Best Camera for Backpacking

Best Camera for Backpacking

If you need the best camera for backpacking to take incredible travel photographs, check out my review of 15 weather sealed hiking cameras. It can be an action camera, bridge camera, ultralight camera or a basic DSLR, it all depends on your purpose and budget.

Long journeys force your photography equipment to endure extreme working conditions: cold, heat, ultraviolet light, dust, snow, rain, impact shock and high humidity. Your backpacking camera choice should primarily depend on the required technical specifications and your level of photography skills.

15 Best Cameras for Backpacking


1. Sony Alpha a6300

sony a6300 hiking Buy for $800 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Shoots in 6K compressed into highly detailed 4K footage
  • Offers a large focus area with 425 phase points
  • Able to capture up to 11fps in continuous shooting mode
  • Allows recording at up to 120fps, which enables 5x slow-motion without artifacts
  • Can be used connected to the power bank via the micro-USB port
  • Wi-Fi module included
Cons-
  • Blue color may lead to distortions
  • Short battery life
  • Doesn’t have a flip screen
  • The software is rarely updated
 

Sony continues to be a go-to brand for mirrorless cameras as its Sony Alpha a6300 (14.8 oz) is the best camera for amateur photographer who likes extreme shooting. This Sony camera captures breathtaking imagery, records 4K video footage, and is weather sealed. Compared to the previous model in the series that had an 800x600 viewfinder, the Sony a6300 hiking camera has a resolution of 1024x768 pixels, although the increase stands at the same value of 0.7x. The camera’s preferences allow you to choose between two viewfinder refresh rates: 60 and 120 Hz. The upgraded 4D Focus system is able to focus on dynamic objects in an impressive 0.05 of a second, while also creating minimal noise even when set to high exposure values.

Regarding ISO, you can capture photographs without worrying about noise up to 3,200. If set to 6,400, you’ll notice a drop-in sharpness, but the quality will still be high since this setting became acceptable for cameras with an APS-C matrix. However, if the lighting conditions are poor, you can use ISO 12,800 and still achieve decent quality.

Recommended camera lens:

Sony Alpha E-Mount 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS

Sony E 55-210/4.5-6.3 OSS is a terrific midrange option that carefully guards its spot in Sony E’s line of telephoto lenses designed for the best cameras for backpacking. While we could complain about its optical resolution, the vignette, distortion and chromatic aberration indicators are quite low. Moreover, the inclusion of an optical stabilizer paired with the high production quality make this lens a great choice.

sony sample photos Photo by Sony Alpha a6300

2. Nikon D7200

Nikon 7200 for backpacking photos Buy for $500 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Awesome autofocus system
  • Large autofocus coverage range
  • Sensor’s resolution is sufficient for any task
  • Image quality is great even at high ISO settings (up to 12,800)
  • Sturdy body with dust- and moisture- protection
  • 1080/60p video recording capability
  • Uncompressed video output via HDMI
  • Wi-Fi and NFC modules included
  • Two memory card slots
Cons-
  • In continuous shooting mode, the camera is capable of providing 6fps only in JPEG format. RAW format lowers it to 5fps.
  • ISO can’t be set below 100
  • Lacks cross focus points on frame’s edges
 

When talking about the best backpacking cameras in the DSLR category, weather sealing is a very important factor since such photographers spend a ton of time outdoors. This camera’s Wi-Fi module allows for controlling it remotely and copying photographs wirelessly without taking out the SD-card. The camera works on a popular rechargeable battery, EN-EL15. The CIPA method allows for capturing up to 1,110 shots on a single charge. Moreover, if you don’t use the flash and the Wi-Fi connection, you can capture an impressive total of 1,500 frames.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

It’s recommended for photographers who dislike changing lenses mid-shooting. 18-140VR’s biggest advantages include high sharpness and versatility. That being said, the lens is affected by distortion while being in a higher price range than the 18-55VR and 55-200VR models, but still cheaper than the 18-200VR.

nikon photo landscape Photo by Nikon 7200

3. Ricoh GR II

ricoh gr 2 for backpacking Buy for $500 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Large dynamic range and low noise thanks to the APS-C sensor. Small cameras rarely have such a large sensor
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Has the same fixed distance focal setting as a rangefinder camera, which is perfect for street photography
  • The built-in Wi-Fi and NFC modules make it especially handy for backpacking
  • Image Sync allows for uploading content to YouTube and Facebook
Cons-
  • Autofocus. The contrast autofocus tends to miss occasionally
 

