Also known as, ‘hunting camera’, ‘remote camera’ or ‘game camera’, the best trail camera is used to take remote images of wildlife, for personal enjoyment, for professional use or for security purposes. If you are a hunter, it is a lifesaver as you do not have to spend days finding your hunt. If you are a nature lover, you can take extremely candid images of wildlife. On the other hand, if you have a cabin in a remote area, you can employ it for your security. The best trail camera allows you to take photos as well as make videos. The wireless trail camera is a step ahead of rendering pictures in your smartphone. As you can see, this cam can be used for so many applications, therefore manufacturers have created different types of trail cameras that can be triggered by hand, radio, sound, or through a built-in timer. Now, the question is which one is the best trail camera. To answer this, we have tested different cams and compiled our best trail camera reviews.
However, before you go to purchase the best trail camera in the market, we would suggest going through our buying guide below to familiarize yourself with the technical details and aspects you need to keep in mind, especially if you are a beginner.
What is A Trail Camera?
As mentioned earlier, a trail cam is mostly used by hunters around likely game trails, grazing spots or watering holes. This gives them an idea in what activities the animals spend their time, thus revealing them the best time to set up a trail and hunt their prey. The game cam is specifically designed to be used during the day and night times. And they are not only for hunting, but wildlife enthusiasts also use it to keep a check on the animals and studying their behavior. This productive piece of visual apparatus allows you to observe the wildlife while providing minimal interruption for the subjects/animals to go by their normal routine. If you are thinking of buying the best trail camera, we recommend doing a comprehensive research on the best products available in the market. Your choice of game camera will largely depend on your specific requirements and needs. Additionally, you must factor in the following key aspects before you picking any particular brand to maximize your hunting adventure and get the most value for your money.
Browning needs no introduction as a gunmaker, however very few know they also produce best game cameras. The Browning Strike Force Sub Micro is one powerful gadget featuring a trigger time of 0.67 seconds and 100-foot flash range. The best trail camera from Browning can record up to 2-minute videos with sound and take high definition pictures. We recommend this for expert users because it needs some advanced settings to take full advantage of its capabilities. The Zero Blur Night IR photos render sharp and vivid night viewing. The $126 camera comes under low to mid-range price bracket and weighs less than 1 pounds. The 720p video quality renders clear videos. The 10-megapixel game camera works as an SD card reader when you link it to a device with the USB cable. We recommend it for game, security, and scouting.
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.5 x 3.2 inches
- Weight: 1 Pound
- Camera: 10 MP infrared LED illumination with 1280 x 720 HD video option
- Trigger Speed: 0.67
- Flash Range: 100 feet
- Infrared LED Illumination for clarity
- A quick trigger speed of 0.67s
- High definition videos
- Browning Buck Watch time-lapse viewer software
- The design blends with the surface
- Zero Blur Technology
- Efficient battery
- Cheap plastic latch
- The IR flash is noticeable inside the pictures
- No viewer to preview the taken images
This Moultrie trail camera has everything you need to capture and record high definition pictures and videos. Either you are a hunter or a wildlife photographer, this entry-level affordable camera does the job for you. The 12-megapixel photo resolution and 720 HD video recording will not disappoint you in any scenario. Either you use it during the day or at night it produces exceptional photos. The long-range infrared LED flash renders perfect photos up to 60 feet. The trigger speed of 0.9 seconds means you will not miss any important moment in the wild. The game camera is compatible with Moultrie mobile, which means you do not have to physically visit the location of your camera to extract the photos and videos. You can simply have them on your smartphone for $9.99 monthly plan. This is very convenient for wildlife enthusiasts. The 8 AA batteries enable you to take 17,000 pictures on 32 GB SD cards (maximum supported). Those who need extra power can opt for Moultrie game camera power panel, which is solar powered and removes the need to swap batteries. This Moultrie trail camera also offers date, time and moon phase details for patterning deer. You can also opt for accessories like Camera Battery Box for extended battery life, Universal Camera Stake, Security Box, and more.
- Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 6.5 x 3.2 inches
- Weight: 15.5 Ounces
- Camera: 12 MP long-range infrared LED flash
- Trigger Speed: 0.9 seconds
- SD Card Support: 32 GB
- Flash Range: 60 Feet
- Easy battery replacement,
- Solar power capable
- Easy to use and set up
- Moultrie mobile compatible
- 12-megapixel resolution and 720 HD video
- A long-range Infrared flash distance of 60 feet
- Slow shutter speed during night operations
- Do not support Ultra or High-Speed SD cards
We recommend the Stealth Cam G42 to intermediate and advanced users because it comes with a number of settings and extra features for different users. The mid to high-priced Stealth Cam trail camera can take photos in either 2,4,8 or 12 megapixels. It can record 5 to 180 seconds of HD 1080P videos with audio. The trigger speed of 0.5 is one of the best in our list of best trail camera reviews. It employs 42 black IR emitters with a 100-foot range. The back-lit menu for the LCD screen enables you to either use burst mode (1-9 images) or manual mode. The SD card slots give you 32 GB of storage. You can password protect these cards.
