Skip to main content

Best trail cameras in 2021: Top camera traps for wildlife

Best trail cameras
(Image credit: Pexels/Jason Parnell-Brookes)

The best trail cameras can capture stunning candid shots of animals and other wildlife. Also known as game cameras or remote cameras, these devices are specifically designed to be used remotely to allow photographers to avoid disturbing wildlife.

Some people also use trail cams for security since the best trail cameras are typically waterproof, durable and shoot both video and still images. Cameras are usually camouflaged or finished in a plain earth tone, allowing them to blend into a natural background and go unseen by potential subjects. Hidden flash lights within some trail cameras can light up the foreground in even the darkest nights and are usually powered by infrared technology so as not to disturb flighty subjects. Other features include cellular connection for remote viewing, higher recording resolution, and solar panels to power cameras indefinitely.

If you're looking for other types of cameras, check our guide to the best camera for creatives, and if you're just starting out, see our roundup of the best cameras for beginners. And if you want to take your photography to the next level (that is, the sky), we've put together the best cameras drones too. Meanwhile, read on for our guide to the best trail cameras available now.

The best trail cameras available

Best trail cameras: Stealthcam DS4KCB

(Image credit: Stealthcam)

01. Stealth Cam DS4K

The best high-end trail camera

Specifications
Still resolution: 30MP
Video resolution: 4K (3840x2160 pixels)
Video length: Up to 180 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (via infrared)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: Yes
Power: 12x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+30MP stills+4K Video
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Runs on 12 AA batteries

The Stealth Cam DS4K is one trail camera that doesn't compromise on image quality. It's the first to offer 4K video recording resolution and 30MP stills, capturing more detail than ever. It's a hybrid shooter, capturing video footage and still photos simultaneously when desired, and it works well in low light thanks to its Retina Low Light sensitivity. The built-in No Glo infrared lights offer a 100ft flash range. At 0.4 seconds, the trigger time is reasonably fast too, making this a great trail camera for capturing difficult subjects.

Best trail cameras: Bushnell Low GlowCB endorsed

(Image credit: Bushnell)

02. Bushnell Core DS Low Glow

A more affordable Bushnell Core DS that still packs a punch

Specifications
Still resolution: 30MP
Video resolution: 1080p at 60fps
Video length: Up to 60 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (up to 80ft)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+High resolution stills+Long night vision
Reasons to avoid
-Not wireless-Only AA battery power

The Bushnell Core DS Low Glow Trail Camera is virtually identical to the No Glow model (see number 4) in specs for video and stills, but comes at a cheaper price. It has all the same tech offered by its big brother, including dual image sensor technology and high-resolution stills with full HD video. 

The difference is all in the lighting. The Low Glow's lighting is brighter than the more expensive No Glow, so the camera is more likely to be noticed by some wildlife and by any people passing by. However, a lower cost for the same quality of photography and video means this is still one of the best trail cameras around.

Spypoint Link-S-Dark

(Image credit: Spypoint)

The best trail camera with cellular connection

Specifications
Still resolution: 12MP
Video resolution: 1920x1080p
Video length: Up to 90 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (using low-glow LEDs)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: 2-inch color LCD
Power: Solar, rechargeable lithium ion, or 8x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+Transmits photos over 4G LTE mobile network+Solar powered+Rechargeable Li-ion battery
Reasons to avoid
-Monthly cost for cellular use

The Spypoint Link-S-Dark trail camera adds another welcome feature for anyone who wants to review footage remotely on their phone or another device. Its cellular technology allows the camera to connect straight to the Skypoint app on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. 

With a rechargeable lithium-ion battery offering potentially unlimited battery time and no need to visit the camera to download stills and videos from the memory card, this is one of the best trail cameras to set up in remote locations or areas where you want to avoid disturbing timid wildlife. It also has distance detection of up to 100ft. It shoots colour in the day and infrared at night with added no glow thanks to the Hybrid Illumination Technology flash system.

Best trail cameras: Bushnell No GlowCB endorsed

(Image credit: Bushnell)

04. Bushnell Core DS No Glow

The best Trail Camera overall

Specifications
Still resolution: 30MP
Video resolution: 1080p at 60fps
Video length: Up to 60 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (up to 80ft)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof body+Two image sensors +Nearly invisible lighting
Reasons to avoid
-Only AA battery power-No wireless connection

With remote trail cam recording, it can be a challenge to capture decent footage in both bright daylight and at night. The Bushnell Core DS No Glow Trail Camera helps resolve that issue by giving this trail camera two image sensors rather than one. The first is optimised for daytime use and the other for night. Together with the camera's 'nearly invisible' LED lights, this makes it easier to capture shots of even the most camera-shy wildlife.

