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5 Best Cameras For Kayaking in 2023

You guys are probably familiar with kayaking, or since you are looking for the best camera for kayaking you might already be into it.

Kayaking is an easy way for anyone to discover waterways, It is a tranquil mode of transportation that makes you appreciate waterscapes and explore regions.

Based on my experience and some hours of research, for this article, I have rounded up what I think are the best cameras for kayaking.

A Quick Look At My Favorite Cameras For Kayaking

Best Budget Pick
Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

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Best Camcorder
Sony HDRAS300

Sony HDRAS300

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Best Durability


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Best Runner Up
DJI Osmo Action

DJI Osmo Action

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Best Overall


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Key Takeaways

  • You need a great camera if you enjoy kayaking and want to document your unforgettable kayaking experiences.
  • I need an excellent camera to record those fascinating moments because I also enjoy kayaking, and the GoPro HERO9 Black is the best option.
  • OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 is a beautiful alternative that offers the highest durability.
  • The ideal camera for kayaking depends on your demands and budget; thus, I cannot recommend one in particular.

The Top 5 Best Cameras For Kayaking

5. Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 – Best Budget Pick

What I Like

  • 4K and high-speed shooting option
  • ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
  • 3-axis electronic image stabilization
  • Robust waterproof chassis

What I Don’t Like

  • No image stabilization in 4K

Starting the list off with the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, watches are not the only thing they are good at producing.

But if they can outmuscle the current big dogs of action cameras is another question, let’s find out.

At first, sight what might catch your eyes, beside the buttons is a small squared grid and I guess that’s just Garmin doing “artist’s impression” as it doesn’t serve any purpose at all.

Anyway, it is well built with quality plastic and it comes in a grey color. It is quite robust with waterproof housing, it can dive up to 40m (130ft ). It measures 1.2 x 2.3 x 1.8 inches and weighs only 1 pound. Pretty much it ticks all the boxes regarding the build, robust, lightweight, and waterproof.

In the back you will be greeted by the IPS LCD screen that has a resolution of 320 x 240p, it is quite easy to see and operate through it, although it is not a touch screen.

Under its hood, it packs a CMOS imx078 sensor with Novatek 96660 chipset. It takes 12-megapixel photos with a 4:3 ratio, for more ratio in 16:9 it takes them at 8MP. As far as the recording goes it sure can 4k in 30, or 120fps at 1080p.

For better slow-motion editing, always make sure to go for the Full HD resolution, for 4k you need to have a device that can display the resolution of 3840 x 2160. Nevertheless, the content in all aspects is clear and detailed.

It supports and uses Electronic Image Stabilization and built-in EIS that detects the position when the camera moves or shakes, which is a really useful feature for kayaking.

The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 uses a 1250mAh battery, it is capable of surviving 120 minutes in Full HD (1080p), as for the 4k content it will drop drastically.

Why should you buy it?

It is well built with quality plastic and it comes in a grey color, and it is quite robust with waterproof housing.

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Sample Pictures of Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

4. Sony HDRAS300 – Best Camcorder

What I Like

  • Very durable
  • Splashproof and freezeproof
  • 8 Megapixel BDI CMOS sensor
  • It is feature packed

What I Don’t Like

  • The menu screen is too small

Sony a brand that is crowned as one of the big dogs in the camera world decided to make a great entrance in the action camera arena. The Sony HDRAS300 has an unconventional shape that looks like a camcorder (or maybe it even is a camcorder), hence I listed it as the best camcorder for kayaking.

This design is not only for show though, It is one durable camera that can take some hits. The body alone is splashproof and freezeproof, but the HDRAS300 comes supplied with a waterproof housing that gives it the ability to withstand shock, dust, and water immersion of 60m (197 ft).

So yeah, whether you are hiking on a rainy day or skiing, kayaking, and going as far as to explore the undersea, the Sony HDRAS300 will answer all that.

The camcorder blueprint houses an optically stabilized lens and 8 Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor that ensures that video quality and picture quality remains strong across all settings.

It captures fast-moving objects with its burst shooting, it allows you to take a maximum of ten high-quality pictures (10 Fps / 1 second).

Its 8.3MP is optimized for 4k content that is recorded in 30p and in return we get great and beautiful visuals. As for the 1080p Full HD it records it in 60p.

It is feature-packed with features like Time Lapse, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, built-in GPS, and more.

Battery life is quite decent, nothing to complain about it since it is capable of lasting up to 155 mins.

Why should you buy it?

It has an unconventional shape that looks like a camcorder (or maybe it even is a camcorder), hence I listed it as the best camcorder for kayaking.

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Sample Pictures of Sony HDRAS300

3. OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 – Best Durability

What I Like

  • Waterproof
  • Sharp rear LCD
  • Sturdy build
  • Wide aperture lens

What I Don’t Like

  • Not a touch screen

The TG-6 continues the brand tradition as the best in class for underwater cameras. It is billed as the ultimate everything-proof.

So robust that even kids can’t do anything to it, feel free to hand it to them without worrying about the camera, but hey, I would be worried about the kids instead this is one tough big boy.

The TG-6 is capable of surviving freezeproof to -10 Celcius, crushproof up to 100kg, and most important immersion to 45m, I can almost hear it say “Kayaking, what?”.

It is available in black and red colors and it weighs 9 ounces.On top of all those resistances, it features a dual protective glass for superior anti-fogging. Your smartphone will shiver at the punishment this screen can take. Although, don’t go so far as to continuously hit it with a hammer since it can leave marks and scratches.

Many cameras of this size offer huge zoom. But waterproof cameras have to keep the lenses entirely inside the body. It uses a zoom lens of 25-100mm as we have seen in the previous versions.