Being very lightweight, it is perfect to use for game, scouting or for home surveillance. Stealth Cam does not allow rechargeable batteries. If used, some of the functions might not work properly. We advise you to set up the camera at low settings to get more pictures and videos.
- Product Dimensions: 4.25 x 5.75 inches
- Weight: 15.5 Ounces
- Camera: 12 MP with 1080P HD recording with audio
- Trigger Speed: 0.5 seconds
- SD Card Support: 32 GB
- Flash Range: 100 Feet
- Quick set pre-programmed option
- Intuitive backlit menu programming
- Secure lock password protection
- Geo-Tag GPS tagging
- Every photo imprints Time/ Date/ Moon Phase/ Temperature/ Name Stamp
- Instruction manual misses some important information
- Not all SD Cards are supported
If you are looking for an all-rounder, we suggest you pick this Bushnell trail camera without asking any question. It will not disappoint you with its best-in-class 0.3-second trigger speed. Capture 1 to 3 images per trigger and never miss a single detail in the wild. Another great aspect is the adjustable settings for the trigger interval. You can adjust that anywhere from 1 to 60 minutes as per your liking and need. The 16-megapixel resolution with day/night sensor ensures crisp and clear pictures throughout the day. Every picture provides day, time, temperature, and moon phase information for your documentation. The Bushnell Trophy Cam E3 allows you to record 720p videos from 5 seconds to 1-minute length. The PIR sensor can notice a movement for up to 100 feet. The low glow IR LED night vision feature gives bright and vivid images at night. The best trail camera from Bushnell supports up to 32 GB memory card. The most stunning feature of the Essential HD is its 12-month battery capacity.
- Product Dimensions: N.A
- Weight: 8.3 Ounces
- Camera: 16 MP with 720P HD recording with audio
- Trigger Speed: 0.3
- SD Card Support: 32 GB
- Flash Range: 100 Feet
- One-year Battery life for all Season scouting
- Fast trigger speed of 0.3 seconds
- 16-megapixel, 1080p video recording
- Adjustable trigger interval
- Close flash pictures are blurry
- Rechargeable batteries aren’t good for use
If you are looking game cam to monitor wildlife, hunting, home security, farm security, or property surveillance, we suggest you buy the affordable Campark Trail Camera. If you ask us which is the best trail camera on our list, we utterly say, the Campark Waterproof Hunting Scouting Cam. Why? Because it has everything the others offer plus a few extras at a reasonable cost.
The trail camera renders 14 Mega Pixel crystal images and full HD 1080P video to allow you to see the vivid world of wildlife. The trigger speed of 0.3 seconds makes sure you never miss a thrilling moment. The trigger distance is up to 20m (65-feet). The best trail camera from Campark has 3 passive infrared sensors, which are highly sensitive and detect any movement within the detecting range efficiently. The 42 pcs upgraded infrared LEDs without bright flash render vivid pictures at night. The detection range of 120 degrees is perfect to get broader views. The waterproof device works ideally in wet conditions. The maximum support for storage stands at 32 GB, similar to other best game cams in our list. Finally, yet importantly, the company offers 45 days money back, 12-month warranty and professional after-sale service.
- Image Sensor:14 Megapixel CMOS sensor
- Photo Resolution: 14MP; 8M; 5M; 3M; 1M
- Video Resolution: 1920*1080; 1280*720; 720*480; 640*480; 320*240
- The Distance of Detection: 20m(65ft)
- IR Flash: 42pcs infrared LEDs
- Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Power: 1.5V AA battery*8, Support External DC 6V power supply, but at least 1.5A
- 3 Passive Infrared Sensors to record every breathtaking motion
- Faster 0.3s trigger speed
- 14MP Clearer Image + 1080P Sharper Video Resolution
- 120° Wide Angle Lens + Waterproof
- Micro SD card is difficult to remove for some
- You cannot use standard SD cards
Best Trail Camera Buying Guide
One of the most important things to consider when making a decision for buying the best trail camera is its image quality. If you are going to spend precious money on a quality trail camera, then it ought to have all the vital features that correspond to your specific needs, especially the picture quality. Either you are a seasoned hunter or a professional nature photographer, you must ensure your game camera comes equipped with the best image capturing capability.
