This is our official list in search of the best hiking cameras on the market today. Scroll further down for full details on each product and a handy guide to choosing the right hiking camera for your next adventure.
5 Highest Reviewed Hiking Cameras to Consider
Backpacking and hiking can be a lot of fun, but you must have the right equipment. To capture high-quality pictures while hiking, you need the best hiking camera you can afford. In some situations, you can get away with using a cheap camera, but for the best pictures, you might want to consider a DSLR.
Some of the best mirrorless cameras are made by Sony, and if you want the best images possible, consider getting a lightweight digital SLR camera. Below, you’ll find reviews for five of the best hiking cameras available.
The Olympus TG-4 is waterproof, which makes it a popular choice for hiking. This camera features a 4X wide-angle optical zoom, and the F2.0 high-speed lens takes high-quality pictures.
Since this camera can be submerged to a depth of 50 feet under water, it’s ideal for treacherous hiking environments, and if you accidently drop it into a lake or stream, you won’t have to buy a new camera.
The Olympus TG-4 can withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s also crushproof and shockproof. With several underwater modes, this camera makes it easy to take pictures while under water. It comes with a compass, GPS and Wi-Fi. The built-in sensor can also capture 1080P video, and the 16MP BSI CMOS sensor will capture the raw beauty of nature.
- Accurate and fast
- Minimal shutter lag
- Features an innovative microscope mode
- Strong water seal
- Stock saturation is too high
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS50K is commonly used as a travel camera, and it comes with a wide range of useful features for travelers and hikers.
To help you get closer to the action, it’s capable of 30x zoom, and it uses a LEICA lens. The 24mm Leica lens takes great photos, and since the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS50K is equipped with a high-sensitivity MOS sensor, it can take great photos during the day or night.
One of the problems with many competing cameras is a lack of detail in low-light conditions. This camera also has a view finder, which makes it easier to get the perfect shot. Another major selling point for this camera is the manual control ring, and you can use this feature to capture the best images. If you’re looking for a high-quality hiking camera, this product is worth considering.
- Captures great photos in any environment
- Viewfinder performs well in bright light
- Several focusing methods available
- Can save images in RAW format
- Too many modes can be confusing
Canon makes several great hiking cameras, and the Canon G7 X 9546B001 is a top product. This camera is equipped with a 20.2MP CMOS sensor, and when combined with the DIGIC 6 image processor, it’s capable of taking stunning images.
The Canon G7 X 9546B001 can take great selfies, and the three-inch LCD touch screen makes it easy to adjust settings and capture the perfect shot. This camera can take great photos, but it’s also great for capturing 1080p full HD video, and you can set the video recording to 60 frames per second.
For high-resolution images, the PowerShot G7 X comes equipped with a large sensor, and the bright aperture enhances the appearance of every image. When compared to many competing cameras, the G7 X offers superior image processing, and the quality of this camera is especially noticeable in bright environments.
- Comes with great software for RAW images
- Perfect for hiking and bright conditions
- Small and lightweight
- Turns on quickly
- Battery doesn’t last very long
The Sony a5100 is a mirrorless camera, and to make it easier to get the best shots, it features a three-inch flip-up LCD screen. This camera has an ultra-fast focus, and with the help of a 24MP APS-C sensor, it captures high-resolution images.
The Sony a5100 has built-in Wi-Fi, and it will allow you to share your favorite pictures through your smartphone. If you don’t feel like taking photos, you can use this camera to record full HD 1080p video, and it’s capable of shooting up to 60 frames per second.
The Sony a5100 comes with a rechargeable battery, and a built-in flash can brighten any scene. This camera is great for hiking because it offers the quality of many DSLRs but weighs half as much. The flip-up LCD screen allows you to take self-portraits, and you can even zoom in on a subject with one hand on the camera.
- Great for hiking
- Captures high-quality images
- Battery life is better than many other products
- Easy to set up and use
- Not ideal for experienced photographers
The Nikon D3400 features Bluetooth connectivity, and to capture high-quality images, it comes with a 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor. One of the major selling points for the Nikon D3400 is the simplicity, and it’s very easy to use.
With the NIKKOR lens, it captures lifelike, vibrant pictures and gives you a way to preserve unforgettable moments. The large CMOS sensor captures stunning images in low-light conditions, and with EXPEED 4 image processing, you get amazing pictures with every trip.
This camera uses the Nikon SnapBridge, which has revolutionized how Nikon cameras interact with smartphones. The Nikon D3400 can be set up to instantly send captured photos to your tablet or smartphone.
- Perfect for nature shots and hiking
- Great choice for beginner photographers
- Lightweight and versatile
- Strong enough for rough hiking trails
- Bluetooth feature could be improved
Brief Guide to Hiking Cameras
Mirrorless cameras are very popular for hiking, and they tend to weigh slightly more than point-and-shoot cameras. The heaviest cameras are the DSLRs, but they can take the best pictures. Many rugged cameras are used for hiking, and they’re marketed as being able to withstand dust, freezing temperatures and moisture.
