Best Camera For Hiking – Expert Review

Updated: February 12, 2024

I'm a huge fan of the Sony a7R III as a go to camera. Housing a 42MP sensor and 400 focus points inside a weather sealed body, you're bound to catch every moment while hiking.

If you are looking to take a dip with your camera and capture some shots beneath the surface, then check out the Olympus TG 6, which can go as deep as 15m in water, and as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degree Celsius.

Best Hiking Camera (Top Picks)

Top Of The Range

Sony Alpha 7R III Mirrorless Camera with 42.4MP Full-Frame High Resolution Sensor, Camera with Front End LSI Image Processor, 4K HDR Video and 3' LCD Screen Black

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Nikon D5500

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR w/ 18-55mm VR II Kit (Black)

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Best Waterproof

Olympus TG 6

OM SYSTEM OLYMPUS TG-6 Red Underwater camera, Waterproof, Freeze proof, High Resolution Bright, 4K Video 44x Macro shooting

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Best Camera For Hikes

We reviewed over 16 hiking cameras for this article. Below are the best cameras for hiking that made our short list.

  1. Sony Alpha a6400 - Best Mirrorless
  2. Nikon D5500 - Best DSLR
  3. Sony a7R III - Top Of The Range
  4. Sony RX100 VI
  5. Olympus TG 6 - Best Waterproof
  6. Fujifilm X-T30

Read our complete buyers guide for hiking cameras.

1.Sony Alpha a6400 - Best Hiking & Backpacking Camera (Mirrorless)

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video, Flip Screen & 16-50mm Lens - E Mount Compatible - ILCE-6400L/B, Black

5/5 Overall Rating

Take professional quality photographs while you’re on the trail. The Sony Alpha a6400 has all the features you’ll need to take fantastic pictures no matter what the setting. This camera is incredibly durable and easy to use which is all you could ask for from a backpacking camera.

The Sony Alpha a6400 is a mirrorless camera as opposed to a DSLR. It has a great battery life and weighs only 1lb and 4oz and we all know how important weight is when it comes to hiking.

The camera is weather sealed with a dust and moisture resistant magnesium-alloy body to protect your camera against the elements when out in nature.

Main Features
  • Fastest autofocus system on the market
  • Mirrorless
  • 24MP
  • 425 phase detection points
  • 2.36M-Dot OLED finder with 120fps mode
  • 4k video
  • Built-in WIFI and NFC connection option
  • Built-in microphone socket
  • Weather sealed
What we like
  • Lightweight
  • Weather-sealed
  • Good image quality
  • Good battery life
What we dislike
  • Significantly less battery life than a DSLR
  • More expensive compared to DSLRs

2. Nikon D5500 - Best Hiking & Backpacking Camera (DSLR)

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR w/ 18-55mm VR II Kit (Black)

4.5/5 Overall Rating

If you prefer the professionalism of a DSLR camera over a mirrorless option, this camera is for you. The Nikon D5500 is super light, especially compared with other DSLR cameras which tend to be on the heavier and bulkier side.

The camera boasts an impressive image quality (that’s to be expected with a DSLR camera), a flip out touchscreen LCD, a great grip and fast processor.

But we must admit the camera lacks weather sealing which is an important and sought-after function when hiking, so if you are planning a trip where your camera may come in contact with dust etc it is best to choose a weather sealed option.

The camera is very easy to use and the touchscreen ads an element of familiarity as it has been likened to the touchscreen of a smartphone, a piece of technology most of us are very in tune with.

Main Features
  • 24.2MP CMOS sensor with no optical low pass filter
  • Compact and lightweight body
  • Multi-cam 4800DX 39-point autofocus system
  • Sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600
  • 5fps continuous shooting
  • Touchscreen LCD display
  • Built-in WIFI
What we like
  • Great image quality
  • Easy to use, simple controls
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Great battery life
  • Optical view finder
  • Excellent built-in flash
What we dislike
  • No weather sealing

3. Sony a7R III

Sony Alpha 7R III Mirrorless Camera with 42.4MP Full-Frame High Resolution Sensor, Camera with Front End LSI Image Processor, 4K HDR Video and 3' LCD Screen Black

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Sony a7R III is definitely an expensive camera, which is why it is listed under the dream camera category, but it is the best mirrorless camera on the market today.