The Ricoh GR II (7.8oz) point-and-shoot camera may not be popular among trendy photographers, but can be considered the best camera for backpacking. Its best feature is the large APS-C sensor that is usually only found in DSLRs. This sensor allows for capturing low noise photographs even though it “only” has 16 megapixels. This best backpacking camera has a fixed focal lens (without zoom) that correlates with 28mm on a 35mm model, which is perfect for traveling and hiking. This is also the ideal lightweight camera for adrenaline rush seekers: extra small and with very fast autofocus. Moreover, it’s also quite sturdy and has an ergonomic shape.

photo landscape ricoh Photo by Ricoh GR II

4. GoPro Hero 5 Black

gopro for backpacking photography Buy for $200 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Supports voice control
  • Waterproof body
  • Built-in GPS module, which is great for organizing media libraries by location
  • Records stereo audio
  • You can purchase GoPro Plus for an additional fee. It’s a personal cloud storage space with a built-in editor to which your photos and videos are automatically uploaded
Cons-
  • 4K recording capability lacks stabilization and 60fps
 

If you’re looking for rugged DSLR cameras, this one is capable of handling anything: underwater explorations, traversing through bumpy terrain and aerial adventures. Hero Black can endure rain, dust and snow, while the single button control makes it simple to use. Once you’ve recorded the footage, you can use the touchscreen to view or edit it. Depending on the selected resolution, the user can choose between various viewing angles, including standard, ultra-wide, and a mode that removes the “fish-eye” effect. This camera for backpacking is capable of capturing 12MP RAW photographs. You can employ the WDR mode to improve the quality of the photo and video footage as it allows for capturing more details in poor lighting conditions. HERO5 Black works efficiently down to 10 meters underwater without any additional accessories. The battery, SD-card slots, the micro-HDMI and USB-C ports are hermetically sealed.

backpacking photography Photo by GoPro Hero 5 Black

5. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V

sony cyber-shot for backpacking Buy for $900 on Amazon
Pros+
  • 20.1MP RS CMOS sensor comes with DRAM for better performance and effectiveness
  • Impressive 315-point phase detection autofocus mechanism
  • 24fps continuous shooting support
  • Capable of creating breathtaking still pictures using footage playback
  • Full HD and 4K video support
Cons-
  • The battery lasts up to 220 photos/110 minutes of video footage or 210 images/105 minutes of video if you’re using EVF
  • Unreasonably low data saving speed
  • Long starting time
  • Lacks a touchscreen interface
 

The RX100 V is the best hiking camera among point-and-shoot models. It’s small, beginner-friendly and capable of creating stunning stills and video footage thanks to an array of included features. The camera comes with a 20.1MP CMOS sensor that guarantees low-light, low noise performance. The screen tilts up to 180o, which is perfect for capturing selfies or panorama shots. The Cyber-shot RX100 V also offers expanded video functionality such as the S-Log color grade and super slow-motion mode.

sony cyber-shot for backpacking Photo by Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V

6. Nikon COOLPIX P1000

nikon coolpix p1000 Buy for $1000 on Amazon
Pros+
  • NIKKON 24-3000mm (equivalent to 35mm) lens
  • 16MP CMOS back-illuminated sensor
  • EXPEED image processor
  • The 2,359,296-point digital OLED viewfinder
  • 4K UHD video recording support
Cons-
  • 1/2.3” 2015-made sensor is quite loud and slow
  • 4K video recording can only provide a maximum of 30fps
 

Nikon’s Coolpix has a Dual Detect Optical Vibration reduction system that efficiently deals with shaking. The camera employs optical stabilization for photographs and a mix of optical and digital VR for video recording. When using the Macro mode, the P1000 can focus on a distance of 1cm in front of the lens. Moreover, the camera is also capable of capturing RAW images. Its ISO can be set in the 100-6,400 range but isn’t available in all shooting modes.

