The Best Wireless Travel Routers – October 2018
WiFi hotspots seem to be everywhere. It’s practically impossible to wander into a coffee shop, restaurant, or hotel without being offered some type of complementary Internet access. Those of us who are constantly on-the-go, however, know just how easy it is to be trapped in an unknown location with no WiFi. Whether you travel frequently for work, enjoy going on outdoor adventures, or simply live in an area with too few Starbucks, facing the prospect of a day without WiFi is a real possibility.
That’s where wireless travel routers come in. These handy gadgets allow you to connect your mobile device or laptop to the Internet via a secure connection. They’re often compact, battery powered, and offer additional storage for file sharing—making them the perfect travel accessory for solo and family trips alike. Here’s a list of the top wireless travel routers on the market.
If you’ve waded through endless Internet searches looking for the perfect wireless travel router (we’re sorry you didn’t find us earlier), this high-performance HooToo TripMate Nano unit probably popped up more than once—and with good reason. For the price, it’s hard to get much better than the TripMate Nano.
With endless media streaming, you can easily stream your favorite videos, photos, and music to any connected devices: TVs, media players, smartphones, tablets, etc. The streaming quality is always top-notch, and you never have to worry about the unit getting in the way of your connection or impacting your bandwidth. You can also instantly transform any wired network into a wireless network for the entire family to enjoy with minimal effort, and the TripMate can even bridge an existing wireless network to create your own, secure network.
The TripMate also acts as a portable hard drive when you’re on the go, which any frequent traveler knows can be invaluable. Instead of lugging around an extra external hard drive, you can use the TripMate to back up photos and videos from your iPhone, Android, iPad, or practically any other mobile device you can think of.
Powered by a simple USB cable, this unit is super lightweight and portable (it only weighs 1 ounce) and comes with a USB cable and a 1 year warranty.
- Incredibly cheap
- Powered by USB
- Questionable support
- Mostly unknown brand
Now for a wireless travel router that’s just a bit cooler, but a bit more expensive as well—causing it to reside at our #2 spot instead of reigning supreme on our list. The RAVPower FileHub Plus is a fan-favorite due to its compact size, power, and let’s be honest, its looks.
Much like the TripMate, the FileHub Plus easily works as a wireless router by converting a wired network signal into a wireless one. It can also bridge and extend pre-existing WiFi signals, and you can use it to share an established wireless network quickly and conveniently with others. It also acts as a powerful streaming device—allowing you to share your videos and music with anyone close by (with your permission, of course).
Where the FileHub Plus stands out, however, is in its storage backup capabilities. This unit allows you to transfer files between SD cards, USB drives, hard disks, and any other devices such as your phone, tablet, or computer, in order to free up much-needed space. And since it can act as an SD card and USB reader, it can wirelessly recognize USB flash drives, hard discs, SDHC, and SDXC cards via a RAVPower Filehub.
The FileHub Plus also boasts an upgraded chip (the new MTK7620N core built-in chip offering much better performance) and external battery, which allows you to charge most smartphones on the market at least once, without worrying about the FileHub Plus running out of juice. Bottom line, if you have a little more money to spend, and file sharing and storage are important to you when you’re on the go, we suggest picking this guy up.
- SD card support
- Well-known brand
- More expensive
Although none of the wireless travel routers that follow made the Top 2 spots on our list, they still deserve a notable mention. And for some potential buyers they may even be more desirable. Take, for instance, this TP-LINK N300. If it were priced a little lower and were a tad less bulky, we may have ranked it higher. TP-LINK is pretty much a household name (in tech-loving households, that is), and this unit lives up to its expectations. This N300 device is well-priced, pocket-sized, and supremely portable. You can quickly create a powerful wireless network to share with family and friends, and can stream videos, games, and audio through its WiFi signal at a respectable 300Mbps on a 2.4GHz band. It’s also seamlessly compatible with Chromecast (for all of you Chrome lovers) and features a micro-USB power port that allows you to power external devices via an external adapter. A pre-encryption function sets initial SSID and password protection, and you also get an industry-leading 2-year warranty and unlimited 24/7 technical support.
