When you’re out on the trail, soaking in the wonders of nature, it’s natural to want to stop and capture the beauty surrounding you. Whether you enjoy taking photos as a fun pastime or are an aspiring photographer, finding the best camera for backpacking is a must if you’re going to be taking lots of snaps while out on the trail.
If you’ve just started hunting for the best backpacking camera and aren’t sure what to look for, or your old camera just died, and you want a quality replacement to serve you for many trails ahead—you’ve come to the right place.
Keep reading to discover what you need to look for when picking out the best camera for backpacking, plus the top 5 selections that newbie and expert photographers alike will love.
Let’s get down to business!
The top 5 camera for backpacking we recommend for 2021:
Here’s what you need to know to select the best camera for backpacking for your on and off the grid photography needs.
Before diving into elements like the key features you should look for when hunting for the best camera for backpacking, there are some initial considerations you’ll need to take into account. Consider, what is your experience with cameras and outdoor photography? Do you simply like to point and shoot or do you really want to spend quality time learning how to use and take professional outdoor photos?
You should also consider your usage needs when selecting the best camera for backpacking. Are you just going to be taking photos for recreational use only or do you need them for work (a blog, for example)?
You also want to take into account the amount of gear you’re willing to bring on the road with you in addition to things like your tarp or tent, sleeping bag, and so forth. You need to consider the cost and extra weight of securing and insuring camera gear besides the actual camera itself, such as lenses, a tripod, a drone, or any other equipment you might require.
By considering your experience, usage needs, and gear requirements, you’ll have a much easier time picking out the best camera for backpacking that is right for you.
The first feature you need to think about when hunting for the best camera for backpacking is the size of the device. You’ll most likely be carrying a moderately sized backpack regardless of the length of your trip, and you won’t just be transporting your camera and its associated gear either. So, you need to take into account the other gear you’ll be packing and consider how much space will be left.
Smaller cameras are easy to transport and could potentially fit in your pocket, making them an excellent choice for recreational photography. Larger cameras that necessitate a carrying case and extra equipment might be ideal for more professional usage, but they will increase the overall weight of your gear.
Likewise, you’ll also want to consider the weight of the best camera for backpacking. Smaller devices are typically lighter while cameras with more bells and whistles like DSLRs will naturally be heavier.
Another key feature to keep in mind is the battery life of the best camera for backpacking. A camera’s battery life is defined by the number of snaps you can get from a single battery charge. Professional travel photographers typically bring more than one battery on the road with them, as taking tons of snaps can wear the battery out fast.
Most camera batteries will serve you for about 200 to 300 photos, but you’ll also want to contemplate bringing a spare battery if you’re going to be taking frequent snaps. Of course, the additional battery will add extra weight to your gear.
The two main types of cameras you’re going to see when hunting for the best camera for backpacking are DSLRs and point and shoots. DSLR cameras are definitely more expensive than the point and shoot variety. They are pretty bulky to boot and will most certainly weigh down your gear. That said, DSLRs are the best camera for backpacking in terms of the quality of the photo snaps. If you intend to take professional shots, you’ll probably want a DSLR.
DSLRs are also designed to give the photographer plenty of options for zooming close on the photo subject. What’s more, DSLRs take incredible videos that are HD quality, with some even sporting a microphone jack for enhanced sound.
On the other hand, if you’re not too concerned with taking super professional snaps while out on the trail and really just want a camera that will take some nice photos for your personal collection, a point and shoot camera might be just what you’re looking for. Point and shoot cameras are far more cost-effective than DSLRs while being much smaller and easily portable.
You can carry a point and shoot camera with ease in your pack without feeling overbulked or weighed down. The quality of point and shoot cameras certainly isn’t bad, and you’ll still get some nice snaps for your personal photo collection. Just know that point and shoot cameras don’t have the same color range, focus options, and depth as DSLRs. Again, if you’re more interested in trail photography for recreational use, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Check out the top 5 best cameras for backpacking, and keep reading to discover our top pick from the list!
Our first pick for the best backpacking camera is the classic Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera. We love this model because it is just as lightweight as the best point and shoot cameras, but features high-quality capabilities like the best DSLRs, making this choice a hard one to beat. We love the compact size of the Sony Alpha a6300 too, along with its durable design that will last you for many backpacking trips to come.
