As professional photographers who also run an online photography course, we get a lot of questions from readers about what kind of camera would be best for them.

Of course, the answer is invariably – it depends! Not just on factors like budget and what you want to take pictures of, but also on when you want to use your camera and where you want to take it.

With this in mind, we’ve put together this guide specifically for the best cameras for hiking and backpacking.

I do quite a lot of hiking, and the camera equipment I put together when heading out for a hike is different to that which I might use for other situations. Weight becomes a very deciding factor!

As well as hiking, I have many years of backpacking experience, and I know the constraints that come with keeping all your gear on your back when travelling the world.

A high end DSLR camera with multiple lenses might produce great images in a variety of environments, but it’s also going to be a challenge to carry around, and might be harder to keep safe when backpacking on a budget and staying in shared accommodation.

Taking all this into account, I’ve put together this guide to the best cameras for hiking and backpacking, across a variety of budgets. We’ve also included a section on what to look for when choosing a camera for hiking and backpacking, so you know what specifications and features to look for when picking a camera.

 

What to look for in a Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

Before going into our specific camera recommendations for hiking and backpacking, I want to share some ideas of what to look for in a camera. This will help you decide which camera is best for you, and will give you the knowledge you need to make a decision.

When you know which features to look for and which are important for you, then you can make the right decision about which camera is best for you. It might not even be one on our list, and that’s fine too – the important thing is that it’s the right camera for your specific needs.

Here’s what to look for in a camera for hiking and backpacking.

 

Price

Of course, one of the first considerations you will have is your budget. How much money you have to spend will likely make the biggest impact on your purchasing decision.

Cameras are available in a wide range of prices, from a couple of hundred dollars through to thousands of dollars. For a camera for backpacking and hiking, you might not want to get an ultra high-end system costing thousands of dollars.

The risk of damage or loss to your equipment when hiking needs to be considered against an expensive equipment purchase. The same can be said when backpacking. It’s also worth noting that high end more expensive equipment often isn’t covered by general travel insurance policies which have relatively low single item limits. So if you want insurance that covers your gear against loss, theft or damage, you might need a special policy to cover more expensive camera equipment.

Of course, this is an individual decision, and if you’re happy to spend a bit more to get a camera that meets your needs, then go for it! We’d say that you should be able to get a good camera for hiking or backpacking in the USD $400 – $1000 range. We’ve also provided some more budget and high end options to consider.

 

Weight

When you are hiking or backpacking, you are carrying all your gear with you all the time. So weight becomes a key consideration for everything you choose to bring, and your camera is no exception.

This is why you might decide against packing a bulky DSLR or larger mirrorless camera with you. Whilst these will likely produce better quality images, the trade-off of having to carry them might be too great for you.

If you purchase a camera system with interchangeable lenses, you will need to consider the camera body as well as the lens (or lenses). Some lenses can weigh quite a lot, and this will quickly add to your overall load.

When thinking about the weight, it’s important to consider the whole package rather than just the weight of the camera body and any lenses.

If you need spare batteries because the camera only takes a small number of photos per battery, then you might be better off with a slightly heavier camera that can take more photos per charge, as you won’t need to carry spare batteries.

The battery charger will also take up weight in your bag. Some cameras charge via USB, meaning you can likely use a USB charger and cable that you already have, further reducing how much space it takes up.

How much weight you are happy to carry is up to you. It will also depend on the type of trip you are taking – for shorter day hikes you might be happy carrying a heavier camera, whilst multi-day hikes and longer backpacking trips you might want a lighter camera.

Whatever your choice, we’ve provided a variety of camera options across a range of weights for you to consider.

Sony RX100 V Compact Camera for hiking and backpacking

 

Weatherproofing

A feature to definitely consider when looking for a camera for hiking and backpacking is whether or not the camera has any weatherproofing features.

Whilst not the same as being fully waterproof, a weather sealed camera will have a number of features to protect it from both water and dust. These usually include rubber seals and additional engineering to protect the camera and stop water from getting inside your camera.

Water inside a camera is usually a bad thing, and can cause corrosion as well as entirely stopping it from working.

It’s also possible to get fully waterproof cameras that can be used underwater to a certain depth. Depending on where you’ll be using your camera, these can be a good idea for general use as well if you think you’ll be hiking a lot in wet or tropical conditions.

