I tested countless products and found the Olympus TG-6 to be the best camera for backpacking and hiking.
I have been shooting photographs while on hikes for years. I love to take in the scenery and capture it for friends and family to see when returning from the journey. I need a compact yet powerful camera to get the perfect picture and record the beauty of nature.
The Olympus TG-6 is my favorite camera for several reasons, including the compact design and optical zoom lens. I also enjoy the waterproof nature of this camera. Photographers can snap the best pictures even in the rain and not have to worry about the camera sustaining internal damage.
These features put the Olympus TG-6 at the top of my list for backpacking and hiking cameras.
However, there are other excellent cameras on the list including:
- Best point-and-shoot camera: Canon G7 X Mark II
- Best action camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
- Best full-frame camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- Best Fujifilm camera cameras: Fuji XT-30
- Best mirrorless camera: Sony Alpha a6400
- Best phone camera: Apple iPhone 13 Pro
- Best weather-sealed compact camera: Canon Powershot G3 X
- Best Compact Camera for Hiking: Sony RX100 VII
- Best budget camera: Olympus OMD EM10 Mark III
- Best lightweight camera: DJI Pocket 2
- Best beginner’s DSLR for hiking: Nikon D3500
Read on to learn more about all these incredible products.
Reviews for the Best Cameras for Backpacking and Hiking
I tested several cameras marketed for backpacking use; these were the models I found best for the job.
Overall Best Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Olympus TG-6
I already discussed how superb the quality of this camera is, but make no mistake, it is the best model for hikers.
Cameras are notoriously fragile and full of delicate parts. A little bit of water can lead to an expensive camera being damaged or unusable.
Hikers who go out in the elements regularly owe it to themselves to get a tough product like the Olympus TG-6.
The Olympus TG-6 is not just waterproof but shockproof, crushproof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
Olympus says you can submerge the camera up to 50 feet in the water without sustaining damage. This product serves as an underwater camera for all but SCUBA divers.
The camera will not shatter if it falls less than 7 feet, making it perfect for hikers worried about breaking it. I can safely use the camera in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit without worrying about damage or fogging.
I love how durable and sturdy the camera feels in my hands. I did not worry about breaking it or damaging it during testing. It was comforting to not have to worry about tossing my bag and damaging my camera.
Of course, all the durability in the world does not matter if I do not get a pristine picture. Luckily, the Olympus TG-6 always provided me with crisp, detailed images.
Zooming is critical for capturing precisely what I want from nature. The TG-6 zoom range is 25mm to 100mm. I found the zoom range to be what I need in most situations. The range allowed me to shoot what I wanted before I cleaned up the image later in editing.
The image quality is not as pristine as some other high-end cameras; the camera only shoots at 12 megapixels. I can still take some excellent photographs, but I feel some users may yearn for more.
Another aspect I found lacking was no manual focus mode. I often shoot with auto-focus enabled, but it would have been nice to have the option for manually focusing each shot.
This camera has several preset modes to counteract the lack of manual focus. I can set the TG-6 for landscape photos or night photos easily.
I can take videos with this camera in 4K; I enjoyed this feature, but I wish the videos could be longer. I could only record videos of a few minutes in length even if the SD card could hold longer files.
Take a charger or extra battery with you when using this camera during a hike or backpacking trip. This model has a weak battery, and it will only last me an hour or two on a single charge. The lack of battery power meant I was constantly charging the camera and occasionally missing out on shots.
Overall, the Olympus TG-6 is for users who want an affordable camera that stands up to the rigors of backpacking and hiking. It is not perfect, but you will find this camera to suit your needs in most cases.
- Underwater photography capable
- 4K video recording
- Preset modes for unique situations
- Zoom range
- No manual focus
- Image quality lacking
- Battery life
Bottom Line: The Olympus TG-6 is nearly unbreakable and gives you plenty of options. It does not capture the same quality as high-end cameras. However, the durability and price make it perfect for backpackers and hikers.