Nikon Coolpix p1000 for backpacking Photo by Nikon Coolpix P1000

7. Nikon D750

Nikon d750 Buy for $1500 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Captures breathtaking full-frame photographs
  • 1080/60p video recording capability
  • Fast response time
  • 2 SD-card slots
Cons-
  • Max shutter speed is 1/4,000
  • Sometimes the footage turns out underexposed
  • Lacks a touchscreen interface
 

This model can be considered the best camera for backpacking due to its full-frame 24MP sensor (equivalent to 35mm film) and small size, as it’s also noticeably lighter than most DSLRs ,including its predecessor. D750 performs best in continuous shooting mode and offers 6.5fps supported by the 51-point AF mechanism that ensures dynamic objects are in focus regardless of their position in the frame. The ISO range of 100 to 12,800 is also great for recording in poorly lit environments. The top ISO range can be expanded up to 51,200. You can also set up angled shots thanks to the 3.2” LCD display that can be flipped 135o up or 90o down, enabling more framing possibilities. Nikon D750’s shutter has a guaranteed lifespan of 150,000 clicks and a max exposure setting of 1/4000s. This camera supports Full HD with up to 60fps and has headphone and microphone ports.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

Nikon 24-120/4G is a great universal lens that can be used for all sorts of tasks. It offers high autofocus speed, dust- and moisture- protection, a constant lens speed of F/4 on all focal ranges, accurate colors, an image stabilizer and sturdy construction.

photo by nikkor 24-120mm lens Photo by Nikon D750

8. Panasonic Lumix FT7/TS7

lumix ft7 for backpacking Buy for $350 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Maintains proper functionality even when used 31 meters underwater
  • Built-in digital viewfinder
  • 4.6x optical zoom lens (28-128mm)
  • 4K video support
Cons-
  • Doesn’t have an external microphone input jack
  • RAW format isn’t supported
 

A fantastic sturdy camera for adrenaline junkies. It can survive a fall from two meters, be submerged up to 32m in water, sustain 100kg of pressure and remain functional at -10oC. Basically, everything you need from the best camera for hiking. On the inside, Lumix FT7 has a 1/2.3” 20MP back-illuminated sensor. Being stress-resistant, this model offers a complete design revamp and improved functionality, including the 0.2” digital Live View Finder.

Panasonic lumix ft7 Photo by Lumix FT7

9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Olympus om-d e-m5 mark II Buy for $799 on Amazon
Pros+
  • 40 megapixels multi-exposure mode 
  • Enhanced 5-axis picture stabilization in stills and movie modes
  • Weighs 1.03 lbs
  • Integrated Wi-Fi
  • Highest shutter speed 1/8000th sec, with electronic shutter – 1/16000th 
  • Color Creator function provides quick and visual color management
Cons-
  • No 4K video 
  • No built-in flash (only small external one included in the kit)
  • Noise caused by the image stabilization system (very quiet, almost inaudible on video)
  • Only one memory card slot
  • Screen graphics are too small, which can cause difficulties for farsighted people
 

In addition, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II supports RAW format, a simultaneous saving of RAW+JPEG (with different degrees of JPEG compression), and JPEG format configuration. This hike camera is notable for its serial shooting of 10 frames/sec in full frame resolution. The two-coordinate electronic level, which allows you to set the camera strictly horizontally, may require level calibration.

Recommended camera lens:

Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II

The diapason of focal lengths varies from 24 to 120mm and makes this model super versatile and convenient. Despite the fact that I had several other lenses at my disposal, including high-aperture fixes, the absolute majority of the frames I still shot with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm F/4G. An important point is that in Nikon family, this lens is stated as the absolute record-breaker for zoom range among models with constant lens speed. The advantages of f/4 in the entire diapason of focal lengths are obvious when it comes to shooting with insufficient lighting. You may work with shorter shutter speed by shooting with your hands and not increasing the ISO too much or cover the aperture slightly to get better sharpness.

olympus lens for natural photos Photo by Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

10. Canon EOS 7D Mark II

canon 7d mark 2 Buy for $1000 on Amazon
Pros+
  • The maximum shutter speed is 1/8000th seconds
  • Various customizable options
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • Shutter rated to 200,000 cycles (vs 150,000 on 7D)
  • Remarkable ergonomics
Cons-
  • No integrated Wi-Fi
  • On account of the SLR design, you can’t see the image in the viewfinder as soon as it is taken 
  • The screen is fixed but not of the touch type
 

It works efficiently in poor light conditions up to-3EV. In combination with enhanced dust- and moisture- protection, this camera allows you to shoot almost any object in any condition. These particular features prove that it is the best camera for backpacking. Frame rate per second for Full HD video recording is 60. Moreover, Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology ensures smooth and fast focus transition while shooting moving objects, providing almost full-fledged tracking autofocus. To enhance the efficiency and picture quality at higher ISOs, the micro lenses have been remodeled and upgraded. Other DSLR Canon APS-C cameras may only envy its highest non-expansion setting and native sensitivity range of ISO that varies from 100 to 16,000.

