Best Routers to Use On a Boat
At home, you may have a super over-spec gaming router bristling with range boosting antennas. You are proud of the fact you are still be connected to your home router a block and a half from home. Maybe a little too much jam for a 45-foot boat. Some of these high-performance routers can use over 35w of power, to put that into 24 hour a day terms. That’s almost 1kw of power! Or 70 amps, more power than many marine fridges will use. Not the best routers to use on a boat!
For a boat, a low power draw router is best. Look for a router that is compact and sealed. High-performance routers tend to have cooling vents that draw in salty marine air which leads to corrosion of the non-marine grade parts and failure within a matter of months. A compact router or mini travel router as they are known are great for a boat as they take very little space. They are so small in fact that they are easy to mount under a nav station or shelf with a little double-sided tape.
The mini travel routers below are perfect for use on a boat. They all share the same basic principles. They are compact, not much bigger than a pack of cards. These routers have sufficient throughput to broadcast media from your NAS media server to three or four users at the same time without suffering any buffering. The routers have the right balance of power to be able to cover most monos and catamarans up to about 50ft without beaming your signal across the anchorage and onto shore where who knows may intercept the signal.
The Selection of Portable Routers is Shrinking Every Year
The selection of small routers is shrinking all the time as the need for travel routers declines. In the not too distant past, hotels didn’t offer free wifi. They offered free wired internet. This opened up a need for small portable travel routers you could take on a trip with you. Now most hotels have free wifi available to their guests the need to carry a portable router has all but disappeared. And so has demand for small portable routers. As a result, fewer and fewer manufacturers are making portable routers.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you buy one of these today they will meet your needs for the next decade. They are cheap enough for a really good router so they won’t break the bank. Go ahead and buy one today while you can still easily get them. And in a few years’ time when you go cruising you will be covered. I’ve had a small TP-link router that I think I paid $2 for at a market in China about 15 years ago and it still performs as well as the day I bought it.
Not shown in our list below is the Apple Airport Express, which was also a nice compact sealed unit. This was a great router to use on a boat. Unfortunately, Apple has discontinued the product as I never really did fit in with their product line. You may be able to find a used model on eBay although I think you will be just as happy with one of these routers shown below.
Top Three Mini Travel Routers To Use On a Boat
I really love these little TP-Link Routers. They are so small and easy to stick away some place out of the way on a boat. They don’t use much power which make them perfect routers to use on a boat.
Some Product Highlights
- Dual-band Wi-Fi network
- Incredibly compact router fits easily in your pocket
- Works with 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz devices, including Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick
- USB port lets you share files or conveniently charge any device with up to 5V/1A of power
- Flexible powering options let you connect to an external adapter or USB port
We were unfortunately unable to test this router but it comes highly recommended from cruiser friends who have used it for some time.
GL-MT300N-V2 is upgraded to new chip MT7628NN, and the RAM is enhanced from 64MB to 128MB. Also, the MTK driver helps to improve Wi-Fi connections, coupled with faster OpenVPN encryption. 4 GPIOs are included for DIY fun. From this, GL-MT300N-V2 is your best pal for travel.
Some Product Highlights
- Max 300Mbps Wifi Speed
- 1x USB 2.0 USB Port
- 2x Ethernet Ports
- One of the cheapest routers on our best routers to use on a boat
Honestly the product specs between these little routers are so close together. That unless you are looking to do some advanced network bridging or have an exceptionally large boat. Any of these featured routers to use on a boat will work well for you.
Some Product Highlights
- 300Mbps wireless data rates is ideal for video streaming, online gaming, and Internet calling
- Supports Router, Repeater, Client, AP, and hotspot operation modes
- Powered through a micro USB port by an external power adapter or USB connection to a computer provides flexibility for any situation
- Easy installation in minutes
- Low Cost – The cheapest on our list of best routers to use on a boat