Many people want to explore the world, but only a few do it.
And exploration will require you do some hiking, maybe even backpacking in some remote places. But wherever you are, you’ll want to photograph your steps, struggles, and peaks. And probably the best hiking camera is the one you already have — your smartphone camera.
There’s a good chance you were already planning to bring your smartphone on your backpacking adventure, so it won’t take up additional space or weight as a camera.
On the other hand, if you’re worried about durability or want higher-quality photos, we created this list of the best hiking cameras to help you capture those moments. Who knows, you might even get that shot like famous photographer Ansel Adams.
Things to Consider in a Hiking Camera
You don’t need all the bells and whistles in a hiking camera, especially if you’re only doing day treks.
Inclement weather is part of outdoor life. Consider a weatherproof camera, especially if you’re backpacking for several days.
A camera that is rechargeable with a USB port will allow you to recharge it via a power bank. Though a power bank adds weight, this comes in handy if you already planned to bring one for overnight hikes.
Wide-angle lenses will help you photograph landscapes, and telephoto-zoom lenses will help you with wildlife. You may want one lens that can do it all or a dedicated lens for each type of photography. Dedicated lenses will provide better quality. On the other hand, all-in-one lenses will save you space and the cumbersomeness of switching lenses.
Portability is important. Mirrorless cameras usually save more space than DSLRs, but are not always that much lighter in weight. Furthermore, a dedicated camera backpack for hiking will help you organize your gear better.
For landscapes during the twilight hours, when the sky is cool blue, bright pink, or magenta, a tripod is best for image stabilization. If you decide to do HDR photography or astrophotography, then a tripod is a must.
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11 Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking
1. Canon EOS R6
The Canon EOS R6 is a mirrorless camera featuring a high-performance 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor, 4K video, and more. The 35mm CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 image processor of the EOS R6 combine to provide high resolution and fast performance at all sensitivities up to ISO 102400; expandable to 204800 with low noise.
The R6 captures 4K 60fps and Full HD 120fps. The Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus system provides fast and smooth focusing for both stills and videos.
There is a 3.68 million-dot EVF and 1.62 million-dot fully-articulating rear LCD touchscreen. Connectivity includes WiFi and Bluetooth for image sharing and remote control. The R6 is weather-sealed and can be paired with the also weather-sealed 24-105mm F4L lens — making it one of the best hiking camera kits — just in case it pours in the backcountry.
- Great ergonomics
- Excellent images with good color
- High-resolution sensor of 20MP, Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus, and DIGIC 8
- Dual Pixel Autofocus II with AI subject tracking
- Good dynamic range
- New RF lens mount design for faster, more accurate autofocus than ever before
- Powerful image stabilization system
- The camera body feels cheap and plasticky
- The kit lens comes without a lens hood or case and is not weather sealed.
- No camera charging cables included
- Autofocus setup can be complex
2. Fujifilm X-T4
The Fujifilm X-T4 is a DSLR-like mirrorless camera featuring a 26MP CMOS X-Trans sensor and image stabilization system. The camera has an improved hybrid autofocus system.
Video can be captured in UHD 4K up to 60 fps, with a bit rate of 400Mbps. There are controls for ISO, shutter speed, exposure, and other customizable dials. The X-T4 has an EVF with 0.75x magnification and a fully articulating LCD. The body is weather-sealed and made of magnesium alloy. For storage, there are two SD card slots with support for UHS-II media. The camera has a mic socket but no headphone jack.
The Fujifilm X-T4 mirrorless camera can be packaged with the dust and water-resistant 16-80mm F4 OIS WR lens. The camera-lens kit gives an excellent wide-angle reach for landscape photography while trekking through mountain ranges.
