Hiking cameras enable you to capture your experiences, whether you’re on a short day hike or rugged outdoor adventure.
Modern smartphones are fine for snapshots, but they lack zoom capabilities and can have issues in less than bright light and also image quality.
The best hiking cameras will reliably record your moments as pictures and video without weighing you down with too much extra weight.
Quick Answer: The 7 Top Rated Hiking Cameras For 2018
- Nikon Coolpix L340 20.2 MP Digital Camera
- Canon PowerShot SX710 HS Digital Camera
- Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 4K Digital Camera
- Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera
- Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
- Nikon D3400 DSLR Camera With Lenses
- Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR Camera Bundle
Best Hiking & Backpacking Cameras
Hiking Camera Reviews
Best Point & Shoot Hiking Cameras
- Size & Weight: 4″ x 3.1″ x 3.3″, 15.2 oz (incl. battery)
- Sensor: 20.2 MP, 1/2.3″ size, 5152 x 3864 resolution
- Modes & Settings: 16 scene modes, 5 exposure modes, 7 white balance settings, in-camera image editing, 4 shots at 1fps continuous shutter
- Lens: NIKKOR ED Glass Lens, f/3.1-5.9, 4.0-112mm (equals 22.5-630mm lens in 35mm format)
- Zoom: 28x optical zoom, 56x Dynamic Fine Zooms, 4x digital
- Extras: 3″ TFT-LCD, built-in flash, contrast-detect autofocus, ISO 80-1600, HD 720p video, Vibration Reduction
The Nikon Coolpix L340 is our Editor’s Choice for the best hiking camera that comes in a compact size and is an easy-to-use point-and-shoot camera that is perfect for travel.
Highlights are the superb zoom capabilities with a telephoto lens and optical image stabilization.
The camera is neither too small nor too large to handle comfortably with a large grip and ergonomic button layout. The 3” TFT display is straightforward to use for composing shots.
With different modes, you don’t have to bother with manual settings. The Scene Auto Selector will automatically choose a mode for you, making this a true point-and-shoot model.
The sensor features 20.2 megapixels and is paired with an EXPEED C2 image processor. The ISO range goes up to 1,600. The Nikkor ED glass lens is the highlight of this camera: with a 28x optical zoom, you can shoot subjects near and far.Vibration reduction ensures steady images even at longer focal lengths. The f/3.1-5.9 and 4-112mm lens is equivalent to a focal length of 22.5-630mm in 35mm format. With the dynamic fine zoom, you can increase the effective zoom range to 56x, while a 4x digital zoom option is available.
You can record video with audio in 720p HD at 30fps. For stills and video, the camera uses a contrast detect autofocus system. The pros of this model are the great zoom lens, the autofocus speed as well as the image stabilization.
Image quality is great up to ISO 400, where things get grainy and noisy, depending on light. The camera has a built-in flash. A minor disadvantage are the video recording capabilities, which fall short of Full HD or even 4K.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 can take SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards and runs on four AA batteries. You can take about 300 pictures with one charge. Batteries, lens cap, USB cable and strap are included.
In conclusion, this is best budget camera for hiking that takes excellent pictures for a budget price.
- Size & Weight: 4″ x 2.6″ x 1.4″, 9.5 oz
- Sensor: 20.3 MP, 1/2.3″ size, 5184 x 3456 resolution
- Modes & Settings: 25 scene modes, 3 exposure modes, 7 white balance settings, in-camera photo effect, up to 8 fps continuous shutter
- Lens: f/3.2-6.9, 4.5-135mm focal length (25-750m in 35mm format)
- Zoom: 30x optical zoom, 4x digital
- Extras: 3″ TFT-LCD, built-in flash, TTL autofocus, ISO 80-3200, Full-HD 1080p video at 60fps, image stabilization, Wifi & NFC enabled
The Canon PowerShot SX710 HS is a point-and-shoot hiking camera with a long zoom range. It appeals to both beginners and more advanced shooters and is a bit more expensive than our top pick in this category.
The SX710 comes with a 20.3MP CMOS sensor paired with a DIGIC c image processor for high-quality photos. The most outstanding feature is the 30x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture range of f/3.2 to 6.9.
