Are you looking for the best backpacking cameras? Do you want a hiking camera to take with you on your next travel adventure? Don’t worry, we are here to help.
Selecting the proper camera for backpacking is no easy task. Besides making sure that the camera has all the capable features to create the final image or video you have envisioned, you also have to make sure it will survive the act of backpacking itself.
Your equipment needs to be durable enough to handle being tossed in a backpack and used during inclement weather. The backpacking camera also needs to be compact and not add a lot of weight. There are so many things to consider when selecting the perfect camera for backpacking.
Below we have created a detailed list of 9 of the best backpacking cameras in the market now. All of these are great candidates for hiking and travel photography but they are further broken down into different categories such as best vlogging, most affordable, best underwater, and so on.
Want a Quick Tip on The Best Backpacking Cameras?
1. Fujifilm X-T3 – Best Overall Backpacking Camera
2. Canon PowerShot G7 X II – Best Vlogging Camera For Backpacking
3. Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII – Best Compact Camera For Backpacking
4. GoPro HERO8 Black – Best Action Camera For Backpacking
5. Olympus Tough TG-6 – Best Underwater Camera For Backpacking
6. Panasonic GH5 – Best Backpacking Camera For Videos And Cinematography
7. Sony A7 III – Best Professional Camera For Backpacking
8. Sony a5100 – Best Backpacking Camera Under $500
9. Sony a6400 – Best Backpacking Camera Under $1000
10 Essential Features of a Backpacking Camera
When you are looking for a backpacking camera, whether it is for travel or hiking, there are some essential features that you should look for. Having these features will definitely make your photo-taking experience much more pleasant and enjoyable!
Below are the 10 features that make a camera a good backpacking camera.
1. Weight & Size
You can have the best camera in the world but if it weighs heavier than the biggest dumbbell in a gym, will you still carry that with you? Backpacking is all about flexibility and always being ready when the perfect moment presents itself. If you have a heavy camera, you won’t be able to have it in your hand at all times. You will surely miss some amazing photo opportunities.
2. Image Quality (File Formats)
Image quality refers to the types of files the camera is about to capture. Usually, there are 4 levels of image quality (RAW, extra-fine, fine, and standard).
RAW is the type of file that produces the best image quality. If you want to edit and post-process your photos, a camera that is able to shoot in RAW will be your best choice.
The cons to RAW file is that it is bigger in size (memory-wise) and you need a specific program to open RAW files (Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop).
For example, if your photos came out underexposed (too dark), you can bring back the shadows in a RAW photo without sacrificing too many details! That is why I only shoot in RAW.
Luckily for you, all the cameras above have the ability to shoot in RAW.
3. Sensor Size
The sensor is probably one of the most important features of any camera. It refers to the tiny piece of hardware that converts light into the image you see on the camera. The bigger the sensor, the more light it is able to capture and the better it is in low-light situations.
The better the sensor, the more you are able to increase the ISO (camera’s sensitivity to light) without affecting the image quality. By image quality, I refer to the grain and discoloration of a photo.
4. Weather Sealing
If you are backpacking, you will unquestionably encounter inclement weather. Rainstorms, sandstorms, or even extreme heat conditions can destroy a camera. When I am looking for a backpacking camera, I want one that is at least water-resistant. You don’t want one that will melt like butter in the rain.
A water-resistant camera (and lens) will still allow you to shoot a little bit before you have to completely safeguard it from the rain. A waterproof camera is completely resistant to water.
Megapixels are often mistaken as the most important feature in a camera and that cannot be more wrong. Megapixels refer to the resolution of the photos captured by the camera.
If the resolution of the camera is 24 megapixels, then the images captured are 6000 pixels by 4000 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio). Just to give you a rough idea of what that is like, the photos on this page are about 1000 pixels by 666 pixels (on desktop). And if you are looking at the pictures I’m are talking about, it covers more than half your screen.
That is why megapixels are so overrated. Unless you intend on making a giant print of your photo or looking at it on your 4K television, a photo with high megapixels is usually overkill.
Besides, a photo with high megapixels takes up a lot of space!
So when picking a camera for backpacking, don’t just focus on megapixels!
