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Best Christmas gift for hunters: trail cameras for every budget

Trail cameras are one of the simplest ways to keep your eyes on the hunting prize, and an awesome Christmas gift.
Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
two deer are caught on a trail camera
A trail camera captures two bucks. Photo: Larry Lamsa/Creative Commons

We weren’t born with eyes on the backs of our heads. That much is obvious. We can only see and absorb as much information as our eyes and brains allow. We’re limited. But through technology, we can slim the odds of missing a chance (which could be the buck of a lifetime). Trail cameras are one of the simplest ways to keep eyes on game paths and other common areas where activity is frequent. Almost like having eyes in the back of your head, no?

Trail cameras have evolved significantly over the years, and it’s gotten to the point where you can have real-time footage sent to your phone the instant your game comes into frame. 

So, if you’re looking for a solid trail camera for yourself or for someone else, here are the best I could find for every price point. 

Best Overall – Browning Spec Ops Elite 

Browning Spec Ops Elite. Photo: Browning

As far as the best trail cameras for the price, the Browning Spec Ops Elite offers tons of features at a price you can’t be mad at. It has one of the best battery life ratings on the market at 30 months with everyday use. 

The Spec Ops takes 24-megapixel photos and has a video resolution of 1920 x 1080p, with a trigger detection speed of 0.02 seconds. It’s a great all-arounder, with the only issue being the temperature readings are sometimes wrong. 

The Spec Ops Elite does have the no glow IR feature, which removes the animal’s ability to see the camera (they have night vision, you know) and can detect movement out to 90 feet. Night vision on this camera works well and is excellent for anyone looking for a good night-vision trail cam. 

Best Value – Tactacam Reveal X Gen 2

Tactacam Reveal X Gen 2. Photo: Tactacam

If you’re looking for a trail camera on a budget, the Tactacam Reveal X Gen 2 won’t cost you too much while still being a great trail camera. It delivers photos at 16 megapixels (above 4k) and can take them day and night. 

It doesn’t have the best trigger time at 0.52 seconds, but it takes multiple shots and sends them back to your phone. It has a 6.5-month battery life, so you won’t have to worry about changing them so frequently. 

The X Gen 2 can also be connected through cellular, so you don’t have to worry about having it run off your home Wi-Fi. Set it out there and just let it snap pictures and videos. It has a detection range of 100 feet, the longest detection circuit on this list. It uses low-glow IR, so it isn’t the best for nighttime, but not the worst. The X Gen 2 works with Verizon and AT&T, so it is a cellular trail cam, and you will have to spend on a subscription. 

Best Battery Life – Spypoint Flex S  

Spypoint Flex S. Photo: Spypoint

If battery life is what you’re ultimately looking for, then what better than a camera that runs on solar? The Spypoint Link S can last indefinitely if posted in a spot with a lot of sunlight. Sorry to those hunters out there who live in Washington. 

Don’t worry. It also takes batteries for the days when the sun doesn’t shine. The Link S can last up to three months with eight AA batteries. The only drawback I’ve seen from this camera is that it doesn’t have the best video resolution. Not that 1080p is the worst, but it’s definitely not up to par with other cameras on the market. 

The trigger time on the Spypoint Flex S is 0.38 seconds for photos and 1.28 seconds for videos, and it has a detection range of 100 feet. It also works with any carrier you wish, which can save you money in monthly fees. 

Best High-End – Exodus Render 

Exodus Render. Photo: Exodus

As for those who don’t mind spending extra money on the best trail camera, the Exodus Render is one you probably never heard of but should have. 

The Exodus Render is powered by Verizon and uses a cellular data plan (similar to others on the list) to work independently from your home Wi-Fi. The plans are among the cheapest on the list and allow multiple cameras to be set up on one plan.

You can have five cameras set up and only pay for one. That’s pretty damn good. 

Exodus uses the Scoutek app, and setup is as simple as pointing your phone camera at the Render, and it’s done. After setup, you can post your trail camera and walk away. 

The Exodus Render is backed by a 5-year warranty that allows you to get a new one should you break from usual or accidental damage. But once you hold it in your hand, you know this tank of a trail camera is built for the long run. 

How To Choose A Trail Cam

There are dozens of different trail cams on the market. Many offer an excellent price for a great camera, but finding the right one is all up to you and what you will be using the camera for. 

If you want a trail camera with a long battery life, opt for one that runs on solar. If you want one great for watching animal movements at night, you should look for one with no-glow IR so the animal’s natural night vision doesn’t pick up on the flashing light. 

So on and so forth. 

Then, some cameras work well all around, like the Browning Spec Ops Elite, which does well at night in the day, with videos and photos and a long battery life. 

That’s all I need. What do you need? Start there. 

Conclusion

Trail cameras are ever-evolving, and it won’t be long before a new camera comes around and makes all the others obsolete. 

Take your time when choosing your trail cam, and find photos and videos taken by the camera before you buy it so you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you aren’t tech-savvy, ensure it’s also easy to set up. 

Overall, have fun. Technology is fun. 

Be good and take care.