The focal length is 4.5mm to 35mm, equivalent to 25mm to 750m in 35mm format. Thanks to 5-axis image stabilization, you can take steady shots even at extreme zoom levels.
Cycling through the many modes and scene options is quick and easy. You can choose from full manual and semi-automatic modes or select fully automatic and scenes modes with even automatic scene selection for the full point-and-shoot experience.
A great travel feature is the Hybrid Auto mode, mixing video and photos with a fun compilation clip at the end of the day. Digital filter effects are available in the Creative Shot mode.
With the WiFi capability, transferring your pictures is simple. You can also pair the camera with a free smartphone companion app for Android and iOS. The 3″ display serves you well in composing scenes and handling the camera’s features.
The camera delivers images with great quality and lively colors. At lower ISO settings, image smoothing eventually becomes visible, but the Canon holds up well against other compact cameras.
To avoid grainy pictures in low light, the model further smooths images in the low-light range. The SX720 HS performs well for travel shooting with accurate exposures in most conditions and good white balance.
Having a 30X zoom can really bring distant objects up close. With the many settings, the more you know about photography, the more you will be able to get out of this camera.
The Canon PowerShot SX710 HS is the best point and shoot camera with a long focal length and manual controls for those who want them.
- Size & Weight: 3.9″ x 3.88″ x 5.15″, 1.8 lbs (with battery)
- Sensor: 21.1 MP, 1″ size, 5472 x 3648 resolution
- Modes & Settings: 25 scene modes, 4 exposure modes, 11 white balance settings, in-camera photo effect, up to 12 fps continuous shutter
- Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0, 9.1-146 mm focal length (32-512 mm in 35mm format)
- Zoom: 16x optical zoom, 4x digital, 32x Intelligent
- Extras: 3″ TFT-LCD, built-in flash, autofocus, ISO 80-12800, 4K QFHD video at 30fps, image stabilization, Wifi & NFC enabled
The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is a larger and heftier point-and-shoot camera that comes with impressive features and a great zoom lens. Bring your subjects up close with a 16x optical zoom. Image quality is superb and you can shoot videos in 4K resolution.
The Lumix FZ1000 features a larger image sensor than the other two point-and-shoot models. The 1” sensor features 20.1 megapixels and an ISO range from 80 up to 12,800 or 25,600 extended.
Noise levels are minimal, and the sensor size allows for lots of light for images with shallow depth of field. Thanks to image stabilization, your shots and videos are free of blurring.
The camera comes with a Leica DV Vario-Elmarit lens, featuring an f/2.8 to 4.0 aperture. The focal length is equivalent to a 25mm to 400mm lens in 35mm format, a 16x optical zoom.
Paired with fast autofocus and a minimum distance of 3cm, you can shoot things near and far with great detail.
Switching between video and photography is easy and a true hybrid experience is also available, where you can grab photos from recorded videos.
The camera comes with many scene settings for manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic shooting. You can pair a smartphone or tablet over Wifi for image sharing and remote control features.
You can also use the GPS of the device to geotag your pictures.
If you don’t mind a larger and bulkier point-and-shoot camera but want versatility, a great telephoto zoom lens and high-quality images with 4K video recording, the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is the best point and shoot digital camera for you.
Best Mirrorless Hiking Cameras
- Size & Weight: 5.2″ x 3.4″ x 1.7″, 4.2 oz
- Sensor: 24.3 MP, 23.6 x 15.6mm size (APS-C), 6000 x 4000 resolution
- Modes & Settings: Auto scene, 4 exposure modes, 9 white balance settings, TTL autofocus, up to 14 fps continuous shutter
- Lens: Fujifilm XF18-55 f/2.8-4.0 18-55mm focal length 27-84mm equivalent in 35mm format)
- Zoom: 3x optical zoom (depending on lens)
- Extras: 3″ LCD, flash built-in & shoe, ISO 200-12800, 4K video at 30fps, image stabilization
The Fujifilm X-T2 is the best mirrorless hiking camera for the demanding photographer that delivers sharp images and comes with professional features such as a high-performance autofocus, a cropped APS-C sensor and 4K video recording.