- Solid brand with support
- 2 year warranty
- Doesn't use USB-C
We now arrive back at another HooToo device, although this one is a bit pricier and has a few more features. It’s also wildly cool looking. This TripMate Titan gadget offers incredibly high performance and a massive 10400mAh power bank. It shares many of the same features as the TripMate Nano, although as the name implies, every one of these features seems to be taken to the next level with the Titan. Video and audio streaming is noticeably smoother (especially over extended periods of time), and when you set up multiple wireless networks from a wired network, each one seems to run just bit faster. True to its HooToo name, this unit can act as a precious hard drive—allowing you to free up space by backing up or transferring your photos and videos from practically any other device. Perhaps best of all, the TripMate Titan’s massive battery is capable of charging any smartphone a whopping three full times.
- Can act as a battery
- Also allows for fast networking
- Much more expensive than the other HooToo option
Next up we have the TRENDnet TEW-817DTR AC750 Travel Router, with a heavy emphasis on “travel.” This compact device comes with interchangeable power plugs (North America, Europe, and the UK), which makes it perfect for frequent international travelers. It’s easy to connect multiple devices to the network, and the unit features 433 Mbps WiFi AC and 300 Mbps WiFi N bands that support Router, Wireless ISP (WISP), Access Point, and Repeater modes. Much like most of the other devices on our list, streaming video and audio on your devices using an easily established WiFi connection is a breeze, and your signal is pre-encrypted. Our one qualm with the AC750 was that streaming super high-definition video was a bit subpar, yet for the international traveler who is mostly interested in working with files and watching the occasional show on Netflix, the AC750 should do quite well.
- Fast internet
- Encrypted connections
- Expensive compared to our top pick
Ah TP-Link, how we love you. This AC750 unit is quite impressive. It’s incredibly small and light, and offers a sleek and stylish design. It also offers dual-band AC750 WiFi, which is undeniably strong, efficient, and fast—perfect for streaming on the go between multiple attached systems. There’s also a single switch that allows you to toggle between multiple modes, and flexible power options: A micro USB port offering connections to an adapter, portable charger, or laptop. And as with all TP-Link systems, you’ll have award-winning access to some of the best customer service around and an industry leading 2-year warranty with unlimited 24/7 technical support.
- Small and light
- Good design
- No USB-C support
This ZyXEL MWR102 3-in-1 unit is about as portable as it gets. It gets its name from acting as a WiFi router, access point, and client bridge all in one, and boasts speeds of 150Mbps—making it more than suitable for quick office work on-the-go. You can easily share a wireless network with friends, and 802.11n wireless connectivity means you’ll have more efficient and faster transfer rates. USB or AC power choices provide flexibility for any situation, and it fits remarkably easily into a pocket, a laptop case, or the palm of your hand. Each MWR102 ships with a different default SSID and is encryption-enabled by default. Just check the bottom of the MWR to find out the security key used by your router, or change it to one of your own choosing.
- Three in one
- No name brand
Finally, we introduce to you the GL.iNet GL-MT300A Mini Travel Router. This alien-looking device has a 2dbi external antenna and offers 300Mbps of high performance data transfer, 128MB RAM, an Open VPN, and converter capabilities. Possibly the best thing about this unit is its range, which is greatly expanded when you attach the included antennas. It’s only 1.4 ounces, and instantly connects all your devices when switching to a new WiFi network. It also avoids inputting a new password on each of your devices one-by-one, which can take up time. Powered by any laptop USB, power banks, or 5V DC adapters, this little blue gadget offers 28MB RAM, 16MB Flash ROM, dual Ethernet ports, and UART for the storage-minded.
- Solid range
- Good connectors
- Very expensive