This is a gear review about the best camera for hiking and backpacking in 2023.
The best camera for hiking and backpacking is a camera that will take great photos be compact, lightweight, and able to withstand the elements. It should also have good low-light performance, as well as fast autofocus and burst shooting speeds.
If you plan on taking lots of high-quality pictures while you hike, then you may want a quality mirrorless camera with an interchangeable lens system. This way you can swap out lenses depending on what type of photography you’re doing.
Maybe you want a waterproof camera or just a cheap compact camera that is tough enough to take hiking. Either way, I’ve got you covered.
In this article, I have put together a list of the best backpacking cameras and hiking cameras that you can get your hands on right now.
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Best Camera for Hiking And Backpacking 2023
The Camera for Hiking And Backpacking in 2023 are:
- Sony RX 100 VII
- Sony ZV-1 Vlogging Camera
- Olympus Tough TG6
- Sony Alpha 6600
- Sony A7 S3
- GoPro Hero 11
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Best Hiking Camera for Backpacking – Overall
> 4K Videos
> Compact – This camera is small enough to fit in a pocket or side pocket on your backpack.
> High-Speed Shooting
> Top Image Quality
> Slippery Finish – I notice that while holding the camera, the finish was quite slippery.
> Sony has a rather annoying user interface that makes it slow to change features
There is a reason the Sony RX 100 VII is at the top of the list. It is a high-quality compact camera with not only high image quality, and good battery life that is rechargeable but it is quite simple to use.
This updated version 7 comes with a 28-200 mm optical zoom lens with a 20fps shooting mode for action photography. This camera can also record 4k videos and has a small microphone well hidden in the body of the camera.
You will not need to take a large bag for zoom lenses or extra camera gear. This compact camera does it all. It doesn’t have an optical viewfinder but relies on a very average electronic viewfinder. I much preferred to use the screen to size up images.
I used the earlier version of this camera on several long-distance thru-hikes. In fact, most of the photos on this website from the Appalachian Trail and Bicycle Touring in Central America were taken on this camera. It is simply the best hiking camera on the market. All that and it fits in your pocket. Just keep in mind it does not have as good weather sealing as some of the other cameras in this review.
Overall, if you want not only the best compact camera but the best backpacking camera then this is one of the best hiking cameras on the market.
Best Vlogging Camera for Hiking and Backpacking
> 4K videos
> Hotshoe mount for an external mic, flash, or more
> Good ergonomics for photo and video
> Good screen
> Only has 70mm zoom lens
If your interest is more in vlogging and videos then the Sony ZV-1 is the ultimate vlogging camera. It is essentially the Sony RX100 that has been adapted to vloggers rather than photographers.
To start with, the ergonomics and grips are centered around holding the camera with one hand and pointing it towards your face. The screen swivels 360 degrees to face you directly or can be swiveled to the side or back, whatever you need.
The Sony ZV-1 also features a wind sock over the microphone to remove that horrible wind noise that we always seem to get when hiking and backpacking. So if you are standing on that windy mountain top, you might be heard from now on. But the feature that sets it apart from other compact cameras is the hotshoe mount. If you want to get serious about your videos you will need a Rode Mic or lapel mic. For a more professional approach, you need this vlogging camera for hiking and backpacking trips.
The 4K video on the ZV-1 is similar to the RX100 and it also takes photos just as well. But the zoom lens only goes to the 35mm equivalent of 70mm compared to the 200mm of the RX100. And it uses the same battery and has the same battery life.
Overall, the Sony ZV-1 is the best vlogging camera for hiking and backpacking. It is compact, lightweight, and has everything a vlogger will need when out hiking.
Best weatherproof Camera for Hiking
> Built-in sensors like GPS and thermometer
> This camera is water, dust, and shockproof.
> With pro capture mode, images are taken before and after the shutter is pressed
> Reasonably priced budget camera compared to others on our list today.
> Some people don’t like the image quality when using the zoom function
The Olympus Tough TG6 is a shock, crush, dust, and waterproof camera that you should really consider for your next hiking or backpacking trip.
This is a true hiking camera, due to the rugged build quality and GPS tracking features that are incorporated into this camera. So you can know where you took each picture exactly.
