Imagine spending hours hiking a high route or days on a crowded bus or an aircraft in order to see that spectacular sight you’ve been fantasizing about, just to bring out your phone and shoot a mediocre shot of an amazing view. It’s really a bummer! So, it’s time to upgrade your trekking cameras so you can capture some beautiful images.
This is a guide to picking the best camera for capturing all of the breathtaking scenery you’ll see on your hiking and backpacking trips.
For those just getting started in photography or on a tight budget, we’ve also included a number of more economical options – you can capture some fantastic images without spending a fortune.
The 6 Best Cameras for Hiking
Here are our recommendations for the top trekking cameras.
Due to its great features, the Nikon D3500 is practically everyone’s first DSLR. It includes all of the elements for taking good photographs. The menu and user interface may appear to be overly basic, but it’s a perfect place to start for hikers learning about manual photography.
Nothing else compares to these right now in terms of picture quality, adjustability, ease of use, and value for money. The D3500 is the newest in the series, with a body light enough to be mistaken for a mirrorless camera, tutorial guiding modes, and an APS-C sensor that delivers stunning photographs.
Another plus for the Nikon camera is that its 18-55mm kit lens (a sort of zoom that usually comes standard with starter DSLRs) is one of the best on the market, allowing you to avoid upgrading right away.
The construction appears to be sturdy enough for long-term use. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about your bag being too heavy because it is so light.
This is an excellent purchase if you want to learn the basics of photography while out hiking. Just keep in mind that it isn’t weatherproof.
- Exceptional value.
- Excellent kit lens.
- Guide modes are really useful.
- There is no weatherproofing.
Sony A7R III
This gorgeous weather-sealed camera is perhaps the most excellent camera for professional photographers who are backpacking. The full-frame sensor captures crisp, noise-free photos. The colors pop, and the scenery shots are breathtaking. In addition, it has exceptional low-light capabilities, making it ideal for night hikes.
The Sony A7R III is far cheaper than its predecessor (the A7 2), and it offers all of the functionality you’ll need if you’re an experienced hobbyist (like us) looking for the next step up in camera bodies.
The Sony A7R III boasts improved autofocus, a touch screen, longer battery life, and other features that make it a worthy upgrade from the camera we currently have.
- Excellent image quality.
- Great value.
- Low-light performance and long battery life.
- It takes a while to get used to the menu, there is a learning curve, and it is quite pricey.
Olympus Tough TG6
For some years, the Olympus series of robust, waterproof cameras has been the best in class, and the wide aperture lens makes it ideal for low-light and underwater shooting.
It’s the toughest camera on the list, and it can withstand a lot of abuse. It’s also waterproof up to 50 feet. This is ideal for your trekking and outdoor experiences because you won’t have to worry about the camera being damaged by the environment!
The image quality isn’t quite as high as the other tiny cameras, but the main advantage is that it’s built to take a hammering, making it the best for hiking over some harsh terrain.
Weatherproofing is great, but some hikers may desire a camera that can withstand being entirely immersed in water. You’ll want to look at robust cameras for this, and the Olympus Tough TG-6 is the finest one you can acquire right now, in our opinion.
It boasts a high-quality zoom lens with a range similar to 25-100mm, giving you a lot of shooting options. The image quality is likewise good, with added settings including the macro-focused Microscope Mode. In addition, it’s water-resistant, crush-proof, shock-resistant, and freeze-proof.
- Exceptional toughness.
- Lens with optical zoom.
- Waterproof to a depth of 50 feet.
- Only a 12MP resolution is available.
- There is no complete manual control.
- Image quality is lower than the others on the list.
- The video isn’t quite as good as some of the others on the list.
GoPro Hero 9
GoPro doesn’t require much introduction. Even without a gimbal, you’ll get fantastic stabilized footage and decent image quality, and, perhaps most significantly, they’re almost indestructible.
However, there are a few things on the Hero9 Black you may not be aware of that make it a terrific hiking camera: class-leading video stabilization, excellent smartphone connectivity via the GoPro app, and shockingly superb 5K footage for a camera of this size.
Because of its durable design, the Hero 9 is also the perfect GoPro camera for hiking. This GoPro can handle whatever you can throw at it, whether you’re hitting the local trails or squeezing your bag into the overhead bins on an aircraft. Nothing destroys this camera (trust me), and it’s so light that it barely adds any weight to your backpack.
Moreover, thanks to its advanced picture stabilization technology, it performs exceptionally well underwater.
While it isn’t ideal for serious photographers, it is a terrific addition to your kit and the greatest action camera for hiking. It’s also modular, and new parts like the Max Lens Mod, which adds an ultra-wide lens with a 155-degree field of vision and enhances stabilization, can be used.
