Best Trail Cameras For Hunting & Wildlife Monitoring In 2022
The trail camera (sometimes known as a hunting camera, remote camera or game camera) varies from the travel camera in that it’s used to capture remote images, typically but not always of wildlife, either for personal enjoyment, professional use, security purposes or to surmise whether there is trophy game in a certain area. When used for the latter purpose they can save a hunter loads of time they otherwise would have to spend in a hunting blind, waiting. If you have a cabin in a remote location or a large property you can’t visit every part of every day, trail cameras can be used as a way to augment its security profile. And of course, nature photographers use them to obtain truly candid shots of wildlife too. Remote cameras are also sometimes used by sports photographers to capture images from obscure angles. Trail cameras can be triggered by hand, radio, sound, or by using the built-in timer.
Trail cameras are capable of taking photos or video and have flash capabilities that typically far surpass those built into the average handheld camera. There are also many wireless trail camera models capable of sending images directly to your smartphone while others offer no-glow infrared photography.
But with so many different types of trail cameras available, it can be difficult to determine which ones are worth the money and which are not. So in these trail camera reviews, we’re going to take a close look at what we consider to be the best trail cameras on the market today.
- Most Durable: Bushnell 16MP HD Essential E3 Trail Camera
- Highest Quality Videos: Meidase Trail Camera 16MP 1080P
- Best for Capturing Audio: Browning Strike Force Trail Camera
- Best for Nighttime Use: Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Camera
- Best Value For Money: Vikeri A1 Trail Camera 16MP
- Our Favorite Accessory: BoneView Viewer For Apple iPhone & iPad
The Best Trail & Game Camera
The Bushnell Trophy Cam E3 is a robust and dependable wildlife trail camera that produces bright and colorful pictures while remaining easy to program and operate. The impressively low trigger speed of 0.3 and 1.0 recovery mode, allows you to capture your subject in action, day and night. More images shot means more targeted information to help you hunt smarter and track behavior patterns.
The durable case design makes it a reliable choice that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use and the elements. This model runs on eight AA batteries and stores an SD card in the back battery compartment. Featuring a Red Glow IR flash, it shoots clear and deep daytime images and night images are not far behind. If you want to shoot video, the Bushnell has a 720p HD video resolution with a detection range of 100ft and will capture 30 seconds of video length while any animal is in the frame. Overall, we’d rate this as being a trustworthy and consistent trail camera that delivers plenty of bang for your buck.
0.3-second trigger speed
16MP high-quality image resolution with automatic day/night sensor
Fast 1-second recovery rate for more pictures and fewer blanks
PIR motion-activated sensor with 100ft detection range
One-year battery life for all-season hunting
- Weight8.3 Ounces
There are plenty of features and benefits that any fan of hunting and outdoor photography will appreciate about this Meidase Trail Camera. Not only does it feature a large, wide aperture to provide an expansive field of vision, it also captures crisp and clear 16 MP high-resolution images and 1080P full HD video. It has excellent night vision with a flash range up to 100ft and utilizes invisible infrared flash illumination technology. There’s a fast 0.2-second trigger and a total 120-degree detection angle.
The Meidase camera is also waterproof and reliable, built with sturdy mechanics and robust housing that is water, dust, rain, and drop-proof. It’s capable of reliably performing in a range of environments from deserts to tropical rain forests, providing wildlife and surveillance functions throughout the seasons. It’s super easy to set up and operate with a user-friendly UI design and a TV remote-style keyboard. There’s an internal LCD viewing screen so you can directly review, manage, and playback your photos and videos. Other notable features include loop recording, time-lapse setting, password protected operation plus it has a long in-field battery life of up to 6-months on eight AA batteries. If you’re looking for a reliable camera with excellent video quality, this is a great option.
