You are currently viewing The Best Cameras for Backpacking in 2022 – For ALL budgets

The Best Cameras for Backpacking in 2022 – For ALL budgets

Choosing the best camera for backpacking can be tricky when there is so much choice on the market now. It can be really overwhelming trying to choose the right backpacking camera for you.

Trust me, I’ve been there! I can be incredibly indecisive (which stems from being a total perfectionist) and I’ve been the one debating for weeks, months even, over which camera to buy. By the time I finally made a decision, a new model had been released and it was back to the drawing board again!

Does that sound familiar?

But over the years, I’ve taken a fair few different cameras travelling with me and so now I have a good grasp on what is important in a camera for backpacking. Which makes it (slightly) easier to pick!

To make your life a lot easier, I’ve done the research for you. I’ve put together this article with 15 of the best cameras for backpacking in 2020.

I’ve split them into the following categories to help you whittle your choice down:

  • Best compact cameras for backpacking
  • Best action cameras for backpackers
  • Best mirrorless cameras for travel
  • Best DSLRs (that don’t weight a ton) to take backpacking.

Knowing it can still be hard to choose, I’ve also narrowed it down further with winners in each category: Cheapest and lightest, best waterproof camera, most rugged, best for professionals and best in each price range.

It’s a long article so use the table of contents to navigate to the cameras best suited for your needs! Any questions, please pop them in the comments below.

My top 5 picks for the best camera for backpacking

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girl using best backpacking camera leaning over a bridge to take a photo

Features to look for when choosing a camera for backpacking


This is often the number one deciding factor when it comes to buying a camera for backpacking. We may all want the professional standard Sony A7iii but with a hefty price tag it’s not affordable for everyone.

I think realistically, to get a camera with really good quality images (better than you can get with your smart phone) you should try to aim to spend at least $300. However, I have included options below this in this article.


Backpacking with a camera carries risks. Your luggage can sometimes take a bit of a bashing on long bumpy journeys or in dusty environments. Therefore the build of the camera is important.

Also, factors like a good grip and well-positioned buttons are also important. I’ve included links to customer reviews so you can check out what people are saying about the build before you purchase.

Size and weight

Backpackers need to travel light and so the size and weight of their chosen camera are obviously important. Often it’s a trade-off between size and weight vs quality of the camera but there are now cameras out there bridging the gap like the Sony RX100 Vii compact camera and some of the smaller mirrorless cameras.


Whilst most cameras are not completely waterproof, a degree of water resistance is important for those times when you get caught unawares in a rain shower.

There are also plenty of completely waterproof cameras out there. They may not produce the same quality of image but they are perfect for active holidays and snorkel or dive trips.

Dust proofing

Similarly, a camera which is dust proof or dust resistant is worth considering if you are looking to take your camera backpacking in the desert or on safari.

Battery life

Super important for travel photographers who are always on the go! Battery life should always be considered when buying a camera for travel but remember, you can always buy spare batteries which is what I do.

In general, DSLRs have a better battery life than Mirrorless cameras however you pay for that with weight and bulk.


For cameras without interchangeable lenses, the aperture will be important. This is the amount of light the camera is capable of letting in.

Look for the F-number. A very small F-number like F2.8 (or even better F1.8) will let lots of light in making them better at night photography when light sources are limited.

It will also help you create photos with lovely bokeh – that’s when the background is blurred out and only the foreground is in sharp focus – perfect for portraits.

With mirrorless and DSLR cameras, the aperture is determined by which lenses you use. Lenses with a small F-number are generally more expensive.


If you are buying a Mirrorless camera or DSLR this wont matter as it will be determined by the lenses you use.

However, if you are using a compact camera with an inbuilt lens, you want to choose one with a large focal range. This means that you can take both wide-angled photos and also use zoom to get nice close-ups.

I would choose a camera with at least 200mm focal length but any more is a bonus. The Panasonic Lumix ZS70/TZ90 has an absolutely huge focal range so if zoom is important to you, choose this one!

Sensor size

Cameras with larger sensors can record more information within a photo. Therefore it follows that cameras with bigger sensors usually have better image quality.

However, a large sensor will mean a larger camera so it is always a trade-off between size and quality.

best cameras for backpacking - lady is pointing camera forwards with a mediterranean town in the background

Right, so now you know what you are looking for? Let’s have a look at some of the best travel cameras out at the moment…

(Remember you can use the Table of contents to skip to the cameras most relevant to you and your needs.)

