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.
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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.
With similar image quality compared to a DSLR, the mirrorless Sony Alpha a6300 is lightweight and durable. You will not regret purchasing this camera.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The [ 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.
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 is a great upgrade if you’re willing to spend a little extra.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.