Hiking and backpacking allow you to explore the great outdoors and capture stunning views, but you’ll want a reliable video camera to document your adventures. The best hiking and backpacking video cameras are compact, weather-resistant, have great battery life, and shoot high-quality footage. After extensive research, we’ve selected the top video cameras that will work well on the trail this year.
Key Features To Consider
When choosing a video camera for hiking and backpacking, there are a few key features to look for:
- Size and weight – Since every ounce counts when backpacking, you’ll want a smaller, lighter camera that won’t weigh you down. Look for one under 10 ounces.
- Weather sealing – Protection from dust, moisture and rain is crucial to prevent camera damage. Look for waterproof, shockproof or freezeproof models.
- Battery life – You won’t have much opportunity to recharge on the trail, so seek out long-lasting batteries or models with removable batteries.
- Image stabilization – This will lead to smoother footage when handholding your camera on uneven trails. Optical stabilization is best.
- Video quality – Look for video resolution of at least 1080p HD, but 4K will provide more detail and flexibility in post-production.
- Low light performance – For early morning or night hiking, seek out cameras with good low light sensitivity and high ISO ranges.
- Connectivity – WiFi and Bluetooth allow you to control your camera remotely and transfer footage seamlessly.
- Mounting options – The ability to mount your camera to gear like hiking poles can help capture unique angles and perspectives on the move.
Keeping these features in mind, here are our picks for the best hiking and backpacking video cameras you can get in 2023:
Best Overall: GoPro HERO11 Black
GoPro HERO11 Black
- Compact, durable design perfect for outdoor activities
- Shoots up to 5.3K video and 27MP photos
- HyperSmooth 5.0 video stabilization
- Waterproof without housing to 10 meters
- Excellent battery life (up to 3 hours at 5K)
The GoPro HERO11 Black is the new flagship model in the popular HERO line from GoPro. It builds on the success of previous models with important updates that make it our top pick for hiking and backpacking.
The HERO11 Black retains the familiar, ultra-compact form factor of previous GoPros, making it easy to pack and mount anywhere. But it now features a larger battery good for up to 3 hours of 5K video recording. The battery is also removable, so you can carry spares.
Video quality sees a bump up to 5.3K resolution at 60fps, delivering stunningly detailed shots. The HyperSmooth 5.0 video stabilization has also been improved to make your handheld footage smoother than ever. It works wonders eliminating shaky trails footage.
This camera is waterproof on its own down to 10 meters, eliminating the need for a case in wet conditions. The durable design is also shockproof to help withstand trail drops and knocks. For connectivity, it has both WiFi and Bluetooth LE for wireless control and transfers.
Overall, the HERO11 Black is the full hiking and backpacking package, capturing pro-quality stabilized videos in a rugged, pocketable camera. It’s the best option for most outdoor enthusiasts this year.
- Video Resolution: Up to 5.3K60
- Waterproof: 10m
- Weight: 6.6 oz
- Battery Life: Up to 3 hrs (5K video)
- Stabilization: HyperSmooth 5.0
- Excellent video stabilization
- Great battery life with a removable battery option
- Rugged, waterproof design
- Compact and lightweight
- Very expensive
- Not the best low light performance
- No zoom capability
Best Budget: AKASO Brave 7 LE
AKASO Brave 7 LE
- Compact size and only 2.4oz weight
- Shoots up to 4K video with EIS
- Waterproof to 131ft without case
- 2″ rear touchscreen with full manual controls
- Excellent value under $100
For budget-minded hikers and backpackers, the AKASO Brave 7 LE packs impressive specs and performance into an affordable sub-$100 package.
The Brave 7 LE has a lightweight, compact body that tips the scales at just 2.4oz, making it easy to pack and carry anywhere. Despite its small size, it can shoot sharp, stabilized 4K video at 30fps through its f/1.8 lens. The Electronic Image Stabilization helps smooth out bumpy trails footage.
This camera is also waterproof down to 131ft without needing an extra housing. The 2″ rear touchscreen gives you full control and preview over your shots above and below water. Battery life is decent at around 90 minutes per charge.
While the video and image quality may not match more expensive cameras, the AKASO Brave 7 LE punches well above its price point. For budget-conscious hikers who still want good quality trek filming, it’s one of the best options available.
- Video Resolution: 4K30
- Waterproof: 131ft
- Weight: 2.4oz
- Battery Life: ~90min
- Stabilization: Electronic
- Extremely affordable price
- Super lightweight and packable
- Waterproof without housing
- Very good video quality for the cost
- No removable battery
- Mediocre battery life
- Not the best low light video
- Cheap build quality
Best with Optical Zoom: Sony ZV-1
- Large 1” sensor for stellar image quality
- 24-70mm zoom lens
- Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
- Fully articulating touchscreen display
- Compact and lightweight (10.4oz)
Serious on-the-go videographers will appreciate the outstanding quality and useful features of the Sony ZV-1. This advanced compact camera is geared specifically towards vloggers and video content creation.
