What is Geocaching and How do I Get Started?


What is Geocaching?

Maybe you have heard this term before and maybe it’s new, but geocaching has been popular for several years now.  Basically it is an activity in which you use GPS locations to search for, discover, and place items for others in a network across the country.

this fun trend combines the wonders of nature with the thrill of high-tech gadgets.  Move aside hikers, because this incredibly fun hobby is outdoor treasure hunting with a twist, i.e. using a GPS to navigate to specific locations and track down hidden collections of items and prizes.  Geocaching is great on your own or with a group, but no matter how many people come along you can rest assured that nature-lovers and technology-lovers alike will get to bond in the outdoors and have a great time doing it!

man on bike looking at phone

Getting Started

Finding hidden collections of items (known as caches) is the name of the game, and that means using your GPS or GPS-enabled mobile device to enter in coordinates.  To begin your geocaching experience, sign up for a free account at www.geocaching.com to gain access to the millions of caches all across the world and the coordinates to find them.  Once you have access to the database, it’s only a matter of deciding what kind of device you’d like to use in order to track down your caches and start having fun!

With the age of the smartphone in full swing, most geocachers today make use of their phone’s internal GPS to track and locate caches at the swipe of a finger.  Geocaching has a few great apps that allow you to access and discover new caches on the go, but manually downloading the data is fine too.  And don’t despair if you haven’t jumped on the smartphone bandwagon; there are plenty of personal GPS devices made specifically for geocaching and hiking that are available for sale.

Once you’ve decided what GPS style you’ll use, it’s time so search the geo (earth) for some caches (item collections)!  For the most part geocaching is rule-free, but there are a few unspoken yet highly-honored practices you must observe when on the hunt:

  • If you remove an item from a cache, you must exchange it with an item of equal or greater value.
  • Always log your finds both in the log (placed within the cache) and online, but be sure not to give away the secret to finding the cache for those that haven’t hunted it down.
  • Once the cache is found and your log made, always re-hide the cache in as close to the original location as possible.
  • If a cache has been disturbed, broken, or you could not find it, be sure to log that information online as well so that the original owner of the cache can fix it.

aching is all about having fun and enjoying the outdoors!  Head out and enjoy this summer!

That’s right campers: we had such a positive response from our first post on geocaching we wanted to make another, but this time instead of an introduction to the fun, we thought we’d dig a little deeper and offer some beginning advice.  Part of the fun of geocaching is learning all of the little quirks involved in the process though, so we won’t be giving everything away, but hopefully if you or another camper wants to convince some yet-to-be-christened geocachers out there, you will have a good place to start!

The Geocacher’s Toolkit

While there’s no set requirements beyond a GPS device, there are a few things that can make life easier for a budding geocacher just learning the ropes, or for long-time geocachers that are looking for some tips.

  • Writing Utensils
    1. Part of the geocaching experience is logging your name and the date on which you discovered the cache, but sometimes this can be tricky to accomplish. Not all caches include a writing utensil, and those that do can become waterlogged or unusable because of rain and other ravages of being left out in the wild.  Bring a variety of utensil types with you such as a fine-tipped marker, pen, and pencil and you’ll be prepared for any situation!
  • Sprockets and Trinkets
    1. As we mentioned in our last post, one of the rules of geocaching is that to remove an item from a cache, you must exchange it with an item of equal or greater value. Keep a small assortment of items on hand for exchanges such as marbles, old coins, action figures and stickers, and you’ll never be caught unawares.  Granted the value of objects is relative, but geocachers generally expect their fellow cachers to use their best judgement.
  • Extra Batteries
    1. There’s nothing worse than preparing for a fun-filled day of geocaching only to discover that your reliable GPS doesn’t have the juice to track your targets. Keep some extra batteries either in the car or in your pocket so that you never miss out on a choice cache and wonderful weather.  For those that use their phones for geocaching, purchasing a power bank or extended phone battery works too!

Every geocacher has his or her own way of tracking down caches in the wild, but for the geocacher that’s just starting out, this list should help you hit the ground running! Caching is all about having fun and enjoying the outdoors- so head out and enjoy this summer!