So you're on a hike and reach an amazing lookout, and you want to capture the moment, only to realize you've only got your phone on you. Bummer, right? Sure, your smartphone will do in a pinch, but having a dedicated camera means capturing those stunning views with more clarity and detail. The best cameras for backpacking also need to be portable and, ideally, weather-sealed, so you can shoot in all kinds of weather conditions without worry. Crop sensor mirrorless cameras are the ideal choice for a mix of image quality, portability, and durability, but the more adventurous among us may prefer to grab a GoPro for video capture, and others may decide to give up the versatility of an interchangeable lens for the portability that comes with a fixed-lens compact camera.
Thankfully, we've done some work narrowing down those options for you. We've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below, you'll find our recommended cameras for hiking and backpacking. If you don't care as much about the portability of your camera and want the best possible image quality, you can check out our buying guide for the best cameras for landscape photography. On the flip side, if portability is most important, you can try the best cameras for travel or the best compact cameras.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is one of the best cameras for hiking you can get. Combining all the benefits of a premium enthusiast camera with the portability afforded by an APS-C sensor, this do-it-all camera is portable, well-built, and a blast to shoot with. It has a sturdy, weather-sealed body, meaning you can take it on the go without much worry, and its physical control dials make it easy to adjust settings on the fly.
Inside is a high-res APS-C sensor that takes amazing photos straight out of the camera. The camera also has in-body image stabilization, which can help you capture stable handheld shots at slower shutter speeds. On top of that, it has an excellent battery life for a mirrorless camera, making this a very well-rounded choice for long hikes and backpacking excursions.
If you're looking for something a little easier on the wallet, you can't go wrong with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Micro Four Thirds cameras are excellent to take on hikes thanks to their portable size and generally smaller and cheaper lenses. The E-M5 Mark III is well-built, with great ergonomics and a weather-sealed body that the manufacturer advertises as dustproof, splashproof, and freezeproof.
It's loaded with extra features, including composite photo modes, to get higher-resolution images or make long-exposure photography a little easier. To top it off, it has an excellent five-axis in-body image stabilization system to get steadier shots without lugging a tripod with you. Battery life isn't as good as the Fujifilm X-T4, but overall it's a fantastic choice for adventurous photographers who want something compact and feature-rich without spending a fortune.
The Fujifilm X-T30 II is another great mid-range option for hiking, especially if you don't need in-body image stabilization. While it doesn't have IBIS, it's just about as small and lightweight as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, making it super easy to hike and travel with. It also uses the same APS-C sensor as the Fujifilm X-T4 mentioned above, but at a much more affordable price, so it's a great choice if image quality and low-light capability are priorities.
That said, the trade-off here is a less durable build. There's no weather sealing on this model, so you'll have to be more careful in the rain. On the upside, its dedicated exposure dials make adjusting settings a breeze, and you get several film simulation profiles to play around with the look of your JPEGs in-camera. Ultimately, if you can live without weather-sealing or built-in stabilization, this is an excellent little camera for the price.
If you're on an even tighter budget, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is one of the best-value options for hiking and backpacking. It's a step down from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III in Olympus' lineup, but it offers many of the same great features that make that camera a standout for backpackers and adventure-seekers.
For one, it's incredibly lightweight and portable, and it's likewise part of the Micro Four Thirds system, which offers tons of compact and affordable lens options. It's one of the few cameras in this price range to feature in-body image stabilization, allowing for clear shots at slower shutter speeds. The camera doesn't feel as well-built as pricier models, and there's no weather-sealing here, either. However, it checks a lot of boxes at a price that's hard to beat, especially if you're just starting in photography.
While an interchangeable lens camera will give you the best image quality and the most flexibility, a point-and-shoot like the RICOH GR III is an excellent take-anywhere camera. Thanks to its high-res APS-C sensor and sharp built-in lens, it's tough to beat its size-to-image-quality ratio. Its fixed 28mm-equivalent lens is a great fit for landscapes and wider shots, and if you prefer a narrower field of view, there's also a RICOH GR IIIx variant with a 40mm lens that may suit you better.
The camera's minimalist design makes it easy to shoot with, and it feels well-built overall, though it isn't weather-sealed, and the fixed screen can make it difficult to frame shots at different angles. Battery life is also limited, but that's one of the downsides of a compact camera. Still, if you want to eliminate the need for a bulkier kit on longer or more strenuous hikes, this truly pocketable camera is the way to go.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for backpacking for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.