Finding the right camera for hiking and backpacking can be problematic, as it must be durable, lightweight, and capable of producing high-quality images.
After extensive research and hands-on testing, we have compiled a list of the best cameras for hiking and backpacking in 2023.
Our experience with these products has allowed us to evaluate each camera’s features, such as durability, weight, battery life, image quality, and ease of use, to ensure that you can make an informed decision when choosing a camera for your next adventure.
The Best Cameras for Backpacking and Hiking
With those things in mind, let’s dive into our list of the best cameras for capturing the best backpacking photos and videos.
Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
- 1/2.33 inch Sensor
- 12MP Resolution
- 3-inch, 1.04M dots touchscreen Monitor
- 25-points Autofocus
- 20fps Maximum frame rate
- 4K @ 2160p Video
- Weighs 253g or 2.12oz
- If you are looking for a durable, worry-free camera and an all-around outdoor adventure camera, then the TG-6 is what you are looking for – it is virtually indestructible.
- It is waterproof up to a depth of 50 feet, shockproof, dustproof, crushproof up to 220lbs (99kg), can endure temperatures up to -10 degrees Celsius, and can withstand drops up to 2 meters (7ft). This camera will truly accept a beating and come out unscathed.
- Even if we are looking for the best hiking cameras, it is noteworthy to mention that the TG-6 is considered the best underwater camera of its class.
- Our analysis of this camera revealed that its 25-100mm zoom lens, can produce good quality images and has a strong performance in low light.
- Even though it only has 12MP, Olympus has the knack for matching lenses with low-megapixel sensors to produce quality detailed pictures that are often sharper than other compact 16MP and 20MP cameras.
- We discovered from using this camera that The Olympus TG-6 has a function for great quality macro shots that are sometimes better than macro lenses on a DSLR.
- It has a decent battery life at 340 shots per charge. Also has GPS, a compass, and pressure and temperature sensors.
- This is definitely not your best video camera for hiking, but it is still able to produce sharp, crisp, and bright videos in HD and 4K.
- The GoPro easily outmatches the image stabilization function of the TG-6, but at its price, having one is already a feat in itself.
- The default settings are a bit less than desirable. You need some know-how in adjusting the settings to get the best quality images.
If you want a camera to capture important moments with decent quality without worrying about damaging them, then this is your best camera for outdoor activities.
At its price, it is easily one of the best budget cameras for backpacking because it is next to indestructible.
Whether you are hiking, backpacking, ice climbing, or whatever, you’ll only need to worry about not losing the Olympus TG-6.
- Full Frame Sensor
- 61MP Resolution
- 5760K dots Viewfinder
- 3-inch tilt-angle, 2.14M dots touchscreen Monitor
- 567-point Phase + 425-point Contrast detection points Autofocus
- 10fps Maximum frame rate
- 4k @ 30p Video
- Weighs 665g or 23.4 oz
- In today’s market, this is the most compact and lightweight digital camera with professional-grade high-resolution performance.
- After conducting extensive trials and experimentation, we found that this camera is capable of capturing stunning quality images thanks to its 61MP BSI-CMOS sensor.
- With its lightweight design, it is easily the best camera for backpacking and hiking because of its manageability.
- If you love taking macro or landscape shots and you prefer greater than 61MP, it’s Pixel Shift Mode gives you up to 240MP. Note though that a tripod will be necessary for this as movements will disrupt and may distort the image.
- For someone who loves taking pictures of wildlife, Sony a7RIV includes an upgraded version of the famous Sony Autofocus tracking system.
- Our product testing revealed that this compact camera can easily handle a full autofocus burst mode of 10fps, even when set at high resolution.
- Backpacking or hiking is best when we travel light. The a7RIV’s built-in image stabilization removes the need for a tripod in most of your shoots unless you are using the Pixel Shift mode.
- The battery life on this camera is the best, compared with the other cameras on this list.
- Among others, one crucial thing for this camera that I love is the positioning and location of the dials and buttons.
- Sony’s a7RIV is not a fully weatherproof camera. But it has a solid build with its improved weather-sealing technology compared to previous ones.
