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Is There a Cellphone Signal Booster for Hiking?

Is There a Cellphone Signal Booster for Hiking?


No, there is currently no cellphone signal booster for hiking available. We should clarify… there are several cellular boosters on the marker that can boost a 4G signal, but they are all intended to be mounted to a vehicle roof, and they all require some kind of electrical source. So far, there is no cellphone signal booster intended to be worn on your body or placed into a backpack.

boost cellphone signal while hiking
There currently is no cellphone boosting device designed specifically for hiking, but there is an alternative.

Is There a Cellphone Signal Booster for Hiking?

No, there is no cellphone signal booster specifically designed for hiking in mind. However, there is a viable solution utilizing a MIMO antenna with a hotspot device (see that section below).

Despite other publications advertising cellphone signal boosters for hiking, there is no such thing currently available. Instead, those publications feature boosting units designed to be mounted to the roof of a vehicle or house.

Using a MIMO Antenna with a Hotspot Device

mimo antenna with hotspot device
Netgear MIMO Antenna (large square) with a Verizon MiFi Hotspot Device. Note this particular antenna has two plugs, one for input and another for output, requiring that you use this with a hotspot device that also has two antenna ports. You can place both the antenna and hotspot inside your backpack. Then, connect your cellphone to the hotspot device via Wi-Fi, and you should enjoy improved performance

Thus far, the most portable cell signal improvement solution is to use a MIMO antenna paired with a hotspot device (depicted above)…

  • The MIMO antenna must be lightweight enough to attach to your backpack. The Netgear MIMO Antenna (see it on Amazon), is the most popular antenna.
  • Your hotspot device will require at least one antenna port, preferably two (one for incoming signal, the other for outgoing). When shopping for a hotspot device, make sure it has at least one antenna port. Most brand new devices offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile currently do not have antenna ports. You must shop for an older model, or a used model.
  • You cannot use the hotspot service built into your cellphone because your cellphone does not have a physical antenna port.
  • Most MIMO antennas have a “TS9” antenna plug, meaning your hotspot device must also have a TS9 antenna port.
  • Connect both the antenna and hotspot device together, turn on the hotspot device, and place them both inside your backpack.
  • Then connect your cellphone to the hotspot device via W-Fi. You should now experience improved performance.
  • A fully charged hotspot device should provide you with 6-12 hours of use, depending on the brand and model.

Note that the amount of improvement will also vary based on which direction your antenna is pointed. The Netgear MIMO antenna depicted above is an “omni-directional” antenna, meaning it is designed to work no matter which direction you are pointed towards the nearest cell tower. However, even omni-directional antennas work better when they have a direct line of communication to the cell tower.

Cell signal improvement is also based on the physical features of the environment you are in. The best environment is a flat, desert landscape where there little to no obstruction between you and the nearest cell tower. The worse case scenario is where you are in the bottom of a canyon because cell signals tend to transmit over canyons and not into them. The tops of mountains and hills are often good. Cell signals are not obstructed by trees so much, however they are easily obstructed by big boulders and mounds of earth.

What About Those Cellphone Antenna Stickers?

These are absolute junk.

cellphone antenna stickers

There are manufacturers selling stickers (see it on Amazon) with thin metal antennas imprinted into them. They are meant to adhere to the back of a cellphone. Manufacturers claim these stickers will improve voice and data signal strength.

However, most of the reviews show they do absolutely nothing aside from making your phone look ugly.

When it comes to cellphone antennas, size definitely matters. Thus a tiny antenna the size of a postage stamp will offer no improvement at all.

What About FM Radio Antennas for Cellphones?

These don’t boost cellular signal at all.

These are FM radio antennas (see it on Amazon) designed to plug into an 1/8″ audio jack on your cellphone. They are meant to improve FM radio reception for those phones that have FM radio receivers built in. However, many people who’ve bought them claim they barely improve FM radio signal.

cellular boosters

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