Best Camera for Backpacking

By Tati Taylor 15 days ago, Cameras & Lenses

best cameras 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, dynamic range 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.

While selecting a backpacking camera for photography, you should primarily consider the required technical specifications and your level of photography skills.

Best Cameras for Backpacking in 2023

Look though the following 15 DSLR, compact, mirrorless, and highest megapixel cameras you can take with you while travelling, for backpacking or hiking.

1. Sony Alpha a6300

sony a6300 hiking
  • 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
  • Not found

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 D7500

nikon d7500 camera for backpacking
  • Picture buffer can contain up to 50 uncompressed RAW files
  • Terrific results at higher ISO settings
  • Conveniently-placed ISO button
  • Big, ergonomic grip
  • Highly responsive and quick touchscreen controls
  • Bluetooth and automatic AF fine-tuning
  • 4K footage is drastically cropped
  • Small back screen resolution
  • Noise reduction and sharpening are set too high by default

The D7500 allows you to take clear, highly-detailed photos with rich tonal gradations. You’ll appreciate its exceptionally accurate object recognition feature and the terrific picture quality even at higher ISO settings. The quality of recorded 4K/UHD videos is also extremely impressive. Moreover, you can use the built-in Picture Control system to easily create photos and videos that match your artistic style. Lastly, the EXPEED 5 quick image editing feature guarantees fantastic image quality across the entire ISO range.

backpacking photo taken with nikon d7500

Photo by Nikon D7500

3. Ricoh GR III

ricoh gr iii camera for backpacking
  • Terrific build quality
  • Stealthy design
  • Compact size makes it almost suitable to be carried in a pocket
  • Leaf shutter allows using flash outdoors with great success
  • Instant start-up
  • Snap focusing mode for zone shooting
  • Signature picture quality
  • Snap focusing offers unsteady performance
  • Battery doesn’t last for long

This camera provides fantastic image quality for backpacking photos. Its ultra-compact, high-aperture optical circuit includes six elements in four groups while covering a focal length of 28mm (35mm equivalent). The optimal combination of low-dispersion high-resolution lenses and glass aspherical elements produces a fantastic, high contrast, and sharp image with realistic colors. Furthermore, the minimized chromatic aberrations and distortions allow you to receive the sharpest and clearest image in the history of GR.

backpacking photo taken with ricoh gr iii

Photo by Ricoh GR III

4. GoPro Hero 5 Black

gopro for backpacking photography
  • 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
  • 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

5. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V

sony cyber-shot for backpacking
  • 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
  • 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

6. Nikon COOLPIX P1000

nikon coolpix p1000
  • 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
  • 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

7. Nikon D750

Nikon d750
  • Captures breathtaking full-frame photographs
  • 1080/60p video recording capability
  • Fast response time
  • 2 SD-card slots
  • 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. OLYMPUS Tough TG-6

olympus tough tg6 camera for backpacking
  • Small size
  • Terrific build quality
  • 4K and ultrafast recording
  • Terrific Microscope mode
  • Allows taking photos in RAW mode
  • Useful macro modes
  • Resolution is capped at 12MP
  • Lacks manual controls

You can use this camera to take stunning photos under any shooting conditions. The TG-6 remains waterproof up to 15 underwater, can sustain a fall from a height of 2m, offers dust protection, and can endure low temperatures (down to -10°C) and collisions while also offering anti-fog coating. The combination of a high-resolution F2 lens, the TruePic VIII processor, and a 12MP image sensor provides the freedom necessary for taking high-quality photos in any situation. Even in poor lighting, your photos will turn out looking bright and colorful.

backpacking photo taken with olympus tough tg6

9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Olympus om-d e-m5 mark II
  • 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
  • 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

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.

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

10. Sony a6400

sony a6400 camera for backpacking
  • Small body
  • 24MP APS-C sensor
  • Fast, highly-precise autofocus
  • Selfie LCD
  • Integrated flash and hot shoe
  • 4K recording without any limits
  • Restricted external controls
  • Overly complicated menu
  • Battery isn’t particularly long-lasting

Beginner photographers that like to go hiking are most likely interested in getting a camera that is simple to control while providing pro-level results. That’s exactly what you can expect to receive with the a6400. It’s a lightweight model that is perfectly suited for backpacking trips while offering terrific picture quality, portability, and user-friendliness.