The best trail camera cannot be judged by a high megapixel count, the quality of the lens matters a lot. Go for a high-quality lens with a 10-20MP reading. These may give you around 3-300 seconds of video recording in HD. I’d recommend a minimum 7-MP camera if your pictures and game recording are as vital as the hunting. If you are on a budget or a beginner, then settle for a 5 MP or higher resolution. Anything under this megapixel rating will give you murkier images and low-quality nighttime recording. An infrared camera will give you black & white images while a flash camera produces colored snaps, so depending on your particular needs, make your decision. For professional wildlife photography, we recommend 10 MP.
Night Picture Quality
The night is the best time to take shots of animals who roam around loose without the fear of being interrupted or caught by hunters. Since night/evening is an ideal time for capturing animal’s shots, it is important that you consider the night vision features. You can choose from Red Glow trail cameras, White Flash cameras, and No Glow trail cameras. While the no glow trail camera does not take bright pictures, a red glow camera does the opposite.
A red glow camera is designed to emit a red glow as it takes images. The night flash grabs the attention of anyone around. However, it is a handy choice as it gives you brighter and clearer images compared to white flash and no glow cameras. A white flash camera takes crisp colored images but the flash tends to scare away animals around.
Image quality and detection circuit work together to take superb images. Your game cam should ideally be smart enough to detect targets and animals in the dark and provide you with clear images that help you meet your hunting goals. The detection circuits inside your cam are responsible for identifying targets and locating them for vivid images. A detection circuit is essentially the range in which a game camera’s sensors can sense animal movements and activate triggers in the camera to take shots. This range is typically calculated in feet while trigger speed is calculated in seconds.
Any good quality camera has a detection range of 60-70 feet. A detection range of 100 feet will allow you to easily spot animals in the night.
We would suggest you check customer reviews about different brands with a focus on smart detection circuits before you divvy up any bucks.
Since hunting requires a lot of time, it is only reasonable to have the best trail camera with a long battery life. This will allow you to take more images to keep your hunting sessions seamless and more productive. For nature lovers, this is even more important because they cannot visit the site frequently. Generally, factors like the number of snaps you take, the temperature, the power consumption attributes of your cam and the ratio of your day and night pics tend to affect your game cam’s battery life. Consider these aspects when purchasing the cam. The average battery life of the best trail camera ranges from 6 months to a year but considering the power consumption during hunting, the actual battery span will be a lot less.
An incandescent flash, for example, uses a lot more power compared to infrared cams. Similarly, a cellular camera consumes more battery than the regular trail cameras. We would recommend going for cameras that are designed with at least 8 sockets for AA batteries and a battery indicator. Also, keep in mind that Lithium batteries are more productive than alkaline ones.
You need a good memory for your game cam to enjoy long uninterrupted hunting sessions, so you do not fret over an unsaved video or less number of snaps. The latest trail cameras support 32-GB SD cards. Some will also have built-in features for expandable memory. If you are looking for a low-cost option, then go for ones as low as 8-GB but if you are planning on video recordings then reconsider the storage capacity. If your camera features a quick trigger option where it takes multiple images to snag the perfect shot, then you should consider extra storage.
The resolution generally defines the quality of your videos and images captured during a hunt, so look for best trail camera of around 20 megapixels for the highest clarity, as we highlighted earlier in this guide. A good practice to find the ideal resolution is to see various images taken from different cams and evaluate them. While customer reviews are a good portent to get the best trail camera, you should analyze snaps and recorded videos. Look for clarity in shots; see if there are any blurred spots and evaluate the brightness and color contrast. In addition, find the flash type especially if night photos are not available. As explained earlier, these include the white flash for colored snaps as well as no glow infrared and red glow infrared cameras for black & white photos.
The trigger time is key to making your hunting sessions more convenient and easy. Like we highlighted earlier, trigger time is usually measured in seconds and the best trail camera should have a quick trigger speed of around 0.3 seconds. It is the time your camera uses before it seizes an image or a video in the memory card. Essentially, the best trail camera has a swift trigger speed, allowing the detection circuit to activate the snap/image capture mode as soon as the sensors spot your target. The trigger speed of 0.6 or 0.7 is fine if you are looking for an affordable option. However, being an expert at hunting, you would most probably want to go for a faster trigger speed of 0.3 seconds. Some animals move very quickly, therefore, a good trigger speed would ensure you capture shots of the animal’s swift movements in high quality.
Consider the recovery time with the trigger speed in parallel when evaluating options for your best trail camera. Get yourself the camera offering a quick recovery time. This is typically the time any game cam gets ready for the next image. The best trail camera has quick recovery feature allowing you to grab more high-quality in-motion visuals of the wildlife, especially fast-moving animals for a more productive hunting experience.
Aside from hunting, if you are a wildlife enthusiast who prefers observing different types of animals in various terrains, it is good to focus on the detection zone of your game cam. This gives you the flexibility to take useful images best for documentation, presentation, and documentaries. A detection zone for any gaming cam reflects the ambit for that game cam, which is the scope highlighting how far and wide you can capture a photo or make a video recording. Most top quality cameras have a detection zone ranging between 80 feet and 110 feet, which is ideal for mid-level hunters. It provides you with crisp images and videos within the zone triggered through movement or heat.