If that wasn’t enough, there are also a range of sensors that are installed into this camera. These include a compass. GPS, accelerometer, altimeter, and thermometer. There is an OK zoom on this camera, that allowed you to zoom in up to 4x more on the 12-megapixel sensor.
The shooting range is 20 fps, and with pro capture mode, you save images just before and after the shutter has been pressed. Thus, you will always be able to capture the perfect image with this point-and-shoot camera.
Overall, this is a compact camera built for bad weather with great weather sealing. When it comes to weather-sealed cameras this camera body will take more of a beating than most people can dish out. Certainly one of the best cameras for hiking.
Other Camera for Hiking And Backpacking
> Long battery life that will survive the length of your hiking or backpacking trip easily.
> Good image stabilization with the In Body Stabilization
> 4K Videos
> Some people, myself included have noted that they found the manual to this camera a bit confusing to understand.
> This camera is on the higher end of the compact camera, the non-full-frame camera market
The Sony Alpha 6600 is a fantastic mirrorless camera. It has a 24MP resolution and can shoot videos in 4K. What I found to be really impressive about this mirrorless camera is its battery life, which can shoot up to 810 images before it needs to be recharged.
If you are worried about having blurry images, this product has an in-body image stabilization that keeps your pictures still and focused. This also helps if you want high image quality in low light.
It does not have the large image sensor of a full-frame sensor camera but most people will not know the difference as it has excellent image quality.
You can find the right camera lens for your needs as there is quite a large choice of camera lenses. If you want a wide angle or zoom lens you can add one to your kit.
Unlike some of the hiking cameras mentioned so far, this camera also comes with Wi-Fi enabled to be able to transfer images easier than before, once you are home, or even out on the trail if you want to upload your photos to social media.
Overall, this mirrorless hiking camera is not a full-frame camera but has good image quality in a weather-sealed camera body, at a reasonable price. One of the best hiking cameras for backpacking.
Best Full Frame Mirrorless Hiking Camera
> Best Camera for Low Light
> High image quality
> You can change the position of the monitor. Great for video and selfies.
> Weather Sealed
> This camera is great for videos and photos but professionals want higher megapixels.
The Sony A7 S3 is seen as a very video-focused mirrorless camera. A 12.1MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor can work amazingly well in low light producing superior image quality. And it has superb image quality when shooting 4k videos.
It also has autofocus alongside eye tracking across humans and animals, to produce clear images. By only having a 12.1MP sensor resolution, this camera is limited by the resolution it can produce, but it can film for much longer in lower lights.
Other full-frame mirrorless cameras are unable to provide such good quality in low light. Keep in mind the number of Megepixals on the sensor does not always mean better image quality.
The build of this full-frame mirrorless camera is very strong, and I also liked the size of the camera. It wasn’t too big, but it wasn’t too small either. It felt like a good size in my hands.
There are also various ports on this camera, which makes downloading and transferring images after your hiking or backpacking trip a breeze.
Overall, this is the best full-frame camera on the market. If you want the best image quality in a weather-sealed mirrorless camera then this is for you. It is also one of the best mirrorless cameras for video. This is my dream camera, the best of the best.
Best Lightweight Camera for Hiking And Backpacking
> Waterproof, weather sealed, and Shockproof
> Good quality for a very compact camera meant for action sports
> The best built-in image stabilization on the market
> The Gopro struggles a little when it comes to low light performance.
The GoPro Hero 11 is a great option and an improvement on the older GoPro Hero 10. Many of you may not think about a GoPro as a camera. Most people only know it as an action camera. GoPro in general is a great brand that is associated with capturing your favorite outdoor moments, and if you want something tough enough for the outdoors then this could be for you.
I’ve even used this camera as an underwater camera for underwater photography when diving. Compared with other cameras it is not the best for landscape photography but when you want an ultra-wide lens it is great.
The GoPro Hero 11 has a GP2 processor, which makes this camera very quick and responsive in its performance. While it shoots HD Video most people will be using 4K for recording.
What I enjoyed about this camera is the high-quality images and video that I could produce with it. This camera may only have a very simple design and setup, yet it produces great quality images and even videos.