Best Point-and-Shoot Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Canon G7 X Mark II
Being able to point at something and get the picture you want is vital for casual photographers. The Canon G7 X Mark II is for those who do not want to mess around with settings and editing later.
I enjoy editing photos, but this camera is perfect for when I need a good-looking shot with no fuss. I can shoot panoramic shots with ease, and I do not need to be an expert to take pictures with this camera.
This camera has the same zoom range as the Olympus TG-6, 24 mm to 100 mm. I enjoyed getting to photograph both wide shots and close-ups.
One feature I found useful was the preview monitor. I adjusted the screen to take selfies or when shooting at a low angle. The screen is bright enough that I can use it on sunny days.
Bloggers and vloggers will like the social media functionality this camera has. You can instantly upload photos from the camera to social media sites with a few clicks. Of course, you need Wi-Fi to upload images or videos, so it will not be effective when out backpacking.
I can stream directly to YouTube from the camera if I desire, though it will quickly eat up my battery.
The ability to upload photos directly from the camera without having to use a computer when I return from my journey is welcome.
I was also able to use NFC to transfer files directly to my phone. The NFC capability made it a breeze when I wanted to show my friends a photo I took with the camera.
On the quality side, this camera delivers excellent image quality in a very small camera body. It includes autofocus tracking, enhanced image stabilization. The product shoots at 20.1 megapixels, making it a step up from cheaper cameras and standard smartphones. The G7 X Mark II will not compare with an expensive DSLR camera but is also cheaper and easier to carry.
With the G7 X Mark II, I have the option of using auto-focus or manual. Point-and-shoot fans will find the auto-focus up to the task of delivering high-quality photographs with ease. Professionals will be able to perfect the depth of field with manual focus.
The video quality is lacking, I found. I can shoot at a high resolution, but I will not be able to record in 4K. It is not a deal breaker for me, but I wish Olympus included the option in the TG-6.
I thought the battery life was below expectations on this model. It is not terrible and I can keep an extra battery on hand to counteract it. The charging time is quite fast, and I charge through micro-USB.
- 20.1-megapixel quality
- Upload directly to social media
- Excellent image quality
- NFC and Wi-Fi capable
- Simple to use
- Panoramic shots
- Preview Monitor
- In-camera image stabilization
- Battery life
- No 4K video
Bottom Line: This camera is between a smartphone and a DSLR camera in quality. I recommend the Canon G7 X Mark II for those looking to upgrade from a phone while staying below a tighter budget.
Best Action Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: GoPro Hero9 Black
Action cameras are popular with many outdoor enthusiasts and hikers. The GoPro Hero9 Black is the best action camera for hiking and backpacking.
The obvious benefit of an action camera for hiking is the compact size. I do not want a heavy camera and lenses that slow me down on the trail. The camera does not even weigh a pound, so it will not weigh down my pack when on an extended trek into the mountains.
I like action cameras because they allow me to free my hands for the current activity. If I attach the camera to my hat, I do not need to fumble around getting my camera out at every vista. I can turn my head and snap a picture quickly before moving on. The extra efficiency is much appreciated when I am hurrying to a campsite before nightfall.
Most people immediately think of video when they hear action cameras or the GoPro brand. The video capability is excellent on this camera. Video makers can render films up to 5K quality with this camera.
Of course, I can take pictures with this model as well, but image quality won’t match a high-end smartphone for the price point.
The Hero9 Black has camera stabilization that is second to none on the market today. This stabilization means I don’t have to deal with many blurry videos and photos while moving.
The base model of the GoPro Hero9 Black is relatively inexpensive compared to the quality. However, you will need to purchase upgrades to get the most out of it.
I love the modular aspect of this model, as it allows me to add parts as needed. I can add extra attachments like a new lens or extra stabilization.
This action camera is durable. I found full waterproofing, and GoPro advertises that the product is safe to use down to 33 feet underwater. I don’t have to worry about water damage to the camera, even if I do not intend to shoot underwater.
