A trail or game camera can be an invaluable tool for hunters. Instead of spending hours sitting uncomfortably in a tree or hunting blind to see which animals are frequenting the area and where they like to gather, you can simply set up a trail cam and let it do the work. All you have to do is look at the pictures and decide where you want to hunt.
There are several types of scouting cameras available on the market and finding the right one can be confusing.
In this guide, you will find informative tips and brief game camera reviews that will make it easier for you to choose the best trail camera for the money. Each of these models has its own advantages and is designed to be used outside. Maybe one of these game cameras is exactly what you need to see what animals are roaming around your favorite hunting spot.
- Best Trail Camera Reviews for 2022 – What is the top choice for hunting?
- 1. Wild Game Innovations Buck Commander Nano 10 – Best wireless trail camera
- 2. Stealth Cam G30 – Best Cheap Trail Camera
- 3. Stealth Cam G42NG – Best deer hunting camera
- Best Trail Cam Buying Guide
- Types of Game Cameras
- Tips on selecting the best game camera
Best Trail Camera Reviews for 2022 – What is the top choice for hunting?
1. Wild Game Innovations Buck Commander Nano 10 – Best wireless trail camera
Making the switch to wildgame innovations in trail cameras with one of its earliest products on the line, the Wild Game Innovations Buck Commander Nano 10 offers solid image capturing performance in a compact frame. This remarkable product is designed to be one of the finest trail cameras on the market with its host of revolutionary features that should make every hunting trip productive and truly one for the books.
Made weather-tough for superior outdoor use, the Nano 10 is designed to withstand the elements so it can be used for many hunting seasons to come. Engineered to be water resistant, this camera can be positioned in the wilderness and can be left there to capture images even in the rain. Capturing images all season long, this trail cam can be left hanging outside so you can get accurate monitoring of your prey’s behavior, from the early season to the rut to the late season so you’ll be able to track just how the deer are doing at specific times of the day on specific parts of the hunting season.
With this technologically-advanced ultra-rugged piece of equipment, you won’t have to worry about the investment you make since the trail cam is made to improve your hunting experience thanks to its impressively solid construction. After all, Wild Game Innovations is a company built by avid deer and wild game hunters who are well aware that getting good images is one of the keys to making trophy catches.
This wireless 10MP micro digital trail camera is outfitted with 36 pieces of high intensity LEDs carrying the revolutionary ‘Lightsout’ feature, an undetectable invisible flash that ensures optimal exposure control so images are ultra clear and bright when reviewed. Providing reduced motion blur, the camera boasts infrared technology to detect true motion and avoid false positives that can come from a combination of the surrounding conditions. This means you can view images in detail and with less ghosting effects that come from rapid movement transitions.
The Nano 10 comes with a rapid one-second trigger speed, which is far from being lethargic so there is just a second that elapses between when the unit first detects the motion and until it takes a photo of what caused the movement. The trigger speed is one of the most important aspects of any trail camera, as it guarantees that you won’t get wasted photos on no animal at all or on only half of an animal.
Perfect for Stealth Hunting
Thanks to its exceptional TRUbark™ high-def texture with swirl camo finish, the Nano 10 will be undetectable to wild game and other hunters. Its impressive tree bark finish renders the trail cam invisible to your prey, enabling it to do its job effectively. The unique finish also makes the camera theft proof, as it easily blends into the tree you hang it on so it will not make an easy target for vandals and nasty people.
The Nano 10 easily fits in the palm of your hand, so it won’t weigh you down. The compact design makes it easy to pack along with your other hunting setup gear so you can easily fit several pieces of the trail cam in your backpack as you go around your property to set everything up during the pre-season prep you have to do. It has an external battery port that enables easy portability and effortless charging so you can juice up rechargeable batteries separate from the camera unit. The trail cam runs on 4 double-A batteries, which are quite easy to find in the stores. This means no searching for special fuel cells just to get the unit going.