- The biggest concern for this camera is its price. At a little less than $3,000, it one of the more expensive ones.
The a7RIV camera is lightweight, compact, and packs good specs to deliver stunning images.
If the budget is not an issue, then this camera is by far the best travel camera. What makes this worthy of the title is its great portability and manageability while producing mad resolution and breathtaking image quality.
What you should consider before buying this piece are the camera lenses. Don’t spend the whole budget on this camera if you are not going for the best Sony Lenses or at least high-quality lenses.
Low-quality lenses will cancel all the visual performance this camera offers so have that in mind before buying anything.
If the price is a bit much, you can look at its predecessor, the a7RIII (we’ll look into this later). If you prefer an even lighter and much cheaper camera, consider Sony’s Alpha series, like the Sony Alpha a6500.
Sony RX100 VII
- 1.0″ Exmor CMOS Sensor
- 20.1MP Resolution
- 2.36M dots Viewfinder
- 3-inch tilt-angle, 921K dots touchscreen Monitor
- 357-point phase-detection and 425-point contrast-detection points Autofocus
- 20fps Maximum frame rate
- 4k HDR Video
- Weighs 302g or 10.7 oz
- Outstanding image quality, autofocus performance, and supreme versatility.
- The RX100 VII has superior capabilities for low-light compared to your smartphone and it offers many features important to pros.
- The included 24-200mm optical zoom lens enables you to seize great moments of wildlife shots to wide-angle picturesque landscapes.
- This camera even has an electronic viewfinder and an astonishing burst mode @ 20fps.
- Drawing from our own experience, we found that this camera features the best autofocus technology used in the a7RIV and A9, including the popular eye and face-tracking Sony technology that works for both animal and human subjects.
- During our testing of this camera, we found that it is excellent for vlogging due to its microphone jack and articulating touchscreen. Additionally, the built-in stabilizer allows for stunning 4K videos.
- The RX100 VII does not have weather sealing but is still durable enough for regular usage.
- Same as the a7RIV, the only real issue with this camera is its price. At around $1,200, it is easily out of budget for most.
For those seeking excellent image quality in a small and lightweight camera, the Sony RX100 VII is a top choice. It is particularly appealing for those who want a lighter alternative to professional setups, making it the best compact camera on the market.
- APS-C Sensor
- 24.2MP Resolution
- 100% field of view; 0.95-times magnification Viewfinder
- 3-inch, 921K dots Monitor
- 11 points Autofocus
- 6fps Max frame rate
- Full HD 1080p at 60fps Videos
- Weighs 688g (2lbs)
- At less than $650, this DSLR packs features well outside its price point.
- This is a very good camera that is fully weather-sealed and has a solid build.
- It includes built-in image stabilization.
- One feature that stood out to us and sets it apart from other cameras on this list is its unique AstroTracer function, which synchronizes the camera sensors with the movement of stars.
- It also has a Night Vision Mode and a built-in intervalometer for your time-lapse photography. Improve your skills with these photography tips.
- A good amount of users believe that the Pentax K-70 has better image quality than Nikon and Canon cameras at the same price point.
- After thorough testing and evaluation, we have concluded that the K-70 exhibits excellent low-light performance and boasts an impressive dynamic range
- It also surprises with its Pixel shift High-Resolution Mode which produces magnificently stunning images for motionless subjects.
- At 2lbs, it obviously not the lightest digital camera. It is in fact the heaviest one on this list and this is its biggest drawback.
- Although having a better battery life than the SL2, its performance is still mediocre at best. It’s also a minus that it requires an external charger and not a USB cable.
Aside from the battery concerns and its weight, the Pentax K-70 is a great camera for your travel photography, especially if you love astrophotography.
Hiking with a DSLR like the K-70 is a breeze as it is built to last, rugged, and great to use. For optimal autofocus speed, we recommend using high-quality lenses with this camera.
