Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully our What Is Geocaching? and Getting Started pages have informed you about geocaching. However, if you have any unanswered questions, we
hope you'll find them here. If not, please email the webmaster who will add your
question to the list.
Geocaching can be played on a variety of listing sites. The GAGB does not affiliate itself with, or promote, any of these major listing sites over the other. The most popular listing sites in the UK are geocaching.com, opencache.uk and terraching.com. Due to geocaching.com being the most widely used, these FAQs will focus on this site. However, please do see our Getting Started page to find information on key aspects of the other two listing sites.
How is geocaching played?
What are the rules of geocaching?
What should my first geocache be?
What equipment do I need to pack?
Which GPS should I buy?
I don't have a GPS. Can I still go geocaching?
How do I load geocaches onto my GPS?
Can I move a geocache once I've found it?
What do I do if I don't find a geocache? - the importance of DNF-ing
What are Travel Bugs®/Geocoins/Trackables?
What is a CITO?
How do I solve Puzzle geocaches?
What does Premium Membership of Geocaching.com give you? Is it worth it?
What is a Pocket Query (PQ)? How do I run one?
How do I find out whether there are any geocaches along a route I'm travelling?
What are Bookmark Lists?
Can I hide my own geocache?
I want to hide my own geocache. What do I do next?
How long will it take for my new geocache to be published?
What does adopting a geocache mean? How does it work?
How do I organise an event?
What is the Jasmer Challenge?
What is a YOSM?
What is a Church Micro geocache?
What are Sidetracked/Little Quest/Fine Pair geocaches?
Coordinates: can you convert?
There are 7 simple steps to caching:
- Register for a free membership on a listing site e.g. Geocaching.com.
- Enter your post code (or town) to search for nearby geocaches.
- Choose one geocache from the list/map and click on its name.
- Download the geocache onto your GPS Device
- Use your GPS to find the geocache. Alternatively, you can use your smartphone to find the geocache using a Geocaching app (you can also search for nearby geocaches using the app).
- Once you have found the geocache, sign the logbook with your name and date. Make sure that if you take an item from a
geocache you leave something of equal or greater value. Then, return the geocache to its original location.
- Log your visit online, either on your computer/tablet or via the app on your smartphone, sharing your experiences. You're welcome to upload photos, as long as they don't spoil the location of the geocache or the nature of the container. We recommend that you make your logs as detailed as possible - many geocache owners prefer this to a simple ‘TFTC’.
- If you take something from the geocache, leave something of equal or greater value.
- Sign and dare the geocache logbook.
- Log your experience on a listing site e.g. www.geocaching.com.
We recommend that you find a Traditional geocache (at the published coordinates with no added complications) with a low difficulty/terrain (D/T) rating such as 1 or 1.5. In other words, an easy geocache to find with an unchallenging terrain surrounding it. In terms of geocache sizes, go for a ‘Small’, ‘Regular’ or ‘Large’ as these are easier to spot. Make sure that the geocache has been recently found, which indicates that it is likely to still be in situ - you don't want to get a DNF (Did Not Find) on your first geocache! You might want to search for a geocache close to home too; when you search, Geocaching.com highlights beginner geocaches in green - essentially according to the tips we have just given. Choose one of these for your first find.
You better check out our Getting Started page, which has details on what you'll need, as well as a guide to different types of geocaches, tips on finding your first geocache and lots more.
Of course you can! We're living through a digital revolution - the rise of smartphones has facilitated the development of increased GPS accuracy within devices and apps. There are several geocaching apps that enable you to search for geocaches using 3G/4G reception. The best thing is if you're out without your GPS and want to see if there are any geocaches nearby, you can! The most popular apps in the UK are:
- Geocaching® - the official Geocaching.com app, introduced in 2016. It's easy to use, with the basics (maps, lists, geocache info, hints, logging, TBs) easy to find. However, only basic maps are available - none show footpaths. We reckon its best use is for beginners and in urban areas.
- C: Geo - relatively easy to use, lots of features built in. It is a specialist app designed for geocachers. It has a modern clean interface, and wide range of navigation options. However, it is only available on Android (not iOS) and you can easily lose the wood for the trees here. Best use is for serious geocachers who may not be into ‘mods’ and ‘hacks’, but just want to see footpaths and geocaches on the same phone at once.
