Get started with geocaching -- tips and how to

by tealmermaid

Geocaching is a fun sport for everyone with one basic "goal": find the cache.

Geocaching is an inexpensive sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It can be played by individuals, families, or groups of friends or co-workers.

The purpose of the sport is to locate "caches" anywhere in the world with a GPS or other navigational device. Caches usually consist of a logbook of visitors and trinkets to trade. It's fun for everyone to play, even if it amounts to being a search for Tupperware hidden in the wild!

Geocaching: find it, log it

Geocaching how-to

how to find caches in your area
  1. Register for free membership at
  2. Click "Hide & Seek a Cache".
  3. Enter your postal code and click "search."
  4. Choose any geocache from the list.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
  6. Locate the cache, sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
  7. Share your geocaching stories and photos online. logo logo

Once you have joined the site and entered your zip code, your GPS will allow you to save the coordinates to your device. The coordinates will show a map with the location and level of difficulty. You also have your own account at the site where you can record your finds and connect with other geocachers.

Choosing your cache site

Geocaching in urban areas

Urban geocache containers can be located at the base of concrete posts, affixed to walls, placed under ledges or benches, attached magnetically to metal railings or street signs, and even on parked bicycles! Some caches are so cleverly hidden that it is impossible to find them without additional clues beyond the coordinates.

Furthermore, hiding a geocache in a town or city isn’t without problems:

  1. The first one of these is pretty obvious -- people, and lots of them. This gives rise to the possibility of geocaches being vandalized or stolen. Because of this, virtually all urban geocache containers are small, discreet, and, disguised such that they blend in with their surroundings. Clever geocaches in towns or cities could look like anything -- typically trash or dropped coins.
  2. With the increased number of people (and security cameras) around, there is the possibility of looking suspicious while trying to find a geocache. There have been reports of people having to explain the activity to police. There have also been reports of geocaches which have been destroyed by bomb squads.
  3. Likewise, many urban caches aren’t designed to contain anything more than a small log sheet. While there is still the thrill of the find, there are no additional treasures or swag to be had in many caches.

Rural geocaching

Rural geocaches provide an opportunity to get out in the open air and explore. This is after all what geocaching is all about. However, you should be aware that rural geocaches are vulnerable to weather, animals, and other destructive forces with fewer protective buildings around. You are quite limited in the ability to hide caches indoors. A sheltered location for your cache is a must-have -- a natural or human-made hollow, under a bush, tucked into tree roots.

Basic geocaching supplies

Geocaching guidebooks

get started with geocaching
Geocaching: The Complete Beginners Guide - Everything You Need To Know About Geocaching (Geocachi...

If you ever wanted to get into the fun sport of geocaching, this is an excellent beginner's guide to get you started.

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Local Treasures: Geocaching across America (Center for American Places - Center Books on American...

The origins of geocaching in America, How to find caches near your location.

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Hiking supplies and equipment

Geocaching is first and foremost a sport that involves a lot of hiking to get to caches. Be sure to outfit yourself with appropriate hiking equipment before heading out. Safety first!

Maglite Mini PRO LED 2-Cell AA Flashlight with Holster Black

These Maglite brand flashlights are perfect for geocaching outings. They are practically indestructible, and long-lasting since they have LED bulbs.

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SE WS626-55RW Natural Wood Walking Stick with Wolf Carving, Rope Wrapped Handle, Steel Spike & Me...

This walking stick is great for everyday usage and geocaching in particular. It is a comfortable height for most users, and the handle is wrapped with a soft rope for extra comfort.

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SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack - Black

While a bit pricey for a backpack, this is a sturdy pack with plenty of pockets to carry your small gear during geocaching expeditions. As as added bonus, it is TSA-friendly for normal travel purposes.

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Geocaching GPS devices and accessories

What is GPS?

GPS stands for "Global Positioning System". GPS is a navigation system which uses the satellites in the Global Positioning System to track the positions of everything on earth with incredible accuracy. This is a breakthrough that revolutionized travel and navigation.

Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

If you don't want to run down the battery on your phone using GPS to locate geocaches, you will need to invest a separate GPS navigator. The Garmin devices are sturdy and work well for this purpose.

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Garmin eTrex Carrying Case

This is the case that fits the eTrex Navigator. If you are opting for that model, you will need this case.

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There are over 1 million active geo-caches,

and over 5 million geocachers worldwide!