0.2-second trigger speed
16MP high-quality image resolution with 1080p HD video
Easy to use with TV remote style keyboard
IP66 waterproof plus also dust-proof and drop-proof
Good in-field battery life of 6 months
- Weight1.17 Pounds
Browning has a reputation for producing quality trail cameras and the Strike Force HD 850 won’t disappoint. It can be programmed to shoot in bursts, delivering rapid-fire and multi-shot images as well as featuring a convenient programmable picture delay. The camera can be either remotely triggered or set to motion detection with an 80ft dynamic range. Experience a high-end image thanks to the 16MP resolution image quality and excellent videos in 720p HD video resolution with crisp audio to boot.
The Strike Force HD is excellent for taking pictures at night and incorporates Zero Blur technology. As long as your game is within a range of 120ft, you will be able to capture clear images even at night. Another excellent user-friendly feature includes Smart IR video functionality so that you can continually record video during the day when game is detected in proximity. We love the sturdy camo casing and compact design which make this a lightweight, undetectable option and one of the best trail cameras out there.
0.4-second trigger speed
16MP high-quality image resolution with Zero Blur nighttime technology
Compact and lightweight with camo design casing
Smart IR continuous daytime video recording
Produces high-quality 720p HD video with clear sound
- BrandBrowning Trail Cameras
- ModelBTC 5HD 850
- Weight1.23 Pounds
The G42NG No-Glo camera features, as you might imagine from the name, no glow infrared technology that allows you to set up your covert trail cameras and get your shot without spooking the game so you can truly understand them in their natural habitat. With burst mode, delay mode, and, perhaps most importantly, time-lapse mode, you’ll get any type of image you need. If what you need is video, this digital camera also captures full HD video. For the price, you’ll have a hard time finding a better trail cam than the Stealth G42. Whether you need time-lapse images, a rapid sequence of photos, or high def video the Stealth Cam No-Glo Trail Camera is on the job.
This is a feature-rich trail camera with a variety of pre-programmed shooting modes that let you set up quickly and move on confident that the camera won’t miss a thing. Select 2, 4, 8, or 10MP resolution or 480 or 720P video, or set the G42 to create a time-lapse montage you can use to accurately determine wildlife traffic in a given area. If you like to take charge of things yourself, switch to custom mode and program away! From the high-quality images to the GPS tagging, this is a deer camera that serious outdoor enthusiasts are going to love. This also makes a great gift for photography lovers.
Quiet and unobtrusive camera
10MP high-quality image resolution
Utilizes Black IR technology for No-Glo
Fast and responsive trigger speed
Shot range of up to 100ft
- BrandStealth Cam
- Weight1.5 Ibs
The Vikeri A1 Trail Camera 16MP is a reliable, robust, and easy-to-use trail camera that incorporates plenty of great features while providing exceptional value at an affordable price. Capable of shooting clear, quality photos in 16MP resolution, you can even capture a shot from as far away as 70 feet. With a 120° wide-angle lens and 48 PCS no glow infrared LEDs, this bad boy will give you a broad view and won’t disturb the animals in their natural habitat.
There’s a fast trigger speed function with a speed of sub 0.2 seconds which means that in the multi-image mode you can capture up to three images at once. Even if you are capturing images at night, the Vikeri A1’s hyper night vision mode will ensure that you take sharp and crisp pictures. This trail camera has 180 days long standby time and will survive even in the toughest environments (waterproof, rated IP66) so you can also look forward to enjoying season-long scouting. It also comes with a 32 GB microSD.
0.2-second trigger speed
16MP infrared digital scouting camera
180 days standby time
940nm no glow night vision with 48 IR LED
32 GB microSD and 4 AA batteries included
- Weight1.54 Pounds
The BoneView Trail Camera viewer is a horse of a slightly different color. It’s not a trail camera in and of itself but it is maybe the best cellular trail camera add-on out there. This accessory allows you to view what you’ve shot and decide what you want to keep and what you can discard. Slip an SD card (up to 32GB) from your trail camera into the BoneView and quickly scroll through everything the trail camera has captured since you left. There are no outside Internet or cell phone services required and the whole thing is powered by the battery on your phone.