This trail camera has an 80-foot flash range, which denotes the maximum distance it can project its flash and illuminate the wild game for adequate identification. It can effectively identify game based on the same atmospheric conditions and on the same night to prevent variations in captured images. In addition, the trail camera also has Flextime and time lapse technology so it can capture images at regular intervals. This means the unit can take photos at preset intervals to enable you to study the deer’s behavior patterns at different points of the day such as at dawn and dusk.
Furthermore, the camera also offers both high-definition 720p video and photo capabilities so you get both live trigger images and photos from just a single trail camera. The camera accommodates up to 32GB SD/SDHC cards for impressive storage capacity. The USB cord offers flexible charging options. The bungee cords let you attach the unit to a tree of your choice for hanging on the deer trail.
2. Stealth Cam G30 – Best Cheap Trail Camera
The Stealth Cam G30 embodies the reinvention of the concept of wildlife surveillance cameras. With this impressive product, you virtually get three cameras in one, so you can select from any of the three digital scouting formats to suit your purpose. This trail camera comes with impressive features and functionality that make it a top seller in the industry.
Producing crisp, clear images, which is the very basis upon which scouting cameras are designed, the Stealth Cam G30 is able to shoot still images with awesome clarity and sharpness in detail, day and night. The unit is TRIAD-equipped, with its impressive three resolution settings to choose from: 2MP, 4MP and 8MP, so you can select the best setting you want during surveillance. The unit also delivers high definition video recording from 5 to 180 seconds with audio, so your images are well supplemented with sound to enable you to filter out noise from true background audio.
The time lapse function with passive infrared (PIR) override receives info about temperature and motion, which works by detecting a difference between a moving object and its surrounding environment. Once this is sensed, the camera captures the image, which could be that of a reptile, bird or large animal, even vegetation. This PIR function lets you know what triggers the trail cam to take a picture so it helps you weed out the possibility of false positives.
Boasting multiple exposures per triggering, the trail camera features the revolutionary Burst Mode system. The Quick Trigger speed is supplemented by this quality, which allows the unit to take photos of a predetermined amount of images from 1 to 9 before it stops and resets, instead of capturing just one image when it is triggered. This supplies you with as many images as possible of a passing deer, for instance, so you can monitor movement effectively over a bait pile or food plot. The rapid trigger time enables capture of a series of photos that would otherwise be missed by units with much slower trigger times.
Equipped with 30 infrared emitters and an impressive 80-foot range, the Stealth Cam G30 offers a pretty wide coverage so you can see both near and far. The Matrix™ blur reduction technology ensures impressive captured images even on a heavily used deer trail, so you can get clear images with vivid detail. The trail cam also has Retina™ Low Light sensitivity and a 16:9 Wide Image Ratio, so it can capture images even when lighting conditions are far from being ideal and still ensure good resolution. The camera shoots high quality video with audio so you can maximize a new dimension to surveillance for a true observation advantage on the deer’s vocalizations and behavior.
The time lapse function lets you position the camera next to a food plot so images are snapped at predetermined intervals, letting you select the hours and the minutes within those hours you want the trail cam to snap photos. When you return, you can then watch a full day’s worth of activity in only a few minutes. This feature is most effective for observing deer behavior at dusk and dawn. The camera has a recovery time out between 1 to 59 seconds, which enables it to recycle or start up quickly and in sufficient time after snapping a shot.
Data or Time Stamp plus GEO-TAG GPS Tagging
If you want to learn as much as you can about the wild game you are after, this trail cam’s Data-Stamp options provide you with the information you need on every image taken. This model comes with Time, Date, Temperature, Moon Phase and even a Name Stamp for effortless identification of the specific unit from which an image is taken. The highly useful GEO-TAG GPS Tagging embeds GPS coordinates of the unit’s location automatically onto maps so you can perform game movement tracking and placement of units more effortlessly.
