Want to go on a real-life treasure hunt while getting exercise and sharpening your navigation skills? Try geocaching! This exploratory hobby — nicknamed “the world’s largest treasure hunt” — involves heading outside and finding treasures (“caches”) hidden by a vast network of finders and hiders. Geocachers use traditional navigation tools coupled with the Geocaching app, which employs GPS on your phone to identify and locate treasures. There are over 3 million of these caches out in the world just waiting to be discovered!
How to Get Started
Ready to try it out? The best way to get started is to download the official Geocaching app on your phone. Once you create an account, you’ll see a map showing you all the caches in your area. To start, pick one that’s relatively close by, ideally within walking distance. The app indicates exactly what kind of cache is hidden there. For example, you might see the phrase “the geocache is a physical container that is hidden outside.” This is a hint so you know what to look for.
Tip: Look for caches labeled “traditional” when heading out for your first adventure. They provide a classic geocaching experience and are a great place to start.
When you click on a specific geocache on the map, you’ll see some crucial information about the cache itself as well as some details on the journey to get to it. For example, the app will show you the difficulty of finding the cache, information about the terrain and details on the size and type of cache. You can then let the app navigate you to the cache. You can also see photos snapped by other users and other attributes, such as the time it takes to find and whether there’s parking available.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
You don’t need any special equipment to start geocaching, but some basic items can make your hunts more successful. Among geocachers, two items are extremely helpful — heavy-duty backpacks for snacks and water and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. If you plan to go searching in the early morning or evening, we recommend wearing a headlamp for extra visibility.
What’s Inside Geocaches?
Often, caches are stashed in hard cases (we may be biased, but we believe Pelican cases are the best cases for the job). Caches may also comprise treasures stashed inside bottles, jars or other water-tight containers. The best part is that whatever is inside is always a surprise! Participants tend to get really creative with their cache treasures. Almost all feature a log so you can add your name to the list of geocachers who have successfully found it. Some have items for trade or trackable Travel Bugs that you can take to the next cache you find.
There are a few different types of geocaches identified by the app.
- Traditional caches are usually treasures within a waterproof hard case or container hidden at the GPS coordinates listed. They almost always have a log sheet to sign.
- Multi-caches are caches with two or more locations (the final cache typically is a container with a log sheet inside).
- Mystery caches are represented by a question mark in the app and generally feature a puzzle that must be solved in order to locate the final cache. The great thing about this kind of cache is that you can solve the puzzles at home in preparation — ideal for rainy and snowy day activities — and then head out for your hunt another day.
- Earth caches contain educational notes and coordinates that guide you to geological locations so you can learn something new about geology or the natural world.
- Event caches are events or gatherings held by geocachers or geocaching organizations. These pages feature the time of the event and coordinates.
How to Create and Hide Geocaches
Geocaching is a hobby comprised of hunters and gatherers, with many participants serving as both. To create your own geocache, start by filling up a Pelican case (the 1010 Micro Case is a popular option for this) with some fun, unexpected treasures. Remember, these items will stay in the cache indefinitely, so don’t choose anything too precious. Add a small notebook or piece of paper for a finder’s log. Find a good hiding spot and then use the app to register its location.
Go Forth and Cache
One of the very best aspects of this hobby is that it’s not complicated to master. Simply download the app and get started! We look forward to seeing what you find.