Cell coverage booster ?

Discussion in 'Campsite Electronics' started by kitphantom, Oct 14, 2021.

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  1. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    We are beginning to research RV cell coverage boosters. Has anyone used them? We have Verizon as our carrier, so we could buy one targeted to that.
    More than likely, we’d use it in the truck, because even with a booster, there are places where I would still have to drive to get any service.
    Lest someone comment that they camp to get away from contact, I know that, and to a large extent we do too. This is a safety issue, to have contact, if need be, with my husband while he is backpacking and even for some day hikes.
    I had already begun considering a booster after our last trip to CO. It is a 9 mile drive to reliable cell service from one of our favorite campgrounds. After our experiences at Grand Canyon (South Rim) this week, a booster is sounding like a good idea to both of us, for other locales.
    Monday, my husband and a friend began what was planned as a 3 night backpack. Both had inReach devices. We (the wives) got messages that night that they would be hiking out the next day, due to major water issues. Fine and dandy, except we were in for a storm, and the trailhead is a hour or so drive from Grand Canyon Village. Being able to keep tabs on the guys was key. At some point, I was worried the road might close and we’d have to create a plan.
    Courtenay and I realized that the inReach made a huge difference in how we were able to handle the change of plan than we could have in the past. Here On the South Rim, I have good enough coverage. On North Rim, it would have been much more of an issue. (Cell coverage is actually from the South Rim. WiFi at the campground store is still worse than abysmal and not dependable anywhere near enough for safety issues if they arise.)
     
  2. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    I used to have one when I was in sales. Can’t remember the brand but it worked well out here in Wyoming. Cost about $400. It allowed me to work while camping miles from where I’d lose signal. The whole thing backfired though. After a couple of months of folks being able to reach me anywhere I got disgusted and sold the thing and quit the job. We currently have a couple of fairly powerful UHF/VHF radios to keep in touch while I’m fishing and my family is in camp.
     
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  3. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    The good thing is the Courtenay doesn’t need to keep in touch when he’s on vacation. So, anything we get is for our convenience and safety. It would have made things easier, for example, when we changed camping plans on this trip, due to the early snow storm. I’m old or seasoned enough that I enjoy some things being easier to do
     
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  4. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    Slim Potatohead did a video review a while back on boosters:
     
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  5. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

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    Mine was made by Wilson
     
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  6. Arruba

    Arruba Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I’m my Professional life, we use Wilson boosters and antennas. Overall they work very well. They will not make something out of literally nothing, but basically will turn most intermittent signal into a useable signal and a weak signal into a good one. Something to consider is some boosters require the phone to be cradled in a proprietary cradle to work. The first one I had did. The last one works the phone anywhere in the cab.

    Good luck with your choice.
     
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  7. NMroamer

    NMroamer Well-Known Member

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    InReach is all you need.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    I need something on my end, so I can get messages from the inReach, and send them to it. Unless you’re saying I need a second inReach?
     
  9. DiamondGirl

    DiamondGirl Adventures with KODI in AZ

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    I camped at the lake last weekend. There’s hardly any cellphone signal. My camping neighbor uses the WeBoost for Verizon. He’s able to call and send texts. He said it works if you have a bar of signal. He highly recommended it. He stays at the lake for weeks and is able to communicate with friends and family while camping.

    We’re waiting for Starlink to be available. My camping neighbor said he was waiting for it too.

    Happy Camping…[put&hy]
     
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  10. brettstoner

    brettstoner Active Member

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    I used a Wilson repeater for many years at my house for personal use and one in my car for work use. Now 4G is built out enough I don't use them and sold them. It looks like Wilson changed their name to weBoost. They worked fantastic and I highly recommend. I used an omni-directional antenna on the center of the roof of my car that went to the repeater and into my laptop aircard. For the house I used a Yagi antenna that went into the repeater and then to another antenna on my ceiling to repeat the signal.

    If you can get enough separation between the two antennas that would be the way to go at a campsite. Mount the Yagi on a pole, higher the better, and spin until you get the strongest signal.

    Another option is GMRS portable radios. Generally speaking you are limited to line of sight (think mountains, hills, etc. blocking signal) but should get a couple miles range with handhelds if its just for camping.

    And lastly if it is an emergency communication issue think satellite phones. They are expensive but if its a medical issue that you need reliable communication this would be the best.
     
  11. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the info. Years ago, before we had the SPOT, then the current inReach, we considered the GMRS radios. However, for the places we go - Colorado mountains, slot canyons, Grand Canyon, etc. they looked to be not useful enough.
    We have thought about renting a sat phone for some trips, but so far, we have not. The good news is that with the last firmware update, I have been able to message back to the inReach, it has not worked in the past, so 2-way communication is possible. The issue is that at my end, I am sometimes out of cell range, or at the fringes. At the one Colorado campground this year, I got some texts, hit or miss - and one of Courtenay's from the inReach came through 3 times - twice after he returned to camp. I could not, however, send a text with any reliability. The weird thing is that two years ago, I could send texts from a specific rock in the campground, facing the correct direction.
    Being able to report any changes on my end, or things that my arise would be great. A couple of years ago, Courtenay was off on a backpack in southern Utah, when the remains of a hurricane took an unexpected path. It hot the day after I picked him up, but if that had been the day he hiked out, he would have had to hunker down until I could drive the unpaved roads to get him. Being able to text and keep him up to date on conditions would be good under such circumstances.
     
  12. chiques

    chiques New Member

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    I've never considered a cell booster.

    As a ham radio operator, I get called to provide emergency communications for events where cell coverage may not exist. The license is free (soon to be $35 for ten years), the test is not too difficult to study for, and handheld radios can be purchased for $30 and up. I would also consider GMRS.

    Just my two cents (three and a half with inflation).
     
  13. Karey

    Karey Member

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    I want to follow this thread. With my husband a geologist there's been many times we've needed to be able to connect (like he came upon a wild donkey kill, then realized that the lion is probably still around, and he, with only a knife!). A camp trip he hiked off and I was starting to get worried about him. What if he fell? I was walking around the direction he left and kept calling ... even doing my Jane call (the kids off playing years ago could always hear it).
     

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