The GoPro Hero9 Black boasts a 20-megapixel camera, putting it slightly ahead of the average smartphone. The camera has a SuperPhoto program installed that automatically processes the image for me. This product may not be for you if you like to tinker with focus and settings.
I can upload photos and videos directly to my phone from the camera with the GoPro app. The app saves time instead of inserting an SD card into a computer like older digital cameras.
Take extra batteries with you when going out on a hike with this product. I had the camera die quickly for me when I was testing it. I get more battery life out of this model if I am not taking videos, so pure photographers should keep that in mind.
Action cameras have a different clientele than other varieties. Professional photographers may not find much to like with this model. Those looking for something more casual and video-capable will appreciate the GoPro Hero9 Black.
- Stabilization features
- 5K video
- App support
- Battery life
- Expensive mods
- Photo customization
- Image quality lacking
Bottom Line: Action cameras fill a niche for people who love to take videos hands-free. The GoPro Hero9 Black is perfect for those looking for simple photography in a small package.
Best Full-Frame Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Most professional photographers and enthusiasts find themselves eventually drawn to a digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, camera. DSLR cameras are not as popular with hikers and backpackers due to the heavy weight and extra lenses you take with you.
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is perhaps the lightest of the full-frame cameras on the market today.
The lightweight makes this model ideal for taking with me on a journey, though it still weighs more than most mirrorless or action cameras.
Without a lens, this camera weighs about 27 ounces. Adding a standard lens will bring the weight to 45 ounces.
I would not recommend this camera to anyone hoping to travel exceptionally light. Full-frame cameras are somewhat bulky and you will likely need a separate carrying case for the camera instead of in your backpack. Adding additional lenses or a tripod will take up even more room.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II for hiking. This camera takes gorgeous shots of nature with great image quality. The model shoots in 26.2 megapixels, making it one of the higher-resolution products on my list.
DSLR has one of its biggest advantages in lens selection. Mirrorless cameras like the Olympus TG-6 or Canon G7 X Mark II are gaining more market share. DSLR cameras still have the best lenses available for you to purchase despite the growth of the mirrorless industry.
Changing out the lens on a DSLR camera is simple and allows me to change the zoom range on the fly. I can snap close-up pictures of wildlife with ease with the right lens.
Adding more lenses exponentially increases monetary investment. DSLR camera bodies are already expensive, and adding additional lenses makes the price unpalatable to many.
All Canon cameras are compatible with the company’s lenses. You will have several third-party lenses available for purchase as well that are compatible.
I love the customization and quality I get from a DSLR camera, but I acknowledge they are not for everyone. You need to be serious about photography to consider a high-end DSLR camera. Those wanting a more inexpensive or beginner model should look to find a medium-quality mirrorless model.
I have mentioned poor battery life for many of these cameras previously on the list. One of the primary advantages of a DSLR camera is its longevity.
Mirrorless cameras rely on a display screen to preview photos, while DSLR cameras give accurate previews through the viewfinder. Those who do not use the touchscreen much will be able to take 1,200 photos on a single charge.
This camera is not as durable as others, but it can hold its own. The EOS 6D is weather-sealed; it stands up to most elements I find while backpacking.
Vloggers and video makers may want to avoid this camera; it does not support 4K video quality.
- Great image quality
- Compatible with all Canon lenses
- Lightweight for a DSLR camera
- Battery life
- Heavier than mirrorless
- No 4K video
Bottom Line: DSLR cameras are not for everyone. Those who do not mind the extra price and weight will find a powerful camera. The Canon EOS 6D Mark II’s image quality is excellent, and the battery will last a whole day.
Best Fujifilm Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Fuji X-T30
The FujiFilm X-T30 is a compact camera perfect to stow away in my pack when out backpacking or hiking. The camera is under one pound with no lens attached, and under two pounds with a standard-sized lens.
