Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2
TheBelwits

Newbie questions

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

We're very new to Geocaching, based near Southampton.  Kids are 9 & 11, and really enjoying our walks, and the dog's pretty happy about it too!

I'm amazed by how many caches there are within a mile of our house!  Apologies for some newbie questions, and if they're in the wrong place, but some advice needed please?

 

1.  I'm thinking of buying a Garmin Etrex 10. Seems to be well suited to beginners.  Hoping to get a bargain on eBay but they seem to hold their price - which seems to endorse my choice.  I've been using my iphone so far.  Is it worth getting the GPS (other than battery life, being able to download cache details etc) to improve accuracy?  Don't want to spend £75 and then kids aren't enjoying themselves any more.

 

2.  The last couple of caches were quite disappointing for the kids.  Found one last night which was waterlogged, the log book was black with mould and wet through and the box contained 3 pencils, a latex glove and half a pack of tissues.  What is it with packs of tissues in caches?!  That's about 3 or 4 we've seen; is it a thing?!  Should I report this to the person who left the cache or will I put someone's nose out of joint if I cleaned-up myself?

 

Many thanks,

Steve.

Share this post


Link to post
8 minutes ago, TheBelwits said:

1.  I'm thinking of buying a Garmin Etrex 10. Seems to be well suited to beginners.  Hoping to get a bargain on eBay but they seem to hold their price - which seems to endorse my choice.  I've been using my iphone so far.  Is it worth getting the GPS (other than battery life, being able to download cache details etc) to improve accuracy?  Don't want to spend £75 and then kids aren't enjoying themselves any more.

 

Depends on the phone you have, and how accurate you're finding it.  My last phone was horrible for accuracy, never seemed to get a good lock on sats.  I got a new phone when we moved to Germany, and I regularly get accuracy down to 10m now.  I've been caching for 11 years with a GPSr, so that's my primary means, but if I were starting out now with the phone I have, I might be happy with just that.

 

8 minutes ago, TheBelwits said:

2.  The last couple of caches were quite disappointing for the kids.  Found one last night which was waterlogged, the log book was black with mould and wet through and the box contained 3 pencils, a latex glove and half a pack of tissues.  What is it with packs of tissues in caches?!  That's about 3 or 4 we've seen; is it a thing?!  Should I report this to the person who left the cache or will I put someone's nose out of joint if I cleaned-up myself?

 

Some people just put rubbish in geocaches.  Don't know why.  I've never had a problem with anyone clearing trash out of mine.  That alone isn't worth reporting that a cache needs maintenance.  But a wet moldy log book is definitely a reason to hit the "needs maintenance" flag and alert the owner and other cachers that the cache needs some love.

Edited by hzoi

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks kzoi. 

 

The iphone is suiting us for now but while looking for easier caches, many of which with very kid-friendly hints. I have no idea of the accuracy of a GPSr vs an iphone.  Will keep looking on ebay for noe.

 

The owner of our last find hasn't been active since 2015.  I'll message the owner, and if no reply, I guess I'll give it a clean-out.

 

Thanks again, Steve.

Share this post


Link to post

On the unmaintained cache, when you log, tap the "report a problem" (or some similar wording). You cleaning it out is noble, but that still leaves an unmaintained cache that will get nasty again. Logging a "needs maintenance" (reporting the problem) alerts the owner, and it also flags the cache listing so that if the owner doesn't do anything about it, it starts the process towards being archived (removed from the listings, so that the area is freed up for a new cache, and so that people don't go looking for a disgusting cache).

Share this post


Link to post
49 minutes ago, TheBelwits said:

1.  I'm thinking of buying a Garmin Etrex 10. Seems to be well suited to beginners.  Hoping to get a bargain on eBay but they seem to hold their price - which seems to endorse my choice.  I've been using my iphone so far.  Is it worth getting the GPS (other than battery life, being able to download cache details etc) to improve accuracy?  Don't want to spend £75 and then kids aren't enjoying themselves any more.

 

If you look through the forums, you’ll find that phone vs GPSr debates can become pretty divisive!

 

GPS accuracy (or at least, responsiveness) on the phones I first used for caching was an issue, but I don’t think that’s the case now.  And you have to remember there’s no guarantee that the cache coordinates are 100% accurate.  The GPS will get you to the approximate location but then your cache-sense needs to kick in. :-)

 

From what I remember, the main shortcoming of the Etrex 10 is that it has no maps - it just points you to the cache and counts down the distance.  The 20/30 models include mapping.  (I’m sure someone here will correct me if I’m wrong!)

  • Upvote 1
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, TriciaG said:

On the unmaintained cache, when you log, tap the "report a problem" (or some similar wording). You cleaning it out is noble, but that still leaves an unmaintained cache that will get nasty again. Logging a "needs maintenance" (reporting the problem) alerts the owner, and it also flags the cache listing so that if the owner doesn't do anything about it, it starts the process towards being archived (removed from the listings, so that the area is freed up for a new cache, and so that people don't go looking for a disgusting cache).

Ok, will do, thank you.  As I say, still very new to all of this!

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, IceColdUK said:

 

If you look through the forums, you’ll find that phone vs GPSr debates can become pretty divisive!

 

GPS accuracy (or at least, responsiveness) on the phones I first used for caching was an issue, but I don’t think that’s the case now.  And you have to remember there’s no guarantee that the cache coordinates are 100% accurate.  The GPS will get you to the approximate location but then your cache-sense needs to kick in. :-)

 

From what I remember, the main shortcoming of the Etrex 10 is that it has no maps - it just points you to the cache and counts down the distance.  The 20/30 models include mapping.  (I’m sure someone here will correct me if I’m wrong!)