We would suggest that for hiking and backpacking, where you can get caught out in all kinds of weather conditions, a camera with some form of weather proofing features can be a good investment. If you plan on taking your camera into water, or to generally wet and humid environments, consider a fully waterproof camera.

 

Zoom

We’re now going to cover a number of technical specifications that you need to consider when buying a camera. First of these is the amount of zoom that the camera offers.

If you’re buying a compact camera, the optical zoom will usually be described as a number, for example a 3x optical zoom, or a 40x optical zoom. The larger the number, the more the camera will be able to zoom in on far away objects.

We’d usually advise a minimum of a 3x optical zoom for a camera to give you some flexibility with your photography. If you like to shoot wildlife, then you will want a much bigger zoom, anything from 10x – 40x would be better.

If you are considering a camera that lets you change lenses, like a mirrorless or DSLR camera, then the zoom of the lens is denoted with a number called focal length. The smaller the focal length of the lens, the less the zoom, and the greater the focal length, the greater the zoom.

For general travel use, we’d suggest a lens that goes between around 18mm and 200mm will cover most situations well. If you don’t find yourself shooting far away subjects that often, then 18mm to 70mm will suffice.

Note that as a rule, a longer zoom length results in a heavier camera. So zoom and weight are two factors you have to trade off against each other.

 

Aperture

One of the sides of the exposure triangle in photography is the aperture. The aperture is the hole inside the camera lens which light passes through to hit the sensor, and larger apertures allow more light through.

A camera with a lens that has a wider aperture will let more light in, and it will be better in situations where there is less light available. This will make the camera more useful in a variety of shooting situations, such as indoors, or when you are shooting in a darker environment outdoors.

Versatility is key for a camera for backpacking and hiking, where you have a wide range of potential scenes to shoot.

The downside of a larger aperture is that is often restricts how much zoom the camera can have. To have a wide aperture lens that also offers a long zoom requires a very heavy and large lens, which is not ideal for hiking or backpacking.

Ideally you would want a lens that has an aperture around f/2.8 for hiking and backpacking, with a minimum of f/5.6.

The closer the number is to 1, the wider the aperture. However, many zoom lenses will have an aperture of around f/5.6, which lets a lot less light in.

Again, it all comes down to compromise. If you want a long zoom lens with a wide aperture, it will be expensive and heavy. If you want a light lens with a wide aperture, it won’t offer as much zoom.

Read more about aperture and how it affects your image in our guide to the exposure triangle.

 

Sensor Size

You might be wondering why different size cameras matter, and what it is about a larger camera that allows it produce higher quality images.

Well, one major factor is that a larger camera can fit a larger sensor inside it. The sensor is the component inside the camera that the light hits, and which saves that light information as a digital image.

Larger cameras have room for larger sensors, and as a basic rule of thumb, a larger sensor will produce better images than a smaller sensor. This is particularly the case when shooting in lower light situations, as a larger sensor can capture more of the available light.

The downside of course is that a larger sensor costs more to produce, and also requires a larger camera body to house it in. It also requires larger lenses. So overall a larger sensor will generally result in a camera system that is heavier and more expensive than a camera system with a smaller sensor.

Again, this all comes down to personal preference as to what is important to you in terms of price, weight, and image quality. Here’s an image that shows different sensor sizes for comparison, which you can use as reference as we go through the post.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking
Image source: Wikipedia, shared under creative commons by user Moxfyre

 

Battery life

Battery life is a key consideration for hikers and backpackers, especially as you may be away from a power socket for a prolonged period of time.

Most cameras have an official rating for how many photos the camera will take with a fully charged battery. At the lower end of the scale a camera might be able to manage around 200 shots on a full charge, and at the higher end a camera might be able to shoot around 1,300 images.

Generally, DSLR cameras are the most battery efficient, because you can take pictures with the optical viewfinder and don’t need to power the screen. Even a low cost DSLR camera should be able to manage 600 – 1,300 photos on a single charge.

Mirrorless cameras and compact cameras use more battery as a rule. This is because they have to power the screen, as well as any motorized zoom function. This uses up the battery a lot.

Of course, you can always carry extra batteries, but these add weight. Our suggestion is to try and find a camera for hiking and backpacking that will manage at least 400 shots on a charge, or that takes very small batteries to make up for it. This should get you through up to a week of travel – depending on how many photos you take of course!