There’s not a lot else to say about the BoneView trail camera SD card reader except that it’s likely to become one of your most important pieces of go-to hunting gear in fairly short order. It does what it promises and makes the whole process of determining whether a location is likely to bear fruit much more efficient.
Lets you see your trail cam pics on your phone
Compatible with most iPhones, from iPhone 5 to iPhone7
Compact design, easily fits in pocket or pack
SD card up to 32 GB
Why Trust Us
While I am not a hunter, I am a photographer and remote cameras are an excellent way to truly understand your subject. I also grew up in a family of hunters and in rural areas where trail cameras were common for both hunting and general monitoring and security.
Who This Is For
This guide is geared towards hunters first and foremost as the primary user group of trail cameras. Wildlife photographers are the second user group I considered when writing this guide, and the one I relate to most. However, those looking to use trail cameras as a security measure or for general monitoring will also benefit from this guide and its contents.
How We Picked
Selecting the best trail cameras was no easy feat. We first looked at bestsellers across multiple outlets and narrowed down our list. After that, we consulted independent reviews and Amazon user reviews to find the best options and further slim our list so we only provide you with the absolute best trail camera models out there.
Features To Look For In Trail Cameras
Before you go ahead and purchase one of our best trail camera product recommendations, we suggest that you consider some of these essential features and useful added extras.
Field of vision - How important are depth and width? Do you want to be able to capture long and wide shots? If so, then you need to consider not just the range in terms of depth but also what side angle shots the lens will accommodate. There are fully panoramic camera options, but these may not have as impressive a range. So weigh up what's most important to you according to your needs so that you can purchase a trail camera that strikes the right balance.
Night vision - The ability to capture videos and images at night could be an essential feature for you, especially if you prefer to hunt at night or in low light conditions. Wildlife photographers may not be able to capture night photos of animals behaving in their normal patterns without a trail camera that captures images with red glow infrared. The trade-off here is that you need a camera that allows you to capture nighttime images, but that won't have such a bright flash that it ends up scaring away the local wildlife and disrupting their normal behavior. Choose the LED carefully and look for a camera fitted with infrared technology if you want night vision without spooking the game. These trail cameras tend to feature panels that light up rather than a sudden flashing bulb effect and tend to have an image sensor that is triggered by movement and heat.
Megapixels - If you're familiar with digital cameras of any description, not just trail cameras, you will appreciate the importance of megapixels. The higher the megapixels, the sharper, clearer, and more defined the picture quality will be. Clearly, if you are a wildlife photographer, this is going to be far more critical than if you are using a trail camera for hunting purposes to simply locate your game. However, even if you are hunting, you do need the pictures to be clear enough so that you discern what it is that you're looking at and ensure the game is legal to hunt in the first place.
Trigger - The faster the trigger speed, the more images your camera will shoot in quick succession, and the more likelihood you have to capture subjects that pass in front of your trail cam. The faster the camera operates, the better clarity you should have, or you'll end up with blurry photos. You want to ensure that if an animal does pass directly in front of your camera, the trigger detects the movement and automatically fires. There are impressive trail cameras out there with advanced technology and ultra-fast trigger speed that can be deployed in well under a second.
Durability - If you're going for an outdoor hunting camera, then you'd best make sure that it's weatherproof and animal-proof too! A surprised creature will act quickly in self-preservation and doesn't care how expensive your great trail camera is. Do yourself and your wallet a favor by investing in a trail camera that's sturdy, reliable, and can withstand all the hits thrown its way. It may even be you who unwittingly misses your shot and fires at your camera by mistake.
Battery - The longer the battery life, the better, it's one less thing to worry about. You don't really want to be worrying about recharging batteries and packing spares. The great news is that since many trail cameras feature LED's they tend to last much longer with many batteries being suitable for a whole year and definitely long enough to see you through hunting season.
