10 Best Cameras For Hiking Reviewed
Hiking can lead you to beautiful places and, although smartphone cameras are improving rapidly, sometimes they just won’t cut it for catching quick-moving wildlife or capturing all the colors of a sunset. Whether you are a lifelong photographer or have recently graduated from the smartphone you may be interested in getting a lightweight and durable camera to take with you on the trail. We put together a list of the top 10 cameras for hiking to help you make the decision.
- Nikon D7200
- Great Battery Life
- Ricoh GR II
- Easy to Use
- Sony DSC RX100 V
- Compact & Lightweight
10 Best Cameras For Hiking Reviewed
1. Nikon D7200
This DSLR camera has a 24 megapixel CMOS Sensor and high ISO settings provide excellent image quality particularly in low light and night settings.
The body alone is 5.3 x 3 x 4.2 inches and weighs in at 23.8 oz which is significantly higher than point and shoot cameras and mirrorless options. You will need an additional bag when trekking with this body and your lens.
The newest camera of the D7000 line offers WiFi and NFC capabilities for convenient use and sharing. The high-speed frame rate assists when capturing action shots. Users are also pleased with the long battery life on this camera.
This camera has a sturdy build and is weatherproofed making it a great companion for the outdoors. Users find it to be very durable and do not need to worry too much when trying to capture nature pics out in the elements.
At around 1000 dollars the D7200 is very competitively priced for a DSLR. It is more expensive than its predecessors but users find the better low light performance, WiFi capability and weather sealing are worth the investment.
Great battery life
Good low light capabilities
Works well for night photography and action shots
Competitively priced for DSLR
3. Ricoh GR II
The APS-C sized sensor is the largest of any point-and-shoot and produces DSLR-level images. The fixed focal length lens is ideal for landscapes and travel photography but does not allow for zooming of far away wildlife.
The GR II is very compact measuring 1.4 x 2.5 x 4.6 inches and weighing in at just 9.6 ounces.
Users rave about the ergonomic design of this camera and find that most functions can be accessed while holding the camera in just one hand. This newest version of the GR is WiFi capable and works well with a smartphone.
This camera is reasonably durable but should be handled with care. The screen is a bit fragile and is not likely to withstand many drops. As Ricoh is not as common of a brand, repairs are somewhat of a hassle.
At around 600 dollars this is an excellent value for outstanding image quality in a small package. It does not offer as many features or customization as some more expensive cameras but can produce beautiful shots of professional quality.
Easy to operate
DSLR-level sensor for great image quality
Ideal for landscapes
Fixed lens length (no zoom)
Not the most durable
Difficult to repair
2. Sony DSC RX100 V
The 1-inch sensor on RX100 V is one of the largest available for point-and-shoot cameras. Users are impressed with the image quality and vivid color produced by this camera.
This compact camera is 4 x 2.4 x 1.6 inches and weighs in at just 9.6 ounces.
Rapid hybrid autofocus finds focus in less than .05 seconds. Full manual controls allow for more customization of your photography. However, some photographers find the controls a bit difficult to navigate with the small buttons and screen. 4K video works very well and you have the ability to easily capture photos from the footage. While the video quality is great, some users note the battery life does not last a very long time when filming for long stretches.
Users find the body of this camera to be very durable but feel the lens, when extended, is quite delicate. The RX100 V should be able to handle being jumbled around in a pocket or pack but take extra care during use when that lens is extended.
Just shy of 1000 dollars, this camera is pretty pricey for a point-and-shoot. However, if you are seeking professional quality images in a very small package, the RX100 V is your best bet.
Full Manual Controls
Photo capture from video
Battery does not last long when taking video
Menu is difficult to navigate
4. Sony Alpha a6300
24.6 Megapixel APS-C sensor provides photo quality that is comparable to DSLR cameras. Users note the images are rich and have vivid colors. The standard lens does not seem to be much to talk about but it is interchangeable and easily upgraded.
At 6.2 x 5.7 x 5.2 inches and 24.8 ounces, this mirrorless camera is about half the size of DSLRs.