The compact body of the X-T30 hides its power. It has a resolution of 26.1 megapixels, making it one of the most powerful cameras on my list. The power comes with a price, as this model is more expensive than most others I have picked.
Any users wanting to get the most out of this camera will need to learn the basics of focusing and aperture settings. This camera does have auto-focus features, but I found the best shots came from using manual focus and playing with settings.
This may be the camera for you to practice on if you are a beginner to the world of working with settings. Fujifilm provides an instruction manual to help users acclimate to the camera.
It brings me joy to mess around with settings and capture the perfect shot with excellent image quality. It is challenging when I just started, but the process is rewarding every time I create art.
Filmmakers and videographers will like the film recording this camera can perform. I can record videos in 4K at 30 frames per second for the highest quality. Also, I can record at 1080p in 120 frames per second for a more life-like video.
If I want to attach a microphone while recording video, I can do so with a 2.5 mm mic jack. With a little finesse, I could have a fun time making films using only the camera and accessories.
The X-T30 comes with standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality built in. The camera directly interfaces with the Fujifilm app to allow me to instantly transfer photos and videos. I enjoy using the Fujifilm app and find it easy to use.
The battery life is a major drawback. The short battery lifespan disappointed me, especially when recording videos. You need official Fujifilm batteries to record video at 4K; even those drain rapidly. Purchase a few extra battery packs if you opt for this camera.
The build quality is sturdy for this camera. It is not weather-sealed unfortunately, but I doubt it will malfunction from a light mist. Still, you may find yourself disappointed if you expect to do any underwater photography with this model.
- 26.1-megapixel resolution
- Excellent image quality
- Easy-to-use app
- 4K video and microphone input
- User manual for understanding aperture settings
- Not weather-sealed
- Battery life
- Expensive replacement batteries
Bottom Line: Compact and powerful, the Fuji X-T30 is perfect for hikers. You will be able to capture beautiful vistas and train yourself on a professional-quality camera.
Best Mirrorless Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Sony Alpha a6400
Mirrorless cameras continue to be the choice for many professional and amateur photographers recently. Sony, while not as prestigious as other manufacturers, struck gold with the Alpha a6400. I think you will have fun working with this camera; it is simple to use and produces excellent pictures.
Image quality is standard for the price point, with a resolution of 20.1-megapixels. 20.1-megapixels will not set any records, but it does give me crisp images with enough details.
The aspect where this product truly shines is in low-light photography. I took some photos of the stars at night, and the pictures turned out better than with most other cameras. It is difficult taking nighttime photographs; having a camera that could accomplish the task was uplifting.
The Alpha a6400 has several lenses available for purchase that are compatible. I purchased a few to give myself different settings and zoom ranges. Keep in mind that lenses are expensive and will eat up the bulk of your budget.
Consider picking up two lenses if you want to be prepared for most nature photography situations. A 16 mm to 50 mm lens is perfect for shooting wide scenery or objects close to me. A 55 mm to 210 mm lens allows me the chance to photograph far-off scenery in detail.
It is annoying to carry multiple lenses, but I l feel a rush of excitement when I get the perfect shot thanks to having the right tool for the job.
An equivalent DSLR camera would be much heavier than the Sony Alpha a6400. I do not want a heavy camera while hiking, so I have no trouble bringing this model around. The camera is under one pound before a lens is added; it doesn’t tire me out at all to include this in my pack.
This camera made me smile because I enjoyed shooting videos. The product can shoot at 30 frames per second with 4K resolution, making for crisp, detailed videos.
This camera is weather-resistant, a useful feature for those hiking during inclement weather.
This camera is not perfect. There is no image stabilization on board; I need to steady myself or purchase a tripod to get sharp images. Some lenses have the optical steady shot capability, and this will assist with stabilizing. However, the lack of built-in stabilization is an oversight.
The Alpha a6400 also suffers from weak battery life like many mirrorless cameras. The battery life is comparable to other mirrorless cameras, but it is not as robust as DSLR models.
