Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Getting started

Today I received a message via from a geocacher who is planning to place a bunch of caches this summer. Here's his message -- with his name and location withheld in case he doesn't want to be identified.
I have been doing geocaching for about a year now, and plan on putting out my first cache. To make life easier for both of us, I thought I would ask you for any suggestions or tips on placing a cache. Our current plan is to put between 10 and 20 caches in the ______ area, mostly in the citys parks. We have received permission from their parks department already. Our goal is actually to have them in place before the end of July. We have collected a variety of containers, some magnetic, a few coffee cans, and others. We have 2 GPS units to verify the co-ordinates with. Would it be best to activate all of them at the same time, or to do one or two at a time as we get them placed? Any insight you can give us would be greatly appreciated. I have read the placing caches section on here.
Thank you for your help,

And here's my response to him:

I recommend that you activate a couple at a time as you place them. That way you'll get feedback from geocachers when they post their finds (and possibly feedback from me when I review them) that will help guide you and possibly improve your caches and cache hiding as you go along. You'll also see which containers work best over the weeks and months. In general, coffee cans have a limited weatherproof life in the outdoors, so you may want to reconsider using those. Placing a few at a time will also help you determine how many caches you want to have active at any given time -- that is, how many you can comfortably maintain on a regular basis.

As far as other advice, you may want to spend a little time reading my blog ( because I mention a number of geocaching topics there that may be helpful. Here are some highlights:
- Don't hide caches that are on or that simulate electrical equipment unless you can show express permission that you have permission from the owner of the electrical equipment. (I still think these are a bad idea, but they may be approved if the cache owner has permission.)
- Check to make sure your caches are at least 528ft from existing caches and from physical cache waypoints of multicaches. Try to avoid a string of caches placed close to the minimum separation distance along a trail. This is known as a "power trail" and Groundspeak frowns on them because they tie up stretches of a trail so that other geocachers can't place caches there.
- Use the "attributes" feature to add attributes on your cache page, especially one to indicate whether or not the cache is wheelchair accessible.
- Use the "add/edit waypoints" feature to enter coordinates for all waypoints and final locations of multicaches and puzzle caches.
- If the cache is on land managed by the Iowa DNR, you'll need to first get permission from the local land manager. Some local parks departments also require permission for caches in parks.

Thanks for asking. I hope this helps. I look forward to seeing what you come up with, and so will geocachers in your area.



Tom said...

Those are all good comments. The person may want to scan some recent IGO newsletters online for my ideas on durability of both containers and covering camo. The easiest way to win the love or hate of fellow cachers is to list crummy coordinates. Please do not think that you will be thought of as a "tough" hider if you purposely shoot the coordinates from a place other than where the cache is. We have some people in both Iowa and Illinois who do this to make their caches "harder" to find. Some of them have long-time experience and know better, but don't let you ego make your decisions. If people find your caches quickly, that means you did your job right! I would encourage you, especially on you first hides, to shoot the coordinates multiple times and average the numbers if necessary. Some GPSrs have an averagin feature. This will greatly increase your accuracy. Then move back about 100 feet and try to find the cache based on the coordinates. Most cachers are happy with a cache being no more than the common tolerance (16 feet either way) off. If the numbers are sloppy your "fan base" will fall as cachers put your hides on their "ignore" lists. Taking the time to do this right will pay off for everyone!

welch said...

Great advice Tom!

Just John said...

Thank you for this helpful post. I've just begun my foray into Geocaching here in Okinawa, Japan, and I was looking for a blog like this to help me.

Your tips include things that I never would have thought of, even after reading the FAQ on

Thanks again!

Passion&Happiness said...

I am already obsessed with geocaching. This would have been really helpful if i would have known about this post sooner! I just couldn't stand it anymore, this was something I just had to get done. Earlier in the year I adopted a host of geocaches, over 60 if I remember correctly. A little at a time I have visited each of those caches and cleaned, restocked or down right replaced them. It was a mission of love for the sport, hobby, obsession of geocaching. I am a believer that the cache owner is responsible for the continual condition of a cache. Those words for many are controversial but I do not care. For many believe it is up to the geocaching community to keep trade items stocked and caches in good shape. Though that is a really great concept we all know it is not enough and I will add trade items to empty caches regardless if they are mine or not. So people should not be surprised if I take a sense of pride by keeping my caches stocked. Did I mention I have about 100 of them? No I am not rich nor can I afford loads of goodies but the Dollar Store is my friend and I do fill them with trading items when I can. Sue me for caring... but I digress. So where was I? Oh yes, my mission to update my caches in Durham, NC.

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