By Jason D. Mills
There are innumerable trail camera reviews online boasting that they’ve found the best trail camera or hunting camera, but they all have many of the same problems. You have to keep your game camera close enough to the ground to access regularly, which leaves it susceptible to theft. You have to walk right up to your trail camera exposing its position and leaving your scent in the process. And, if you find a trail camera that can operate wirelessly, you had better put it in a place with a cell single and you had better be ready to pay monthly.
Not long ago, however, we picked up a new, exciting product – the Wi-Fi Kodiak Wireless Trail Camera. It’s billed as the first wireless trail camera on the market with truly “integrated Wi-Fi capability.” This new functionality is supposed to let the user access the wifi game camera’s photos and videos from their smartphone from “up to hundreds of feet away.” An alluring idea indeed.
So, I set out to test Kodiak’s new Wi-Fi Kodiak Wireless Trail Camera.
Let me start out by saying that I was very excited about this wifi trail cam. I pictured myself putting a few high up in the trees, so I could nonchalantly access them from afar off – never giving away their position. That’s the idea right? Stolen trail cameras happen, it’s a truth that many (if not all) hunters have to deal with. There always seems to be someone out there who thinks your stuff belongs to them. However, if you make your wi fi game cameras really hard to find, really hard to get too, or (with this camera) both, then maybe the thieves will pass them over.
In fact, there were a lot of people here at 3Rivers Archery who were just as excited as I was, so we decided that I had to review one to see if it’d live up to our expectations.
With this wireless trail camera there is no need to carry laptops out into the field or fumble around with multiple SD cards and wait to get home to view them. The system also eliminates the need to contaminate the wireless trail camera area with human scent. This wireless trail camera also a boasts 12 megapixel image sensor, 720p HD video with high quality audio, 40 invisible infrared LED lights, and a 2″ color LCD screen (just in case you want to view media on the camera instead of your smartphone). You can also control essential camera settings directly from the app, see remaining battery life, and SD card space.
The best part – none of this requires any kind of SIM cards, monthly fees, or wireless network signals.
With its quality construction and appealing design, the Kodiak Wi-Fi Kodiak Wireless Trail Camera scores well in the quality department. It secures closed with brass screws and is made of a high-quality plastic that has a good feel to it. It’s small (just a little bigger than the palm of my hand), which makes it easy to conceal in a tree. It comes out to about 5” tall 3-1/2” wide and 3” thick. The whole case really looks very nice. Even better, is the fact that it’s just as functional.
There are holes on the side for you to slip your (flat) straps though. It should be mentioned here, that the design doesn’t really lend itself well to using a cable or bungee cord.
The case is held shut with black metal clasps with Kodiak’s logo on them. There are also two brass screws on the back of the case, which can be used to secure the case as well.
The camera breaks down into two separate sections, which is nice. However, if you secure the two brass screws on the back, you’ll have to detach the Wi-Fi trail camera from the tree and unscrew those before being able to take the camera apart. This shouldn’t be necessary very often because of its Wi-Fi functionality.
I was surprised, at first, by how few batteries the unit takes. That is, until I realized that four batteries go into each half of the unit. This was a bit of clever engineering, which keeps the size down a little.
The bottom of this stealth wifi game cam secures shut with a brass screw, and has an insert, which would let you affix the unit to a tripod if so desired. Interestingly, there is an access port on the bottom for a 12V plug, but no plug is included with the unit. When you open the bottom of the wifi deer cam you see that it is sealed with a rubber ring. This is also where the SD card is stored; there is also a TV hook-up here, as well as a mini USB slot, which will let you hook the unit up to your computer.
After I first got the camera I wanted to see how long the batteries would last. So, I put it on our range and let it sit for a few days. I ended up capturing more than a thousand images and more than 300 videos before the batteries finally died. Kodiak claims that the trial camera’s battery life is of up to a year or more when using lithium AA batteries (and 5-6 months on alkaline). Obviously, I can’t check this now, but if it’s true, then you can post the cameras for truly incredible stretches of time without having to actually touch them.
Speaking of the photos and the videos, the quality of both are fantastic. The photos are sharp and you can easily zoom in to see small details clearly. Video length is adjustable, which is nice, and video quality is great.
When I first decided to try out the camera I figured that I had better test out its Wi-Fi capabilities. I grabbed an SD card from a drawer, installed the free app, and attempted to access the camera on my phone – and failed. I tried again, and failed again. I had other people try with their phones, and they all failed as well. This went on for days.
At this point I feel it’s relevant to let you know that I am pretty tech savvy. Not to boast, but I’m better with technology than my 11-year-old nephew. So, after a few days of banging my head against a wall, reading all of the provided instructions, asking Google, and reading the FAQ on Kodiak’s website, I decided to actually call Kodiak’s customer service.
On the positive side of this whole experience, their customer service rep (named Samantha) was awesome. When I called I decided to seize the opportunity and find out what a customer in that situation would have to go though, so I did not let them know that I was from 3Rivers Archery (at least not until later). My call was answered immediately, Samantha was courteous, knowledgeable, and seemed to be genuinely concerned with my problem and dedicated to finding a timely resolution. She even followed up with me in the coming days via email (keep in mind that I called them, she decided to go the extra mile on her own). I was really very impressed with that.
After troubleshooting with Samantha for a while we determined that the problem was likely my SD card. As it turns out, the Wi-Fi on Kodiak’s new wireless stealth cam won’t work if the SD card is too old. This was an important bit of information that seemed to be absent from all of the information that I had read.
As it turns out, I was using a class 0 SD card and to use the Kodiak Invisible IR Trail Camera it is recommended you use a class 10 SD card or faster. However, you must use at least a class 4 SD card or the Wi-Fi capabilities will not function at all – this was the problem that I was running into.
How can you find out what class an SD card is? When looking at the front of an SD card you’ll see one of six logos, which will indicate its speed class (from fastest to slowest: Ultra High Speed (UHS) 3, UHS 1, 10, 6, 4, and 2). Below are the associated logos, which will be on the front of card itself, in order from slowest to fastest:
If you see no speed class symbol, you have a class 0 SD card. A class 0 card will store photos on your Wi-Fi Kodiak Invisible IR Trail Camera, but you will be unable to use the Wi-Fi functionality.
So, I installed a different SD card, this time a class 4 and … I still couldn’t access the photos on the camera.
I spoke with Samantha again and she recommended installing a third party app. She sent over some instructions and a link to the app.
To access the photos via the camera’s Wi-Fi I had to take a number of steps:
- Ensure the camera was on
- Turn on the app on my phone
- “Find” the camera on my phone via the Kodiak app
- Connect to the camera via the Kodiak app
- With the Kodiak app still running, I had to open the third party app
- In the third part app I had to search for the camera’s unique local area connection (LAN)
- After I found the LAN, following the step-by-step instructions, I had to search for the file the photos were saved in on the camera
- After I found the photos, I could view them, save them to my phone, and delete them from the camera.
After doing it once, the process was simple enough. However, after I had finally successfully connected to the camera via Wi-Fi I decided to contact Samantha and ask why I couldn’t just access the photos via the Kodiak app. Looks like the culprit was, once again, my SD card – because it’s a class 4 instead of a class 10 or higher.
The Bottom Line
Buy it (but be sure to buy a class 10 or higher SD card as well).
I tested and trouble shot this trail cam up and down, so that you’d have the answers to any questions you might have. The build quality of this game cam is great, the photo quality is outstanding, and Kodiak’s customer service was impressive. Despite my initial frustrations with Kodiak’s app, after I got the kinks worked out the trail camera seems to work as advertised, which is pretty cool.