 

Manual Controls

Another consideration you’ll want to think about is whether or not the camera offers manual controls over things like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, as well as settings like focal point, the option to shoot in RAW and so on.

If you want to take more creative control over your images, then manual controls are a must. If you are happy to let the camera do the work for you, then manual controls are not so important.

We prefer to have a camera with full manual controls, but of course everyone is different. It’s also not a major differentiator that is specific to hiking and backpacking, but it is something to look out for.

Generally, smartphones and budget compact cameras do not offer manual controls, whilst high end compact cameras and all DSLR and mirrorless cameras do.

If you choose a mirrorless or DSLR camera, then we recommend just packing one lens to save on space and weight. So you will want to make sure to get a versatile lens – see our guide to some of the best travel lenses for an idea of what is available. You might also want to choose a camera that has a good lens selection so you can add additional lenses later for more versatility. Some cameras can use third party lenses which are often a good budget option.

For our recommended cameras with interchangeable lenses, I will recommend a lens that might be well suited for hikers and backpackers.

 

Additional features

Naturally, there are many more features that a camera can have which may or may not be important to you when choosing a camera. For example, you might want a touchscreen, or a screen that rotates and tilts away from the body of the camera.

You might like the camera to have WiFi, bluetooth, or GPS tagging features. Maybe you prefer to have specific dials for controlling different functions. Maybe you want a camera that has image stabilization or is great for video.

If you are looking for video, then you will definitely want a camera that support 4K video for high quality, as well as a good autofocus system for tracking your subjects. A flip screen can also be very helpful for video if you want to film yourself. Other features like being able to support an external microphone will come in handy for higher quality audio to go with your videos.

I would say that these are less important features when it comes to picking a camera for hiking and backpacking specifically, but of course your needs will vary. So do be sure that if you really want a camera with a specific feature, that you prioritize that when making your final decision.

 

The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking

This is our list of the best cameras for hiking and backpacking. It is roughly ordered by budget, with the less expensive cameras first, and the more expensive cameras towards the end.

For those cameras with an interchangeable lens, we’ve also recommended a good versatile lens that might pair well with the camera specifically for hiking and backpacking.

 

Canon PowerShot Elph 180 IS

If you just want a basic point and shoot camera that doesn’t cost too much but will get reasonable results, then the Canon Powershot Elph 180 IS is a good option.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking
It offers an 8x optical zoom, image stabilization, a 20MP 1/2.3″ sensor and a variety of scene modes. At this price you only get 720p video, and there are no features like a touchscreen or weather sealing. However, you could easily purchase a little waterproof compact camera bag for it for some protection against the elements.

The main downside is the battery life, which is quite limited at 220 shots, although this is not unusual for a compact camera at this budget.

Weight: 4.44oz / 126g
Battery life: 220 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

 

Panasonic Lumix ZS70

Stepping up to a slightly more premium compact camera now, the Panasonic Lumix ZS70. This offers a number of upgrades to justify the price.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking
To start with, this camera offers an impressive 30x optical zoom, letting you get a lot closer to far away subjects. That lens is optically stabilized with Panasonic’s excellent 5-axis O.I.S. image stabilization system, to help counteract any small hand movements. The aperture varies from f/3.3 – f/6.4.

The sensor is a 20MP 1/2.3″, and the camera has a touchscreen tilting LCD as well as an electronic viewfinder, which is relatively rare on a camera at this price point. It also has built-in WiFi and support for 4K video, as well as manual controls and full RAW support.

Battery life is good for a compact camera, offering 380 shots per charge if you use the rear screen, and 250 shots if you use the viewfinder. It also charges via USB, so you don’t need to carry an extra charger.

The main downside is that all those features and the longer lens do make it a little heavier than some models, and it has no weather sealing. However, we think it’s a great option for a hiking or backpacking camera.

Weight: 11.36oz / 322g
Battery life: 350 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Olympus TG-6

If you want a camera that can really stand up to pretty much anything you can throw at it, then you need to consider the Olympus TG-6.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

This is a waterproof camera (down to 50ft) that also happens to be dustproof, crushproof (to 220lbf), shockproof for falls up to 7 feet, and freezeproof down to 14 degrees F (-10 C).

