10 Best Cameras for Hiking & Backpacking: 2021 Buyer’s Guide

This is a guide covering the best cameras for hiking and backpacking.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

  • Best overall camera for hiking and backpacking
  • Best budget camera for hiking and backpacking
  • Best camera for tramping
  • Best camera for mountaineering
  • Pros and cons
  • Important features
  • Price
  • And more

Let’s dive in.

best camera for hiking and backpacking

10 Best Cameras for Hiking & Backpacking

Click/tap on each camera name to jump to that section. At the end of each section, there is also a link to jump back to this table to make it easy for you!

In a hurry? Check out our top pick!

1. Panasonic LUMIX S5
Panasonic LUMIX S5
– 96MP resolution
– 4K videos
– 180fps slow motion
– Lightweight
– Full frame
– 5-axis stabilization

A lot of people today want to go outdoors and do nature photography.

The problem with outdoor activities such as hiking is that you will have to deal with the elements plus, you have to be smart with how much weight you are going to carry with you.

This is why DSLRs are not exactly the most practical choice if you are doing nature photography.

If you ever considered doing outdoor photography, here are some of the best cameras for hiking and backpacking.

1. Panasonic LUMIX S5
BEST ALL-AROUND
Panasonic LUMIX S5
– 96MP resolution
– 4K videos
– 180fps slow motion
– Lightweight
– Full frame
– 5-axis stabilization
2. GoPro HERO8 Black
BEST BUDGET CAMERA
GoPro HERO8 Black
– Hypersmooth 2.0 allows 3 levels of stabilization
– 4K video
– Pocketable
– Waterproof
3. Canon EOS M50
BEST CAMERA FOR TRAMPING
Canon EOS M50
– Vari-angle touch screen LCD
– Takes videos in 4K
– Variety of lenses to choose from
– Lightweight design
4. Panasonic LUMIX GH5
BEST CAMERA FOR MOUNTAINEERING
Panasonic Lumix GH5
– Lightweight
– Takes 4K videos
– 20.3 MP
– With image stabilization
5. Panasonic LUMIX GX85
Panasonic LUMIX GX85
– With an in-body stabilization
– Takes 4K videos
– Lightweight
6. Nikon Z5
Nikon Z5
– Dust and moisture-sealed
– Shoots in 4K
– Full frame
– Accurate autofocus
7. Sony a7R IV
Sony a7R IV
– Full frame but lightweight
– 10fps continuous shooting
– Fast and accurate autofocus
– Looks for the eyes of the subject
8. Sony a7 III
Sony a7 III
– 10fps quiet continuous shooting mode
– Full frame but lightweight
– Great autofocus
– Takes 4K videos
– 24.2 MP
9. Panasonic LUMIX G9
Panasonic Lumix G9
– Rugged design
– Lightweight
– 20.3MP
– Takes 4K videos
10. Fujifilm X-S10
Fujifilm X-S10
– Durable
– Ergonomic
– 26.1MP
– Fast and accurate autofocus

What is the Best Camera for Hiking and Backpacking (Overall)?

1. Panasonic LUMIX S5

Panasonic LUMIX S5

If you have the money to invest in the best gear, we’d suggest that you stick with the Panasonic LUMIX S5. It is a pro-camera that you can bring to your hiking activity.

The Panasonic LUMIX S5 is a lightweight and hybrid camera that combines everything you love about full frame cameras minus the weight.

It can take videos in 4K and even in 180fps slow-mo. It comes in with a powerful 96MP high-resolution mode giving you vivid images as you shoot.

It also does well in low-light with its Dual Native ISO that helps a lot in minimizing unwanted digital noise.

Stabilization is another thing that makes it a top contender for the best camera for backpacking and hiking activities.

For stabilization, it has a built-in 5-axis Dual I.S that keeps your shots less shaky minimizing wasted shots and allowing the video to be less annoying if you don’t have a gimbal.

And lastly, you can also transfer files via WiFi.

You get to enjoy the manual controls if you are a professional. However, the biggest turn-off is it doesn’t have the best autofocus.

Panasonic LUMIX S5
Panasonic LUMIX S5 example image – Copyright “Mustafa DOGAN”
Pros
  • 96MP resolution
  • 4K videos
  • 180 fps slow motion
  • Lightweight
  • Full frame
  • With 5-axis stabilization
Cons
  • Doesn’t have the best autofocus

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Budget Camera for Hiking and Backpacking?

2. GoPro HERO8 Black

GoPro HERO8 Black

If you are on a budget and you want the best bang for your buck, then you might take a closer look at the GoPro Hero8 Black.

It is a notch lower than the latest GoPro and that’s the best part about this camera.
It comes with a more pocketable design that can easily fit inside your jacket or bag.

But unlike the other cameras that we’ve featured, it isn’t designed for outdoor photography. GoPro Hero 8 Black is a good choice if you plan on shooting videos.

