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DragonflyTotem

Tools of the Trade (TOTT)

33 posts in this topic

I've seen a few references to some things sold on ebay as Tools of the Trade -- mostly has been magnetic tools for retrieving. That lead me to a site that had a really neat grabber kind of thing, which they of course were sold out of. But that all has me wanting to ask -- what exactly are the things that are recommended as minimum need to have things, beyond something like a GPS, compass, and such?

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... what exactly are the things that are recommended as minimum need to have things, beyond something like a GPS, compass, and such?
Well, since I'm typically out in the back-country when I'm caching I most often have a full technical daypack going on. My Urban Cacheing-bag, though, currently appears to contain...

 

<drum roll, please>

 

Several spare AA batteries, a flashlight, snacks (Cliff bars!), trade-swag, some pens and pencils, a small spiral notebook, a little spare change, my Gerber pocket multi-tool, an unpaid parking ticket, Band-Aids of various sizes, some quart-sized Zip Lock bags, two kitchen-size trash-bags (tall), the USB thumb-drive I thought I'd lost, a Post-It Note with coordinates (???) aaaaand... Some various bits of flora/fauna. That seems to be about it.

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... what exactly are the things that are recommended as minimum need to have things, beyond something like a GPS, compass, and such?
Well, since I'm typically out in the back-country when I'm caching I most often have a full technical daypack going on. My Urban Cacheing-bag, though, currently appears to contain...

 

<drum roll, please>

 

Several spare AA batteries, a flashlight, snacks (Cliff bars!), trade-swag, some pens and pencils, a small spiral notebook, a little spare change, my Gerber pocket multi-tool, an unpaid parking ticket, Band-Aids of various sizes, some quart-sized Zip Lock bags, two kitchen-size trash-bags (tall), the USB thumb-drive I thought I'd lost, a Post-It Note with coordinates (???) aaaaand... Some various bits of flora/fauna. That seems to be about it.

 

What is a Gerber pocket multi-tool? And what do you use the unpaid parking ticket for? :lol:

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I've made several retrieval tools on the spot. I've used branches, grass, tape, string, rope, paperclips, rocks, barb wire etc all to fashion tools for retieval. So I guess I'd recommend a roll of duck tape and some thin rope as TOTT - get creative from there.

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What is a Gerber pocket multi-tool?
You know, one of those Leatherman tool type-things. Gotta have at least one. Just that mine are made by Gerber, not Leatherman.

 

And what do you use the unpaid parking ticket for?
Meeting cute girls (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
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We keep a little step-ladder in the back of our SUV... unfortunately it won't fit in our geo-bag.

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I've added a tweezers to my tools. Seems like all we have around here are micros and I've used them several times to pull logs out of the containers.

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And what do you use the unpaid parking ticket for?

 

TP? :lol:

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I too have fashioned retrieval tools on the spot - one stick I dubbed "Mr Pokey" was used to poke a particularly stubborn magnetic cache from between a corrugated iron roof and a roof beam.

In true geocaching style, I recycled/reused Mr Pokey as a fetch toy for geodog.

 

But yeah - my backpack is still changing its contents as I do more different kinds of caches (urban, forest, mountain, etc)

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I recently added a tool to my travelling inventory which I'm quite proud of despite it's simplicity. I covered a couple of steel washers on one side with sticky-backed Velcro (hook on one and loop on the other) and trimmed off all the velcro that stuck out past the edge of the washer. Then I stuck the two together and tossed them in my caching kit.

 

Now when I need a velcro retrieval tool, I separate the two washers and put the appropriate side for the job at hand on the end of my telescoping magnet and voila! My magnetic TOTT becomes a velcro TOTT.

 

My travelling TOTT also include a telescoping inspection mirror, a small (2-AAA) flashlight, tweezers, a long bent-jawed hemostat, and a Leatherman Skeletool. Of course I always have my trusty telescoping Fisher Space Pen and a small notepad in my pockets and my HTC Touch Pro on my belt for accessing the Internet, taking pictures, and even using as a telephone once in awhile. I don't really consider those last three items TOTT, though, 'cause they're always with me whether I'm caching or not.

 

Pete

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I recently added a tool to my travelling inventory which I'm quite proud of despite it's simplicity. I covered a couple of steel washers on one side with sticky-backed Velcro (hook on one and loop on the other) and trimmed off all the velcro that stuck out past the edge of the washer. Then I stuck the two together and tossed them in my caching kit.

