I have been writing this blog for a few years now, and while we often review hiking routes, one thing we haven’t ever done is to video the hiking routes that we’ve walked. This is something that we’re going to explore this year, but it does bring up the next question, what the best backpacking camera?
If you’re anything like me, there has probably been a time when you have been out on the trail and seen something you wished you could take a cool picture of to post online. Having a hiking camera for backpacking is a good way to capture some memories while out on the trail. Depending on how much money you are willing to spend, your camera options can range from a small point-and-shoot model to a full-frame SLR with high-resolution capabilities.
Today we are going to talk about the best cameras for hiking and backpacking. We will talk about some of the features that you should look for in hiking backpacks, and then we will talk about which ones are the best. If you don’t want to read the whole review and simply want to know what the best backpacking camera on the market, then take a look at the latest GoPro Hero9. Personally I think it’s a fantastic bit of kit, that needs to be in your backpack.
Best Camera – GoPro Hero9
Its firmly the best for my needs. Most importantly its basically bullet proof, it takes great video, great pictures and what I like the most, you can take pictures from the videos you’ve taken. This year, if we ever get back outside, I want to start taking videos of my route, the go pro allows this and most importantly, offers stability to iron out those bumps and create a smooth video that you could actually watch.
Overall, its a great model.
What to Look for in a Backpacking Camera
Here are a couple of key things to look for in a backpacking camera.
- Size – You can’t go hiking with a massive studio camera. Hiking cameras are normally designed with space in mind and so are made to be small and compact. A good hiking camera should be able to fit right in the side pockets of your backpack or your pants pockets.
- Battery – You should be able to get a decent amount of shots of a single battery charge. A typical battery will allow between 200-300 pictures before dying. Many hikers bring multiple batteries so if one dies, they can switch it out for another. If your camera features a big LCD screen, then it will drain the battery faster.
- Megapixels – Camera resolution is measured in megapixels (1 mpx = 1 million px). A typical hiking camera is capable of about 20 mpx resolution. The higher the resolution, the more battery the camera will consume per shot and the more data each shot will take up on your photo card.
- Storage – Most modern digital cameras store pictures on a removable microSD card. The typical 128 gig microSD card can hold about 35,000 pictures so you should never really run out of space when taking photos.
- Features – Different shoot modes, lighting adjustment, portrait mode, timer shots, and more are all useful features that you want in a camera. If you are a beginner, then you may not need all the fancy tools and setting, but more experienced photographers will appreciate them.
- Weight – Like size, weight is important too. A hefty DSLR camera will weigh you down more than a simple point-and-shoot model. Either way, though, cameras hiking cameras are generally not very heavy.
Can I Just Use a Smartphone?
The honest answer is that you probably can, however I would highly recommend against it. While smartphone cameras have improved over the last few years, they are still missing a few really useful features such as stability adjustment, which turns a bumpy walk into a smooth video, simply through the software used.
No smartphone all camera will match the fidelity and resolution of a high-quality digital camera. So if you want to get amazing, high-resolution shots, then you should look for a dedicated camera. A dedicated camera will likely have more features and be able to capture better quality shots than a smartphone.
Finally, I use my smartphone as part of my emergency response. I know that if I have a problem in the countryside, firstly I have my emergency kit containing my Two-Way Radio – Motorola TLKR T92 Licence-free radio, but I also have my smartphone with both GPS and internet. The problem is when you have used all your battery trying to take pictures or video of your climb, only to find out that you now need to make a phone call because you have an emergency.
Best Backpacking Camera
It’s a tough question as to what is the best backpacking camera on the market as it really depends on your needs and what you’re looking to take pictures and video of, and in what locations. Personally, I have bought the GoPro Hero 9. Yes, I had thought about a DSLR or a point-and-shoot, but the thought of dropping it and the repair bill involved doesn’t bear thinking about.
Hero Black GoPro 9
I have bought the new Go Pro 9 for a few reasons, but basically, its a 5 x 7 x 3cm, action-packed camera that has been designed with a 2.27-inch rear screen, a 1.4-inch front screen and a 20MP 1/2.3 sensor. All this allows for up to 5K Videos, 12Mb pictures and a whole host of features to make life easy. Everything from HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilisation helps keep video stable when you’re walking to Horizon levelling, Oh and it’s water-resistant down to 10m.
What I love the most about the new GoPro is the ability to shoot a 5K Video of a horizon, play the video back at a later date and pull out any pictures you want simply by scrolling through frame-by-frame using the GoPro app on your phone. For someone who is useless at taking pictures, this is a great feature to have. I also love the removable lens. Firstly, this means that if you scratch the lens, you don’t have to send it back to GoPro for repairs and can simply repair it with a new lens. It also means you have a super-wide lens mode offering 155° of angle, which is great for taking landscape or hiking group pictures with the landscape in the background.
