The Best Backpacking Cameras 2019: A Definitive Buying Guide

I hope this guide to the best backpacking cameras comes in handy!

I hope this guide to the best backpacking cameras comes in handy!

Photos help immortalise your travels.

Seriously, when your adventure comes to an end and all you have left are memories, the photos you took become a priceless look back at the amazing things you did.

Which is why it’s so important to have a good quality camera on your trip!

However, there are so many options out there it can be difficult to choose one that’s right for you…

I wanted to make this decision making process more straightforward.

So, in this definitive buying guide I’m going to tell you what you should consider when choosing the best backpacking camera, the different types of camera available and finally provide full reviews and recommendations of the best cameras for backpacking currently out there.

Keep reading to find out the best backpacking cameras for your travels!

The Best Backpacking Camera - Summary Table


Type: Smartphone

Megapixels: 12

Weight: 189g



Type: Compact

Megapixel: 20.3

Weight: 300g



Type: Action

Megapixels: 12

Weight: 250g



Type: Mirrorless

Megapixels: 16.1

Weight: 411g



Type: Smartphone

Megapixels: 10

Weight: 180g



Type: Compact

Megapixel: 20.2

Weight: 243g



Type: Action

Megapixels: 12

Weight: 118g



Type: DSLR

Megapixels: 24.2

Weight: 465g



Type: Smartphone

Megapixels: 12

Weight: 174g



Type: Mirrorless

Megapixels: 24.3

Weight: 346g



Type: Bridge

Megapixels: 21.1

Weight: 831g



Type: DSLR

Megapixels: 18

Weight: 400g



Type: Compact

Megapixels: 12.8

Weight: 243g



Type: Budget

Megapixels: 18.2

Weight: 121g



Type: Bridge

Megapixel: 20.1

Weight: 832g



Type: Tripod

Max load: 4.5kg

Size: 30-134cm


Important Considerations When Choosing the Best Backpacking Camera

It’s important to take the following things into account when choosing your travel camera:

Your Budget

The price range for cameras is huge.

You can find a brand new digital camera for as little as £40 (Around $50). But for higher quality kit the price quickly rises, and can easily stretch into the thousands.

Like all things, how much you are willing to spend is totally up to you.

Generally speaking you get what you pay for with cameras though. Paying that bit extra can make a big difference if you’re after top quality snaps.

In the cameras listed below I’ve tried to cover cameras for most budgets.

However, all of them fall above the hundreds of pounds/dollars mark. Any less and you seem to sacrifice image quality and fitness for purpose. 

The Amount You Can/Want to Carry

Higher end cameras tend to have all sorts of additional parts.

There are lenses, tripods, extra batteries, memory cards, cases and so on.

And all of it has to be carried around with you if you’re backpacking!

If you don’t want to (or simply can’t) lug around a lot of stuff, then consider simpler types of camera.

Camera Weight & Portability

Similarly, some cameras (think DSLRs…) can be bulky.

And bulk equals extra weight to carry.

The bigger cameras tend to offer the higher quality photos, but will be inappropriate for anyone trying to save on space and weight.

The Effort to Learn

Turns out a lot goes into the whole photography thing!

How much effort are you willing to put into learning?

The fancier models require an understanding of things like aperture, aspect ratio, depth of field, exposure…and so on.

Without this, even with the fanciest, most expensive camera and lens in the world, your photos will be average at best.

So, if you’d rather just pick up a camera and start shooting straight away, go for a simpler option.

Your Travel Style

Finally, think about the manner in which you’re going to be travelling.

For instance, if you’re a fast paced traveller then a quick point and shoot camera might be perfect.

If you’re slower and steadier, a heavier option with a greater spec could suit you better.

Equally, what are you going to be doing?

Hiking? Spending time outdoors? In water? In nature? Exploring cities? Moving around a lot?

All of these factors will affect the type of camera that’ll be best for your trip.

Backpacking cameras take many forms. It’s important to think about your needs and proceed accordingly.

Backpacking cameras take many forms. It’s important to think about your needs and proceed accordingly.

The Different Types of Backpacking Cameras + Pros & Cons

Now let’s turn to the different types of camera available and their relative pros and cons.


Not so long ago the image quality on camera phones just wouldn’t have cut it.

But these days that’s all changed.

