What Is Geocaching - A Beginner's Guide

Geocaching is a hobby that's perfect for the modern adventurer. But, just like any new sport, it can be a little confusing to understand at first. So, lets break it down.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is, essentially, a worldwide treasure hunt using gps data.

Is it a wonderful mix of technology and the outdoors, with millions hidden around the world and on every single continent. You can find geocaches with anything that allows you to pinpoint coordinates, most commonly; a computer, phone or GPS device.

Why the heck would you want to do this?

Just like every other hobby, you do it for fun. Geocaching, for the most part, is just as much about the journey as it is about the geocache itself. That rush you get when you’ve hiked through the forest, or evaded the eyes of others to find that expertly disguised container.

So, what do we hunt for?

Geocaches! At it’s most basic, a geocache is a container of some sort, hidden at the end of your hunt.

However, not every geocache will be an ammo can, or plastic box. Some are small, some require a puzzle to solve, some are elaborately disguised as something else entirely.

Every physical geocache will contain a logbook. The one, major rule of geocaching is that to count one as a successful find, you must sign the geocache's logbook

Who hides these things?

Other geocachers! Our community is full of wonderful, creative people. And who better to place them than somebody who knows what geocachers like?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Most people recommend finding at least 100 geocaches before planning your own. That way, you know what you like, what works, and what doesn’t.

What is a logbook?

A logbook is the reason you must always carry a pen. The logbook is where you’ll be writing your name down as proof you earned this find. This one doesn’t really need an explanation, because for the most part you’ll find the logbook is simply some paper with all its previous finder’s names written on it. If you want to log that cache as a successful find, your name has to find its way on there.

What is SWAG?

In some of the bigger containers, you might find it has a random assortment of…well, stuff. We call this stuff SWAG, or stuff-we-all-get. You can treat this as a little prize for your efforts; however, the rule is that if you do take something, you must replace it with something of equal or higher value. Some geocachers have even made their own swag, which is a really fun way to get creative!

Be mindful however, that any swag you choose to place must be family friendly, not food, and always fun to find (that leaf may look cool, but it’s not swag).

If you find something that has a code attached to it - it’s not swag. You’re probably looking at a trackable, instead.

What is a trackable?

A trackable is an object with a code attached to it. These codes are used to track the object’s movements. Most trackables will have a mission that they wish to complete (for example, travelling to a different country).

By placing a trackable in a geocache, it gives other cachers the opportunity to move it to another cache, getting it closer to achieving its goal.

These objects are not for you to keep. Their owner has placed them out into the world so they can watch it’s adventure unfold. Don’t hold onto a trackable for extended periods of time, and always treat them with care.

Sometimes, a trackable’s mission is simply to meet as many geocachers as it can. In this case, you can ‘discover’ the trackable, without the need to physically place it in another geocache.

If you’d like to have a go at discovering a trackable, we have a virtual one at the top of our page. Its mission is to meet as many of you as it can, so go ahead and say hello!

What are all these different kinds of caches about?

Here is where it gets tricky. Some caches may require you to complete other tasks, like solve a puzzle or answer a question. Other caches are created simply so you can get out and make new friends.

When you’re just starting out, try and stick to the traditional types until you have a feel for how the sport works. Then, when you start to feel a little more adventurous - have a crack at some of the others. Here's a link to a Geocaching.com article that will tell you all you need to know about the different cache types.

How do I search for a geocache that’s nice and easy?

Geocaches come with their own rating system. Difficulty and Terrain - both rated on a scale of 1 to 5. A terrain 5 cache will require special equipment, such as a boat, or climbing tools, whereas a terrain 1.5 should only require a short walk. The same goes with difficulty. You can search for caches with specific ratings, which makes it easy to narrow down your options.

Alright, this sounds pretty cool. How do I get started?

The original, and most widely recognised geocaching site is Geocaching.com

This is the only platform we use and recommend. So, check it out, and if you like what you see - create an account, and start looking for caches in your area!

Want to know more? Check out the other articles in our “Geocaching Basics” series!

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