Strong Build and Robust Capacity
Built with an extra-strong case, this camera ensures there’s enough protection for all its sensitive internal components, efficiently shielding them from the elements so the unit can be left in the wild in nearly any kind of weather condition. The large-capacity 32GB SD card slot offers immense storage capacity options so you won’t have to visit the camera too often and make your target game animals aware of your presence much easier and sooner than you become familiar with their behavior.
The external LCD status display lets you view the settings for error-free use. The camera also enables you to protect the images you take from curious eyes and unwanted theft thanks to its secure password protection.
The trail cam’s Test Mode ensures that the unit is properly setup. The USB output offers connectivity as well as versatile charging options. This trail cam runs on 8 double-A batteries and has a low battery indicator so you can replace or recharge the onboard batteries promptly. It has an external power jack for use with the 12-volt battery box for hassle-free fuel cell charging.
3. Stealth Cam G42NG – Best deer hunting camera
Helping you know what kind of game animals are in your property, the Stealth Cam G42NG boasts all the useful features that all proper game cameras should come with. Providing you with the capability to shoot videos and record videos, this trail cam even supplements videos with audio for masterful technology that delivers genuinely useful surveillance images.
The Stealth Cam G42NG provides variety with its four resolution settings. Choose from 10MP, 8MP, 4MP and 2MP to match your needs. It is able to do high definition video recording between 5 to 180 seconds so you have more than enough footage to determine the behavior of your target wild game species as well as audio to back the video up. The trail camera has timelapse function so you can confidently position the unit at a food plot and let it snap images at predetermined intervals for accurate monitoring of movement at dusk and dawn. This works in conjunction with the passive infrared (PIR) override functionality that enables the trail cam to sense movement fast so it can capture the image of nearly everything that moves quickly through its frame and within its field of view.
Reliable Image Capture
This trail camera comes with 42 black infrared emitters that ensure that night photos are bright enough for viewing. The unit also has an impressive 100-foot range to cover a wider area. The reflex trigger speed of 0.5 seconds enables it to take an extremely short time to capture a photo once a deer is seen. This ensures that you can see deer in a slew of photos that an inferior camera with slow trigger times would normally miss.
The Burst Mode ensures that the trail cam will not simply take just one image when triggered, but will enable the device to take a predetermined number of images before it stops to reset. This makes it possible for the trail camera to take a series of images one after the other and up to nine images in all so you can set it up on a trail where the wild game pass, letting you know of your prey’s typical behavior.
Intuitive and Personalized Functionality
Equipped with an intuitive backlit menu programming, the trail camera lets you choose the settings easily and offers easy menu navigation. Able to capture clear images no matter what the lighting condition may be, the trail camera comes with a time lapse function that maximizes placement next to a food plot so you can learn about the behavior of your wild game through the images snapped at preset intervals. This means you can set the time the camera snaps photos at specific hours and minutes within the hour so you can come back and view a full day of activity packed into mere minutes of footage. Best for dawn and dusk movement observation, the time lapse feature lets you study your target’s feeding patterns so you can be at the site at the perfect time.
Solid Construction, Robust Features
Outfitted with a tough weatherproof housing, this trail camera provides you with confidence for outdoor placement so you won’t have to worry about its most sensitive internal elements getting damaged due to exposure to varying conditions in the outdoors. The manual shot capability of the unit is complemented by a Secure Lock password protection so you can enjoy truly private usage and viewing. The built-in SD Card slot provides more than adequate memory up to 32GB so you won’t have to frequently check the camera while keeping the site scent-free to prevent your target from sensing your presence. This is an easy-to-use unit on and off the trail and is quite effortless to set up and get going.
Engineered with Matrix ™ Advanced Blur Reduction, Retina™ Low Light sensitivity along with a 16:9 Wide Image Ratio, this surveillance camera captures easily viewable images for monitoring of patterns and establishment of behavior so you can act and do your hunting accordingly. The GEO-TAG GPS Tagging enables use with a map so you’ll know the unit’s exact position. The Data Stamp offers more than just the time and date but also the temperature, name and moon phase so you can pinpoint the ideal hunting time that corresponds to your prey’s activity as well as which unit provides the information when you have set up several in your property.
