With the best trail camera you get to see a hidden, secret world for you to marvel over. A trail camera lets you see wildlife in its natural environment. Or it helps you see unwanted visitors—human or otherwise—on your property.
Whatever your reason for wanting one, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 trail cameras. Our top pick is the Bushnell Core S-4K. It has hard-to-beat still image resolution, a fast trigger speed, and a built-in color screen.
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What is the Best Trail Camera?
We have budget cameras to sophisticated linkable trail cameras on our list. Before we look at them in detail, here’s a summary of our recommendations.
- 4K Ultra HD image resolution
- No-glow flash for stealthy operation
- 0.2-second trigger speed
- Long-range infrared detection
- 4K video resolution
- Wireless mobile connectivity
- Low-light image sensor
- No-glow infrared LED technology
- Wireless connectivity for easy setup
- 20 MP images and 1080p HD videos
- Motion sensor with 0.2-second trigger speed
- Long-range night vision and Cuddelink network
- Automatically adjusts settings to suit any environment
- Motion activated to capture images and videos
- Waterproof and weather resistant
- Long-range infrared night vision
- Motion activated for instant capturing
- 2-way communication for remote control
- 4G/LTE cellular connectivity for data transmission
- Weatherproof design for long-term use
- Long-range night vision
- Motion activated and time-lapse recording
- Waterproof and durable construction
- Easy setup and operation
- 4G cellular connectivity
- Long-range infrared flash
- Motion activated
- High quality video recording
- 16 MP high-resolution images
- 0.3-second trigger speed captures fast-moving objects
- IP66 waterproof design for outdoor use
- Night vision and 120-degree wide-angle lens
- 12 MP high-definition images
- 0.4-second trigger speed and 80-foot detection range
- Invisible infrared LED illumination
- Time-lapse and motion-detection modes
- Motion-activated camera with infrared LED flash
- Water resistant and easy to set up
- Captures photos and videos with sound
- Long-lasting battery life
Now, let’s look more closely at our best trail camera choices.
1. Bushnell CORE S-4K No-Glow Trail Camera
This Bushnell CORE S-4K trail camera is a solid choice for anyone looking for a reliable yet affordable solution. Bushnell is a well-known and respected manufacturer of hunting gear. So this camera has a good pedigree.
Video resolution of 4K at 20 fps is good at this price point. The maximum capacity for an SD card is 512 GB. This will be important if you’re expecting to leave this camera recording for weeks at a time. 4K video takes up a lot of space.
And because you can connect solar power to it, you can leave it for weeks if you want. If you’re just taking stills, or if there is low traffic, you can record for a very long time.
The Bushnell CORE S-4K has “no-glow” LEDs giving up to 100′ (30.5 m) nighttime illumination. The feature set and price tag make this an excellent choice for a trail camera or yard monitor.
2. Stealth Cam DS4K Ultimate Trail Camera
The Stealth Cam DS4K Ultimate is another great performer. Many people use trail cameras hidden in their yards for security. This camera is well-suited to the purpose. It will capture video, sound, and still pictures of any unwanted prowlers.
You can capture 4K video at 30 fps. That will give you some good-quality images. You can set the camera to take burst photos between one and nine images. And the camera stamps each image with the moon phase and temperature. And it gives you the date and time as well. It’s useful if you’re studying animal behavior.
If you’re installing for long-term use, there is a DC socket to accept a solar charger. One limitation will be the 128 GB maximum memory card. But at least you can swap out the card without having to haul batteries around with you as well.
3. Cuddeback Cuddelink Cell G-5109 Trail Camera
The Cuddeback Cuddelink Cell G-5109 is a networkable camera. It saves you the trouble of “trailing” around a number of cameras to collect images. Using this as a hub, up to twenty-four Cuddeback cameras can share a single cell phone plan.
This means you can cover a significant area without eye-watering cell phone charges. Linked cameras send their images to the G-5109 which then texts or emails you the images. Time saving is also a major attraction.
Other specifications are in line with what you would expect. The trigger speed is a tad slower than some other cameras at .25 seconds. But that’s still pretty good. Picture quality is decent during the day and at night. Night shots are illuminated by low-glow LEDs that work at up to 100 feet (30.5 m).
The top selling point of the Cuddeback G-5109 is the networking facility. Only the hub camera needs cellular coverage. So you can spread any other cameras far and wide.
4. Primos AutoPilot Trail Camera
The Primos AutoPilot is a good choice for a simple trail camera. The features aren’t class-leading. But the price makes it a very accessible camera. Primos have been a part of Bushnell for a few years now. But they maintain their separate identity with their cameras.
There are 60 no-glow LEDs for nighttime illumination. Their range is 100 feet, which is the same as the PIR trigger. So your image collection should be the same both day and night.
The Autopilot should provide reliable service if you’re looking for a basic trail or backyard security camera.
5. SPYPOINT Link S Dark Trail Camera
The SPYPOINT Link S Dark has an integrated integrated solar panel. It’s perfect if you don’t want to install a separate unit. Its built-in lithium battery recharges from the panel. So you can leave the camera almost without limits.
This is a real bonus for hunters, as it reduces the foot traffic and human scents in the area. The camera will alert you via the app if the charge is getting low. So it’s about as close to “fit and forget” as you could hope.
Otherwise, the fast trigger and 100-foot (30.5 m) night range make this a sound choice. The Link S Dark offers a low-maintenance, fuss-free solution for trail camera use.
