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What should I bring when I go out caching?


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I'm very new to this - been looking into this since a bit before Christmas. My son and I have found 2 caches so far and one DNF (which I think fell out of the tree and is now burried under 2 feet of snow as evidenced from the tape in the naked trees).


What would I need to pack for an excursion? Nothing major - we're still in the 1 & 2 difficulty - maybe a 3 but nothing more at this point. Nothing really extreme terrain-wise either we're not even close to going there yet. I brought a calculator the last time and it turns out it was pretty useless as there weren't enough numbers visible for it to display the total correctly and I would have had to start over. Anyways, I seem to have wandered off my original trail - back to the subject at hand.


I know to bring water if it's a long excursion but what would I normally encounter that would need special equipment? Tweezers? calculator? compass? I have a handheld GPS but I read that when you stand still it freezes or goes bonkers. I want to make sure I make it out of any situation without getting lost so I want to get a small "manual" Compass. Oh and I want to bring a notebook too.


Anything else?

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As time has gone more and more stuff has found its way into my pack. I carry my GPSr, extra batteries, about 5 pens and a pencil, a notepad for scratchwork that's needed for some multi-caches, a multitool, a couple of cache containers, some blank logs, a few trade items, travel bugs when I have them, and water bottles. I also have a walking stick for hilly terrain. I've considered carrying a flashlight and a telescoping mirror but they aren't indispensible. I've carried an extra shirt during in-between weather.

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The answer depends a lot on where it is that you are going caching....


Fire-starting material may not be necessary in the city, but it sure could come in handy otherwise :)


BAMBOOZLE's link is pretty good, but there may be more that comes in handy -- such as pointy tweezers for micro log extraction.


Edit to add: A small backpack to carry it all!

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee
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another pen,

extra pencil,

walking (poking) stick,


flashlight (I have needed one even during the daytime),

extra batteries for GPSr & flashlight,

and any other items dictated by your particular environment (rain gear, sun protection, bug protection, etc).

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Yeah - there,s a cache near my house. The coordinates brings you to a location where there are two bar codes. You take the bar code on the left and multiply that by 152 - well the numbers were more than my calculator had - out in the blowing snow there was no way I'd manage to get those numbers multiplied without freezing - I almost froze my fingers just plugging in those numbers. It's a multi and I'll have to try it again soon - it will end up being a multi trip for us to get this one, as there's another stage to this one with bar codes again


I like the suggestions and I'll probably use many of those as I can't see myself digging in any bug infested spot

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It sounded like you might be going hiking. If this is the case, then consider taking "ten essentials." You don't need these for city caching, but if you hit the trails, don't forget them.


There are actually different lists out there. I'll try to remember the basics.

1. Navigation: map, compass, GPS, extra batteries. (the compass is case the GPS fails)

2. Extra clothing. Consider if you were to twist your ankle and had to wait for help. A wool hat is always in my pack along with scarf and gloves. In the summer if I ended up out over night with nothing else extra those would go far in helping. In the winter I add an extra sweater, a dry synthetic shirt if I'm hiking far and could sweat a lot etc.

3. Extra food and water.

4. Flashlight with extra batteries. I carry 2. I got a light-weight wind-up light for my back-up. That covers it if my main light gets switched on in my backpack, or if I've used the spare batteries in my GPS.

5. Knife. A multi tool is good for caching but heavy for hiking.

6. Fire starter. Waterproof matches and a small candle to get a fire going is one possibility.

7. First aid. It's best to take a class so you'll not only know what to bring but what to do with it.

8. Cell phone. Be prepared that it may not get a signal. The original 10 essentials called for a mirror for a signaling device. If you're really going far you might consider it. Otherwise grab your cell phone.

9. Gear for inclimate weather. I believe the list states "rain gear" but if you're in snow country then plan accordingly.

10. Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.


I should add 11. HAVE FUN! That's essential!

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-Cell phone

-Pen, Pencil, and Sharpie

-I carry a micro log roller, and a safety pin on my keychain. The sharp end of the safety pin is slightly bent, to get logs out of nanos


-first aid kit-both a small one in my pack and larger one in my car

-Knife and swiss army knife

-some kind of drink, usually Gatorade

-food if I'm going out of the city

All in a Maxpedition Bag

Also in my car(at all times) some survival supplies in my car including; Jumper cables, jacket, shirt, window washer fluid, wind up/battery powered radio/flashlight, squeeze flashlight, space blanket, emergency bivy, firestarter, tinder, small camping stove/solid fuel tabs, whistle, mirror, sewing kit, and snow shovel, and an assortment of small stuff that I always use.

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Extra SOX are at the top of my list. Can't tell you how many times I've wound up with wet feet. And something to eat that doesn't get squished like an apple or granola bars. Personally, I take Gatorade instead of water. Tissue of some sort (paper towel or Kleenex)is a must. I always take ID and a bit of money too, just in case I get tired and want more than I'm carrying before getting back to my vehicle. The rest of the stuff has already been covered - these are just a few items I didn't see on anyone else's list.

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As time has gone more and more stuff has found its way into my pack.

With me, it was the opposite: as time has gone by, I don't take stuff I used to take back when I thought it would be important. And I think that's the lesson: the answer to "what should I bring?" is "whatever you've discovered you need." In other words, don't worry about it: just go out and have fun caching and learn along the way. Even if you run into the rare case where you can't find or retrieve a cache because you don't have the right tool, it's not big deal. Forget about it, or just bring the tool next time.


The one unexpected tool that I can tell you now you'll need from time to time is needle nosed tweezers. Not being able to find or retrieve a cache for good reasons is one thing, but not being able to get the log out to sign it after you've done everything else right is just the pits!


Also, always bring multiple pens so when you lose one, you still have one.


And if that GPSr starts to be annoying, don't hesitate to replace it. I've always had a good one, but I can imagine that one that isn't doing the job could easily take all the fun out of it.


A lot of the other things people talk about -- including in other responses here -- are more answers to the question, "What should I bring when I go out hiking?" If you're hiking, then of course you should listen to that advice, too, regardless of whether you're also caching.

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