The camera features an exceptional image sensor with super speedy autofocus that allows you to snap 11fps at 425 phase detection autofocus points. The camera sports a 24.2-megapixel capacity and weighs just 14.8 ounces, so you won’t notice much of a difference if you end up carrying it in your gear. The exterior is weather-resistant to boot, which is great if you run into any inclement weather.
We were really impressed by this camera’s magnesium design with a durable hand grip so the device won’t slip out of your hand. You won’t have any issues tracking your subjects, as the camera’s 2.4 million-dot Tru Finder mechanism offers the accuracy and speed of an optical viewfinder.
If you liked our previous best camera for backpacking option but are a little unsure of the design and/or price, the Nikon D7200 might be just what you’re looking for. The camera is a quality choice for both newbie and seasoned photographers, with a DSLR design that really stands the test of time. We like the quality of the camera’s autofocus mechanism, which produces quality images while still being intuitive and easy to use.
The camera is one of the heavier options on our list, weighing in at 1.49 pounds, but its exceptional battery life, durability, and 2.8 x 2.5 x 2.5-inch megapixels help make up for this fault. The CMOS sensor offers 24 megapixels, allowing you to take beautiful snaps just about anywhere with minimal noise or distraction.
We were also impressed by the ISO settings and low-noise functionality that make this camera an excellent pick for nighttime photography. The camera sports integrated Wi-Fi sharing capabilities, so you can upload your photos right away.
The Ricoh GR II Digital Camera made it to our list of the best cameras for backpacking for its incredibly lightweight 9.6-ounce design that performs like a dream and has fantastic, speedy focus. We like how portable this camera is while being really cost-effective too. If you’re looking for a quality option that will take some nice photos without breaking the bank, you may have found your match.
The camera sports 16 megapixels, which is definitely lower than some of our previous picks. That said, the camera still takes photos of exceptional quality and sports a huge image sensor with a 28-35mm lens. The image sensor is DSLR quality, with swift focus and anti-aliasing functionality. We really like that you can shoot 1080p HD quality videos with this camera, giving you plenty of flexible usage options while out on the trail.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is the best camera for backpacking for its super lightweight 5-ounce design and great photo performance. We were definitely impressed by the build and autofocus capabilities of this camera, with its quality image stabilizer and 3.3 x 1.7 x 4.8-inch design.
The primary downside with this best backpacking camera is that is one of the pricier options on our list, but its live MOS sensor and 40-megapixel resolution is something to consider. We just love its 5-axis photo stabilization which means you won’t have to worry about blurry photos, with a sharp autofocus capability that rivals some of the best on the market.
We were happy to see that this camera has a weather resistant exterior that wards off damage from dust, water, and cool temperatures, making this camera a highly durable choice as well. The camera is also very aesthetically pleasing, with silver elements and a quality LCD screen.
Our final pick for the best camera for backpacking is another product by Sony, the RX100 IV. We picked this one for its speedy autofocus, compact design, and ease of portability. Weighing in at just 10.3 ounces, the Sony RX100 IV is a smaller model with 20-megapixel resolution and a quality lens. We liked the viewfinder with its pop-up design, making this camera an ideal pick for nighttime shooting.
The lens of the camera is a force to be reckoned with, with 24-70mm elements that give you high-resolution images full of vibrant color. We also liked the CMOS sensor that is steady and takes great videos. The camera is fast and low-noise too, so you won’t have to worry about being distracted when trying to catch the perfect snap.
So, who made it to the top of the list? It was a close call, but in the end, our favorite was, without a doubt, the Nikon D7200. We loved the affordable price and user-friendly design that makes this the best camera for backpacking for seasoned and novice photographers alike. We were duly impressed by the Nikon D7200’s autofocus quality, with extended battery life and high level of durability.
The 24-megapixel resolution and low-noise levels when the camera is in use were both huge bonuses for us. With exceptional ISO settings and integrated Wi-Fi sharing, great longevity of use, and really intuitive design, the Nikon D7200 takes first place as the best camera for backpacking.