The Best Gifts for Geocachers
Tools, Toys, Tees and Other Useful Things for Those Who Like to Find and Hide Geocaches
Looking for a gift for someone who likes to geocache? Or maybe something for yourself? I've put together some suggestions for everything from GPSes and backpacks to specialized containers, books on this worldwide hobby, travel bugs and trackables and more. Whether someone is just getting into this "anytime, anywhere real-world adventure" or has already logged hundreds or thousands of finds, these items would make really nice and useful gifts, some of which are also great for other outdoor activities.
Me, I've done quite a bit of this "treasure-hunting" with my husband, who's been an avid geocacher since this popular pastime got its start more than a decade ago, when President Clinton released military GPS satellites for use by the general public. I'm also a big hiker, so I've used some of this gear when just walking trails and not even looking for caches at all.
A quick visitor poll....
Do you or have you ever done any geocaching?
The Hub of Geocaching
Geocaching.com, which began operating on September 2, 2000, and is owned by Groundspeak, Inc., is the first and currently the largest website devoted to this ... sport? hobby? fun!
Today, well over 2,000,000 caches are registered on this and various other websites.
These hidden treasures are currently located in more than 100 countries and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.
A Handheld GPS
Plug in your waypoint, write down any clues from the cache listing, and go to....
Though it's possible (but tricky) to locate caches with a map and compass, a handheld GPS is the primary means people use to search for these hidden containers of a wide range of sizes and types. You get the coordinates, enter those coordinates into the GPS, and go find.
Sometimes you can drive right to the site or close to it and walk just a short distance. Other times, you have to walk many miles over rough terrain. (The difficulty level and more information about the area and location will be given on the website listing.)
Many geocaches are actual containers filled with miscellaneous little items, or swag, while others require you to find a location and take a certain photo or find specific information, which you then record or upload onto the website. Regardless, a GPS is the main tool you use to locate the item or geographic site.
But you don't need a very expensive, high-end GPS with lots of extra bells and whistles to find a hidden cache or to return to your starting point (ie. your vehicle, the trailhead) after the find is made. These are models of handheld GPSes I recommend, two of which I've also used in Search and Rescue work and when out hiking....
A Basic but Very Good Handheld GPS
All you need for geocaching ... and then some
This high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver provides great performance in any environment. It's lightweight and waterproof, stores up to 500 waypoints and 20 routes with up to 125 waypoints per route, and features a high-contrast 2.2-inch monochrome screen with back lighting. There are five buttons on the sides of the GPS for one-hand operation.
I've used this model myself, so I can vouch for the quality. Really, you can't go wrong with any Garmin handheld, but this is one of the least expensive options and really is more than enough for geocaching and other navigation.
Any "AA" batteries will work in this GPS. Two batteries will provide up to 20 hours of use. I can confirm that from personal experience.
Other Very Good Garmin Handheld GPSes for the Outdoor Adventurer
If you take a look at the Etrex 10, you'll see the higher end 20 and 30 models as well. They cost progressively more, of course, but they each have additional features.
The next step up, the Extrex 20, has a built-in basemap which shows lakes, rivers, cities, roads coastlines and landmarks. It also has a fast USB interface for map downloads and can save 1,000 waypoints with names and graphic symbols and 20 tracks.
Other features include an waterproof exterior, a hunting/fishing calendar, a built-in patch antenna, and a geocaching mode. This GPS can run for up to 25 hours on a pair of AA batteries.
A GPS Made Especially for Geocaching
This GPS is dedicated to the pastime, providing seamless connection to Geocaching.com, along with a bright color screen, really nice graphics, and a simple user interface all packed into a waterproof device.
It's powered by two AA batteries for up to 15 hours with a highly-sensitive chipset that provides 3-meter accuracy. And accuracy is pretty important when searching for caches, which can be challenging to find even if you're standing a few feet away.
Gifts for those who like to hide things, too
Many Avid Geocachers Put Out Their Own Treasures for Others to Find
That's what these containers are for....
It's fun to place your own cache (or two or more) and then see who finds it, with either a little notebook or piece of paper inside where those who find it can leave a note and, later, a message on the website.
Caches can be placed in containers as large as ammo cans, like the kind used in the military, or as small as film canisters. Or even smaller than that. You can buy commercial containers like those shown here, or you can use recycled containers you find around the house. Regardless, it's best to use something watertight.
An Ammo Can for a Larger Geocache
A container that can hold a lot of swag....
This military-style ammo is made of rugged polypropylene plastic with a reinforced bottom and thick sidewalls, making it an ideal container for sitting outdoors for years. It has a heavy-duty, dual latching system and is O-Ring sealed for waterproofing.
These are my husband's and my favorite type of containers for both placing and finding, because they can hold quite a bit of treasure. We've found and put in everything from small stuffed animals to CDs and DVDs, bandanas to toy cars and more.
A Container for a Really Small Cache
Nanos are great for urban geocaching, but I've seen them used in backcountry settings also. They're really a fun challenge to find and fun to hide too.
This container comes with two log sheets made with weather-resistant Rite in the Rain paper. There is also an O-ring to help keep water out.
A Container with Some Extras
This ready-to-go container is perfect for a starter kit, with a variety of items including a weatherproof Rite-in-the-Rain notepad and a trackable too.
Other items that come with it include an official Geocaching sticker, a decryption key, the Geo Creed, a permanent marker, pencils and assorted plastic bags for swag, and more.
Is That Really a Rock?
I once spent half an hour hunting for a cache within about a ten-foot square area, much to the delight of my husband, who'd actually created and placed it years earlier. All the while, the little thing was right under my nose ... under a fake rock. It was my first find.