- Excellent image and video quality
- Wide choice of color modes
- Customizable ergonomics
- Excellent customization of interfaces and buttons
- Great image stabilization
- Good battery life; can be charged over USB
- Autofocus performance is dependent on the subject
- Lack of Autofocus subject tracking in video
- Face/eye detection isn’t well implemented
- USB-C dongle required to attach headphones
3. Nikon Z5
The Nikon Z5 is a Z-mount mirrorless camera with a 24MP full-frame image sensor and a hybrid AF system. The 5-axis image stabilization will help reduce camera shake while hiking.
It captures 1080p video at full resolution with no crop and 4K video at 30 fps with a 1.7X crop. Furthermore, it features 273 phase-detect AF points, subject tracking, and face and eye detection.
The camera has an electronic viewfinder with a tilting touchscreen. The camera body is weather-sealed, and there are dual SD card slots with support for UHS-II media. The Z5 has both microphone and headphone sockets. The camera uses an EN-EL15C battery with support for USB power delivery.
For fast media sharing and remote control, you have built-in Bluetooth and WiFi.
The Nikon Z5 can be bundled with the dust-and-drip resistant NIKKOR Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR lens. The lens provides a decent wide-angle and excellent telephoto zoom for wildlife photography all in one lens. Since you won’t need to change lenses, you won’t miss a shot from photographing animals to landscapes within moments in the backcountry.
- Great build quality
- Excellent image and video quality
- Comfortable in-hand with well-placed, responsive controls and touchscreen
- Excellent high ISO performance and solid dynamic range
- Effective 5-axis image stabilization
- High-res EVF
- Dual UHS-II SD card slots
- USB charging
- 1.7x cropped 4K video reduces the quality
- No built-in flash
- High ISO creates considerably more noticeable noise
- JPEG noise reduction is aggressive
4. Sony Alpha a7 III
The Sony Alpha a7 III mirrorless camera features a 24.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor. The a7 III has a constant shooting rate at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, Autofocus joystick, Eye Autofocus features, and 4K video recording at 24 fps.
The AF system has 693 detection points. The camera also has 5-axis in-body stabilization that offers 5.0 stop shutter speeds. It comes with a dust/moisture-resistant magnesium-alloy chassis body. There is an OLED EVF, a fully articulated 3-inch LCD touchscreen, and dual memory card slots.
The newly designed larger-capacity ‘Z’ battery can last for up to 710 shots on a single charge. A headphone and microphone jack is also included.
The Sony Alpha a7 III can be packaged with the weather-resistant FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens, making it a rugged backpacking camera combo. The lens can take standard wide-angle shots of landscapes while on treks and easily fits a camera hiking backpack.
- Updated 24-megapixel BSI sensor
- Great ISO dynamic range
- Great build-quality and ergonomics
- Autofocus joystick
- Superb high-quality 4K and HD video, and slow-motion performance
- Updated menu system
- Impressive battery life
- The viewfinder has low resolution
- Jaded LCD touchscreen performance
- Only one card slot supports faster UHS-II format
- Some buttons are too small and lack tactile feedback
- Video autofocus needs improvement
5. Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
The Panasonic DS-S5 has a 24MP full-frame sensor and built-in 5-axis image stabilization. It features a unique high-res mode that uses the image stabilization system to produce 96MP photos.
The Lumix S5 mirrorless camera has a large 2.36M-dot EVF and a fully articulating LCD and captures 10-bit, 4K video at up to 60 fps. The video mode has continuous AF and eye/face/head/body detection. The camera body is compact, well-built, and weather-sealed for harsh conditions while backpacking. There are two SD card slots; however, only one slot supports UHS-II speeds.
For connectivity, it has Bluetooth and dual-band WiFi. The camera can be powered and charged over USB-C and has excellent battery life. Also included are the mic and headphone sockets with support for the XLR adapter from Panasonic. There is no full-sized HDMI port.
An optional weather-resistant Lumix S 20-60mm lens can be packaged with the S5 to make a resilient hiking camera kit.