The camera’s sensor sports 24.3 megapixels and a native ISO range of 200 to 12,800, with an extended range of 100 to 51,200. Moiré and false colors are reduced thanks to signal processing and the X-Processor Pro engine.
You can use an electronic viewfinder or the 3″ display with double-joints for tilts in three directions to compose your shots. Instead of a TFT, Fujifilm uses full mechanical dials for key operations such as shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.
This allows you to adjust settings even when the camera is off, getting ready for your next shot.
The camera uses the Fujifilm X lens mount and this model already includes the XF18-55 lens with a focal length equivalent of 27mm to 84mm in 35mm format. The TTL autofocus is fast and reliable, and you can shoot continuously at a speed of up to 14 fps.
A focus lever allows you to instantly change the focusing point. With film simulation modes, you can enjoy a total of 15 different color tones and rich gradation.
You can also record 4K Ultra HD video at 30, 25 or 24 fps. Full HD 1080p and HD 720p are possible at up to 60fps, allowing you to create slow motion videos.
The Fujifilm X-T2 features dual SD card slots and a rugged magnesium alloy body. It is compact and lightweight, yet solid and highly durable.
With its crisp images that can compete with some full sensor DSLRs, it’s the best camera for travel photography for demanding and professional photographers who are looking for a small camera with interchangeable lenses.
- Size & Weight: 7.2″ x 2.63″ x 1.78″, 12.13 oz (with battery)
- Sensor:3 MP, 23.5 x 15.6mm size (APS-C)
- Modes & Settings: P/A/S/M, scene, fast hybrid autofocus, up to 11 fps continuous shutter
- Lens: SELP1650 f/3.5-5.6 16-50mm focal length (24-75mm in 35mm format), OSS image stabilization
- Zoom: 3x optical zoom
- Extras: 3″ LCD, flash built-in & shoe, ISO 100-51200, Full HD 1080p video at 60fps, Wifi & NFC enabled
The Sony Alpha a6000 is a compact mirrorless camera that is well-suited for hiking & backpacking thanks to its small size, great electronic viewfinder and smart features such as Wifi and companion apps.
The camera features a 24.3 megapixel CMOS sensor of the cropped APS-C format with increased light collecting efficiency. Paired with the Bionz X image processor, the camera is fast and has a native ISO range of 100 to 51,200.
Sony uses a hybrid autofocus approach with phase and contrast detection for fast focusing. This mirrorless model is one of the fastest among APS-C sensor cameras.
The camera is compatible with Sony E mount lenses and the SELP1650 lens is already included. This is a lightweight and retractable mid-range zoom lens, great for travel since it collapses down to just 1.18”.
Thanks to a power zoom, zooming in on your subject is smooth and silent. The lens comes with OSS optical image stabilization for blur-free shots and has a focal length of 24mm to 75mm in 35mm format.
You can use both the electronic viewfinder or the 3” tiltable LCD screen on the back of the camera for composing shots.
I like Sony’s approach to settings and features: menus are easy to learn, and anyone who has ever used a Sony camera will feel right at home.
With built-in Wifi and NFC, you can download a smartphone app for increased functionality and picture transfers. You can also shoot Full HD videos at up to 60fps and create slow motion or time-lapse videos.
The included battery lasts for around 300 shots. The Sony Alpha a6000 is slightly cheaper than the Fujifilm mirrorless model above and packs powerful features into the best digital camera for hiking.
Best DSLR Hiking Cameras
- Size & Weight: 4.9″ x 3.9″ x 3″, 15 oz (body only)
- Sensor: 24.2 MP, 23.5 x 15.6 mm size DX (APS-C), 6000 x 4000 resolution
- Modes & Settings: 9 scene modes, 6 exposure modes, 8 white balance settings, in-camera effects, up to 5 fps continuous shutter
- Lens: 2x included, AF-P DX NIKKOR f/3.5-5.6 VR 18-55mm, AF-P DX NIKKOR f/4.5-6.3G ED 70-300mm
- Zoom:2x & 3x optical zoom (depending on lens)
- Extras: 3″ TFT-LCD, flash built-in & shoe, AF-P TTL autofocus, ISO 100-25600, Full HD 1080p video at 60fps, Vibration Reduction
The Nikon D3400 is a professional DSLR camera that is relatively compact and lightweight. This pack already includes two different lenses for zooming options.