Super quick autofocus system locks focus in as little as .05 seconds making it ideal for action shots. WiFi compatibility and video improvements are where the a6300 outshines the earlier a6000 model. It has continuous autofocus and auto exposure through shooting and is easily controlled and edited with a smartphone.
A weather-sealed magnesium alloy body makes this camera well-suited for outdoors use. The additional ergonomic grip helps you maintain a good hold on your camera, minimizing the risk of dropping it.
Just shy of 1000 dollars, this camera is about as expensive as its DSLR counterparts. If you are looking for DSLR quality at a lower weight, this camera is certainly worth the money.
DSLR-level APS-C sensor
Half the weight of DSLR cameras
Quick Auto focus
Continuous autofocus and autoexposure
Great for action shots and video
Not ideal for low light photography
5. Olympus Tough TG-5
The Tough TG-5 outshines its rugged counterparts when it comes to image quality. It does have a small sensor and will not provide close the same image quality of DSLRs or Mirrorless cameras. However, it has a wide-angle lens and ample zoom as well as the ability to take good quality pictures in low light and underwater.
This compact camera is 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2 inches and weighs in at 8.8 ounces.
The powerful macro mode allows you to get up to 1 cm from your subject for immaculate detail on flowers and small wildlife. The TG-5 also features 4K video capabilities, action track sensors to track GPS location and elevation as well as wifi connectivity to give you control over your camera from your smartphone.
Durability is where this tough camera really shines. It is waterproof up to 50 feet, crushproof under pressure of up 220 lbs, freezeproof up to 14 F and dustproof. Accident-prone hikers and weekend thrill-seekers find this camera to be an excellent companion for a variety of adventures.
For less than 500 dollars, this is a great option for a durable point-and-shoot. Users find the peace of mind and underwater image quality to be worth the price for this tough camera.
Good for most outdoor activity
Waterproof up to 50 feet
Freezeproof up to 14 F
Crushproof up to 220 lbs
4 K video capabilities
GPS location and data collection
Expensive for a point-and-shoot
6. Canon Rebel SL2
The 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) Sensor produces beautiful images of professional quality.
At 2.7 x 4.8 x 3.6 inches and 14.3 ounces this is one of the smallest DSLRs out there.
Articulating Touch Screen LCD with easy-to-use menus to help you capture the perfect shot. Despite the new screen, many still love the viewfinder when there is too much glare in the sunny outdoors. Users love Canon’s DIGIC 7 processor as there is virtually no lag time. This newest version has WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth capabilities as well to keep you connected to all your devices. Full HD 60 pixel movies is an added benefit of this little camera.
To achieve a lighter weight, the SL2 uses a lightweight plastic. It is not weather proof and does have some fragile areas. So, while it’s small size and lightweight are excellent for carrying on a hike, this may not be your best bet for more rugged adventures.
Starting at around 550 dollars, this little DSLR is a great value and an excellent option for anyone considering a DSLR to take on the trail.
Smallest DSLR available
Articulating touch screen LCD
User friendly menu
Not the most durable
Not weather proof
7. Sony a7R III
A 42.4 MP full-frame resolution Exmor R CMOS sensor is back-illuminated and uses a gapless on-chip lens with anti-reflective coating to improve light collection efficiency. Users find the full-frame resolution does make a difference in their photography and they are shocked it is coming from a mirrorless camera.
This camera has a bit more bulk to it than some other mirrorless cameras at 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in and 23.2 ounces. Many users prefer the slightly larger design for how it feels in the hands but it is not the best lightweight option for hiking.
Users love the electronic viewfinder for its accuracy and report that the Autofocus, while not the fasted available, works efficiently in practice and stays pinned to a moving target. The long battery life and dual SD media slots minimize the time spent fumbling in your bag making changes. Continuous autofocus and auto exposure makes shooting video and taking time lapses a breeze.
The camera is well-built and durable but not weather-proofed or drop-proof. With an investment of this size, you will want to treat this camera with care when you are hiking.