- Great image quality
- Multiple lens options
- Low-light photography
- Simple usage
- Battery life
- No image stabilization
Bottom Line: The Sony Alpha a6400 is one of the best cameras in terms of value. I can create high-quality pictures with my favorite lenses. It is light enough to take on a backpacking trip without encumbering me.
Best Phone Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Apple iPhone 13 Pro
I will likely have my phone with me when hiking. Phone cameras have slowly been catching up to full-frame cameras for years. Apple, in particular, has squeezed the most out of its phone cameras.
The Apple iPhone 13 Pro is a perfectly acceptable replacement for a camera while out backpacking. The camera is powerful and has several modes allowing me to capture the perfect picture. Taking a phone also won’t add extra weight to my pack.
What makes the iPhone 13 Pro so good? The camera shoots at a 12-megapixel resolution. This resolution did not blow my mind, but it did create good shots during testing. Using a phone for photography is relaxing; I do not need to set up a bunch of equipment.
Aside from the basic photo mode, I can also shoot in telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide settings. It is always enjoyable finding the correct setting for the job, and the iPhone provides enough variety to always get the shot I want.
It is difficult to hold a phone steady for photography. Luckily, this model comes with sensor-shift optical image stabilization. The stabilization for the iPhone 13 Pro is not up to par with some other cameras, but it is still suitable for snapping beautiful vistas.
The iPhone appealed to me because I found making videos entertaining. I can record videos in 4K for crisp and lush video quality. Many of the hiking videos I see on YouTube are recorded from a phone.
The iPhone is no slouch in the durability department. Apple built the iPhone 13 Pro with a ceramic shield, and it can stand up to minor hiking-related drops. I recommend getting a case for your phone no matter what you intend to use it for. Nothing brings anxiety and terror like dropping a phone, and a case gives me more safety.
Other cameras on this list have an issue with battery life. The iPhone 13 Pro has excellent battery life, depending on your usage. You still may need a portable charger while on your backpacking trip, but this model will last longer than most cameras. This phone is weather-sealed as well.
Using an iPhone to snap pictures also has the benefit of taking the middleman out of photo transfer. I do not need to worry about transferring photos between a camera and a phone. The photos are already where they need to end up. Having photos already on my phone makes the process simpler and eliminates confusion and frustration.
I enjoy the simplicity of having one device handle everything. My phone not only takes great pictures but has all the necessary apps installed. I can take a picture, upload it to social media, then use the GPS app to get my bearings.
Any modern smartphone is useful for hikers, but the iPhone 13 Pro is the acme of the market.
- Battery life
- Convenient use
- 4K video
- Sensor-shift optical image stabilization
- Lower quality than some cameras
- More difficult to stabilize
- Not as durable as some cameras
Bottom Line: You will have your phone with you on your hikes. Why not take a phone with a powerful camera? The Apple iPhone 13 Pro has one of the most powerful cameras for a smartphone and enough features to satisfy most photographers.
Best Weather-Sealed Compact Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Canon Powershot G3 X
The Canon Powershot G3 X is a perfect blend of durability and compactness. I enjoyed shooting with this camera once I adjusted to its smaller design.
You never know when the elements will turn against you when hiking or backpacking. I need a camera that is ready to stand up to a rain or dust storm at a moment’s notice. Canon delivered protection with this model.
I tested this model by exposing it to water and dust and found it didn’t impede the camera’s function. The Powershot G3 X’s ability to stand up to the elements makes it one of the best cameras for backpacking.
The image quality I get with this model is 20 megapixels, making it a mid-tier camera. Surprisingly, this camera only has one lens that cannot be changed. The lens is luckily quite apt for the job, with a 24 mm to 600 mm zoom range.
This range gives me the ability to capture wide landscapes and close-ups of nature. It made me smile when you managed to sneak a picture of a squirrel in a tree with intimate detail. I wish the quality was a little higher, but the lens makes up for it.