Geocaching containers and logbooks

A container called a "cache" is used to store the actual geocache including the log. This is usually made of sturdy metal or plastic, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Their primary function is to store the log (or logbook -- a log of those who have visited the cache), bugs and geocoins, and any other swag. A cache may be a traditional geocache in a rural location where function is the prime concern, or the cache may be a nano size in an urban environment, something that can only be recognized only by the initiated. The secret of an enjoyable geocaching experience is in discovering creative geocache containers.

Tip: always bring a pen or pencil along to sign the logbook.

Micro Geocache Container - Green

This is a micro-size (2') container, very difficult to find while geocaching. It is made of lightweight aluminum which takes very little space. These are perfect for extra-small evil caches.

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MagnaKoys® Metal Slide Top Tin Containers Sample Pack for Crafts Geocache Storage Survival Kit By...

This is a sample pack with two sizes of flat aluminum containers. The sliding lies make for a very low profile.

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MTM 50 Caliber Ammo Storage Can

While this is advertised as an ammunition storage container, at this particular size it makes an excellent sturdy container for larger geocaches. It is made of good heavy plastic with an easy to use latch.

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Rite In The Rain Geocaching Log Sheets - Four 3/4" DOUBLE-SIDED

I like these narrow log sheets because they are easy to fit into all but the smallest caches. Fold them for larger caches, and roll them for tiny ones.

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Duck Brand 1409574 Printed Duct Tape, Realtree Camouflage, 1.88 Inches x 10 Yards, Single Roll

If your chosen cache container is inappropriately coloured for the environment, try covering any brightly-coloured areas with this camo tape. The tape will help the cache blend in.

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What makes a good geocache container

Geocache containers can be see-through or opaque, but they should always blend with the environment. At the very least, they should not be so bright and bold-colored as to stand out if part of the cache might be visible to passersby. Apply camo tape to any areas that do not blend in.

If the recycled container originally held food, be sure to wash it thoroughly so animals won't smell any food residue. Clean the container with a solution of water and bleach, then run it through the dishwasher.

Many recycled containers are not that durable. You can reinforce them by wrapping them with duct tape and then paint them or use the camo tape.

Finally: all geocache containers should be as weather- and waterproof as possible, but it is still a good idea to protect the contents in a zipper baggie if your cache is in a very wet area. If you are repurposing your cache containers from around the house, keep in mind that recycled containers are not as durable as commercial cache containers. They will probably need to be replaced more often.

Ball Mason Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12

They come in a variety of sizes, so it's easy to choose one that suits your needs. If it has a two-part lid, be sure to wrap some tape or contact paper over the join in the lid.

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Sistema Klip It Collection Rectangle Food Storage Container, 101 Ounce/12.6 Cup

I love these for keeping cache contents dry. The sole flaw is that these are some of the awful bright-coloured containers. You will need camo tape with these.

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Tip: Identify the cache as a geocache

by marking the container with the words

"Official Geocache," along with the name of the

cache and maintainer's contact information.

What not to use as a geocache container

The following do not make good containers due to being flimsy, inadequately weatherproof, or possessing a tendency to rust:

  • Coffee cans.
  • Yoghurt containers.
  • Old-style grey and black film containers.
  • Margarine tubs.
  • Prescription medication bottles.

Stocking your cache

What is swag?

"Swag" in a geocaching context is any little item or treat left for a geocacher to find in the cache. This can be a keychain or pencil, a small magnet, or similar-sized item. If there is a trackable item being left, either one of the swag items will be a geocoin or have a travel bug attached to it.

What is a geocaching travel bug?

A travel bug is a trackable tag that you attach to whatever item you choose to put in a geocaching container. It is taken from place to place, and when found is recorded in such a way that you can track its progress.

Official geocache sticker
Official geocache sticker

What is a geocaching geocoin?

Geocoins are trackable like travel bugs, but are not attached to anything.

Cache Advance Dragonfly Cachekinz Trackable Geocaching Tag

This features the adorable Cachekinz dragonfly icon as a tag that is trackable on the site.

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32 Point Micro Compass Rose Geocoin

The design of this compass rose originated on a map of the Pacific Ocean made in 1662. This is a similar design that features on many antique maps.

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Cross Staff & Back Staff Geocoin - Antique Bronze

The cross staff design used on this geocoin is a very early navigational instrument that was widely used among surveyors and astronomers. It was awkward to use due to the necessary of the user focusing on both the horizon line and a distant star.

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Do you geocache?

Updated: 02/11/2018, tealmermaid
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