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Feedback Needed! Geocaching Quick Start

Here’s another section would like feedback on.  We want to include a quick start guide for novice geocachers to help them log a successful first find.  Here’s the advice we came up with.  What you think?  Please comment below.


If you’ve never gone caching before,here are steps you can take to make sure your first outing is a successful one.

  • Register your home coordinates with Geocaching.com and choose a location in an area that’s known to you.
  • Look for single-stage caches that have a difficulty and terrain rating of 1 or 1.5. We also recommend you look for “small”or “regular”cache sizes so you aren’t frustrated looking for a tiny container.
  • When reading the description,look for terms like “easy”, “simple”,“fast”and “park and grab.”
  • Check the log summaries and look for geocaches with a high ratio of “Found”to “Did Not Find”results. A good candidate looks like this:


a poor one looks like this:


Those little frown faces are logs of people who did not find the cache.  A Found:Did Not Find ratio of more than about 4:1 is likely to be quite an adventure.

Check the hint. Geocachers love to play word games. If the hint looks cryptic or unintelligible,it probably won’t do you much good. On the other hand,a hint like “under rock,behind large maple tree”should do you some good.

Check the logs. Beware of any recent DNFs. These could indicate that a cache has gone missing.  Conversely,many logs will contain valuable information that can help you in your search.  An expression like “I’ve never seen a hide like this!”  tips you off to an unusual container for placement.  For safety sake,look for language that indicates this is a quick and easy find.

Check your GPS. Make sure you have fresh batteries and that you’re getting a good satellite signal (all units have a page that tells you signal strength). You’ll want to check signal strength again when you get to your location. Precision of less than about 30 feet will complicate the find.

Calibrate your GPS compass. Non-magnetic compasses of the type found in most GPS are notorious for getting out of alignment.  A poorly calibrated compass can send you on a wild goose chase.  Calibrating is usually a simple setup procedure.

Put away your GPS when you get close.  It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that electronics will lead you directly to the treasure.  As we’ve noted,even the best handheld GPS are only accurate to within a 15-foot radius.

Look for items out of place.  Rock piles or branches that don’t look like they were placed by the hand of nature are a good bet.  If the hide has a low difficulty rating,then you can probably catch at least a glimpse of the container without moving anything.  Large containers are generally easier to find because there are fewer places to hide them.

Take something/leave something.  You may discard this practice after your first few finds,but this is one of the fun parts of discovering the game.  Leave something memorable if you can.  Be sure to sign the log book and note that it’s your first find!

Snap a photo.  You do have a digital camera,right?  Take a shot of yourself nearby,  being careful not to give away the actual location of the cache.  Upload this to Geocaching.com when you get home.

Log your find on Geocaching.com,being sure to note that it’s your first. Cache owners are always delighted to hear that they’ve helped introduce someone to the game,and you may well get a welcome message from the owner.

3 comments to Feedback Needed! Geocaching Quick Start

  • Great tips! I’d also add to consult the topo map of the cache before striking out. More than once we’ve approached a cache the hard way,whereas if we would have looked first….

  • Stephen O'Gara (Ventura Kids)

    Yep,…pick a cache nearby. You may have to return to search more than once.
    I’d suggest one in a park rather than in a busy shopping center.
    You will feel out of place in the first dozen finds where muggles are staring at you.

  • Stephen O'Gara (Ventura Kids)

    I’m not sure I’d put the gps away when close.
    Magellans still have what is called the boomerang effect.
    They sometimes are off by over 40 feet at first,and then increase in accuracy as they sit. Sometimes this means you should walk away from the area a bit and return.
    I’ve seen the same effect with Garmins. If we don’t spot the cache in a minute or two,we walk 40 feet away and walk back to zero. Sometimes the position varies by over 20 feet. If you are searching for a nano,you may need to be quite accurate.

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