Operating on 8 double-A batteries, this trail camera features an external power jack for a 12-volt battery box for convenient and hassle-free charging. The USB output provides a flexible charging option. With a rapid recovery time out of 1 to 59 seconds, this trail camera won’t leave you with too many missed opportunities.
Best Trail Cam Buying Guide
Game cameras can come with several features which can affect the overall price. Some of these functions are necessary, but others might not be worth the extra cost. This buying guide will help you find a trail camera that comes with the features you need.
As stated in the trail camera reviews one of the first aspects to consider is the flash. Since most of your pictures will be at night or in low lighting this is also one of the most important features to consider. There are two types of flashes to choose from, and each comes with its own advantages. While an infrared flash won’t startle animals with a bright light, it is only capable of capturing images in black and white. Incandescent flashes are capable of taking clear color photos even at night, but the bright light emitted often startles animals and uses significantly more battery power than the infrared.
2. Detection Zone
This refers to the area covered by the camera, and it can make the difference between a great and barely functional model. The width and distance specified in the product description will let you know how much area is covered by the camera. This is important if you want a relatively accurate estimate on the number and type of animals in the area.
The best trail camera will have a high resolution, but this will also be determined by your budget. Inexpensive models generally have a resolution of 3 to 4 megapixels, while mid-priced game cameras are capable of taking clearer images with 5 to 7 MP. Some of the top rated trail cameras boast 8 to 10 MP which is capable of taking amazingly crisp and clear images, but it also comes at a higher price.
4. Recovery and trigger speed
You definitely want to pay attention to this feature, which can determine how effective the camera is at determining what types of animals are roaming around the area at night. The trigger and recovery speed refers to the amount of time it takes the hunting camera to capture an image after the heat or motion sensor has been tripped. If the recovery time is too long chances are you will miss part or most of the action. Some of the best game cameras have a trigger speed and recovery time of one second or less.
This is one feature that you want to pay attention to or you could find that your game camera ran out of power in the middle of the night. The cameras can be powered by AA, C, or D batteries and there are some that use 6 or 12-volt batteries. The cost will often affect your decision, but it is important to remember that the best game camera for the money might be the slightly more expensive one with long battery life. Not only will this save you time and money on replacement costs, it also ensures that the camera will have plenty of power to stay on all night. Another aspect to consider is the type of flash. Incandescent flashes will use more battery power than infrared ones, which will affect the running time.
6. Viewer built-in
This is often seen as an extra feature that is nice to have, but the game camera reviews state that consumers who pay extra for a built-in viewer seldom regret the small added cost. This convenient option lets you check the pictures without taking the camera out of the woods, which is always nice if your favorite hunting spot is far from home.
Trail cameras can come with internal memory or use a SD card. While internal memory is convenient and does not require the additional purchase of a card, the size of the available storage space is usually limited. It can also be a hassle to transfer the images to your laptop since you need to physically attach the camera. An SD card will provide you with more storage and it definitely makes it easier and more convenient to load images onto your computer. While the memory card does cost extra, it is often worth it in the long run.
This is another feature that is nice to have, but not necessary in all situations. Some wildlife cameras will also record video, which lets you share short clips with family and other hunters. It should be noted that not only does the feature add to the final cost of the camera, it can also take up a lot of storage space and easily drain battery power.
9. Additional Features
There are some additional features to consider, and not everyone might be convenient or practical for you. Some game cameras come with a tiny laser pointer that lets you see exactly where the lens is pointed. Other models come with a fun “burst” feature that will allow the camera to take 3 or more shots at a time, but this can quickly run the battery down and fill up any available memory space.
GPS tagging makes it easier to track movements and find the right place to set up the camera, while models that come with a date or time stamp ensure that you know everything about the prey in your area. Not only will this feature stamp the image with the date and time, but also the temperature and phase of the moon. This extra feature is ideal for serious hunters.