A major advantage of these cameras is that they’re very inexpensive, so you don’t have to worry if something happens to them. If you plan to hike through treacherous environments, then an inexpensive, rugged camera might be the best option.
For decent pictures, a point-and-shoot camera isn’t a bad choice, and it’s one of the lightest, cheapest choices for hiking. Mirrorless cameras are also very popular, and they have image sensors that are comparable to what you’d find in a standard DSLR.
What Are They?
When you go hiking and plan to take a camera with you, you will want it to be one that won’t break easily, won’t get damaged by cold or hot temperatures, and won’t be bothered by a bit of water. If you’re going to the extent of packing a camera, you also will want it to take really good shots. This is what a hiking camera is for – a lightweight, reliable and durable camera that takes excellent photographs.
Variety to Choose From
The type of cameras available for hiking vary widely – and what you choose will depend on what your priorities are. There are some that are mainly good because they are lightweight and portable, whereas others are waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof and crushproof.
Point and Shoot
The simplest kind are point and shoot cameras, which mean that they are compact and usually have an auto focus or don’t focus at all, with automatic exposure settings and a built in flash.
Then there are mirrorless cameras which are digital cameras, but you can usually change out the lenses on the to switch from wide angle to zoom, and so on. They also don’t have an optical mirror like in a traditional SLR camera and they have a digital display. Their advantage over an SLR is that they are usually more durable because they have fewer moving parts, and are more lightweight and compact.
An SLR camera (single-lens reflex) uses a mirror and prism system so that you can see the actual image that you are going to take a photograph of rather than a digital display of it. Focus can be adjusted manually or automatically. They have interchangeable lenses and have less shutter lag than many digital cameras so that you can take the photograph more precisely at the time that you want it taken. They are the more traditional type of professional camera, and use film to record the images.
A DSLR has a digital sensor to record the images as opposed to photographic film. Because of the single lens, what is seen through the viewfinder will be very similar to what is actually taken as a shot, rather than being captured by a sensor and displayed by a digital screen. These type of cameras usually autofocus and have interchangeable lenses.
Who Can Benefit?
Some of these hiking cameras can be used underwater to a depth of 50 feet so would be ideal if you are going on vacation and plan to go snorkelling, swimming, parasailing, or anything that involves water. They would also be great if you are hiking somewhere that tends to get a lot of rain or you are going near rivers or waterfalls, as you won’t need to be concerned about water getting on the camera.
Some cameras will even help you hike as they have built in compasses, GPS systems, altitude and barometric pressure. So if you get lost just use your camera to help you find the way home!
Maybe your next backpacking adventure also includes some mountain biking? Some cameras are ideal for action shots and have video capability as well. If you like to take photos of nature these cameras would also be a great buy for you as some of them will withstand the elements and even have a microscope mode where you can zoom right in on flowers and insects.
Travelers will find a hiking camera very helpful, as they are often designed to work in all kind of lighting, and give good quality shots but are small and lightweight enough to be carried around easily.
What To Look For?
Weight and portability are important if you want to hike or travel with your camera – look for lightweight versions that aren’t too bulky. Also look for one that is durable and made to withstand some knocking about – if you’re hiking, it is bound to get a few knocks.
Then you need to decide which kind of camera you want. Fixed lens cameras are more lightweight and portable, but not as flexible. Interchangeable lens cameras are fun as you can switch around what kind of lens you use – but it does mean being saddled with extra things to carry around, as well as needing to pick a good lens.
Mirrorless cameras are almost as good as DSLRs, but without the weight. They usually have interchangeable lenses and an electronic viewfinder but often not a great battery life. DSLRs are not cheap but will give you the best quality of photos. Look at battery life – some cameras can have an incredibly short battery life so it is definitely worth looking at how long it claims to last. Or you could get a more traditional SLR and not even have to worry about batteries.
Then of course you want to be able to take some great photos – so for a digital camera look at the megapixels that are advertised. This refers to how many pixels are in an image, so a higher number will give you a better and more detailed resolution. If you plan to print your photos you will want higher megapixels than if they’re just for viewing on a computer.
What To Avoid?
Know what you’re getting into – some cameras have adjustable exposure, shutter speed and focus, but others don’t, so it’s best to check that before you buy.
Also be aware that with a larger display on the back, the battery will usually get consumed more quickly, so don’t just look for a big display, as that might not be as important as how long the batteries last.
Do the cameras come with chargers?
Some will come with chargers, whereas others only run from batteries that you have to buy, so look at the description before buying it.
Can’t I just put my camera in a bag to protect it?
Yes you can do that, but depending on the activity you are doing, that might not be enough protection. You won’t want your expensive camera to get damaged, so it might be better to get one especially for hiking or travelling.
With the best hiking camera, you can capture and preserve unforgettable moments, and you don’t have to worry about carrying too much extra weight. Some of the best experiences take place when you’re surrounded by nature, and if you have a high-quality hiking camera, you can immortalize every moment.