This is a fast and reactive camera, which is also quite lightweight which makes it easy to travel with.
One thing I don’t like about the GoPro is the average sound quality in videos. Maybe one day they will fix this issue and make the sound equal to the quality of the photos and video.
Overall, the GoPro camera is a great camera with decent photo quality and takes great video for an action camera. This is the backpacking camera you want if using a lot of videos and taking good wide-angle outdoor photography or action photos.
Best Smartphone Camera for Hiking And Backpacking
> The iPhone 14 Pro will produce high-quality images that give you the same quality as other cameras in this review.
> Compact so you may not need another camera
> Great autofocusing
> The zoom is a bit average which can limit how close you can zoom in.
You may be surprised to see a phone on the list, but there is no denying that some smartphones have amazing cameras built into them. The Apple iPhone 14 Pro features a triple lens that has wide, super wide, and telephoto options.
The iPhone 14 Pro there is a sensor-shift optical image stabilization, this was something that used to be only available for the 12 Pro version. It works quite well, maybe not as good as the GoPro but good nonetheless. And it has quite good weather sealing to stop dust and light rain.
As we all have a phone on us all the time nowadays, taking your iPhone 14 Pro with you on your backpacking or hiking adventure will happen without a thought.
Then you will already have a camera with you ready to take crystal clear images of your trip. There is an autofocusing sensor that helps when you are dealing with low lighting conditions.
The zoom features allow you to get more detailed images when up close. Images always remain clear, even when zoomed in and this is where some cameras have struggled to retain their image quality.
Not only is the photo quality good but so is the video. There are many hiking videos on YouTube that used a quality smartphone to shoot. Thinking of documenting your backpacking trip with photos and video, then this could be for you.
Considering you probably already take a phone with you when hiking, why not take a good weather sealed smartphone that has very good image quality.
Overall, the Apple iPhone makes one of the best cameras for hiking. Lightweight compact cameras do not have the same all-in-one features as this smartphone, such as a GPS unit with maps and more.
Table of Contents
Best Camera Type for Hiking and Backpacking
What camera type is best for hiking? There are several types including Mirrorless, Compact, Action Cameras, and Smartphones.
Mirrorless cameras are the best cameras for hiking when you want the best possible quality and something relatively compact. Most are weather sealed, and have image stabilization and interchangeable lenses so you can take whatever lenses you need to suit what photos you want to take.
The best mirrorless camera will be for someone wanting great image quality, interchangeable lenses, weather sealing, and more in a smallish camera that is lighter than a DSLR camera.
Wait, where are the canon cameras? Well, they missed the boat when it came to developing mirrorless cameras and are still playing catch up. They do make some good compact cameras. I used one for many years. And their DSLRs are legendary.
Compact cameras make the best cameras for hiking. Most have excellent image quality and good image stabilization. While they can’t compete with the best mirrorless camera they certainly take good photos. For most hikers and backpackers these are the best cameras for hiking and outdoor photography in 2023.
GoPro has cornered the action camera market. Although they have a small image sensor the in-camera image stabilization and waterproof weather sealing make them the ultimate all-weather camera. How they can fit it all into such a small camera is beyond me.
Most action cameras lack any form of optical zoom and rely on a wide-angle fixed lens.
Other companies such as DJI are also making great action cameras. These are great cameras for hikers who want something tough and waterproof.
While the Apple iPhone is the only one on this list it is not necessarily the best smartphone camera on the market. The Samsung versions are also awesome.
Smartphones make great backpacking cameras and considering you might already own one it might be good enough for your needs. One of the best things is their ability to be used as simple point-and-shoot cameras.
When it comes to image quality, you want to make sure that the camera you buy will be able to capture the best possible pictures.
If you are going to be using the camera for filming then you will want to make sure that it will be able to film at 1080p resolution at a minimum. In fact, nowadays you should be able to get your hands on a camera that films in 4K. Especially if you plan to make youtube videos.
If you are just looking to capture still images then you will want to look for a camera that will be able to capture photos at a higher resolution than a standard 640·480.
When it comes down to video quality, you want to make sure that the camera you buy has good video quality. Full frame mirrorless cameras will offer the best quality but that comes at a higher price and they will be heavier and bulkier.
