Snaps of your hike frame your memory. There’s nothing like looking back on photos from your favorite hikes, remembering the fall colors reflected on that lake, or reminiscing about the sun’s rays that shone down on you last summer as you reached the top of a peak.
When you’re surrounding yourself by a stunning natural habitat, you want to be able to remember that moment forever. But the best cameras for hiking have some extra features, that you might not have considered you’d need. To help you make your decision, and frame your memories perfectly, we’ve collected together our reviews of the best cameras for hiking.
In a hurry? Here are the test winners after 10 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best cameras for hiking on the market today:
There are loads of things we need to consider when buying a camera even just for everyday purposes. Price is the first one. Depending on the amount of use and wear and tear you think you’re going to expose your camera to, you might want to be realistic about the price tag, or invest in a camera that’s really hardy. Lenses are also something that always need to be considered.
You might want to opt for a hybrid camera, for example, where one of the biggest selling points is the interchange lenses. Or you might want to consider the manual controls available on that model, or extra features like an electronic viewfinder.
When finding the best camera for hiking, there are a few extra things you need to take into consideration. On a hike you pick your gear with extreme care, making sure that everything that’s on you will stay strong and will be able to withstand any weather condition, or a few knocks.
And the best camera for your hiking purposes is no different. You’ll need to find a camera which is waterproof, for example, if you often go out hiking in the rain or the snow. You might want to get a camera with a great viewfinder for perfect landscape photography. Or perhaps one that steadies any kind of commotion, and won’t result in blurry images, if you’re still panting after running up a hill.
No matter your hiking routine, there’s a camera to perfectly suit your needs. To help you make the right decision for you, we’ve compiled our top reviews, that will help you find the perfect camera for your hike. Whether you go climbing up mountains in the snow, trudge through forests in the rain, or laze along sandy beaches in the blazing sun: we’ve got you covered.
Best Camera for Hiking – Overview
1. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD
- Advanced 24.2MP back Illuminated 35 millimeter full frame image sensor
The biggest selling point of the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is speed. This is what will set you apart from the crowd when photographing the nature on your hike. With 24.3MP detail and the world’s fastest auto focus 6, even if you’re hiking and shooting at the same time, you’re more than likely to get a perfect, focussed shot. And it’s so fast that you’ll be able to capture images of birds and other wildlife easily, even if they’re on the move. The a6000 can shoot 11 photos in one second, meaning you’ve got all the tools in your arsenal to get that perfect shot.
Another stand out feature of this model is that it packs a punch. With all of the power of a much larger DSLR camera, this camera is a super compact Mirrorless camera that’s about half the size and weight of a typical DSLR. What makes it the same spec as larger camera is the APS-C image sensor which is the same size as most DSLRs. So when it comes to versatility, the Sony Alpha is king.
It’s small and portable, hardly adding any extra weight to your backpack, but the quality of your images will be a professional standard. This model also will bring you gorgeous low light photos with ISO range of 100-25600, offering exceptional low light performance: perfect for catching the last little bit of the sunset.
- 24.3MP detail
- world’s fastest auto focus6
- APS-C image sensor which is the same size as most DSLRs
- Half the size and weight of most DSLRs
- Gorgeous low light photos with ISO range of 100-25600
- Record HD video
- 3.0″ 921k dot LCD tilts for high and low angle framing
- Not waterproof
2. Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera
When it comes to professional standard cameras, Nikon is always a brand you can rely on. They’re trusted by professional photographers worldwide for the quality of their lenses, and the images they capture. One element of this camera which makes it perfect for hiking is its powerful zoom. Perfect for trying to capture an image of some wildlife over the other side of a valley, for example.
Its super telephoto NIKKOR glass lens with 40x optical zoom, and a mind-boggling 80x Dynamic Fine Zoom, gives you the zooming power you’ll need. And with its Lens-Shift Vibration Reduction (VR), you’ll not even need to worry about it being blurry, and this keeps your shots steady which is crucial at such long distances.
If you want to create a video of your hike, this camera could be the choice for you, with the possibility of recording 1080p Full HD video using the flip-up LCD. Another excellent feature is that you can connect this camera to a smartphone via Bluetooth, meaning your videos and photos will be instantly synced, avoiding the risk of filling up that memory card before the hike is over.
