4 Ways to Stay Connected Outdoors

The average American spends over four hours per day on the Internet, be it on laptops, smartphones or tablets, according to Statista. Like it or not, the web has become a necessary part of many Americans’ lives. Even people who love the outdoors are looking to stay connected. Whether you’re on an extended camping trip or hunting excursion, checking email and social media accounts is still necessary for some. But, if your smartphone is not picking up a signal, there are other ways you can get Internet. Here are four options to consider.

Cantennas

This DIY hack strengthens open Wi-Fi signals that your computer picks up, but can’t connect to because it’s too weak. You can buy all the cantenna parts separately and put them together, or buy a full kit.

You’ll need a metal can (preferably an empty soup can), an N connector, brass rod or thick copper wire, a USB wireless adapter and a pigtail cable. There are several videos on YouTube that give detailed instructions on how to put one together. If done correctly, it should speed up and strengthen weak connections.

Tethering

Tethering means that you are using your smartphone as a hotspot to surf the web on a laptop, tablet or other device. It’s a simple process to switch most Android phones to tether mode. The Samsung Galaxy S5, for instance, can be tethered by selecting settings and then “more” under wireless storage. Then, you just need to turn on the mobile hotspot. The iPhone 6 simply needs to be plugged into your laptop’s USB , then select tether from the menu.

Before you decide to tether your devices together, make certain you understand your data plan. Overages can be costly, and some providers may restrict future use if they discover you are tethering.

Mobile Hotspots

This is by far the most reliable option for outdoorsy folks, even though it is kind of pricey. Thankfully two companies offer affordable and effective pre-paid services.

The Verizon Pre-Paid Jetpack is a one-size fits all solution. It has a huge 4G coverage area and gets a 3G signal pretty much anywhere in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. The device itself costs about $70. Data plans range from 250 MB for $15 up to 10 GB for $90.

Virgin Mobile, which uses the Clear Wireless network, also has pre-paid broadband. The downside to this plan is that 4G coverage is limited to select cities and 3G doesn’t have anywhere near the coverage Verizon does. The data plans are less expensive, however, so check their coverage to see if Virgin will work for you.

Satellite Internet

Those with RVs or conversion vans can have satellite dishes mounted to the roof of the vehicle and get Internet anytime, anywhere. Of course, this option only makes sense if you are out in the woods, mountains or other remote areas frequently.

Hughsnet and WildBlue are the most common satellite Internet providers. But again, keep in mind that dish installation on a vehicle is expensive if you don’t use it enough.