 

Now when I need a velcro retrieval tool, I separate the two washers and put the appropriate side for the job at hand on the end of my telescoping magnet and voila! My magnetic TOTT becomes a velcro TOTT.

 

My travelling TOTT also include a telescoping inspection mirror, a small (2-AAA) flashlight, tweezers, a long bent-jawed hemostat, and a Leatherman Skeletool. Of course I always have my trusty telescoping Fisher Space Pen and a small notepad in my pockets and my HTC Touch Pro on my belt for accessing the Internet, taking pictures, and even using as a telephone once in awhile. I don't really consider those last three items TOTT, though, 'cause they're always with me whether I'm caching or not.

 

Pete

 

Wow, interesting idea. Still being new to all of this -- do you run into many caches that are retrievable using velcro?

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Tweezers are a must!! I run into caches all the time that the logs are hard to get out (micros), especially the wet ones!!!

 

I added a couple of things to the car to use in special circumstances, not all the time.

 

One was a coat hanger. It worked perfectly to remove one cache that said you had to bring a removal tool. Some dont tell you that.

 

The other was a set of yard clippers.

The cache that started this was in a run-down backwoods section along the river with no redeeming value, so it's not like I was clipping plants in a state park or something.

 

But it was a puzzle cache that was only found once in the last year, and not for 9 months or so. The place had simply overgrown with blackberries etc.. (in Washington things grow FAST). I simply could not get in to it. I came out all scratched up and bloody on the first try. Came back with clippers and got right to it. Now we leave them in the car.

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Still being new to all of this -- do you run into many caches that are retrievable using velcro?

Define "many". ;)

 

Cache containers down pipes and other hidey-holes you can't get an arm down may not be common, but they're certainly not unheard of. Of the 1038 caches I've found so far, I'd guess that 25-30 of them were like that. Of those, most could be retrieved with a magnet but I can recall 7-10 which were plastic containers with velcro on the lid.

 

Pete

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Still being new to all of this -- do you run into many caches that are retrievable using velcro?

Define "many". :)

 

Cache containers down pipes and other hidey-holes you can't get an arm down may not be common, but they're certainly not unheard of. Of the 1038 caches I've found so far, I'd guess that 25-30 of them were like that. Of those, most could be retrieved with a magnet but I can recall 7-10 which were plastic containers with velcro on the lid.

 

Pete

 

Found one recently...plastic container in a metal pipe with nothing on the lid.

 

I used a wad a duct tape on the end of a long screw driver. ;)

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In the first few weeks of caching, before I had any idea what I needed to pack in my caching bag--indeed, before I even had a caching bag-- I managed to replace a micro in the wrong hole and watched helplessly as it dropped out of sight. A quick note to the cache owner and a few days later we were back with a telescoping magnetic tool retriever. A must-have!

 

Other things to pack in your caching bag are things you might need to make quick repairs to caches you find. I carry duct tape, baby wipes and paper towels, extra paper and zip-lock baggies.

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A mirror and tweezers are the 2 most used tools in my bag.

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I'm getting lots of good ideas from this and have started my shopping list.

 

One other question -- there's been a few references to this stuff as being in your bags....what kind of bag? Even better, it would be great to see a pic of the bag or whatever you use.

 

I'm guessing that there might be a need to have a trade-off between great utility and looking like you might be the Unibomber so it seems that you've got to also pick a bag that doesn't look too weird/out of place but yet can still easily carry some of this stuff around.

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I keep my bag on the back of my trusty caching steed. I do just about all my caching on it so it's a good place for my TOTT, but on the rare occasions I leave trusty steed at home I keep the bag in the trunk of my car.

 

steed1.jpg

 

Pete

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Check my "Profile" Page for some additional info that maybe helpful. Stay safe.....

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Check my "Profile" Page for some additional info that maybe helpful. Stay safe.....

thanks for the hint about your profile.. lots of good info there =)

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Check my "Profile" Page for some additional info that maybe helpful. Stay safe.....

Nice info there. But I'd like to point out that $30 / year = 8.2 cents / day, not .12 cents (or even $0.12) :lol:

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I've been taking all these good ideas and have been hunting ebay and Amazon for them. I did find something interesting that I think that I'll add to my bag and since it hasn't been mentioned thought that I'd share. It's on Amazon and is described as a "telescoping aluminum backscratcher, a fork for people whose elbows don't bend, or a sand rake for miniature Zen gardens." It telescopes from 6-5/8" to 20-3/8" long, the 5-tine rake is 1-3/16" wide, and it has a pocket clip and sells for $2.95. Looks like a pretty good "look under there" kind of tool.

