5 Adventurous Cameras to Take Backpacking

Picking the best camera for backpacking or hiking can be tricky, but it’s so important you get the right travel camera for your needs.

Buy a DSLR that’s too bulky and you’ll end up leaving it at the hostel. Go for a budget compact camera and you may be disappointed when you want to blow your images up to fit a full page in your photo book.

The type of camera you take away with you on any journey can make a world of difference. You need to find a good compromise between durability, weight and image quality.

backpacker with camera

Thankfully, there are a range of quality travel cameras out there that may be perfect for your backpacking needs, from action cameras to point-and-shoot models to compact system cameras and DSLRs.

Below, we’ve listed what we believe are the best cameras for hikers and travellers for 2018, depending on your needs.

The best budget camera for snap-happy backpackers

Want to have more control over your photos and achieve better image quality than you might get with your smartphone? These days, point-and-shoot cameras can offer some pretty impressive specs that will deliver great quality images in a perfect, pocket-sized body.

Canon G9X Mark II

Canon PowerShot G9 X

Even looking past the great retro design of this camera, the Canon G9X Mark II is the perfect model for recreational photographers.

This petite camera is arguably the best budget camera around for a backpacker today. It performs comparatively well in low light scenarios and has a fast internal processor and reliable autofocus.

Naturally, the image quality doesn’t compare to a mirrorless or DSLR camera, but the G9X II captures colour rich images and accurate tones for a great price.

A real bonus for backpackers, this camera can charge via a USB port, so you can charge it on the go with a power bank.

The best rugged cameras for adventurous backpackers

Adventure or action cameras are your go-to option if you’re wanting to record extreme adventures. From diving to rafting, skiing to rock climbing, you want your camera to be waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, and freezeproof.

Olympus Tough TG-5

olympus tg-5 waterproof camera

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is arguably the best camera when it comes to durability. It’s built to withstand extreme environments and conditions.

You can knock it about, take it to destinations with extreme temperatures, and go diving with it – it’s made precisely for rough play.

It’s waterproof to 50 feet and has an anti-fog, dual-pane protective glass. You can take it almost anywhere without limits.

Of course, Olympus has to make some concessions to be able to deliver such a versatile camera, so it’s not great in low light. And don’t expect to get the same superior images you’d achieve with a mirrorless or DSLR camera.

But the latest release does include a new image sensor that has vastly improved the image quality, making it perhaps the best adventure camera on the market in 2018.

Other specs include 4K video, 120 fps recording capability, multiple shooting modes and the option to capture in RAW format.

GoPro Hero 6


Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a look at the GoPro range for our more adventurous backpackers.

The GoPro Hero 6 has a faster processor than its predecessors and delivers sharp, smooth videos and high-quality stills.

GoPro cameras are designed to capture your adventures on the move and hands-free. They work best paired with mounts ranging from helmet mounts to surfboard mounts. Just set the GoPro to record – the Hero 6 shoots 4K video at 60 frames per second (240 frames per second in slow motion) – and you’re good to go.

The GoPro does come with its limitations – it’s perfect for action shots, but if you’re wanting to capture an incredible landscape at the top of the mountain you just climbed, you might be wishing for a camera that packs a little more punch for image quality. For that, you’d be better off with a mirrorless camera.

The best camera for serious photographers

Mirrorless cameras are really a game-changer for backpacking photographers. They come with lightweight bodies, interchangeable lenses, and a range of features that means you have greater control over your photos. Their larger sensors also mean you can get almost the same quality as with a DSLR camera.

Sony Alpha A6300

sony alpha a6300 camera for backpackers

Almost every review you’ll read in 2018 will pitch the Sony Alpha A6300 to the top of the list for backpackers and travellers who want to be serious about their photography. This flagship model for Sony delivers so many must-have features that it’s hard to find its equivalent.

To begin with, the weather-sealed, magnesium body means you don’t have to worry about taking your camera into tougher environments. Plus, the sticky handgrip ensures you have a sturdier handle on your camera at all times.

This camera is known for its fast autofocusing (0.05 seconds), imaging speed, and performance. It delivers exceptional image quality with high-density AF technology, while the huge image sensor has a high sensitivity range so you can take photos in low-light scenarios without the noise.

It even produces high-quality videos for vloggers. The A6300 records smooth, sharp 4K movies with a shooting speed of 120fps. And did we mention that it has built-in Wi-Fi so you can easily transfer image data across to your mobile devices?

The best camera for professional-grade landscapes

OK, sometimes, nothing can beat a DSLR for razor-sharp images. If you are a serious or professional travel photographer, a DSLR camera is going to be your go-to choice every time.

Nikon D7200

nikon d7200 dslr for backpacking

The Nikon D7200 is an advanced DSLR that offers incredible image quality. The large 24.2MP CMOS sensor and superior autofocus system mean it can capture incredibly sharp photos, even in low light conditions. It’s renowned for its ability to accurately record colours and details in the finest subjects.

For those aspiring travel vloggers out there, this camera can record smooth, clear footage in full HD 1080p movies. The battery on this model is incredible – a huge bonus for travellers who are constantly on the go.

Of course, it also has built-in Wi-Fi so you can transfer your videos and images to your mobile devices with ease. It’s also weather sealed so you don’t have to be too delicate with it.

Ready to head off with your new camera? Find out what other travel photography equipment you might need or get some quick tips on how to shoot better travel photos.

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