6. BOG Blood Moon Trail Camera
The BOG Blood Moon camera has a couple of interesting and useful features. BOG is another company completely focused on the hunting community. Perhaps the most important feature of this camera is the dual sensor. This captures 22 MP daylight images and 18 MP infrared (IR) ones.
And for ease of use in the field, the screen and control module is easily removable. It slides out from the bottom of the casing. There’s no need to remove the camera from its mounting location.
The 120-foot (36.6 m) flash range is above average, as is the trigger speed. This can be as fast as 0.04 seconds. That means you get more pictures of the faster and more distant animals.
With up to one year of battery life, the Blood Moon can be set up and left alone for extended periods.
7. Tactacam Reveal 4G Trail Camera
The Tactacam Reveal 4G does all the important things well. It has 1080p video, and in hybrid mode, it snaps stills and video. It will send you the images automatically. But you can also request them at any time via your phone.
The LTE coverage supports both Verizon and AT&T in the US. So you only need to swap the SIM card if you want to change carriers. The IR LEDs are low glow, so most animals won’t notice. Or at least not get spooked by them.
Overall, the Tactacam Reveal 4G offers good picture quality and the freedom of cellular coverage at a decent price.
8. GardePro E5S Trail Camera
The GardePro E5S offers remarkable value for money. The features are as extensive as many other (and much more expensive) cameras. If you don’t want cellular connectivity, then it’s hard to get past this little gem.
Maximum recording resolution is 1296p. This beats many pricier devices. You even get to choose the video format to suit your needs. Both .mp4 and .mov are available. And the maximum storage capacity is as good as the best at 512 GB.
With time-lapse, loop recording, and hybrid modes, the GardePro E5S has got you covered. It’s exceptional value for money. It could easily be the best trail camera for you.
9. Browning Strike Force HD Pro X Trail Camera
The Browning Strike Force HD Pro X has an adjustable IR flash to cope with different demands. You might need to leave the camera for a long time without changing the batteries. In this case, you can choose the Economy Mode.
If your targets are fast, then the Fast Motion mode will help to eliminate blur. Or if the subject rarely comes close enough, then High Power Mode extends the flash range.
Another handy feature is the adjustable trigger response time. Not every animal will cooperate with standard settings. So the camera allows anything from 0.135 to 0.7 seconds. While fast is often better, a slower speed will let a more casual animal get fully in the frame before triggering.
All of these features make the Browning Strike Force HD Pro X a good choice if you want to tailor your camera’s features to your specific needs.
10. Reconyx HF2X Hyperfire 2 Trail Camera
The Reconyx HF2X Hyperfire 2 is designed for professional use. It sits alongside its law-enforcement and scientific research siblings. This is why it seems expensive for its specifications. But the cameras are US-made and not primarily designed for consumer use.
Some features demonstrate the target market. Operating temperatures range from -20 to 120 F (-29 to 50 C). And the IR flash range from the no-glow LEDs is a class-leading 150 feet (45 m).
This is a trail camera that you can trust for years to come. And if you have the budget, the Reconyx HF2X Hyperfire 2 is well worth putting on your shortlist.
How to Choose the Best Trail Camera
Trail cameras are extremely specialized. Their uses are very limited. Usually, it is for monitoring wildlife or game in the wild. Or it is as a security or surveillance camera in places where you want to be covert. Sometimes it is because the property is remote. So it’s difficult to connect power to a more conventional security camera.
All of these factors mean that selection criteria are very specific for this type of camera. So what should you look for when choosing a trail camera?
Like any camera, the image quality of your trail camera will be partly determined by the size of the sensor. Compared with modern DSLRs, most of these cameras have quite small sensors.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This isn’t National Geographic. You’re not looking for a picture you can display on your walls. You want a record of who or what passed by a certain spot. And the bigger the image size the more memory it requires on the camera.
You won’t get gallery prints from these cameras. But all of them will deliver usable images.
Infrared (IR) Capability
Every device on our list has night vision capability. This is made possible by LEDs that emit IR light. This is then captured by the sensor. In some cases, this sensor is separate from the main sensor. Some animals are more sensitive to IR light than others. Because of this, you will find “low glow” or “no glow” LEDs on a few cameras. This is meant to prevent even the most sensitive creature from spotting the IR.
Trigger Response Time
Seeing the departing hoof of a rare animal on the edge of the picture is very frustrating! Fast-moving animals need a rapid trigger. All of these cameras trigger the image in less than one second.
Some have adjustable trigger speeds. If you know that a badger is a regular visitor, you can set a slow trigger response. This allows the slow-moving animal to get into the frame before the camera takes the photo.
All of these cameras run on batteries. Some have integrated solar charging panels. Others accept power from an external power source. That can be a battery pack, solar panel, or even an electrical outlet.
The ultimate fit-and-forget solution is a cellular-enabled camera with solar charging. You probably only need to visit once or twice a year to clean the lens and clear any foliage. Otherwise, they charge themselves and deliver your pictures to your phone or computer.
At the other end is a battery-run camera with a memory card. In this case, you will need to change the batteries and empty the card. How often this happens depends on the shooting frequency and the size of the card.
Your decision is a tradeoff between what you need, what is possible, and what you can afford.
Conclusion: The Best Trail Camera
Usually when we think of wildlife photography, we think of long lenses and endless patience. These trail cameras open up a whole new world for us.
Overall, the Bushnell CORE S-4K is the best trail camera in 2023. It features 4K video recording, a no-glow flash, and a long-lasting battery. The camera is also easy to set up and use. This makes it ideal for both novice and experienced trail camera users.
It has impressive features and reliable performance. And it’s the perfect choice for anyone looking to capture wildlife and outdoor activities.