As you know, smartphone cameras now take incredible photos and there’s a host of other benefits too (see below)! This could be a perfect bet for travellers taking casual photos on the go.

However, for serious photographers, smartphone capabilities will remain limited.

Smartphone Camera Pros:

  • Portable and lightweight

  • Saves space (just a phone, rather than phone PLUS camera!)

  • Internet connection means easy uploads

  • Can edit photos with built in phone software

Smartphone Camera Cons:

  • Generally limited to basic photography

  • Potentially limited memory

  • Image quality is good but not great (especially in low light and with zoom)

  • If it breaks you lose your phone and your camera!

Compact/Point and Shoot

Compact cameras (otherwise known as point-and-shoot cameras) are generally a step up in quality from smartphones.

Used and loved for their small, simple, user friendly nature, just point the camera and press the button to get great quality pics.

Specs can be pretty limited, but tend to offer more manual control over snaps than smartphones do, as well as optical zooms.

Compacts would be a good choice for travellers looking for high quality photos with minimal effort.

Compact Camera Pros:

  • Exceptionally easy to use

  • Very little learning required

  • Portable and lightweight

  • More features and manual control versus smartphones

  • Image quality generally better than smartphones

Compact Camera Cons:

  • Image quality can still be an issue (especially in low light)

  • Limited aperture and zoom

  • More complex photography is generally not possible

Bridge Cameras

A bridge camera is essentially a cross between a compact camera and a DSLR (see below).

As in, it bridges the gap between them…and allows you to cross it in the process…yep.

Anyway, in practice this means they offer a similar style to DSLRs (with a viewfinder, long range zoom lens and manual control) but are easier to use and usually without interchangeable lenses.

Bridge cameras were originally made to provide a budding photographer a high quality camera at a price tag cheaper than actual DSLRs.

This means it could be ideal for someone hoping to take great photos without the steep learning curve or the expense of fancier options!

Bridge Camera Pros:

  • High quality photos

  • Viewfinder, long range zoom and manual controls

  • Smaller than a DSLR

  • Ideal stepping stone to complex photography

Bridge Camera Cons:

  • No interchangeable lenses

  • Manual controls are limited versus fancier camera options

  • Less compact than a compact

  • More expensive than a compact

Mirrorless Cameras

From what I gather, mirrorless cameras have been something of a revolution in the world of photography.

Essentially, in DSLRs there’s a mechanical mirror that switches the scene between the viewfinder and image sensor.

But in mirrorless cameras there isn’t.

Meaning they’re smaller than DSLRs while offering the same features and functionality.

So, that means full manual controls, interchangeable lenses and exceptional quality photographs.

They don’t come cheap, but if you are a serious photographer (or plan to become one) these come highly recommended by photographers all over the web.

Mirrorless Camera Pros:

  • Exceptional image quality

  • Smaller than a DSLR

  • Full manual controls and interchangeable lenses

Mirrorless Camera Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Takes time to learn and master

DSLR Camera

DSLRs (digital single lens reflex) cameras have long been the quintessential camera of choice for photographers.

With full manual controls and interchangeable lenses they can create photos of the highest quality.

Again though, they can get eye wateringly expensive.

However, there are affordable ones around these days.

And you get what you pay for: the image quality, when used well, is arguably worth the money for serious photographers.

DSLR pros:

  • Exceptional image quality

  • Full manual controls and interchangeable lenses

DSLR cons:

  • Expensive

  • Large and heavy

  • Takes time to learn and master

Time to move onto the main event. Below you’ll find my picks of the best backpacking camera for all of your travel photography needs!

Time to move onto the main event. Below you’ll find my picks of the best backpacking camera for all of your travel photography needs!

The Best Camera for Backpacking

Finally, let’s crack on with my buying guide to the best camera for backpacking out there.

The Best Smartphone Camera for Backpacking

Galaxy S9 Plus


  • Type: Smartphone

  • Megapixel: 12

  • Weight: 189g

  • Dimensions: 158 x 74 x 8.5mm

Galaxy S9 Plus Review

Released in March 2018, this smartphone is billed as the best camera phone around.

And to be fair, it looks and sounds pretty impressive.

It boasts not one, but two 12MP cameras, along with an 8MP front camera. The main sensor has a world leading f/1.5 aperture, making it fantastic for low light situations compared to other phones.

