Introduction: The "i Have No Clue What Geocaching Is", Geocaching Guide!

Picture of The "i Have No Clue What Geocaching Is", Geocaching Guide!

Little do most hikers know but geocaching has always been right under their noses; It's an international hobby inspired by adventurist spirits that just love the woods.... or wannabe land-pirates that don't mind sharing.

So what is it exactly?

Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. The concept is individuals set up 'caches' all over the world and share their coordinates online so others can find the hidden cache. If you do take a reward from the cache you must leave something else within the cache.

So how easy is it?

Each cache has a different difficulty considering the terrain, distance and how well hidden it is. Most caches are family friendly but some will definitely, 'bring out the sweat!'

Step 1: So How Do I Start?

Picture of So How Do I Start?

Expensive gear is not recommended! More importantly, I suggest cheap, easy to use equipment that does its job and thats it.

I've been using a etrax legend by garmin and highly suggest it, but consider your options and heres a mini guide about gps recomendations taken from

Feature considerations for good geocaching GPS gear:

Basemap. This is highly recommended. The additional cost is marginal, and the increase in the equipment's usefulness is substantial.

Channels. Use a receiver with 12 parallel channels. This should include most manufactured after 1997. Older, single-channel receivers are much slower and may not be as accurate.

External antenna jack. This allows the equipment to be mounted inside a vehicle. It is not always possible to obtain good satellite coverage through a front windshield. Even backpackers will benefit from the ability to safely store the receiver inside a pack with an antenna attached to backpack shoulder straps.

Interface. If using the receiver with a computer, be sure that it includes both data in/out ports, and make sure it's NMEA compatible.

Memory. This is used to load detailed topographic or street-level digital maps into the receiver. Topo maps use up a great deal of memory. Capacity should be at least 8 megabytes, or the receiver should include the ability to accept a memory card for as much memory as needed.

Power source. Use a cigarette lighter power cable whenever possible. If you're only using batteries, make sure to carry spares and use a solar charger for extended field use.

Rocker keypad. Using a receiver without a rocker keypad is like using a computer without a mouse.

Screen size. For visual ease of operation, use a receiver with the largest screen that can be realistically carried. Screen size is measured diagonally. Color is great and helps define map features, although it does burn battery power.

Waterproof. Sooner or later the gear will get submerged. Get gear that is at least water-resistant. Plastic bags and boxes give electronics a little additional protection.

Step 2: Using the GPS

Picture of Using the GPS

Heres the steps and some pictures to mapping a cache's location using Gamin's Etrax legend.

Create an account on to access location waypoints in your zip.

Once you have coordinates to a possible cache, power on your GPS and go to 'main menu'

On the 'main menu', go to 'mark' and that should bring up a new screen

Enter the location coordinates into the 'location' block as they appeared on the internet, (ex. N 42* 12.345, W 072* 12.345)

Some GPS's might have other options such as elevation, distance, or bearing, well don't bother with those, your only going to need to input the location coordinates.

At the bottom of the 'mark' screen should be either 'map', 'goto' or 'ok'.

'Ok' saves the location for later, 'Goto" pulls up a compass with an arrow and distance pointing towards the cache, "Map' (which i use) creates a map of your current location and a path to the cache.

Some other tips,

I suggest reading the entire description of the cache before going out, usually the owner of the cache will have information to help you find it, or warnings such as poison ivy or bee's nests around the area. Also look to see if the owner suggests a parking lot, it helps a lot to know where to park.

Step 3: Additional Tips and Hiking Gear

Picture of Additional Tips and Hiking Gear

Heres some tips I've found useful....

Always go hiking and caching with a buddy, that way if you fall off a cliff someone can have a good bar story for later.

Many caches are off trail so be aware of your surrounds, Bug-spray rarely stops a bears from clawing your buddy's face.

Bring water bottles and DON'T DRINK FROM STREAMS, animal's poop in those.

Inevitable your GPS will lose signal every now and then from overhead tree's and rock's but eventually it should clear up and most caches are located in clear sky locations.

The Final 30 feet is the hardest, most likely your GPS will bounce, so put the gps down and start circling the area looking for good hiding spots, and WATCH FOR WHAT YOU POKE, don't go sticking your head in a hole if it doesn't look safe.

OK, so you found the cache right now what?

