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The basic GC kit


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I am new to this, got introduced to it by a friend. Been using a GPSMaps 76 borrowed from my dad, and have had some pretty good success.


I am curious to see what the more experienced geocacher takes with them when they go hunting. Lets go beyond the obvious, we know we need a GPSr and a pen, maybe a few cache descriptions to go looking for. What else should we have, and what do you use to carry it all in? A list would be nice, maybe in order of importance.

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In this case, lets add the qualifier of urban/suburban with short suburban hikes in the woods. :D

For me (from memory, not very well thought out, so I probably missed something important) :


Spare batteries. I like Eneloops because they hold their charge very well.


Spare pen. And spare pen for the spare :rolleyes:


Extra logsheets and plastic baggies - if the log is full or wet. I don't remove existing log.


Pliers - for extracting logs from difficult places.


A small flashlight - for lighting dark holes on a bright sunny day.


Plastic bags - to collect trash along the way. Not only is it a civic minded thing to do, it also provides great camouflage for hanging around an area.


Hand sanitizer, paper napkins / tissue, even a nail brush for really bad days :rolleyes:


Edit : see, knew I forgot something. My trusty Palm Vx running Cachemate, since I have a low end GPSr that doesn't do paperless very well.


Edit 2 : sometimes, a camera. I don't usually carry one with me, though, unless caching with my kids.

Edited by Chrysalides
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Adding to Chrysalides list:

Walking sticks - great for "feeling" around

Cell phones - "just in case"

Nibbles - so I don't get cranky :)

Drinks - see above

The cachemobile with the camping toilet - aaah, that's better! I kid you not on this one. Best purchase ever made, one is in the Dodge Caravan, another in the larger campervan.

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My bag has:

Swag of varying values

plastic bags for trash

spare batteries

Note pads (for replacing logs as well as making notes)

Micro log sheets and "Official Geocache" forms from the site here

Golf pencils

a Sharpie


My geocoin collection (although it's starting to get a little too big for this)

A nicer pen (for personal use)

Tweezers (for putting logs back into nanos - or slivers I suppose)

A Gerber "solstice" (mini folding scissors)

Pair of latex gloves (which I just noticed I used and didn't replace)


Sometimes items:

Bear bell


usb cable (for powering the unit in the car)

A leatherman

A flashlight

Pepper spray

small thing of bug repellant


If it's a long hike I'll take my hydro pack for water, and it has

rain poncho

butane torch

mini first aid kit


Hmm...when I write it all out like that it seems like an awful lot of stuff! But I have a medium sized camera bag dedicated to the cause, so it's not as bad as it seems.

Edited by aniyn
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...What else should we have, and what do you use to carry it all in? A list would be nice, maybe in order of importance.


I do more caching in the deeper wilderness, so I carry 2x GPS, multiple batteries, a head-band flashlight, etc... A lot of contingency planning gear because I may be away from the car for a long time.


But a few things that I think are important in an urban environment, so important that I never go out without them. I will prioritize them based on what I need to get done to find and log a cache:


I. Priority 1 and 2: I have to know where I am headed (cache lookup) and how to get there (GPSr). My blackberry running Trimble Geocaching Navigator. Navigator only works where you have good data coverage on your phone/PDA, but it was a total game-changer, until I learned how to download enite cache descriptions on my Nuvi. But prior to that my whole geocaching world revolved around my blackberry. I can get out of my car anywhere, anytime, and using only my blackberry (which has a good GPS in it) lookup, find, and log any cache. I now have all 10,000 caches in the area I travel loaded in my Nuvi, with notes, hints, past logs, etc. and the same database loaded into my 60csx without the logs, hints, and description. But I still use my balckberry with no other GPSr for caching a few times a week.


II. Priority 3: I have to be able to see the cache. Signal mirror. I still carry the signal mirror that I was issued in the Army over 25 years ago. I would say that 1 out of every 6 or 8 urban caches, I find with the mirror. I have the small one, 2x3 inches, and I will never, ever cache without it. It is the second most important tool I carry. I also sometimes use the camera on my blackberry to get a look under bridges, behind fences, etc. This also means bringing a higher-output flashlight. In addition to my everyday LED penlight, I carry a little Dorcy 200-lumen LED light so I can see into holes and crevices even in bright sunlight. It is like a car headlight.


III. Priority 4: I have to be able to touch the cache sooner or later. I carry a nice pair of leather mechanics gloves. These are the tighter, thinner gloves like a mechanic might use to maintain some dexterity. Gardening gloves are similar. You have to be able to reach into places in and feel around, without any apprehension, or you'll start skimming over spots and making your search much harder.


