Laptop Camping Resources for the San Francisco Bay Area

So you’re a remote worker and you’re getting stir crazy in your home office. Or you’re visiting the San Francisco Bay Area and need to know where you can spend a few hours working. This page is for you.

The criteria

  1. Do they have free WiFi or not? Just because they don’t have WiFi isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. You just need to plan your work accordingly. However if they don’t have WiFi, they might intentionally be discouraging people from using personal computers and staying for long periods.
  2. What variety of food do they have? Coffee and pastries are a given usually. More substantial, non sugary foods like sandwiches and salads gain an extra point. Having craft beer on tap gives another up-vote to a bit of assisted stress management during the work day.
  3. Are they amenable to laptop users staying for more than a couple of hours? Unless they state so explicitly, this is guessed through the observation of the attitude towards customers using laptops. Especially if the location isn’t primarily oriented at laptop users. If I see a lot of laptop users in the location, then I assume the business is favorable to them.
  4. Availability of electrical outlets. This is hard to come by, but isn’t a deal breaker when properly prepared with sufficient charge or a battery pack.
  5. Hours of operation. Opening late in the morning, like after 10am or closing early, like 3pm, rules out starting or ending your work day there, but it still might be useful as a mid-day stop.
  6. Plan B favorability - what’s nearby that’s also suitable for working. Having to pick up and drive another 20 minutes to find a new place to work if your first choice is crowded or their internet is down isn’t as ideal as just walking across the street or around the corner.
  7. What’s the internet speed? If you want fast internet, you should buy your own, but if a remote work friendly space has good (or conversely poor) internet connectivity, it’s good to know. Tests were done with Speedtest and the link to the results are provided.

Useful equipment to carry when working remotely

  • A long life battery pack. I use the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD which has 30W output to USB-C as well as normal USB. It’s able to keep my 2017 Macbook pro running but not quite powerful enough to charge it. It’s just under the maximum amount TSA allows you to carry on the plane.
  • An extension cord with multiple outlets. Make new friends by sharing power plugs. A basic 6 foot long power strip will work in a pinch although it’s kind of bulky to carry. Alternatively, a 3 plug extension cord is easier to deal with. Use common sense though and don’t create a tripping hazard by running a cord across a walkway.
  • A cable organizing pouch to carry connecting cables, the laptop power supply and other accessories. I use the Tom Bihn Snake Charmer, but this Jelly Comb looks like a less expensive alternative.
  • A wireless keyboard - I’ve seen laptop campers using these recently and it does remind me that it’s a pleasure and I can type faster and easier with less finger strain on a full size keyboard with travel than on the new low profile laptop keyboards. I use the Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue for Mac bluetooth wireless keyboard at home and it’s light enough to carry. They have one for PC as well. The battery life is great.
  • A laptop riser to use with the keyboard. I don’t personally own one of these yet, but need to get one. I saw this one from Nexstand used by others which looks just like this one by Roost but less pricey. My ideal stand however would have the support legs far enough apart or set back so that the keyboard can fit compactly under the laptop. Table space is a premium in cafe environments.

The locations

Below is a map of locations I like in the San Francisco Bay Area and a table comparing them on the above criteria. Usage notes:

  • Click on a row in the table to zoom into the location on the map.
  • Click on the table header to sort by that column.
  • If you allow your browser to share your location, the map will zoom into where you’re currently located.
  • On a mobile device, you should rotate your screen so the table fits across the long axis of your screen.

Leave your comments if you have a location that you prefer and would like to share. Thanks and happy camping!