Best Hiking Camera – Lightweight Backpacking Camera Buyers Guide

best_hiking_cameraThere is so much more to hiking than just staying fit. By engaging in it you get the chance to explore nature and see amazing scenery and features of nature. What’s a better way to safeguard your hiking memories than bringing a camera along?

The market is filled with camera models, but not all of them are identical hiking partners. During hiking, it’s essential to keep weight as low as possible and also save backpack space for things that can’t be left behind.

Hence, hiking cameras should be lightweight, small, but without any compromises in its picture-producing capabilities. Moreover, since hiking can get rough, suitable cameras should be strong enough to make it through difficult conditions unharmed.

To help you decide which hiking camera to buy, we reviewed the top five of them currently on the market.

What Makes a Top Rated Hiking Camera?

Size:
You would want to have the camera readily available while hiking since you will only have mere seconds to snap a great shot of birds, animals or other moving themes you may encounter. To do so, you would have to keep it in your jacket pocket, your backpack’s hip belt pocket or your pants’ side pocket. This can only happen if the camera is small enough.

Weight:
Who would want to carry heavy things during hiking? We guessed nobody, that’s why we only included lightweight models.

Durability:
Hiking cameras should withstand scraping and shaking. This is achieved through the use of special materials. The cameras in our review are fairly robust.

Image quality:
Those in-the-know, know that you can’t have professional photography without certain trade-offs. To have top image quality, you need a large camera. For our review, we picked cameras that achieve the best compromise between performance and size.

Best Hiking Camera Reviews

 Canon SX710Olympus TG-3Panasonic ZS50KSony a5100Panasonic G7X
canon_powershot_sx720_hs_reviewolympus_tg-3_tough_reviewpanasonic_lumix_dmc-zs50k_30xsony_a5100_mirrorless_digital_cameracanon_powershot_g7_x_digital_camera
Weight0.59 lb0.53 lb0.62 lb0.62 lb0.67 lb
MP20.21612.12420.2
ZoomOptical 30xOptical 4xOptical 30xRequires lensOptical 4x
Video1080p1080p1080p1080p1080p
ViewfinderNoneNoneEVFNoneNone
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

#1. Olympus TG-3 Tough Review

Full HD video recording, waterproof and high performance lens, all in a camera that can withstand harsh environments

olympus_tg-3_tough_reviewFeatures and specs:

  • 4X wide-angle optical zoom with fast f2.0 high-speed lens
  • Waterproof to depths of 50 feet, Freezeproof to 14 degrees F
  • Shockproof to 7 feet, Crushproof to 220 lb.
  • RAW capture, Live Composite, Underwater modes with Underwater HDR
  • Wi-Fi / GPS / e. Compass
  • 1080P HD video

The Olympus TG-3 Tough is a premium camera, specifically made to withstand extraordinary conditions.

It sports an impressively durable construction that can take up to 100kg of force. Moreover, the camera can resist drops from up to 2.1 m and has no problem operating in very cold environments, as low as -10 C, or even underwater.

What’s more, it offers hikers with two extremely handy features: a digital compass and a GPS receiver. The latter not only tags your photos with geo-location data but also gives you valuable information about your coordinates and altitude.

The former helps you navigate by giving you your current heading.

The Olympus TG-3 Tough also includes a built-in WiFi module, which enables it to connect to other devices, such as a smartphone for remote operation. You can adjust auto-focus, zoom and a few other settings remotely through the phone app. This camera takes clear, high-quality photos in general. Macro was really well and auto-focus responds amazingly fast. For more advanced users, the Olympus TG-3

Tough supports multiple settings towards improving your pictures. This camera is our definite recommendation to anyone who needs a robust, premium piece of equipment for his hiking endeavors.

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Robust
  • GPS
  • WiFi

#2. Panasonic DMC-ZS50K LUMIX 30X Review

Takes amazing photos set for a camera that fits in a pocket, good viewfinder and 30x zoom

Features and specs:

  • LUMIX 30X Travel Zoom Camera with Eye Viewfinder
  • Enhanced low-light sensitivity for improved sharpness even without a flash
  • Built-in eye viewfinder eliminates outdoor glare on sunny days

panasonic_lumix_dmc-zs50k_30x

The Panasonic DMC-ZS50K LUMIX 30X is not specifically targeted to sports, but its low weight and small size render it a convenient choice for mountaineering, hiking, and similar activities. This model sports a 30X Zoom Leica Lens, which enables it to shoot amazing photos even from large distances.

Even in limited lighting conditions, the camera’s High Sensitivity MOS sensor significantly boosts image quality while saving energy at the same time. Great anti-blur performance is ensured via the embedded optical image stabilizer.