- In-body image stabilization
- Superb image quality and excellent JPEG engine
- Responsive autofocus and eye/face/head/body detection
- Great subject tracking
- Excellent 96MP image quality
- Records 4K 30 fps, and 60 fps with APS-C crop
- Solid battery life
- USB charging
- Autofocus/On button is poorly placed
- Continuous Autofocus has ‘fluttering’ issues
- 30min time limitation is some video modes
- Average-resolution EVF
- Lackluster burst shooting
- No full-size HDMI
6. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
The Canon 6D Mark II is a solid DSLR hiking camera and features a 26.2MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 processor. The 6D Mark II’s Dual Pixel Autofocus offers responsive autofocus when shooting live videos.
The camera’s optical viewfinder has a 45-point, all-cross-type autofocus system. The camera can shoot up to 6.5 images per second with Servo AF. The camera can reach an ISO of up to 40,000.
The 6D Mark II shoots 1080p video and as well as 4K time-lapse footage. It has a 3-inch fully articulating touchscreen LCD, which is great for selfies and vlogging in the backcountry.
The camera body is durable and water/dust resistant. In addition to WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC are available for easy camera control and media sharing. There is only one SD card slot for storage.
The versatile EF 24-105mm f/4 IS II USM lens can be bundled with the 6D Mark II. This camera-lens combo provides a decent range for landscape photos while backpacking.
- Updated 26MP sensor with outstanding ISO performance
- JPEGs have pleasant colors
- Good ergonomics and controls
- Well-implemented Dual Pixel autofocus and updated autofocus system
- Excellent video stabilization system
- Intuitive touchscreen operation
- Fast shooting rates of up to 6.5 fps
- Low ISO dynamic range is not good
- Viewfinder autofocus system lacks accuracy
- Slow burst shooting with autofocus
- 1080/60p video lacks detail
- There is no headphone port
- Mediocre rear control dial
7. Fujifilm X-T200
The Fujifilm X-T200 is a low-to-mid-range, budget-friendly mirrorless camera. It features a 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor with on-sensor phase detection.
Despite its compact size, the X-T200 from Fujifilm has a 3.5″ fully articulating touchscreen display and a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder. The camera shoots continuously up to 8 fps, though the video buffer fills quickly. The camera captures oversampled, uncropped 4K video at 30 fps with a 15-minute limit and 1080p video up to 60 fps.
There is also Eye and Face Detection features. The camera also has a built-in microphone jack, supports headphones via an included adapter, and offers WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The X-T200 can be purchased with an XC 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens. This entry-level camera is best for day hikes, landscape photos, and close-up shots. It’s not recommended for the backcountry due to the lack of weather sealing unless you have a waterproof hiking camera backpack or rain cover.
- Improved sensor has low noise levels and wide dynamic range
- Excellent face and eye detection
- JPEGs have good colors
- Bright, vivid 3.5″ touchscreen
- Intuitive touch interface
- Good quality oversampled 4K video
- Compact, lightweight, and stylish design
- Lackluster Full HD video quality and lacks subject tracking in video
- Mediocre placement of the joystick
- Customizability is limited
- Eye sensor does not get disabled when the LCD is flipped outwards
- No weather sealing
8. Sony Alpha a7C
The Sony Alpha a7C camera features a 24.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, BIONZ X image processor, and 5-axis in-body image stabilization, and Ultra HD 4K video recording.
The sensor has a Fast Hybrid AF system that uses 693 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection areas. As this is a Sony camera, it comes with its Real-time Eye Autofocus and Tracking Autofocus features. The camera has a 0.39″-type OLED electronic viewfinder with 2.36m-dot resolution and a 3.0″ side-opening variable-angle touchscreen LCD.
Camera control is achieved through built-in WiFi and wireless Bluetooth and file transfers over a connected mobile device.
Since it’s weather-sealed, the a7C can be used confidently as a backpacking camera. There’s an option to buy this mirrorless camera for hiking with a FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS lens. It’s drip and dust-resistant, a decent wide-angle for panoramic photos, and provides a good reach with the telephoto zoom.