IV. Priority 5 and 6: I have to be able to retrieve it and open it. I carry some stiff copper sire to use as "fish tape" to snake caches out of fence railings, etc. I carry a small pair of forceps in lieu of tweezers to reach nanos and get nano logs out. I carry a Leatherman tool that includes knife, screwdrivers and pliers, and use them often. Some carry lengths of cord with steel plumbs or magnets to retrieve magnetic caches, but I haven't.


V. Priority 7: Once I open the cache, I have administrative stuff to do. I carry a little pocket notebook so I can keep all kinds of notes. I write down TB/coin numbers that I want to discover... notes about the cache especially if maintenance is needed. I often do 10+ finds in one run and even when I log "found/not found" on my blackberry, I still need notes when I get home to complete my logs. I also use it to jot down clues/answers on multis and puzzle caches, and write down where I dropped a coin or TB. I hate getting home and realizing I don't remember which cache I dropped a bug into.


That's it, that's my must-have list. I try to carry maint. supplies like paper scrolls and little ziplocs so I can help fix up caches I find, but the items above are my must-haves. I also carry a bison and a match-tube with log in it, ready to place in case I find a perfect spot while I am out. I use rechargables and I carry 6x AAA and 4x AA fully charged spares with me.

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If we're doing a caching day that really only includes us getting in and out of the car a lot, I'll only keep a few things on me:


Our stickers



Mirror (to look under and inside things so you don't have to put your hands where you can't see)





But, if we're doing a hike or a caching day that requires more than just getting out of the car and lifting a lamp skirt I'll bring:


Water bottle




Trade Items

Band aids

anti-bacterial spray


sun screen

bug spray

emergency rain ponchos (the $1.00 ones)





There's more, but it's a long list.

Edited by anakerose
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Wow nobody else carries a mechanical compass in their kit??


My Vista Cx has a built-in electronic compass but, sometimes it's nice to go old school lol ;)


Old school, does that also include a sextant? Now that would be a challenge! <_<


I am still curious to see what kind of carry pack, back pack, or fanny pack you guys are using. I snagged a fanny pack from the wife to hold stuff for my urban hunts. My thought was to have everything in one pack, ready to grab and go. The mirror and gloves suggestions are a good ones, I am going to look for ones I can use.

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For carrying -

Our family uses the fanny packs (sorry UK-based cachers -- that's what we call them here!). Each family member has his or her own, and we keep them stocked with our version of the lists already posted so that we can grab up our packs and hit the door at a moment's notice with a minimal amount of looking for stuff.

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We're pretty new to this too...but here's our list of "must haves" so far:


Our Camelbacks. It holds 1000ml of water and functions just like a back pack. So by bringing it, I always have enough fluids and can carry all my stuff. Even if it turns out to be a mostly-in-the-car day.


I have a baggy full of "swag" I guess, stuff for the kids, smashed pennies, foreign coins.

I have a baggy with several spare batteries

I have a few extra baggies. I also carry a few plastic bags, for picking up trash, or if nothing else, to throw muddy shoes in when back at the car.

I have a small notebook, two pens.

I carry bug spray (necessary!).

I have a flashlight.

Any geocoins or travelbugs that I'm moving that day.

I also have stuff in my pack that may someday come in handy, little sheets that dissolve into soap, pack towel, lighter.


I totally need to get some gloves...some stuff out there....ICK. My husband this weekend found a cache in a hidey hole, and it had been taking over by an ant nest. Heebie Jeebies! Glad it was him. I don't mind getting dirty, but getting crawled on is different! I like the idea of mirror on a stick thingy too.


Anyway, this is what we start with, I am guessing we'll be adding more as we live and learn.

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I am still curious to see what kind of carry pack, back pack, or fanny pack you guys are using.

Oooops, I posted my previous post under my old username, I'm the one with the mirror, LOL.


I carry all my gear in a High Sierra Ridgeline bag that also has 2x water bottles. It only has 2 big pockets, I need another pack the same size overall, but that is more compartmentalized. I have added 2 external pouches on the waistband and that makes getting the pack on and off more cumbersome.


A few things I apply to geocaching from my many years as a special operations soldier:


Idiot Cord Everything Important. I have idiot cords... fine lanyard cords that attach to my flashlights, GPSr, compass, and mirror. Whenever I take one of those "essential" items out of the bag I clip it on to a caribiner on my belt. I do a lot of night caching and can't afford to drop anything. I also have little strips of 3M scotchlight tape on all my essential items including blackberry, GPSr, flashlights, notebook and pen. If I drop them in grass at night I can find them with a flashlight.


