Don’t know what overlanding gear to use? Just starting to prepare for your first expedition? It’s confusing when there are so many different options for overlanding communications gear.
When in remote areas, your phone may be struggling to get a strong cell signal since you are so far from the nearest cell tower. This means you can’t call or text friends, browse social media or upload a picture to Instagram. Also, for safety reasons it’s important to have some way of communicating in case something goes wrong.
So, we asked people in the overlanding community the question below:
What is your top gear/device/tip for staying connected when overlanding? Why do you recommend it?
Read on below to find out the overland gear essentials to help you stay connected on your next adventure.
What is Overlanding?
Overlanding is a mix of off-roading and camping, often in remote areas where experiencing the journey is the goal. This started in Australia where they traveled by horseback to promote travel and trade then evolved into traveling by vehicle. Overlanding has become a great way to explore different areas throughout the world over just a weekend or a longer period of time.
Top Overland Gear and Communication Tips from the Experts
1. Isaac Marchionna – Lawndart Design
My advice for anyone to stay connected in the middle of nowhere is to be at peace with the idea that you can’t lean on any one particular form of communication. The best practice is to carry multiple methods and use quality gear. Whether that be UHF/VHF radios, satellite phones, or cell phones, always carry quality vetted gear. With that in mind what works around town isn’t usually going to cut it out in the desert. A cell booster isn’t a magic bullet, but it vastly increases the chances of having some coverage where you might find yourself. I’ve found that the weBoost, works extremely well in the situations where a cell booster clearly demonstrates its strengths over just relying on the strength of the phone itself.
Cell phones aren’t always the best option but setting yourself up for success with whatever form of communication you choose pays off in the end. Ultimately, whatever system allows you to dial home, or get that critical message out, is what matters the most.
2. Mike – Last Line of Defense
I stay connected through the weBoost and my phone, and also through Ham radio and a Garmin inReach. Having cellular data though is by far the most convenient and powerful way to stay connected. It allows me to stay out longer, do a little work from the mountains, and google to find answers to questions while I’m out.
3. Jason Turner – KodasTacoma
For staying connected when overlanding, I find that my weBoost is the most powerful piece of equipment I currently have. I enjoy staying in remote areas a lot and when we need reception it’s a lot easier to find it with the help of our weBoost. I definitely prefer using the cell booster to going all of the way back to town just for reception. I like how easy it is to use and to install. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who could use the reception boost.
weBoost and Pixel 2 are the equipment solutions I use. There are areas where the Reach can interfere with existing signal, so double check with the booster by cycling the system on and off to confirm. Also, use common sense with campsites vs. terrain features that might impede signal.
5. Daniel Kruthanooch – Phaze2yogi
As a professional photographer and social media manager for multiple brands, it’s important for me to stay connected at all times to keep up with my day-to-day tasks. While enjoying the great outdoors, connectivity is a major issue when traveling to remote areas where the signal is pretty much non-existent. Whether I need to stay in touch with my team or call a loved one to let them know I’m okay, my weBoost Drive 4G-X OTR is a must in my arsenal and I won’t go without it. The only disconnect I get is when I put my phone on silent for peace and quiet.
6. Mary Ashley Krogh – Bound For Nowhere
We just use our cell phones for hot-spotting.
7. Phil Kockerbeck- Down2Mob Overland
I use my wifi hotspot as well as my cell phone to stay connected when overlanding. From downloading maps, to uploading youtube videos, staying connected is a must for living full time on the road. Although, without a cell signal these things become paperweights. The weBoost 4GX-OTR signal booster has been a game changer for me to stay connected anywhere from the Oregon Coast, to Glaciers in Alaska. I like it because it does exactly what it says it does, and more.
These boosters do not claim to give you service when none is available, but in my experience, I have gone from a strike through the bars on my phone (meaning no service at all) to 2 bars by turning on the weBoost. I actually demonstrated that in my youtube video review, so be sure to check that out!
8. Jason Hamasu – Outlaw Xpeditions
I can remember the moment when I realized that as much as Overlanding is about getting away and being disconnected there are situations where having the ability to reach out for help can literally be the difference between making it home or not. As I stood on the top of the highest peak in sight staring down at the what most would consider catastrophic mechanical failure it became overwhelmingly clear how important communication is especially when traveling far beyond the reach of typical cellular coverage.
Situations like ours are not just valuable lessons but are also opportunities to improve the way we travel. So as our local explorations evolved into our family traveling the world, staying connected was not only important for working abroad but plays a key part in the safety of our family and this is the reason why our weBoost is the single most important piece of communication gear we carry. It’s not magic and like all gear it has its limitations but when used properly it’s not just a cellular signal booster it’s a life raft for our traveling family.
I’ve been looking into devices like weBoost, but have more studying to do on this. As far as signal goes, I’m just using my regular cellular carrier.
10. Tacoma Nation
Our absolute must to have with us while off the grid is our @outerlimitsupply first aid kit. While we love having all of the bells and whistles with us, there’s absolutely nothing more important than safety for our group. We recommend it because it contains just about everything you’d need for most injuries.
11. Kelly – Gopher Dirt
I just think it’s great to disconnect at times but at other times I think it’s great to stay connected, keep your productivity moving and stay on track with life and work online. Most importantly, just don’t feel guilty or apologize about doing either one.
To be honest, we don’t use any gear. We download maps ahead of time and otherwise enjoy time being disconnected. However, there is a safety component to staying connected.
It would probably be the weBoost if we had one! We mostly use a ham radio, then cell and then CB. We also use some of our navigation software for communications.
14. Rogue Overland
Given we only have one choice, we would have to have the Garmin inReach. Always being able to reach loved ones when we are off the grid is nice.
15. Overland Kitted
I was using a SPOT locater for a good while. Best tip? I would say give a friend or family member your itinerary ahead of time so that if something happens, rescue services have a fair chance of success rescue.
16. Brian Galyon – Colorado Backcountry Adventures
I have a dedicated hotspot with unlimited data in my truck so I have unlimited bandwidth for live-streaming, uploading videos/content, etc for my YouTube Channel This has been a game changer for me and I will be taking full advantage of my connectivity this winter. Using the weBoost booster, I’m able to boost my hotspot capability and get connectivity when I need it.
17. Travis H. – travishess
Communication never ends at a cell phone level. Always have a contingency means of communication. I have 4 ways and each very in use depending on terrain and location. First and foremost, cell phone with a weBoost Drive 4G-X, second 25W Rugged Radio GMRS, third 60W Rugged Radio GMRS, and lastly I have a CB radio. Electronics can fail so having multiple choices betters your odds of being able to connect with someone when your off the grid. Outside of medical, communication is a huge necessity.
After reading through these useful tips and recommendations, we hope you’ve gathered what you need to stay connected and safe on your next overlanding expedition.
Many overlanders rely on weBoost cell phone boosters to keep them connected on the road. These boosters will amplify a weak outside signal into your car or truck giving you faster data speeds and reliable cell signal. They will also boost signal for all carriers and networks.
The Drive Reach and Drive 4G-X OTR are popular gear choices to get a strong signal in remote areas. The Drive 4G-X OTR has an antenna that is easy to mount on overlanding vehicles and has a rugged, durable design in case your vehicle hits a branch or an obstacle. Check out all of our vehicle signal boosters below.