Olympus TG-4 is waterproof up to 50ft, shockproof when dropped from up to 7ft, freeze resistant up to 14 degrees and even crush proof up to 220lbs! You could literally drop this camera on a rock, accidentally stand on it and it will still survive. How many cameras could withstand that sort of punishment?
In terms of image quality, the TG-4 is definitely no slouch. The 16MP camera, along with the TruePic VII image processor is capable of producing high quality images without any distortion or blur. The high-speed lens is perfect for shooting both photographs and videos in fast-paced environments, especially underwater. It also has several different modes already programmed in, including underwater, macro and live composite.
Our Final Verdict…
With a nickname like “Tough”, we were expecting something comparable to a GoPro when we got our hands on this one. Surprisingly, it puts the GoPro to shame! If you are looking to record videos, we would still recommend the Hero5, but if you are looking for a point-and-shoot camera that lives up to its hardy reputation, the Olympus TG-4 is the one we would recommend to you.
Another All Round Good Camera For Outdoor Photography And Hiking!
- 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS image sensor
- No Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF)
- 51 point autofocus system
- 6 frames per second (fps) shooting capacity
- EXPEED 4 image processing; ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100 - 25,600
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Nikon D7200 – Possibly the best DSLR camera for outdoor photography. Being a DSLR camera, it’s not necessarily light, but that’s not what DSLR cameras are made for. They are designed to take pristine, flawless photos, and the D7200 does that incredibly well.
If you have the budget, and the space in your backpack for this gem of a camera, you will not be disappointed with it, we can guarantee that. We were blown away with the sharpness and the clarity of the photos that we took with this camera. Even in low light, the D7200 produced images that were balanced, bright and perfectly saturated.
The build quality is comparable to cameras that are double its price, but it feels comfortable and secure in your hands at the same time. The battery in this thing is also impressive, with its ability to shoot over a thousand pictures on a single charge.
Our Final Verdict…
We have tested hundreds of DSLR cameras in our time, but none have surprised us as much as the Nikon D7200 did. Its 24-megapixel camera produced some of the best quality pictures we have ever seen, and the massive portfolio of features is truly mind-boggling, but exciting at the same time. While we wouldn’t recommend this camera to beginners, this one will be right up your alley if you are a professional photographer, or someone who is passionate about DSLR cameras.
Whether you are looking for a light camera that is compact and easy to carry around, a rugged camera that can be thrown around without worries of it breaking, or a top-of-the range DSLR camera that is perfect for capturing the outdoors and all of the glory that nature provides, our list of the best cameras for hiking has covered them all.
If you are still unsure about which camera is the right choice for you, here is a quick buyer’s guide that we put together to help clear some of the confusion.
What Makes a Camera “Good” For Hiking?
For those who are new to photography, it can be extremely difficult to differentiate a good camera from a bad one. There are so many choices on the market today, that even the more experienced photographers can be left scratching their heads.
When shopping for a camera that is suitable for backpacking and hiking, there are a few extra considerations that you must keep in mind:
One of the most important aspects of a good hiking camera is how well it can protect itself from external forces such as wind, rain, snow and dust. Hiking is a versatile hobby, and each expedition can take you into completely new environments, so having a camera that can survive in more extreme conditions is crucial.
However, there is a huge difference between a camera that is weatherproof, and a camera that is built for extreme sports and action packed adventures. The GoPro HERO5 and the Olympus TG-4 are perfect examples of ‘action’ cameras that are built to withstand the harshest of conditions. Weatherproof cameras are capable of keeping out small amounts of dust and rain, which is good enough for most people.
Size and Weight
The whole point of taking a camera on a hiking trip is to be able to take pictures whenever the opportunity shows itself. Nature is beautiful, but it’s also unpredictable. Having a camera that is small enough, and light enough to keep on your person at all times is important if you want to capture the best shots.
Point-and-shoot cameras and most mirrorless cameras are generally small in size, and light enough to keep around your neck, or in your pocket. DSLR cameras, on the other hand are often big and bulky, but take the best quality pictures. It’s all about compromise when it comes to size and weight.
3. Camera Speed
Building on the previous point, a camera with fast auto-focus and a quick shutter speed will allow you to capture the unexpected events that are around every corner. The faster the camera can focus, the better, so always look for something with quality lenses.
4. Megapixels and Image Sensor
Of course, the most important aspect of any camera is the quality of the images that it can produce. Generally speaking, the higher the megapixel, the better quality the images will be, but there are a few other factors that will have an impact on the final image quality.
A high number of megapixels, combined with a good quality sensor is what will give you the best bang for your buck. Fortunately, all of the cameras that we have reviewed in this article are capable of taking incredible photographs, so don’t worry too much about this one.
This one is pretty subjective, but it’s still worth keeping in mind. Cameras are not cheap, so it’s important that you choose a camera that is made from high quality materials, and will last for as long as possible. Cameras that are made from a lightweight metal or strong plastics will be your best bet.
Generally speaking, the more expensive a camera is, the better the build-quality is. While this is not true in all cases, it does tend to be the case. This brings us onto our last point…
Of course, one of the biggest influencing factors when purchasing a camera for hiking will be your budget. While it’s true that you “get what you pay for”, there are still some professional standard cameras that won’t cost you thousands of dollars to purchase.
Hopefully, now that you understand the most important factors to keep in consideration when purchasing a camera for backpacking or hiking, you can check out our reviews again with less confusion.
Shared under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Zach Dischner – https://flic.kr/p/B61qiy
Trekking Rinjani – https://flic.kr/p/8vGnwi
Douglas Scortegagna – https://flic.kr/p/q158py
Last update on 2017-10-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API