I mentioned features that I have not seen before on other models, they include; Horizon Levelling that automatically levels the horizon and scheduled capture, which basically means you can set your GroPro to wake-up and take aa picture itself. This means rather than you waking up at 5 am for a morning sunrise, you could set it to take a picture automatically. It’s possible to combine this mode with Duration capture, which allows you to take pictures over a duration.
Overall, for me, it’s exactly what I wanted. Best of all, GoPro’s are basically bulletproof. I have dropped it, kicked it and once took it diving where we went well below 10-meters, and it still works.
GoPro HERO7 Digital Action Camera
I appreciate the GoPro 9 Black Edition is rather expensive and as such a cheaper idea could be to go for a slightly older model. The GoPro HERO7 Digital Action Camera. GoPro has become very well known for its outdoor use cameras, and the HERO7 is a durable and compact model that is great for the trail. The GoPro is capable of pure 4k pictures and videos and is capable of 10 megapixels of resolution. So you can use it for taking pictures and for taking video of the wilderness.
The GoPro has a rugged design and is IPX7-certified waterproof, meaning that it can even operate completely submerged underwater. So you can snap photos no matter the condition without the worry of damaging the camera. The GoPro also has a lot of nice accessibility options. It has hands free voice commands for starting photos and videos and it has a built-in rechargeable battery. The battery can last for up to four hours on a single charge and comes with a standard USB-C cable for charging. You can also connect the GoPro to your smartphone to view photos, edit photos, and send them via messaging or social media.
When it comes to outdoor cameras, the GoPro is one of the best. The durable construction is designed for outdoor picture taking and it can handle a lot of abuse. It’s a good choice if you like to snap a lot of pictures on the trail.
Crosstour CT9900 Action Camera
Up next on our roundup is the Crosstour CT9900 Action Camera. Like the GoPro, this camera is capable of recording and taking photos in crystal clear 4K HD. The Ultra-HD camera features a touch screen on the back for setting up photos and has video capabilities of 60fps for smooth video. The 2″ touch screen is highly sensitive, and the entire camera body is compact. It can easily fit in your backpack or pocket while out on the trail.
The Crosstour CT9900 also uses an advanced Intelligent Electro Image Stabilization that uses a gyroscope to centre the frame on moving objects, so there is no motion blur when capturing action shots. You can even use this feature in a full 4K resolution. The Crosstour is also 100% waterproof and can be used underwater up to 40 meters. So you can even use it as a diving camera for taking pictures underwater.
One last amazing feature of this camera is the eight times zoom feature and the bracket hole mounting. If you have a tripod, you can connect the camera to get more stability for your shots. You can use the camera entirely without any mount or tripod either. The Crosstour runs on a 2,700 mAh rechargeable battery that can take up to 300 pictures on a full charge. It’s a great camera for taking out on the trail and snapping some pictures.
Olympus Tough TG-6
If you don’t want a portable camera and want a traditional point and shoot, then check out the Olympus Tough. I’m not sure it’s for me, and not something I would recommend, but if you’re looking for a camera that is rugged, waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof and even crushproof, it could be a good option for you.
I have had so many cameras sat in a bag that accidentally gets dropped or gets wet, and the amount of cameras that have been broken over the years through being dropped is wild. The piece of mind of not worrying about the value of your camera is fantastic and well worth the extra price.
The camera is totally waterproof down to about 50 feet, dustproof and due to its rugged designed crushproof. The camera is now in its sixth-generation and features a 12 Megapixel sensor, 4X optical zoom lens and numerous sensors to help record information such as picture location and even depth underwater.
As an added benefit, the camera can record full 4K movies at HD 120 FPS, and battery life is a good well, allowing for approximately 340 Images or around an hour of video is you’re using both the zoom and other operational functions.
Why don’t I recommend it? It’s quite expensive, and the pictures are no better than my phone or the GoPro above. Surely I would just buy a go pro and save the hassle.
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
If you want to for-go the rugged camera casing and simply take a point-and-shoot camera, I think the best option is the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. The great thing about a point-and-shoot is it’s difficult to a better quality of picture when compared to the unit price. Yes, you can buy a mirrorless camera or DSLR (see below), but they’re likely to be three times the price and three times more fragile. If you drop your bag down the side of a slope with your DSLR camera inside, you could be in for an expensive day.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is the second generation of the original G7X and overall great point-and-shoot camera. Remember, this camera has not been designed for the countryside. If you drop it, it will break and will be expensive to repair. The camera comes with a compact metal casing with a 3-inch touchscreen LCD on the rear. The lens is a 20.2Mega-Pixel lens offering an ISO range of 125-12800 and a maximum aperture range of F1.8-2.8. While it can record video, it can only record at 1080p at 60FPS.
Overall it’s a decent camera, and I highly recommend it if you don’t want my first choice.