Checking trail cameras is one of my favorite things to do in the outdoors. Mainly because my boys absolutely love hiking the mountains to go see what pictures are on the cameras. Trail cameras provide pictures that you could not capture anywhere else, and they are one of my favorite scouting tools. Since moving to Colorado, I've relied heavily on trail cameras to guide me on where to hunt. But which trail cam is the best? Today I'm going to break down a few of the best cameras on the market, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Best Budget Camera
There's a huge range of prices out there for game cameras. You can spend $500 on a trail camera if you would like. For this post, I'm not even throwing those into the mix. Mainly because I've never used one, but also because I'm sure not many of you want to drop that much on a camera you're going to hang in the woods and leave for weeks at a time. So let's look at the best budget camera.
I'm partial to the Browning cameras because they were the first ones I used when I started buying cameras. I was a poor college student, and I couldn't afford the top notch cameras. If you're on a budget as well, I recommend the Browning cameras. For around $67, you can buy the Browning Command Ops trail camera. It provides you with 14mp pictures and a very nice 720p video. It also has a very quick trigger speed that allows you to capture every moment possible.
- Low price
- Average MP and video
- Easy to use
- Durability isn't the greatest
- Night videos can appear a little grainy
- Sound quality
Best Cellular Camera
The new wave of trail cameras are the cellular cameras. This category is limited because there are only a handful of companies making these, but if you've ever used one, they are really amazing! As soon as your camera takes a picture, it is immediately sent to your phone for your review. The applications for these cameras go well outside of just hunting and outdoors, but they definitely bring eScouting to a new level.
As I mentioned, the number of companies making these cameras are not abundant, but the ones that have started making them are putting out some great products. My top cellular trail camera is the Spartan GoCam. The GoCam stays within a reasonable price range for a cellular camera, but it provides you the high quality pictures and video that we've come to expect from the newer trail cameras. One thing to note about a cellular camera is that you'll need to attach it to your existing cellular account with Verizon, Sprint, etc. Spartan has partnered with these companies, and for a small fee of about $5 a month, you can add the GoCam to your existing account.
- Excellent cellular range
- Quality pictures and videos
- Must have cellular service to function properly
- Slightly difficult to setup
- Monthly fee
Best 4K Camera
I have converted to mainly videos on my trail cameras. I absolutely love the cameras that can provide both pictures and videos without changing the settings manually. 4K cameras have mainly been the reason I have moved to videos because the quality of those videos on my 4K laptop and TV are unbelievable! It makes you feel like you're sitting right there in the tree.
When it comes to 4K cameras, for me, there really is no contest. The Stealth Cam DS4K HD is absolutely amazing! Stealth Cam is an amazing brand, and they have really begun to take the market in the hunting industry. The DS4K camera has been key in them taking that control.
- 30 MP
- 4K video
- Easy to use
Best Overall Camera
If you're looking for a camera that checks most of the boxes, then this is the camera for you. Sometimes we don't need the 4K quality, or the cellular instant images, and sometimes we can pay just a little more for a camera.
My best overall camera is the Stealth Cam G42NG. This camera provides you with 12 MP and 1080p video, and it doesn't break the bank. This has become my "go to" camera, and it really is for two major reasons. Cost is definitely one of those reasons. The other big reason is the battery life. I have had great success with the battery life of these cameras, and have been extremely pleased with it's longevity. I travel a lot for a living, and I have gone many weeks and months between camera checks, and these things are like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going and going.
- Easy to use
Trail Camera Tips
- Theft. Sadly, theft is a major concern as it relates to trail cameras. I would recommend buying a security/bear box for all of your cameras. Click (here) to see an example of what these boxes look like. They will cost you about $25-$50 per box, but they are well worth the money. Most of the boxes allow you to put a padlock on the box, so don't forget your key when you head out to check cameras.
- Batteries. I have two thoughts here, and you can pick what fits you best. I have boughten the rechargeable AA batteries, and I rotate the batteries through my cameras. I like this because I don't have to buy a lot of batteries. However, I've found that they don't last very long. I now resort to Costco. The price of a huge brick of AA batteries is fairly inexpensive, so I highly recommend going this route, even though you'll throw away a lot of batteries.
- SD cards. Buy quality SD cards! Don't buy those cheap ones that are not durable, or fail when you try to look at your pictures. Quality SD cards aren't that much more money, and they will save you a lot of frustration in the future.
- Checking pictures. Buy yourself an SD card reader that you can plug into your phone to review your pictures. I purchased this one (here) on Amazon, and it has worked perfectly. You can also get these for your iPad, if you want a bigger picture.