It is a favorite among vloggers and pro filmmakers since it comes in with 4K recording capability. It also has a stabilization feature called Hypersmooth 2.0.

It gives the camera three levels for stabilization. Plus, you can also easily use accessories such as a microphone and LCD screens.

GoPro HERO8 Black
GoPro HERO8 Black example image – Source
Pros
  • Hypersmooth 2.0 allows 3 levels of stabilization
  • 4K video
  • Pocketable
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Doesn’t perform well in taking photos

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Camera for Tramping?

3. Canon EOS M50

Canon EOS M50

For individuals tramping outdoors, it is a good idea to have a camera that is light and could easily be used in different situations.

For this scenario, we consider the Canon EOS M50 as a good choice. The EOS M50 is a fresh approach from Canon given the fact that they are known for DSLRs than mirrorless cameras. The M50 is a favorite by vloggers and photographers alike.

The EOS M50 is equipped with a 24.1 MP APS C CMOS sensor coupled with its DIGIC 8 image processor providing users with standout images with great details. Its user interface is also quite handy.

You get to have a vari-angle touchscreen that allows you to tweak the setup of your camera according to your preference. It can also provide users with a detailed 4K video. It brings a cinematic look making it a top choice for professional videographers.

So what makes it a good choice for tramping? Aside from its specs, it is also handy and lightweight. Plus, as a Canon camera, you get plenty of lenses to choose from whether you are into nature photography or shooting landscapes.

The biggest deal-breaker for the camera is that it has short battery life.

Also, check out the best lenses for the Canon M50.

Canon EOS M50
Canon EOS M50 example image – Copyright “Ivan Radic”
Pros
  • Vari-angle touch screen LCD
  • Takes videos in 4K
  • Variety of lenses to choose from
  • Lightweight design
Cons
  • Short battery life

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Camera for Mountaineering?

4. Panasonic LUMIX GH5

Panasonic Lumix GH5

The Lumix GH 5 is a great option for mountain climbers who are also serious photographers. It gives you vivid images plus it allows you to shoot stunning videos in 4K.

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is among the best cameras for hiking and backpacking but it can also be the bigger investment. This camera can be a bigger investment for beginners and hobbyists.

Let’s take a closer look at the specs. You get a 20.3MP micro four-thirds sensor coupled with a 5-axis dual I.S minimizes shaky videos and photos.

On top of that, it is lightweight which can come in handy when you are doing outdoor activities. It also performs well in low-light scenarios. The Lumix GH5 is a mixed bag of good and mediocre features.

But as far as mountain hiking is concerned, its construction is perfect for long hours of walking due to its weight.

Panasonic Lumix GH5
Panasonic LUMIX GH5 example image – Source
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Takes 4K videos
  • 20.3 MP
  • With image stabilization
Cons

    → Jump Back to Table

    5. Panasonic LUMIX GX85

    Panasonic LUMIX GX85

    Panasonic Lumix GX85 is a small and powerful choice for those who are serious about hiking or other outdoor activities. Is it the best camera for backpacking?

    Not exactly, but it is a good choice for those who are not willing to invest in mirrorless cameras.

    The GX85 can be considered a mid-range mirrorless camera. It is powered by a 16MP micro four-thirds sensor that provides decent photos.

    On top of that, it can also help minimize wasted shots thanks to its in-body 5-axis dual image stabilization. This works not only on photos but also in videos. If you are looking for a good 4K camera, you might want to include this on your list.

    The only thing missing on this camera is a microphone jack. Though it can take 4K videos, audio isn’t going to be as good.

    Panasonic LUMIX GX85
    Panasonic LUMIX GX85 example image – Copyright “RG in TLV”
    Pros
    • With an in-body stabilization
    • Takes 4K videos
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • No mic jack

    → Jump Back to Table

    6. Nikon Z5

    Nikon Z5

    The Nikon Z5 is considered by Nikon as their entry-level mirrorless camera. But compared with other cameras on our list, it comes in packed with features that can’t be categorized in the entry-level category.

    For starters, it comes with a 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor. Its hybrid AF system with 273 phase-detect points is also known for its accuracy when it comes to locating the subject.

    As far as shooting videos are concerned, you get vivid 4K resolution, which is something preferred even by professional content creators on YouTube.

    Another reason why it is most likely one of the best cameras for hiking is because of the body’s dust and moisture-sealed construction.

    It also shoots in 4K, but it crops the video.

    Nikon Z5
    Nikon Z5 example image – Copyright “Henry Söderlund”
    Pros
    • Dust and moisture-sealed
    • Shoots in 4K
    • Full frame
    • Accurate AF
    Cons
    • Crops the 4K video

    → Jump Back to Table

    7. Sony a7R IV

    Sony a7R IV

    The Sony a7R IV is a less popular option among photographers considering the underrated status of Sony when it comes to the digital photography industry.

    However, there is no denying that the Sony A7R IV is one of the best full-frame mirrorless options that you can go for. It is easily one of the best cameras for hiking and backpacking given its construction and performance.