- Compact size and excellent build quality
- Excellent image quality
- Easy-to-use AF system
- Fantastic battery life with USB charging
- Collapsible kit zoom keeps the camera compact and easy to handle
- Includes 5-axis image stabilization
- All three dials need to be controlled with the thumb
- The viewfinder is small and lacks a good eye-cup
- Complicated menus and user interface
- No built-in flash
- RAW files are either large size or heavily compressed
9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III camera is compact for hiking, features a 20MP micro-four-thirds sensor, a TruePic VIII image processor, and a 5-axis in-body image stabilization system. The camera has a 121-point hybrid AF system, and 10 fps burst shooting with continuous AF. The E-M5 Mark III can also capture ultra-high-resolution 50MP images.
You can shoot 4K video in 30 fps and 24 fps, as well as high-speed 1080p video at 120 fps. The camera body is weather-sealed and has an EVF and tilting 3-inch touchscreen LCD. Like other Olympus cameras, the E-M5 Mark III has proprietary features like ‘Art Filters.’
For connectivity, the Olympus E-M5 III has both WiFi and Bluetooth.
An M.Zuiko 14-150mm lens is optional with the body, making it a splashproof, dustproof, and freezeproof mirrorless camera system for harsh conditions while backpacking.
- Excellent JPEG and Raw image quality
- Great design, class-leading build quality with good ergonomics
- Excellent image stabilization
- Good quality 4K video
- 10fps burst shooting
- IPX1 rated weather sealing
- Lackluster continuous autofocus and tracking performance
- Dense menus with complex indexing
- Average battery life (battery grip or spare batteries recommended)
- No headphone jack
10. Nikon D780
The Nikon D780 is a full-frame DSLR camera featuring a 24MP BSI-CMOS sensor and an Expeed 6 processor. The camera records UHD 4K video at 30 fps and high-speed Full HD video at 120 fps. It also 7 fps burst shooting with continuous AF.
The EVF features a 51-point phase-detection autofocus system. During live view or recording video, a 273-point Hybrid Autofocus system is activated. Like most Nikon cameras, the D780 has solid build quality and a weather-sealed body, which will be handy outdoors.
There is a 3.2″ tilting touchscreen display, USB Type-C port that supports charging, and dual UHS-II SD card slots. For connectivity, there is WiFi and Bluetooth in addition to microphone and headphone ports. The D780 has excellent battery life, shooting 2200 photos before running out of juice.
The Nikon D780 can be bundled with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR zoom lens. Unfortunately, this lens is not weather-resistant. It’s best for day hikes, predicable weather, or with a weather-constructed camera hiking backpack if out in the backcountry.
- Excellent dynamic range and high ISO performance
- JPEGs have good color
- Excellent autofocus tracking
- Fantastic oversampled UHD 4K video
- Easy to use
- Microphone and headphone ports
- Excellent battery life
- Unreliable live view subject tracking
- No way to control autofocus via the joystick or touchpad
- Aggressive default JPEG noise reduction
- No built-in flash
- No in-body image stabilization
11. Sony Alpha a7R IV
The Sony a7R IV is a high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera featuring a 61MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and an improved BIONZ X image processor. It captures up to 10 fps, shoots 4K video from the entire width of the sensor or in a Super 35 crop. It supports Tracking Autofocus and Real-time Eye Autofocus.
The professional mirrorless camera for backpacking can take 240MP images in high-resolution mode. The a7R IV has in-body image stabilization, which will allow you to take handheld shots in most scenarios.
The camera body has great build quality and is dust/moisture resistant, making it perfect for hiking. There is an ultra-high-res 5.76m-dot resolution EVF and a 1.44m-dot resolution 3.0″ rear tilting touchscreen LCD. There are also dual UHS-II SD card slots. There is a USB Type-C port for connectivity, which supports battery charging, and built-in Bluetooth and WiFi.
The Sony Alpha a7R IV camera can be bundled with several lenses, including the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS lens. The a7R series is a professional-grade camera. As a result, it’s best for enthusiasts or professionals that plan to sell or print their hiking images.