6. Video Capability and Quality
If you are an avid videographer or cinematography, you should consider the video capability of your camera. Does it shoot 4K, at what frames per second? 4K is great but if it is only shot at 30 fps, then it will be impossible to do any slow-motion effect on it. Pay attention to the fps as much as the resolution size when considering a backpacking camera for video taking!
7. Professional Settings (Manual Mode)
If you are a professional photographer or want to dive deep into the photography world, you will need settings that complement your compassion. I am talking about manual mode. The mode that allows you complete control over shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and much more. The manual mode gives you absolute freedom and helps you create the exact photo you had pictured in your mind.
If you are a beginner, chances are you won’t touch the manual mode and other shooting modes will suffice, such as the aperture-priority mode or the shutter-speed priority mode! But it is a good thing to have if you want to take your photography to the next level!
8. Lens Selection
Buying the perfect backpacking camera is only half the battle. The lens you put on a camera is as important, if not more important than the camera itself. Many of the camera suggestions I have made allow you to change lenses depending on the situation.
For example, a wide-angle lens (usually under 35mm) is perfect for capturing landscapes. While a telephoto lens (85mm and greater), is perfect for capturing things far away from such as wildlife. You don’t want to use a wide-angle lens to capture lions in a safari because you could become their dinner.
9. Usability and Ergonomics
Is the camera easy to use? Does it feel good in your hand? Is it comfortable to hold on to for a long duration? Your camera should be an extension of you and never feel like a puzzle you have to figure out.
The ergonomics of a camera should be on point. The buttons are never too cramped. They are easily accessible without having to use two hands or change your hand position. The camera can be in your hands for the majority of the day when you are backpacking. You need a camera with great handling!
10. Electronic Viewfinder or Optical Viewfinder
Viewfinders refer to to the part of the camera used for framing and composing. In traditional DSLR cameras, it is via the optical viewfinder (the little glass piece at the top of the camera where you look through). In a mirrorless camera, it is usually via an LCD screen or an electronic viewfinder.
Electronic viewfinders, or EVF, are much more useful for a beginner. When you look through an EVF, you see the final image as it is. Any adjustments you make with the settings of the camera, it is reflected immediately in the EVF. Increase the ISO, the image you see through an EVF gets brighter. It is like god mode in comparison to using a traditional optical viewfinder.
When you look through an optical viewfinder, you don’t know what the final image is going to come out. It hasn’t been processed by the camera yet.
EVFs are much more beginner-friendly than optical viewfinders and will help you learn photography!
10 Best Cameras For Backpacking
The Fujifilm X-T3 is one of the best backpacking cameras for both stills and video. It is the perfect balance between portability, affordability, and capability. That is why we consider it the best overall backpacking camera.
With a rugged magnesium alloy body, the camera is sealed against moisture and dust. The camera also has analog controls for exposure compensation, shutter speed, and ISO. You will never feel like you are out of touch with your camera.
Other features include one of the finest EVFs, bluetooth-support WiFi for easy image sharing, and buttons and dials that are easily customizable.
2. Compact for The Features It Offers
3. Great Dynamic Range for an ASP-C Sensor
4. 4K Video at 60 FPS
1. Average Battery Life
2. No In-Body Image Stabilization
3.. Low-Light Performance Below Average
An affordable and rugged camera that packs a lot of features, the X-T3 is the ultimate camera for backpacking. If you are looking for a travel camera, look no further. If you are looking for a hiking camera, look no further as well. The FujiFilm X-T3 is the camera you need for your next adventure!
The Canon PowerShot G7X II is vloggers favorite camera and it is easy to see why. Pocketable, lightweight, great video quality, and with a 180-degree tilting screen, the Canon G7X II hits many of the essential features to be a great vlogging camera. The camera comes with a built-in versatile 24-100mm f1.8-2.8 lens for your everyday backpacking needs.
However, due to its small 1″ sensor, the Canon G7X II is not the best camera in low light situations. Under the ideal lighting situation, the camera does produce great photos.
