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Reconyx Hyperfire 2 Cellular
The Hyperfire 2’s images were very sharp, due to the fast trigger speed, and the setup is seamless.
Browning Defender Pro Scout Max
The Defender Pro Scout Max has great picture quality, ease of use, and excellent battery life. Plus a competitive price.
Best No-Glo Cam
Bushnell CelluCore 30 No-Glow
The impressive 0.2-second trigger speed helps capture sharp images and can keep up with fast-moving deer.
We have entered a golden age when it comes to cellular trail cameras. Only a few years ago, a mere handful of makers were kicking out wireless cams, and even fewer were producing models that made you say, “Wow!” These days, every cam manufacturer worth its salt not only has a wireless cam in its lineup, but has improved significantly on earlier models.
Like computers, smartphones, and everything else powered by silicon chips, wireless cameras are way better than in years past. Pics and videos get sharper and clearer. Apps are packed with more (and more incredible) features. Maybe most important, prices are settling in a neighborhood that most of us can afford. Still, in a tight economy, the decision to drop anywhere from a hundred to several hundred bucks on yet another trail camera, and which one to spend it on, deserves serious consideration. So, we’ve done a bunch of the considering for you. After weeks of setting up and testing the latest models, we’ve cut through the advertising hype to pick the 2022’s best wireless trail cams.
Best Wireless Trail Cams of 2022
The Rest of the Best Wireless Trail Cams of 2022
How We Tested the Cams
I installed batteries, an SD card (plus a SIM if required), and downloaded the correct app to pair my camera with my phone. I evaluated the simplicity and clarity of setup instructions, as well as noting the features that were available and how easy they were to understand and access. I then set up the cameras in my yard to evaluate pic quality, trigger speed, and detection range by walking in front of them at pre-measured distances, day and night. I also deployed cams on several mock scrapes to check their performance on wild deer and any other critters that might show up. I gave a special nod to any camera(s) that performed well under these “real world” conditions. Finally, the value was considered when choosing between cameras; companies that pair solid performance with a reasonable price deserve a shoutout.
Best Overall: Reconyx Hyperfire 2 Cellular
Why It Made the Cut: When your camera is at least $100 more than everyone else’s, it better be really good. The Hyperfire 2 is—and it’s backed with a 5-year warranty.
Trigger speed: 0.2 secondsDetection range: 150 ft.Power:12 AA batteries
Unmatched trigger speed and detection rangePicture clarity is easily the best of the testVideos are sharp and clear5-year warranty is the best in the industry
ExpensiveCan’t send videosSome complications in pairing the phone to the camera
The Hyperfire 2’s trigger speed and detection range were easily the best in the test and verified a belief I’ve held since my pre-cell cam days; I’ve used Reconyx conventional cams for years and have always operated on the tenet that, if I really want a great pic of a good buck, use Reconyx. This holds true for the Hyperfire 2. The Hyperfire images were very sharp (probably due to the zippy trigger speed) and the setup is seamless. I was ready to believe that a high-dollar camera would be difficult to set up and run; I was wrong. This is a high-performance workhorse that’s worth the extra bucks for the initial purchase if you can afford it and the five-year warranty is commendable. If past experience with trail cams (conventional or wireless) is any indicator, something is bound to go wrong at some point and a company that stands by its product is worth noting. Plus, the higher price point was easier to swallow when I realized that data plans are very reasonable.
Best Value: Browning Defender Pro Scout Max
Why It Made the Cut: Great picture quality, ease of use, and excellent battery life, at a price that’s competitive with anyone out there.
