5 tough-as-nails cameras ready for your vacation adventures (and mishaps)

Do your summer vacations revolve around an active lifestyle? Whether it’s snorkeling in the sea or wading in the kiddie pool, jaunting around cobbled-stone streets or tearing over hills on a dirt bike, you’ll want a camera to capture it all without breaking.

Rugged cameras are designed to tolerate the elements, making them ideal for travel. The bodies are designed to withstand against water, dirt, sand, high and low temperatures, and drops. Rugged cams aren’t new, but the latest models have much stronger performance and pack more features than earlier generations. Whether it’s a point and shoot, action camcorder, or interchangeable-lens model, here are some of our current favorites.

Olympus Tough TG-4 ($379)

Olympus has been making really good rugged cameras for some time, with its Tough series. The 16-megapixel TG-4 is the first rugged compact to offer uncompressed RAW shooting, which gives you greater control over photo adjustments in post-editing. The TG-4 also has a 4x optical zoom with f/2 wide-angle aperture. Besides GPS and Wi-Fi, there are two modes dedicated to underwater high-dynamic range and nighttime photography. There’s also a Microscope mode for getting close-up macro shots. It’s waterproof down to 50 feet, crushproof to 220 pounds, freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof from 7 feet, and dustproof.

Fujifilm FinePix XP80 ($178)

Not only is the XP80 one of the smallest and lightest in its category, this rugged pocket camera is waterproof down to 50 feet, shockproof from 5.8 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and dustproof. But Fujifilm has also added stronger internal specs. The 16.4-megapixel CMOS sensor is back-illuminated, so it captures more light (handy for underwater shots). It can also shoot Full HD 1080 at 60p. The display has an anti-reflection coating for easier viewing in the sun, and an optional converter gives the lens an 18mm wide-angle view. Plus, built-in Wi-Fi lets you share all the moments before you even return home.

Nikon 1 AW1 ($697)

There’s no other camera like the Nikon 1 AW1. This mirrorless, interchangeable lens model is completely waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof without the need for an underwater housing. Available with one or two rugged 1 Nikkor AW lenses, you can take this scuba diving and get higher quality images, thanks to the larger sensor and lens. Built-in GPS lets you geotag photos and pull up maps on the screen. For everyday use, the AW1 is compatible with all other non-rugged 1 Nikkor lenses

GoPro Hero4 Session ($400)

The Hero4 Session is not only GoPro’s newest and smallest action cam to date, but it’s also its first to be rugged and waterproof without a special housing. It’s designed for ease of use (there’s just one shutter button), but it has built-in Wi-Fi that lets you pair the camera with GoPro’s excellent smartphone app. The camera is waterproof down to 33 feet, and is compatible with existing GoPro mounts. Don’t let the size fool you: It’s capable of shooting Full HD at 60p or smooth slo-mo in 720p at 100 Mbps. It can also capture 8-megapixel photos, with time-lapse and burst modes. It’s not as feature-rich as its Hero4 siblings, but from our testing, it’s a solid performer.

Kodak Pixpro SP360 Action Camera ($300)

The future of digital imaging is 360-degree photos and videos, but why wait when you can use the Pixpro SP360 action camera to capture your vacations with this unique viewing experience. The small shockproof, freezeproof, dustproof, and water-resistant camera has a special lens that records all around you – no longer will you have to choose what to shoot. The camera shoots photos at 16 megapixels and records video at Full HD 1080, and while image quality isn’t the strongest when compared to an action camera like the Hero4 Session, it’s the pan-and-tilt, 360-degree function that’s the highlight. Special housing lets you take it into the water, and it’s controlled via Wi-Fi from your smartphone. And thanks to 360 support from YouTube, you can now share footage with the world, without the need for special viewing software.