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

Nicholas Jones | May 19, 2017

We’ve posted in this space before on how to boost cell phone reception in an RV. Plenty of others have posted on that topic also. Just do a quick Web search or, even better, a search on YouTube.

If you do, you’ll turn up thousands of posts and videos with reviews, unboxings 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? 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?

That’s what this post is about.

Why is your signal so weak?

When you’re camping it’s implied that you’re further away from the trappings of civilization than most other times. That circumstance makes it likely that weak or undetectable signal is 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.

In addition, any obstruction between your location and the cell tower can block or weaken the signal and prevent it from reaching your phone or getting back to the tower.

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

  • Find the highest ground in the local area to minimize terrain obstructions.
  • Position yourself clear of trees and any other potentially obstructing vegetation.
  • 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.
  • If you have access to AC or DC power, use a cell signal booster.

Typically the best thing to do when seeking better cell signal while camping is to find high ground clear of local terrain obstructions and away from trees and vegetation. If you’re inside a vehicle, stepping outside gives you a shot at getting a better cell signal.

And if atmospheric conditions are poor as described above, you may just have to wait until the weather clears to get a better signal.

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 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.

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.

What You’ll Need

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.

A better ‘base station’ with a vehicle cell signal booster

A signal booster 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.

The most powerful weBoost signal booster for a vehicle is the Drive 4G-X. It features maximum FCC-allowed power for boosting incoming and outgoing cell signals in a vehicle.

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