16 Proven Tips to Waterproof Trail Camera from Harsh Weathers

Essential Trail Camera Tips to Waterproof Safely

Did you know that water damage is one of the leading causes of trail camera failure? With the increasing popularity of outdoor activities and wildlife monitoring, it’s essential to understand the importance of waterproofing your trail camera from the different elements. It is crucial to ensure the longevity and performance of your trail cam. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide and tips to waterproof a trail camera effectively and protect it from water damage. 

11 Entry Points for Water getting into Trail Cameras

Trail cameras operate in diverse environments, making them susceptible to water damage if not properly protected. Here’s a breakdown of entry points:

1) Battery compartment 

The battery compartment door/cover needs a tight seal to prevent moisture ingress. The gasket/sealing around this area should be inspected.

2) Port covers

Covers protecting ports like the USB, HDMI, memory card slot etc. need to form a watertight seal when closed. The seals should be checked for any gaps or tears.

3) Buttons and controls

Buttons allow a path for water to enter if their rubber seals go bad. The seals around the buttons need to be checked.

4) Lens

The lens itself as well as the lens assembly seals need to be checked to ensure a waterproof barrier. Fogging up indicates a bad/leaking seal.

5) Door hinges/latches

Improperly closing doors, broken hinges and bad latches/locks can allow moisture penetration. Their integrity needs to be verified.

6) Tripod socket

The threaded tripod socket can allow water ingress if not properly plugged or sealed. Any gaps around this area should be checked.

7) Mounting bracket/screw holes

The mounting brackets or screw holes used to attach the trail cameras can allow water to seep in if the seals around them fail over time. These should be inspected for gaps or leaks.

8) External battery pack

If using an external battery pack, the connectors and cabling between the battery and the trail camera need to be properly sealed to prevent water ingress. The seals and connection points should be checked.

9) SIM card slot

Cellular or wireless enabled trail cameras often have a SIM card slot. The rubber gasket and sealing around this slot should be checked to ensure it is still watertight.

10) Ventilation ports

Some trail cameras have small openings to allow airflow and prevent fogging. These ventilation ports can be an entry point for moisture if the mesh or membrane inside them gets damaged. They should be checked for any tears or gaps.

11) External antenna

Cellular trail cameras with an external antenna have a port where the antenna connects to the housing. Proper sealing around this antenna feedthrough is crucial. The sealing and cabling should be inspected for gaps.

Trail-Camera-in-Heavy-Rain

What are the Consequences of Water getting into Trail Cameras

Direct water ingress: If water gets inside the camera housing, it can short circuit electronic components and corrode metallic parts. Openings like the battery compartment, ports, buttons and improperly sealed doors/hinges are vulnerable points for water ingress.

Condensation build-up: When taking a cold camera into a warm environment, condensation can form on the lens and internal components. This water can cause foggy images and electrical shorts.

External water damage: Water pooling on the outside can seep into cracks and crevices. The pressure of heavy rainfall can also force water past rubber seals. Submerging the camera in water exposes it entirely.

Chemical residue: Minerals and particles left behind as moisture evaporates can gradually corrode the sensitive electronics. Components like the sensor, motherboard and connectors are most susceptible.

Growth of mold/mildew: Moisture trapped inside the housing allows mold and mildew to grow, especially on natural fiber components. This damages the structural integrity.

Selecting Trail Cameras With Weather-Resistant Features

When choosing a trail camera, it’s essential to consider its weather-resistant features to ensure that it can withstand the elements and provide reliable performance in various outdoor conditions.

This section will guide you through two key aspects to consider: evaluating IP ratings and understanding the role of construction materials in weatherproofing.

Evaluating IP Ratings for Optimal Protection

To assess a trail camera’s resistance to water and dust, you should pay close attention to its IP (Ingress Protection) rating. The IP rating is a standardized code that indicates the degree of protection a device has against solid objects and liquids.

An IP rating consists of two numbers: the first represents the camera’s resistance to solid particles, such as dust and debris, on a scale from 0 to 6. The second number represents its resistance to liquids, including water, on a scale from 0 to 8. The higher the number, the better the protection.

For example, a trail camera with an IP rating of IP67 offers complete protection against dust and can be submerged in up to one meter of water for a specified time without sustaining any damage. On the other hand, a camera with an IP rating of IP54 is partially protected against dust and can withstand splashes of water from any direction.

When selecting a trail camera, look for a high IP rating that aligns with your intended usage and environmental conditions. A camera with a higher IP rating will provide superior protection against water and dust, ensuring durability and longevity in challenging outdoor environments.

