The BEST camcorder will be one with removable storage - in my opinion...
If you fill the storage and it is not removable, then you are faced with either not capturing more video or choosing what to delete. Same thing with a "portable hard drive", plus this has the added liability of requiring more power...
If you agree with the above, then you are in the miniDV tape or flash memory. The next comparison then falls on the camcorder battery power. You will find that flash memory based camcorders use less power than miniDV tape - but there is not "good" battery included in the box with a camcorder. So in either storage format, an additional high-capacity battery is suggested. If this back packing trip is really long, there is no single rechargeable battery that will last being used for weeks. You probably want some method of recharging - like a small solar charger. The "overkill" method will find you with 2 rechargeable batteries - one in use during the day while the other is charging (solar cells exposed to sunlight whether left at camp or on your backpack... so you will need an external charger, too).
Back to the storage media... you will find $/time stored is least expensive using miniDV tape... You will also find that miniDV tape continues to provide the least amount of compression (DV or HDV), so it continues to provide the best available video quality.
When you drop/break the camcorder, get the miniDV tape or flash memory out... and later, get another camcorder. If you are well into the trip and have used several tapes or flash memory cards, those will be readily available for video transfer. With HDD based, you will have all the footage on the single hard drive - which are not removable. I'm not going down the path of crashed drive (though that is possible), but if the HDD camcorder falls off a cliff, you have nothing - especially irritating if you are nearing the end of the long hike... not so irritating if there are full tapes or flash memory cards in your backpack or back at camp).
You did not state your budget... Your budget will dictate the cameras are available to you. Researching this camera list will tell you what optical zoom and low-light capabilities you can get.
I did not mention DVD based camcorders for a reason - being out backpacking is a rugged activity - the discs usually only handle about 20 minutes each - plus they are easily scratched. And most importantly, if you are expecting to edit this footage, consumer DVD based camcorders capture using the highest amount of compression - resulting in the lowest video quality when compared to the other storage media. Compressed video = discarded data = reduced video quality...
· 1 decade ago