Mossy Oak

5 Best SD Card Readers for Trail Cams

Once we purchased our first motion-activated camera that could take pictures—night and day—of the animals on our hunting land, we thought we had landed in game-scouting heaven. Once they added a video feature, it was like a whole new ballgame. Then someone figured out how to send those pictures to our cellular phones. It's like we've died and gone to heaven.

But there are issues with the cellular method. You will need to sign up and pay for another data plan, and typically need a good enough signal for it to work. Plus, the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club do not recognize trophy big game animals taken by cams that transmit real-time data to the hunter. If you want to stay within their guidelines, or prefer to use the less expensive memory card-based cams, there's a way to make it a bit easier on yourself. A good quality SD card reader might be tool you need. It lets you go quietly to the area, look and see what the camera has seen, and replace the SD card. It basically prevents an extra trip, or saves the use of an SD card instead of requiring a computer or laptop to see the images. Trust us, an SD card reader can really make a difference, and these our our picks for the best ones available for trail cams.

Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our writers and editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

The Best SD Card Readers for Trail Cams

1. Our Favorite High-Def SD Card Reader

High Definition SD Card Viewer - Amazon, $59.99

With features like easy viewing and a multi-function 4.3-inch color LCD screen, the HME is great, especially for those new to SD card readers. This unit has excellent picture and video playback, making viewing extremely convenient on the trail. Other great features we like are the simple functions, built-in speakers (with a headphone jack), and the sturdy rubberized case for water-resistant durability. It's easy to carry with an included lanyard as well.

2. Our Pick for Any Mobile Phone System

Sunstri 4 IN 1 Card Reader Adapter - Amazon, $14.99

There are SD card readers that can be carried into the woods to view the camera content, and then there is the massive innovation of the SD card reader adapter. Since we all are carrying our cell phones with us on any trip into the field, why not have full use of them to view our trail cam pictures and video? This model not only adapts for iPhone, or iPad use, but is also fully functional for Android systems. It's super easy to have on hand with its pocket-size characteristics, and the best part is that it can be ready instantly for viewing once the SD card is pulled. Charging and reading can be done simultaneously if you have a power source, which is a plus.

3. Our Must-Have Card Reader For Serious Hunters

High-Speed Trail Camera Image and Video Viewer - Amazon, $359.99

This SD card reader is made with the ultra-serious hunting crowd in mind. The price point is higher than others in the category, but this viewer not only loads thousands of pictures and videos quickly but can be used to view your favorite digital camera pics or those from your computer. It comes with two included SD cards, or it will format the cards you already have. In truth, it can be used by big time photographers just as efficiently as the hunting community.

4. The Must-Have for Touchscreen Lovers

Wildgame Innovations Trail Pad - Amazon, $52.99

Wildgame Innovations cameras are continually at the top of the list, and their card readers are high quality too. This reader has better than average clarity for viewing simple pictures, and as long as your camera is functional and taking them in good order, the videos are as clear as watching them on your laptop. Other features that we really like are the touchscreen capability, water-resistant body, and image zoom function. The downside is that it doesn't include an integrated speaker, and if you have a lot of pictures on your SD card, it can take a long time to view them all since it doesn't have a collective scroll function.

5. Our Favorite Apple-Exclusive Card Reader

Wildgame Innovations APPVIEW - Dick's Sporting Goods, $49.99

This is another solid tech product from the folks at Wildgame Innovations built with Apple products exclusively in mind (it is not compatible with non-Apple devices). Users will have to download a free app to enhance utility and access a wide range of features, then connect it to your Apple device with a Lightning connection port. But it has an enormous capacity for a unit that can be attached to your keychain. It doesn't include an SD card, but you will not need any batteries or power connection to use it, only your smartphone or device.

Not all SD card readers are created equally. I've tried a few that didn't work, had them replaced, and was still disappointed with the replacement. We want SD card readers for trail cams that do the job, and we'll pay for something that has a good reputation. Hopefully this list helps send you down the right path and you find that an SD card reader helps make a difference.

Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage or on Facebook and YouTube.