For those that work remotely while on the road, having reliable wifi while camping is often a struggle.
Over the years, we’ve tried various cell boosters and cell service providers, trying to find a combination that would provide a more consistent camping wifi solution. But we still often found ourselves either taking a less desirable campsite to ensure we had reliable enough cell service to use our portable wifi hotspot, or worse, we’d end up breaking camp early to seek out wifi at a local coffee shop in town.
Though we haven’t completely solved the camping wifi paradox, we have recently found a camping wifi setup that works better than any other we’ve tried, and wanted to share this info with fellow campers and working travelers.
Camping WiFi Tips
First, there are some basic tips that can drastically improve your chances of having a good enough cell signal to provide camping wifi.
Seek out the highest elevation campsite available
This will improve your chances of having a line-of-sight connection with the cell tower
Avoid heavily forested sites if possible
Trees and dense vegetation absorb the Electromagnetic Field communication waves that are used to communicate data between your cell phone or hotspot and the cell tower
If you’re inside your vehicle or RV, try working outside
The body of the vehicle can also impede the connection between your cell phone or hotspot and the cell tower that’s providing the data connection for your camping wifi
*(We are not sponsored by weBoost, and this is not a paid post. However, it does contain affiliate links. This means we may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See our full disclosure.)
The Best Cell Service For Use as Camping WiFi
Every cell service provider has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to network coverage, cost, and tethering options.
We’ve tried nearly every option out there and after traveling all over the U.S., we’ve found that Google Fi offers the best value for those that want reasonably priced service, wide network coverage (even internationally), tethering, and versatility as a camping wifi option.
You can see both their flexible and unlimited data plan options here. We use the flexible plan because when we’re at home we use very little data. And wifi tethering is built in – which is a must for using your phone for portable wifi for camping.
Google Fi leverages multiple cellular networks including T-mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, and dynamically switches between them to provide the greatest service depending on how close the nearest cell tower is and how strong the signal is.
However, in our experience, the automatic switching from one network to another is not perfect and can sometimes kick you off a fairly decent signal & wifi connection in favor of another that ends up being less usable or that may not have data service – leaving you abruptly without camping wifi.
This is where the app FiSwitch comes in. This app allows you to manually switch the Google Fi service between T-mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular networks and it’s worth its weight in gold to those traveling while working remotely and camping.
We used this technique [in combination with our booster which we’ll discuss below] during our most recent trip through western Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming and there were very few places, even in the most remote locations, where we couldn’t find some form of usable service.
The Best Signal Booster for Camping WiFi
When we first started working and traveling back in 2012, cell boosters were relatively new to the mainstream and the ones on the market were NOT effective. Plus the cellular network in general was not as robust. So more often than not, we’d get stuck looking for the closest coffee shop, fast-food restaurant, or library to fill our camping wifi needs.
Fast forward to today, the cellular network in the U.S. has both further reach and faster speeds, and there is finally a cell phone signal booster that actually works!
It’s the weBoost Drive Reach Cell Signal Booster.
The kit includes:
The cell booster
12v power adapter
A Magnetic-mount Antenna for the outside of your vehicle
If your vehicle will allow – we’d HIGHLY recommend buying for the additional weBoost OTR Antenna* as it places the antenna further up on your vehicle and, in our experience, provides an overall better signal strength in more remote or wooded areas.
An internal antenna – used to broadcast the signal inside of your vehicle
HOWEVER this is key: Your cell phone or portable cellular hotspot MUST be directly on top of the internal antenna in order for the booster to work to its full potential.
weBoost Signal Booster & Mag-Mount Antenna
weBoost Interior Antenna
weBoost OTR Antenna (sold separately)
Admittedly, the weBoost Drive Reach is a bit of an investment, and it’s not going to miraculously create usable cell service where none exists. But if you need wifi while camping, we’ve found that it has been well worth the investment.
On numerous occasions it took our cell signal from weak or nearly non-existent, to adequate enough to use for camping wifi to be able to work remotely, or even binge watch Netflix on occasion! And even when our signal was already decent, the weBoost significantly improved our upload and download speeds.
Having this camping wifi setup has drastically reduced the daily stress of working remotely by minimizing the constant struggle of finding reliable cell service while camping. Plus it has opened up so many more amazing campsites that we would have otherwise had to pass up – and that alone is worth its weight in gold!
So if you want the best portable wifi solution for camping, you should definitely check out the combination of Google Fi cell service with the weBoost Drive Reach Cell Booster.
If you have any questions about our camping wifi setup, please drop a comment below.
And thanks for reading!
We’d appreciate a share!
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