It’s also packing a GPS, a pressure sensor, temperature sensor, and a compass! Of course, there are some camera specifications too. It has a 12MP 1/2.3″ sensor, and while that might not sound impressive, it does allow the camera to perform better in low light as each pixel on the sensor is relatively large.

The lens offers a wide f/2.0 aperture and a 4x optical zoom. The screen is fixed in place and it’s not touch-enabled. It does not have full manual controls, but you can shoot in RAW.

It’s also fairly lightweight, and lasts for a solid 340 shots per charge. The battery is charged via USB, saving on having to carry a battery adaptor. It also supports 4K video.

Weight: 8.80z / 250g
Battery life: 340 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

GoPro Action Camera

If size is everything, then you will definitely want to consider a GoPro camera. These super compact cameras are rugged and waterproof down to 33ft / 10 metres, and offer a range of photo and video modes.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

The GoPro Hero7 Black has a 12MP 1-inch sensor, which is larger than cameras thus far in our list, and means it offers good low light performance. The aperture is fixed at a relatively wide f/2.8, and there’s no zoom, which might be restricting depending on what you want to take photos of on your trips.

The screen is a touchscreen, and the camera offers RAW support but no manual controls. That said, it does offer a wide range of video and still photography modes, and if action is what you are trying to capture, this is definitely a great option.

It even supports voice commands, has WiFi capabilities, and can live stream to online platforms like facebook. The built in video stabilization has to be seen to be believed.

At 4oz, it’s the lightest option on our list. I’ve not been able to find battery life for still photos, but the estimates for video are around an hour. So don’t expect it to last too long. It does charge via USB though.

If an action camera like this sounds good to you, check out my guide to the best action cameras for more options.

Weight: 4.1 oz / 116g
Battery life: N/A
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Google Pixel 3a

Ok, a bit of a curveball here. If you don’t want to invest in a dedicated camera, or don’t feel that you will carry it around with you all day, then you should invest in a smartphone with a great camera.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

The chances are that you will carry a smartphone with you everywhere you go, and the best camera is always the one you have on you.

The Google Pixel 3a is a fantastic camera phone, especially for the price. It has the same camera system as the more expensive Google Pixel 3, which is currently our travel smartphone of choice. It takes fantastic pictures in all lighting situations, including in low light, when it switched into a low light mode.

The camera is a 12.2MP f/1.8 camera that supports video up to 4K. It also have built in image stabilization. It has no real optical zoom, and limited manual controls, but it does support shooting in RAW. Being a smartphone, it has a touchscreen, although unlike the Google Pixel 3 it is not water resistant.

Weight: 5.1oz / 145g
Battery life: Up to 30 hours
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here and B&H here

 

Sony RX100 range

If you’re looking for  a high quality compact camera, then we recommend checking out the Sony RX100 compact cameras.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

Currently there are seven iterations of this camera on the market, and we’d recommend specifically looking at versions IV, V, VI and VII. They all feature a 1-inch sensor packed into a relatively lightweight 300g / 10.5oz body.

The key difference between the models is price, as well as some of the features. The newest versions, version VI & VII, are the most expensive models, and features a tilting touchscreen as well as an electronic viewfinder and a stabilized 8x optical zoom with an f/2.8-f4.5 aperture.

Versions IV and V are available for a lower price, and they lose the touchscreen and the longer zoom, with a 3x optical zoom available. However, they both have a faster f/1.8-f/2.8 aperture, meaning they are slightly better in low light.

All three of the cameras offer full manual controls, RAW support, WiFi connectivity and a range of video options including 4K. Battery life varies from 280 shots on version IV to 220 shots on version V. None of the cameras offers weather sealing.

We personally have the Sony RX100 V, which we think is the perfect camera for when we don’t want to take our heavier mirrorless and DSLR cameras out with us. The main downside for us is that it doesn’t have a longer zoom. If you are on a budget, the earlier versions are also excellent value for money.

Weight: 10.5oz / 300g
Battery life: 220 – 280 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Canon Powershot G3 X

The Canon Powershot G3 X is a bit heavier than many of the other compact cameras on our list, but it has a number of features that we think make it a good contender.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

To start with, the Powershot G3 X has a 25x zoom lens with a relatively wide f/2.8 – f/5.6 aperture. It also has a 1-inch sensor with a 20.2MP resolution. The rear screen tilts, and is also a touchscreen, plus the camera has full manual controls and RAW support.