You can likewise make it difficult with a tricky cache pack like this....
This pack includes a variety of sneaky caches, made to look like other objects: a bolt, a utility plate, a sprinkler, and a rock. The whole thing comes in its own clear bag, perfect for giving as a gift or adding to your own cache stash.
A Quality Ppack from Osprey
Anyone who goes for a hike to look for a geocache, whether it's a short walk or a long dayhike, should carry a small backpack with the "ten essentials," not to mention their geocaching log book if they use one and their own trinkets or travel bugs to put in the caches, to replace what they take.
This is my personal favorite daypack, made by the Osprey company. I find Osprey packs to be excellent quality, and many of their models have handy little zippered pockets on the hip belt, which are great for carrying small items you want to get to without having to take off the pack.
The Kestrel 28 is one of the Osprey models I use, and it's a perfect size for a day hike. It comes in two sizes--small/medium and medium/large.
Travel Bugs & Geo Coins
Trackable items to place and move
What is a Travel Bug (or Travel Tag)?
And a Geo Coin?
Basically, a travel bug is a trackable tag that one attaches to another item, allowing someone to track that item on Geocaching.com. The item is moved from cache to cache so its progress can be followed online.
Some travel bug "owners" (their originators) place rules or requests online for a particular travel bug. For example, one travel bug my boyfriend and I took from a cache was supposed to be -- or rather, the person who first placed the travel bug preferred it to be -- put in caches in historical places.
This photo is a travel bug we found on a saddle between two summits here in Flagstaff.
A geo coin is a metal or wooden coin made like a medallion, token, or wooden nickel for example, to be used in geocaching. Like travel bugs, many geo coins are trackable on various websites, so you can follow their movement around the world.
Travel Bugs: Keep tabs on their moves....
Each Travel Bug comes as a pair -- one bug gets attached to an item (or placed in a geocache on its own) and the other is a copy that the owner can keep. The Travel Bug tags have a unique tracking number stamped on them, which is used by the one who finds the item to log that find on the Geocaching.com website. That unique number also provides a way for the user to locate the personal web page for the travel bug.
My husband and I once found a trackable in cache in Peru, which had originated in the Czech republic, originally placed by its 10-year-old owner. We then brought it home to the U.S. and were happy to record another few thousand miles on its journey, imaging the little girl's surprise when she found out. It was actually a contest she was having with her 8-year-old brother, who had a trackable of his own traveling the globe, to see whose travel bug would move the most miles.
Oh, The Places They Will Go....
Trackables come in all sorts of themes and shapes. These aluminum tags have chains so you can attach them to other items. Each has its own unique icon for tracking on Geocaching.com.
Here's a patriotic little trackable, which can also be a nice accessory for a keychain or purse until you're ready to place it in a cache.
You can find trackables with flags of other countries, too, not to mention countless creatures and critters, symbols, and other miniatures. Sometimes people attach a larger trinket to the trackable, like a little stuffed toy perhaps, but you still need the tag with unique code in order for the trackable to get logged and be ... well, tracked.
The only thing about attaching something larger is that the travel bug may not fit in some of the smaller geocaches.
Here's Another Little Travel Bug
Who doesn't love a turtle? They can actually move a lot faster--and farther--than you might think.
On the other hand, sometimes trackables do move very slowly or not at all for a while.
Geo Coin Travel Tags
The design of this compass rose came from a map made in 1558, outlining the west coast of southern North America, Mexico, and northern South America. Many old maps displayed several small compass rose designs in several spots to help mariners gain their bearing as they moved from one location to another.
This colorful geocoin commemorates compass roses from the past, made large enough to be noticeable but small enough to fit in 35mm containers.
A Log Book
Keeping a Record of Your Finds
After all, most geocachers are list-keepers....
This 108-page log book is great for recording info about the caches you've done and plan on finding. It's a great way to keep all that information in one place and handy while on the trail in search of caches.
A Few of Many
These and other themed t-shirts from Zazzle come in a variety of colors and styles, for both men, women and children. So if you like a logo, you can see what other options are available or even tweak it a little by adding custom text.
See this and other Geocaching Logo Stickman Graphic Shirts by getgrim.
A shirt like these can be a good conversation-starter. I was wearing one not long ago, and someone came over to ask me about this "geocaching thing" she'd heard about. At the end of our conversation, she was excited to get started on this new adventure with her kids.
See these and other geocaching tees on Zazzle.
Here's a Good One for the Beginner
Read all about it ... then get out there for your first find!
Maybe they've tried it once with a friend or learned about it from someone they ran into who was crawling around in the woods, looking under rocks, and think it sounds like a really cool, fun thing to do. So, you can give that aspiring geocacher a good book on the subject. Like this one...
This is a comprehensive, entertaining and easy-to-understand guide for getting started with geocaching. In this edition, two new tools of the game -- Waymarking and Wherigo -- are included.
A Good Read for All Geocachers
From newbies to veteran treasure hunters
Written by husband and wife Paul and Dana Gillin, this is a very popular book, both by newbie cachers and those who've logged hundreds (or more) finds. One reviewer wrote that this is the "most entertaining, educational and compelling book yet written about our marvelous obsession."
The Gillins interviewed many of the world's most successful and enthusiastic cachers as well as geocache owners, extreme cachers, community organizers, educators and even businesspeople who've used this treasure hunt to promote their companies and destinations. The authors also accompanied people on power-caching expeditions and visited with local groups, traveling all over America in search of log books in Tupperware containers and lots of great information and stories for this book.
Do You Have Other Gift Ideas?
Comments on these items or geocaching in general are welcome in the guestbook below.
© 2011 Deb Kingsbury