Welcome to Geocaching! Geocaching is a worldwide scavenger hunt that uses a GPS or phone app with GPS. There are over 2.5 million active caches around the world so chances are you have walked right past one at some point. Geocachers are a great group of people who like to discover the world around them.
How to get started Geocaching
You will need a smartphone or a GPS and a free account on Geocaching.com. The sidebar has links to the two most popular apps. The Official Geocaching App which has a free and paid version, and c:geo. Both apps work great. You can also use a GPS. There are ways to input the cache information on most newer models but for now you can just punch them in by hand.
Now look at the caches around you, we suggest looking for something with a difficulty/terrain rating of 2/2 or under to start off. These ratings start at 1 and go up to 5 with 1 being the easiest, and 5 being the toughest. We also would suggest looking for a small or regular sized cache as micros are sometimes tough for new cachers.
Finding a Geocache
Finding that first one can be very tough. You have no idea what to look for, or how to look. Hopefully you have good accuracy (within 15ft or 5m) on your GPS. If so once you get to within 15ft or 5m start looking more at your surroundings. Look for something out of place, or an interesting feature. A small or regular will usually be hidden under a pile of sticks, in a hole, or behind something. Poke around and think about where you may hide something. This is the fun part of geocaching; you will not find every cache right away and I know that can be frustrating, but the thrill of the hunt is part of the fun. If you are having no luck see if there is a hint, read some past logs, and look at pictures. If all else fails you can send the owner a message.
Once you have found the cache add the date and your name to the logbook. If there are trade items trade even or up so the next finder also has something cool to find. Close the container properly and return it just as you found it.
Logging your Geocache find
Once you have found a cache and signed the physical log book it is time to log your find. It is nice to leave some feedback to the cache owner. A short 2 sentence log about your experience is something that can make another person’s day.
Trackables and Geocoins
Each Trackable is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels in the real world. Some of these items have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles thanks to geocachers who move them from cache to cache! If you find one of these remember a few simple rules:
* 1 This belongs to someone else. It is not to keep.
* 2 Look at the trackable’s goals. You may be able to help complete the mission. If not try to drop it another Geocache soon.
Hiding a Geocache
Most veteran cachers suggest finding around 50 Geocaches before going to place one. This lets you see what hides are good, fun, and well liked by the community, test your GPS accuracy, learn about local laws and regulations, and to make sure you are dedicated to sticking with the hobby. When you are ready to hide look over the Anatomy of a great cache hide
What should the Difficulty/Terrain be?
Phone vs GPS for Geocaching
Each has it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages you should consider. A lot of veteran cachers will use both to supplement the other.
Phone: You most likely already own a smartphone so that is a big advantage, and the apps use the live information which allows you to be able to see the most recent information on each and every cache. The phone is great for urban caching. However there are some issues. Accuracy is dependent on your phone GPS chip, some are great others are awful. Battery life will be drained so you will either be taking short trips or need a charger. Durability is another key concern especially when you leave the city for more rugged terrain. A GPS can survive a drop into the water much better than a phone.
GPS: There are lots of models to choose from. Older cheaper models have limited functionality. Newer models can link to the site and get full cache information. A GPS does require a little more planning ahead to download the information. However it allows you more sense of mind when traveling and doing high terrain caches. The accuracy of most units is also a huge plus for those deep woods caches. Check out the GPS Device thread for more info
A GPSr will improve your geocaching experience. They have better battery life than phones, lasting up to 36 hours on a charge or fresh alkalines. They are much more rugged, can easily survive drops and are usually water resistant if not downright waterproof. While they don’t always get a position from a cold-start as fast as a phone, and they’re sometimes less-accurate in highly built-up urban areas, they’re still an incredibly valuable addition to your geocaching toolbox.
What is the best Geocache app?
We recommend c:geo for android or Cachly for iOS. Descriptions coming soon.
How do I find the best Geocaches in _____?
You probably don’t need to make a post on this sub to ask. In stead, harness the power of the collective and see which caches get the most favourite points. In order to find the great caches, you can use the built-in search function to find great caches around you, or around any city you plan to visit.
1. Click on Play and then select Find a Geocache
2. Scroll down to the three preset searches. Select “Nearby Geocaches with favorite points”
3. To change the city just type in your destination in the search box and select the Add Filters below the search bar.
4. There is a box called Minimum favorite points. Set this to 10 (or greater if the area is very populous or touristy).
5. You can also use the “Limit Search By” to select an entire state/region.
Alternatively, you can refine this search by using www.project-gc.com. They have tools to find caches by favourite percentage in an area so that you won’t miss out on the new or seldom found excellent caches. You just have to link to your GC account before you can do it. Instructions coming soon.