It takes the TG-6 about 1.6 seconds to power on and snaps a picture, which means the autofocus is basic but is kind of fast and swift, it takes only 0.1 seconds to lock into targets.
TG-6 sports the same sensor of 12MP (the one we have seen on its older brother), it supports both JPG and Raw captures.

The bursts capture mode speeds up to 20fps for very short durations like 9 shots, it can go further but will drop the fps.

Surprisingly enough, for a compact camera made for underwater it can capture 4k videos that look good, it tops out at 30fps or 1080p 60 fps.

The battery is rated for 340 shots, but it will drain quicker with GPS and Wi-Fi features.

Looking at the bright side, it is rechargeable via USB so we’re good to go.

Why should you buy it?

It features a dual protective glass for superior anti-fogging.

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Sample Pictures of OLYMPUS Tough TG-6

2. DJI Osmo Action – Best Runner Up

What I Like

  • Great Build
  • Great image quality for 1-inch sensor
  • Great Autofocus
  • Unbeatable 4k video quality for a compact camera

What I Don’t Like

  • Short battery life

Osmo Action is something that most people refer to as the “GoPro” killer, since a few years ago GoPro tried to challenge DJI by getting into the drone industry, but that didn’t end well for GoPro.

DJI answered the challenge by “biting back” with its, DJI Osmo Action and it sure can trade blows.

As soon as you pick it up, it becomes obvious that DJI is serious about taking GoPro on head-to-head, it even took design cues from it. It comes with a metallic finish in a grey color. On the rear, it has a 2.2-inch touchscreen with 300ppi to protect it against dirt and scratches and it has a screw-on to protect the lens.

The camera is indeed waterproof capable of surviving 11 meters of immersion. The standout feature of the design that you will notice is the dual cameras, which can make recording much easier and pleasant.

What drives the Osmo is a 12MP camera, that can take both RAW and JPEG format pictures. There’s also a stabilization system called Rocksteady, just as the name implies it is a great stabilization feature that will be a huge help during kayaking.

There’s also the HDR mode that separates OSMO from the crowd, most action cameras lack it.
It is capable of recording in 4k at 60fps and at 1080p a whopping of 240fps. In one word its video capabilities are just terrific.

What’s more is that all recordings or pictures taken later can be fast-edited via the Osmo app, the DJI Mimo.

As for the Battery life, it has a 1,300mAh battery cell inside it, which rewards us with two hours of constant FHD recording, and there’s some of the competition that barely manages 1-hour of longevity.

Why should you buy it?

The standout feature of the design that you will notice is the dual cameras, which can make recording much easier and more pleasant.

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Sample Pictures of DJI Osmo Action

1. GoPro HERO9 Black – Best Overall

What I Like

  • Great Build
  • Compact and waterproof
  • Amazing video stabilization
  • Up to 5K quality at 30fps

What I Don’t Like

  • You have to carry extra batteries

Finally GoPro, I bet you already noticed how impactful GoPro is in the action camera industry, after all it is like a synonym to an action camera, and the above options review somehow was made under its shadows, comparing them to GoPro all the time.

Anyway, without wasting time let’s dive into its design.

It is instantly recognizable as a camera from the GoPro lineup, the Hero 9 measures 9.61 x 5.43 x 3.03 inches and weighs 1.04 pounds while sporting the same hallmark design as its brothers.

As soon as you hold it you will notice the sturdy and robust feel in your hand, so much that it gives you the confidence to crack nuts with it. It can also swim up to 10 meters deep without the need for a case. Its 2.27 in-touch display is surrounded by thick bezels but nothing offensive, it is quite vivid and bright.

The killing feature that made the Hero 9 stomp the competition was its 23.6MP resolution instead of the 12Mp we are used to seeing in most action cameras. This change sure gave Osmo Action a hard blow.

The increased resolution also allows the Hero 9 to shoot 5k content at 30fp and 4k at 60p. Yes, its signature feature HyperSmooth boost stabilization to both 4k and 5k captures.

Besides the competition, the Hero9 also exceeds its brothers with terrific battery life. It is driven by a 9.61 x 5.43 x 3.03 inches, which GoPro bills as three times more powerful than the previous versions. At 5k recording it can last up to 90 minutes, which is understandable, the 5k content really gives the camera a big strain.

Why should you buy it?

As soon as you hold it you will notice the sturdy and robust feel in your hand, so much that it gives you the confidence to crack nuts with it.

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Sample Pictures of GoPro HERO9 Black

F.A.Q, Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best camera for kayaking?

I might sound ironic but there is no best camera, it all depends on your preferences and the budget. Someone might find a camera great but it won’t suit your preferences or your bank. But I can say this much: Always pay attention to its waterproofness.

Should I protect my camera from water even though it is rated as waterproof?


Always try to be careful with it, even though it is waterproof, some of them might not survive deep immersions. There are different types of waterproofing, some are made to survive only splashes some can even dive with you.

How can I keep my camera dry and away from water?

Well, it is almost impossible to keep the camera dry when you go kayaking, no matter how hard you try it will get some splashes and washes there and then. Worry not though, even a low-rated waterproof camera, can survive a few water projectiles.

Final Touch:

Having a good camera can make kayaking photography/videography even more fun. Just make sure you pick one that is as waterproof as the options that I listed.

I always advise you guys to buy the best one that suits you without caring much about what others will say regarding the brand.

This might be a different case though, you should also account that not many manufacturers put real effort into producing an ideal camera for kayaking, some might claim it look good on paper and when it arrives it becomes something else.

That’s why I would say go for a trusted brand that is well known and already made a name in that field.