Tricks To Master Geocaching

These seven simple tips will help cache hunters of any age have fun and enjoy geocaching.

By Courtney Johnson
Explore Ambassador

Geocaching began over 20 years ago when Dave Ulmer hid the world’s first geocache (stash) in the woods near Estacada, Ore. His instructions, “take some stuff, leave some stuff,” turned into a hobby with more than 3 million active geocaches worldwide. The name geocaching comes from squishing “geography” and “cache” together.

Celebrating International Geocache Day. (Joshua Johnson/Geocaching Vlogger)

What makes this activity so appealing and popular is it’s a low-cost way to get out and enjoy the outdoors while stimulating the senses and mind. “I love that it takes me to places that I would not otherwise know about,” said Joshua Johnson, the host of the YouTube Channel “It is often a great tour guide. When I am in new areas, it brings me to some great spots only locals would know about. It has got me outdoors more enjoying nature and hiking. Some geocaches involve puzzles, and I love how it challenges my mind to work in new ways.”

There is a treasure of fun to be had when geocaching. (Joshua Johnson/Geocaching Vlogger)

It’s really easy to get started, and in quick time your family can rack up several finds. These seven tricks will help hunters of any age have fun and enjoy geocaching.


Understand The Rules And Regulations

Before you begin your first hunt, it is important to understand the rules and regulations. These same guidelines will apply when you leave your own caches.
  • After a find, be sure to leave the cache where you found it.
  • Do not leave any illegal items, weapons, explosives, drugs, alcohol, scented- or food-related items in a cache. Head to for a full list of restricted items.
  • Be mindful of personal and private property, posted rules and regulations.
  • As always, follow the principle of Leave No Trace.

Download An App

While GPS units have the capability to find caches, downloading an app is the easiest and most recommended method for finding caches. The most popular app is Geocaching ( The free version is a great place to start, and then you can upgrade if your family continues to enjoy this activity. “The free version is designed to help you through your first finds,” said Johnson.

Start Small

The best way to get started in this activity is to start with easy-to-find caches near your home. Use the map on the app to find ones that you can find close by. “Start by finding ‘Regular’ sized caches as they are easier to find and have more potential for swag trading for kids,” recommended Johnson. Caches typically are categorized by a star rating based on terrain and difficulty finding. There are several kinds of caches, and understanding the types and how to find them will be beneficial as you continue to get involved in geocaching. “New people should know that there are many different kinds of geocaches and would be smart to know the kind of geocache they are looking for,” said Johnson. “Beginners should start by looking for ‘Traditional’ geocaches.”

Be Prepared

While most caches will have a pencil or pen in the container, you can’t count on the pen or pencil working with exposure to the elements. Sometimes, there is no writing utensil left in the container. By bringing your own, you can assure that you can record your name and the date that you found the cache. Be sure you bring along a trinket to leave in the container for the next hunter. Some caches involve more time to find and may include a hike. “If going in the woods, bring anything that you would normally bring for hiking,” said Johnson. Some of the recommended items are a first-aid kit, water and snacks, closed-toe shoes, long pants and bug spray. Don’t forget a pen, your fully charged phone for running the app and trading items.

Finding A Cache

The first thing to do when you find a cache is to record your finding on the app. It is superfun to post a photo to the placer and include text about the location, if there is damage to the container, if a pen or pencil is missing or if they need to replenish the paper where you add your name. A “thank you” also goes a long way and keeps cachers motivated. “Avoid short digital logs like ‘found it,’” suggested Johnson. “Tell at least a few sentences about your experience without giving away the location of the geocache,” he said. Leaving a present at a cache is a sentimental gesture for the next person who finds the cache. “If there is swag inside the cache you can trade, the etiquette is to trade with something of equal or greater value,” said Johnson. As you build experience, you may want to join in on “trackable” caches. These caches will be marked on the app, so you know that the cache contains a game piece that should be moved from one cache to another.

Leaving Your Own Cache

Once you understand geocaching and have experienced some finds of your own, consider keeping the fun going by placing your own cache to find. There are many types of caches, and understanding the kinds will help you decide what kind you want to leave. “It is a good idea to find about 25 to 50 caches before you consider hiding your own geocache,” said Johnson. “It is important to know what a good-quality geocache looks like. The hiding process is outlined on” One of the most important tips is to make sure you obtain permission to leave a cache in your desired location whether public or private. Once you have permission, make sure you place it in a good location, making it an exciting challenge to find for a hunter and not too easy for just a passerby to find. It should also be the proper distance from other caches. Be conscious of the Leave No Trace principles in the placement of your cache and the impact even searching for it can make. Do not bury the cache and make sure the contents are family-friendly. A waterproof container that can withstand weather is your best bet for placing the cache. Include a trinket, writing utensil and log in the container. Monitor your cache regularly and read and respond to feedback as necessary on the app.

Have Fun

The most important part of geocaching is to have fun. This activity allows for hunters of all ages to participate for very little to no cost. It brings families together outside to enjoy the fresh air while getting some exercise and even stimulating the mind. Children can learn life skills from map reading and geography to math skills including estimation and measuring all while exploring the outdoor world.

Related Articles

Always be ready to go with the Go Out{side} Email Newsletter

Don’t miss out on new Go Out{side} news, tips and tricks.