Usually if you have kids they like to exchange Macdonald's toys with the other ones other kids left behind,

For the rest of us that aren't amused with an Indiana Jone's windup, usually adults leave behind geocoins, which can be tracked online and then placed within another cache.

I can't stress this enough though, If you take something PLEASE leave something!

Also, if you'd like to leave comments to the cache owner they usually appreciate that and it's nice to know the condition of a cache and what people have been leaving in it.


stephenf (author)2013-08-24

Bears? BEARS? Is there a city-version of geocaching?

RosaL1 (author)stephenf2015-03-12

Yes there is! Geocaching is geocaching, and I've seen plenty hidden in small parks, graveyards, and even between buildings! I've never geocached in an actual woods.

bajablue (author)2012-09-28

Great Ible... and I'm no longer clueless! ;-)

xanxer82 (author)2012-05-21

Nice 'Ible. I've been Geocaching for a while. is a cool site and makes it easy to load coordinates to your GPS or GPS enabled smartphone.
On a side note, if you run out of water you can drink from a stream but boil, filter and/or treat the water first. Iodine tablets are cheap, easy to use and weight very little. (Just don't use them if you have thyroid issues. There are water bottles designed to filter water for sale at most places with an outdoor section.
Have fun and happy trails!

artworker (author)2012-02-09

A bad day of Geocaching is anytime better than a good day at the office.

hbrommer (author)2012-01-18

hey this is the first i have heard of geocatching & it sounds great, by the way where did you get your geocoin?

glier (author)2011-06-18

i can bear mosquitoes, enraged bird (their eggs can be a good breakfast) and haven't happened to get close to a bear to shake hands but... (PWAGH GET AWAY THAT INSECT FROM ME), i hate the fealing of light things touching my skin.

thanks for the info, i'll try to apply it in my next hike

Tommi Potx (author)2011-05-30

Ooooh, why all this arguing? Who is Fred82664 with the attitude and poor grammar? Why the big peeing contest? It's just Instructables.
Chill dudes!

DELETED_jorgegunn (author)2011-01-03

I just want to add that an also Highly exciting part is Hiding them. We just made and hid our very first Geo Cache and today it was approved and put up on I am so excited to see how everyone likes it, its pitch dark and i'm thinking Boy i wish someone would go find it right now. We actually put up an instructbles on it because its voice activated. You can find it under voice activated geo cache if anyone is intrested. Anyways if you have had lots of fun finding but havent hid one yet try it, i promise it wil make you tingly all over.--Jorge

Fred82664 (author)2008-07-30

sound cool ! but the gas is about $5.00 or more a Gal. that makes it a bit short on doing all that for a $ . 05 worth of bronze and leaving one behind. this must be a game for the Rich and Oil tycoons

Pie Ninja (author)Fred826642010-04-20

You know, if you think about how much it costs to do something compared to how much you get out of it, nothing is worth it.

Fred82664 (author)Pie Ninja2010-04-20

that sounds like a statement made form someone that has no idea about doing much investing in any thing. You should run for some Government Election you would fit in vary well with the majority of them  

Pie Ninja (author)Fred826642010-04-21

They're all 15 year old Australians who like to burn things?

Fred82664 (author)Pie Ninja2010-04-21

I understand now here in the USA it is all about ROI (Return On Investment) If the return dose not exceed the investment then is is a lose.  

It's not about the cost you put in and what you receive out of it. Its the experience you have with your friends and family.

The point is to have a good time! Have you ever been hiking before? Surely you drove somewhere thats challenging. Let's say I was planning one, I would look up if there are any caches around that location I'm hiking, because I'm going anyway.

I agree though, gas is expensive these days. 

When hiking I do look for things like edible and medicinal plants. I am  a survivalist. Trinkets are nice to look at but don't hold much value to staying alive in the wild lands. But yes I do see your point if I was there and was thinking about such things as a player of that sport it would be cool. I did not see it vary fun let alone useful to spend a lot of gas money out  just to find a $.50 trinket.     

integrator (author)Fred826642010-04-25

I'm extremely new to geocaching, like a day. But there are 20 or 30 caches within 2 or 3 miles of me, and at least several hundred in the area I drive daily. 

As far as value, it's not about that. You're supposed to leave something of equal or more value to what you take. It's about the hunt, finding the treasure, solving puzzles. If you don't like any of those things, or the outdoors, it's probably not for you. 