- Locus - whilst this app is rather complicated, it is a full-featured app. Lots of ‘mods’ are available to add many specialist maps & features, but several useful features are only available in the paid-for version. The interface is also a little obscure (“how do I turn on that right-menu again?”) We recommend it for the highly active tech-savvy cacher who travels a lot.
For a list of all the Geocaching apps you can download for you smartphone, visit our Useful Links page.
We've reviewed various GPS models in our Seeker magazine. Our verdict on the Garmin Montana can be found in Seeker 5, whilst views on the Garmin Oregon can be found in Seeker 15. See Seeker 6 for comments on the Garmin GPSMAP 62s. Clearly, some of these models have newer versions on sale today, but many of the fundamentals remain the same. There are, however, plenty of alternatives and none of these models may be right for you. We therefore direct you to check out a fantastic resource Which GPS that outlines how you should go about choosing a GPS.
This depends on the listing site you use. On Geocaching.com, there are two ways, depending on whether you wish to individually download geocaches to your GPS or download up to 1,000 using the Pocket Query (PQ) feature. These are outlined on their Help Guide and there is also a good reference on the Follow the Arrow Paperless Caching page. The great thing about GPS receivers is that most come with an option to load Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps - by far the best walking maps available in Britain and not easily accessed via the phone apps. GPS units require planning ahead, and do not use data connections.
As we emphasised above, please do not move a geocache from its original location. If you feel that the geocache may not be located in the correct location, email the geocache owner or post a log on the geocache page, notifying the owner of your concern. It is the geocache owner's responsibility to maintain geocache throughout its lifetime.
Log a DNF! If you're just starting out on the geocaching journey, DNF stands for Did Not Find (see our Geocaching Acronyms page). It is a log type that reflects the fact that your search for a geocache was unsuccessful.
Yet, some folk find it embarrassing to log a DNF, as if the failure insults their capabilities. However, if the geocache is missing, you simply cannot find something that isn't there. So, let others know about it. Sure, if you didn't find it because you only gave it two minutes, or there were hordes of muggles about, then that's not the same as searching thoroughly and still not finding it. So, a DNF doesn't always mean that it isn't there.
When you log a DNF, you're simply telling geocachers that the geocache may be more difficult to find than anticipated, or may even be missing. You're also informing the geocache owner that they may need to double-check that their container can still be found at the posted coordinates.
A DNF log can transform into a ‘Found it!’ log. The log type doesn't mean that you've given up. You can return in a few days, weeks or months to search again - you may well find that you're successful.
There is more about DNfing in our Seeker article, 'The Importance of DNF-ing'
Exclusive to geocaches listed on geocaching.com, a trackable is an item with a tracking code that travels from geocache to geocache. If you find a Travel Bug® or any trackable in a geocache, you are not required to trade anything for it. But if you take it, follow some common sense trackable etiquette. It all starts by entering the tracking code at geocaching.com.
- Log that you have retrieved the Travel Bug® or trackable from the geocache as soon as you're able to. By logging that you've retrieved it, the Travel Bug® owner, geocache owner and all those looking for Travel Bugs® will know that this one is on the move to another geocache.
- Check the Travel Bug's® goal by going to its page. It's as easy as typing in the tracking code. Then you can find out if it's headed to beaches around the world, mountain tops in Austria or somewhere else. The idea is to place the Travel Bug in a geocache that will move it closer to its goal.
- Drop the trackable in the next geocache and log that you have done so. If you need to keep the trackable for more than two weeks, please email the owner to let them know that their trackable is taking a short rest, but will be on the road again soon.
- Incidentally, it often happens that you find and retrieve a trackable from a geocache before the person who placed it there has had a chance to log that they've dropped it in the geocache. So, don't just ‘Grab’ it; give the owner time to record where they dropped it.
A good article on Trackable Etiquette can be found in Seeker 23.
No matter how you pronounce it, CITO (Cache In Trash Out) should be a part of every geocachers vocabulary.
