Armored shooters for whatever nature throws at you.
BEST FOR: POV Footage
This action cam is splashproof right out of the box, no case required. It fires 120 frames per second, allowing for super slo-mo. What's more, Sony's stabilization tech spikes the typical seasick-making footage from a downhill-mountain-bike run (just beware the finicky mounting system). Bonus: a smartphone app lets you control the AS100V ($299) remotely.
BEST FOR: Playing Hard
Lots of "tough" cameras have soft underbellies. Not this one. Take the TG-3 ($350) swimming in the ocean, let a 220-pound dude stand on it, drop it from the roof of your 4Runner—it'll survive just fine. Yet it's crazy precise, too, able to focus at a mere centimeter from any object and shoot action at five frames per second for a solid minute (just hold down the shutter). For this dough, no point-and-shoot comes close.
Canon Powershot G1 X MkII
BEST FOR: Stunning Snapshots
The magnesium-alloy body (versus composite or plastic) of this chunky point-and-shoot is built to bounce off boulders. A pair of oversize knurled rings that halo the 24–120mm zoom lens can be operated with a gloved hand to tweak the aperture, exposure, and the G1 's ($799) myriad other settings. Then there's the huge light-sponge of a sensor (for a point and shoot): at 1.5 inches, it's about eight times larger than the Olympus's.
BEST FOR: Channeling Warren Miller
We were floored by the 60-frame-per-second video captured by this DSLR's huge 24-megapixel sensor. Throw that footage to a flatscreen TV (via built-in HDMI or Wi-Fi) and you'll be staring at cinema-quality results. Likewise, that big sensor balances a huge spread of shadow and highlight, which makes everyday photos look nearly 3-D. The D5300's ($850) rubberized grip means easy single-handed shooting in all kinds of conditions.