- Top class stabilization
- Design that is both rugged and waterproof.
- 5K stabilized video.
- Tiny overall package.
- It works well with the phone.
- Regular photographing is not recommended.
- Mods aren’t cheap.
The design and feel of this camera distinguish it from others, making it more enjoyable to use and hipster-friendly. In addition, it offers the best color reproduction for photographs, and many trekkers prefer this camera.
The Fujifilm X-T30 is a compact, less expensive variant of the Fujifilm X-T3 ($1500), with a little longer zoom lens and a more comfortable grip.
This Bluetooth camera has much simpler direct controls, which makes shooting with it a lot more pleasurable, particularly if you already know your way around a camera.
The Fujifilm is an APS-C camera, which means it’s less expensive than a full-frame camera but delivers great images. With this, going out into the hills can become extra fun.
- Image Quality is Outstanding
- Burst speeds of up to 20 frames per second are possible.
- There is no cropping in this 4K footage.
- There is no image stabilization in the body.
- The battery life isn’t very good.
The Pentax K-70 is another excellent trekking DSLR option. It comes with a slew of features that far outweigh its price tag of a little under $650.
To start with, the Pentax K-70 is well-made and features an ergonomic design with external controls for all popular camera settings. It is an excellent mid-range DSLR for trekking and backpacking, with a lot of features that set it apart.
First and foremost, it is totally weather-sealed, which is unusual for a DSLR at this price bracket. It includes integrated image stabilization, which is also uncommon in a DSLR at this price point.
The camera also has a night vision option for astrophotography, which is interesting in that the interface becomes red to save your night vision. The sensor is a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, and the screen is tiltable but not touch-enabled.
The K-70’s pixel shift high-resolution mode is another pleasant surprise at this pricing point. When shooting stationary subjects, it can provide some truly spectacular photographs.
While the battery life is adequate when compared to the other cameras on our list, it is inadequate for a DSLR at 410 shots. As a result, you’ll almost certainly require a backup battery. The battery is charged using an external charger, which adds to the weight of the bag.
Although it is rather hefty, the weather sealing and sturdy construction make it an excellent trekking camera.
- Excellent image quality while shooting stills, especially when shooting raw.
- Weather sealed.
- Low-light AF is unrivaled.
- Wi-Fi is simple to use and has a very configurable UI.
- Continuous autofocus in the video is a letdown.
- The fastest autofocus speed is only available with a single lens.
- The heaviest DSLR in its class, with the shortest battery life.
When it comes to the finest hiking cameras, it’s important to consider more than simply which one delivers the sharpest images. A camera that you’ll be carrying for hours while traveling through hills and rivers needs to have a few characteristics.
There are several kinds of cameras available, so make sure you know what type of camera you’re buying. Select one that suits your needs.
- Compact Cameras
- Action Cameras
This will most likely be the most significant consideration when selecting a camera. If you simply have a few hundred dollars to spend, your options will be limited right away.
Battery life is a crucial factor to consider, especially when hiking. You may be surprised to learn that the larger the battery, the longer the battery life. In any case, you’ll want to bring extra batteries with you just in case.
The technical characteristics of your camera have a significant impact on the quality of your image.
The lens controls what type of shot you can take with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras. When choosing a lens for trekking, a general rule is to choose one that allows you to shoot wide-angle photos.
For the most part, the 35-55 mm lens that comes standard with most DSLRs is adequate, but not great, for capturing landscapes. Therefore, a camera lens with a focal length of 16-24 mm is recommended for hiking.
When you’re looking for a camera for hiking or travel, think about how well it’s built and how well you think it’ll be treated.
If you’re frequently flinging your backpack around on buses and aircraft or dropping it down to take a rest on your trek, an action camera might be the way to go.
If you think your camera will be exposed to the outdoors frequently, you should evaluate if it should be weather sealed. You never know when you’ll be trapped in the rain, snow, or other inclement weather while hiking or on an outdoor trip.
Dimensions and Weight
This is the second most crucial element to consider when looking for cameras to take on your numerous hiking activities.
A decent trekking camera must be compact and lightweight. DSLRs, unfortunately, suffer in this area.
Even the best DSLR trekking camera is usually bulkier than a point-and-shoot. So when you’re carrying a DSLR and a couple of lenses, you’re almost probably going to have to forego some additional trekking gear.
A compact camera can be perfect for hiking trips for casual hikers and backpackers. Of course, everyone’s tolerance for carrying weight varies, but no matter who you are, the pressure of something around your neck will be felt for hours while you’re physically engaged.
This concludes our look at some of our favorite hiking and backpacking cameras. Choosing the best camera for you shouldn’t be a difficult task. We hope you found the tips and reviews in this article useful.