The battery life is acceptable on this model, though I wish it lasted longer. I get around 300-400 pictures on one charge. That many pictures may sound like a lot, but a full day of hiking with beautiful scenery will drain it quickly.
Another unfortunate aspect is the charging situation. Many cameras on my list support either USB-C or MicroUSB charging; the Powershot G3 X does not. No USB charging makes it difficult to power up while out in the field. I might consider purchasing a second battery if I take longer treks.
The weight is okay on the Powershot G3 X. It weighs about a pound and a half, so I feel it after a while if I wear it around my neck. This weight is the necessary compromise for the premium lens and weather-sealing, however.
Canon discontinued this model, so you will likely have to buy it used. Buying it used will get you a better deal, make sure the camera is in proper condition before purchasing it.
- Compact design
- Picture quality
- Battery life
- No USB charging
Bottom Line: The Canon Powershot G3 X is durable, but it may be too heavy for some. A compact design and powerful lens make this model an excellent purchase for backpackers.
Best Compact Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Sony RX100 VII
Space is at a premium for hikers and backpackers. I need to load my pack with the essentials, and I don’t have room for a bulky camera and lenses. I picked out the Sony RX100 VII for backpackers with limited space who still want to take photographs.
This camera fits in the palm of my hand, and I can purchase an additional shooting grip if I need extra real estate. The compact design means I can keep it in my hand during the entire journey and quickly snap pictures. I do not need to root around in my pack every time I see something worth shooting. Having a light camera in my hand removes the frustration of stopping to ready the camera constantly.
So how is the quality? I get a 20-megapixel camera in the Sony RX100 VII. The image quality is equivalent to other middle-tier models; I found the pictures turned out well.
The real aspect of photo taking this camera shines in is its auto-focus speed. Sometimes I only have a few breaths before a shot is lost forever. It is incredibly disappointing to miss out on a perfect picture due to slow camera focus speeds.
The Sony RX100 VII boasts a speed of .02 seconds to autofocus. I will be able to capture images exactly when I need them with no more disappointment. I even feel like an Old West gunslinger with how quickly I can snap a picture.
I had a blast using the preview screen on this model. I wish the screen had more touch control; I can tilt the screen any way I want. I was even able to take some fun selfies by flipping the preview screen to face forward. The selfie functionality made for some epic views with a beautiful landscape behind me.
I recommend this camera to anyone hoping to take pictures of the stars or at night. The RX100 VII is one of the best low-light cameras on the market. It is difficult to get a clear picture of the night sky, but not with this camera.
This is a great camera if I want to film my travels. This model records in 4K, and I can attach a microphone for better sound.
Unfortunately, the battery life is lacking on this model. I recommend carrying a spare battery or power source to avoid disappointment.
Many of the convenience features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth do not properly work on this model. I was unhappy with this, as I enjoy being able to upload photos directly from my camera. You may not be affected by this If you do not plan to use those features.
- Easily held in the hand
- Nearly-instant auto-focus
- Decent picture quality
- Rotating preview screen
- Film quality
- Low-light photography
- Battery life
- Convenience features spotty
- Not enough touchscreen features
Bottom Line: The Sony RX100 VII fits in the palm of your hand and creates good pictures. The auto-focus is one of the best in the business.
Best Budget Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: Olympus OMD EM10 Mark III
It is no secret that cameras are a luxury item. Those with a more casual interest in photography may balk at the prices of camera bodies and lenses. I recommend the Olympus OMD EM10 Mark III to anyone interested in backpacking and hiking photography and looking to save money.
This model is not the most powerful on the market. I found the pictures came out okay with it, but they did not create anything breathtaking. I get a 16-megapixel camera with the EM10 Mark III, putting it below several cameras on my list. Regardless, this camera will serve many beginners and amateurs well.
Keep in mind that you will need to purchase a lens for this product. The EM10 Mark III is a mirrorless camera, but it allows for interchangeable lenses like a DSLR model. The extra cost of the lens will add to your investment. The camera is compatible with any Olympus or Panasonic lenses.
