Essentials for Geocaching Trip?

Here's your opportunity to help write this post.  The question is simple, but the answers will vary.  When preparing to go geocaching, what would you consider the essentials?  I'm not only talking about what you take with you, but what kind of research do you do if any?  Do you print out maps?  Do you study recent logs?  Do you download coordinates to a GPS or do you rely on a smartphone?  These are the kind of questions I have in mind...kind of a start to finish type of question.

If you choose, you may wish to reply simply with what you choose to take.  In my case, we have a "swag bag" with a few trade items, bug spray, a multi-tool/pocket knife, a GPS and a smartphone, a few snacks, and some water (usually bottled), and my camera.  The things I lack that I've needed are tweezers and a telescoping magnet.  Hopefully, I'll get them soon.

So there you have it.  What do you consider to be the essentials for a geocaching trip?


  1. My essentials are my GPS, my camera, a water bottle and a pen. But I usually take more things and I did a whole post about it here...

    1. Kim, I like the versatility with the different packs.

  2. Like Kim I listed the stuff I carry on my blog: (tho the bag itself has changed, the contents are basically the same).

    I always cache with a GPSr - only using my smart phone as a backup.

    I never print anything, cause paper is so 2001.

    The amount of research I do ahead of time varies depending on if its a quick afternoon's spur-of-the-moment jaunt, or a multi-day cross-country excursion.

    The first thing I do is identify the area (or if travelling, define the route) and generate some PQs to cover where I am going.

    If it is a quick jaunt I normally look at a few caches, check the descriptions, logs to ensure they are not a lot of DNFs etc, then I head out the door.

    When I travel I get much more complex. I optimize for the best caching experience by using this method: I generate PQs of the places I am going. I also generate a PQ from my route of all caches I feel I can do in a short stopover (i.e. normally limited to 2/2 on the route, and normally unlimited at my destination). I sort them by favourite points, then start going through them one by one - the ones that look interesting I put into a list. I do the first few pages of results, or until I get down to caches with few favourite points (leaving me with 20-30 caches in my list normally - way more than I can do, but this way I have options). I then generate a PQ based on that list. I then download all the PQs into my GPSr. I copy the favourites PQ to my Macbook Air and import it into Google Earth. This way I have a visual map of where the caches are, so I can see in an instant how far away the next ones are, or if there are clusters off an exit I can quickly grab etc.

    I also make a bookmark list of the cache descriptions in Google Chrome, and load each one up in separate browser tabs before I go - this gives me a backup description at the ready should I need it. - making them bookmarks means I can get them back should the browser/machine crash.

    (Astute readers may note that all of the Macbook Air stuff can be avoided by using my ever-present smart phone, bur the Air is a much nicer device to use for planning, and isn't dependant on a smart phone. Note that I almost never remove the Air from the car when caching).

    When I hit the road I enter in the coords to my first cache in my cars GPSr and get hunting. As I go through the trip I constantly evaluate ETA to my ultimate desination vs the upcoming caches (and toddler naptimes lately :) and pick the next ones accordingly.

    This method works really really well for me. Depending on what sort of caching trip I am making I get more or less complex. As an example if I am just going a couple towns over I'll just generate a PQ and go. When I did runs for the Delorme Challenge, I had multiple lists of caches based on each map page, and had all that drawn out in Google Earth.

    The comment box is small, and its hard to read this comment in it to edit it. I hope it makes sense :) I have blogged about my methodology here:


    1. Thanks Dave, I feel that I have just went to school. The information that you have provided will be very helpful to me as I seek to improve my efficiency. I really appreciate you taking the time to share this much detail.

  3. Wow, Dave, that's like a guest blog all on it's own! LOL!

    I take the least amount of stuff with me that I have to but usually have my fanny pack pretty stuffed with a water, GPS'r and swag bag. I always take Benadryl, small first aid supplies and some extra logs, bags and a small replacement container to fix any banged up caches or stages I come accross.

    I love to do adventure caches! I don't think I'll ever do C&D's again. So, for me it's an all day or half day event with low numbers but lots of miles and stages! I read the entire cache page, look at all the posted pictures, read all the logs and check out the topo map to look for cool climbs and overlooks nearby. I'll get off the path to explore some cool looking rocks or a water feature.

    1. I keep telling myself that I need to take some supplies for maintenance should we come across any caches needing it. After reading your comment, it reminded me to go ahead and pack those items before I'm out on the trail and remember that I forgot them again.

      We really enjoy the longer searches that allow us ample time to hike and explore....and take lots of pictures.


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