Detection range - Detection range is how far away the trail camera can detect movement. This varies based on the objects in the way, elevation, and lighting conditions but the best trail cameras should have a range of 65 to 100 feet or more.
Recovery time - Recovery time is essentially the time it takes for a camera to take an image, then store it and reset to take another. With the top-rated trail cameras, you should have a recovery time of five seconds or less. Cheaper cameras may have longer recovery times but are bound to miss important moments.
Glow - Glow refers to the light that trail cameras put out when capturing an image at night. A no glow camera emits infrared light that is invisible to the naked eye and to almost all animals. It allows you to capture images without startling even the most skittish of creatures like deer and foxes. The downside is that the range of the camera drops. With low glow trail cameras, a very small amount of light is emitted to capture an image. This light will be visible to some humans and animals but is unlikely to scare animals except for the most skittish like deer and foxes.
Audio recording - Recording audio may not be as valuable for hunters unless you intend to understand and mimic an animal's particular calls and sounds. However, for understanding wildlife or security, a trail camera that records audio is crucial. Maybe a trail camera with audio is how we finally answer the question: What does the fox say?
Waterproofness - Unless you live in the desert, you should be expecting intermittent rain throughout the year, even then your trail camera will encounter water at some point and waterproofing is a must with anything that will live outdoors.
Uses For Trail Cameras
Pattern movements – As a hunter, or photographer, it is absolutely vital to be tuned into the patterns and behaviors of your intended prey or subject. A stealth cam that doesn't startle or alarm an animal is one of the best ways to get a glimpse into their world and day-to-day activities. This insight then allows you to set yourself up in the appropriate area to shoot your subject, whether that be with a rifle, bow, or camera. Trail cameras can also be used for wildlife viewing and management on private properties.
Shed hunting – Shed hunting leaves you pretty stationary and with a minimal glimpse into the outside world. Adding one of the best trail cameras to your arsenal allows you to better understand animal behavior and see what's going on outside your shed.
Security – When you have a large property, setting up a security camera or a few can be quite a daunting task, especially with long video length or if the terrain makes for a difficult installation. Trail cameras provide a durable, cost-effective option that you can install in all kinds of terrain, and they act as exceptional security cameras.
Videos – Capturing videos of game and wildlife is a great way to use a trail camera. Using trail cams allow you to see wildlife in their natural state, uninterrupted by human activity. This unique perspective allows scientists, hunters and photographers to understand patterns and behaviors in new ways.
Trail Camera FAQ
Q: What is a trail camera?
A: A trail camera, game camera, or wildlife camera as it's referred to by certain manufacturers, is a ruggedly designed camera for outdoor use. These cameras are primarily used by either wildlife photographers or hunters to facilitate the hunt and to make identifying the location of wildlife that much easier. Due to their robust and weatherproof nature, some customers do also use trail cameras for security and monitoring purposes on larger properties.
Q: How far do trail cameras work?
A: It totally depends on the make and model that you have purchased, but the best trail cameras have at the very least an operating range of 50ft up to 100ft. The real range, of course, will be affected by the conditions, and if there is a lot of thick brush, undergrowth, or hills where you are hunting the workable distance will be reduced.
Q: Where should I set up my trail camera?
A: There's plenty of contention within the hunting community on this point, but as a general rule of thumb, 3 to 5 feet off the ground is a sensible height. Alternatively, you could try going to 7 feet and angling the camera downwards. In terms of location, try and find a spot in the wild where you know wildlife is frequently active, so you have an excellent chance of capturing some interesting shots. These placements also work well for monitoring flora and fauna for wildlife photography and security.
Q: What are the best types of batteries to use in trail cameras?
A: When choosing your batteries, look for the most durable and weather-resistant lithium batteries since your trail camera will be left to the elements.
Q: What are the most reliable trail cameras?
A: All of the trail cameras on this list are reliable and trustworthy. There isn't one big standout because everyone has different needs and wants and the most reliable option will vary based on your terrain and environment. The best trail camera is the one that serves your needs the best.