2. 180° tilting 3″ LCD Screen
3. 1080p At 60 Frames Per Second
4. Easy To Use For Vlogging
1. No EVF, Just an LCD Screen
2. Below Average Battery Life
3. Hit-or-Miss Autofocus
4. Not Good in Low Light
The Canon G7X II is a budget backpacking camera for vloggers. Outside of vlogging, the camera lacks in many different aspects. But if all you do is vlog and take the occasional photos, the Canon G7X II is perfect for you. It is also a great second camera that you can carry with you whenever you want due to its compactness!
If you are looking for the most capable pocketable camera, look no further. The Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII is an ultra-compact award-winning camera that excels over some bigger and pricier models.
My favorite feature of the Sony RX100 VII is the amazing autofocus system. Using the same technology as Sony’s flagship model (Sony a9), you will never take another out-of-focus shot again. Combined that with the high-quality 24-200mm lens, photographing moving objects such as animals from far away has never been easier.
Weighing 0.67 lb including the battery, the Sony RX100 VII is a camera you can have at all times with you. It is not a bulky backpacker camera that will capture a lot of attention when you are traveling in a foreign country. Its size is deceiving considering how much power it has.
1. Top-Of-The-Line Autofocus System
2. High-Quality Zoom Lens For Every Occasion
3. Excellent Image Stabilization
4. Beginner-Friendly EVF
5. Good Dynamic Range
6. 4K Video
2. No Weather Sealing
3. Not Good in Low-Light Situations
4. Below Average Battery Life
The Sony RX100 VII is the ultimate compact camera for backpackers. Whether you are traveling, hiking, or exploring the streets, this camera will deliver the results you want. Its only downside is the lack of performance in low-light situations, which is to be expected considering the compactness and sensor size of the camera.
Ever Since GoPro’s initial release in 2004, their cameras have been dominating the action camera category. The newest GoPro flagship, the GoPro HERO8 Black, continues the legacy.
A tiny rugged 0.28-lb camera, the GoPro is the perfect travel companion for backpacking! Its waterproof capability (up to 10m underwater) allows any backpackers to take it for a swim or even shallow diving.
Its newest model includes a 1080p live streaming features for those that want to share the action on the spot.
The most impressive feature is the Hypersmooth 2.0, a feature that minimizes camera shake when you are shooting video without a gimbal. It doesn’t matter if the camera is handheld while you are hiking up the Andes or mounted while you are mountain biking, you won’t see any camera shake with this new GoPro feature.
The Hypersmooth 2.0 feature alone is worth the purchase.
1. Incredible Stabilization Feature (Hypersmooth)
2. 4K at 60 FPS or 1080p at 240 FPS
3. Waterproof Up to 10m
4. 1080p Live Streaming
1. Low Photo Quality (Worse than some Phone Cameras)
2. Poor Low Light Performance
3. Average Battery Life
The GoPro HERO8 Black is the perfect camera for action-loving backpackers. Its forte is definitely its video-making capability and its stabilization. At 0.28 lb, it is one of the most compact cameras in the market!
Are you a backpacker looking for the most rugged camera out there? Look no further. The Olympus TG-6 is one of the best rugged and underwater cameras in the market right now!
The TG-6 is waterproof up to 15m, shockproof from 2.4m, crushproof to 220 lbs, and dustproof. If you find someone annoying while backpacking, you can throw this camera at him or her without damaging your camera!
But how do the images look? Rugged cameras aren’t typically known for their image or video quality but the TG-6 surprised us in both categories. Not only is the camera beginner-friendly and easy-to-use, but it produces some crisp and vibrant photos, especially underwater.
Underwater photography has never been so easy with the Olympus TG-6 and its 25-100mm f2.0 – 4.9 lens.
The Olympus TG-6 also offers great macro photography features, allowing the user to focus on subjects as close as 1 cm away from the lens.
1. Great Image and Video Quality
2. 4K Video at 30 FPS
3. Rugged And Waterproof Up to 15m
6. Macro Photos
1. Poor Low Light Performance
2. Better Options If You Focus of Land Photography
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is the king of compact cameras for underwater photography. Its ruggedness and portability allow you to carry it wherever you go and not worry about damaging it. However, it is the king of waterproof cameras and that is all. Don’t expect it to excel when you are shooting on land.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is the perfect camera for professional videographers.
