There are 2 camps when it comes to hiking photos: those that never take a picture and just soak it all in and the rest of us. For the rest of us, it’s nice to take photos to share the trip and save the memory.
Many small cameras out there are easy to take hiking or there’s the one already in your phone: your phone. If you’ve got a phone, should you even take a separate camera?
We dig into those questions here with some suggestions for other great hiking cameras.
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The GoPro Hero 8 Black is a very small camera great for hiking
Hiking Camera Buying Guide
No matter how big or small your camera for hiking is, you’ll want it to have good battery life. If it doesn’t, you’ll be stuck carrying around battery packs so you don’t miss the shot. Plenty of cameras have great battery life and can last days taking hundreds of photos.
Try to find a camera with a battery that can last your entire trip. It’s always good to have a spare though. Vide takes a lot of battery power and you never know when you’ll want to take a timelapse or another mode that chews through battery power.
Size and weight
The size of a camera you want to carry is entirely up to you. You may not want to carry a DSLR that weighs a couple pounds but a phone or small point and shoot is ok.
Something like a Canon t7i is 747 grams ( 26 oz) whereas the Elph 180 point and shoot comes in at 111 grams (3.92 oz). If you’re looking at a smaller point and shoot, you might want to ask if your phone just would do the same thing. There are certainly cases where you don’t want to take or use your phone though. I’d much rather lose a cheap camera in the water than my phone.
Olympus Tough TG-6 waterproof camera
Most cameras are not waterproof. Some of the more expensive models will have weather sealing meaning they can withstand snow and rain for long periods of time.
There are specialized models like the Olympus Tough TG-6 that are completely waterproof. The TG-6 will go down to 15 metres (50 feet) without any issues.
Action cameras like the GoPro Hero 8 can go in the water without a case down to 10 meters (33 feet) as well.
How are you going to hold it?
I don’t recommend holding a camera in your hand the whole time you hike. If the camera is buried in your pack, you probably won’t dig to find it often. Have it accessible.
There are many straps and cases that can hold your camera while you hike. Small cameras can fit in hip belt pockets or small pouches. Bigger cameras need to be attached with a Cotton Carrier, LowePro Front Pouch or something similar. Peak Design Camera clips also work well.
For more details on holding a camera see 5 ways to carry a DSLR camera hiking.
Best Cameras for Hiking
With it’s stellar cameras the iPhone 11 is hard to beat for a camera hiking. With multiple lenses and portrait mode you can get some solid shots. If you’ve got a good camera on your phone, you may just want to take that.
Where the phones fall down is having the manual options to really get a good long exposure of a waterfall or a dark trail. Phones don’t typically have large zoom lenses to get far away pictures either.
GoPro Hero 8 Black
Action cameras have come a long way since the first GoPro. Their still images are pretty good but their video is really where they shine. If you want to have an all-in-one package that’s got very good video, is waterproof and can take some pictures, the GoPro Hero 8 Black is nice lightweight do-it-all camera.
If you’re looking to get exceptional pictures with some video, a larger mirrorless camera like the Canon EOS RP is a bit more to carry but will get far better photos than most cameras.
The RP is compatible with all Canon lenses but natively fits their new RF lenses which are extremely sharp but a bit on the pricey side. If you do want to get the best photos hiking check out the RP or it’s big brother the EOS R.
Sony RX100 II
For some solid photos in a point and shoot package, the Sony RX100 VII will get you there. It doesn’t have the interchangeable lenses like the larger mirrorless cameras will but then you don’t have to deal with the size and weight. Your wallet might not be happy to see the price though. It’s going to cost you the same amount as a larger DSLR camera.
We dig into the best cameras you can take hiking (or mountain biking or SUPing for that matter).
- LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II Backpack ReviewAn old but solid backpack the ProTactic 450 AW II camera backpack from LowePro is a favourite among photographers. It’s… Read More »LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II Backpack Review
- GoPro Hero11 Black Camera ReviewEvery year we get another Hero action camera as GoPro shows us why they’re the king of action cameras. And… Read More »GoPro Hero11 Black Camera Review
- GoPro Hero 8, 9, 10 and 11 Compared: Which is Best?GoPro 8, 9, and 10 (and soon to be 11). What do the features mean and which one is best?
- GoPro Hero10 ReviewCan action cameras really get that much better every single year? Well, yes. They have so far. The GoPro Hero10… Read More »GoPro Hero10 Review
- Akaso V50 Pro SE Action Camera Review
The Akaso V50 Pro SE is a cheaper action camera that doesn’t skimp on video quality.
- GoPro Hero 5 Found After 9 Months in the Ocean
If only GoPros could talk.
- GoPro Hero 9 ReviewGoPro has done it again. When there doesn’t seem to be anything more to pack into one of the smallest… Read More »GoPro Hero 9 Review
- Sony RX0 II Camera ReviewThe line between travel cameras, action cameras, vlogging cameras and just a “camera” is blurry these days. There’s a lot… Read More »Sony RX0 II Camera Review
- DJI Osmo Action Camera Review
Dual-screen 4K action camera from DJI.
- GoPro Hero8 Action Camera ReviewThere are 3 kinds of cameras these days. Phones are obviously the biggest category now as many people just have… Read More »GoPro Hero8 Action Camera Review
- Cameras for BackpackingThere are 2 camps when it comes to hiking photos: those that never take a picture and just soak it… Read More »Cameras for Backpacking
- One simple way to keep your camera at your fingertips while hikingImagine you’re out on a 3 day hike with some friends. The weather is good, the scenery is amazing and… Read More »One simple way to keep your camera at your fingertips while hiking
- Canon T1i Camera ReviewI’ve never really been a photographer. I’m still not actually but I’m working on getting there. Before digital cameras I… Read More »Canon T1i Camera Review
Cameras don’t make great images, photographers do. Getting a decent camera for hiking is just the beginning to taking epics shots on your adventures. We’ve got a ton of great tips on how to make the most of your shots out adventuring.
- 5 Ways to Carry a DSLR Camera on Outdoor AdventuresThey say that the first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one. Okay, I’ll admit it. I can’t stand to leave… Read More »5 Ways to Carry a DSLR Camera on Outdoor Adventures
Other Backpacking Gear
You’ll need more than just a stove to head out backpacking. Here are buying guides to all the other gear you need for backpacking.
- Free Ebook: Backpacking Gear for BeginnersThere’s a lot of stuff you can take backpacking. But not all of it you should. Every wish there was a book that listed out… Read More »Free Ebook: Backpacking Gear for Beginners
- Backpacking StovesIf you want a warm meal on your backpacking trip then you’ll need some way to cook it or at least heat up the water.… Read More »Backpacking Stoves
- Cameras for BackpackingThere are 2 camps when it comes to hiking photos: those that never take a picture and just soak it all in and the rest… Read More »Cameras for Backpacking
- Headlamps: How to Buy One for HikingWhen the lights go out in the backcountry, it’s dark. Like really dark. If you want to do anything safely after dark, or get that… Read More »Headlamps: How to Buy One for Hiking
- Backpacking Tents: Everything You Need to KnowSmall, light backpacking tents are what most people use for shelter when they’re out backpacking. There are other options like hammocks and tarps but they… Read More »Backpacking Tents: Everything You Need to Know
- Backpacking Packs: Everything You Need to KnowSmall backpacks are great for day hikes and travelling but when it comes to staying out in the backcountry for multiple days we need something… Read More »Backpacking Packs: Everything You Need to Know
- Hiking Boots
Everything you need to know about hiking boots
- GPS for Hiking
Answers to all your questions about GPS units and phone apps.