Motion and frame shutter freeze capabilities are nice if your camera needs to take pictures of moving game, but it is often not worth the added cost unless you are trying to photographic a well traveled trail. Other cameras come with a time lapse function which can be set to automatically snap photos at specific intervals.
Even though the majority of these features are not exactly necessary, most are nice to have. If your budget can afford the higher price many of these features bring, it might be worth it after a successful hunting trip.
Trail cameras can save you a lot of time looking for the perfect hunting spot, and these convenient devices are generally easy to operate. Now that you know which features are available, you will find it easier to find a game camera that comes with the ones that you need.
Types of Game Cameras
There are several types of game cameras to choose from and each has its own advantages. Once you know the type of cam that best suits your needs it will be easier to find the right one.
1. Cellular Trail Cameras
A cellular game camera will record and transmit images directly to your phone or other internet enabled devices. You will need to purchase a SIM card and possibly a data package, but these cameras are great for hunters who can’t wait to see what animals are in the area. Some of the newer models also come with motion sensors, and while this does add to the price it is a nice feature to have. In generally cellular cameras are compact and easy to camouflage and install, though it is important to remember there could be extra costs involved.
2. Motion activated Trail Cameras
These are often considered some of the best trail cameras, as long as the area covered is wide enough. Models that are motion activated are generally non invasive, and are designed to take a picture without startling the prey. It is important to make sure that the camera is sensitive enough to detect small movements or you could miss capturing all of the action. You also want to check the measurements listed to ensure the coverage is wide enough for the area you are trying to see. These cameras are also a great choice for use in areas that might be hard to reach or considered too dangerous to spend a lot of time in.
3. Wireless Wi-Fi Trail Cameras
One of the biggest advantages associated with this type of camera is how easy it is to operate. These wireless cameras are also non invasive, and can be easily camouflaged. You also have the advantage of being able to immediately share pictures online with family and friends via the Wi-Fi connection. These cameras come with a transmitter built in, and can be easily used indoors or outside. It should be mentioned that the network connection might not always be stable outdoors, and it does need to be strong if you want to be able to transmit photos online. There is also a risk of cyber attacks, so you do want to be careful of what images are transmitted.
4. Security Trail Cameras
These cameras can be found in a range of prices and are extremely versatile and functional. While not every portable security camera is designed for use in extreme outdoor conditions or as a wildlife camera, it is capable of capturing clear images of the action in its immediate surroundings. If you are lucky enough to have a hunting cabin out in the woods or a well made blind and are worried about the activity that goes on when you are not there, a security camera might be exactly what you need.
According to the trail camera reviews it can be camouflaged or set out in the open. This can be especially helpful if you are trying to deter intruders or prevent vandalism. Some of these cameras can also record quick video clips, while others are Wi-Fi enabled and can transmit images in real time. It is important to choose a security camera with an infrared flash, otherwise the bright light that appears every time a picture is snapped might have the opposite effect and draw wanna be thieves in.
5. Infrared Trail Cameras
There are several reasons why you might want to use an infrared trail camera, especially if you are trying to capture wildlife photos at night. Instead of a bright flash that often scares animals away, there is only a small red dot of light when a picture is snapped. These cameras also have an impressive battery life that can generally last throughout the night, and come with a durable construction that makes it perfect for use outdoors. Infrared cameras often come with light sensors, and are capable of taking high resolution shots. It should be noted that these cameras are often priced slightly higher than other models, and generally are only able to capture black and white images at night.
6. Flash Trail Cameras
The first aspect that you will notice is the inexpensive cost of the camera, along with how easy it is to operate. These cameras are generally designed for durability and to be easy and convenient to carry, which makes it a great choice for hunters who frequently wander far from home. Most models come with an automatic flash so you can use it during the day or night, and even though it does come with a relatively low price it is still capable of capturing crisp, clear images. The main drawback of these cameras is the flash, not only can the bright light startle animals some models also make a slight noise when the picture is being snapped. Neither of these is ideal when you are trying to see what is roaming around at night.