What does it mean? Simple - whenever you're out geocaching, clean up the area around you; pick up rubbish, try and have a minimal environmental impact yourself. It keeps the countryside clean and shows landowners that geocachers care about the landscape around them. Here are a few tips to become the ultimate CITO champion:
- Pack an extra rubbish bag in your geocaching kit.
- Rubbish is usually disgusting and unpleasant, so ensure that you carry gloves and, if you can manage it, a grabber tool.
- Organise or attend a CITO event and turn trash or invasive species into a smiley.
- Celebrate the next GAGB Annual CITO Weekend and International CITO Weekend and earn a digital souvenir for your Geocaching profile.
You can find out more about CITO on our own CITO page. You can organise a CITO event any time, but take a look at our News Articles to see when the next GAGB Annual Weekend is - we'd love for you to join the national GAGB community then in organising a CITO of your own.
Many experienced geocachers would say “Good question!” We have interviewed a seasoned puzzle cacher - you can read her tips on pages 18 and 19 of Seeker 28. Check out our Getting Started page for more information on Puzzle/Mystery geocaches, as well as the other geocache types.
Geocaching.com has a freemium business model, unlike the other major listing sites. The main benefits of Premium Membership include the ability to run pocket queries (see below) and access geocaches which are Premium Member Only (PMO), benefits are outlined on the Premium Member Benefits page. It is entirely up to you whether these benefits are worth it. Ultimately, as a Basic (free) Member, you still have access to millions of geocaches and can take part in the game, playing an active role.
Pocket Queries (PQs) exist on Geocaching.com, but on none of the other major listing sites. They are essentially custom geocache queries that can be created/run on a daily or weekly basis. We suggest that you check out Groundspeak's detailed 'Introduction to Pocket Queries' guide. In terms of how to run a PQ, take a look at Geocaching.com's Help Guide to creating your first Pocket Query. Do note that this is a feature only available to Premium Members of Geocaching.com.
Geocaching.com has a feature that enables you to see whether there are geocaches along any given route. This is a great trip planner. Check out this Help Guide for details on how to use this feature.
Bookmark Lists are a feature also only available on Geocaching.com which enable you to list geocaches, often allowing you to organise your next adventure. Take a look at this Help Guide for details on how to use this feature.
Of course you can! We advise that, before making your first hide, you find a variety of different geocaches in your area. This will enable you to gain an understanding of what merits a good, and sensible, geocache hide. It's hard to put a number on it, but around 100 geocache finds should provide you with this understanding.
Read our Geocache Guidelines before hiding your geocache and ensure that you adhere to them. In addition, if submitting a geocache for geocaching.com, check out their own Geocache Listing Guidelines, many of which are similar to ours. Ensure that you have the relevant permission from the landowner too - you may find that permission has already been granted - check our Geocaching Land Owner Agreement Database (GLAD). You can then submit your geocache for review.
Check out our Hiding a Geocache page for a more detailed explanation on how to place a geocache.
Each geocache that is submitted to geocaching.com is reviewed by a volunteer, to ensure that the geocache meets the Geocache Listing Guidelines. You can find out more about the reviewers and what they look for by reading this Seeker interview. The reviewing process takes time so it may take up to a week for your geocache to be published on geocaching.com. The timescale ultimately depends on how busy the reviewer is and whether there are any issues with your geocache.
If you or any other geocache hider can no longer maintain a geocache for any given reason, the geocache can be adopted. In other words, another geocacher takes formal control of the geocache both online and in the field. It is then their responsibility to maintain the geocache. This Help Guide explains the process well. If you are a UK cacher wishing to send your geocaches for adoption, or wish to help someone out by adopting theirs, Adopt A Cache is a Facebook group we recommend you check out.
There's a great article from our Seeker Magazine (29) that explains how to organise an event.
- Plan your event up to 90 days ahead - the longer the better, so local cachers get a greater chance of seeing that it’s coming. At minimum, it must be two weeks or more. Carefully choose the day, too—who do you want to attract? Midweek or weekend?
- Talk to the owner, landlord, manager. Make sure it’s someone in charge, and that they are clear with you on limits – max number of people, designated area, car parking, noise, food orders, whatever they say, goes! State such requests in your listing.