The Best Cameras for backpackers in 2020

The best compact cameras for backpacking

Compact cameras are brilliant for backpacking because they are small enough to fit in any backpack without weighing you down. They are ideal for backpackers who want to take hand luggage only or want something small and discreet.

The quality of compact cameras is now incredible and you can often get many features you would normally only expect in a DSLR or mirrorless camera. In fact, the Sony RX100 VII is such a quality camera that many professionals would be happy using it as their go-to compact camera.

The Sony RX100 VII

This compact camera is not the cheapest but is perfect for backpacking. The Sony RX100 VII is super compact whilst also offering lots of manual settings and quality images and video that you would expect with much larger professional cameras.

This would be the perfect camera for backpacking if you want a camera which can take professional quality photos without having to carry a heavy DSLR or mirrorless camera.

  • 24-200mm F2.8-4.5 Zeiss zoom lens – perfect for almost any scenario.
  • 180 degree angled screen – perfect when you need to get low or high to take a picture.
  • Touch screen – useful for manual focusing quickly
  • Capable of taking RAW and JPEG photos
  • Super Slow-Mo – up to 40x
  • Fantastic real-time tracking and eye auto-focus for photos and videos.
  • Super high-quality 4K video with 20FPS
  • The minimal focal length is just 9mm – perfect for macro shots.
  • Not cheap
  • Battery life is only 260 shots so you are likely to need a 2nd battery.

The Canon Powershot G7X Mark II

This Canon Powershot G7X Mark II is a mid-range priced compact camera that would be great for backpackers who want a quality camera that takes high-quality shots but doesn’t want to spend a fortune on bells and whistles.

  • Great low-light performance with F1.8-2.8mm lens
  • Tilting touch screen
  • Image stabalization for sharp hand-held images
  • Plenty of manual options
  • Supports JPEG and RAW images
  • No viewfinder.
  • Only 1080P video
  • Limited zoom range 24-100mm

Canon Powershot IXUS185

If you are on a very tight budget then the Canon Powershot IXUSS 185 could be a good shout. For the price, it performs well. But it’s worth considering that low-budget cameras like this offer similar quality to many high spec smartphones now.

That said, smartphones don’t offer much zoom capacity and this little camera reaches a very decent 224mm, suitable for most travel scenarios. It also offers a very respectable 20megapixels.

That said, I personally think it’s worth spending a little more to get superior quality photos from your backpacking camera.

  • 20 Megapixels (this is where you may notice a difference compared to smartphones)
  • A good zoom range 28-224mm F3.2 -6.9
  • 1280×720 video
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Small and slimline – it won’t take up much room in your backpack
  • Image quality is good for price but cannot match the other compact cameras in this article.
  • Wouldn’t perform well at low-light photography

Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90

Often when you go travelling you will come across a huge variety of photo opportunities from food photos to photos of the local wildlife on safari. therefore having a wide zoom range is ideal in cameras for backpacking.

The Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 has a very impressive zoom range making it one of the most versatile compact travel cameras on the market right now.

  • 24-720mm F3.3-6.4 zoom – huge zoom capacity
  • Tilting 180-degree screen with selfie-mode
  • 4K video
  • Offers RAW shooting
  • 49 autofocus points which are reliable and fast
  • Offers a viewfinder (albeit a small one)
  • Versatile without the expense
  • Occasional lag on startup
  • Slightly soft at wide angles.
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The best action cameras for backpacking

Action cameras are brilliant for backpacking as they are robust and can be taken anywhere you go be it the desert or the ocean. Here are a few of the best action cameras for backpackers…

Olympus Tough TG6

If you are looking for a tough camera which can survive almost any conditions you throw at it AND something which takes quality photos and video, then the Olympus Tough TG6 is the action cameras for you.

  • Fast F2 lens
  • Great image quality
  • 3 white balance modes specifically for different water depths.
  • 4K video
  • Waterproof to 15M, Freeze-proof to -10 degrees, dust-proof and fall-proof to 2.1metres.
  • Offers JPEG and RAW shooting
  • Fantastic macro (close up) capability
  • WIFI and GPS
  • Slow-Mo modes.
  • A little pricier than other action cameras but similar price to the Go Pro.

Fujifilm XP 140

This Fujifilm XP 140 action camera is best for those who want a waterproof camera on a budget.

