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Trail cameras might be the one thing that are currently missing from your stockade of hunting weapons and gadgetry.
They’re immensely helpful in numerous situations, such as limited visibility, wide open hunting grounds, and maintaining public hunting grounds when you’re worried that other hunters will be scaring off the game.
There’s also a lot of misconceptions about trail cameras. You don’t need to be a master to use one, and it doesn’t have to be daunting.
That’s why we made a list with the best trail camera for every situation and price range on it.
We’re going to prove to you that you can be an amateur or newcomer, and use trail cameras to bring some brighter imagery to your hunting game.
Get ready to control the woodlands with your cameras, and get ready for some of the most strategic planning you’ll have ever done in your life.
Our Reviews Of The Best Trail Camera
#1 APEMAN 1080p Trail Camera
We went through nearly all the trail camera reviews you could find about APEMAN just to confirm our suspicions: they absolutely rock.
There’s a lot to this camera, including an IP66 waterproof rating that lets you leave it out in winter and lightly rainy days.
The entire thing is basically weatherproofed, including the LCD screen on the inside. Yes, on the inside.
You can flip the panel open to reveal the LCD screen, so you won’t damage this by leaving it out.
That’s excellent, but doesn’t really tell much about the camera, now does it?
Not to worry—you’ve got a 20 megapixel camera equipped with 1080p resolution, so you’ll be able to capture just about anything that passes through your camera with accuracy.
There’s a lot of information out there saying that the megapixel number on your camera doesn’t matter, but you try seeing a 4 MP camera image and tell us that there’s no difference.
With infrared night vision imagery, you’ll be able to spot prey in the middle of the night.
Overnight hunting trips are about to become a lot easier, so long as you also have a means to hunt them in the dark, of course.
Your kit is going to come with a few different items, including an adapter and strap that keep everything bound to the tree.
That, and the mounting kit you get which has three screws and anchors doesn’t hurt, either.
You’ll have a capacity of 32 GB maximum. The system can’t handle any more than that, so a 64 GB card will literally be useless in this.
It needs an SD card in order to run anything, so be sure you have a minimum of at least 8 GB for short-term use.
Alternatively, you can also power this with batteries if you don’t want to charge the lithium-ion battery before heading out.
For extended trips, this is certainly recommended.
#2 Browning Strike Force HD
Talking about power, Browning has a nice little punch that it packs at a reasonable price.
Fitted with an authentic camouflage design, it hides in plain sight in the center of the trees. Browning’s Strike Force camera comes in HD, but you won’t be getting 1080p.
Instead, there’s a 720 HD resolution that you can enjoy, which displays plenty of high definition information through the 16 megapixel camera.
Still images come out looking fantastic, though at a range of about 80 ft and beyond, you’re going to see issues.
That’s because out of all the game camera reviews we saw for the Browning Strike Force, they all displayed some of the same feedback.
When there are enough common threads, you begin to pay attention, and we did that during testing.
After the 80 foot detection range, everything gets a little bit blurry.
It’s not enough that it’s unusable, but you’re not going to want to buy this camera if you’re planning on lookout downhill for an extended distance.
Capture speed is on-point, with a super quick 0.4 second time.
The flash range kicks in once the detection meter goes off, with a 120 foot blast of light that illuminates everything.
You’ll know all about common trails for the whitetail deer in the area, and that’s enough information to formulate a great hunt.
As far as mounting goes, you get a six foot long strap that ties around narrow trees.
Keep in mind that it’s the total circumference, so some trees might be thicker. You do not get a mounting kit.
It takes a while to charge though. You’ll have a 12V DC adapter that comes with your kit, but don’t expect it to be a one-hour kind of thing.
The only other major grievance with this is the lack of waterproofing or protective casing.
Your picture quality will drop substantially, while your SD cartridge area will get soaked right on through.
This also only holds up to a 16 GB memory card, though it does include one with your purchase.
#3 Wildgame Innovations Terra
Wildgame’s camera is basically the king of all budget-friendly trail camera options for hunters.
As one of the best game cameras out there, you’ll be able to take advantage of a 720p recording resolution, while also having an 8 megapixel camera for stills.
That’s obviously a bit dip compared to the top model that we’ve reviewed, but you can’t have everything for a budget price. For the cost, 10 megapixels is a great bargain.