Canon Rebel SL2
- APS-C Sensor
- 24.2MP Resolution
- 0.87x magnification pentamirror Viewfinder
- 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04K dots Monitor
- 9 points Autofocus
- 5fps Max frame rate
- Full HD 1080p at 60fps Videos
- Weighs 453g (15.98oz)
- The Canon Rebel SL2 is one of the most compact DSLR cameras on the market.
- It comes with Canon’s high-end DIGIC 7 processor chip, Live View Dual Pixel autofocus, and a small viewfinder.
- Its design is meant to be a level-up for smartphone users.
- Based on our experience with the camera, the SL2 comes with a Feature Assistant that provides guidance on how to use the camera’s controls effectively.
- We found that the camera’s low-light performance is decent, with minimal noise and a reliable autofocus system.
- Its full HD video has good options and it has an external mic jack and an articulating LCD screen. This makes it a good fit for vlogging.
- At around $500, it is easily the most affordable camera with interchangeable lenses.
- The number of autofocus points for the Rebel SL2 is not the best. However, it is still able to perform well when doing landscape photography.
- It does not support 4K videos. If this feature is a deal-breaker, then consider the slightly more expensive version, the Canon EOS Rebel SL3.
- Does not have weather sealing and its battery life is not that great.
While it is not the best camera for the outdoors on this list, it is still a great entry-level camera for new users to get into the Canon World.
It can get you started with the plethora of quality Canon Lenses. If you are a Canon veteran, then it will be a great lighter option for your hiking adventures.
Overall, we recommend this camera as it has great portability and is fantastic for newcomers.
Sony a7RIII (what I currently use)
- Full Frame Sensor
- 42.4MP Resolution
- 3690K dots Viewfinder
- 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440k dots Monitor
- 399 Phase + 425 Contrast detection points Autofocus
- 10fps Max frame rate
- 4k at 30p Video
- Weighs 675g (1 lb 7.8 oz)
Thoughts on this camera:
Since this is the predecessor of the a7RIV, it bears similar pros and cons to the first camera on this list. Even though the a7RIV has higher specs, this version provides a similar performance to the latest version.
Now that it has a successor, Sony a7RIII dropped in price; now at less than $2,000. With a significant price difference, it has become a great alternative when picking the best overall travel camera.
I am quite happy with this camera and with my Sony lenses – FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens – and will continue to use it in most of my adventures.
It does a great job of doing what I want to do and it is quite enough for the tasks I perform. This is your next best thing to the a7RIV at a much lesser price point.
GoPro Hero 9 (also using)
- 1-inch Sensor
- 12MP Resolution
- 40mm touchscreen Monitor
- 4K at 60fps Video
- Weighs at 116g (4.1oz)
- Even though it’s best for its video capabilities, these little cameras pack a punch in still photography as well.
- The GoPro is the most compact on this list and is an ultralight camera at only 4oz.
- We found that this camera is built to withstand rough outdoor conditions and can even be used underwater up to 33ft.
- Its compact size and rugged build allow it to fit into tight spaces where other cameras cannot.
- It uses the same sensor as the Olympus TG-6.
- The Auto mode is designed well to make it as easy as possible for its users.
- The GoPro is fantastic at taking videos. It can shoot at 100 Mbps with an HEVC h.265 codec for 4k or 2.7k.
- The other feature that makes GoPro a cut above the rest is its image stabilization. It is simply the best on this list.
- The GoPro is also the most versatile on this list. Some consider it the best camera for hiking and adventure sports because unlike any other, it can be mounted on almost everywhere, a helmet, backpack, chest, etc. All you need is to get the right accessories for GoPro.
- No optical zoom option. You have a choice of three “fields of view” instead: wide (16-34mm fisheye), linear (19-39mm standard), and narrow (27mm).
- With its compact size, it should be understood that it has a limited battery life (only 1 hour for doing videos).
- The GoPro is designed to be a camera best suited for heavy action activities. If you want the traditional still camera, then this is probably not for you.
Backpacking or hiking and photography go together really well in producing great pictures of sceneries and views. I recommend any professional backpacker to have one so we can capture these great moments in our travels.
So as always, choose what you believe is best for you and I hope this quick guide helped you in that process.
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Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API