backpacking lens Photo by Canon EOS 7D Mark II

11. Canon 5D Mark IV

canon 5d mark iv Buy for $2500 on Amazon
Pros+
  • The system determining the phase difference while forming a secondary TTL image with the help of a special autofocus sensor
  • Photosensitivity: ISO 100-25,600, resolution to 50-102,400
  • Shutter speed: 1/8000 - 30 s
  • Serial shooting: up to 7 fps
  • Video recording: 4096 x 2160 @ 30, 24 fps (4K)
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60, 30, 24 fps (Full HD)
Cons-
  • Doesn’t support multiple tapping in touch control
  • Too simplified of a video shooting mode in comparison with competitors
  • HDMI output doesn't support 4K resolution
  • CFast and/or SD UHS-II cards are not supported
 

It is the best hiking camera with 4K video resolution. With this hiking camera, you are also free to select the settings of a drive and autofocus modes and the white balance. Of course, you can adjust the focus point by tapping your smartphone screen. The manufacturer claims that the camera takes 7 frames per second in serial shooting mode. The declared maximum duration of the series without reducing the shooting speed with Compact Flash UDMA 7 memory card is 21 images in RAW and until the memory card is full in JPEG.

Recommended camera lens:

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

This lightweight L-series 24-105mm zoom lens with f/4 aperture offers a wide range of focal lengths and an image stabilizer with an effect equivalent to 5 shutter speeds, making it a versatile option for traveling and video recording.

landscape lens canon Photo by Canon 5D Mark IV

12. Nikon D850

nikon d850 Buy for $3300 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Resolution (if you don't need all 46 megapixels, you can use medium or small RAW)
  • ISO
  • Dynamic diapason
  • Rotating display
  • Autofocus from Nikon D5;
  • Silent electronic shutter mode
  • Touch screen interface
  • Two slots for XQD memory cards and SD with the support of UHS-II
  • Nikon SnapBridge, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless functions
Cons-
  • Slow autofocus in a Live View mode and while recording videos
 

The resolution of photos taken with this backpacking camera reaches record-breaking 45.7 MP. At that output, we get the images up to 8,256 x 5,504 pixels. The matrix of this size allows you to easily work with one lens of 24-70 mm type and then crop the photo according to your preferences. The Nikon D850 shoots at a speed of up to 7 frames per second. The camera records 4K and up to 30 frames across the entire area. There is also an electronic stabilizer and all sorts of features for videographers. One of the interesting innovations is focus-picking or the highlighting of sharpness edges while manually focusing. The camera also supports HDR and multi-exposure modes. Nevertheless, a much more impressive function is the ability to create timelapse-video and focus shift. You can specify the date and time when the shooting begins, the interval (up to 24 hours in increments of 1 second), the number of iterations and shots in each of them. Among other things, the Nikon D850 boasts an abundance of wireless interfaces. Everything you could ever want to get from the best backpacking cameras – WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR is a versatile zoom lens with 5x zoom, which can replace five optical devices with a fixed focal length. Optical image stabilization is another advantage, while a slow lens speed is a significant minus.

nikon landscape photos Photo by Nikon D850

13. Olympus TG-310

olympus tg-310 Buy for $350 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Sturdy construction
  • Can produce shots of decent quality
  • Water resistant to 10' (3 m)
  • Digital filter effects
  • Minimalistic design
  • Surprisingly small weight
Cons-
  • Disappointing panoramic mode
  • Dissatisfying LCD monitor
  • Stiffness and small size of buttons
 

While searching for a perfect camera for ultralight backpacking, pay attention to this one with a 3.6x wide-angle zoom lens. It has water-, shock- and freeze-protection. Test it in whichever way you wish – it will cope with the task excellently and produce magnificent 3D shots along with captivating 720p HD video. The 14MP Olympus TG-310 Digital Camera supports SDXC memory cards, Wi-Fi and has a high resolution 2.7" LCD monitor. 

All the functions were developed for your convenience. For instance, Dual Image Stabilization assists if you want to eliminate blurry areas. If you are an underwater photography enthusiast, you will absolutely like the Tap Control function. It lets you adjust shadows, flash and operate flashback with a single tap of the back, top or side of the camera. In case you need to bring creativity into the shots, the featured array of Magic Filters, such as Sparkle or Fisheye will surely come in handy.