If you are looking into buying a camera for hiking, then you want to make sure it has a good video quality, because if you are going to be recording videos while you hike, then you want to know that the video quality is good enough to record your entire hike.
Size is important because you want to make sure you have enough room for your camera. A lot of people like to carry their cameras around in their pockets.
If you do decide to carry your camera in your pocket, then you need to make sure that you have enough room for it.
Otherwise, you need to make sure there is enough room in your bag to be able to comfortably place your camera where it won’t get squashed and broken.
Another thing to consider is the weight of the camera. If you plan on carrying your camera around in your backpack, then you want to ensure that the camera is lightweight. This way you won’t feel burdened by having a heavy camera on your back. Mirrorless cameras are much heavier than compact cameras but have better image quality. What is more important to you.
Battery life is another thing to think about. If you are planning on using your camera during your hike, then you want a camera that has long battery life.
This means that you will be able to use your camera for longer than if you had bought a camera with short battery life. No one wants to get halfway through their backpacking trip and their camera dies on them.
Most people, myself included taking a good battery bank for backpacking that will recharge the camera and phone when backpacking. Some backpackers take a portable solar charger to keep the batteries topped up. I also like to carry spare batteries and swap them out when needed.
The best cameras for hiking that are in this review all have good battery life.
Storage capacity is also an important factor when buying a camera. If you want to store lots of photos and videos, then you want to choose a camera with a large storage capacity.
You don’t want to be limited on how many pictures or videos you can take before you have even started, especially if you are going on a long backpacking trip or a hiking holiday.
Not all cameras are waterproof, so you need to be aware of this. Most of the cameras in this review have some form of weather resistance to withstand some minor splashes while some like the Gopro can go underwater without any problems.
Either you are really careful with the camera that you buy and try to avoid getting it wet at all. Or you purchase a fully waterproof camera that you know to be waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about taking images in the rain.
Some of the cameras in this review are weather sealed and able to withstand splashes of water or very light rain.
Easy To Use
A good camera should be easy to use. This means that you shouldn’t have to spend too much time learning how to operate the camera.
The more time you spend learning how to use the camera, the less time you will have to actually enjoy yourself. Some cameras like Sony cameras have an annoying user interface that takes a while to get used to. Compare that to a point-and-shoot smartphone which is super simple to use.
When you are out hiking, you want to be enjoying yourself, and not worrying about whether you got the right settings or how to change the settings.
Price range is something else to consider when shopping for a camera. It is important to make sure that you get a camera at a reasonable price.
There are many expensive cameras available, but they may not be worth it. So before you start shopping, make sure you check what other people are saying about the camera.
Also, keep in mind that some cameras come with accessories, such as lenses, tripods, memory cards etc. These extras can add up, so it’s best to buy a camera without any extras.
The Best Camera for Backpacking and Hiking in 2023 are:
- Sony RX 100 VII
- Sony ZV-1 Vlogging Camera
- Olympus Tough TG6
- Sony Alpha 6600
- Sony A7 S3
- GoPro Hero 11
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can My Phone Take A Better Image Than A Camera?
This is up for debate, typically most cameras on phones can produce very good quality images.
However, cameras often feature a lot more sensors and resolutions that help to produce far better and high-quality images.
Where Do You Store Your Camera While Backpacking?
There are lots of places where you can store your camera while you backpacking. You can literally attach your camera to your bag, keep it in a dry bag, or wear it on a camera strap.
You should do whatever makes you feel comfortable while you are out.
Can A Normal Backpack Be Used In A Camera Bag?
While you are hiking or backpacking you may not want to bring a separate bag for your camera. In this case, you can turn your regular backpack into a camera bag by inserting a camera tube.
This tube has built-in dividers and pockets that allow you to place your camera in safety without fear that something will happen to it in your bag.
Can I use a DSLR or Mirrorless camera when hiking?
Yes, you can use a DSLR or Mirrorless camera when hiking and backpacking but unless you are a professional photographer or a real enthusiast then there are better options that are lighter and more compact. For many hikers and backpackers, it is much better to consider a high-quality compact camera or even a smartphone.
BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.