Best trail camera for documenting nature
If you’re looking to monitor your outdoor spaces and capture candid footage of wildlife in breathtaking detail, the best trail camera will get the job done at any time of day and in every type of weather.
There are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors and commune with nature, but introducing a human presence in wild spaces can cause unavoidable changes in wildlife behavior. The best trail cameras or game camera on the market allow you to witness the natural comings and goings of wild animals and enjoy candid front-seat views of their lives in your own backyard without disturbing them in the process. Not only do trail cameras allow wildlife photographers to sit back and enjoy nature photography worthy of a documentary, they can also provide covert monitoring of outdoor areas on a constant basis, making them highly useful tools for securing your property, identifying intruders, or keeping an eye on livestock and pets around the clock.
Trail cameras come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and colors, but the core of their strength lies in their waterproof and camouflaged housings that allow them to effortlessly blend in with tree bark, leaves, dirt, and other elements of nature. This feature, when combined with portable power and wireless connectivity, sets trail cameras apart from other security cameras and motion cameras by allowing users to install them directly along paths and up close to animals without spooking them. Below, we’ve broken down some of the features and variants often seen on the market to help you choose the best trail camera for your needs.
- Best overall: Campark 4K WiFi Trail Camera
- Best cellular: Creative XP LTE Trail Camera
- Best WiFi: Victure HC500 WiFi Trail Camera
- Best Bluetooth: Campark T85 WiFi Bluetooth Trail Camera
- Best waterproof: Apeman H55 Trail Camera
- Best with night vision: Toguard 4K WiFi Trail Camera
- Hgh resolution: Rexing Woodlens H2
- Beat cheap: Campark Mini Trail Camera
Features to consider when shopping for the best trail camera
The best trail camera for everyday use should offer users the flexibility to capture wildlife photography and nature footage in a variety of common outdoor situations. Night vision and weatherproofing usually come standard on trail cameras, but it’s important to consider whether wireless access and 4K resolution are required for your particular situation. Below, we’ll go through some of the most popular variants of trail cameras to help you decide what’s right for you.
Find a trail camera with great image quality
Trail camera functionality relies upon a combination of battery power and standby functionality to allow long-term remote capture of wildlife photography and other footage. For most users, the best game camera overall will first and foremost hold a charge over a long period of time and conserve battery naturally, allowing nature photographers to enjoy monitoring of outdoor areas over the course of multiple seasons without the need to change batteries. Models that employ wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, WiFi, or cellular connection remain superior to those that only store footage locally on an SD card, as they provide users full remote access to download and review camera imagery without the need to disrupt their setup.
Environmental adaptability is another hallmark of trail cameras’ resilience, with night vision and waterproof tech coming standard on most models. These features ensure that wildlife photographers have maximum access to all potential event footage regardless of the weather or time of day, and give game cameras a robustness and flexibility that sets them apart from other classes of outdoor camera. The best trail camera overall will feature a collection of these design elements and combine them in a package that’s affordable, flexible, and well-suited to the needs of most nature photographers.
Best trail camera overall: Campark 4K WiFi Trail Camera
Catch Them All
Features clear night vision that reaches up to 65 feet away. Amazon
The Campark 4K WiFi Trail Camera is one of the best trail cameras overall owing to its full feature set and accessible price point. It captures 30-megapixel still photos and 4k video while offering both Bluetooth and WiFi wireless connectivity for added flexibility. In addition to featuring an SD card slot the camera boasts IP66 waterproof construction and motion trigger technology, making it an incredibly well-rounded choice for most users.
A wireless game camera makes storage and set up easy
Because trail cameras are designed to capture footage of remote outdoor areas over long periods of time, it’s important to consider how you’ll access the camera at a later date and whether you can pull files from it wirelessly. The best trail cameras for ease of access employ wireless technologies like WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular data to allow users to connect to the camera from afar and manage storage, review clips, and remotely control other functions without the need to tamper with or uninstall the unit. This feature is critical in applications where the game camera has been placed in hard-to-reach locations such as trees or ravines, or in situations where camera access is only available seasonally and dependent upon ice, snow, or water accumulation.
Game cameras usually operate in standby mode by default to conserve battery and only begin filming when motion is detected or when explicitly controlled to do so. This mode of operation conserves battery life and cuts down on the need for constant disruption of or access to the camera’s position and placement to change a battery. The best wireless trail cameras use WiFi or Bluetooth to grant users access from several meters away, and some use cellular data tech to expand user access to practically anywhere. Choosing the best variant for you will depend largely upon the availability of cell service in the local area as well as the type of tech that you’ll be using to remotely access your camera.