This trail camera captures incredible stills detail at 30MP and shoots smooth full HD video at 60fps. The trigger time is a stunningly fast 0.2 seconds, so you shouldn't miss the opportunity for a shot when one arises. This device also boasts a solid construction designed to withstand heat and cold, and the camera's 'no glow' lighting makes it harder to find, keeping the device safer from potential thieves. All in all, this is one of the best trail cameras around.

Best trail cameras: Bushnell Prime No GlowCB endorsed

(Image credit: Bushnell)

05. Bushnell Prime Low Glow Trail Camera

Another solid Bushnell trail camera for those on a lower budget

Specifications
Still resolution: 24MP
Video resolution: 1080p at 60fps
Video length: Up to 60 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (up to 80ft)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: Yes
Power: 6x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+High resolution video +Fast trigger speed+Cheapest of Bushnell line-up
Reasons to avoid
-1 sec recovery time-No wireless connectivity

If your budget is too tight to stretch to either of the Bushnell cameras above, the Bushnell Prime 24MP Low-Glow Trail Camera is another strong model from the same brand. It offers full HD video recording and 24MP stills. With the addition of flash lighting, it can record at distances of up to 80ft. Bushnell has dropped a few features to keep the cost down on this one, but for photographers who want a cheap but reliable trail camera, this is a sound 'no-frills' option that will do the job.

Best trail cameras: Stealthcam G42NG

(Image credit: Stealthcam)

06. Stealth Cam G42NG TRIAD

Full HD video and durable housing at a budget price

Specifications
Still resolution: 10MP
Video resolution: 1920x1080p
Video length: Up to 180 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (via infrared)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+Full HD video +180 seconds video time
Reasons to avoid
-10MP stills-

This trail camera offers some impressive specs for the price, allowing it to compete with more expensive products. It captures full HD video and shoots 10MP still images, firing in less than 0.5 seconds. It has a video record time of up to 180 seconds and can trigger up to nine stills photos in burst mode. 

The Stealth Cam G42NG has durable, waterproof housing and it runs on eight AA batteries. The metadata provided on files includes time, date, moon phase, and temperature to allow better accuracy when studying footage.

Best trail cameras: Spypoint Solar Dark

(Image credit: Spypoint)

07. Spypoint Solar Dark

A stellar solar-powered trail camera

Specifications
Still resolution: 12MP
Video resolution: 1280x720p
Video length: Up to 90 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (up to 80ft)
Audio recording: Yes
LCD: 2-inch color LCD
Power: Solar, rechargeable lithium ion, or 6x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+Long video record time+Solar powered+Colour screen
Reasons to avoid
-Not full HD-Premium cost for solar

If you need a trail camera you can leave out in the field unattended for longer periods, the solar-powered Spypoint Solar-W is an ideal solution. This trail cam runs on its own lithium ion rechargeable battery, which is powered via the solar panel on top of the device, although it can also be powered by six AA batteries. 

It has a decent trigger speed of 0.07 seconds and 42 super-low-glow LEDs to light subjects in the dark. It offers up to a minute and a half of video recording time but, sadly, footage is limited to 720P video recording and 12MP stills. 

best trail cameras: Spypoint Force

(Image credit: Spypoint)

08. Spypoint Force-20 Trail Camera

The best compact budget trail camera

Specifications
Still resolution: 20MP
Video resolution: 1280x720p
Video length: Up to 60 seconds
Data storage: SD or SDHC up to 32GB
Night vision: Yes (via infrared)
Audio recording: No
LCD: Yes
Power: 8x AA batteries
Reasons to buy
+High resolution stills+Low cost
Reasons to avoid
-Video without sound-LCD for configuration only

At only five inches tall, the ultra-compact Spypoint Force-20 Trail has some impressive specs for its size. It captures 20MP stills and triggers at 0.7 seconds. Its illumination range is up to 80 feet and it operates in temperatures between -30 °C and +50 °C. As long as you aren't fussed about audio recording, the Force-20 is ideal if you want something small and compact with an entry-level price tag.

Read more:

Spypoint Link-Micro-LTE

(Image credit: Spypoint)

The best value trail camera

Specifications
Still resolution: 10MP
Video resolution: N/A
Video length: N/A
Data storage: microSD up to 32GB
Reasons to buy
+Cheap as chips+LTE cellular link-up
Reasons to avoid
-No video-Basic design

Spypoint offer up a no-frills trail camera in the form of the Link-Micro-LTE which draws on its predecessor and improves by offering reliable LTE cellular link-up. A stills photo-only trail camera means it lacks flexibility when it comes to tracking, but what it lacks in moving image it makes up for in connectivity. Using the Spypoint App the user can manage all camera settings, and use intelligent scouting tools such as the enhanced AI species filters, weather, and mapping integration. A 0.5 second trigger, which isn't as fast as some others, isn't to be sniffed at for this low price point.

Jason Parnell-Brookes

Jason Parnell-Brookes is an Internationally award-winning photographer, educator and writer. He won Gold in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. Jason is a qualified teacher, Masters graduate and works with many high profile international clients.