- Excellent resolution
- Good dynamic range and balanced noise performance
- Excellent autofocus tracking in photos and videos
- Good ergonomics and easy to use dials
- Large, high-res electronic viewfinder
- 10 fps burst shooting with Autofocus
- Amazing detail in 4K video
- Great customization options
- JPEGs have good colors, sharpening, and noise reduction
- Large file sizes
- Somewhat laggy interface
- RAW compression could have been better
5 Best Adventure and Actions Cameras for Hiking
1. Campark X40 Action Camera
The Campark X40 Action Camera shoots 4K videos at 30 fps video and 20MP photos. It also shoots 1080p video at 120 fps. The camera has a built-in advanced 6-axis gyroscope for image stabilization and reducing camera shakes while hiking.
The X40 has high-res color dual displays and a rear 2-inch IPS touchscreen. This camera is designed to be used in all weather conditions, and it is waterproof up to 40 meters or 131 feet. The X40 has WiFi for transferring images and video to your phone and remote control. In addition, you can connect it to your TV via the HDMI port.
Other standard features include loop recording, time-lapse video, slow motion, burst photo mode, micro USB, microphone, and more. For storage, the Campark X40 supports micro SD cards up to 64GB and is powered by a 1350mAh battery.
- Records 4K videos at 30 fps video, and 1080p video at 120 fps
- Gimbal like 6-axis stabilization with EIS
- Waterproof down to 40 meters or 131 feet
- Has WiFi and HDMI port
- 3/5/10 burst photo mode
- Easy to use touchscreen interface
- So-so battery life
- Lackluster audio quality; picks a lot of background noise
- The touchscreen is very sensitive
2. Olympus Tough TG-6
The Olympus Tough TG-6 might be the best point-and-shoot camera for hiking due to its durability. This camera is shockproof from 2.4m (7ft), crushproof up to 220lbs, freezeproof up to 14°F (-10°C) in addition to being waterproof up to 15m (50ft). It features a 12MP (1/2.3-inch) sensor, 4X optical zoom lens, image stabilization, and built-in GPS tracking. The TG-6 is a rugged, compact, and dustproof camera.
There is a fixed 3-inch LCD, protected by a tempered glass screen. However, it is not a touchscreen. The TG-6 can shoot 4K at 30 fps and Full HD 120 fps high-speed videos. However, the recording time is limited to 20 seconds.
The 12MP images have RAW support. The TG-6 has 20 fps burst shooting, 3 underwater white balance modes, and 2 underwater shooting modes. Other features include Pro Capture mode, altimeter, thermometer, accelerometer, and a compass.
- Shoots great 4K 30 fps and Full HD 120 fps videos
- Excellent build quality and compact design
- Waterproof up to 15m (50ft)
- Ample and crisp LCD
- Image stabilization
- GPS tracking
- Compatible with a wide variety of accessories
- Video recording time is limited to 20 sec.
- No touchscreen
- No Bluetooth
3. Insta360 ONE R
The Insta360 One R is a 360 and modular action camera that comes in three cameras or mods. Their ‘1-Inch Edition’ features a large 1-inch type sensor with a Leica-branded lens, which shoots 5.3K video and 19MP images; the ‘360 Edition’ records 5.7K 360° videos, and the ‘4K Edition’ has a 12MP sensor with 4K video recording.
All camera modes can record slow-motion video up to 240 fps in 720p or 120 fps in 1080p resolution. There is also 6-axis Gyroscope FlowState Stabilization. The Insta360 ONE R is rugged and designed for use in all weather conditions and can handle harsh treatment. The camera is also waterproof to up to 5 meters (16 ft.) in water. If you happen to take a dip in a lake while backpacking, this camera won’t be left behind.
Other features include subject tracking, voice control, burst mode, time-lapse mode, time shift mode, night shot, etc. For connectivity, there is Bluetooth and WiFi.