  • It is waterproof to 25M, freeze-proof to -10 degrees and shock-proof
  • 16.4 Megapixels
  • 28-140mm f3.9-4.9
  • 4K video
  • No manual or RAW mode
  • Screen not very bright
  • Image quality very reasonable for price but is outdone by the more pricey Olympus Tough TG 6.

Go Pro Hero 8

The Go Pro Hero 8 is one of the most popular action cameras for backpacking with good reason. Firstly, it is tiny meaning it will fit in the smallest pocket of your backpack or hand luggage.

It also comes with lots of different mount options so it’s perfect for filming all the action be it ziplining, skiing, diving or mountain biking.

The image quality is incredible and the image stability is fantastic. It’s almost like using a camera mounted on a gimbal for smooth footage. I love my GoPro and it’ll always be my go-to action camera when I travel.

  • Improved microphone over GoPro Hero 7
  • Has its own app
  • Supports live streaming
  • Image stabilization is in a league of its own
  • Multiple time-lapse options
  • Super wide angle options
  • Capture presets option with easy switching between them.
  • Poor low light performance.
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The best mirrorless cameras for backpacking

Mirrorless cameras are a great option for backpackers with an interest in travel photography. They are lighter than DSLR cameras but these days offer similar results. Many professionals have now switched to using mirrorless cameras especially for travel photography.

Unlike the compact cameras previously mentioned, these mirrorless cameras all have interchangeable lenses and full manual control options.

Sony A6000

Even though this camera was first launched 6 years ago in 2014, the Sony A6000 is still a great contender for best mirrorless camera for backpacking. Whilst it has since been outdone by the newer (and more pricey) Sony A6500, it remains one of the best value mirrorless cameras on the market. At that price point, it can’t be beaten!

  • Exceptional value for money
  • Small and sleek weighing in at just 344 grams
  • Great autofocus with 179 phase detection Autofocus points
  • 11FPS burst shooting with continuous autofocus
  • 24.3MP
  • No 4K video
  • No touchscreen
  • Slightly grainy at higher ISO’s

The Sony A6500

The Sony A6500 is the newer version of the Sony A6000. As a result, the price point is a little higher but as both are exceptional cameras, they deserved a place on this list.

  • All the same Pro’s as the Sony A6000 above but also;
  • 4K video
  • Touchscreen
  • Slightly more pricy than the A6000 but worth it if you think you’ll be suing it for video often.

The Nikon Z50

The Nikon Z50 is new to the market and offers very good value for money. It’s a decent all-rounder at a decent price. The 15-50 mm kit lens it is often sold with is also very good quality.

  • 20.9 megapixels
  • 3.2 inch 180-degree tilt touch screen with selfie-mode
  • 11FPS shooting
  • 4K video
  • Weights under 400g without a lens
  • Timelapse and Slo-mo options


  • Only 1 card slot
  • Battery power only 300 shots
  • No inbuilt camera stabilisation so you may want to consider lenses which have stabilisation instead.

The Fujifilm X-T30

The Fujifilm X-T30 is a popular choice amongst many backpackers. It offers impressive 30fps continuous shooting, is compact and offers 4k video.

  • 4 K video
  • 30 FPS continuous shooting – perfect for sports and action shots
  • Small size
  • Impressive image quality
  • Good autofocus
  • 26.1 megapixels
  • 3 inch tilting touchscreen
  • No inbuilt image stabilisation

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a particularly small mirrorless camera making it perfect for backpacking. However, the compromise is that to make it this small, it has a slightly smaller sensor. But it has brilliant image quality and is packed with fancy features.

  • 30FPS continuous shooting
  • Smaller than most mirrorless cameras
  • Rugged
  • Fast
  • 4K video
  • Packed with features
  • Inbuilt body stabilisation
  • Slightly smaller sensor which is the trade off for its size.

The Sony A7iii

I had to mention this camera as it’s the one I personally use when I go backpacking! It takes stunning photos and is a camera used by many professionals. However, it is larger and heavier than the Mirrorless cameras mentioned above.

Whilst it is slightly smaller than my previous DSLR, it weighs about the same as an entry-level DSLR making it not the easiest camera to backpack with. The professional lenses that you will want to pair it with are also very heavy.

If you are a professional photographer or an advanced hobby photographer, you may want to consider the Sony A7iii. For anyone else, the size and weight (and cost) will probably put you off.