The Nikon D3400 includes a 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor paired with Expeed 4 image processing power. The images feature rich and natural colors, and thanks to a native ISO range of 100 to 25,600, low-light photography works stunningly well.
The camera has a Nikon F mount and this pack already includes two Nikkor lenses. The smaller model has a focal length of 18mm to 55mm with Vibration Reduction for stable images. With a pulse motor, the autofocus is fast and silent.
The larger lens picks up where the other leaves off and allows you to zoom in even further for wildlife and landscape photography with clarity. The focal length ranges from 70mm to 300mm and the autofocus performs equally well.
Professional photographers will get the most out of the Nikon D3400 with the possibility to go full manual, but beginners and intermediates can use the guide mode with instructions right in the camera or shoot in fully automatic mode with great results.
A smart feature is the Nikon SnapBridge app that allows you to pair a smartphone or tablet with your camera for easy transfers and further functionality.
The Nikon D3400 is the best DSLR camera for hiking and is excellent choice for outdoor photographers at an outstanding price.
- Size & Weight: 4.9″ x 3.9″ x 3″, 15 oz (body only)
- Sensor: 24.2 MP, 22.3 x 14.9 mm size DX (APS-C), 6000 x 4000 resolution
- Modes & Settings: 32 scene modes, 8 white balance settings, in-camera effects, up to 6 fps continuous shutter
- Lenses: 3x included, 18-55mm IS STM, 58mm telephoto, 58mm wide angle
- Zoom: 3x, 2.2x & 0.43x optical zoom (depending on lens)
- Extras: 3″ TFT-LCD, flash built-in & shoe, TTL autofocus, ISO 100-25600, Full HD 1080p video at 60fps, image stabilization, Wifi, bluetooth, NFC
This is a full kit to get you started with professional outdoor photography, including the Canon EOS Rebel T7i and three lenses. This travel camera combines rich features with portability so you can take high quality images on the go.
The Canon EOS Rebel T7i uses a 24.2 megapixel sensor of APS-C size combined with a DIGIC 7 image processor for fast operation. The native ISO range is 100 to 51,200 and well-suited for a variety of lighting conditions.
Images are sharp with little noise even at higher ISO settings. The autofocus uses a cross-type and dual pixel approach with phase detection for quick focusing of stationary or moving subjects.
The camera features the Canon EF lens mount and includes three lenses. Your standard option is the 18-55mm IS STM lens with 3x optical zoom and image stabilization.
You also get a 2.2x telephoto lens and a wide angle lens, both with a focal length of 58mm. A set of three filters gives you creative and artistic options.
With optical viewfinder and 3” TFT LCD, framing your shot is easy in any situation. Creative in-camera filters and effects can be previewed using the screen.
You can get about 600 shots out of a single charge with this model. Video recording is possible at Full HD and up to 60fps, which allows you to create slow motion videos. With Wifi and NFC capability, pairing with a smartphone or tablet is easy.
If your looking for the best camera for backpacking, the Rebel T7i is the perfect combination between between price and value.
The complete Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR camera bundle.
The full kit includes: Canon EOS Rebel T7i camera body, 18-55mm IS STM lens, 58mm telephoto lens, 58mm wide angle lens, 3-piece 58mm filter set, 64GB SDHC memory card, 57” tripod with carrying case, camera bag, external flash, wireless shutter, camera cleaning kit, USB cable & card reader, screen protector, memory card wallet, shoulder strap and lens cap strap.