Perhaps most impressive is that this compact camera is weather-sealed, so you get water and dust protection. That’s excellent news for hiking and backpacking. It also has WiFi support.

The only omissions are a lack of 4K video support, and no electronic viewfinder (although you can buy one as an addon). It’s also not exactly light – but this is what happens when you combine a larger sensor with a longer zoom lens, and also throw in weather sealing.

Battery life is also not great at 300 shots between charges, although it does feature an eco mode which will stretch that to 410 shots. It also doesn’t support in camera USB charging, so you’ll have to carry an external charger with you.

Weight: 733g / 25.8oz
Battery life: 300 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

 

Panasonic G85

We’re stepping up a level now to some mirrorless camera options. These offer a larger sensor size and the option to switch lenses, but do weigh a bit more than a compact camera. However, you might prefer the higher image quality and lens choice they offer.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

First on the list is the Panasonic G85. This has a 16MP micro four thirds sized sensor, which is a little bit smaller than that found in a DSLR or some other mirrorless cameras, but is much larger than the sensor found in a compact camera or smartphone.

That means you get better images in lower light. The camera also features 5 axis in body image stablization, a 3 inch tilting touching screen, full 4K video support, manual controls, RAW support, WiFi connectivity and its even weather sealed.

All of these features added together make for a great camera for hiking and backpacking. It comes as a kit with a 12-60mm lens (24 – 120mm equivalent) which has an f/3.5 – 5.6 aperture. This is actually a solid lens for hiking and backpacking, and we’d recommend you get the camera with this lens. However, you can see some more of our suggested lenses for this camera in our guide to the best travel lenses here.

Battery life is reasonable, if not great, at 320 shots, and the camera weighs 453g / 16oz without a lens. The lens that comes with it weighs 210g / 7.4oz.

Weight: 453g / 16oz (no lens) 663g / 23.4oz (with lens)
Battery life: 320 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Sony Alpha 6500

Sony has been making excellent mirrorless cameras for a while now, and our guide to the best mirrorless cameras for travel has always featured a number of Sony models.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

We think that the Sony Alpha 6500 is a solid option for hiking and backpacking. It features a 24.2 APS-C sized sensor with in-body image stabilization, a tilting touchscreen, electronic viewfinder, and a weather sealed design.

Being a mirrorless camera, you get full manual controls and RAW support, as well as support for 4K video. It is often sold as a kit with this Sony 16-50mm lens (24 – 75mm equivalent) which has a variable f/3.5 – f/5.6 aperture.

This is a good option as it is relatively compact and lightweight, although you can see more travel lens options for this camera here. Another popular option is with the Sony 18-135mm lens, which will give you more zoom but also weighs more.

Battery life is OK, at 350 shots if you use the screen and 310 shots if you use the viewfinder. It also charges via USB.

The camera body weighs 453g / 16oz, and the Sony 16-50mm lens comes in at 116g / 4.1oz, making the whole package fairly manageable – especially for the image quality.

Note there are different variants of the a6xxx line, including the original a6000, and the a6300 and a6400. These offer different features. The a6500 is the only one to offer in body stabilisation, whilst all of them except the a6000 offer weather sealing.

It’s worth looking at all the different models to decide which is best for you, and they are available at a variety of price points. We think the combination of weather sealing and image stabilization make the a6500 the better option for hiking and backpacking, but the other models might be better for your needs and budget.

Weight: 453g / 16oz (no lens) 569g / 20oz (with 16-50mm Sony lens)
Battery life: 350 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Pentax K-70

The Pentax K-70 is a mid-range DSLR camera. When you think of DSLR camera, the primary manufacturers that likely come to mind will likely be Canon and Nikon. And they certainly make some excellent cameras, however, Pentax has a few tricks up its sleeve that mean their camera makes it onto our list.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking
The K-70 has a number of features that make it stand out as a solid mid-range DSLR for hiking and backpacking. First, it is fully weather-sealed, which is definitely unusual at this price point in an SLR. It also has built-in image stabilization. The camera also features a night vision mode for astrophotography, where the interface turns red to save your night vision, which is fairly unusual.

