One of the best aspects of backpacking is all of the beautiful sights that you get to observe. Nature is full of breath-taking scenery and fantastic sights to take in. To capture these sights and memories forever, it’s a great idea to bring along a backpacking camera. Lightweight, portable backpacking cameras allow you to take high resolution photographs and videos during all of your outdoor adventures.
The best backpacking cameras are:
- GoPro Hero 7 – Best Overall
- Sony DSCWX220/B Digital Camera
- Campark ACT74 Action Camera
- Akaso Brave 4 Action Camera
- Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera
The 5 Best Backpacking Cameras
Capture your outdoor adventures and remember them forever! When you venture out on your next camping or hiking trip, bring one of these high-quality backpacking cameras along for the journey. Let’s take a look at the five best backpacking cameras, as well as the features, pros, and cons of each.
Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera
The Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera is a great option for backpacking photography or videography. Olympus has been a well-known manufacturer of fantastic cameras since 1919, over 100 year ago. Unlike our other top picks, the Olympus TG-5 is not an action camera, but is instead a point and shoot camera. It’s waterproof, shockproof, and features a large 3-inch LCD screen. The camera has a hi-speed CMOS sensor and it can take photos with a resolution of up to 12 MP. Additionally, it films high quality video in 1080 HD.
What We Like
- The sturdy body and waterproof exterior; the camera is also crash proof for up to 220 pounds of force and shockproof.
- You can take up to 340 photos or record up to 50 minutes of video in HD, on a single charge with the Olympus TG5 camera.
- It features a bright F2.0 lens.
- The camera features a GPS, a compass, and temperature settings; there’s also a zero-lag capture mode and nighttime mode, so you can take photos or record video, regardless of what exterior outliers you can’t control.
- This model features a CMOS contrast-detection feature as well to help improve the resolution and quality of photos, regardless of what you’re taking pictures of.
- You can take up to 20 fps for shooting photos back to back.
- There’s a data log mode that’s great for backpackers and campers to see where they’ve been and Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to share images/video from anywhere.
What We Don’t Like
- The waterproof rating is only up to 50 feet; so, it’s nowhere near as deep as the other cameras we’ve included in our review.
- Reviewers claim the LCD cracks easily, even though the manufacturer claims the 220-pound crash-proof rating should protect the body and screen.
- Unlike the action cameras, this camera does not come with a protective action-proof case. You should definitely invest in a protective case before going backpacking.
Akaso Brave 4 Action Camera
The Akaso Brave 4 Action Camera is another great backpacking option. The Brave 4 is an action camera, similar to GoPros, but at a much more affordable price-point of less than $100 USD. The camera has great reviews and, in its price range, it is an undisputed fan favorite with glowing reviews from owners. I cannot stress how valuable the photo and video quality are for the price. Video is captured at a resolution of up to 4K UHD (ultra high definition). For photographs, the Brave 4 features a 20 MP lens that is comparable to GoPros and many entry-level professional DSLR cameras.
What We Like
- Video is recorded at a resolution of up to 4K UHD at 24 frames per second. Options include 4K at 24fps, 2K at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps.
- The camera can record high-definition slow motion (1080p at 60fps).
- Optional viewing angles are set between 70 and 170 degrees, and it features an anti-shake design, so your photos will come out crisp and clear.
- The sports camera features Wi-Fi and HDMI connectivity ports, allowing users to share their photos and video immediately as they capture it.
- It has a 2-inch IPS screen and it’s waterproof up to 100-feet in depth.
- You’ll receive a helmet mount if you want to affix the camera to a helmet while driving, underwater diving, or riding a bike at fast speeds.
- The included 19-piece accessory kit provides a waterproof case, two batteries, a wrist strap, and many more convenient attachments. The camera can also be operated while it is inside of its protective case.
What We Don’t Like
- Concerns with the battery life are noted by several reviewers who claim the battery indicator says “low battery” after only a few minutes of use.
- Issues with audio playback on the videos you record are also made by reviewers; they also indicate the quality of the video is not 4K as the manufacturer claims it is.