- List the event - with the times, location, parking and any other useful info like a link to a menu, or the venue phone number. If there are restrictions, please do state that too. For most people the listing will be the only info they check, so make it right.
- Check your date - is there any other event nearby already? Groundspeak discourages events on the same day in the same area (up to 20 miles), so look online or ask your reviewer . If there’s a clash, maybe adjust your plans or list the event elsewhere.
- Write your cache page for Geocaching.com, Opencaching.uk or Terracaching.com. For the former, ensure that you review the event guidelines. Then create your listing. Even if you don’t submit it yet, once you save it you can share it with your reviewer, and they can see that its coming up.
Many geocachers enjoy completing challenges as part of the hobby. The Jasmer Challenge is complete once a geocache has been found in every calendar month from (and including) May 2000, when the first geocache was hidden. It's more difficult than it sounds, especially as older geocaches go missing! To find out more, read our 'Why I Love Jasmers' article in Seeker 21.
YOSM stands for Ye Olde Survey
Monuments' - see the YOSM cache page: GC45CC
A YOSM was a virtual geocache listed on geocaching.com. In 2017, the cache was archived along with all other travelling caches. This geocache moved around Britain, settling on a random trig point and staying there for a short time, usually 2-3 weeks, before moving on to another.
More than 755 trig points have been visited by YOSM and it even has its own website where a list of sites can be viewed on a map and downloaded (visit yosm.org.uk). As of June 2017, you can still log any of the triangulation stations it has visited. In order to do so, a note must be posted on the new YOSM Memorial Cache.
Whilst YOSM was still active, over 3000 cachers visited at least one YOSM location, more than 930 of whom have logged more than one visit. Remember the following:
- If you want to log a YOSM visit, do so as 'Write Note' on GC76962
- Include the YSM code, trig name and type e.g. YSM424 Trink Hill pillar. This way your log will automatically be counted in the YOSM league table.
- A complete list of YOSM trigs is downloadable as a .gpx file from https://www.yosm.org.uk/ for use in GSAK or equivalent.
Keep checking the YOSM website for the latest updates on YOSM's situation.
If you are fairly new to the game, you may have seen many
‘Church Micro’ geocaches near you. These form part of the largest nationwide series of geocaches. What exactly are
these? In short, micro geocaches placed near churches around Britain. Steve (sadexploration), who created this series of
geocaches, explains to the GAGB in Seeker 11: ‘My preferred way of hiding ‘Church micros’ was magnetic and
before long my hides were becoming so predictable that two of them were found before they were published, one of which was found
twice! Although the series is called ‘Church Micro’ I encourage geocachers to place as large a geocache as
possible. Many have been placed by geocachers at their local churches where they have their own memories, some fond, some sad.
One cacher asked for an extra hint to one of mine as he was getting married in the church and wanted to grab it before he went
down the aisle.
I think the main reason they have caught on so well is they are generally placed at a ‘point of interest’, which, after all, is what Geocaching is all about, and more often than not you can find somewhere to park as well.”
See the Church Micro website for more information and read Steve's full article in Seeker 11.
There are several series' spread over the UK in addition to the Church Micro series (see above). Amongst the most popular are 'Sidetracked', 'Little Quest' and 'A Fine Pair'.
Meanwhile, there is a Little Quest cache in each English county. These lead to a Bonus cache that serves as the grand finale to an epic quest. See the Little Quest Bonus cache and read our Seeker 14 article for more details on the series.
Finally, Fine Pair caches are found in towns or villages where there is a traditional red telephone box located immediately next to or opposite a red post box. Visit the Fine Pair website to learn more.
It may not always be necessary, but from time to time we need to convert from one form of co-ordinates to the degree and decimal minutes used for geocaching. Mathematically minded folk can no doubt do these calculations in their head. But for the rest of us, there is an easier way use Megalithic Coordinate Converter to convert to WGS84.
For more info on GPS conversions look at the article in Seeker 19
“Travel Bug® is a registered trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. DBA Geocaching. Used with Permission.”
“What are Geocaching Trackables?” video is copyright Groundspeak, Inc. DBA Geocaching. Used with permission. All rights reserved.