The weather’s warming up, and it’s time to get back out there. You may think you need to leave your favorite gadgets behind, but the line between tech and the great outdoors grows blurrier by the day.
If you or someone you know needs the motivation to get outside, we’re here to help. Tap or click here for 15 outdoor sports and activities gift ideas to get anyone off the couch.
Your tech can make your trip to the wilderness easier and safer. A strong cell signal will come in handy in an emergency, as will a handheld GPS that can alert others if you need help. Read on for essential smart tech to take on your next camping trip.
1. Check the coverage
You could spend your camping trip checking text messages, email and social media, or you can go for a digital detox. Whichever you prefer, check your carrier’s coverage maps to see how good a signal you can expect at your destination. You never know when you’ll need to make a call or send a message.
Check out the following coverage maps for three of the largest mobile carriers:
- T-Mobile: Go to t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map and enter an address or ZIP code to see a detailed coverage map of your destination.
- Verizon: Go to verizon.com/coverage-map and enter an address or ZIP code to see the network coverage at your campsite.
- AT&T: Go to att.com/maps/wireless-coverage and enter an address or ZIP code to check out the wireless coverage in that area.
2. How to help boost your signal
You can pick up additional coverage with a cell booster. Use a mobile hotspot to share your signal with others at your camp. If there’s no coverage to be found, a satellite phone is your best bet. Here are some of our recommended devices:
A. weBoost Drive Sleek car cell booster
The weBoost Drive Sleek plugs into your car’s auxiliary outlet (aka cigarette lighter port) to boost 5G & 4G LTE for all U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. You get improved voice quality, faster mobile internet, and better streaming.
The cradle is adjustable to fit most phones and can even accommodate hotspots. A USB port and cord are included so you can charge a device while using the booster.
The kit comes with the booster, cradle and mount, magnetic outside antenna, power supply, magnetic vent clip and installation guide.
B. GlocalMe DuoTurbo 4G LTE mobile hotspot (works with T-Mobile)
The GlocalMe DuoTurbo 4G LTE mobile hotspot doesn’t require a SIM card to work, though it can support a nano-SIM card if needed.
You get 4G internet on the go virtually anywhere in the world. Share your Wi-Fi connection with up to 10 devices at once. You get 1.1GB of global data and 8GB of U.S. data for free if you contact the company and redeem the IMEI 2 on the back bottom of the device.
There is no contract or roaming charges for data. Choose a plan from the Glocalme App and pay as you go:
- The 2GB plan costs $6.99 for a day.
- Upgrade to 25GB per month for $88.
- Go up to 50GB per month for $99.
- The top-tier data plan gets you 100GB per month for $159.
C. Thuraya XT-LITE satellite phone
The Thuraya XT-LITE satellite phone is good for making calls far away from any wireless coverage. It lets you place voice calls and send SMS messages through one SIM card. Feel free to walk and move around during use without worrying about losing your signal.
This satellite phone includes many features you’re used to: address book, alarm, calculator, call logs, conference calls, contact groups, speed dialing, stopwatch and world time.
The battery provides up to six hours of talk time and 80 hours of standby time.
3. Stay in touch while avoiding getting lost
A satellite messenger lets you stay connected in areas without cellular reception. These aren’t like satellite phones, in that you can’t place calls. But you can share your location, send text messages, and send an SOS that notifies local emergency responders that you need help, giving them your exact latitude and longitude.
We recommend the following satellite messenger as your best option when going camping:
Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
The Spot X 2-way satellite messenger lets you exchange messages with any phone number or email address virtually anywhere. The quick check-in feature lets your loved ones know you’re safe.
Connect to the Spot X app via Bluetooth to get satellite connectivity, which includes tracking intervals and cloud-based mapping. Navigate your adventure with the built-in compass and programmable waypoints.
In case of emergency, the SOS feature alerts the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) with your GPS coordinates and sends information to local teams who can come to help. All you need to do is push a button.
The Spot X comes with the device, strap and carabiner, Micro USB data/power cable, quick start guide, SOS mirrored sticker, warranty card and kickstand. It’s currently going for under $250 on Amazon.
Your gadgets are paperweights without power, so you want to invest in a portable power station to keep them running.
We like the Jackery Explorer 300. It has the power capacity to charge multiple devices at once or even power small appliances. Recharge a smartphone up to 30 times or a laptop up to four times on a single charge.