Got a long weekend ahead? Or perhaps just an afternoon in need of an adventure. Maybe the kids’ incessant chant of “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” has you desperately searching for something to stop the insanity.
Well, here’s an adventure that’s sure to please practically everyone – geocaching! With over 6 million geocachers across the globe and over 2.4 million geocaches to be found, you know it’s got to be good!
Read on, and you too might just find yourself geocaching this weekend.
What Is Geocaching?
Geocaching is an outdoor adventure full of intrigue, mystery, and great fun for everyone. It’s the opportunity to discover new places, to explore the great outdoors, and an adventure that’s sure to keep even the youngest geocachers “in the hunt” and well entertained. Who knows? It might even engage those ever elusive teenagers to join in the fun!
So what is the objective of a geocache adventure? To find a cache that has been secreted away by other players, using GPS navigation.
Geocaching for hidden treasure piqued your interest? Ready to channel your inner pirate? Great! Let’s get started, shall we? All you need is either (or both) a smart phone loaded with a geocaching app or a handheld GPS with geocaching features, and a sense of adventure.
The Geocaching Devices
This is the simplicity of geocaching – it doesn’t take much to begin your own quest for hidden treasure. But which device should you use? Is one better than the other? Here’s a few words on each geocaching device.
A Smart Phone with a Geocaching App
Do you have a smart phone? Then you are almost ready to geocache. All that’s needed now is a geocaching app and you are good to go. My favorite is Geocaching.com’s Mobile App. It’s easy to use, and provides all the information one needs to find a geocache.
A HandHeld GPS Device
A dedicated handheld GPS device might be preferable for those who geocache often.Many devices are paperless, meaning everything you need to geocache can be downloaded directly to the handheld device from a geocaching website such as Geocaching.com or Opencaching.
Smart Phone or Handheld GPS?
Each device has it’s benefits. So before you decide on which device to geocache with, here’s a few more thoughts to consider:
- Durability – Handheld GPS’s are designed for rugged outdoor adventures. Most are water resistant or waterproof, and nearly all can take a spill down a rocky trail.
- Battery Life – Those geocaching apps can really suck the battery life out of a smart phone! A handheld GPS with fresh batteries will probably last longer.
- Satellite vs. Cell – Handheld GPS’s rely on satellite signals, smart phones on cell coverage. Limited cell signal could limit your ability to geocache.
- Purchase Price – A dedicated hand-held GPS will set you back from $100 to $500. A quality geocaching app will set you back just a few dollars.
What do we geocache with? Both! We use an iPhone with the Geocaching.com app, and a Garmin Oregon handheld GPS. Here’s three reasons why.
- Two devices helps eliminate fights between the kids over who navigates to the cache.
- Two devices can inspire friendly family competition to see who finds the cache first.
- If the battery dies on one device, we still have a GPS to continue on our adventure.
Have you decided on a geocaching device? Because it’s time for some geocaching fun!
Let’s Go Geocaching!
With these three simple steps, you too will be off on your very own real-world treasure hunt. Because no matter where you travel, you are bound to find a geocache nearby.
1. Plan It Out – A little planning before hitting the trail is well worth the effort. Spend a few minutes identifying potential geocaches in your preferring “hunting grounds.” Before choosing a cache, review it’s Attributes to ensure the cache meets your adventure expectations. My favorite geocache finding resource is Geocaching.com. Another geocaching website to consider is Open Geocaching.
Planning Tip: Read the cache logs to ensure it’s still active. Sometimes caches are “retired” by it’s owner, or lost for a variety of reasons.
2. Prepare For the Hunt – Found just the right cache? Download it to your handheld GPS or save it to your smart phone. Double check that key cache attributes loaded onto your device, especially trail difficulty, topography maps and cache size. Then double check that the batteries are fully charged.
Prep Tip: Don’t forget to pack spare batteries or battery pack and some inexpensive swag to swap when you find your cache. Oh, and a pen to write in the cache log.
3. Hit the Trail – Now get out there and find that cache! Fire up your GPS device and navigate your way to that treasure box. Once you get close, usually within 25-200 feet of the cache’s hiding place, it’s time to get down and dirty. Look up, down, and all around as that cache can be just about anywhere. Except buried. Geocaches aren’t buried underground so no need to bring a shovel.
Cache Hunting Tip: Can’t find the cache hiding spot? Check the cache details for cache-finding hints. But don’t do this until you’ve tried on your own. It’ll spoil the fun!
See? Geocaching really is easy! Learn more “how to geocache” tips at Geocaching 101.
Mind Your Geocaching Manners, Please!
A few words on geocaching etiquette – it’s important for everyone’s enjoyment!
If you take something from the cache, leave something of equal or greater value in it’s place. And please don’t move the cache from it’s original location. If the cache isn’t in it’s designated spot, future geocache hunters may not be able to find it.
Opencaching’s Rules and Etiquette also has a great list of geocaching etiquette.
Do You Geocache?
Let your inner pirate have some fun this weekend and go on a treasure hunt. No pirate patch required, but beware of the muggles and puggles!
So what do you think? Will geocaching be your next adventure? Do you already geocache? Let us know about your own adventures in the Comments section below. And be sure to share your own geocaching tips with us.
Who knows where that next adventure might take you when geocaching. Maybe here … can you find the geocache? We did!
Videos, logo and iPhone images from Geocaching.com; other images from CBiederman.