Another feature which is perfect for hiking, is the display. The COOLPIX B500’s large, tilting LCD display makes it easy to compose your shots and monitor your video recording, no matter if you’re walking up a hill, balanced on a tree or a rock trying to get the perfect shot.
- 40x optical zoom, and a mind-boggling 80x Dynamic Fine Zoom
- Connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth
- Large, tilting LCD display
- Can record 1080p Full HD video using the flip-up LCD
- Not waterproof
3. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 V 20.1 MP Digital Still Camera
- ELECTRONIC VIEW FINDER: retractable Tru-Finder EVF provides sharp resolution, bright self-illumination, and high contrast to view shots and adjust settings through a ZEISS T* coated eyepiece.
If you’re a serious photography nerd, and you don’t mind splashing out on really advanced kit, then this could be the perfect option for you. With an uber-fast 0.05-second autofocus, this model will save you oodles of time. Instead of waiting for the perfect shot, and for your camera to focus, just aim and shoot! This cutting edge autofocus is really one of the best on the market.
It also offers the world’s fastest continuous shooting speed at 24fps3 w/ autofocus and auto exposure tracking to ensure exceptional high-speed photography. And with an advanced electronic viewfinder, the hard work is done for you, meaning you can perfectly capture the stunning landscape you’re surrounding yourself in.
And this is the main selling point for this camera, especially if you’re looking to capture wildlife images. With the super-fast autofocus, you’re far more likely to get the money shot. With 315 Auto Focus points, this camera offers the most comprehensive phase-detection coverage in a compact camera. For capturing wildlife which is far away, this camera is where it’s at.
With 315 densely arrayed phase-detection AF points, offering the widest possible coverage (65% of new image sensor’s image area) for consistent AF and tracking, even of small, fast-moving wildlife. And if you’re close up to a wild animal you want to capture, but don’t want to be detected, never fear: switch to electronic shutter and the deactivate sound to get close and shoot subjects silently, even using continuous shooting mode.
- World’s fastest 0.05-second autofocus
- exceptional high-speed photography
- 315 Auto Focus points
- Shutter sound can be deactivated
- Brightness Control Manual 5 steps, great for all weather conditions
- Very expensive
- Not waterproof
4. GoPro HERO — Waterproof Digital Action Camera for Travel with Touch Screen
- 2 inch touch screen: Quickly switch between modes, frame; The perfect shot and check out your footage on the 2 inch touch screen
If you’re a serious adventure seeker, and love to combine your hikes with other activities like swimming and skiing, then a waterproof camera like this GoPro is a must-have. With a GoPro, you can seamlessly capture your adventures, no matter what weather condition. GoPros are virtually indestructible!
The weather-sealed design is waterproof up to 10 meters, even with a 2-inch touch screen. This is an extremely durable camera that will survive almost anything you throw at it. This is a great option for adventure seekers with a smaller budget: there’s minimal risk this camera will break, and it’s a lot cheaper than other options out there, while still taking great quality videos and photos.
Another great feature of the GoPro Hero is the hands-off approach you can take to it. With voice control, responding to simple commands like “GoPro, start recording” and “GoPro, take a photo”, you can take more time enjoying the things that really matter: like taking in the natural habitat around you, or adventure-seeking.
It’s also super simple to save your photos and videos, as wifi and Bluetooth both connect to the GoPro, and the GoPro app, which allows you to control your camera remotely, check out your wide angle shots and share your favorite on the spot. It can also auto-upload photos from your phone to the app, saving you storage space, and creating for you fun, shareable videos automatically.
- 2-inch touch screen
- Waterproof up to 10 meters
- Voice control allowing you to operate the GoPro remotely
- Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity and free storage on their app
- Adventure ready
- Perfect backpacking camera
- Shockproof, dustproof, crushproof, freezeproof
- Doesn’t offer the same zoom as some models
- The autofocus isn’t as fast as DSLR
5. Canon PowerShot SX740 Digital Camera
- 40x optical zoom with optical image stabilizer and zoom framing assist
If you’re looking for a camera that behaves like a DSLR, and delivers the same quality images, but you don’t want the price tag attached, then this model by Canon is a great compromise. Canon is also a trusted brand for professional photographers, so you know you’re investing in a quality product. With an impressive 40x optical zoom and an Optical Image Stabilizer, you’ll get sharp, steady results. It also boasts high-resolution 4K video recording, unlocking a world of possibilities with beautiful colors and stunning detail.