Best cellular trail camera: Creative XP LTE Trail Camera
Ultra-Quick Response Time
Can be powered by 12 AA batteries, a wall outlet, or an optional solar panel. Amazon
This waterproof trail camera from Creative XP is among the best cellular trail cameras on the market due to its super compact design, full HD capability, and reliable connectivity via the AT&T network. It allows remote access to the camera settings and footage via the companion app and has full infrared night vision capability with a range of 65 feet. A SIM card and an SD card are also included for easy setup. Though its cellular subscription costs a small maintenance fee, this trail camera can’t be beat for users who want to remotely access their unit from anywhere in the world.
Best WiFi trail camera: Victure HC500 WiFi Trail Camera
Sports a two-inch onboard LCD for hands-on clip review. Amazon
The Victure HC500 captures 30-megapixel nature photography and 1296p video footage while offering fully wireless remote access, making it one of the best WiFi trail cameras available for the price. It’s built to IP66 waterproof specs, runs on eight AA batteries, and features compatibility with SD cards up to 128 gigabytes in size. Its array of 36 infrared LEDs delivers highly detailed nighttime shots, and the whole unit is built to IP66 waterproof specs for sustained reliability in any weather.
Best Bluetooth trail camera: Campark T85 WiFi Bluetooth Trail Camera
Long-Distance Motion Sensitive
If you’re looking for a trail camera that’s controllable via both Bluetooth and WiFi, the Campark T85 is a top contender that packs a host of useful features including 65-foot-range infrared night vision and IP66 waterproof construction. Video is captured at 1296p, while still photos ring in at 20 megapixels. The included Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to control the camera from afar and turn it on and off as needed to conserve battery, making it one of the best Bluetooth trail cameras for flexible long-term use.
Make sure your game camera can survive the elements
If you’re looking to capture the best wildlife photography at the source of the action, it’s crucial to select a game camera that’s resilient enough to deliver reliable results in any weather. The best trail cameras for monitoring game and wild animals in any season should have high-level waterproofing built into their design to ensure reliable performance in rain, sleet, snow, and beyond. A waterproof game camera is all but essential for prolonged use in any outdoor environment, but the need for this feature is magnified in wetter climates, and especially in locales alongside bodies of water. Monitoring wildlife with a waterproof trail camera not only adds to the longevity of your camera but also affords you direct access to footage of wildlife that only comes out in wetter weather as well as those that prey on water-loving creatures. When selecting a waterproof game camera, go for a model that’s rated at IP66 or higher. This designation signifies that the unit is built to keep out dust particles of every size and to withstand direct, sustained sprays of water.
Best waterproof: Apeman H55 Trail Camera
Offers a blazingly-fast trigger speed of 0.3 seconds. Amazon
A two-inch color LCD and 940-nanometer infrared night vision LEDs are packed into a durable IP66-rated waterproof shell in this versatile trail camera from Apeman. It’s one of the best waterproof trail cameras on the market thanks to a design that’s built to capture high-quality 1080p video and 20-megapixel photos in a shell that’s impermeable to dust and jets of water. There’s no wireless access on this unit, which cuts down both its price and its battery drainage considerably, with all footage instead going straight to SD card for later review. An optional time and temperature stamp for footage helps users contextualize their captures for archival purposes.
Do you need a trail camera with night vision?
Night vision trail cameras are one of the best solutions on the market for covert round-the-clock monitoring of the outdoor areas on your property. In addition to being irreplaceable for viewing nocturnal wildlife activity without disrupting the action, game cameras are a novel and well-suited option for wireless monitoring of remote outdoor areas for the purposes of security and surveillance. The best trail cameras with night vision employ infrared light that’s invisible to the naked eye to illuminate otherwise pitch-black areas, making them a fantastic option for keeping an eye on your property, capturing some nature photography of nocturnal animals and their interactions, or figuring out who’s been digging through your trash while you sleep.
When choosing a game camera for night vision use, it’s important to rely upon a model that uses infrared beams for illumination as opposed to regular light. This ensures minimal disturbance of nocturnal animals’ natural behaviors, but more importantly, infrared light won’t alert wildlife or trespassers of the camera’s position and existence. Many models of night vision game cameras turn off this function after the battery drops below a certain point, so it’s essential to pick a unit that offers continuous and sustained functionality to increase your odds of capturing useful footage and one-off events.
Best with night vision: Toguard 4K WiFi Trail Camera
Access your high-quality camera footage via Bluetooth and WiFi. Amazon
This WiFi trail camera from Toguard is one of the best trail cameras with night vision currently available due to its ability to deliver 4K video and 30-megapixel photos using high-powered infrared LEDs at a range of up to 65 feet. It’s waterproof and boasts a 120-degree lens to ensure you don’t miss out on a single event, and its WiFi allows for ease of control without the need to physically access the camera.