The sensor is a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, and there’s a tilting screen, although it isn’t touch enabled. Generally, it ships in a kit with an 18-135mm (27 – 200mm equivalent) f/3.5 – f/5.6 lens, which should work for most scenarios.

Battery life, whilst competitive compared to other cameras in our list, is poor for a DSLR at 410 shots. So you will likely need a spare battery. Battery charging is via an external charger, which is another thing to carry.

In terms of weight, a DSLR tends to be a heavier type of camera. You are looking at 688g / 24.2 oz for the body, whilst the 18-135 lens weighs 405g / 14.2 oz. This definitely makes it one of the heavier choices in our list.

Weight: 688g / 24.2oz (no lens), 1093g / 38.5oz.
Battery life: 410
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

 

Canon EOS 6D Mark 2

If image quality is your primary motivating factor, then you will want a full frame camera. These feature the largest sensors of all the cameras on out list, with the downside being that they need both a larger camera body and larger lenses to accommodate that sensor.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

Our first full frame recommendation for hiking and backpacking is the Canon EOS 6D Mark 2, which is a full frame DSLR camera from Canon. The original version of this camera, the 6D, is our current go-to full frame DSLR for travel.

The main reason we recommend this camera over others is that it’s one of the lightest full-frame DSLR cameras on the market. It’s also weather-sealed, and we think it offers excellent value for the money.

Specs wise, you get a 26.2MP full frame sensor, tilting touchscreen, optical viewfinder and built-in GPS, WiFi and bluetooth. You also get compatibility with all of Canon’s lenses and a huge range of third party lenses, which should give you options for whatever you like to take photos of.

It doesn’t support 4K video, which is a bit of an omission. It’s also lacking image stabilization for photos.

However, you will get 1,200 shots from a single battery charge, which is excellent. It weighs 765g / 27oz without a lens, which is actually remarkably light for a full frame DSLR. It often ships in a kit with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, which weighs 525g / 18.5 oz.

Weight: 765g / 27oz (no lens), 1290g / 45.5oz with 24-105mm lens
Battery life: 1200 shots
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Sony Alpha a7 II

Last but not least on our list of the best cameras for hiking and backpacking is the Sony A7 II – a full frame mirrorless camera from Sony.

The Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking

The a7 II has a lot of features that make it a good choice. First, it has a full frame 24.3 MP sensor which is noted for it’s low-light performance and dynamic range.

The camera offer 5-axis in-camera image stabilization, as well as WiFi, weather sealing, and 1080p video. It’s also relatively light at 599g / 21.1oz. The main downside is that the battery only lasts for 340 shots, although it does charge by USB.

You can pick up the A7II with a Sony 28-70 f/3.5 – 5.6 lens, which weighs 426g / 15oz, giving you an overall package that is relatively lightweight for the incredible performance. Do bear in mind though that whilst it is lighter than the 6D above, you will need to carry more spare batteries.

I think it’s worth mentioning that there is a newer model of the a7 II, the a7 III, which is more expensive.

However, it does have more than double the battery life, at 710 shots. It also has an improved sensor, better autofocus, support for 4K video, a touchscreen and two SD card slots. Whether these features are worth the price premium is up to you.

Weight: 599g / 21.1oz (no lens), 1225g / 43.2oz
Battery life: 340 shots (screen) / 270 shots (electronic viewfinder)
Price: 
Check latest price on Amazon here, B&H here, and Adorama here

 

Camera Accessories for Hiking and Backpacking

Now that you’ve picked out the perfect camera for hiking and backpacking, you might be wondering if you need some accessories to go with it.

Obviously, this is up to you, but we think you might find some of the following accessories useful.

 

Spare Batteries / Battery Charger

First, if you’re buying a camera which has doesn’t take more than around 400 shots in a single charge, we highly recommend picking up a spare battery for it. This will save you if you spend time away from a power source and don’t want to run out of battery power.

Another option, especially if your camera charges by USB, is to invest in an external USB powerbank like this, which you can use to charge your camera (and any other devices that charge by USB, like your phone).

If your camera doesn’t natively support USB charging, you might find that a third party manufacturer has made a USB charger for your batteries. For example, this is an option for many Canon cameras. This way you can still charge your batteries from a powerbank, even when you’re off the grid.

 

Lightweight tripod

As you get more serious about your photography, you will start to realise that you need a tripod for some of your shots. You can find out why you need a tripod here.

