A good trail camera comes in a rugged and, ideally, weatherproof design that’s capable of extended and unmanned use in the outdoors. It will give you clear images of the different game in your area that will help you identify and track the species you’re looking for.
Most cameras automatically take a picture when they sense motion in their area, but there are a lot of other features that separate good cameras from great ones. Our list of the Top Ten Trail Cameras will help you weed out the competition and settle on one that’ll truly suit your intended purpose. Also, be sure to check out our Buyer’s Guide for precise information on how to choose a trail camera.
1. Foxelli Trail Camera
This camera provides excellent 12-megapixel photos and 1080P Full HD videos, with sound, up to 10 minutes long. It’s great for anyone who wants to ‘set and forget’ because set up is quick and easy and it can be conveniently mounted to a tree with the included strap.
The Foxelli Trail Camera also features a 120-degree wide angle lens for a larger shooting scope. It is equipped with a 2.4-inch LCD monitor that allows you to preview photos and videos, as well as easily target the camera’s viewing area. It’s also motion activated with a 65-foot detection range.
2. Browning Strike Force 850 HD
This 16-megapixel game camera is the best covert camera in the smallest case size. This camera provides clear images with dimensions of 4.5” x 3.25” x 2.5” and boasts a detection range of 80 feet. It also has a 0.4-second trigger speed and a programmable picture delay that can be set anywhere from 5 seconds to 60 minutes.
The Browning Strike Force 850 HD is easy to use and comes with a 120-foot flash range. It also boasts a 0.8 second recovery time and is capable of shooting up to 8 rapid-fire images or 8 multi-shot images when motion is detected in its vicinity.
3. Amcrest ATC-1201
The Amcrest ATC-1201 is a great “set and forget” trail camera with incredibly low visibility. It blends right into its surroundings and comes with a 12-megapixel camera that captures high-definition, full-color images, and 1920 x 1080P video.
This trail camera also contains a long night vision range that can sense motion and automatically capture movement up to 65 feet away. It also boasts a wide, 100-degree PIR (1) field of view and up to three total months of standby battery life.
4. Stealth Cam P12
Stealth Cam prides itself on its combination of performance and affordability, and their P12 camera is an excellent option for scouting. It contains a 6-megapixel camera with a 50-foot range and it’s also capable of capturing videos up to 15 seconds in length.
A durable, digital 3D camouflage housing that contains an external LCD display and Test Mode with a low battery indicator protects this trail camera. All photos and videos are stamped with time, date, and moon phase, and this camera features a programmable burst mode that can capture 1 to 6 images per triggering.
5. Primos Truth Cam 35
This trail camera is a great option for anyone that’s inexperienced with game cameras because it comes with easy-to-understand instructions printed right on the camera door for easy reference. It also allows for a selection of the number of active LEDs, for more night range or battery life.
The Primos Truth Cam 35 contains a 3-megapixel camera with a 40-foot extended range and a total of 35 LEDs. It boasts a 1.5-second trigger speed and a long-lasting battery life that runs on 4D batteries. It also features a molded security cable hole through the case to aid in theft prevention.
6. Bushnell 16MP Trophy Cam
The Bushnell Trophy Cam is a true, four-season scouting camera with a true one-year battery life. It contains a 16-megapixel camera that provides images in high-quality, full-color resolution and it captures videos in 1280x720p resolution.
This trail camera also offers a 0.3-second trigger speed and its adjustable settings allow you to capture one to three images per trigger or anywhere from five to 60 seconds of video at a given time. It also features a recovery rate of less than one second and a new “Auto Exposure” feature for better light detection to eliminate whiteouts.
7. Moultrie M-999i
The Moultrie brand is one of the world’s highest-selling brands of game cameras and feeders. They offer excellent, reliable, and easy-to-use cameras designed by hunters, for hunters. This camera offers a 20-megapixel sensor and a high-quality lens for crystal clear images.
The Moultrie M-999i offers a trigger speed of fewer than 0.5 seconds and a flash range of 70 feet. It can capture full HD video with 1080px resolution and clear sound. It also features a built-in, 2” TFT (2) color screen to give you the ability to check images directly on the camera and position the camera perfectly.
8. Bestguarder HD IP66
A perfect camera for animal hunting, trail game, garden and ecological monitoring, home surveillance, and security, this 12-megapixel camera captures high-quality, full-color resolution images and 1920x1080p full HD video. It also contains an audio record programmable length from 5 to 90 seconds.
The Bestguarder HD IP66 trail camera contains 36pcs no-glow IR LEDs that allow it to take full-color photos and videos in daytime and black and white photos and videos at night at distances up to 75 feet. Each image taken by this camera can be stamped with a variety of useful information, including barometric pressure, GPS Geotag, moon phase, temperature, time, date, and camera ID.
9. Stealth Cam No-Glo
This trail camera contains a 14-megapixel lens with four resolution settings: 14MP, 8MP, 6MP, and 2MP HD video with sound. The camera’s 45 no-glow infrared emitters give it a 100-foot flash range and make it a perfect option for low-light performance and quick movement capture.
The Stealth Cam No-Glo has a camouflage exterior and an included tree strap to secure in your desired location. The camera operates on 8 AA batteries and includes an energy-efficient design for longer battery life. It also features a sub-0.5-second trigger for both day and night pics and video.
10. Moultrie Game Spy
The Moultrie Game Spy trail camera is built on simplicity and reliability and it’s a great way to keep a covert, watchful eye on the wild game throughout your land during every season. This camera offers a 6-megapixel image resolution for sharp photos.