This feature is very smart because it is often difficult to keep a steady hand during hiking. It also helps keep images of moving objects focused and clear. The camera also includes a live viewfinder and a control ring.

The ring is very convenient since it is lens-mounted and enables control of focus, zoom, and exposure. The viewfinder helps a lot when using the LED screen is problematic, such as under bad lighting conditions.

The camera has an ambient light sensor, which lets it switch between the viewfinder and the LED screen automatically.

Although the Panasonic DMC-ZS50K LUMIX 30X is not specifically designed for such activities, we strongly recommend it to any hiker who is interested in taking excellent photos during his hikes.

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Size
  • Images/videos quality
  • WiFi

#3. Sony Alpha a5100 Review

Image quality is excellent both for stills and video thanks to the large sensor that’s packed inside the rather small camera body.

sony_a5100_mirrorless_digital_camera Features and specs:

  • Ultra-fast autofocus with 179 AF points and 6Fps
  • Capture life in high resolution with 24MP APS-C sensor
  • Instant sharing via smartphone with Wi-Fi® and NFC1
  • Record Full HD 1080/24/60P video3 up to 50MB/s

As with the previous model, the Sony Alpha a5100 wasn’t’ specifically designed with sports in mind, but since it’s small and lightweight, it can be a great companion for your hiking and mountaineering endeavors.

If your primary concern is top image quality and you have no problem to sacrifice robustness to achieve it, then this camera is for you. This camera sports a fast and accurate autofocus, full HD videos, 24-megapixel high-resolution images, and excellent performance under low lighting.

It is very convenient to use on trails since it can fit in the palm of your hand and has a zoom lever that is very smartly positioned. In addition, the camera’s flip-up touch LED screen allows for easy and precise selfie snapshots.

The Sony Alpha a5100’s advanced connectivity features negate the need of carrying cables along the way –you can send the pictures to your phone via WiFi. NFC can be used for a fast pairing of the camera to your phone.

The Sony Alpha a5100 is an amazing camera and one that most would fit people who favor image quality over sturdiness.

Pros:

  • Touchscreen
  • Image quality
  • WiFi
  • NFC

#4. Canon PowerShot G7 X Review

Takes beautiful clear pictures and has an amazing zoom for such a small camera.

canon_powershot_g7_x_digital_camera

Features and specs:

  • New 1.0-inch, 20.2 MP High-Sensitivity CMOS Sensor combined with Canon’s powerful DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • f/1.8(W)-f/2.8(T), 4.2x Optical Zoom (24mm-100mm), 9-blade iris diaphragm and IS equipped lens
  • Selfie-ready multi-angle capacitive 3.0″ touch panel LCD
  • Capture stunning 1080p/60p Full HD video with up to 60 fps
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC

The Canon PowerShot G7 X’s extremely small size allows the camera to sit comfortably in one hand. Its characteristics include DIGIC 6 processor, 20.2 megapixels CMOS sensor, 4.2x optical zoom and video recording in Full HD.

The DIGIC 6 processor and CMOS sensor and are Cannon’s proprietary technological innovations and are responsible for the clear, hi-res images that this camera produces, even under bad lighting.

The optical zoom lets you take sharp shots from large distances. This is also made possible by the additional aid provided by the embedded optical image stabilizer.

The Canon PowerShot G7 X also includes WiFi and NFC functionality, for easy image sharing without cables.

After pairing it with your Smartphone, you also take control of the camera’s self-timer, shutter, zoom and flash remotely.

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Image quality
  • WiFi
  • NFC

#5. Canon D30 Review

Fast taking pictures and has a large viewer that works well in daylight and underwater.

canon_powershot_d30_waterproof_digital_camera

Features and specs:

  • 12MP 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 28-140mm F3.9-4.8 equivalent lens with optical image stabilization (5x optical zoom)
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 3″ fixed LCD with 461,000 dots
  • 1080/24p HD video plus super slow motion video at 640×480 (H.264)
  • Waterproof to 25m / 82′
  • Shockproof to 2m / 6.5′

The Canon D30 is a sturdy camera, designed with ergonomics in mind, and targeted towards people who like to spend their time in the outdoors or engage in physical activity of almost any kind.

The camera is waterproof up to 25 meters below the surface, while its special casing can shield it from the difficult conditions of a hiking trail. It can withstand cold temperatures down to -10C and can also survive drops from up to 2m.

If you don’t want to spend too much time adjusting it, the camera includes 32 preset settings corresponding to different conditions that ensure high-quality images in a variety of situations. With the embedded GPS chip, the camera will tag your photos with geo-location data.

On the other side, the Canon D30 lacks wireless connectivity options, which is its biggest disadvantage. Nevertheless, its affordable price makes it a great choice for those who require a good compromise in a rugged piece of equipment.