Olympus TG-310 Digital Camera Photo by Olympus TG-310 Digital Camera

14. Fujifilm XP50

Fujifilm XP50 Buy for $200 on Amazon
Pros+
  • Affordable price
  • No retractable elements
  • Secure
Cons-
  • Lots of actions through the menu
  • “Blind” control buttons
  • Flat screen
  • Image quality doesn’t reach Olympus or Pentax standard
 

Fujifilm assures that this camera has Four-Way Protection. Dust-, water-, freeze and shockproof characteristics make it a good camera for hiking. It is equipped with FUJINON 5x optical zoom, 140 mm telephoto and 28 mm wide-angle lens. The important features are the 14 MP CMOS picture sensor, an LED lamp for autofocus and a built-in flash strobe. You will definitely appreciate a wide array of scene modes, especially those for underwater shooting. 

The camera’s main exposure modes include Program, Auto and Scene Recognition Auto. For example, the latter mode can recognize and automatically choose the necessary settings for a particular scene type – be it Macro, Landscape or Night Portrait. 

Although the Fuji XP50 is named the best hiking camera in various sources, undoubtedly, it has serious drawbacks. To begin with, the resolution of the mediocre 2.7-inch LCD panel is only 230,000 dots. Fujifilm estimates the coverage is 96 percent while many users believe that it is slightly tight. Nonetheless, the company ensures that in underwater conditions or direct sunlight, the view will be clearer and brighter.

fuji underwater lens Photo by Fujifilm XP50

15. Nikon Coolpix AW100

Nikon Coolpix AW100 Buy for $300 on Amazon
Pros+
  • GPS function 
  • Reliable and sturdy construction
  • Works at the depth of up to 30 feet
Cons-
  • Picture quality leaves much to be desired
  • Slightly tricky controls
 

The camera provides appealing opportunities for image quality optimization such as 16 MP resolution, 5x optical zoom and efficient auto focus. This device can be undoubtedly be called the best camera for backpacking thanks to the GPS tracking function. When shooting, GPS automatically determines the location and coordinates of each picture and attaches this information to a photo. With this useful function, you can find a particular location using Google Earth or an electronic compass.

A lot of extreme photographers admire the CoolPix AW100 as a rugged camera. It will be a faithful companion on any kind of adventure – be it scuba diving, rafting or hiking. It is waterproof, therefore functions perfectly under water and works both in very hot or cold weather.

This backpacking camera can store up to 83MB of your shots and videos, but if you are going on a long trip, you'd better take an additional SD card. Thanks to the CMOS image sensor, you may effortlessly take marvelous pictures in low light conditions without flash. 

In case you travel in winter and wear bulky ski gloves, you don't need to take them off to take a shot. You can just use button sensitivity. It is definitely a benefit unless you unintentionally change some settings while the sensitivity is still turned on. 

The kit forthe best camera for hiking includes an audio, video and USB cable and a CD-Rom along with a rechargeable battery, a charger and a wrist strap. The manufacturer claims that you will be able to take approximately 250 shots with full battery.

Coolpix photography travel Photo by Nikon Coolpix AW100

15 Best Cameras for Backpacking

Image NAME DETAILS  
Sony Alpha a6300
Sony Alpha a6300
FIXTHEPHOTO CHOICE
  • 24.2MP Mirrorless
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Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR II
BUDGET CAMERA
  • 16.9MP Point and shoot
Check PRICE
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V
CAMERA FOR HIKING
  • 20.1MP Point and shoot
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GoPro Hero5 Black
GoPro HERO 5
BEST ACTION CAMERA
  • 12MP Action camera
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Nikon COOLPIX P1000
Nikon COOLPIX P1000
BEST BRIDGE CAMERA
  • 16MP Bridge camera
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Panasonic Lumix FT7 / TS7
Panasonic Lumix FT7 / TS7
TREKKING CAMERA 
  • 20MP Point and shoot
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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
ULTRALIGHT
  • 40MP Mirrorless
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
CHEAPEST WEATHER SEALED 
  • 20.2MP DSLR
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Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5D MarkIV
WATERPROOF DSLR 
  • 30.4MP DSLR
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Nikon D7200
Nikon D7200
  • 24.2MP DSLR
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Nikon D750
Nikon D750
  • 24MP DSLR
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Nikon D850
Nikon D850
  • 45.4MP DSLR
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OLYMPUS TG-310
OLYMPUS TG-310
  • 14MP Point and shoot
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FUJIFILM XP50
FUJIFILM XP50
  • 14MP Point and shoot
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Nikon Coolpix AW100
Nikon Coolpix AW100
  • 16MP Point and shoot
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How to Choose the Best Camera for Backpacking?


Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments. read more