It also contains long-range infrared flash technology and a tough, tree bark-textured case for wireless game management. It captures clear images during day and night with a flash range of up to 35 feet. It also features the ability to capture 480px video and contains a trigger speed of fewer than 2.5 seconds.
The two major uses for trail cameras these days are game scouting and home security. Precise information about the type of animals frequenting a given area can be invaluable to hunters. For homeowners, a couple well-positioned cameras can be much cheaper than a full home-security system, and often prove to be just as effective.
Advances in technology have led to a wide variety of trail cameras on the market. Some are designed for a specific purpose and some are made for general use. To aid in your selection, this Buyer’s Guide will focus on some of the most important factors to consider when buying a new trail camera.
There are a lot of terms thrown around to describe the effectiveness of a given camera. Megapixels is one of the most popular. It’s important to understand that more megapixels generally means sharper images. However, super-high megapixels are only really necessary if you’re using a trail camera for outdoor photography. You’ll still get a solid, usable image with a lower megapixel count.
Features like Burst Mode and Time-lapse Mode can be incredibly useful additions to a good trail camera. The former takes multiple pictures in a row very quickly. This will help you capture even the fastest animals. The latter takes pictures at set intervals. For hunters, this will allow you to see when certain quarry enters your chosen spot, where they came from, how long they linger, and which direction it leaves.
Time and date stamps are also an essential feature in a good trail camera. For hunters, this will help you dial in the perfect time to head out in search of your preferred game. If you’re using the camera for home security, it can also be critical in assisting law enforcement in the case of a home invasion.
Video is another important and useful feature of many trail cameras. When considering a given camera’s video capability, the most important terms include resolution, duration, audio, time-lapse video mode, and hybrid mode.
Resolution is how crisp your image will be. Much like megapixels, a higher resolution means a sharper video. Video duration is a key consideration because it can be quite variable. Most cameras will allow you to choose the length of video you want to be recorded, but their capability of total length can range anywhere from 3 to 300 seconds.
Audio is a component that may not be necessary if tracking game, but it will be quite handy if using a camera for home security. Time-lapse video mode gives you the ability to record short videos at set time intervals. It’s important to recognize the Photo Timelapse and Video Timelapse are two distinct features. Some models even feature a ‘hybrid mode’ that takes both a photo and a short video.
We do, however, have a final word of warning when it comes to video. Video recording tends to require a ton of battery power and can quickly drain batteries at a much faster rate than taking still images. This is especially true at night, so be careful and sparing in your use of a trail camera’s video capabilities.
Detection range is simply the distance a subject can be and still trigger the camera to capture a photo. When choosing a trail camera, it’s important to understand that more isn’t always better. Yes, a longer detection range is great for covering more ground and surveying a large field for wildlife.
However, short detection ranges have a use too. Game trails or more enclosed, wooded areas don’t really require an incredibly long detection range. In these cases, a shorter detection range can actually lead to clearer, better images.
When it comes to viewing your photos and videos, there are three main options: an integrated viewing screen, no screen, and wireless download. An integrated viewing screen will allow you to flip through footage much as you’d flip through photos on a digital camera. They can be small and difficult to see, but they’re also handy when making sure that the camera is placed in the exact direction you desire.
Some trail cameras offer no screen at all. These cameras require that you remove the external SD card and plug it into a computer or phone to view photos and videos. Many smartphones can now handle a special adapter that allows you to view the contents of an SD card while still in the field.
Many higher-end models have started to incorporate wireless download capability. This allows you to download images and videos from your camera directly to your computer, via the Internet. Some special trail-camera networks will actually allow you to connect all of your cameras to a mobile device and will automatically send an email or text with the latest photos at a regular interval of your choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Trail cameras really have only been around since the early 80s and sprang out of the need for students at Missouri State University to more accurately gather data on whitetail deer behavior (3). Since then, cameras have advanced rapidly, and there are a lot of technical terms used to describe their capability. This Frequently Asked Questions section will familiarize you with some of those important terms.
What is the definition of ‘trigger speed’?
Trigger speed is defined as the amount of time it takes a camera to record a photo once it has detected motion. When it comes to choosing a trail camera, it is widely accepted that faster is better.
What do you mean by ‘recovery time’?
Recovery time references the time that it takes a camera to reset for another shot after it has taken a photo or photo burst. These times can range greatly from camera to camera, but slower usually means missing those vital snapshots of bucks trailing a doe.
What is ‘No-Glow’?
When speaking about the flash capability of a trail camera, No Glow flash emits no visible light at all in order to eliminate the possibility of scaring game away. Cameras with No Glow flash produce only black and white nighttime photos, but they can also be extremely useful in home security. This flash type is sometimes also called ‘Black Infrared’ or ‘Black Flash’.
What is the definition of ‘flash range’?
Flash range is the distance a subject can be from the camera and still be illuminated by the flash. Generally, a higher flash range will yield more accurate scouting data.
What size SD card do I need for storage?
This answer really depends on the camera you purchase and the specific settings you end up programming on that camera. It’s important to recognize that high-megapixel photos require a lot of storage space. For example, a 32GB SD card can hold more than 11,000 8-megapixel photos but will only hold about 4,000 22-megapixel photos. This is a stark difference.
Also, make sure the camera you buy can accommodate the size of SD card you’re looking into. Some may not be compatible with a larger capacity card. In general, though, it is recommended to utilize only Class 10 (4) cards for optimal performance.
A quality trail camera will give you what most hunters crave: vital scouting information about the game in your region and how they’re traveling. It will make your hunts that much more successful because you won’t spend the first half of the trip collecting that data you already have. We hope you’ve found this information useful and we wish you happy hunting in the pursuit of the right trail camera for you.