Today we have a special treat for all hikers. Believe it or not, hiking is a growing hobby, just like drone racing, for example. Don’t believe me? Back in 2008, almost 30 million people have gone hiking/backpacking in the USA. And that’s 9 years ago. Just imagine the numbers now…
This leads to today’s topic – best drone for hiking. Imagine you’re just about to start off your hiking trip in a thrilling landscape but your smartphone just cannot capture the true essence of it. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had a drone nearby? It could fly up, up and away and give you astonishing pieces of aerial videos, ready to captivate your friends and family… Well, buying a drone is the biggest obstacle in your way. There are just so many of them available and it is easy to get lost in all those specifications and features.
Luckily for you, I’ve taken the time and effort into arranging the list of best drones for hiking. There are 5 models in total, thoroughly explained in the list down below. But, before the list, first I’d like to guide you through the basics of what makes a good drone for hiking and what exactly can you expect from it.
TABLE: Drones for hiking
|5. GeniusIdea Follow||4K||0.1 km||20min||See best offer [cf_geo_flag]|
|4. Wingsland S6||4K||0.1 km||10min||See best offer [cf_geo_flag]|
|3. DJI Spark||1080p||2 km||16min||See best offer [cf_geo_flag]|
|2. GoPro Karma||GoPro||3 km||20min||See best offer [cf_geo_flag]|
|1. DJI Mavic Pro||4K||7 km||27min||See best offer [cf_geo_flag]|
Best hiking drones
Get one of the below-listed drones, roll out your map and find the best landscape for hiking you can find. I guarantee you’ll come back home with more than a few great aerial videos!
5. GeniusIdea Follow
First hiking drone on our list is incredibly interesting. Come to think of it, I doubt you’ve had the chance to see a drone as innovative as this one. As you can see, it is made by GeniusIdea and it goes by the name Follow. But, like I just said, behind this simplistic name lies a highly innovative drone just waiting for you to get it.
And chances of that happening are actually quite high since this is the cheapest (by far) model on this list. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s trash or a toy-grade model. Not by a long shot! As a matter of fact, GeniusIdea Follow actually sports an outstanding 4K camera that’s able to shoot extraordinary aerial footage. Furthermore, it even sports smart flight modes including, who would’ve guessed, Follow Me mode. But, best of all, GeniusIdea Follow has great power efficiency, boasting with up to 20 minutes of flight time. And this is not thanks to a LiPo battery. Nope! Instead, this beauty uses standard LiPo’s which are dirt cheap. Range, however, is not that admirable coming in at roughly 150 meters.
Now comes the highly innovative part. You see, GeniusIdea Follow drone features an unconventional building material. It’s not plastic, it’s not carbon fiber… Nope – we are talking about rubber. Yes, rubber! But not just any kind of rubber… This is a highly resistant material that’s able to withstand numerous blows, twists and bends without losing its initial shape. So, in terms of crashing, GeniusIdea Follow is as safe as they come!
4. Wingsland S6
If you are into miniature hiking drones, then I am sure these next 2 will surely spice up your imagination. Just think of what you can do with one of these beauties. They’re insanely easy to travel with, don’t require a lot of space, but still possess exceptional imaging solutions. The first of the two is called Wingsland S6 and it will serve as a great introduction to DJI Spark which is next on the line.
I’ll start of by stating (again) that Wingsland S6 is an insanely small drone. Its exact proportions are as follows 5.43 x 3.11 x 1.06 inches. Plus, you can fold it too which makes it even smaller! But, enough about its size – the second most notable thing about Wingsland S6 is its brilliant 13MP CMOS camera with integrated 3-axis electronic image stabilization. Believe it or not, it is able to record videos in 4K resolution at smooth (console peasant friendly) 30 frames per second. And the quality will be gorgeous, with no shakiness or that nasty jello effect.
When it comes to hardware, you should know that Wingsland S6 runs on a 2S 1400mAh LiPo battery. Considering its weight (230 grams or cca 0.5 pounds), it will run absolutely fine for up to 10 minutes. Minute or two less when recording in 4K, of course. The range, unfortunately, isn’t looking as sharp as camera or airtime. You see, Wingsland S6 can reach as far as 100 to 120 meters due to the fact it’s a smartphone-controlled drone. Yes, you’ll have to use your smartphone to operate with this birdie. While that might steer some of you off, you should know that the controls are pretty decent, especially for a smartphone app. All in all, Wingsland S6 seems like a brilliant “selfie” drone. It’s tiny, foldable… plus it sports a damn good camera – the only problem could be the recent release of DJI Spark which aims at the exact same audience.
3. DJI Spark
Now that you know more about Wingsland S6, it is time to tell you some info about its main competitor – DJI Spark. They are somewhat similar in size and feature similar specifications… As a matter of fact, their prices are similar too. Well then, what exactly differentiates these two drones? Well, that’s exactly the kind of things you can find out if you read the next 2 paragraphs!