This product is still a worthwhile investment for anyone on a budget. The EM10 Mark III does everything I would expect from a camera; it does not excel at one specific thing. I called it a jack-of-all-trades camera while testing it.
The weight and size of the camera make it perfect for hiking. It is under one pound without a lens, and the model is small enough to fit in any bag. I can wear it around my neck for a whole day and likely not feel too much pressure. I enjoy cameras I can wear all day so I do not need to fumble with taking them out multiple times a trip.
Taking video is a breeze on the EM10 Mark III. Recording videos is simple and I can do it at 4K with 30 frames per second. I can bump the quality down to 1080p for a smoother video at 120 frames per second. I get a good-looking video regardless of the aspect ratio.
Olympus put all the conveniences in this camera. I can connect it directly to my computer or phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. I may not be able to connect directly in the field with ease, but I won’t have much difficulty at home.
I should warn you not to get this camera wet. While it stands up to some mist, Olympus did not weather-seal it. The lack of weather sealing disappointed me, but it does keep weight down. You should not have much trouble with it if you are careful.
- 4K video
- Inexpensive for a starter camera
- Compatible with several lenses
- Lightweight and compact
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capable
- So-so quality
- No weather-sealing
- The preview monitor cannot rotate
Bottom Line: The Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III is perfect as a backup camera or an entry-level product. The quality is below several others, but it produces decent images at a reasonable price point.
Best Lightweight Camera For Hiking & Backpacking: DJI Pocket 2
The DJI Pocket 2 is perfect for those who want something a little different. This device does not look like a camera, but it is one of the best cameras for backpacking and hiking. I can put it in my pocket thanks to its small size.
The DJI Pocket 2 is a tiny camera that packs a lot of punch. Most users create videos with it, but it is just as apt for photography. The image quality is fine at the price point, and this model is one of the cheapest products on my list.
Getting smooth and stable footage is difficult with a lot of cheap cameras. Most models do not have stabilization built in. The DJI Pocket 2 is incredibly stable for photography and videos without any additional gadgets. I just need to point where I want to shoot and the camera takes care of the rest.
Those trying to keep their pack’s weight down will want to keep this product in mind. The DJI Pocket 2 weighs just 116 grams.
You will also be interested in this model if you enjoy recording videos of your hikes. I have yet to see a video camera that holds a candle to the DJI Pocket 2 at this price point. This camera is one of the cheapest around, but the quality is still superb.
I can rotate the top camera to any angle I need. This rotation allows me to shoot selfies, landscapes, or portrait shots of animals. I never had trouble finding an angle to shoot a picture, which left me feeling satisfied.
The DJI Pocket 2 is compatible with most smartphones, allowing me to upload clips and photos directly without popping out an SD card. I love when cameras take the hassle out of getting pictures off them.
Of course, no camera is perfect. I found there to be some digital noise in the photos I took, which is a bummer. The noise was not a deal breaker, but it did leave me feeling disappointed.
The battery is okay in this model, though I will likely need to charge it throughout the day. The battery will last for around two hours on a single charge. Recording videos, especially at 4K, will quickly heat the device and drain the battery. Like modern smartphones, I cannot replace the battery.
The lens is set to 20 mm and cannot be changed. This lens is fine for taking pictures of landscapes, but you may miss the higher zooms you get from other cameras.
This model is not weather-sealed. It can stand up to a drizzle, but any major rain means I need to put it away.
- Easy to use
- Excellent for videos
- Stabilization features
- Phone Connectivity
- Battery life
- Not weather-sealed
- The lens cannot be replaced
Bottom Line: The DJI Pocket 2 is perfect for making videos or snapping landscapes. A low price point means it is a good entry-level camera. It is not perfect, but you won’t be disappointed.
Best Beginner’s DSLR For Hiking & Backpacking: Nikon D3500
DSLR has long been the more expensive option when it comes to cameras. Beginners often do not know where to look. The Nikon D3500 is both easy-to-use and relatively inexpensive for a DSLR.