Campark ACT74 Action Backpacking Camera
Similar to the Akaso, the Campark ACT74 Action Backpacking Camera is another high-quality action camera that’s sold at a very affordable price point. At under $50 USD, he Campark ACT74 is one of the best selling action cameras on the market and is a fan favorite of those just dabbling in photo and video as a hobby. The camera has the typical action camera look, with a very similar shape and case as the Asako Brave 4 and GoPro Hero Action Cameras. With a 170 degree ultra wide angle lens, the ACT74 captures beautiful 16MP photographs as well as 4K video at 30 frames per second.
When the camera is inside of its clear case, it is waterproof up to a depth of 100 feet (30 meters).
What We Like
- It captures photographs at 16 MP.
- Video recording options include 4K at 30fps, 2.7K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 fps, and also 1080p at 60 fps, which is great for HD slow motion.
- It has an optional wide-angle lens, spanning 170 degrees and a 2-inch HD screen; you have multiple ways to shoot/capture photos.
- You can control the camera with your phone in real-time; it includes a Wi-Fi remote.
- It’s compatible with iOS as well as Android and you can instantly stream and share video/photos on social media.
- It’s waterproof to a 100-foot depth, allowing divers, swimmers, or other underwater enthusiasts to do more with the camera during their backpacking, hiking, camping, and outdoor adventures.
- It includes a mount for helmets so you can go hands-free when capturing photos or video.
- The camera comes with an additional extra battery.
What We Don’t Like
- It’s waterproof, but only up to 100-feet, so not nearly as good as the GoPro.
- Customers indicate the quality of the photos and video are grainy; not as good as the manufacturer claims they will be.
Sony DSCWX220/B Digital Camera
Similar to the Olympus TG-5, the Sony DSCWX220 Digital Camera is not an action camera, and is instead a great point-and-shoot style digital camera. Sony is well-known for making fantastic cameras, and they perform exceptionally well at night or in situations with low light. The Sony DSCWX220/B features an impressive 20X zoom lens and 10X digital zoom to capture photos at a distance, which is fantastic for photographing wildlife.
With an 18.2 MP CMOS sensor, this camera captures pictures at prosumer DSLR quality. Additionally, the camera utilizes Sony’s excellent “BIONZ-X engine” to reduce noise and distortion when shooting in low light situations. It records video at 1080HD at up to 60frames per second, which is great for both regular and slow motion video.
Since the DSCWX220/B is a point-and-shoot digital camera, it does not include the clear waterproof case that is typically included with most action cameras. You should definitely purchase a protective case before taking it backpacking or hiking. As long as it’s safe and sound, this is a fantastic camera for backpacking, hiking, or camping.
What We Like
- It’s suitable for any conditions and can operate in temperatures between 32 and 104 degrees F.
- Records video in 1080p at up to 60fps for both regular and slow motion in HD.
- It’s Wi-Fi and NFC compatible, so you can share photos or videos instantly.
- The camera captures video at a rate of 10 fps (frames per second).
- You’ll get up to 210 photos or 105 minutes of video recording, on a full charge.
- The camera comes with a wrist strap, charger, and other accessories, so you’re ready to go right out of the box.
- It’s slim and lightweight, so it won’t weigh you down.
What We Don’t Like
- The case isn’t as durable as the GoPro Hero, nor is there mention of it being water/weatherproof.
- Customers complain that even at 18.2 MP, the photos turn out blurry with this camera.
- It performs well in low light, however, doesn’t do the same justice in brighter settings.
GoPro Hero 7 – Best Overall Backpacking Camera
That’s right, you probably guessed it! Overall, the best backpacking camera is the GoPro Hero 7 Action Camera. This camera is fantastic, I own it and I love it. I bring it on every camping, hiking, or backpacking trip that I take. Price wise, the Hero 7 is a bit more expensive than our other top backpacking camera choices, but it’s still very affordable — and it’s definitely worth the money.
The GoPro Hero 7 is absolutely top of the line when it comes to video quality in a compact camera. It records video in 4K at up to 60 frames per second. When it comes to slow motion, it truly cannot be beat, recording 240fps at 1080p HD for insane slow-motion. For photography, it captures images at 12 MP.
In addition, this camera is packed with a ton of amazing features. To name a few: hypersmooth stabilization to remove shaking, HDR superphoto technology, 720p live streaming, timewarping, and 8x slow motion. Perhaps most impressive is the voice control, which allows you to control the camera via voice commands.
What We Like
- Smooth video recording and the GoPro predicts movement to help capture incredible shots/video.
- It records 4k video at up to 60fps.