Get picture-perfect images with a 4k trail cam
Creatives, nature enthusiasts, and all other users with a keen eye for detail should turn to a 4K trail camera that’s capable of capturing high-quality footage of outdoor spaces. While most game cameras available today film at average resolutions of 1080p, a camera that delivers a higher level of detail can make all the difference when attempting to discern between nighttime footage of a ghostly blob and a chipmunk. Users who rely on game cameras for surveillance can benefit from the extra accuracy afforded by a 4K camera in identifying objects, people, and creatures in the most fleeting footage, while users who seek to use their trail camera footage for presentation or archival purposes will feel that much closer to the on-screen action.
When shopping for the best trail camera with high resolution, there’s no reason to go below 4K. Tech with resolution quality beyond full HD is more prevalent and affordable than ever, so users can acquire the best quality of footage possible for less of a price bump over low-resolution models than you might think. One word of caution, though: 4K cameras inherently create larger files, so it’s essential to choose a game camera that’s compatible with high-capacity memory cards to reduce the risk of running low on space.
Best highest resolution: Rexing Woodlens H2
High Capacity, High Performance
Up to 12 months of standby on a single set of batteries. Amazon
For users who don’t wish to compromise, the Rexing Woodlens provides some of the best performance available in this product category. It offers motion-triggered recording, infrared night vision, and WiFi connectivity on top of its ability to capture 4K video and 20-megapixel photos with its wide-angle lens. Like every good game camera, it’s designed with IP66 waterproof resistance and high-capacity SD card compatibility, but the Woodlens pushes it further with a built-in 2.4-inch LCD screen, audio and video output, and optional solar panel connectivity for long-term power, making it one of the best highest resolution trail cameras available.
The best on a budget: What you can get for under $50
Finding the best trail camera on a budget is certainly possible, but some sacrifices in functionality and flexibility will have to be made if you’re searching for the best deal. The best cheap game cameras on the market offer all the essential features you’d expect from this product category, including infrared night vision, wide-angle lenses, HD video, and memory card compatibility. The main thing you’ll miss when shopping for a more affordable trail camera is a wireless connectivity option, which adds remote access and flexibility at the cost of a considerable price bump. If you’ll only be using your trail camera for passive wildlife photography and don’t mind the need to access the unit each time you want to review footage, a less expensive model might be perfect for you. For surveillance and other real-time uses, though, there’s no substitute for a wireless model.
Best cheap trail camera: Campark Mini Trail Camera
Surveillance on a Budget
Mounting rope and USB cable included. Amazon
This trail camera from Campark packs lots of the high-tech features you’d find on a more expensive model into a compact form, making it one of the best cheap trail cameras on the market. It sports infrared night vision and a 120-degree wide-angle lens along with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor capable of capturing full-HD video around the clock. This is a fantastic choice for users who want a game camera on a budget or for users who want to buy in bulk and cover a wide area of property. Be aware that while there’s no wireless connectivity on this model, it’s fully compatible with SD cards up to 32 gigabytes in size.
Q: What should I look for when buying a trail camera?
Trail cameras are meant to camouflage into their environment and operate using motion detection and batteries, so it’s critical to choose one that’s designed for this task rather than a standard security camera. Night vision and high-resolution video capture are key features to look for as well, along with wireless connectivity if you want on-demand access to your camera from a distance. You want to be sure that while you’re sitting comfortably around your portable fire pit that your trail camera is getting the shots.
Q: Are trail cameras worth it?
Trail cameras are a worthy investment for wildlife enthusiasts, nature photographers, and anyone else who wants to monitor outdoor activities discreetly. They’re designed to blend in, stay put, and operate over long periods in every kind of weather without the need for readjustment or tampering, which makes them stand out from other types of outdoor cameras.
Q: How many game cameras should I use?
Game camera placement should primarily be along high-traffic trails, edges of streams, and at other areas of interest where signs of activity are detected. Installing two game cameras is an appropriate choice for users looking to monitor a small outdoor area, but four or more cameras may be needed for monitoring larger areas with any useful level of detail, especially if your capture resolution is below 4K.
A final word on shopping for the best trail camera
If you’re looking for a flexible solution for remotely monitoring outdoor spaces and capturing high-resolution footage of wildlife behavior at every time of day, a dedicated trail camera is the ideal tool for getting the job done. The best trail cameras on the market are built to persist over long periods on a single charge and deliver eye-opening nature photography throughout a variety of weather types and lighting scenarios, making them the most versatile and reliable choice for property owners and animal enthusiasts.