Coming in at over 3000 dollars, this is the most expensive camera listed. However, this mirrorless camera is top of the line and professionals and serious hobbyists cannot say enough good things.
Full-frame resolution sensor
Performs well in low light
Accurate electronic viewfinder
Long Battery Life
Dual SD media slots
Heavy for a mirrorless camera
Not weather proofed
8. Fujifilm X-T20
The X-T20 features Fujifilm’s X-Trans CMOS III. With 24.3 megapixels, this APS-C sized sensor produces high-quality images. The random pixel array helps to capture colors in their truest form which is ideal for nature photography.
This camera from Fujifilm remains compact and lightweight at 4.66 x 3.26 x 1.63 inches and just 13.5 ounces.
Users love the tilting touchscreen that allows you to focus similar to your smartphone. While this is convenient for quick shooting, this camera also offers dials for full customization. 4K video, versatile autofocus modes and filters give this camera a lot of extras to play with.
Users note this camera feels well built and durable. However, it does not have the same weatherproofing of the more expensive and larger X-T2.
Coming in at under 1000 dollars, this mirrorless camera provides excellent images in a small package.
Good image quality
Captures colors well
9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
This camera is easy to handle and offers weatherproof protection so you can feel secure using outside. The image sensor is not the largest but it is compatible with a wide range of lenses. It does produce impressive images and captures 4K video.
The 16 megapixel live MOS sensor is a bit smaller than some other mirrorless options. However, the 40 megapixel HD mode does allow for more detailed images as well. Being part of the Micro Four Thirds family means this camera is compatible with a wide variety of lens options to aid customization.
At just over 16 ounces and measuring 4.9 x 1.8 x 3.4 inches in dimension, this camera is fairly lightweight and compact.
Users love the image stabilization on this camera and find it helps significantly when traveling without a tripod. High tech 4K video and WiFi capability elevate this camera above its predecessors.
The E-M5 Mark II is weather sealed to protect from water, dust and freezing temperatures. Users find the ergonomic design easy to handle and feel confident in this camera’s build and durability.
Well under the thousand dollar mark, this camera is very competitively priced for a mirrorless camera.
Compatible with a wide variety of lenses
10. Canon Powershot G16
The 12.1 megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor is larger than that of its predecessors. The larger sensor combined with the Canon DIGIC 6 image processor performs well under low-light settings.
This compact camera measures 4.3 x 1.6 x 3 inches and weighs 12.5 ounces. Reviewers love the easy portability and feel it is a good size for placing in pocket or bag.
The DIGIC 6 Processor allows for 60 pixel full HD movies. This camera is also WiFi compatible so photos can easily be shared to your smartphone or windows computer.
This camera is not weatherproofed but does have a sturdy build and durable design.
This camera falls well under 500 dollars but is still not cheap for a point-and-shoot. Users love the ease of use and portability.
Performs well in low light
60 pixel HD video
Point-and-shoot that shoots in Raw
Not weather proof
Lower pixel sensor
Criteria for Selection
There is a lot of technology that goes into building a quality camera. We could spend ages discussing the minute details of each one. However, we broke it down into the following categories to focus in on what works best for hiking.
Image quality is likely the reason you are upgrading from your smartphone or a cheaper point-and-shoot. The quality of the image usually comes down to the size and megapixels of the sensor and the quality of the lens. For mirrorless and DSLR options, the lens will be an entirely separate purchase. We stayed focus on the quality, size, and build of the sensors in each camera.
When bringing anything along on a hike, weight, and bulk are always important considerations. For the avid backpacker, cutting weight is always a challenge and it may not be necessary to lug along a heavy DSLR and multiple lenses to capture your adventures. On the other hand, if photography is your main objective when you hit the trail, being slowed down by a few extra ounces may not be too big of an issue.
Digital cameras come with a wide array of features to adjust and customize your photography. Many have made changes to their menus, LCD screens and processing systems to ease use. Additionally, many cameras have made changes to capture excellent videos. As digital cameras continue to advance, we are seeing more and more with WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities to control your camera remotely or keep up with sharing on social media.