At 189g it is remarkably lightweight too.

The only downside I can see are the dimensions, which at 16 x 7.5 x 0.8cm make the phone pretty big.

That said, it’ll still fit in your pocket ready and waiting for the perfect picture moments!


  • World leading camera technology

  • Lightweight

  • Great low light photos for a phone

  • 2 cameras

  • Dual aperture technology


  • Fairly large in size


  • Type: Smartphone

  • Megapixel: 10 (default)

  • Weight: 180g

  • Dimensions: 155 x 74 x 7.8mm

Huawei P20 Pro Review

The Huawei P20 Pro is another camera phone with a stellar reputation for insane quality photos.

It comes with not one, not two, but three cameras on its back, with a 68 megapixel count combined. The one on the front is 24MP too. That’s huge!

The shooting experience of the Galaxy S9 is said to be better all round, but if megapixels are your thing, then the Huawei is unmatched.

There are a range of features for decreasing noise and enhancing dynamic range too, as well as a 3x zoom lens.


  • Another camera phone of the highest quality

  • Lightweight

  • 3 rear cameras totalling 68MP


  • Fairly large in size


  • Type: Smartphone

  • Megapixel: 12

  • Weight: 174g

  • Dimensions: 144 x 71 x 8mm

iPhone X Review:

Billed as the best iPhone camera on the market, here’s another smartphone that comes highly recommended.

It boasts a main 12MP (with 2x 12MP sensors) camera and a 7MP camera on the front, all of which take awesome pics, capturing detail even in low or bright light.

And the ‘TrueDepth’ front camera will be awesome for snapping those travel selfies and skyping home when you get a chance.

Practically the iPhone X is a winner too, with an insanely portable weight and size.

But you’ll need fairly deep pockets as this Apple winner comes with a price tag.


  • Highest quality Apple camera available

  • Dual sensor 12MP rear camera

  • TrueDepth tech front camera

  • Favourable size and weight


  • Expensive

Moving onto the best compact camera for backpacking. Towards the end of the piece I’ll offer a suggestion for the best backpacking camera tripod too.

Moving onto the best compact camera for backpacking. Towards the end of the piece I’ll offer a suggestion for the best backpacking camera tripod too.

The Best Compact Camera for Backpacking        

Panasonic Lumix ZS50 (TZ70 outside US)


  • Type: Compact

  • Megapixel: 12.8

  • Weight: 243g

Panasonic Lumix ZS50/TS70 Review

Compact cameras don’t come much better than Panasonic’s ZS/TZ series.

The ZS50 (or TZ70), depending where you are in the world, is no exception.

With a 12.8MP high sensitivity sensor, it also comes with an electronic viewfinder, which makes snapping the perfect pic that bit easier in certain lighting.

Not to mention a huge 30x zoom.

Oh, and it connects to Wifi too, enabling easy uploads of your snaps!

In terms of shooting, simply leave it in auto and you’re good to go. Or, for control over aperture and shutter speed why not shoot raw files instead (great if you’re looking to edit photos).

It’s slightly larger than other compacts, weighing in at 243g.

But it’s by no means big and will easily fit in your pocket when you’re out and about!


  • 30x zoom

  • Electronic viewfinder

  • Wifi

  • 1080p movie capabilities

  • Good value for money


  • No touchscreen

  • Other Panasonic’s pack larger sensors


  • Type: Compact

  • Megapixel: 20.3

  • Weight: 300g

Canon Powershot SX730 Review

The Canon Powershot SX730 really does sound ideal for travel.

This 20.3MP camera is great for newbies and those with more experience alike as you can switch easily between full manual, semi-auto and full-auto mode.

Undoubtedly one of the Powershot’s greatest features though is its ginormous 40x optical zoom.

This would be a great bet if focal length flexibility is something you’re after.

Another cool feature is a tilting screen that’ll take the guesswork out of selfies! Just flip it up, aim the camera in your direction and see exactly what’s happening.

If you’re travelling alone then this could come in especially handy.

Unfortunately there’s no touchscreen here, but the zoom, tilting screen and general ease of use make this a very appealing backpacking camera.