The Sony a7R III has a whopping 42.4MP and is a full frame professional grade camera. The only downfall of this camera is that it is quite heavy at 2lbs (Not including lenses) and it is too heavy for a thru-hike.

It is a camera for hikers whose main goal is photography and is suitable for day hikes and short backpacking trips.

Main Features
  • Very fast autofocus
  • 10fps continuous shooting, with 4 continuous shooting options
  • 42MP sensor
  • Low light performance
  • 4k video
What we like
  • Professional grade images in a relatively small package
  • One of the best cameras that money can buy
  • 42MP
  • More detailed photographs
  • The camera shoots incredibly fast
What we dislike
  • Expensive
  • Too heavy for thru-hiking

4. Sony RX100 VI - Best Pocket Camera

Sony DSC-RX100M6 RX100 VI Cyber-shot Digital Camera 20.1 MP with 24-200mm Zoom Lens + Lexar 64GB SDHC/SDXC UHS-I Card + Dual Battery Kit + Accessory Bundle

4/5 Overall Rating

The Sony RX100 VI is the perfect mix between mirrorless and point-and-shoot, portability and capability. The camera is incredibly small and can fit into most jean pockets. The camera is extremely lightweight and weighs less than 2/3 of a pound.

You may be thinking that the camera is a bit expensive for a pocket camera at $1198, but its portability and performance make it worth it. The Sony RX100 VI is ideal for travellers who don’t want to carry a camera bag full of equipment. This camera is handy and incredibly useful.

Main Features
  • High resolution sensor
  • Selfie-mode with face detection – ultimate selfie point-and-shoot
  • 4k video
  • Long lens zoom – multiple lenses in one
  • Optical stabilisation
  • User friendly popup XGA OLED built-in viewfinder
  • High zoom
  • 24fos burst shooting mode
What we like
  • Great image quality
  • Works like a point-and-shoot but offers manual controls
  • Extra zoom
  • Standout in terms of built-in electronic view finder
  • Compact, perfect for travelling
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Detailed photo and video
What we dislike
  • No shock resistance or waterproofing
  • Weak flash
  • High price
  • Short battery life
  • Lots of buttons means it takes a bit of practice to get used to
  • Lacks any sort of grip
  • No microphone/headphone – only audio recording option is an average sounding built-in stereo mic – not ideal for vlogging

5. Olympus TG 6 - Best Waterproof Camera

OM SYSTEM OLYMPUS TG-6 Red Underwater camera, Waterproof, Freeze proof, High Resolution Bright, 4K Video 44x Macro shooting

4.5/5 Overall Rating

If you are planning on a trip where you’ll get wet, then Olympus TG 6 is the best camera for you. It is the best waterproof, rugged camera on the market.

Although a lot of the cameras on the list are weather sealed, they are not waterproof, and the Olympus TG 6 is a totally waterproof camera, meaning you can use it underwater.

You are able to capture images under the water in many different ways and he camera has a wide range of versatile features and modes. The Olympus TG 6 is an incredibly tough camera and it is the most advanced tough camera for travel.

The camera can go to depths of 15m underwater and 45m under if you are using a diving case. Although the waterproof aspect of this camera is incredible, don’t be fooled, the camera excels on land as well making it perfect for hikers, bikers, skiers and kayakers alike.

The camera is crush proof up to 100kg, drop proof and can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, making it the ideal choice for more extreme travellers. The camera also has a built-in GPS, thermometer, compass and tracking mode meaning you can associate a particular route with a particular set of images.

If you are an avid traveller and looking for a tough camera, the Olympus TG 6 is definitely the camera for you.