Load Plan. When I am going to hunt at a GZ for a while, I drop my pack at the center if the search circle, both to lighten up my load and to mark the center. And thus, my GPSr and one flashlight are always on my belt, not in the pack. I have a 3-layer load plan--stuff I may need over the course of a day is in the car, stuff I need with me but I can be away from briefly are in the pack, and some essential items are always--ALWAYS--on my person. That is GPS and cell phone by day, and add a flashlight at night.


At home and in the car, I keep all my gear in the bag so I can bolt for those urgent FTFs, LOL. All I have to do is grab my Nuvi off the car windshield and drop it in its pocket pouch, and all the sudden I have 3x GPSr's on my person.

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Whether we are doing nearby caches or distant caches we always take 2-3 Gatorades for each of us, and some kind of lunch. You never know how long you are going to be out. We have also learned to take pretzels. We did a cache on the top of a peak and by the time we got back down I had a migraine, come to find out it was a lack of salt, so I always take pretzels. Other than what I had already mentioned, our GPS, and trade items we carry:


Spare batteries

Trash bags and gloves

Rubber bands

Spare logs

Pens, about three of them

A notepad


Cell phone


Mosquito repellent

TP, for those long wilderness caches with no facilities in sight




A Knife

A Needle, for retrieving cactus or mosquite thorns from skin

Hand santitizer

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Wow nobody else carries a mechanical compass in their kit??


Yes, I do carry a compass, but I never find myself actually using it. You DO have to recalibrate a GPSr compass, like a 60CSx, frequently... at least every few hours.


If you are going to do some cache hunting out in the wilderness, a compass can be a great backup in case you have problems with your GPS. On longer hikes, have a panic azimuth-- That is, even without a map or a working GPS, always know the azimuth on your compass that will get you to the nearest linear terrain feature, like a road or river that you can't miss.


When I am wilderness hiking I set "boxes" for myself. I have a river to my east, a highway to the north 8 miles away, a railroad track on my west boundary 12 miles away, etc. If I encounter one of those terrain features I know I may be leaving my preset boundaries and I better crack a map or check the GPSr before continuing on into a new box. My panic azimuth is whatever straight line will get me to the closest of those boundaries. "If I hike on heading 097 for about 2 miles, I should get to a road, which if I follow south (a right turn from my azimuth) for a couple of miles should put me at the SE corner of my box, 300 yards from where I parked. If my hike on 097 goes for more than 4 miles then I am not where I think I am and I need to stop and execute my pre-planned loss-of-orientation procedure."

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Forgot to note that we do carry a manual/mechanical compass and a calculator. We just purchased bum bags/fanny packs for the closer to the car caches. We each have a mirror on a telescopic handle (automotive section of stores) for looking into awkward areas. My favourite item are my gloves with a rubber type coating on the palms...had a few slimy encounters prior to that........YUK! And whistles....we each have one so we can locate each other after going in different directions from GZ.

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"execute my pre-planned loss-of-orientation procedure."



LOL... If you are serious about wilderness play as opposed to walks in urban wooded parks, you gotta have a plan.


Once I realize that I am not at all where I think I am--probably not even that close, and may have violated my pre-planned boundaries, then simply walking on my panic azimuth for however long that takes no longer serves any purpose. Now I need to switch to an organized search pattern that will help me search for landmarks and key terrain, but will not take me a long distance from my "last known good" location.


Not knowing where I am = disoriented. But wandering, not even knowing where I started from = lost.


Simply wandering around won't help. It takes me farther and farther from my "last known good" position and farther from where someone will look for me if I am in big trouble.


I may mark the point where I became disoriented, and then do a fan search, hiking out a set distance from that point, and then back if I found nothing. If on one of these fans I find something useful--shelter material, fire fuel, and especially water, I note that so I can come back if things deteriorate.


I know for a lot of readers this all sounds silly, but again, if you are a wilderness hiker, then you already know how easy it is to get disoriented and how important it is to have a plan. It is one thing to be in a larger city park where your longest straight-line walk before boundary intercept is a quarter mile. It is another thing to be in the wilderness where walking the wrong straight-line path may take you 20 miles from your last known good fix. Even in a state or county park with heavy foliage and rougher terrain, a two-mile by two-mile park can take a day plus to get out of if you are not organized.


We get spoiled by GPS, but like many other people, I have the problem where my 60CSx periodicaly loses it's "G series chipset firmware" and you learn quickly that you have to have a plan.

Edited by Sky King 36
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