  • 20.3MP

  • 40x optical zoom

  • 1080p movie capabilities

  • Tilting screen

  • Good value for money


  • No touchscreen

  • No Wifi

  • No viewfinder


  • Type: Compact

  • Megapixel: 20.2

  • Weight: 243g

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Review

The Sony RX100 has actually been replaced now with a series of cameras (we’re now at the RX-100 VI, apparently!).

However, the original RX100 is still being manufactured and comes with stellar recommendations online- especially if you’re on a budget.

This camera is another great compact option for travellers looking to take rapid fire high quality photos with minimum effort.

It boasts a bunch of awesome features including full manual control, RAW format shooting capabilities and a top end 20.2MP sensor.

By all accounts this is a fantastic camera to take backpacking, taking awesome photos even in low light.

Later versions of the RX100 in the series also boast a handy touchscreen.


  • High quality sensor

  • Highly recommended

  • Full manual control

  • Full HD video recording

  • Good value for money in terms of sensor size


  • Higher price tag

  • Original RX100 lacks special features of newer models in the series

The best camera for backpacking takes different forms, depending on your need. Keep reading to learn the best camera for hiking and other action sports.

The best camera for backpacking takes different forms, depending on your need. Keep reading to learn the best camera for hiking and other action sports.

The Best Bridge Camera for Backpacking

Sony RX10


  • Type: Bridge

  • Megapixel: 20.1

  • Weight: 832g

Sony RX10 Review

This ‘superzoom compact’ bridge camera is hailed as a game changer online.

There are a bunch of newer models but I decided to include the original as it is far cheaper than it’s younger siblings!

And the Sony RX10 still boasts some impressive specifications, including its renowned 20.1MP 1inch sensor.

It has a constant f/2.8 aperture which is discussed as a major plus point, as is said to shoot outstanding quality images.

There’s also a top notch tilting screen (more selfie love) and full HD video capabilities.

The only downside of the original is a lack of touchscreen.

Otherwise, if you’re after a DSLR style camera that’s simple to use, the Sony RX10 seems a great choice.


  • Awesome image quality

  • 20.1MP 1inch sensor

  • Constant f/2.8 aperture

  • Tilting screen

  • Relatively cheap


  • Lacks features of newer models

  • No touchscreen

  • No 4K video


  • Type: Bridge

  • Megapixels: 20.1

  • Weight: 831g

Panasonic FZ1000 Review

Another prime option for a new superzoom compact camera is the Panasonic FZ1000.

Also boasting a 20.1MP 1inch sensor, the image quality of the Panasonic is comparable to the Sony RX10, but at an even lower price point.

This camera is real bang for your buck, coming with some nice specifications (such as 4k UHD video and f/2.8-4 aperture).

Another nice feature is its Wifi and NFC capabilities, where NFC enables contactless communication with other NFC devices.

It’s true that the Panasonic FZ1000 lacks a touch screen, but all told is hard to critique.


  • Great value for money

  • 20.1MP 1inch sensor

  • Wifi and NFC enabled

  • 4K UHD video


  • No touchscreen

  • Bulky in size

The Best Mirrorless Camera for Backpacking

Sony Alpha A6000


  • Type: Mirrorless

  • Megapixels: 24.3

  • Weight: 346g

Sony Alpha A6000 Review

With a price that puts some bridge cameras to shame, the mirrorless Sony Alpha A6000 is perfect for photographers on a budget.

And you don’t sacrifice much in terms of image quality either, with its 24.3MP APS-C image sensor rising to the occasion.

Check out its weight too: 346g (12.2oz) makes it amazingly portable for backpacking.

Combined with 1080p HD video, built in Wifi and NFC, this camera is perfect for backpackers who want to take some serious photos on their trip.

However, its lack of weather resistance could be some cause for concern on your travels. All told and from all accounts though, you can’t go too far wrong with the Sony Alpha A6000.


  • Tremendous value for money

  • 24.3MP APS-C sensor

  • Lightweight and portable

  • High quality images at a great price


  • No 4K video

  • Not weather resistant


  • Type: Mirrorless

  • Megapixels: 16.1

  • Weight: 411g

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Review

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is another fantastic mirrorless choice at an exceptional price point.

Designed originally by Olympus as a cheaper alternative to some of their pricier cameras, the E-MD10 Mark III packs the same high quality image and video into a smaller price tag.