Main Features
  • 4k video
  • 20fps burst shooting (excels over other action cameras)
  • Fast 25-100mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/20
  • Waterproof
  • Crushproof
  • Built-in GPS, thermometer, compass and tracking mode
  • Records raw files
  • Recharges using a micro USB
What we like
  • Macro shot ability – can get extremely close to subjects and still get a high definition quality image
  • Travel-proof design – incredibly durable
  • Vibrant day-time image
  • Incredibly versatile – can shoot on both land and in water
  • The recording of raw images gives you more jurisdiction when editing the images
What we dislike
  • User interface can be a bit confusing
  • Fiddly apps
  • The Olympus TG 5 is expensive compared to other compact cameras
  • Average battery life

6. Fujifilm X-T30

Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera w/XF18-55mm Kit - Silver

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Fujifilm X-T30 is yet another mirrorless camera. It is comparable with the Sony a6400 in both price and capability.

What makes this camera unique is its look and feel, making it more fun to use and “hipster friendly.”

It has the best colour rendering for portraits and is the camera of choice for hikers with young families and young people alike.

The Fujifilm X-T30 is a smaller less expensive version of the Fujifilm X-T3 which is available for $1500, the difference being this camera has a slightly longer zoom lens and a more natural grip.

The Fujifilm X-T3 also has a faster shutter speed and a wider range of bracketing. The X-T3 is also weather sealed which can be a game changer.

But if you are looking for a less expensive option the Fujifilm X-T30 is essentially the same camera.

Main Features
  • 24MP X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
  • Up to 325 selectable AF points
  • 2.36M-Dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 4k video
  • 30 fps
  • 2.5mm jack for external microphone or wired remote control
  • Dials for exposure compensation, shutter speed and drive
What we like
  • Fujifilm’s best image processing for less than $1000
  • Strong lens ecosystem
  • Film simulation options
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Good image quality
  • Fun to use
  • 4k video
  • Classic design
What we dislike
  • The battery life is not great
  • No weather sealing which is not ideal for a hiking camera
  • No in-body image stabilization
  • No dedicated focus select control

Hiking Camera Buyer's Guide 

When choosing the right hiking camera, it is important to know what you’re looking for in order to make the correct purchase. Here is a guide on what features to look out for so you can buy the best camera to suit your needs.

Mirrorless vs DSLR vs point-and-shoot

Many of the cameras on this list are mirrorless, so it is important for you to know what that means. Mirrorless cameras offer amazing qualities at an affordable price.

The pros are that they have great image quality, a compact size ad shooting features. The downsides are that they tend to have a poor battery life, subpar autofocus and lack of lenses.

The next option is DSLR cameras, which are the cameras used by professionals. They have the highest quality, a long battery life and are functional and reliable.

However, these cameras are big and heavy, they tend to be very expensive and they lack discretion.

Finally, point-and-shoot cameras. They are built for comfort and use. Advantages are that they are smaller, easier to use and cheaper than the mirrorless and DSLR options.

The disadvantages are that they are less powerful, have smaller sensors and are poorer quality.

Weight and Bulk

In the world of hiking size and weight are very important. You want a camera that will not add an excessive amount of weight in your pack, but also a camera that is easily stored to when not in use.

Weather Sealing

Weather sealing does not mean waterproof and that is important to know. It simply means it has a metal body to protect your camera interior from moisture, sand and grit.

Weather sealing is a very helpful quality for your camera to have if you intend on taking it hiking as it is guaranteed to come in contact with dust etc as you hike.

Ease of Use

Having a camera that is easy to use is a big plus when hiking and travelling, you don’t want to waste time fiddling with your camera trying to figure out how to use it and then subsequently missing the perfect shot.

You want a camera with intuitive controls that doesn’t take much effort to master.

Image Quality

Image quality comes down to a combination of resolution, colour rendition, sensor size, ISO performance and handheld vibration reduction.

You want a camera that is going to take quality pictures of your hiking experience and do the scenery justice. If the camera has poor image quality, what is the point of investing in a camera to take on your hike.

About the author 

Mila Whitman

Mila has been to 5 continents, visited over 40 countries and hiked across some of the most famous mountain ranges including the Andes and the Atlas Mountains. As an AMS sufferer she learned a few techniques to reduce the symptoms and the effects on her hiking adventures.

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