Regardless of what group you fall in. These are the most important considerations:
- Professional-grade cameras are extremely well-built and weather sealed. They are designed to resist all sorts of weather conditions, high impact and vibrations. They also offer, far and beyond, the best image quality you can get and the body ergonomics and direct control to settings are invaluable. On the flip side, they are very expensive, heavy and clunky.
- Mid-level grade cameras, including mirrorless options, still fare pretty well as far as resistance go but a lot more attention to their care and protection has to be payed. Camera operation is not as comfortable, having to access a lot of their settings via long complicated menus. This is very uncomfortable in the wild.
- Compacts and mobiles are very fragile and break easily. If you go with them, make sure you obsess about keeping them safe, away from dust, water and humidity, not to mention not to drop them while you are cycling.
Photographer group: When it comes to me, after years of serious dedication to explore photography, I have been able to identify and answer each of the questions above. I clearly fall within the last group. As such, I want no compromises. I focus primarily on environmental portraiture and secondarily on landscapes. From experience and understanding of my artistic direction, I know I find myself shooting very often in situations where low-light performance is critical. I am also a hardcore traveler exploring extremely remote regions in very rough conditions so I need strong gear to resist it all. My body of choice is the Nikon D800 and previous to that, the D700, which I think strikes the right balance between exceptional image quality, size and weight. I can vouch for these, as I have put them through incredible challenges and they both delivered under the worst circumstances imaginable and still work. My galleries are a testament to them.
Aside from this, I carry a GoPro Hero camera. Now I'm on the Hero 4 Silver model, which is an extraordinary almost indestructible little camera for recording your adventure.
I care group: I would definitely skip all the consumer and mid-range DSLR options and go straight for the fantastic mirrorless options we've got these days. These are incredibly powerful cameras with excellent image quality and the top of the line models are all professionally built. If you are willing to compromise a bit of comfort in operability and give up a bit of low-light performance, this is the way to go. In return, you will be rewarded with a much lighter traveling kit while still dwelling in DSLR quality. Fine examples are: Fuji XT and X-Pro, Panasonic GX8 / 85, Olympus O-MD and Sony A6300. Bear in mind that while much lighter, these are NOT pocket cameras. You've got the best advice and reviews of all these and many more at Thom Hogan's Sans Mirror .
NOTE: As of now, technology has evolved so much, that I am myself considering changing my pro DSLR gear for these mirrorless alternatives.
Chill-out group: I would ignore all pocket camera options straight away, that range is dead for good. I would either go for a mirrorless option choosing the smaller versions of the examples above or I'd go with a high-end mobile phone. If you want to fork out the ridiculous amount of money for an Iphone or a Google Pixel, go for it. After all, their cameras are indeed incredible and they are water resistant. If you are not a fan of paying an absurd mark-up just mostly for a brand's name, I highly recommend One Plus, which in my opinion is the best bang for the buck out there. I shoot a lot with it myself when I don't feel like carrying my awfully heavy DSLR. Make sure you have a very good case for either of them and protect them obsessively from falling.