Probably the biggest strength of this model is its low-light performance. As such, hikers who spend the night outdoors can take some breathtaking photos even in near darkness. Another aspect I appreciate about this camera is the broad selection of lenses it supports.

Recommended camera lens:

Sony 16-70mm f/4

The recent achievements in optical design allowed manufacturers to produce prized Carl Zeiss contrast and clarity with a high-performing, midrange zoom. It’s equipped with 4 aspherical elements and a single ED glass element that provide stunning rendering results.

backpacking photo taken with sony a6400

Photo by Sony a6400

11. Canon 5D Mark IV

canon 5d mark iv
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E

This incredibly versatile all-in-one zoom is suitable for taking photos of all the sights you’ll see during your next trip. All-encompassing landscapes, stunning architecture, busy street life – this lens is suitable for all such scenes and more.

nikon landscape photos

Photo by Nikon D850

13. Insta360 Go 2

insta360 go 2 camera for backpacking
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Conveniently mountable
  • Solid 2K resolution
  • Significantly enhanced picture quality compared to the predecessor
  • Useful protective charger case that includes a tripod
  • Case can be employed as a wireless remote
  • Built-in stabilization doesn’t match GoPro’s performance
  • Doesn’t have a display for scene composition

The Insta360 Go 2 is a fantastic wearable model that is perfectly suited for recording time-lapse and general hiking videos, similar to the more popular GoPro and DJI Pocket 2. It weighs a mere 27grams and can be clipped to a strap or your shirt, as you won’t even notice it while you’re conquering the trail. Even though it isn’t capable of recording in 4K, you can still receive fantastic results with 2K footage thanks to the terrific stabilization system. Additionally, you can use a tripod or a selfie stick to elevate the quality of your work even further.

backpacking photo taken with insta360 go 2

14. Sony ZV-1

sony zv1 camera for backpacking
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Terrific picture quality
  • Integrated top-quality mic
  • Allows connecting external microphones and flash units
  • 4K video recording
  • Completely articulating display
  • Reasonably priced
  • Limited external controls
  • Lens should have been wider
  • Subpar battery duration

If you like recording vlogs on your hiking trips, then you can’t go wrong with the Sony ZV-1. This model will not only allow you to take vibrant photos but also apply a fantastic slow-motion effect to your recorded videos. The captured footage looks exceptionally sharp and you’ll particularly appreciate the camera’s ability to record landscape scenery like waterfalls in slow-motion.

The color reproduction offered by this model is highly impressive. If you point the camera at yourself or your companions, you’ll enjoy incredibly appealing skin tones. In conclusion, if you’re interested in both taking photos and recording videos using a single camera, then the ZV-1 is arguably the best option for any backpacking enthusiast.

backpacking photo taken with sony zv1

Photo by Sony ZV-1

15. Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70

panasonic lumix dc zs70 camera for backpacking
  • Integrated wireless
  • Image stabilization
  • Articulating display
  • 4K (UHD) Video
  • RAW photo shooting mode
  • 49 focus points
  • Lacks an external flash shoe
  • Maximum ISO setting is just 3,200
  • Doesn’t have weather sealing

LUMIX point-and-click digital cameras are widely popular among hiking enthusiasts because of their reliability and convenient functionality. The DC ZS70 offers a fantastic optical performance of a 30x (24x 720mm) Leica DC VARIO ELMAR lens supported by a state-of-the-art 5-axis hybrid optical image stabilization system. The camera is packed into a compact, lightweight body. Traditionalists will appreciate the manual controls of the lens while the eye-level digital viewfinder makes this camera very easy to use.

People interested in innovative features will like the provided WiFi connectivity while 4K photo and video support will ensure they create content in the highest quality possible.

backpacking photo taken with panasonic lumix dc zs70
sony alpha a6300 image
Sony Alpha a6300
  • 24.2MP Mirrorless
nikon d7500 image
Nikon D7500
  • 20.9MP DSLR
ricoh gr iii image
Ricoh GR III
  • 24MP Point and shoot

How to Choose the Best Camera for Backpacking?