One of the biggest benefits of this model for hikers is how light and compact it is. At 2.5×4.3 inches, and weighing just over ten ounces, you won’t feel the extra weight or size of this camera on your hike. This is especially important for those of you who like going hiking and backpacking for many days on end. A few ounces can make a whole world of difference in a hiking camera, so saving weight with your camera model could make your hiking experience that much more enjoyable.
- 40x optical zoom
- Optical Image Stabilizer
- 4K video recording
- 2.5×4.3 inches: super portable and lightweight
- Mid-price range
- Small camera body, perfect for backpacking trips
- Not waterproof
- Zoom and image quality not as good as with more expensive DSLRs
6. Panasonic Lumix 4K Digital Camera with 30X LEICA DC Vario-ELMAR Lens F3.3-6.4, 18 Megapixels, and High Sensitivity Sensor – Point and Shoot Camera
- 30x (24-720 millimeter) Leica DC lens optical zoom performance is ideally suited for travel and everyday photography
This is another option for a camera that is mid-price range, light and portable, but really delivers with high-quality photos. Despite coming in a small package, and a relatively cheap one at that, this camera packs a punch. With a 30x (24 720mm) LEICA DC Lens optical zoom performance it is ideally suited for travel and everyday photography. Although not as strong as the zoom of some of the models we have reviewed, this will be more than enough to capture far off wildlife, or to frame the perfect vista.
Another benefit of this camera is that it captures really vivid colors, meaning you won’t miss any of the splendor of the sunset, or the colors of the leaves in fall. This is also a great choice for sunny hikes. Harsh sunlight can make even the brightest camera screens difficult to view. The LUMIX ZS60K Viewfinder activates automatically when you lift the camera to your eye, so you can see every detail and capture the shot you’re looking for. This camera also captures 4K video, meaning you can get picture-perfect and video perfect hikes!
- 30x (24 720mm) LEICA DC Lens optical zoom performance
- LUMIX ZS60K Viewfinder activates automatically when you lift the camera to your eye
- 4K video
- Lightweight, small and portable
- Post focus option
- Not waterproof
- Not as powerful as DSLRs
7. Sony a7R II Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
- World’s first Full-frame 5-axis in-body image stabilization optimized for 42.4MP full-frame, 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning
Another option for serious tech and photography nerds is the Sony a7R II. This great camera is really an investment, and should only be considered if you’re willing to take very good care of it, and ensure it’s not in any way damaged on your hike! But for the highest quality, professional photographs, a model like this one from Sony, with interchangeable lenses, allows you to take the best photo possible.
To understand the full extent of the quality of this camera, check out the full product description on Amazon. It comes with full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor with 42.4 MP, 5-axis in-body image stabilization optimized for 42.4MP full-frame, 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, Fast Hybrid autofocus with 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF pts, 2.4-million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder w/ ZEISS T* coating… and the list goes on.
At this price point, you’ll need to be a true camera nerd to both understand, and be willing to cover, the true value of this product. But rest assured, this model is tough, made from a magnesium alloy body. It’s also easy to use, with its 3 inch LCD tilting screen.
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- Back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor with 42.4 MP
- Fast Hybrid autofocus with 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF pts
- High-end durable design and high shutter speed
- 3 inch LCD tilting screen
- Good camera with powerful zoom lens
- Very expensive
- Not ready for extreme adventures
So, what’s the best camera for hiking? The answer, of course, is subjective. Depending on how much of a photography nerd you are, how much you’re willing to spend, and how adventurous your hikes usually are, whether you’re a backpacker or a day tripper, the camera that will suit your style depends case by case. But here we have offered you 7 different options of the best hiking cameras to suit any budget, and any hiking style.
From those who get involved in thrill-seeking, adventure sports, or who know they’re likely to take their camera for a dip, go for the GoPro or another option with weather sealing. But if you’re looking for a great image, and are ready to take good care of your camera, the options for you open up.
Bonus tip: Check out this useful video for some inspiration on capturing mountain landscapes!