While reviewing products, make sure you also keep a check on the angle at which your best trail camera can sense movements and take shots. The wider the angle, the more efficient and effective hunting you will experience. With a wide angle, your camera has a larger perspective to provide you with more image & video recording options. The recommended angle is around 42 degrees and most cameras available in the market today come with this setting.
Budget, Cost & Popular Brands
The budget for the game cam largely depends on your needs and requirements. Quality gaming cams typically cost anywhere between $50 and $800. With a plethora of impressive features like night vision, fast trigger speed, larger memory and a higher resolution for HD videos and more crisp images, expect the camera to be around $500-$800 price mark. If you are thinking of buying a low-cost version, keep in mind that these will give you low resolution, storage capacity, trigger speed, and detection range. Moreover, these inexpensive cameras usually do not come equipped with video recording abilities. Make sure what you buy is designed to offer you a seamless & hassle-free hunting experience.
Types Of Trail Cameras
Cellular Trail Cameras
You could opt for a cellular game camera with the motion-activated feature. These cams use the internet service to deliver images and videos on your phone. Relate them to your mobile; they have a Sim and they need a data plan to work. The cams offer seamless transmission avoiding any issues you might experience while moving data from your cam to another device. Good examples include Covert Code Black AT&T Camera and Mossy Oak Break-Up.
Motion Activated Trail Cameras
A good choice for the best game cam is a motion-activated cam. These are great for both indoor and outdoor use. There is no manual interference while taking shots. The examples include Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam Standard Edition and Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam Standard Edition.
Wireless Game Cameras
A wireless trail camera works by using a wireless connection or WiFi. They quickly capture shots, records videos and transfer them to your device using the wireless connection. The popular brands include Stealth Cam 8MP 30IR Game Camera and Digital Scouting Camera 6.0MP: SG570-6M.
Infrared Trail Cameras
A great option for the game cam, these are ideal for scenarios that require video recording and capturing high-quality-in-motion pictures during the dark. If you are seeking long hunting sessions and uninterrupted supply of video footage in wild terrains, these are your game cams. The top examples include Cuddeback 20MP Long Range IR Infrared Trail Game, BARSKA 6MP Trail Cam with 1.5″ Color Screen and Digital Scouting Camera 6.0MP: SG570-6M.
Flash Game Trail Cameras
Flash cameras can capture crisp & bright colorful images during the night. The flash option activates during the night to take crystal-clear photos of animals and targets. There are two types in these: infrared flash game cams and incandescent flash game cams. Go for Bushnell and Digital Scouting!
I hope this buying guide is informative and resourceful enough to help you make an informed decision for your game cam. Getting the top quality camera is certainly overwhelming but don’t get carried away with the impressive pack of features & accessories. Know your requirements and factor in the aspects we have highlighted above to snag the best gadget.
How to Maintain Your Best Trail Camera
Like any other gadget, the proper upkeep of your game cam is important to make sure it lasts long and functions effectively. We recommend you charge the batteries of your cam regularly and buy the ones recommended by your brand. To extend your game cam’s life, take out the batteries before you keep it away. Furthermore, purge the lenses using good quality cleaners built to cleanse both glass and plastic. Ensure that you inspect thoroughly all seals and gaskets to check the wear and tear, especially when you have placed your cam in the woods or in a gritty terrain for a long period.
Best Trail Camera Brands
One of the leading brands and a handy choice for the best trail camera, Bushnell is exclusively constructing cams for scouting sprees and long hunting session. With a plethora of exciting features, Bushnell trail cameras are both reliable and efficient. The brand offers a range of different designs to cater to the needs of different customers.
Moultrie trail cameras come in a variety of different designs each catering to a select set of hunters. These come equipped with high-end motion detectors and HD video recording support for uplifting your hunting sessions. Whether you are a beginner or an expert hunter, buy this amazing brand for the most exhilarating hunting session.
Tasco has been in the market for quite some time now best known for their scopes. You can also rely on its best trail camera. Its gaming cameras are good to record videos and capture awesome snaps for a brilliant session.
The brand offers an amazing collection of game cameras and is touted as the best lineup around with a variety of features for hunting and scouting. The entry-level model Force-10 starts at $100.
Some other brands that you could choose from include Plot Watcher, Micro Crush, Covert, Razor, Reconyx, Wildgame Innovations, Stealth Cam, Browning, and Primos. These brands offer a huge range of trail cameras with best image quality, good trigger speed, a good detection circuit and additional options like multi-shot mode, video recording, time-lapse mode, and audio recording.