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Best Drones for Backpacking Travel | Top 4

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

4 best drones for travel backpacking, hiking, and adventure. Find out which one suits you best for what you need.

So you are looking for a drone to take with you backpacking and traveling the world and exploring every curve of it. These days, access to some of the most remote places and beautiful manmade and natural landmarks can be easier to get to and there always seems to be more just past the horizon. With so many drone options out there how do you know which one fits you best for backpacking and hiking? Take a look at some of these options to help you determine which one suits you best.

Table of contents

  1. What makes a good light weight bak packing travel drone?

  • Portability (weight / size)

  • Video and picture quality

  • Ease of use/ functionality/ price

What Makes a Good Lightweight Travel drone?

I have traveled to many countries and backpacked around the world on solo projects and with teams. On all these travels I have always brought a drone with me. Aany of these adventures I have been on, it only made sense take the bare minimum with me such as my backpack and small camera bag. Luckily drones are getting smaller, lighter, have better camera quality, and have longer battery life than before. All these things really matter when traveling / hiking light.

Portability ( weight / size)

Probably the most important factor is portability when it comes to traveling ultra light. It's an amazing feeling when you can fit a travel drone and controller in one of your backpack pockets without weighing / slowing you down. It allows you to have more freedom, be more inconspicuous at airports and around people, less back strain, and overall be able to travel more comfortably.

If your drone is under 250g you are not required to register your drone with the FAA. The form factor can also make a difference whether its arms fold in or are fixed can save a lot of room in your bag. Depending on what kind of adventure you are planning to take, portability can be very important in making a decision on buying a drone.

Video and picture quality

I remember when the DJI phantom 3 was released and it was able to shoot in 4K resolution and that was a big thing at the time. Since then most drones have become very advanced in their image quality for video and pictures. Sensor size and quality plays a part in getting a good image whether you need high dynamic range or just a standard looking image. It's important to know what you need specifically or to find a good balance between image quality and price.

Ease of use/ functionality/ price

Every drone operates a little differently. Once you become familiar with the software and apps used to operate a specific drone, usually other drones from that same brand and very similar in use and functionality. Some drones don't have as long of a flying range as others as some operate off of enhanced wifi vs satellite and gps. Keep this in mind how far you plan to fly your drone away from you with a specific range in mind. You may also want to know if your drone has good obstacle avoidance depending on your skill level or preference this may be important in your decision. Lastly, what are you willing to pay for your drone and how can you find the best value for your budget.

  • Overall Weight: 249 grams

  • Flying Range: 10km with OcuSync 2.0 HD Video

  • Flight Time: 31 minutes

  • Gimbal type: 3 axis

  • Size of Sensor: 1/2.3 inch

  • Photo resolution: 4K video 30fps

  • Video resolution: 12mp

This little drone is a great value offering a decent price for the specs. It gives you the flexibility of being over 250 grams which opens up the door to more freedom while traveling. It's the second generation of the original Mavic mini yet offering much more in quality. This drone fits in the palm of your hand pretty easily when folded up and allows for a more compact and less bulky experience. I have flown this drone over waves in the ocean to the mountains in California and it has performed very well for its advertised max distance and battery life.

Luckily the DJI Mini 2 is able to get pretty good image quality as opposed to the DJI spark which was lacking greatly with its video/ photo quality. The DJI Mini has a 12 mp sensor and can shoot video in 4K resolution at 100Mbps. Or this size you can stay in the air for about half an hour in the best conditions and fly at a max range of 10 km. DJI implemented Ocusync 2.0 technology with this drone and it makes a big difference.

A very unique feature with this drone is it can take aerial 360 pictures. This allows you to get images with a much wider range and it is one of the only drones that has this feature at this price point. Although these specs are not top of the line like some of the following drones in this article it really packs a punch for its size and price making it an excellent companion for your next backpacking adventure.