Of particular note with this camera is its supreme video capabilities. With 4K video this is a great bet for anyone planning on shooting videos while travelling.

It’s also got a reputation for being powerful and responsive.

At 16MP though the image quality isn’t as great as some others and it’s slightly heavier than the Sony Alpha A6000.

All told though this camera is another that comes highly recommended.

Top tip:

If you are looking to save some money though, try the EM-10 Mark II instead.

From what I gather, its specs match that of the Mark III in most ways apart from the video capabilities, but it comes in a couple of hundred cheaper!


  • 4K video

  • Great image stabilisation

  • High end user experience


  • Only 16MP

  • Relatively expensive for 16MP

Having covered the best bridge and mirrorless cameras, let’s turn to the best backpacking DSLR. From there, I’ll turn to the best budget camera for backpacking and the best underwater camera for scuba diving and other water activities.

Having covered the best bridge and mirrorless cameras, let’s turn to the best backpacking DSLR. From there, I’ll turn to the best budget camera for backpacking and the best underwater camera for scuba diving and other water activities.

The Best Backpacking DSLR Camera

Nikon D5600


Type: DSLR

Megapixels: 24.2

Weight: 465g

Nikon D5600 Review

The main issue with DSLRs for travellers is often their size- where weight and general bulk can make portability a problem.

I’ve included The Nikon D5600 in this list as it goes some way to countering this issue. Now, it’s still bulky, but not compared to some!

The key plus point to this DSLR is its image quality though, with a 24MP sensor creating fantastic photos. And the 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen to view them on is another bonus!

Likewise, this is a cheap DSLR and you get a decent bang for your buck here too. The Wifi, NFC and Bluetooth capabilities putting the icing on the cake.


  • High quality image quality

  • 24MP sensor

  • Touchscreen

  • Wifi, NFC and Bluetooth

  • 1080p video capabilities

  • Good value for money


  • Bulky compared to mirrorless counterparts

  • Autofocus quite slow


  • Type: DSLR

  • Megapixels: 18

  • Weight: 400g

Canon Rebel SL1 Review

The Canon Rebel SL1 is another lightweight DSLR at a great price.

In fact, its design has made its bulk comparable to mirrorless cameras of similar specs. That said, it remains larger than the mirrorless examples in this list.

Nonetheless, this DSLR gives popular mirrorless cameras a run for their money.

With an 18MP APS-C sensor it boasts impressive image quality and offers users the same power as its larger Rebel series counterparts.

The touchscreen at the back is another handy feature that’s fixed (as opposed to tilting) in order to save weight.

All in all the Canon Rebel SL1 is a fantastic, pintsized yet powerful DSLR that provides amazing value for money.


  • Lightweight

  • 1080 video capabilities

  • Small in size for a DSLR

  • Good value for money


  • Touchscreen doesn’t tilt (but saves weight)

  • 18MP is low compared to other models

  • Lacking in some technical areas

The Best Cameras for Adventure

The cameras above cover the main forms of camera out there.

However, there is another type of camera that gets talked about online: action cameras.

Simply put, these are cameras that are perfect for adventure sports and activities.

As this piece is about the best cameras for backpacking, and everyone who backpacks tends to enjoy an adventure, I thought it made sense to list a couple of the best action cameras out there too.

Check them out!

Best Underwater Camera for Scuba diving, Snorkelling, Swimming…

GoPro Hero 6 Black


Type: Action

Megapixels: 12

Weight: 118g

GoPro Hero 6 Black Review

First of all I wanted to offer a suggestion for the best underwater camera.

Of course, whether you’re underwater or not, GoPros are an awesome bet for any adventure. You’re bound to see a bunch floating around on your travels!

However, for the best camera for snorkelling and other underwater experiences, look no further than the GoPro Hero 6 Black.

It’s one of the latest models and will set you back a pretty penny, but it’s arguably worth the expense.

This tiny action camera has some insane specifications.

It has a 12MP sensor, shoots 4k video at 60fps, is water resistant to 33ft (10m) and there’s a touchscreen and ‘Touch Zoom’ functionality with wifi to boot.

With all these features and a miniscule size and weight, this is an incredible camera for anyone heading on an adventure.


