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Upgrade Your Camping Base Station with a Vehicle Cell Phone Signal Booster

Posted on 06/22/20 by Nicholas Jones

If you’re camping in an RV, it’s easy to find a cell booster that works for you, mainly because RVs have a power source. If you’re looking for how to boost your RV’s cell phone signal, there are a lot of places you can turn to–some on this website–and others on YouTube channels and tech blogs. If you do, you’ll turn up thousands of posts and videos with reviews, unboxing, and installations of RV cell boosters, and many of them discuss weBoost units like the Drive X RV or the Connect RV 65.

But what if you like to camp without an RV? How do you get cell reception while camping? What if you prefer to carry and pitch your shelter when camping, rather than tow it or drive it? If you’re tent camping or sleeping under the stars, how would you ensure solid cell reception in case of emergencies or to browse the web?

How do you get better cell service while camping? That’s what this post is about.

best camp boosters

Why is your signal so weak when camping?

First, let’s explain how a cell signal works: in its most basic form, a cell phone is essentially a two-way radio between a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. When you talk into the phone, your voice is converted into radio waves which are transmitted to the nearest cell tower.

Think of a long drive through the countryside: if you’re in the middle of nowhere, any radio signals you get will be weak at best. The same goes for your phone: if you’re in the middle of nowhere (away from a tower) then your cell signal will be weak–maybe a bar or two. It’ll have all the problems that a car radio has: hard-to-hear voices, missing pieces of conversation, and turning the volume all the way up just to figure out what they’re saying.

When you’re camping it’s implied that you’re further away from cities. That likely means that weak or undetectable signals are the result of your distance from the nearest cell tower.

Maybe your phone shows it’s receiving a faint signal, but your phone’s transmitter can’t send its underpowered signal all the way back so the tower can receive it. Either way, you can’t effectively use your phone to communicate.

But there can be more to a weak signal than just distance from a cell tower. In addition, any obstruction between your location and the cell tower can block the signal and prevent it from reaching your phone.

Obstructions can include:

  • Terrain features, like hills or mountains
  • Trees or other vegetation
  • The body of your vehicle, if you’re trying to call or text while inside it
  • Atmospheric conditions, like rain, snow, clouds or fog

How to improve cell signal while camping or backpacking

  • If you have access to AC or DC power, use a cell signal booster for your car/truck or RV. These can be a lifesaver!
  • Find the highest ground in the local area to minimize terrain obstructions. You want to be able to have the clearest line of communication with the cell tower, free from intervening hills, trees, or buildings.
  • Position yourself clear of trees and any other potentially obstructing vegetation. Remember everything that is in between you and your target cell tower is absorbing the EMF waves that you want to be reaching the tower.
  • If you’re inside a vehicle, step outside.
  • If weather is poor (rain, snow, heavy clouds, etc), try the cell connection again after it clears.
  • As EMF is an electromagnetic frequency, electrical storms can interfere–lightning especially–but just like a weatherman’s map uses a radio signal to identify clouds and storms, so does your EMF get blocked by clouds and storms.

And if atmospheric conditions are poor as described above, you may just have to wait until the weather clears to get a better signal. If you’re in a dangerous situation where your battery is low, but you think you can weather a storm, it might be good to turn off your phone and wait for the storm to pass before trying again to resume communication.

But what if you’re in a location where none of these tips work, and you can’t get a decent signal? In that case the only thing that may help is a cell signal booster.

How a cell signal booster works

Cell signal boosters use an antenna to collect weak cell signals. Those collected signals are amplified, and then the amplified signals are redistributed inside the vehicle or building so your phone can receive them.

When your phone transmits signals back to the cell tower, the same process is repeated in reverse order. Your cell phone is both a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. 

With a booster, cell signals weakened by distance and/or obstacles are amplified, and signal blockers effectively bypassed. That’s how a cell signal booster can deliver strong, reliable reception when you’re camping.

A cell signal booster is made up of three main parts: an exterior antenna, an amplifier, and an interior antenna.  The booster acts like a repeater system that adds strength to the cell reception. Your cell phone reception is captured by the outside antenna, and it is then amplified by the booster and rebroadcast by the interior antenna. The result is that you get more bars on your phone and therefore: better reception. You’ll get clearer calls and faster data speeds.

how a cell phone booster for camping works

Will a cell phone booster for camping work for me?

For a cell signal booster to work when you’re camping, you need a power source – something to plug in to. That power source will most likely be a vehicle – your pickup, a Jeep or other off-roader, a passenger car, or even a four-wheel OHV.

Of course if you’re sleeping in a cabin or cottage with AC power, that’s even better. But then we get into the “is that really camping?” debate.

Bottom line:

If you have access to a source of power, whether AC or DC, you can set up a signal booster to ensure cell reception while camping.

But there is one caveat – a cell signal booster does NOT create a signal. To work, it needs a detectable signal to amplify. Without a detectable cell signal, a booster won’t work.

So if you’re planning a camping trip to someplace so remote that no cell signal reaches that location, a signal booster can’t help there.

Best cell phone signal boosters for camping

A cell phone booster for camping opens up a lot of possibilities for having the convenience and safety of cell reception while camping. If you’re planning to hike or backpack, your vehicle equipped with a cell booster becomes your base station.

Even at those times when you’re not right near the vehicle as you hike, you know that access to cell coverage is within walking distance if you need it.

Drive Reach – Most Powerful for Vehicles

Drive Reach cell phone signal booster

  • Ideal for passenger cars and RVs
  • Reaches the farthest cell towers
  • Boosts multiple devices
  • Best booster for remote areas

Drive 4G-X OTR – Best for Trucks

drive 4g-x otr cell phone booster

  • Reaches far away towers
  • Boosts multiple devices
  • Ideal for semi-trucks and OTR trucks
  • Good booster for remote areas

Drive X RV – Best for RV’s

Drive X RV cell phone signal booster

  • Reaches far away cell towers
  • Boosts multiple devices
  • Ideal for RVs, campers and trailers
  • Use when parked or in motion

Connect RV 65 – Best for stationary RV’s

connect rv 65 cell phone signal booster

  • Powerful stationary RV booster
  • Boosts multiple devices
  • Ideal for campers and trailers
  • For use only when RV is parked

Want to learn more about cell signal boosters to improve cell phone coverage while camping? Click on the button below.

cell phone signal boosters for camping

 

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RV

Read our Consumer Guide to Cell Phone Signal Boosters.

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