At the heart of the ZV-1 is a large 1” sensor that can capture exceptional 20MP stills and high-bitrate 4K/30p video, even in low light conditions. The 24-70mm zoom lens gives you a versatile range for trail shooting, aided by built-in Optical SteadyShot stabilization that smooths out footsteps and motion.
The side-opening vari-angle touchscreen lets you easily frame yourself in the shot for vlogging. The hot shoe allows you to mount small microphones for improved audio. Weighing only 10.4oz, the ZV-1 packs well and is easy to operate one-handed.
While one of the more expensive options, the ZV-1 stands out with its direct vlogging focus, optical zoom lens, and outstanding video/photo quality from its large sensor. It’s the best option for serious video creators.
- Video Resolution: 4K30p
- Sensor Size: 1” Exmor RS
- Weight: 10.4 oz
- Zoom: 24-70mm (optical)
- Stabilization: Optical SteadyShot
- Excellent image and video quality
- Versatile zoom range
- Effective optical stabilization
- Fully articulating screen
- Purpose-built for vlogging
- More expensive\
- No waterproofing without case
- Shorter battery life (45 min 4K video)
- No removable battery
Best 360 Camera: Insta360 One RS Twin Edition
Insta360 One RS Twin Edition
- Shoots 360 and standard 4K/60p video
- Interchangeable dual lens design
- Advanced stabilization algorithms
- Waterproof design to 16ft
- Compact, modular form factor
Unique in our lineup, the Insta360 One RS Twin Edition is a dual-purpose 360 and action camera perfect for immersive hiking videos.
The One RS features a novel interchangeable lens design with two included modules – a 360 lens for 360o footage and a standard 4K wide angle lens. You can switch between them to shoot traditional and 360 videos or photos on your hikes.
Both lens modules shoot crisp, stabilized 4K60 video in a compact body. The FlowState stabilization provides gimbal-like stabilization even during fast-paced activities. And the whole camera is waterproof to 16ft without a case.
Dual screens allow you to easily monitor your shot from any angle. And the Insta360 app provides comprehensive editing features to refine your 360 and standard footage.
For creative hikers who want both immersive 360 video capabilities alongside a standard action camera, the One RS Twin Edition is the most versatile hybrid option.
- Video Resolution: Up to 4K60
- Waterproof: 16ft
- Weight: 6.3oz
- Lenses: 360 + 4K Wide Angle
- Stabilization: FlowState
- Shoots 360 and 4K wide-angle video
- Innovative modular design
- Good built-in stabilization
- Fully waterproof
- Compact size
- Shorter battery life
- Not great in low light
- Overkill if only need standard video
Best 360 Camera Alternative: DJI Pocket 2
DJI Pocket 2
- Compact 3-axis stabilized camera
- 4K video and 64MP photo capture
- Shoots standard and tiny planet 360 footage
- Dynamic zoom and tracking features
- Easily fits in a pocket
Though not a dedicated 360 camera, the DJI Pocket 2 offers unique tiny planet and 360 video capabilities in an ultra-compact form factor.
This lightweight camera uses a three-axis gimbal for incredibly smooth and stable footage, even during active use. It shoots sharp 4K/60fps standard video and can create 360 content when sweeping horizontally in its custom modes.
A suite of intelligent capture features like ActiveTrack 3.0, hyperlapse, and panorama help expand your creative options on the trails. The camera connects to your phone for easy monitoring and control.
While the battery life is limited, charging cases are available. And everything fits into an easy to pocket body weighing just 117g.
For hikers who want stabilized, unique perspective shots without a full 360 camera, the DJI Pocket 2 packs some of the same capabilities in the most compact package out there.
- Video Resolution: 4K60
- Sensors: 1/1.7” CMOS
- Weight: 4.1oz
- Stabilization: 3-Axis Gimbal
- Smart Capture Modes
- Super compact and lightweight
- Excellent built-in stabilization
- Can create 360 content
- Fun capture modes and features
- Fits easily into a pocket
- No waterproofing without case
- Short battery life
- Not a fully-fledged 360 camera
- Small sensors struggle in low light
How To Choose A Hiking & Backpacking Video Camera
With so many options on the market, it can be tricky picking the right video camera for your backpacking trips and trekking adventures. Here are some tips on selecting the best model:
- Consider your priorities: Think about your most important needs – light weight, stabilization, waterproofing? Rank these to narrow down models.
- Match video quality to usage: Do you only need 1080p clips for social media? Or want higher resolution 4K/5K for professional productions? This impacts camera cost.
- Compare form factors: Larger cameras with bigger sensors excel at image quality but weigh more. Smaller action cams trade off quality for portability. Decide which matters most.
- Assess battery needs: Estimating your typical filming time helps choose a camera with enough battery life. Removable batteries provide more flexibility.
- Research durability: Treks put gear through tough conditions. Ensure the camera you choose has weather sealing, waterproofing or other rugged traits for the trail.
- Look for stabilization: Built-in optical or electronic stabilization produces steadier videos while moving over rough terrain. It’s a key hiking camera feature.
- Consider accessories: From clips to mounts to mics, accessories can enhance usability. Check what’s available for the camera