  • Water resistant to 33ft (10m)

  • Touchscreen

  • Wifi

  • Touch zoom

  • 12MP images

  • 4K, 60fps video

  • Slo-mo 1080p video at 240fps


  • Expensive

  • Important adventure add-ons (e.g. a case) sold separately

Best Camera for Hiking

Olympus Tough TG-5


  • Type: Action

  • Megapixels: 12

  • Weight: 250g

Olympus Tough TG-5 Review

Another fantastic all round adventure camera is the Olympus Tough TG-5.

This is a rugged point and shoot camera designed to withstand heavy handed treatment, adverse environments and underwater exploits.

For adventure there really can be few cameras better than this. However I include it here as one of the best hiking cameras in particular. It’s ideal choice for the best camera for hiking.

Its rugged capabilities are spectacular. It is waterproof to a whopping 50ft (15m), can be dropped from heights of 2.1m and withstand temperatures as low as -10°C. It also includes GPS, an electronic compass, a barometer and a thermometer. If you’re out hiking these things could come in amazingly handy.

But its quality as a camera is special too.

At 12MP it packs surprisingly good image quality and offers fancy macro features for shooting at close range. You can also take pictures in RAW form (which is a rarity for action cameras).

In addition there’s wifi connectivity that enables you to connect it to a smartphone and control it remotely. Pretty cool, eh?!

Travelling by yourself? Set the camera up from afar and simply press the shutter using your phone!

And shoot video too at an impressive 4K, 30fps, or full HD 1080p at 60fps. There’s a slo-mo option too.

And finally, the Olympus Tough TG-5 4x optical zoom and additional lenses you can buy separately to enhance zoom and angle respectively.

This would personally be my pick of a backpacking camera.


  • Huge range of features

  • 12MP camera

  • Exceptionally rugged

  • Waterproof to 50ft

  • Wifi capabilities

  • 4K video


  • Pricey (but cheaper than the GoPro!)

The Best Budget Camera for Backpacking

The cameras above are all great and I’ve tried to keep them in a relatively accessible price range.

However, they might still be out of reach for a budget backpacker.

So, here’s my pick of the best budget camera for backpacking if everything so far has been a little too expensive.

Sony Cybershot WX-220


  • Type: Compact

  • Megapixels: 18.2

  • Weight: 121g

Sony Cybershot WX-220 Review

If you don’t want to use your camera phone and don’t want to break the bank on anything too fancy, try the Sony Cybershot WX-220

It is a fantastic choice that has a surprising number of features and comes high recommended online.

Features include: 10x zoom, built in wifi and an 18.2 MP camera that shoots good quality photos.

Its small and lightweight design also means it’s perfectly pocket sized and portable- perfect for backpacking.


  • 18.2MP

  • Wifi

  • 10x zoom

  • Cheap and cheerful


  • Limited image quality

The Best Backpacking Camera Tripod

For photographers wanting anything more than a smartphone or a compact camera, a tripod might be essential gear.

After all, you don’t want camera shake taking its toll on your photos!

Here’s my pick of the best backpacking camera tripod out there (and here’s a great full guide on camera tripods for you to check out too):

Davis & Sanford Traverse TR553-P228


  • Weight: 1.17kg

  • Max load: 4.5kg

  • Collapsed size: 30cm

  • Extended size: 134cm

Davis & Sanford Traverse TR553-P228 Review

This Davis & Sanford Traverse TR553-P228 is everything you could need in a tripod.

It extends a long way and folds up small; it’s relatively lightweight and can bear a decent load. All this means it is highly functional and portable- the perfect combination for anyone backpacking.

And, at a reasonable price compared to some, what more could you really want?

Time to Wrap Up

That brings to a close my picks of the best backpacking cameras!

Honestly, the type of camera you opt for is totally down to you and your personal preferences.

However, choose one of the options above and you won’t go too far wrong with your travel snaps.

Now though, if you’re planning on buying a new backpacking camera I’d love to hear from you! Which was your favourite camera on the list and why?

Let me know in the comments!

And please subscribe too! Sign up for the newsletter and I’ll send through all the travel tips, inspiration and gear reviews I come across!

Give the post a pin!

Like this piece? Pin it!

Like this piece? Pin it!

Like this piece? Pin it!

Like this piece? Pin it!

Like this piece? Check out more buying guides like this one below!