A sturdy build and weatherproofing are two things we like to see in a camera for hiking. However, these two criteria typically add expense and weight. Consider how you will use your camera before investing in these items. If your camera is protected in a bag until you reach your destination, these may not be the most important features.
- DSLR: Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras are the big fancy cameras used by professionals. They will produce the best images and are sold in two parts: the body and the lens. DSLR cameras typically have a large sensor for improved low light noise performance. The lens is responsible for image quality so the advantage of having an interchangeable lens is that you can control and upgrade image quality. The downside is that it is an added expense and there are two pieces to carry and look after on your hike.
- Mirrorless: DSLR cameras feature a mirror that allows you to look through the lens to preview the image you are about to capture. Mirrorless cameras skip this step and as a result are a bit lighter in weight and have smaller bodies. They do have interchangeable lenses but there is not as wide of a variety as you see with DSLR. Mirrorless cameras generally have smaller sensors as well so there is not as much precision in the background and they do not perform as well under low light settings. For amateur photographers, the difference in image quality is small and, as the mirrorless variety continues to improve, many are making the switch from DSLR.
- Point-and-Shoot: Outside of your smartphone, these cameras are the most lightweight and the easiest to bring with you and access during a hike. With a fixed retractable lens, these cameras can become very compact and are very convenient for slipping in a backpack pocket. These cameras have smaller sensors than mirrorless and DSLR cameras but still, provide much better zoom than your smartphone.
Subject of Focus
Capturing a colorful landscape requires a different set of features than nailing an action shot or zooming in on faraway wildlife. While most cameras are very versatile and perform well under most circumstances, some are better suited for certain types of photography. If you are looking to specialize or just find yourself frequently drawn to the same subject, consider the strengths of the camera and how it lines up with your interests.
Q: What is a kit lens?
A: A kit lens is the name of the lens that may come standard with your mirrorless or DSLR camera. While these lenses are advancing as well, most serious photographers do invest in higher end lenses to match their higher end camera. Having a nicer lens can improve focus, zoom quality and overall performance.
Q: Can I use any lens with anybody?
A: No, all bodies and not compatible with all lenses. For example, Canon lenses are designed to work with Canon cameras and not Nikon or Sony. However, there are a number of third parties that make lenses to work with multiple bodies.
Q: What is Raw?
A: Most cameras save cameras in JPEG format but some have the ability to save them in their raw format. Raw images retain all information that is saved by the sensor making post-processing easier. JPEGs discard this data to compress the information into a smaller image file.
Q: How should I pack my camera for a hike or camping?
- Use a dry bag to pack and store it: Hiking or camping can be unpredictable when it comes to weather, not to mention, spills in your backpack are a possibility. To ensure that your camera is fully safe, you will want to pack it, so that it is dry and secure – use a dry bag for this.
- Pad your camera: To make sure that your camera isn’t moving around and clunking into things, which can damage it, you want to pack your camera so that it won’t move. You also want to make sure that other items in your bag will not bang into your camera. You can do this by creating a padded wall around your camera through a proper case and wrapping extra layers around it.
- Keep your camera at the top: When you pack your camera, keep it at the top of your bag to prevent it from being crushed.
- Consider whether a tripod is essential: A tripod will add extra weight to your bag. But if you want to bring it, you can usually attach it to the outside of your backpack. Not to mention, some fold up very small.
Q: What are some features that my camera should have for hiking?
- Keep your camera lightweight and small.
- Image quality should be very good so that you can snap the great outdoors just as you want to.
- Make sure you have a good viewfinder to zoom in on any landscape that you may want. Nothing is worse than taking a photo of something you can’t see very well.
- You want a camera that will perform well during the morning, day, or night.
- The Ultimate Guide to Buying A New Camera: How to Choose The Best Camera, Web Article, ,
- Change your glass, change your shot: Getting started with interchangeable lenses, Apr 02, 2013 ,
- Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking, Web Article, Nov 27, 2017 ,