The NeoGeoHams

Yes we're willing to share some tips. We're not going to tell you all of our secrets to success but you should be able to pick up something here.

For the New Cacher - Things you should know before you start.
  • Read the cache description and pay attention to the difficulty and terrain ratings. There can be additional clues to what you are looking for as well as how to look for it. Terrain ratings can vary greatly between different cachers hiding caches. Start with the easier terrains - 2.0 or less until you get the feel for what you are doing. Also limit the cache difficulty ratings. Beginners should not try caches rated 3.0 or higher - you'll only get frustrated and disappointed. Work your way up to the higher difficulty ratings.
  • Should you look at the hint before hunting the cache? Sometimes you don't stand a chance without it. Other times it's useless. You don't get extra credit for not using it.
  • Stick with traditional caches at first. Branch out into 2 stage multi caches. Earthcaches can be interesting too.
  • Cache with a buddy or two. There are many dangers out there particularly in the woods that you don't know about and having a second set of eyes looking out for danger is extremely valuable. Geocachers tend to hide things where it's safe but don't always think of the various ways things can go wrong.
  • There is NO substitute for experience. We still find unique and challenging caches every time we go out.
  • Make a plan of what you are looking for. It can be a simple list of caches to work your way through. Think about how you are going to get from cache to cache and plan a route for those caches.
  • Start small. Make a list of 5 or 10 caches to hunt the first few times out. You'll know when it's time to add more. Our lists for a regular full day of caching can be 70 or 80 caches long. We never get them all and sometimes we only get halfway down the list. It never hurts to have more than you actually hunt.
  • Don't spend too much time looking for one cache. You get frustrated and you're wasting time ("Burning Daylight" as Steve says) that you could be using to find other caches. The one you can't find will still be there (probably) the next time. It's not uncommon to come back to one you couldn't find sometime later and find it within a couple of minutes. Our general rule of thumb is 10 minutes once we get to the cache coordinates.
  • The recent cache logs can be helpful. The most helpful logs will come from seasoned cachers and sometimes there can be a subtle hint in there.
  • If you leave something in the cache make sure it's appropriate. Nothing that will freeze and certainly nothing that could be food (including PlayDoh - made from flour and oil). Things that freeze will certainly cause a mess when they thaw out and food will attract animals who WILL claw or chew open the container.
  • Make sure you put the cache back EXACTLY as you found it. Certainly never replace the cache where it would be easier to find. If you are in doubt about the placement send an email to the cache owner explaining what you found.
  • Don't forget to log your finds. You don't have to log things you didn't find so you don't have to embarass yourself - but you can if you want.
Ready to Get Serious - For the geocacher who has decided they really like doing this and want to do it better.
  • What are you using for a GPS? If it's your iPhone or Android it has probably served you well but you've found that it's just not all that good. Car navigation GPS units are also inadequate for the dedicated geocacher. The three of us own Garmin GPSMap 60Cx units and have found them do the job quite well. They routinely get us to within 20 feet of the cache. Of the geocachers we know about 9 out of 10 own this GPS unit or it's close cousins. There are other GPS units suited to geocaching but we speak from our own personal experience in recommending these. The 60Cx has been discontinued but is being replaced by the 62 series which should be even better. Expect to pay $200-$300 for a good GPS unit.
  • Get a pair of good hiking boots. Unless you are going to avoid all of the caches hidden in parks and other wooded areas these are a must. Don't forget good socks to go with them.
  • Don't wear shorts. No matter how hot it gets wear long pants. You want something between your skin and the thorn bushes and poison ivy. You can also expect to crawl around on the ground looking for caches and bare knees are not a good idea on the rocks.
  • Wear long sleeves if you can. It's hard to do when it's above 70 degrees but it will help protect your arms from the above mentioned hazards.
  • Mosquito Repellent. Mosquitoes LOVE geocachers and you would not believe how many of them there are in the woods.
  • Learn what poison ivy and poison oak looks like and AVOID IT!
  • Learn about Lyme Disease. You'll be hunting in parks and fields so you need to know what to look out for.
  • NEVER reach into a hole where you can't see what's inside. Ask Steve about the wildcat he almost disturbed (I wish I had a camera with me).
  • A flashlight is a must have. You won't use it often but sometimes you need it. Get one that's bright and uses batteries you can easily change. The 3 watt LED ones work pretty good and are reasonably small.
  • A gel pen. The Pilot G2 pens work good even when the log is a bit damp.
  • Attend local events. They are a great place to meet people who can guide you down the right path.
Working your Way to the First 1000 - How do you find 1000 caches? What more do you need?
  • Get a premium membership. This lets you run "pocket queries" and get alerts about new caches as they are published. There are other benefits to premium membership but these are the two big items.
  • Get GSAK. This is where you load all of those "pocket queries" to your local PC. GSAK has a much more sophisticated capability for picking out caches to hunt and you don't need to be connected online to It is also the best way to load the waypoints for the caches you will be hunting into your GPS. You do get to play with it for a while (21 days) before it starts to nag you but once you decide you can't do without it pay the $25 to register.
  • Expect a steep learning curve for the above two items. It takes a while to be proficient with them. You will continue to learn things about GSAK for a long time to come. If possible find someone who can guide you in getting started with pocket queries and GSAK.
  • Plan what you are going to hunt. Keep in mind your path between caches. The GME macro for GSAK can help you a lot by displaying caches you select on a google map.
  • Get a navigation GPS for the car. Don't expect it to get you to the cache every time. They don't understand that you have to hike through the park trails to get to the cache and will frequently lead you to some residential neighborhood where you can't enter the park. You'll learn after a while when to follow it and when not to.
  • Cache all day. Or half a day if that's all the time you can spare. Doing it one or two at a time will take forever to get to 1000.
  • Stop for lunch. A break in the middle of the day goes a long way to recharging your geocaching skills.
Your Geocaching Kit - What the serious geocacher always has with them.
  • GPS (of course)
  • Spare batteries for the GPS. You WILL need them.
  • Flashlight - with spare batteries.
  • Pliers - for reaching into that space too small for your fingers or extracting the log from the nano cache.
  • Paper - a small piece or two for making special notes or leaving a temporary log because the one in the cache is soaked beyond usefullness.
  • Small ziploc bags - for putting the temporary log in or replacing one that is badly damaged.
  • Band aids and alcohol wipes. It's obvious what you'll need these for.
  • Spare pen (because you'll loose the one you carry with you)
  • Water - particularly on hot days.
Miscellaneous Tips - Those useful tips that don't fit anywhere above.
  • Carry a cell phone to be able to make that 911 call. If you have it you'll hopefully never need it.
  • Never put yourself in danger. It's only one cache.
  • Be aware of bees and wasps. They can make a cache experience unpleasant.
  • Unless you KNOW that you are not affected by poison ivy, avoid it. It doesn't hurt to carry some Benadryl creme to put on after exposure.
  • Know the times for sunrise and sunset. Lots of caches are in parks and cemeteries and these places are often only open between sunrise and sunset.
  • Bring a small ladder. Not needed often but it can sometimes make a difference.
  • Bring a length of stiff wire. Something smaller than coathanger wire but which can be formed in various shapes.
  • When going off into the woods, especially where there are multiple trails, MARK WHERE THE CAR IS! Add a waypoint in your GPS so you can find the car after you have found the cache.
  • Look for unique things. We try to pick out a "best of the day" cache and sometimes a "coolest cache of the day". Bring your camera!
  • Bring cookies - as a reward for the group for every "x" caches you find.