Construction Materials in Weatherproofing

In addition to IP ratings, the choice of construction materials plays a crucial role in weatherproofing trail cameras. High-quality and weather-resistant materials can significantly enhance a camera’s ability to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Common materials used in weatherproof trail cameras include:

  • ABS plastic: Known for its durability and impact resistance, ABS plastic is commonly used in the construction of trail cameras. It offers excellent protection against water intrusion and can withstand rugged outdoor conditions.
  • Metal alloys: Cameras constructed with metal alloys, such as aluminum or magnesium, offer enhanced durability and resistance to corrosion. These materials provide sturdy protection against water and physical damage.
  • Rubberized coatings: Many trail cameras feature rubberized coatings that provide an additional layer of protection against water and physical impact. These coatings help to seal any potential gaps or openings in the camera’s body.
16 Tips to Waterproof Trail Camera for Harsh Conditions

16 Tips to Waterproof Trail Camera for Harsh Conditions

If you plan to use your trail camera in harsh conditions, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to protect it from water damage. By following these practical tips, you can ensure that your trail camera remains fully functional and protected, even in extreme weather conditions.

  1. Use a waterproof camera case or housing. These cases seal the camera inside to prevent moisture from getting in. Make sure all seals are intact.
  2. Apply silicone sealant around screws, seams, doors, and openings. This helps create a water-tight barrier. 
  3. Install a rain cover or shield over the camera. This adds an extra layer of weather protection.
  4. Mount the camera under shelter when possible, like under dense foliage or a rock overhang. This helps shield it from rain.
  5. Position the camera at a downward facing angle so water runs off of it and doesn’t pool on top.
  6. Use desiccant packs inside the camera housing to absorb condensation and moisture. Replace them regularly.
  7. Check external ports, battery compartments, SD card slots, etc. for proper sealing. Use rubber gaskets and sealing tape if needed.
  8. Consider a wireless trail camera. This eliminates exterior ports vulnerable to water.
  9. Regularly inspect the camera housing for cracks or damage that could let in water.
  10. Clean and dry the camera thoroughly before applying any protective measures. Remove any dirt, debris, or moisture already inside that could compromise waterproofing efforts.
  11. Wrap exposed threads, wiring, or connections in waterproof tape or marine epoxy. This protects vital interior components from moisture damage.
  12. Consider using anti-fog treatments on the lens and glass to prevent condensation build up. Products like Cat Crap lens cleaner help repel moisture.
  13. Test waterproofing measures before long term deployment. Spray with a hose or leave outside during light rain to confirm protection.
  14. Carry silica gel packs while checking cameras. Use them to rapidly dry out any condensation that builds up internally over time.
  15. Ensure doors, latches, and seals have a proper tight fit. Adjust tension as needed to maintain a snug, water-tight seal.
  16. Use a high quality external lock box for extra security and weather protection during long term deployment. Choose one rated for all weather conditions.

By implementing these tips, you can ensure that your trail camera remains well-protected and functional in even the harshest weather conditions. Enjoy peace of mind knowing that your camera will capture all the important moments, regardless of the challenging environment it encounters.

“Investing in high-quality waterproof cases, covers, rain shields, and camera housings is a wise decision for safeguarding your trail camera from water damage. These protective accessories provide an extra layer of defense against water intrusion, ensuring the continued performance and longevity of your camera in wet environments.”

DIY Tricks for Waterproofing Non-Weatherproof Trail Cameras

If you already have a non-weatherproof camera and want to improve its water resistance, these techniques will come in handy.

However it is important to note that DIY solutions are often temporary fixes that may not withstand harsh weather conditions or prolonged exposure to moisture. Frequent reapplication and maintenance are necessary, negating the cost and time benefits.

  1. Use clear packing tape to seal seams and connections. Carefully wrap tape around edges, wire ports, battery compartments, etc. to create a water-resistant barrier.
  2. Coat screws and threads in marine epoxy or clear nail polish. This protects metal components against rust and corrosion.
  3. Line the interior with plastic sheets or trash bags. Cut openings for the lens and ports only. This creates an extra layer to block moisture ingress.
  4. Attach an inverted plastic container or Tupperware over the camera. Cut holes to allow the lens to see and strap it securely over the housing.
  5. Treat glass surfaces with anti-fog sprays made for scuba masks and snorkels. This prevents interior fogging in humid environments.
  6. Insert the camera into a waterproof plastic case made for boating and kayaking. Secure it tightly and test for exterior operation of buttons.
  7. Build a custom enclosure out of plastic or wood lined with foam seals. Hinge and latch it to tightly seal the camera inside
  8. Apply silicone sealant around all door seams and screw holes. Let it cure completely before reassembling. This helps create a water-tight barrier.
  9. Drill small weep holes at the bottom edge to allow moisture to drain out. Cover the holes with mesh screen to prevent bugs getting in.
  10. Wrap camera in plastic cling wrap, leaving openings for the lens and ports only. Seal wrap edges with waterproof tape. Provides a cheap water barrier.
  11. Insert camera into a large zip lock bag, again leaving openings for lens/ports. Squeeze out excess air and seal tightly. Offers basic splash protection.
  12. Mount camera under an overhang or eve to shield it from direct rain. Point opening downwards for drainage.
  13. Build a hood above the camera using wood, metal or plastic sheeting. Divert water runoff away from the front lens.
  14. Attach flexible eaves-trough above camera angled downwards as a drip guard. Securely affix to tree or post

With these creative hacks, you can effectively protect your trail camera from water damage in various outdoor settings.