Trigger speed: 0.25 secondsDetection range: 120 feetPower: 8AA batteries
Second-best trigger speed in the testSimple to set up and useExcellent picture and video qualityBattery life on Brownings is typically among the best in the category
Not the best reception in all areas (Browning wireless models have external antennas that allow installation of a booster for areas with iffy reception)
The solid performance of this camera didn’t surprise me one bit. The pics are sharp and clear (some of the best night pics I’ve seen, across the board) and the trigger speed rivals the Reconyx. Plus, the detection range and battery life is among the best in the test. While I haven’t run this camera for a long time, there’s no reason to believe this camera will be any different from its predecessors when it comes to battery conservation (a real consideration when battery prices are up 30% or more). Browning cams are simply among the best in the business due to their reliability, and if I were going to run a string of wireless cams, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a bunch of Defender Pro Scouts. This camera has bulletproof performance at an amazingly affordable price.
Why It Made the Cut: Bushnell cams always produce crisp, clear pics, and this model sports a great trigger speed.
Trigger speed: 0.2 secondsDetection range: 80 feetPower: 12 AA batteries
Good trigger speedSolid daytime picsInternal screen viewer to aid setup Among the most simple setups in the test
Fairly spendy in comparisonNight pics suffer a bit at longer ranges
Bushnell cameras have shown nothing but increased improvement in the last few years, and this model exemplifies that trend. The nice pics and easy setup are a huge plus for Bushnell. The impressive 0.2-second trigger speed helps capture sharp images and can keep up with fast-moving deer. Plus, the fast image recovery time recovery and subtle infrared flash elevate this cam to the next level. The only thing keeping this camera from the top models is a moderate detection range, and the data plans are, well, not much.
Why It Made the Cut: Very good trigger speed and the dual modem selects the best mobile carrier in the area.
Trigger speed: 0.27Detection range: 60 feetPower: 12 AA batteries
Dual modem allows the camera to select the best carrier for top picsGood trigger speedRugged caseEasy setup
Above average price pointDetection range is decent but not stellarSome grainy photos, especially at night
This is one of the best Covert cameras in recent memory. The trigger speed is quite good and the dual modem–which simply picks the best carrier in the area–may not be a genius stroke, but it’s close. Some of my night pics were a little grainy, probably because of the combination of no-glow flash and average detection/flash range. I liked the rugged and well-designed case, and the setup was pretty seamless. The only things keeping this camera from the top spot were the lower quality night pics and the price point.
Why It Made the Cut: Excellent price and one of the coolest apps going.
Trigger speed: .85 secondsDetection range: 80 feetPower: 12AA batteries
Amazing priceExcellent appEasy and seamless setup
Moultrie’s app is one of the coolest out there with features like image recognition (so you can quickly sort bucks from does, for example) and activity recording (which allows you to identify top movement times and other useful info) as well as unlimited cloud storage. And at less than a C-note, it’s tough to argue against this being one of the best-value cellular cams out there. Of course, important features like trigger speed suffer significantly, but in the right setups (mock scrapes or bait piles) the Edge should perform just fine. We also took a closer look at the new Moultrie Edge after the test.
Why It Made the Cut: Comes in at a reasonable price point and data plans make this a good candidate for any budget-conscious hunter.
Trigger speed: 0.8 secondsDetection range: 80 feetPower: 8AA batteries
Super simple setupSolid day pics Reasonable price point and data plan
Slow trigger speed
If you’ve run Stealth cams, you’ll feel comfortable with the Muddy, as they’re built on a similar platform and run off the same app (which is pretty nice, by the way) as Stealth cams. Otherwise, nothing fancy happening here; just a solid wireless camera that takes good pics at close range, delivers them to the app, and doesn’t break the bank. I’ve seen the Muddy on sale for about $100, and if you can get it for that, it’s a solid deal.
Why It Made the Cut: The SIM card searches for the strongest network and uses it, and the performance of this camera for the price is impressive.
Trigger speed: .03 secondsDetection range: 100 feetPower: 8 AA batteries
Good trigger speedSolid detection rangeGood image quality SIM card adapts to best network
Uses micro SD card
One of my favorite new cameras in the test, the Flex is innovative for the price. Sure the pics may not compete with a Browning or Reconyx, but they’re plenty good for most applications, and the trigger on the Flex is surprisingly quick. Even better, the dual SIM system just searches (and keeps searching) for the best provider in the area, then selects that carrier on its own. I also found this to be one of, if not the, simplest cameras to get set up and running. The micro SD card is really my only beef; it’s tiny (and my clumsy fingers aren’t), and requires an adapter to plug it into a laptop or card reader.