Hiking Camera Comparison Table
|Nikon Coolpix L340||Point & Shoot||20.2MP||NIKKOR ED Glass Lens, f/3.1-5.9||15.2 oz||28x optical, 4x digital||4.0 / 5.0|
|Canon PowerShot SX710 HS||Point & Shoot||20.3MP||f/3.2-6.9, 4.5-135mm||9.5 oz||30x optical, 4x digital||4.4 / 5.0|
|Panasonic Lumix FZ1000||Point & Shoot||21.1MP||Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0, 9.1-146 mm||1.8 lbs||16x optical, 4x digital||4.4 / 5.0|
|Fujifilm X-T2||Mirrorless||24.3MP||Fujifilm XF18-55 f/2.8-4.0 18-55mm||4.2 oz||3x optical zoom||4.7 / 5.0|
|Sony Alpha a6000||Mirrorless||24.3MP||SELP1650 f/3.5-5.6 16-50mm||12 oz||3x optical zoom||4.5 / 5.0|
|Nikon D3400 Camera||DSLR||24.2MP||AF-P DX NIKKOR f/3.5-5.6 VR 18-55mm||15 oz||3x optical zoom||4.6 / 5.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i||DSLR||24.2MP||18-55mm IS STM|
|15 oz||3x optical zoom||5.0 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Camera for Hiking & Backpacking
- Type of Cameras
- Sensor & Megapixels
- Size & Weight
- Settings & Modes
- Lenses & Zoom
- FAQs: About Hiking Cameras
Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to hiking. The same goes for pictures of outdoor adventures, impressions and experiences as well as vacations: some just want quick snapshots for their memories, other prefer to carefully compose and frame high-quality shots.
Hiking Camera Considerations
We’ve reviewed three different kinds of hiking cameras: point-and-shoot models are compact cameras that offer a small an inexpensive option. Their limitations are a small image sensor and no interchangeable lenses.
Mirrorless cameras give you the option to change the lense and feature a larger sensor for higher image quality, yet are more compact than DSLRs.
Digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are bulkier and heavier, but feature an optical viewfinder and a large choice of high-grade lenses.
Depending on where you hike, what you want to shoot and where your preferences lie, you might prioritize compactness, image quality, zoom options and lens choices or pre-configured recording modes and settings.
It’s also worth considering video recording capability and other extras such as storage or WiFi. Now we’ll go into details regarding the most important features of travel cameras.
Type of Cameras
We’ve reviewed point-and-shoot, mirrorless and DSLR cameras, each of which have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.
Compact digital cameras are also known as point-and-shoot models because their approach to photography is as simple as pushing a button. Today’s models take great pictures and videos, but they limit you to the single lens they come with.
They’re great for their lower price, weight and dimensions. You won’t mind carrying one of these with you all day and fit easily in your backpack.
If you start thinking about image quality but still want a compact option, consider one of these cameras.
They have the added bonus of interchangeable lenses, yet are smaller than DSLRs because they only have an electronic viewfinder, not an optical one – also called a mirror reflex, which is where the name mirrorless comes from.
They strike a great balance between versatility and portability. An advantage of of the display or electronic viewfinder is that it will show you the results of the camera’s settings in real-time.
These cameras are best suited for more demanding photography, for example wildlife shots and pictures or videos of moving subjects.
Choosing a DSLR means more weight and bulk with an optical viewfinder, but it also gives you a wide range of interchangeable lenses to choose from. These cameras are the most versatile and not only suited for travel.
Sensor & Megapixels
Sensor size and megapixels are two camera features where larger and more is better – in a nutshell. But what does it mean? One megapixel consists of one million pixels, or image dots.
A camera with more megapixels will shoot images of a higher resolution. This becomes important if you want to print or enlarge your shots. If you’ll be just sharing pictures online, resolution is less of an issue.
However, image quality does not depend on the megapixels alone but is influenced by optics, settings, and camera software as well. A larger sensor is an advantage, because it can capture more light.
This reduces noise in the image and brings out definition, highlights and shadows. The point-and-shoot models in our selection have smaller sensors, whereas the mirrorless and DSLR cameras feature an APS-C sensor size.
Size & Weight
Camera portability matters when you’re hiking. Point-and-shoot models are the smallest and won’t weigh you down. Mirrorless cameras are slightly larger and commonly don’t fit in your pocket like a compact one does.
Yet they can still be carried comfortably all day. DSLRs are largest, yet the two models we’ve reviewed are on the smaller side, compared to other professional cameras.
Settings & Modes
The more professional a camera is, the more control it will give you over the settings and individual aspects of photography. On the other hand, it requires more knowledge about what ISO, aperture, focal length etc. actually do.
