Best Camera For Hiking – Reviews 2018 (With Comparison Table) - Mountain IQ

Best Camera For Hiking – Reviews 2018 (With Comparison Table)

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When purchasing a hiking camera, there are a number of key things to consider - weight and bulk, durability for rugged outdoor use, fit for purpose / skill level, and of course price!

To help you pick the right one, we've put together a comprehensive guide of the best hiking cameras on the market (Mirror, DLSR, Pocket and more), so that your money is definitely spent well.

Best Hiking Camera (Our #1 Choice)

With similar image quality compared to a DSLR, the mirrorless Sony Alpha a6300 is lightweight and durable. You will not regret purchasing this camera.

Best Adventure Cameras - Comparison Table

Camera

Rating

Type

Weight (w/Battery)

Effective Pixels

Max Resolution

Weather-Sealed

#1

Sony Alpha a6300

(Best Mirrorless Camera)

Mirrorless

404g/0.89lb

24 megapixels

6000 x 4000

Yes

#2

Nikon D5500

(Best DSLR Camera)

DSLR

420g/0.93lb

24 megapixels

6000 x 4000

No

#3

Sony a7R III

(Dream Camera)

Mirrorless

657g/1.45lb

42 megapixels

7952 x 5304

Yes

#4

Sony RX100 VI

(Best Pocket Camera)

Point-and-shoot

301g/0.66lb

20 megapixels

5472 x 3648

No

#5

​Olympus TG 5

(Best Waterproof Camera)

Waterproof

250g/0.55lb

12 megapixels

4000 x 3000

Yes

#6

Fujifilm X-T20

(Vintage Hip)

Mirrorless

383g/0.84lb

24 megapixels

6000 x 4000

No

Best Hiking & Backpacking Camera (Mirrorless)

1. Sony Alpha a6300 Camera

5/5 Overall Rating

Take professional quality photographs while you’re on the trail.

The Sony Alpha a6300 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 a6300 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
Key Takeaway

With similar image quality compared to a DSLR, the mirrorless Sony Alpha a6300 is lightweight and durable. You will not regret purchasing this camera.  

Best Hiking & Backpacking Camera (DSLR)

2. Nikon D5500 

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
Key Takeaway

If you enjoy the professionalism of a DSLR camera, then the Nikon D5500 will be the perfect fit for you. It is more affordable than a lot of the other cameras on the list and has many great features. However, the lack of weather sealing on this camera is a major downfall and if you’re looking for a camera that can withstand the outdoors then it is suggested that you go with a weather sealed option.

Top Of The Range: Dream Camera For Outdoors

3. Sony a7R III

4/5 Overall Rating

At $5398 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
Key Takeaway

If outdoor photography is your primary goal Sony a7R III is a definite must, as it is the best hiking camera money can buy at the moment. The downsides of this camera are the price and the fact that it is not ideal for thru-hiking. This camera is best suited for day hikes and short backpacking trips, if these are things you are looking for in a camera, and you have a little cash to burn, the Sony a7R III is definitely the camera for you.

Best Pocket Camera

4. Sony RX100 VI

3.5/5 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
Key Takeaway

Sony RX100 VI is a small, compact and reliable camera that is perfect for traveling. However, it does have a few downfalls, and you can probably find cheaper options in this price bracket. But as pocket cameras go, the Sony RX100 VI is the best there is, so it is worth the extra cost.

Best Waterproof Camera

5. Olympus TG 5

3.5/5 Overall Rating

If you are planning on a trip where you’ll get wet, then Olympus TG 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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
Key Takeaway

The Olympus TG 5 is the ideal camera for more extreme adventuring. There are many features which make this camera a great choice not only for hikers but other outdoorsmen as well. The camera is expensive, but the waterproof quality of the camera is a feature not easy to find in hiking cameras. If you plan on less extreme hiking you may want to think about other, less expensive options.

Vintage Hip Camera

6. Fujifilm X-T20

3/5 Overall Rating

The Fujifilm X-T20 is yet another mirrorless camera. It is comparable with the Sony a6300 in both price and capability with the main difference being that the Sony a6300 is weather sealed.

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-T20 is a smaller less expensive version of the Fujifilm X-T2 which is available for $1795, the difference being this camera has a slightly longer zoom lens and a more natural grip.

The Fujifilm X-T2 also has a faster shutter speed and a wider range of bracketing. The X-T2 is also weather sealed which can be a game changer.

But if you are looking for a less expensive option the Fujifilm X-T20 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
Key Takeaway

This camera is fun to use and has a great look. Its build quality is definitely worth the $900 cost, but if you are looking for a little more the Fujifilm X-T20 is a great upgrade if you’re willing to spend a little extra.

Buyer's Guide For Adventure Camera (Key Features) 

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.

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