Why It Made the Cut: The first camera to offer live-streaming video, it also delivers very good picture and video quality.
Trigger Speed: .4 secondsDetection range: 60 feetPower: 12AA batteries
First camera to offer live-streaming videoGreat image/video qualityRugged and durable housing and easy setup
Pretty average detection range and trigger speedHigh price point
This is probably the best housing design in the test. In addition to being a cool-looking cam, the Spartan is rugged. It seems like it could get run over by a truck and keep snapping pics and shooting videos. The live-streaming option is decidedly cool for people who need MRI (most recent information) right now….though it may also raise eyebrows for those who question the ethics of trail cams in the first place. (I’m generally not one of them.)
Why It Made the Cut: The 4K video is very good and the programming options are impressive.
Trigger speed: .3 secondsDetection range: 100 feetPower: 12AA batteries
Quick triggerGood detection rangeGreat housingSimple setup and many programming options
Mediocre night picsHigher price point
I love the speedy trigger on this camera and the programming options are pretty incredible; four different video resolutions and camera MP options, as well as a burst mode that’s as good as any models (it’ll shoot up to 9 images per triggering event). I also found the camera easy to set up. While the night pics were less than stellar, that’s a small beef. Look for deals on this camera, and you won’t be disappointed.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Wireless Trail Cam
Ease of Setup
Most wireless cam manufacturers have accepted the fact that not all their customers are 25 and were born with a smartphone in their hand, but some have not. Cellular cams should come with clear instructions and be easy to program and get running. All the cams I tested were run from an app where you set camera commands and settings, and where pics are sent. This is different than the original wireless cams, which typically sent images to the user via text (one of my buddies still refers to wireless cams as “texting cams” for this reason). How easily these apps set up, run, and monitor the camera is important.
This can be tied into cost (as in, the more you spend, the better the pics), but not always. Trust me on this: After a while, the novelty of getting pics sent to your phone will wear off, and you’ll get irritated by blurred and grainy images. Some people are willing to give cell cams a pass on picture quality because they provide other benefits. I’m not one of them.
This is how long it takes the camera to snap a pic (or start shooting video) from when it detects movement. Generally speaking, the faster the better. One-fourth/second (0.25) is about as good as it gets, and a half-second is respectable for most camera setups. Anything much slower than that is decidedly ho-hum, and the camera better be darn good at something else.
This is the maximum distance at which a camera will “sense” a triggering object (hopefully a critter, but weeds and tree branches will also trigger it; something to keep in mind when setting cameras up). Again, as a rule, the greater the distance the better; the camera will get more pics of more animals.
I intentionally left this category out of my final evaluations, as it’s one of the most misunderstood features of trail cams. Manufacturers can exaggerate MP ratings through a process known as interpolation, which digitally adds megapixels to a photo without actually improving the picture. In other words, a 30 MP camera may not have any clearer or better pics than a 3 MP camera. The best way to judge the quality of a camera’s pics is to simply look at the pics.
App Quality and Bonus Features
A basic cell-cam app should make it easy for you to get the camera set up, change settings, and receive photos, but apps that make it especially easy to organize photos or identify trends to nail down daily patterns among the critters your monitoring can be a big plus. By the same token, little hardware extras, like mounts or brackets that help you aim the camera, are an important consideration, too.
This is easily the best crop of wireless trail cams I’ve ever tested. Prices are coming down, performance is going up, and user-friendly programming options are better than ever. While I sense that we’re a year or two away from the pinnacle of cell-cam performance, I also feel that waiting for things to get perfect is a big mistake. Today’s wireless cameras simply send more and better pics and videos than they ever have, and ignoring those capabilities will prevent you from enjoying some of the most scouting fun you might have all season. Shop wisely and the camera that perfectly fits your needs can be found in this year’s lineup.