The good news is that there are some really lightweight tripods available on the market today. You can get a mini-tripod like this, or a larger but still very lightweight travel focused tripod like this.

Another option is to get a monopod which doubles as a hiking pole. Whilst not as capable as a tripod, the dual functionality can compensate for that.

 

Lens filters

We always recommend that you pick up at least a UV filter for your camera lens if it supports filters. This won’t affect the image at all, but it will at least protect the lens from minor scratches or damage, and replacing a lens filter if it does get damaged is a lot cheaper than replacing or repairing a lens.

If you want to achieve some fun effects with your camera, you might also consider buying a Neutral Density filter, which will let you take some long exposure photos. Of course, these are optional, but they can let you be more creative with your shots.

 

Bag

When you have picked your camera, we’d highly recommend you look at finding a good case or bag for it. Ideally this will provide some measure of shock protection, and maybe even some waterproofing.

Even a small compact camera will benefit from a case like this to keep it protected. Obviously, bigger cameras will need bigger bags to protect them. We use this backpack from Vanguard which carries all our gear and is comfortable for all day use.

 

Waterproof cover

Even weather-sealed cameras aren’t fully waterproof, so it can be a good idea to invest in some sort of waterproof cover for your camera or camera bag. This can be something as simple as a rucksack cover like this, which will keep all your gear dry, and not just your camera.

Alternatively, you could get a waterproof DSLR cover like this, which will let you keep shooting even when it’s raining.

 

Locks for your bags

If you are travelling and staying in shared accommodations, campsites or hostels, you might want to consider a small lock for your bag. Whilst it won’t keep a determined thief away, alock like this should deter an opportunistic thief from going through your gear.

 

Further Reading

That’s the end of our guide to some of our favourite cameras for hiking and backpacking. We hope you found it useful in your search for equipment.

Before you go, we wanted to share some other content we’ve written about photography that we think you’ll find useful. These cover a wide range of photography tips, as well as gear guides, and should help you improve your photography – whatever level you are at.

  • We have a beginner’s guide to photography to help you get started
  • Knowing how to compose a great photo is a key photography skill. See our guide to composition in photography for lots of tips on this subject
  • We have a detailed guide to the exposure triangle, which is a key photography concept to get to grips with
  • We have a complete guide to depth of field in photography with tips on what it is and when you would want to use it.
  • If you have a lens with a zoom feature, you can take advantage of something called lens compression to make objects seem closer together than they are.
  • We are big fans of getting the most out of your digital photo files, and do to that you will need to shoot in RAW. See our guide to RAW in photography to understand what RAW is, and why you should switch to RAW as soon as you can.
  • Whatever your camera, you’re going to need some way of editing your photos. See our guide to the best photo editing software, as well our our guide to the best laptops for photo editing
  • We have a guide to improving Adobe Lightroom Classic CC performance. It’s our favourite editing software, but can be a bit slow if not properly configured!
  • If you’re looking for advice on specific tips for different scenes, we also have you covered. See our guide to Northern Lights photography, long exposure photography, fireworks photography, tips for taking photos of stars, and cold weather photography for starters.
  • You may hear photographers talking about a concept called back button focus. If you’ve ever wondered what that is, and want to know how to start using it, see our guide to back button focus.
  • For landscape photography, you might find you need filters to achieve the look you want. See our guide to ND filters for more on that.
  • If you’re looking for a great gift for a photography loving friend or family member (or yourself!), take a look at our photography gift guide for some inspiration
  • If you want more camera gear advice, we also detailed guides to the best travel camera, as well as specific guides for the best compact camera, best mirrorless camera and best DSLR camera. We also have a guide to the best camera lenses for those using mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
  • We have a detailed guide to how to use a DSLR camera
  • We have a guide to why you need a tripod, and a guide to choosing a travel tripod
  • Finally, if you want to improve your photography overall, you can join over 1,000 students on my travel photography course. I’ve been running this since 2016, and  it has helped lots of people take their photography to the next level.

And that’s it! As always, we’re happy to hear your comments, feedback and questions. Just pop them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

A guide to the best camera for hiking and/or backpacking. Has camera suggestions across a range of budget, plus detailed tips on what to look for

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Nicole Lee

Journalist in Mark Funhouser blog!