  • Full frame large sensor
  • Unrivalled image quality – this camera is popular with professional photographers
  • Lighter and smaller than an equivalent DSLR professional standard camera
  • Inbuilt body 5 axis stabilisation
  • 693 point autofocus system
  • Impressive 15 stop dynamic range
  • Being a full-frame camera it is understandably heavier and larger than other Mirrorless cameras mentioned above.
  • Expensive
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The best DSLR cameras for backpacking

Canon EOS Rebel SL3

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is currently the smallest and lightest DSLR on the market as of January 2020. Perfect if you still prefer using a DSLR but don’t want the added weight when you travel.

  • Excellent battery life
  • Small and compact compared to most DSLRs
  • 24.1 Megapixels
  • Built in flash
  • 4K video and timelapse
  • Good built-in microphone
  • No GPS
  • Autofocus is not as good as other cameras in price range

Nikon D5600

The Nikon D5600 is the newer version of the DSLR I used to use when I was backpacking. I had the Nikon D5500 and loved it so I can imagine the D5600 is even better. It is very easy to use and produced lovely photos. As DSLR’s go, it’s not too bulky so it’s manageable as a camera for backpackers.

  • Very easy to use
  • Great image quality
  • Vari-angle touchscreen
  • As DSLR’s go, it’s not too bulky
  • Easy camera to learn photography on
  • Nice grip


  • No 4K video
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The Verdict…

Which is the best waterproof camera for backpacking?

The Go Pro Hero 8 is the best waterproof camera for backpacking. It’s tiny and is light as a feather but powerful taking beautiful images and stunning smooth videos. If you prefer a more traditional camera, then the Olympus Tough TG6 wins.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the most rugged camera for backpacking?

The Olympus Tough TG6 is the most rugged camera for travel. It lives up to its name being waterproof, freeze-proof, dust-proof, crush-proof and drop-proof.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the smallest, lightest camera for backpacking?

The Sony RX100 VII is the best compact camera for travel with many of the features you would expect in a professional camera but packaged in a tiny compact camera.

Buy on Amazon

For those seeking a more affordable camera then the Panasonic Lumix ZS70/TZ90 is the best compact camera for backpacking.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the best camera for backpacking for Professional Travel photographers

If you are a professional travel photographer then you can’t beat the Sony A7iii with its impressive 15-stop dynamic range, its inbuilt body 5-axis stabilisation and 693 autofocus points.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the best camera for backpacking under $200?

The Canon Powershot IXUS185/Elph180 is the best budget compact camera for backpackers. For its low price point, you get a surprising level of image quality and a decent zoom. It’s also small and slim making it a great pocket camera.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the best camera for backpacking under $500?

With its impressive zoom range, the Panasonic Lumix ZS70/TZ90 makes a great mid-budget travel camera. Suitable for virtually any style of photography from street photography to wildlife photography on safari trips.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the best camera for backpacking under $1000?

The Sony RX100 VI is one model below the Sony RX100 VII and is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper bringing it under the $1000 mark.

It is very similar in terms of quality but does not have a microphone input. It also has slightly lower ISO sensitivity and shoots at 24FPS instead of 90FPS in continuous shooting mode.

Buy on Amazon

Which is the best camera for backpacking over $1000?

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkIII is a great little camera because it is both smaller and lighter than your average mirrorless camera but with a similar level of image quality. It has in-built stabilisation and offers 4k videos plus heaps of fancy features.

Buy on Amazon

FAQ’s about cameras for backpacking

cameras for travel - camera on a map

Where to buy your camera for backpacking?

I usually buy my cameras and tech gear on Amazon. This is mostly because I’m impatient so I usually make use of Amazon Prime so I can get going with my new camera straight away!

I also find Amazon’s prices are rarely beaten.

On one occasion, a lens did not arrive (the delivery guy left it on my doorstep!) But I rang them up and a new one was delivered the very next day so I was a happy customer.

How to keep your camera safe whilst backpacking

I highly suggest investing in a theft-proof camera bag to help keep your camera safe whilst backpacking. You can see a selection of camera bag options in this post about anti-theft travel bags.

How to insure cameras for backpacking

Make sure when you get your travel insurance that your camera is covered. Many travel insurance companies will only offer a small amount of money for stolen tech which doesn’t come close to covering the actual cost.

Nomads offer upgraded travel insurance which will insure you for up to $3000 which would be sufficient for most cameras.

Get Travel camera insurance with Nomads here.

Hopefully this article has helped you make a decision about which camera to get for backpacking?

If you have any questions, just pop them in the comments below.

Don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest board to refer back to later using the pins below!

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