As most of you already know, DJI Spark is the newest drone made by the Chinese drone giants – DJI. This smartphone-sized drone has been selling like crazy due to its smooth, intuitive controls and great performance. It’s beginner-friendly, can be controlled either via smartphone or a dedicated controller (purchasable separately or within DJI Spark Fly More Combo package), and best of all – it features a brilliant 1080p camera. To top it all off, it also possesses hardware image stabilization. More precisely, the camera sports a tiny 2-axis gimbal that’s fully adjustable mid-flight. With that said, you can say goodbye to jello effect and any other form of shakiness in your aerial videos. They’ll look buttery smooth and as sharp as the 12MP CMOS sensor allows.
In terms of specifications, DJI Spark is slightly better than Wingsland S6. With approximately 15 (some say even 16) minutes of airtime and supposedly 2000 meters (some swear they’re only getting 500m though) of range, there aren’t too many mini drones that can beat DJI Spark. Plus, it doesn’t shy away as far as features are concerned. You see, in addition to full DJI GO app support which opens door for a plethora of smart flight modes, DJI Spark also incorporates 2 additional features that are brand new to DJI. They are called PalmControl and PalmLaunch. They allow you to launch and control your Spark with hand gestures. How cool is that? Ranging around pretty damn cool, I reckon. Plus, it’s quite easy to use as well. You won’t get the hang of it immediately, but after a few tries I am sure you’ll be just fine!
2. GoPro Karma
I’m sure many of you have heard about GoPro Karma, a drone that had a lot of hype but then, due to technical issues, had to be recalled. As a matter of fact, it was just recently re-released and now it’s working as it should have in the first place. Despite its initial flop, GoPro Karma is still a superb drone with plenty of things to offer. Want to know more about it? Keep on reading then…
With the addition of Karma Grip, GoPro Karma doesn’t just offer aerial but handheld and body-mounted photography experiences too. This is basically what GoPro intended to be its main boosting sale factor – the “whole experience” and not just aerial photography. To tell you the truth, I was skeptical at first but now I think it’s absolutely amazing. No other drone features the bond between aerial and standard photography. It was a blank space in the industry… up until GoPro Karma came on. But, in addition to Karma Grip, there is a whole bunch of other aspects that make it a fine product.
For example, this birdie supports the newest GoPro Hero 5 Black (like that was ever in question) via the included 3-axis gimbal. It works like a charm and I can assure you – the image quality and smoothness will be unearthly. Moving onto the specifications, GoPro Karma isn’t exactly the best one out of the bunch, but can still provide a good flying experience. With 3000 meters of operating range and roughly 20 minutes of flight time, it falls short when compared to DJI Mavic Pro. That’s basically the reason why GoPro Karma is second best drone for hiking and DJI Mavic Pro is first – the sheer difference in specifications.
1. DJI Mavic Pro
We will finish this list off with the one and only DJI Mavic Pro. A drone that is already leading the charge as far as performance and transportability are concerned. Why? Well, it is just so damn small, yet able to provide with professional-grade aerial photography. And I am not even exaggerating here – DJI Mavic Pro can be considered as a miniature aerial photography platform! Let me elaborate on that…
First of all, it needs to be said that DJI Mavic Pro features a state of the art 4K-ready camera mounted on a dedicated 3-axis gimbal. So, in terms of both image quality and smoothness, you won’t find a better drone than Mavic Pro. Furthermore, it is also important to mention a vast array of smart features among which are DJI’s exclusive ActiveTrack and TapFly which are captivating people from all around the world. Not to mention the sophisticated obstacle avoidance system that is capable of detecting and preventing possible collisions that might occur… no matter whose fault they are.
In terms of performance, DJI Mavic Pro is nothing short of brilliant. I am telling you guys, this is a good of a package as you can get! With the help of DJI’s OcuSync technology, Mavic Pro is able to fly as far as 7000 meters without batting an eye. Moreover, it can also stay in the air for up to 27 minutes, although that time will be shorter if you plan on recording in glorious 4K. With all that said, I believe there’s no more point in talking about this one… the numbers speak for themselves…
GPS vs non-GPS drones for hiking
There is a huge difference between GPS-powered drones and drones without GPS. And I’m not just referring to the supporting features including altitude hold, return to home and autonomous flight. Here is what I am thinking about:
GPS-powered drones possess a subtle (yet noticeable, especially to experienced pilots) boost in stability. This will be most noticeable during windy days when your drone’s will do its best to stay hovering in a certain position and at a certain altitude. Plus, you can enjoy worry-free flight since most GPS-powered drones come with preconfigured safety measures that decrease the chances of it flying away into the distance.
- NO GPS
When it comes to non-GPS drones, their flight relies solely on their respective flight controller. In most cases, these are toy-grade boards that don’t support altitude hold or return to home function, despite some brands strongly advertising them. Furthermore, you will have to manually adjust your drone’s flight route at all times, without being able to look at something else for more than a couple of seconds.
I’m afraid that’s it for our topic today. You’ve had the chance to see 5 awesome drones that can do a great job in terms of documenting your hiking trip. Furthermore, if you end up buying one of these drones to accompany you on your next adventure, make sure to drop us a comment down below and tell us what affected your final decision.
Thank you all for reading!
Until next time… I wish you all the best on your hiking adventures!