    For starters, it weighs like a micro four-thirds but performs similar to a DSLR. It comes with a 61MP full-frame sensor and with the ability to shoot at 10fps in its continuous shooting mode.

    This makes it a good choice for those who are looking to shoot animals in the wild. Autofocus is also fast and accurate with its 567 phase-detection AF points.

    Its advanced subject recognition feature goes for the eyes of its subjects regardless if it’s an animal or a human.

    When it comes to shooting videos, it has a 4K resolution. You get vivid and detailed results whether you are shooting during daytime or nighttime.

    Sony a7R IV
    Sony a7R IV example image – Copyright “William Murphy”
    Pros
    • Full frame but lightweight
    • 10fps continuous shooting
    • Fast and accurate AF
    • Looks for the eyes of the subject
    Cons

      → Jump Back to Table

      8. Sony a7 III

      Sony a7 III

      If you loved the Sony A7R IV, you might take a closer look at the A7 III as well. It has a 24.2MP BSI full-frame image sensor that gives vivid colors on your shots.

      This camera can shoot quietly at 10fps. It is also known for performing well even in low-light scenarios with its ISO range from ISO 50 to 204,800. It also shoots in 4K at both 24p and 30p.

      Based on its specs, it is among the best cameras for hiking especially if you are a serious photographer who takes a lot of landscapes and does nature photography.

      It is a near-perfect camera however; it stops recording videos before the 30-minute mark which can be very frustrating.

      Also, check out the best lenses for the Sony a7 III.

      Sony a7 III
      Sony a7 III example image – Copyright “Noel Feans”
      Pros
      • 10fps quiet continuous shooting mode
      • Full frame but lightweight
      • Great AF
      • Takes 4K videos
      • 24.2 MP
      Cons
      • Stops before the 30-minute mark

      → Jump Back to Table

      9. Panasonic LUMIX G9

      Panasonic Lumix G9

      The Panasonic Lumix G9 is one of the best cameras for hiking based on its construction and specs. It is a rugged camera that is known for its splash and freeze-proof design.

      It has a durable magnesium alloy body that lets the camera shoot photos and videos even in extreme conditions. It can function even in negative 10-degree situations.

      It has a 20.3MP micro four-thirds sensor capable of providing great results that can please both hobbyists and pros.

      It is also made popular for its class-leading dual image stabilization feature that helps prevent wasted shots even if you are shooting without a tripod.

      It can shoot 4K videos as well. Plus, you can also switch it up at full HD at 180 fps.

      One thing that is a bit annoying is that it is hard to use during noontime. It makes it hard to see the viewfinder.

      Panasonic LUMIX G9
      Panasonic LUMIX G9 example image – Copyright “Rolf Dietrich Brecher”
      Pros
      • Rugged design
      • Lightweight
      • 20.3MP
      • Takes 4K videos
      Cons
      • Hard to see the viewfinder during noontime

      → Jump Back to Table

      10. Fujifilm X-S10

      Fujifilm X-S10

      Fujifilm X-S10 Mirrorless Camera is a great choice for on-the-go photographers. It is light and designed with ergonomics in mind.

      It comes with a deep handgrip that can give you the confidence you need when shooting outdoors. But what makes it one of the best cameras for hiking is the fact that it is packed with a 26.1MP backside-illuminated sensor that provides high-quality and vivid colors.

      The quad-core CPU for this camera comes in as a handy tool when it comes to its precision autofocus, It can locate the subject at 0.02 seconds.

      And if you are someone with shaky hands, it has a 5-axis-in-body image stabilization system that lessens wasted shots and makes it easier to take videos.

      If you are a fan of Fujifilm cameras, you might find it as a more compact version of the X-H1. However, there are a few things that can be a bit annoying.

      The biggest downside would have to be its battery life. Other than that, it’s a perfect camera for hiking and even for other outdoor trips.

      Fujifilm X-S10
      Panasonic LUMIX G9 example image – Copyright “Rolf Dietrich Brecher”
      Pros
      • Durable
      • Ergonomic
      • 26.1MP
      • Fast and accurate autofocus
      Cons
      • Poor battery life

      → Jump Back to Table

      Are GoPros good for hiking?

      GoPro cameras are popular among videographers. It comes in as a handy camera designed for extreme sports and outdoor activities. Does it make a good pick for those who are looking to do outdoor photography? So far, even the latest GoPro models don’t pack the same punch as micro four-thirds and DSLR cameras.
      For a serious photography enthusiast, GoPro is a waste of money. However, as a tool that can be used to document your trip using video, that is a different story. It can give you weird angles that you never thought were possible.

      Final Remarks

      It can be a tough choice if you are in the market for the best cameras for hiking and other outdoor activities.

      There are lots of choices that can overwhelm you even as a seasoned photographer. You just need to compare these cameras and see which one fits your needs.

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