I found I want more camera control as I hone my craft. Auto-focus me well in most situations, but I may desire to dial in an exact depth of field. The Nikon D3500 is simpler to dial in than some other models, making it perfect for those new to using DSLR cameras.
The camera has Guide Mode allowing me to practice my settings. I eventually was able to quickly set up my camera to shoot in any environment by feeling from this feature.
Nikon includes a lens with a zoom range of 18 mm to 55 mm. This is a standard lens, and many new users will find it perfect for their needs. I can upgrade to one with more zoom later if I need to. Most hikers will be satisfied with the standard lens, to begin with. The D3500 is compatible with all Nikon DSLR lenses.
Image quality is excellent on this model. I can shoot pictures with a 24-megapixel resolution. Videos leave a bit to be desired, as I can only shoot in 1080p rather than 4K. I did not find this a deal breaker, but some video enthusiasts may balk at this camera.
This camera is light, so I don’t have much trouble carrying it with me on a hike. Remember that adding extra lenses will begin to weigh you down quickly. I also found the camera well-balanced in my hand. I had fun shooting with a telephoto lens thanks to the stability.
The battery life is superb on the D3500, like most DSLR cameras. I can look through the viewfinder rather than using a preview screen.
Those planning to take it hiking should remember it is not weather-sealed. You must protect it from the elements, or your camera may break.
Anyone wanting to point and shoot may desire to avoid this camera. I can find many tutorials and guides, but it still requires work to get the pictures to look as I envision. Simplicity is not this model’s strong suit.
There is no Wi-Fi connectivity on this camera, which is a shame. Uploading photos without Wi-Fi is not impossible, but it is more difficult than it needs to be.
- Excellent picture quality
- Reasonably priced
- The bundled lens is great
- Stable and lightweight
- Battery life
- No Wi-Fi connectivity
- Requires working with settings
- Not weather-sealed
Bottom Line: The Nikon D3500 is held up by camera enthusiasts as the perfect beginner-friendly DSLR. You will learn a lot about photography with this camera.
7 Things to Consider When Buying a Camera for Hiking & Backpacking
A camera is an investment. I hope you will get many years of service out of a new camera. So I will show you a few of the aspects you need to keep in mind when looking for your new model.
Cameras get very expensive as you look to upgrade to a higher-end model. There are several entry-level cameras that you can purchase for relatively cheap.
A camera is something you can use for many years, so factor in the number of years you plan to use it when budgeting.
DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras all have their advantages. In truth, most amateur photographers won’t find too drastic a difference between them.
Many photographers begin with a mirrorless or point-and-shoot camera before upgrading down the road.
Weight & Size
Remember that you need to carry your camera while hiking up potentially unstable terrain. You want a camera that is not heavy or bulky.
You can afford to bring a heavier camera on lighter trails or if you are an experienced backpacker.
There is so much beauty and detail in nature, and you need a camera that is up to the task of capturing it. Bigger and more expensive cameras will likely have higher image quality.
You never know when the elements will turn against you, and rain will pour down while hiking. Most of the cameras I suggested are weather-sealed, meaning they can handle some rain or dust.
Some cameras have a built-in lens you cannot replace, while others have interchangeable lenses. Additional lenses give you more options for zooming in but add weight.
DSLR cameras often are compatible with all of the company’s lenses.
Mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras often have limited battery life compared to DSLR cameras. Nothing feels worse than running out of juice when you get to a prime spot for photography.
Consider carrying spare batteries or a portable charger to offset battery life.
Conclusion: 12 Best Cameras for Backpacking and Hiking (Guide and Reviews)
I tested several excellent cameras, but the Olympus TG-6 is my favorite. The product’s compact body holds a powerful camera that stands up to the elements.
I had fun shooting with the Olympus TG-6 and found its build quality exceptional for the price.
If you think the Olympus TG-6 is the right camera for your next hiking excursion, consider clicking here to buy it today.