One of its new features is color subsampling at 4:2:2 with a color depth of 10-bit, a feature that produces more vibrant and rich colors in videos. Without getting too technical, this camera has features for videos that completely blow out its competitors.
The Panasonic GH5 is also a decent camera for stills (photos). Though if you prefer taking stills, I would recommend you to look at other alternatives such as the Sony A7R II.
1. Amazing Video Capabilities
2. 4K Video at 60 FPS
3. Great image stabilization
4. Weather sealed
1. Relatively Bulky
2. Stills (Photos) Could Be A Bit Better
3. Low Battery Life
4. Low-Light Situations Can Be Problematic
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is a camera for professional videographers looking to capture some stunning footage. The capabilities of this camera are unmatched by any others at this price point. Though it still takes decent photos, you won’t be amazed by its image quality.
The Sony A7 III interchangeable mirrorless camera is one of the best backpacking cameras in the market. Perfectly balanced among price, portability, and capabilities, the Sony A7 III is a camera that can handle anything.
Low-light situations? Don’t worry, the A7 III has a full-frame sensor. Videos? The camera shoots high-quality 4k videos.
On top of all those features, the Sony A7 III has 5-axis image stabilization, excellent dynamic range, great sharpness, and an amazing autofocus system.
You cannot go wrong picking the Sony A7 III as your backpacking camera.
1. Excellent in Low-Light Situations
2. In-Body Image Stabilization
3. Great Dynamic Range
4. Amazing Autofocus System
5. Good Battery Life
1. Relatively not too compact, especially after putting on a Sony lens
2. Pricey (but worth it!)
The Sony A7III is a camera for someone ready to take their photography and videography to the next level. Featuring amazing specs throughout, the A7 III will guarantee you the results that you want. I highly recommend this camera for backpacking!
At under $500, the Sony a5100 is one of the most affordable compact cameras in the market. The Sony a5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera perfect for beginners that just started diving into the world of photography.
The camera features in-camera guides, which are a bunch of tutorials that teaches beginners the basics of photography.
Other than its didactic features, the humble a5100 offers the balance between image quality and portability. It is easy to use and the image quality is surprisingly well for a compact camera. The 3″ LCD screen tilts 180 degrees for anyone that is into self-portraits.
It is the best camera for backpacking you can buy for under $500.
1. Very Compact
2. Great Autofocus System
4. 3″ LCD 180° Tilting Touchscreen
1. No Image Stabilization
2. Below Average Low Light Performance
3. No EVF
4. Not Weather-Sealed
The Sony a5100 is a very affordable mirrorless mirror for backpackers that want to learn photography. Its beginner-friendly features help you create the shot you had in mind. It is a no-frills budget camera that will get the job done but don’t expect exceptional performance.
The Sony a6400 is for backpackers that want the capability of a big full-frame camera in a small body. Weighing in at 0.89 lb, this camera surprisingly contains more features and power than expected.
Similar to the Sony RX100 VII above, the a6400 has one of the best autofocus systems in the market because it uses Sony a9’s (Sony’s flagship model) real-time tracking hardware.
The image quality from this small mirrorless camera is quite impressive and so is its 4K 30 FPS video. The 3″ LCD screen tilts 180° up and makes it easy to take selfies for solo backpackers.
The built-in high-quality EVF is one of my favorite features on this affordable mirrorless Sony camera. It allows you to frame your photos better before pressing the shutter!
2. Great EVF
3. Amazing Autofocus System
4. Good Battery Life For Mirrorless Cameras
1. No Image Stabilization
2. Low-Light Situations Can Be Problematic
Not only is the Sony a6400 a great compact camera for backpacking, but it is also one of the best value-for-money cameras in the market. Any beginner to immediate photographers will appreciate the user-friendly features of the camera. It is a great overall camera for backpacking, travel, or daily needs.
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Picking the perfect backpacking camera is no easy task. I hope this post has at least given you insights into which camera suits you the best!
Any question? Leave a comment!
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