- Well-implemented modular design
- Can use 2/3 cameras at a time
- Unique 1-inch type sensor action camera
- An intuitive, well-designed app
- Captures good images and videos in low-light conditions
- Excellent 4K and 360-degree image quality
- Flimsy Micro SD/USB-C cover
- Small screen
- The menu system feels complicated to navigate
- So-so battery life
4. GoPro Hero9 Black
The GoPro Hero9 Black is an action camera featuring GoPro’s updated 23.6MP image sensor that shoots 20MP images, 5K video at 30 fps, and 4K at 60 fps. It’s the most famous action cam in the world and for good reason. GoPro owners use their cameras for various activities, including hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and scuba diving.
The camera has two displays: a 1.4-inch front-mounted LCD with live view and a 2.27-inch rear touchscreen. The Hero9 has the company’s newest HyperSmooth digital image stabilization with in-camera horizon leveling, TimeWarp 3.0, 1080p 8x slow-motion up to 240 fps, and HindSight. The Hero9 also supports live streaming and can be doubled as a typical 1080p webcam.
For advanced noise reduction, this action camera has three microphones. Like other GoPro models, the Hero9 has a rugged body and waterproof up to 10m. An optional Max Lens Mod accessory offers a FOV of 155 degrees and bumps the HyperSmooth stabilization up to 2.7K at 60 fps. The GoPro Hero 9 Black has a bigger 1,720mAh battery than its predecessors.
- 5K videos have incredible detail
- The front display is helpful for vloggers
- Better battery life
- Good still image quality
- Captures amazing slow-motion videos
- Improved software performance
- Unresponsive touchscreen
- No 4K video at 120 fps
- Poor low light performance
- Incompatible with old accessories
5. Insta360 ONE X2
The Insta360 ONE X2, a 360-degree action camera, features a vibrant circular touchscreen display, image stabilization, and a 6-axis gyroscope. It’ll allow you to record yourself and your friends at the same time while backpacking.
The ONE X2 shooting modes include 360, Steady Cam, MultiView, and InstaPano. The 360 mode captures a 360-degree 5.7K video; the Steady Cam mode shoots digitally stabilized photos with a 360-degree view. The InstaPano captures full panoramas, while the MultiView allows users to capture two separate videos from two angles at once.
The ONE X2 has Insta360’s FlowState technology, AquaVision for improved underwater images, PureShot for better low-light shots. The ONE X2 is IPX8 rated, which means it can be used underwater up to 10m (33ft) or up to 45m (9148ft) with the optional Dive Case.
For connectivity, there is Bluetooth and WiFi. This action camera has four microphones that deliver stereo sound. The Insta360 ONE X2 is powered by a 1630mAh battery that allows continuous shooting for up to 80 minutes.
- Fully waterproof; IPX8 rated
- Four available shooting modes
- Excellent stabilization
- Great editing tools with AI
- Excellent color and detail
- Requires newly released phones
- Editing tools are slow
Digital camera technology has come a long way since film. Most cameras these days will provide good quality images and will complete the job during a leisurely hike at a nearby park or way out in the backcountry. It’s the specific camera features that cater to individual photographic needs, and in your case, for the outdoors.
You can’t go wrong with this list of the best hiking cameras. Of course, if you have a no-limit budget, you can buy the top-of-the-line camera and lenses. But why waste your money?
Frequently Asked Questions
The best camera for hiking is a weather-sealed DSLR or mirrorless camera system. These types of cameras can survive inclement weather. You can also change the lenses on them depending on the type of photography: landscape or wildlife.
Here are a few good options for hiking:
Sony Alpha a7 III
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Yes, GoPro is excellent for hiking because it’s durable, survives drops, and is waterproof. However, GoPro is better for video recording UHD than it is for still images.
It depends on the type of outdoor photography. For wildlife photography, you’ll want a camera with a telephoto zoom lens. For landscape photography, you’ll want a camera with a wide-angle lens. In either cases, you want the camera to be water and dust-resistant.