- It can record 8x slow motion in HD, with the insane ability to capture 1080p at 240fps.
- You can create films with time warp and time-lapse features.
- The camera instantly applies HD-settings to capture the best photos, noise reduction, and will enhance your shots for you; even beginner and novice photographers will marvel at their creations.
- It’s waterproof with a rating of up to 33-feet; it’s also shatter-proof and shake-proof, and rugged. You can drop it from 20 feet above-ground, and the camera won’t dent.
- Hands-free voice command allows you to record footage with your voice.
- You can live stream on Facebook and share with family/friends immediately.
- The photos are captured in 12 MP resolution, that’s in line with higher-end models.
What We Don’t Like
- The battery drains quickly.
- Consumers claim it overheats quickly if used for long periods.
Backpacking Camera FAQs
What does “sharp” refer to when taking photos with a backpacking camera?
A “sharp” photo refers to one where you can see the most finite details and greatest resolution. To take “sharp” photos while backpacking, hiking, or even underwater, megapixels are an important factor to consider.
How do I pick the right camera?
To choose the right camera, there are several things you should consider, including:
- Your budget.
- The brand of the camera.
- Whether you plan to use it for videography, photography, or both.
- Where you plan to use the camera.
- Battery life.
- If you need to take photos underwater or near water.
- How high up you plan to shoot from (shatterproof body)
- If you prefer a touchscreen or point and shoot.
There are several aspects you need to consider. For a backpacking camera, we recommend a compact camera with a rugged body and a waterproof design. It’s also important to consider the quality of photographs and videos you wish to capture. Generally, a more capable camera will cost a bit more than a camera that captures lower quality images.
What does FPS mean and why is it important?
FPS refers to frames per second. When shooting video, the fps is the number of images that the camera captures per second. Typically, Hollywood movies are filmed and viewed at about 24fps (23.976), and most video around 30fps.
When it comes to action cameras, fps is specifically important for slow motion capabilities. To capture slow motion video, the footage is filmed at a much higher fps and then played back at a lower, normal fps. For instance, since the GoPro Hero 7 can record at 240fps, it allows you to slow down footage much more than other small digital cameras.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing a Camera for Backpacking
So what makes a camera good for backpacking? Let’s take a look at the most important features you should consider when choosing a backpacking camera.
As you’ll note with all of our top camera choices, they’re durable. You want a camera that can withstand shock and won’t break or chip if you drop it from your hand or scratch it against a tree branch/limb. You can’t control your external conditions when hiking, backpacking, camping, or swimming. You need a camera that’s as rugged as you are, and can go along with whatever it encounters when you’re taking photos or shooting video
A waterproof case is an important feature to consider. All of the action cameras we recommended, as well as most other action cameras, come equipped with a waterproof case. The deeper the camera can go (like the GoPro), the better! A waterproof camera allows you to safely capture photos while swimming, diving, or kayaking on the lake. In addition, you’ll also be able to use the camera while it rains.
Compact Body & Design
You do not want to choose a camera that weighs 7 pounds and accessories that weigh 15 pounds. This will slow you down, plus it’s going to be impossible to attach lenses and sensors fast enough to capture the shot you want to capture. Look for lightweight and easy to transport when choosing your camera.
Ability to Shoot Video & Take Photos
For the adventurer in you, there are times you’re going to want to record a fun adventure, hike, or marvelous scene that photos simply can’t capture in the same light. If this is the case, you’ll need a camera capable of recording video and taking photos. And, if possible, you’ll want to choose a camera that records in 4K or 1080p resolution, at worst. Also, consider the megapixel resolution for photos; if possible, choose a camera that can take photos that are 10 to 12 MP or greater for the best detail in the shots you take.
So, what’s the final verdict? The best camera for backpacking, hiking, and camping is the GoPro Hero 7. We own and we love it. It’s fantastic, especially for capturing high-quality video during your trips.
A good backpacking camera is a great way to capture and cherish the memories of your outdoor adventures. If you backpack with friends and family, a camera allows you to capture photographs and video of moments filled with fun and laughter. You can take beautiful shots of the forests, mountains, and wildlife. You can save photos to your computer, or print them and frame them. The possibilities are endless, so pack your backs, get out there, and take some photos!
What camera do you bring backpacking? Is there a great camera that we should have included? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!