11 Best Budget Hiking & Backpacking Cameras of 2021

Man Back with backpack facing lake with hills

Are you planning to hike the Appalachian trail or backpacking around the world? You need a camera system which is reliable and can stand against the elements of nature. There is no such thing as a perfect camera. Bringing a camera for hiking or climbing the mountain, the most important thing is to look out for weight. But there are many good cameras which can do the job for you in 2021.

Do You Need a Mirrorless or Action Camera for Hiking?

This is the most asked question, Go for an action camera if you plan to shoot and capture in very rough terrain. The major downside of the Action cameras is the image quality. There are some excellent 1-inch Action cams on the market, such as the Insta360 ONE R 1-Inch Edition. If you need the best image quality, then go for the Mirrorless camera or compact fixed lens camera.

11. Panasonic GX9

The best way to capture a landscape picture is by using the tiltable EVF, which this fantastic GX9 has. Suppose you want to travel light without compromising on the image quality. Look at the MFT cameras, and they produce wonderful images compare to their size and weight. The autofocus in the video mode is a bit wonky and not reliable at all. If you need a rangefinder-style camera with tiltable EVF, this is the camera for you.


10. Sony RX100 Mark 7

Looking for something that fits in your or women’s pocket, the Sony RX100 M7 is for you. This camera’s most outstanding feature is the amazing 4K video quality that rivals the large sensor cameras. The autofocus in this compact pocket camera for hiking is fantastic to use for the wildlife. Finally, the best feature for me is the 24-200mm zoom range. If you are looking for the all-in-one compact package in point-and-shoot for backpacking, this is it. If you are into videos, there is also a 3.5mm microphone jack on the camera. The only thing it lacks; is the ND Filter.


9. Canon EOS M200

The only compact camera on the market with a large APS-C sensor and 4K video, and weight under 300g. Sadly, there is a 1.6x crop when recording in 4K and no Dual Pixel Auto Focus. The M200 is the most beloved Canon M50 without the EVF and 3.5mm microphone. But this M200 is very compact; pair it with the EF-M 22mm F2 lens and the entire package weight under 400g for hiking. I admire the larger sensor in small pocket bodies, which you can easily carry in your cargo or jacket pocket. I wish there were an army green color of the M200.


8. Fujifilm X-T200

You are looking for a budget packing camera with all features such as EVF, 3.5mm mic jack, and headphone port. This Fujifilm X-T200 is for you. Also, there is no crop when recording in 4K. I love the retro style of the X-T200; it’s an attention grabber camera. The image quality is sharp from its 24MP if you paired it with the right lens. You can use the USB-C to 3.5mm adapter for the headphone audio monitoring. The X-T200 is a very affordable camera for your next backpacking trip.


7. Canon M6 Mark 2

If you are looking for a large megapixel count camera, let me welcome the Canon M6 Mark 2. This camera had garnered a lot of love in the backpacking communities. Canon is best when it comes to the color rendition for landscapes and skin tone. One of the major downside for me is that the 4K video is soft, not what I expected. But the 32MP sensor is the best I have seen from an APS-C with low noise.


6. Sony A6100

Not a great landscape photography camera, to be honest, but an excellent videography camera if you put it on a gimbal. First, this is the best budget 4K camera, and sadly you cannot use it for any walking movement because of a bad rolling shutter and lack of IBIS. If you put the Sony A6100 on the gimbal, then the camera shine.

The Sony A6100 or any E-Mount cameras are not good for photography; because of the lack of a good sharp APS-C landscape lens. Most Sony E-Mount produces heavy vignetting in RAW. Overall, I only recommend it for video, not images.


5. Fujifilm X-T30

I am a diehard lover of the Fujifilm X-Trans sensor over the Bayer sensor. When I shoot with the X-Trans sensor, I shoot JPEGs, and most of the time, I don’t need any editing. If you want your pictures to look amazing straight out of the camera, get the X-T30. The autofocus is high-speed, and there is no crop in 4K mode. There is also a 2.5mm microphone jack; use the adapter for your 3.5mm microphones. Overall, you can’t go wrong with it.


4. Nikon Z50

Nikon is back in the game; why the Z50 makes the perfect camera for backpacking is the entire package in a compact DSRL style body. First, let me get out of the way is the chunkier grip, which most compact cameras lack. Once you hold the Nikon Z50 in your hands, you will feel how comfortable it is. Second, it’s the fantastic EVF with the selfie screen. Now for the major reason to get the Z50 is the Nikon colors rendition; I admire how beautiful it looks when shooting in JPEGS. The only downside is the lack of IBIS; it solely relies on the lens VR.


3. Fujifilm X-S10

If you are willing to spend more over the X-T20, get the X-S10 because of a better 26MP sensor. I love how fast is the X-S10 with 20FPS Continuous shoot in drive mode for any fast-moving subject. Also, there is a massive upgrade for 4K video lovers over the X-H1. The 4K video that comes out of X-S10 is outstanding. The significant thing about this Fuji camera is the selfie screen or any way to face the screen to your self. Finally, the IBIS on X-S10 is good for handheld videos, but it’s not as good as X-T4.


2. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 Mark 3

I have a special place for the Micro Four Third cameras in my heart because they excel in one category, which none can compete in is the IBIS. This Olympus E-M5 Mark 3 had gimbal-like stabilization in a compact, lightweight body of around 400g. I love this camera’s retro silver color and pair it with the 17mm F1.8; then I am all set to go. You can also pair it with the 12-200mm (24-400mm in Full Frame), then you can tackle any subject in the wilderness.  Also, the camera is weather-sealed, easily you can shoot in the rain.


1. Fujifilm X-E4

Finally, the best budget hiking camera for under $800 is the X-E4. First, it’s a very lightweight camera around 364g; if you pair it with the XF 27mm F2.8 Mark II lens, it will produce some best amazing images of your lifetime. Overall, this camera is for peoples who want backpack light and need a camera on a budget. If rangefinder-style cameras appeal to you, you can’t go wrong with it. One of the best aspects of X-E4 is a selfie screen for vlogging with XC 15-45mm and a 3.5mm mic jack. Fujifilm X-E4 has everything you need in a compact body for your hiking trip except weather-sealing. I hope you will enjoy the hiking; remember to hike safely.


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