You don’t get an option for a camouflage cover for this, so you’ll be stuck with a basic black camera.
The keypad for your options is kept behind a plastic case that offers waterproof protection, but it’s a very light grade, so tread carefully.
You might want to still get something else to cover the entire thing to keep the rain off, such as a protective waterproof case that doesn’t impair lens clarity.
Despite being the same price as our previous pick, it gives you a great balanced set of features.
You’ll even have 21 LED lights focused along the top to flash when it’s time to take a picture. Speaking of picture, you’ll also get a sub-second trigger speed.
Some users reported that with independent tests, it actually took a full second, but no more than that.
Either way, it’s still a good rating, though you might get a blurry image from time to time.
Night vision mode is solid, but it’s not going to give you much range. On average, it’ll give you about 40-60 feet of range during nighttime use, even with that flash.
In fact, without the LEDs, we’re not sure how well the night vision mode would even work.
If any of them go out, it would be wise to replace them before heading out on another expedition.
#4 FHDCAM Trail Camera
Hunting cameras come and go, and FHDCAM isn’t going to be your end-all purchase, but it will get you through the next few years of hunting.
As one of the best trail cameras for the money, you get a wide 120° field of view through two lenses, as well as a volley of LED lights on the top-facing camera.
It’s impressive looking, but there are a few picadillos that you need to be wary of before deciding on this one.
For one, this thing will eat through batteries like it’s nobody’s business.
You need to have more batteries in your backpack if you want to get your full use out of this.
Unfortunately, that low battery life means you can’t leave this out for as long as most cameras, so there’s that to consider.
The waterproof rating is an IP65, which isn’t bad, but as with many other cameras it won’t be viable in medium to harsh rainfall.
FHDCAM includes a 12-month warranty with your purchase, but admittedly, it’s not going to cover a lot. Mostly just manufacturer defects.
The main strengths of this camera come in with the inexpensive price option for excellent 1080p resolution, and the lightning fast trigger speed.
Compare their 0.2 second speed to that of our top pick, which is almost impossible to come by in this price range.
An IR flash will pop up when the trigger distance is met.
That trigger distance is only 45 feet, and with a 1080p resolution, we would have thought that it had a little bit more range than that.
The photos that do come out of this range are clear, but sometimes the IR flash can be a bit overpowering and whitewash the photo.
Night vision is black and white, and works a treat.
#5 Hollywtop Mini Trail Game Camera
Struggling with your current camera’s flash?
You’re not alone; some LEDs aren’t subtle enough, and then you’ll get photos and videos of your prey running off.
The best deer camera shouldn’t be doing you dirty like that.
Hollywtop is a smaller camera, but it packs a punch with 1080p HD and a 20 megapixel camera for high quality still images.
The picture is great, and the kit also comes with additional pieces that make it a bargain buy.
Trail cam reviews always have similar complaints: it’s either that there’s no mounting kit or no warranty.
Well, Hollywtop gives you a full mounting kit that includes three screws, anchors, and a strap to fasten your camera to the tree.
What it doesn’t have is a good waterproof rating.
You get an IP56 rating, which means it’s basically dust proof and it will repel light amounts of water by forcing it to bead up.
It’s okay, but nothing that you want to leave your camera in for too long.
Around this price range, the best you’re going to find is a 0.4 second trigger speed—that’s not a complaint, it’s an excellent response time for any camera.
Hollywtop’s camera comes with a decent battery life, but it’s nothing to celebrate. You won’t want it for an overnight trip.
It’s a simple camera, but it gets the job done just fine.
Trail Camera Buying Guide and FAQ
How Does a Trail Camera Work?
Trail cameras operate similar to most digital cameras.
Trail camera ratings showcase megapixel numbers for still imagery, resolutions for playback on video, and even have the same lenses.
They’re just a little souped up compared to a standard digital camera.
The magic is in the detection methods. There are motion sensors in each camera that are constantly running and sapping power, albeit a very small amount.
It’s constantly running. When that motion sensor gets tripped, the camera kicks on, and with either IR, night vision or LED lighting, a flash goes off and the picture is taken.
Voila—you’ve caught sight of your prey.
So the main part is the motion sensor, of course, but that can be a bit dodgy.