Immediate Actions to Tackle Water Intrusion in Trail Cameras
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Immediate Actions to Tackle Water Intrusion in Trail Cameras

If your trail camera gets exposed to water, it’s crucial to act swiftly to minimize potential damage. Follow these simple steps to care for your camera immediately:

  1. Remove batteries and memory card as soon as you notice the damage. This will prevent further damage from potential short circuits or corrosion.
  2. Open the camera housing carefully to access the internal components. This will allow you to inspect and clean inside.
  3. Dry out the camera. Use a hairdryer on a cool setting or place in front of a fan to thoroughly dry out the interior and components. Make sure all moisture is evaporated before proceeding.
  4. Inspect the circuit board, wiring and connections for any signs of corrosion (usually a white, crystalline buildup). Use isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush to gently clean.
  5. Clean optics If there is condensation or dirt on the lens or sensors, carefully clean with a microfiber cloth and camera lens cleaner. Avoid scratching delicate surfaces.
  6. Reassemble the housing and test once fully dry, Insert batteries and memory card to test functionality.
  7. If there are still signs of moisture inside the camera housing or on internal components, place the disassembled camera parts in a sealable bag or airtight container filled with uncooked rice. The rice will help absorb any remaining moisture. Leave it in the rice for at least 24-48 hours.
  8. You can also place moisture-absorbing silica gel packets inside the camera housing to help prevent future condensation or corrosion issues. These are the little “do not eat” packets often found in electronics packaging.
  9. Inspect the camera housing for damage to seals, gaskets or o-rings that are meant to protect the internal components from weather. If damaged, replacement seals can sometimes be purchased from the manufacturer and installed. Properly sealing the housing is crucial for water resistance 

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, using a trail camera effectively in various weather conditions, especially heavy rain, requires some forethought and preparation. It’s crucial to understand the IP rating of your specific camera model, which determines its ability to withstand dust and water. Remember, while most trail cams are designed to be water resistant, not all are waterproof and able to be submerged in water.

When setting up your trail cam, consider steps to prevent water from seeping into the camera body, such as using silicone sealant or a protective housing. Placement is also important, try to position the camera in areas where water exposure is minimal.

Regular maintenance, including pulling SD cards and replacing alkaline batteries, can also prevent water damage and ensure your camera continues to capture high-quality images and videos. By taking these steps, trail camera users can ensure their equipment is protected from the elements, ensuring its longevity, and maximizing its potential. Whether you’re using the latest products from Reconyx or another brand, these trail camera tips will help you protect your investment and get the most out of your trail cam!

FAQ Section

Q1: What does IP rating mean for a trail camera?

The IP rating of a trail camera indicates its level of protection against dust and water. An IP66 rating, for example, means the camera can withstand dust and heavy rain, but it’s not designed to be submerged in water.

Q2: How can I protect my trail camera from rain?

To protect your trail camera from rain, you can use a waterproof housing or built-in hood to shield the lens. Also, placing the camera under vegetation can provide additional protection.

Q3: What should I do if my trail camera gets wet?

If your trail camera gets wet, remove the batteries and SD card, and place the camera in a dry, warm place. You can also use a desiccant packet to absorb moisture from the camera’s internal components.

Q4: How can I ensure that my trail camera is water resistant?

You can ensure your trail camera is water resistant by checking its IP rating, using waterproof materials for outdoor use, and regularly checking and maintaining the camera’s seals and gaskets.

Q5: Can a trail camera withstand heavy rain?

Yes, most trail cameras are designed to withstand heavy rain. However, it’s important to check the camera’s IP rating to understand its exact level of water resistance.

Q6: Is it safe to submerge my trail cam in water?

No, most trail cams are not designed to be submerged in water. They are water resistant, meaning they can handle rain or water jets, but not full immersion.

Q7: How can I prevent water from entering my trail camera?

You can prevent water from entering your trail camera by ensuring its housing is properly sealed, placing it in areas with less exposure to water, and using a built-in hood or shield for additional protection.

Q8: What steps can I take to protect my new trail camera from water damage?

To protect your new trail camera from water damage, ensure it has a suitable IP rating, place it in a location with some shelter from rain, and consider using a waterproof housing or cover.

Q9: How can I get better results with my trail camera in wet conditions?

To get better results in wet conditions, place your camera in areas with less exposure to water, use a built-in hood or shield to protect the lens, and regularly check and maintain your camera for better longevity.

Q10: What should I do if water damages the camera’s internal components?

If water damages the camera’s internal components, remove the batteries and SD card, dry out the camera using a desiccant packet, and consider using a professional repair service if necessary.

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