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Best trail cameras in 2021: Top camera traps for wildlife and nature photography

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

Welcome to our guide to the best trail cameras around. A trail camera (otherwise known as a game camera or remote camera), is a camera specifically designed to be used remotely by a photographer whose presence would otherwise disturb the subject. 

Trail cameras are typically waterproof, durable and shoot both video and still images. Camouflaged, or finished in a plain earth tone, they're ideal for wildlife subjects, but some people use trail cams for security as well. There are many different features built in to the cameras depending on which one you go for. 

Whether it's cellular link-up for remote viewing or the need for solar power, if you want the best trail camera that's right for your needs have a look at our roundup of the top eight you can buy right now. Looking for a different type of camera? See our guides to the best camera for creatives, or if you're just starting out then you'll need this roundup of the best cameras for beginners.

The best trail cameras available now

Best trail cameras: Bushnell No Glow

(Image credit: Bushnell)

01. Bushnell Core DS No Glow

Best Trail Camera Overall

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

Waterproof body
Two image sensors 
Nearly invisible lighting
Only AA battery power
No wireless connection

A tricky part of trail cam recording is the ability to capture decent footage in both bright daylight and in the dark of night. Fortunately, Bushnell has gifted this trail cam with not one but two image sensors. One is optimised for daytime use and the other at night. Pair that with the 'nearly invisible' LED lights and you shouldn't have any problems capturing even the most frightened of wildlife. 

The added benefit of the 'no glow' lighting is that it's harder to find, thereby keeping it safe from thieves. It captures incredible stills detail shooting at 30MP and shoots full HD video at 60fps for smooth movies. The camera triggers in just 0.2 seconds, meaning you shouldn't miss an opportunity when one arises. A solid construction, this trail cam is designed to withstand hot and cold temperatures alike.

Best trail cameras: Bushnell Low Glow

(Image credit: Bushnell)

02. Bushnell Core DS Low Glow

The DS Low Glow packs a punch at a more affordable price

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

High resolution stills
Long night vision
Not wireless
Only AA battery power

Virtually identical to the No Glow in video and stills specs, the Low Glow by Bushnell has all the tech of its big brother (dual image sensor technology and high resolution stills with full HD video) but at a lower price. So what's the difference? It's all in the lighting. The Low Glow is indeed that, with lighting that is brighter than its more expensive brother it may be noticed by some wildlife and is indeed more conspicuous. But at a lower cost this is still a solid purchase.

Best trail cameras: Bushnell Prime No Glow

(Image credit: Bushnell)

03. Bushnell Prime Low Glow Trail Camera

For those on a budget look no further than this trail cam

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

High resolution video 
Fast trigger speed
Cheapest of Bushnell line-up
1 sec recovery time
No wireless connectivity

For those who want to capture good quality trail cam images and movies but are restricted by a tight budget, this trail cam may be the one. It offers full HD video recording and 24MP stills images and with the addition of flash lighting it can record up to 80ft away. To keep the cost low Bushnell have dropped a few features here and there but for users who want a cheap, reliable trail cam this camera's 'no-frills' approach certainly hits the mark.

Best trail cameras: Spypoint Link W

(Image credit: Spypoint)

04. Spypoint Solar-W

A top-notch solar-powered trail camera

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

Long video record time
Solar powered
Colour screen
Not full HD
Premium cost for solar

The Solar-W is perfect for trail sites that need to be left alone for longer. This trail cam runs on its own lithium ion rechargeable battery which is powered via the solar panel on top and can also be powered by six AA batteries. It has a blisteringly fast trigger speed of 0.07 seconds and lights subjects with its 42 super-low-glow LEDs. It has a long minute and a half of video record time but sadly only has 720P video recording and 12MP stills capability. 

Best trail cameras: Spypoint Link S

(Image credit: Spypoint)

Best trail camera with cellular

Still resolution: 12MP | Video resolution: 1280x720p | 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

Transmits photos over 4G LTE mobile network
Solar powered
Rechargeable Li-ion battery
Monthly cost for cellular use
Not currently available in UK

As well as powering its rechargeable lithium-ion battery the Link-S also boasts cellular technology that allows the trail cam to connect straight to the Skypoint app on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. With potentially unlimited battery time and no need to visit the camera to download stills and videos from the memory card this is the perfect trail cam for those more remote locations or areas where wildlife may be more flighty. It also has distance detection up to 100ft, shoots colour in the day and infrared at night.

Best trail cameras: Stealthcam G42NG

(Image credit: Stealthcam)

06. Stealth Cam G42NG TRIAD

Full HD video and durable housing without breaking the bank

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

Full HD video 
180 seconds video time
10MP stills
Slow trigger time

Considering the price of this trail cam, it has some specifications that compete with the most expensive products. It boasts a video record time of up to 180 seconds and can trigger up to nine stills photos in burst mode. Capturing full HD video it also shoots a nifty 10MP still image and triggers in less than 0.5 seconds. Running on eight AA batteries inside a durable, waterproof housing, the metadata on files also includes time, date, moon phase, and temperature for improved accuracy when studying footage.

Best trail cameras: Stealthcam DS4K

(Image credit: Stealthcam)

07. Stealth Cam DS4K

Best high-end trail camera

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

30MP stills
4K Video
More expensive
Runs on 12 AA batteries

The Stealth Cam DS4K is a trail cam designed not to compromise on image quality. With a huge 4K video recording resolution (a world first) and massive 30MP stills photos, you're sure to see more than ever. It has a decent trigger time of 0.4 seconds and features up to 100ft flash range using the built-in No Glo infrared lights. A hybrid shooter, this trail camera captures video footage and still photos simultaneously when triggered and is good in low light thanks to its Retina Low Light sensitivity.

Spypoint Force

(Image credit: Spypoint)

08. Spypoint Force-20 Trail Camera

Best budget trail camera

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

High resolution stills
Low cost
Video without sound
LCD for configuration only

At only five inches tall, this ultra compact trail camera makes the most of its size with a whopping 20MP stills capture. As long as users aren't bothered with audio recording then the Force-20 is for those who want something small and compact with an entry-level price tag. It triggers at 0.7 seconds, has an illumination range of up to 80 feet, and operates in temperatures between -30 °C and +50 °C.

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