We’ve looked at so many different trail cameras, and found some reviews that would talk about the sensitivity settings of the respective motion sensors.
It’s not a setting you can change, it’s just the hardware of the camera.
So many people had an SD card that was mostly filled up with images of seemingly nothing but the landscape.
That’s where it gets tricky; some cameras will detect the sway of the trees when the wind blows and deem that worthy of turning on.
That’s a problem, primarily because if LED lights are present, it could startle prey.
Talking about lighting, one of the other unique features in trail cameras is their IR, or infrared settings.
These are used to take night vision photos and high-quality, bright photos during the day as well.
Using this mode will not startle your prey or even alert them to your camera.
Last but not least, the mounting system.
There are two ways to mount your trail camera to a tree and overlook an area: straps and anchoring. Some hunters use both of these methods together.
Straps go through the two or four slots on the camera, and simply latch on around the tree to provide tension and keep the camera in place.
Anchors are screws and plastic anchor bits (much like wall anchors in a tool bag kit) so you can screw it directly into the tree.
The latter is often used if you use the same hunting grounds time after time.
Do Trail Cameras Make Noise?
No, they don’t make any noise.
We’re not using 1994-era Kodak disposable cameras here. Consider the camera functionality in a trail camera to be the same as your smartphone.
The only “noise” that your smartphone makes it a sound file that comes through your speaker if your volume settings are on, but the camera itself makes no noise. Trail cameras are the same.
Top rated trail cameras, if they were to make a noise, would see major issues.
Most game that people hunt by using the assistance of trail cameras are whitetail deer, rabbit, and other game with similar senses of sound.
They can hear a leaf crackle from a hundred feet away—they’re prey animals, and are very wary of their surroundings.
If trail cameras made a sound, it would spook them, and defeat the entire purpose.
What is the Difference Between a Game Camera and a Trail Camera?
You can see them called the best hunting camera, superior game cameras, or outstanding trail cameras—it doesn’t matter, because they all literally mean the same thing.
It’s just wordplay and a different name to call the very same item.
There are no minor differences between what is marketed as a game camera versus a trail camera—it’s all about hunting and capturing your prey on film, so to speak.
Can Trail Cameras Send Pictures to Your Phone?
Some can, but we didn’t include any of those on our list, and there’s a good reason for that.
You’re in the middle of the wilderness when you use these, and while it would be nice to have a photo sent to your phone and update you on where game might be, isn’t part of the point to leave technology behind just a bit.
That’s obviously up to you to decide, but another reason behind it is that these cameras are very expensive when they offer these features, and it isn’t always usable.
Depending on where you are geographically while you’re hunting, you might not have access to these features.
These cameras access cell towers to bounce a signal to your phone, but if you’ve ever tried to get a good signal in the middle of nowhere, then you’ll know how horrible the signal can be at times.
Those pictures don’t take long to get to you though, so if it’s something you want to pursue, that’s perfectly okay.
Getting multiple trail cameras and having the necessary batteries/charging cables and all the fixings can start to knock on the door of the low four figures, though, so tread lightly.
Can Deer (or Other Game) See Trail Camera Flash?
Yes, they can see most cameras flashes.
If your camera has LED lights, it’s going to slightly alert game, but it might not scare them off.
A little flash here and there will capture their attention, but if they’re close enough (less than 30 feet) then they might inspect it to see what it was.
Deer are used to seeing humans and identify predators, so this will pique their curiosity at best.
However, if you want to avoid the risk of startling them, you can use an infrared camera.
IR technology sends out infrared lighting that isn’t visible like a bright LED flash from twenty-one different light bulb.
Instead, you’ll be able to photograph and record game walking on their trails without their knowledge.
IR tech usually comes with a higher price tag.
You won’t find it on lower priced or bottom-tier trail cameras, so if this is a priority for you, just understand that it’s going to affect the price.
Control the Trails, One Spot at a Time
Trail cameras might just be one of the most important tools in your arsenal, and after reading all of that, you might even be intrigued enough to delve deep into the world of cameras.
There’s a fascinating way to customize and augment your trail cameras.
Between night vision, infrared, high speed detection and more, there’s so many different attributes to look forward to.
This might not be the way that hunting was done in the first place, but it’s an amazing and minimally invasive way to allow technology into your hunting trip.
It’s time to track like never before.
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