  • Overall Weight: 249 grams

  • Flying Range: 18-25 km depending on battery size

  • Flight Time: 34-47 minutes depending on battery size

  • Gimbal type: 3 axis

  • Size of Sensor: 1/1.3-inch CMOS Effective Pixels: 48 MP

  • Photo resolution: 12- 48 MP

  • Video resolution: 4K: 3840×2160@24/25/30/48/50/60fps

The DJI Mini 3 is the next level up from the Mini 2. This drone takes it a little further in terms of specs and features yet pretty much keeps the same footprint in size and weight. It still weighs just under 250 grams which gives it an advantage over the larger drones but can do more than the Mini 2. The DJI Mini 3 has taken a strategic idea and created 2 battery sizes for this drone allowing it to slim down on the weight with the lighter battery allowing it to fly up to 34 minutes and a slightly larger battery giving it 45 minutes of flight time but going slightly over the 250 grams limit.

Ultimately this drone is pushing the limits for its size and performance. It has a newer 1/1.3” sensor allowing it to shoot up to 4k 60fps. It can also capture mind blowing 48 mp resolution photos. The drone also has a unique feature with the gimbal allowing the camera to tilt up and record at 60 degrees allowing more flexibility in your shot options.

The Mini 3 can also shoot in portrait mode if you want to capture stills or video for social media platforms that allow that. With a whole new design this drone can do what the bigger drones are capable of yet remain super light and compact. Although this one costs a bit more than the DJI Mini 2 you are paying for more quality.

  • Overall Weight: 595 grams

  • Flying Range: 18.5 km

  • Flight Time: 31 minutes

  • Gimbal type: 3 axis

  • Size of Sensor: 1inch CMOS Effective Pixels: 20 MP

  • Photo resolution: 20 - 48 MP

  • Video resolution: 5.4K: 5472×3078 @ 24/25/30 fps

The DJI Mavic Air 2s is a very competitive drone with more capable specs than the DJI mini 2 and a better sensor than the DJI Mini 3. Although it does not have some of the newer features on the DJI Mini 3 it makes up for it.

The Mavic Air 2s has a great camera system allowing for D log and a flatter image better for professional work and color grading. Its image quality is overall just better being able to shoot with a 5.4k resolution you can crop in on shots in post without losing too much image quality. The Mavic Air 2s can handle colors and low light better than the previous drones mentioned. The obstacle avoidance sensors are more advanced on this drone giving it more security and safety while flying.

The Mavic Air 2s or the previous version thats less expensive the Mavic Air 2 is as close as you can get to a more professional drone but keeps you as light as you possibly can making professional footage easier to capture even in the craziest of locations like deep in the jungles of Borneo.

  • Overall Weight: 859 grams

  • Flying Range: 30 km

  • Flight Time: 40 minutes

  • Gimbal type: 3 axis

  • Size of Sensor: Micro 4/3 CMOS

  • Video resolution: 5.1K: 5120×2700@24/25/30/48/50fps

  • Photo resolution: 20 - 48 MP

The DJI Mavic 3 is the largest and heaviest of the drones on this list but it is by far the most capable when it comes to image quality and performance. For a more professional format it can shoot in Apple ProRes. It can shoot in 5.1k resolution in video and DCI 4k/ 120 fps. The Mavic # can also shooting in 10 bit D-Log a flatter and more professional color format good for matching footage and color correcting later.

The Mavic 3 has an excellent range of up to 15 km and can fly for a long time of 46 minutes. This will give you enough time to use the drone several times on one battery charge. This would allow you to bring less batteries to cut down on weight and still get enough fly time to make it worth it.

Another amazing aspect of the Mavic 3 is its focal length abilities. It can zoom in on a subject allowing you to be able to film from further away without getting too close to the subject. This is handy especially when you are in a different country where you don't know the environment or the local laws. Overall the Mavic 3 is the most professional of them all but with the big downside of being larger, heavier and most expensive. If you have more flexibility with your gear and weight and size is not an issue than this would be great


Depending on where you want to go and what you want to shoot specifically when it comes to light weight backpack travel you need to look at what's most important to you and your needs between the following cost, image quality and portability. Overall we would choose The Mavic Air 2s as the best overall quality for the size and if you really need less weight and to be as minimal as possible we would choose the DJI Mini 3 even though the price is higher the value of what you pay for in quality makes up for it.

Feel free to tell us what your experience is with any of these drones and what you would personally recommend for ultra light travel drones.

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