Fred82664 (author)integrator2010-04-26

Vary good for you and your location Mr Integrator lol you might have me shaking in my boots with your intimidating ID name   ROLFAO ! Even professional that solve puzzles, find treasure and have good hunting look at the high dollar they can make as profit.  I can say the only thing your statement  has truth is wasting my money is not for me. when I could give it to some one that is in need of a vital life sport items ( Example: Medication, Food, Cloths, Shelter) you know those things greatly rich and wasteful people hoard.             

blue_note (author)Fred826642010-06-23

LOL yes his name could be intimidating if it really was "interrogator" as in to interrogate someone, looks to me like it is "integrator", as in to integrate two things together 8)

integrator (author)blue_note2010-06-23

You got it right blue_note. It's what I do for a living, integration of low voltage systems.

scorallo (author)Fred826642010-05-02

Do you watch movies? Pay for cable or sat? Listen to music?


so shut up - I’m so tired of people harping on 'entertainment' when they use it EVERY day.  People need these things - if you don't want to do it then why bother talking about it so much????
I can only conclude that you are either jealous (can’t imagine why), or just looking for an argument - neither of which is particularly commendable.

That said, I understand what you are saying, but it is the manner in which you chose to say it and the way in which you continued to talk about it that bothers me.  If you are not open to other people's hobbies and pastimes then why would we care about yours?

Also rolling on laughing f@&king a$$ off makes no sense

Fred82664 (author)scorallo2010-05-03

First of all I do not dog on no one that dose not start on me first. so Your telling me to shut up shows you have a small span of intelligences.
  "Also rolling on laughing f@&king a$$ off makes no sense" tells that you do not have nothing to imagine with
"I can only conclude that you are either jealous (can’t imagine why), or just looking for an argument - neither of which is particularly commendable."  You think you know me . You do not know me so do not act like your someone that dose. That shows your fake  nor am I looking for Commendably. I pointed out one down side and it seem that every one has an affiances over it. If what ever I or any one else says bothers you. That is on you I thank you for the free rent I have in your head. My thank you is more then you will get from any one else that eats at you! oh and by the way I am vary open to other peoples hobbies and personally I care less if any one is in to my hobbies or not. I do for my self  every one else is little to nothing to my likes          

blue_note (author)Fred826642010-06-23

For the record, ROLFAO, makes no sense at all. The accepted vernacular is ROTF, rolling on the floor, and LMFAO, laughing my f*cking *ss off.

Saturn V (author)Fred826642010-05-10

You tell 'im!

scorallo (author)Fred826642010-05-03

Personal attacks and assumptions about my character do little more than to assert my initial remark and open yourself up for contradiction.  Your comment 'you think you know me,' is particularly interesting as it could easily be turned upon itself.  Implying that I think I know you means that you think you know me, and so on.  Interesting as this paradox may be, it is also the contradiction that exposes my next point - your continuation of this debate.  The tender meat of my statement was not that you are jealous (you are obviously not), but that you are perpetuating argument.  I have no qualms about your OPINION, it is yours after all.  However, you have also failed to acknowledge the section of my previous comment in which I agree with you.
Not because we share the same opinion, that much is obvious at least - but the part in which I admit that although my opinion (stated above) is a constant source of aggravation for me, I UNDERSTAND YOUR SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT AS WELL.  And I think you will find that if you skim the previous replies to your comments, you will notice that I am the only one who does.  Thus far you are the only person I have encountered with a valid argument on this particular topic.  The issue of what we invest vs. what we take away from something (in this case entertainment) is especially relevant today.  I was merely stating that it was the way in which you presented your argument that bothered me. 
In retrospect, I think I should actually apologise for the rude way in which I expressed my frustration as it said just as much about me as I have interpreted it to say about you.  these assumptions however have no place on this site - and I do not wish to further blemish the page of this informative and well put together instructable.
I am sorry for my frustration and the way in which I expressed it - it was of poor taste on my part.  I also want to assure you that I make no assumptions about your character: your dedication and affirmation in your beliefs and values is actually quite admirable.
We all have bad days, I should not have taken mine out on you - however, I think we should all be a little more careful to avoid argumentation on forums.