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Another good tool-of-the-trade: a dog.

 

She is very useful for blending into the background as just another dog walker. Also, the appearance of, ahem, scooping poop is just hiding the fact I've found the cache and I need to kneel down to retrieve it and sign the log.

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i have the best "blend in excuse" my 7 year old daughter.... people don't even question us in the woods or even looking the ground for things and if they ask we just she lost her ball or something lol

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Maybe I'm too new to say anything, but it seems to me, that one has to match the tools to his/her situation.

There is nothing I'm remotely interested in as far as large urban settings. So, when I go out in the summer months, I always take stout leather gloves. It hasn't happened yet but the thought of a buzz tail or copper napping in a log certainly gets my attention! Like duct tape, a QUALITY compass, not electronic, always goes with me. My TOTT is worn on my hip in a military-type utility pouch attached to a web cartridge belt. It's waterproof, and easy to get to, not like a pack. :lol:

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I found some grilling tongs (long ones) for 75 cents at a grocery store. I have used them several times when reaching into a deep hole....especially helpful when the hole is filled with bugs and rotting wood. A local cacher, TPrints, suggested a small mirror which is helpful to see into difficult places.

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In my previous posting in this thread, I only mentioned the TOTT I carry on my bicycle or on my person when I'm afoot, but I also carry some caching gear in the trunk of my car for those NO WAY! moments we all come across on occasion. Among them are one of those 40" grabbers that are commonly used for picking up trash. I also carry a 24-foot telescoping windsock/banner pole with an assortment of attachments for the pointy end (and yeah, I've had to use it several times so far). While not used specifically for caching, I also carry some lawn-&-garden grade trash bags for CITO, a couple of ICOM 5-watt GMRS walkie-talkies for those occasional "find the missing cacher" events, and a macho flashlight which will double as a baseball bat or flamethrower in a pinch.

 

In the works is a 10-foot version of the grabber tool which will telescope down to around 40" for storage and portage. I also have a Extech cordless flexible video inspection camera (boroscope) which I've used to find a couple of lost caches, but it actually lives in my toolbox at work.

 

One thing I failed to mention that I always carry in my regular TOTT kit is a 6-foot piece of #12 solid copper electrical wire for hooking things which are out of reach. Why copper? Because it's stiff enough to do the job but soft enough to bend with my hands. Copper also tolerates repeated bending much better than most other metals. This piece of wire ranks right up there (in frequency of use) with my little flashlight and my inspection mirror.

 

Pete

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I carry a lot of little odds and ends in a mid-sized lumbar pack. But the things I use the most would be:

  • Thin (high dexterity) work gloves
  • Mirror (I use a signal mirror--use this a LOT)
  • A little notepad for notes
  • Forceps (instead of tweezers)
  • Flashlights--I do most of my caching at night and I don't skimp here
  • Extra batteries for lights and GPSr
  • Six or seven feet of 12 guage copper wire--stiff but bends easily

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I also have a Extech cordless flexible video inspection camera (boroscope) which I've used to find a couple of lost caches,

 

Recently bought me a boroscope after a friend stuck his hand under a log and got bit by a snake (not venemous) but still ruined his whole day and had to take a week off work. Now if its under logs or in bramble we use the scope to check that its not got any 'friends' with it. Some cache hiders have been devious in wrapping the box in fur, now if you feel fur in the hole what would be your reaction?

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And what do you use the unpaid parking ticket for? :lol:

I'm guessing to put on your windshield when parked illegally so that parking enforcement officers think their colleagues have already given you a ticket and don't give you another one.

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Hiking sticks to help with balance and poking. Retired dental cotton pliers (ends angled and fine tipped).

Mirror on telescoping wand. Light on telescoping wand and end is magnetized. Gloves. Reading glasses around neck. Cell phone, camera and change purse.

AA batteries (lots) and pens

Edited by popokiiti
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A log sheet rolling tool is mandatory for me, for those micro logs and trying to roll them back up.

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Another good tool-of-the-trade: a dog.

 

She is very useful for blending into the background as just another dog walker. Also, the appearance of, ahem, scooping poop is just hiding the fact I've found the cache and I need to kneel down to retrieve it and sign the log.

I'm definitely getting one of these soon... Can't wait to have a trail friend! AND a TOTT!

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