This is where scene settings and individual modes come in: cameras allow you to pick a scene setting, such as indoor, daylight or nighttime, and the camera automatically adjusts the settings for you without having to go into detail. On the display, you can see a preview of your shot.
In addition, most cameras have at least some in-camera effects to help you take better pictures, such as the option to reduce red eyes or enhance portraits, add sepia tones and more.
Lenses & Zoom
Point-and-shoot cameras come with a fixed lens, whereas mirrorless and DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses.
The models reviewed here all come with at least one lens, commonly of a focal length of 18-55mm or 16-50mm, which is equivalent to a zoom factor of 3x.
These are great starter lenses for a wide range of situations. When traveling, chances are you don’t want to bring that many lenses with you. A good focal length for travel photography is 24-70mm, equivalent to an optical zoom of close to 3x.
A telephoto lens is great for landscape shots and other extreme zooms. A common focal length for an all-in-one approach here would be 18-200mm (11x optical zoom) or 18-300mm (16x optical zoom).
You’ll notice that point-and-shoot cameras feature a larger optical zoom with their all-in-one lenses. This is due to their much smaller image sensor and the possibility to include cheaper lenses with a wide focal range.
It’s up to you if you want to or need to shoot videos as well. If you’ll rely on this feature a lot, pay attention and pick a model that can at least record Full HD with at least 30 frames per second, or better shoot video in full 4K resolution.
A framerate higher than 30fps allows you to slow the video down post-recording to produce slow motion effects. Cameras with video features often feature a time-lapse mode as well.
Under extras, we’ve listed features that are not high priority, but nonetheless noteworthy. These include Wifi capabilities, included accessories, flash and video capabilities. Most models include batteries and charger.
FAQs About Hiking Cameras
Q: What type of hiking camera is best for me?
A: It depends entirely on your needs and preferences. A DSLR camera is best if you want to use the camera not only on vacation but want to take professional pictures in a variety of settings.
A mirrorless camera is more compact than a DSLR but already comes with a large image sensor for higher quality pictures, a great balance between portability and quality.
Point-and-shoot cameras are the most compact and often the most straightforward with a simple approach for taking pictures.
Q: When do I need an interchangeable lens camera?
A: Changing the lens on a mirrorless or DSLR camera allows you to change the optical parameters and achieve a different focal length and therefore different zoom ratio.
There are lenses for photographing things in close-up, at a distance, or at a wide angle. If you’ll be taking pictures at optical extremes, a camera with interchangeable lenses enables you to stay flexible.
Point-and-shoot models are versatile with zoom lenses as well, but you cannot go beyond what is already mounted on the camera.
Q: Do only point-and-shoot cameras have a fully automatic mode?
A: No, mirrorless and DSLR models allow you to shoot on automatic as well. The full range of features and functions allows you to control more aspects of photography. The more you learn about settings, the more you can fine-tune your images.
You can fluidly go from automatic to semi-automatic – with full manual at the other extreme.
Q: What’s the advantage of a hiking camera over a smartphone?
A: Smartphones or tablets commonly have a lens with a fixed focal length. Due to their size, the lens and image sensor also tend to be quite compact.
With these devices, you’ll only have a digital zoom available. They do amazing things with software for image and color correction as well as autofocus and stabilization, but you can still achieve better results with a dedicated camera.
Q: What other equipment do I need?
A: Not all models include the memory card; make sure you get a compatible, fast and high class one for reliable storage. Chargers are commonly included with the reviewed cameras, but you might want a USB cable for easy image transfers. For the DSLR models with lenses, consider a camera backpack.
All the cameras we’ve reviewed are of course not only suitable for backpacking, and you can use them for everyday photography as well in both casual or professional settings.
But for the three categories point-and-shoot cameras, mirrorless and DSLR cameras, we’ve picked the candidates primarily with portability and use on the go in mind.
Consider the factors most important to you, then use our guide to make your selection that allows you to capture your memories as stunning pictures and videos. Enjoy your travels and outdoor photography!
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best camera for hiking & backpacking to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a camera I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.