Also, and somewhat unrelated - I actually enjoyed reading your last post.  Your argument was very well styled and organized, it was zippy and to the point.  I always appreciate good writing, even if it used against me :P

all the best

Fred82664 (author)scorallo2010-05-03

PEACE Mr Scrallo ! one of my hobbies is to play around with sociology experiments. seeing how people tic is one thing another is to see how far another person will go is a insight of its self. The shots we both took at each other was cheap on both of us. I will say that you ended it with vary good style ! I therefor lower my foil and shake your hand. Sounds like you and I might of read some of the same books .        

scorallo (author)Fred826642010-05-04


integrator (author)Fred826642010-05-10

Why do you find my ID intimidating? Does anybody else find it intimidating? Should it be? 

Pie Ninja (author)Fred826642010-04-26

Grammar, please.

Fred82664 (author)Pie Ninja2010-04-27

For the New people on line get with it and learn the language  of the INTERNET!!!!!!! OR just set back look around and say nothing let  us who been on line a long time ALONE !!!!!!!!!!!

lol = Laughing Out Loud  
ROLFAO = Roiling On Laughing F@&King  A$$ Off 

integrator (author)Fred826642010-04-27

I don't think that was the area in which your grammar is lacking. I think it was the sentence structure that is bothering Pie Ninja. Or rather, the lack of sentence structure. Spelling and using the proper homonyms might be bothering him also.

BTW, I found my first 3 caches yesterday. Cost me about $2.50 in gas. Enjoyed an hour and a half outside, in the park and the woods, and at a veterans memorial. About the same as renting a movie.

The whole point of geocaching is BEING ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY! He didn't say you couldn't walk or bike. Chances are, if you live near a public park over 4 acres in size there is a wide selection of caches. And don't forget nano and micro caches. Tiny caches like them (some as small as a fingernail) are hidden in all sorts of urban locations.

Dr.Bill (author)2010-05-23

I've done something like this with ham radio. We call it FoxHunting.
We use a hidden low power transmitter hidden by 1 person and found by teams of amateurs radio operators with special antennas and receivers.

Dinokabino1 (author)2010-04-26

I been doing geocaching sence May of 2001 ~~!! I can't get out and look my legs have gave out~~!!  My cach is at Mills Creek Sandusky, Ohio 44870


Dillis (author)2008-09-06

Are you disallowed from keeping coins? (Why does it say "removed by community request"? I deleted that post myself.)

teapotking (author)Dillis2010-04-25

 You can find them on Ebay to buy and hide yourself if you want to make a new cache, So I would assume that you could Just keep it if you wanted to, allthough that's not really in the spirit of geocaching, is it?

dummy1977 (author)2010-03-11

Sadly, the DNR would go apeshit if they saw us trying to do any of this around what forest there is here in the midwest.  Why? Exactly.

Spint (author)2008-06-14

Urban caching is my favorite, way more places to hide stuff. Lots of fun at 12 midnight, otherwise people are always wondering and asking why your searching in little holes in the ground and such.

natethegreat88 (author)Spint2009-08-31

But at midnight they would probalby be even more suspicous if you were looking in little holes. They might think thats were "your friend" left "the stuff".

Spint (author)natethegreat882009-08-31

Lol true, I guess you just don't know how suspicious they are because you can't see them.

natethegreat88 (author)Spint2009-08-31


Bardouv (author)2009-06-27

"DON'T DRINK FROM STREAMS": that is great advice. My father and I were on a bike trip and ran out of water. I suggested we drink from the stream. My dad got sick real quick. I was fine, but it was still a good 15 miles back to the car...lulz ensued.

ChefAlex (author)2008-06-15

I was going to make an Instructable Gerr.

purduecer (author)ChefAlex2009-06-14

It's okay, just play some flash games. That oughta solve your achievement problem ;-)

ARVash (author)ChefAlex2008-07-22

This statement if not assumed to mean "I was going to make "this" instructable" alone is really funny and weird.

northie66 (author)2008-09-23

Where can you purchase some coins like the one you have pictured?

jam906 (author)northie662009-03-26

You can buy them on ebay, i recoment using a 'travel bug' which is the same thing but in dog tag form. tou atach it to an item of your choice and it can be tracked at .

rbbiggs (author)2009-03-19

(Censored by the treasury secretary Turbo Tax Tim Geitner)

Kaelessin (author)2008-09-30

My team at work did this as a "teambuilding" day (actually we all just wanted to goof off and get paid for it lol) but since I work for the local water/electric company we got to hide/look for the caches in the coolest locations that laymen can't legally be in! All our caches were in different containers but none bigger than an altoids tin and some sadistic guy decided to paint them to match whatever they were on/in. This hobby's awesome thanks for sharing it!

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