NOTE: It is important to review the laws in your area, especially if you are planning on installing a security camera. While it is illegal everywhere to mount a camera by a restroom, the laws concerning other areas are different depending on where you are. It is also a good idea to remember to periodically erase the memory, especially if the camera is recording in real time. Even though it is primarily used to see what game is in the area, it is still possible for these cameras to capture a moment or two that you would rather not share.
Tips on selecting the best game camera
Even if you know what type of game camera you are looking for it can still seem almost impossible to choose one that fits your needs. To help relieve some of the stress and make your decision a little easier here are some buying tips that will help you choose a game camera.
1. Trail Camera Anatomy
While you don’t need to know how to take a game camera apart and put it back together, understanding a few of the basics can help making shopping a little easier. You will want to look at the detection circuit which determines the width and length of the area it is capable of covering, along with the amount of time it takes to recover after snapping a picture. How many batteries and the size can affect the overall cost of the camera, and you also want to make sure that the infrared flash is capable of taking clear photos at night. Picture quality and whether it has a viewing screen are two other basic features on a game camera that you should look at.
2. Picture Quality of your camera
It is not uncommon for first time buyers to make a decision based on the number of mega pixels, but this might not always give you an accurate idea of the picture quality. It is important to remember that the majority of your photos will be taken at night, and a high number of mega pixels usually mean crisp, clear photos on a game camera you want to look at the flash.
Many hunters recommend using infrared flashes since these are capable of capturing high resolution shots without the bright light that can startle game. The only potential downside is that all of your nighttime photos will be in black and white, but you will still be able to see every detail of the image.
The other type of flash uses a white or incandescent light. While this does result in bright color photos with little glare, the flash can startle animals away from the area. The other problem with white and incandescent flashes is the bright light can draw wanna be thieves and vandals to the camera.
3. Hunting Camera Detection Circuits
Most trail cameras clearly list the measurements of the detection zone, along with the trigger and recovery times. This is something you need to carefully consider if you want to avoid a potentially expensive purchasing mistake. These cameras are generally triggered by heat and motion, and you want it to immediately snap a picture and be ready for the next shot.
Most experts recommend spending a little extra on a game camera that has a short one second or less trigger and recovery time. This means that in one second the camera will have snapped a photo when heat and movement are sensed, and be ready for the next one in this short period of time. This is especially helpful if more than one animal is wandering around in the detection zone so you get a clear idea of what is in the area you are planning on hunting in. You also want the detection zone to be wide and deep enough so it can easily detect any game.
4. Battery Life of your game cam
Many consumers forget how important battery life can be until they find that their game camera ran out of power before it could capture any images. While you might pay more for a camera with longer battery life, it will be worth it in the long run. As an added advantage you won’t have to spend time and money replacing the batteries as often.
You will also want to decide on the number and size of batteries needed, and this will generally depend on the type of flash and included features. Most game cameras are compatible with AA, C, D, 9V or 12V batteries, and the right one for you is often a matter of personal preference. It is important to remember game cameras with incandescent flashes and ones that can record video clips or in real time will use more battery power than other models.
5. Trail Camera Brand Quality
When you are looking to buy the best wildlife camera for hunting it is important to check brand quality. Information gathered from consumer and expert reviews can help you choose a game camera from a reputable brand, and your fellow hunters can also be a great source of advice. They will know which brand can withstand the outdoor weather, and whether it is worth your hard earned money.
6. Where to buy a good trail camera
You can find game cameras in sporting good stores and hunting supply shops, and also online. If you do plan on buying your trail camera online then you will want to take a few minutes and make sure that you are dealing with a reputable seller. Comments from other customers, along with sales ratings will let you know whether you can trust the seller or if you need to find another one.
With the information included in this guide, you can confidently choose a game camera that fits your needs and budget.