At the moment, my cache-sense is limited!  I think we'll stick to the iphone for now, and then see what happens - thank you.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, TheBelwits said:

2.  The last couple of caches were quite disappointing for the kids.  Found one last night which was waterlogged, the log book was black with mould and wet through and the box contained 3 pencils, a latex glove and half a pack of tissues.  What is it with packs of tissues in caches?!  That's about 3 or 4 we've seen; is it a thing?!  Should I report this to the person who left the cache or will I put someone's nose out of joint if I cleaned-up myself?

Don't worry about cleaning out trash found in caches. Trash includes anything that shouldn't be there in the first place (e.g., anything edible, scented, or illegal). Trash also includes things like half a pack of tissues, any other personal products that are now unsanitary after having been in the cache, expired coupons, etc. And such things aren't really worth posting a Needs Maintenance log. Just clean them out. You can leave new trade items to replenish the cache if you want, but you don't have to. Cleaning out the trash is actually improving its condition for the next finder.

 

What is worth posting a Needs Maintenance log for is the waterlogged moldy condition. Even if you clean everything up, the container isn't doing its job of protecting its contents, and everything will just end up returning to the waterlogged moldy condition. So that is something to post a Needs Maintenance log for. For reference, see the Help Center article When a cache needs maintenance.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, TheBelwits said:

I'm thinking of buying a Garmin Etrex 10. Seems to be well suited to beginners. 

 

I'd kind of agree, but the 10 is so basic that I believe an investment towards something better is warranted.  

If you like that style, a 20 or 30 would be more practical .

There is little difference in newer phones and handheld GPSrs,  with "accuracy" the same really.

I didn't see which iphone version you have, but most are fine for caching today.

 

Your NM log for a moldy log and contents I feel is warranted.  Smart going after small and regulars to keep the kids interested.  :)

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post

Sadly, due to climate and poor choice of container, finding soggy caches in UK is quite common. I have cached there (168 finds) and that was my experience. You could be off finding more caches rather than cleaning out sad ones.

Thinking back, very few were larger than micro and I recall finding only one ammo can cache. When I've been in the UK I've had quite a few trackables with me to place but it took a while to drop them due to the lack of containers big enough to hold them that were also resistant to the elements.

Inspite of the containers, we were taken to many interesting places we would not have otherwise come across.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post

I started with an etrex10, but was fortunate to be able to unexpectedly upgrade to a 30x thanks to a monetary windfall.  If you are caching with kids I would stick with the phone until you know how committed they are but start saving for the 20x or 30x as kids will probably find the colour screens with mapping more user appealing.

 

And sadly a lot of caches in UK are wet, damp, mouldy, contain trash etc.  Out of the 300+ I found to date only around 10 contained any swag worth taking suitable for kids & many are too small to hold anything other than the log.  As you are a Premium Member concentrate on those caches as they are overall better quality IMHO.  And make getting to interesting places a main aim.

Edited by grimpil
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
17 hours ago, TheBelwits said:

Thanks kzoi. 

 

The iphone is suiting us for now but while looking for easier caches, many of which with very kid-friendly hints. I have no idea of the accuracy of a GPSr vs an iphone. 

 

Just to add - iPhone is excellent in terms of accuracy. The bigger problem might be battery life if you leave GPS running. If you can sleep the app etc... then you should be OK most of the time - a portable battery pack is a good idea for a longer day out.

 

And then dropping it might be an issue. Or in heavy rain. But I've never used anything else.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post

I think there are two more point to add. The smartphone's accuracy is sufficient nowadays and using an external powerbank you won't have problems with the energy and in fact I know some cachers that onl use there smartphone. There are good apps and so on.... BUT:

 

You have two young children and I am sure they will like geocaching more if they are allowed to use the GPS device to find the path themselves.

1) Do you want your 9 year old to carry your smartphone through the woulds and in the mountains and ...!? He might drop it. I usually drop my GSP device and luckily it is much more robust than my phone.

2) And don't forget: two children, two devices. The young one gets the GPS device (point 1) and the old one the smartphone. Just to stop discussions between the two who is next. ;-)

 

So without your children I would say using your smartphone is sufficient these day but under those circumstances....

 

Have fun! :-)

Jochen

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you all for your replies, and great advice.  It's all really useful and all very valid.  Maybe expectations were too high as to what to expect from each cache, but we will - as suggested - perhaps stick to the premium caches to keep the kids' interest up.

 

Thank you Jochen for your comments - those were my concerns about continuing to use an iPhone.  I would like to get a GPS to minimise the risk of my iPhone being dropped, lost and/or waterlogged, but based on the comments here, I think maybe an Etrex 20 or 30 is worth considering.  I shall have a look at the other threads on this forum for some further advice.

 

Thanks again all!

Share this post


Link to post
16 minutes ago, TheBelwits said:

Maybe expectations were too high as to what to expect from each cache, but we will - as suggested - perhaps stick to the premium caches to keep the kids' interest up.

Premium cache are not always better than non premium. Perso I would check cache that have a fair number of favorite point.

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, TheBelwits said:

Thank you Jochen for your comments - those were my concerns about continuing to use an iPhone.  I would like to get a GPS to minimise the risk of my iPhone being dropped, lost and/or waterlogged, but based on the comments here, I think maybe an Etrex 20 or 30 is worth considering.

 

I had an Etrex30 for some time but lost it - twice! Once I found it lying in a canyon (winter time and wet...) and the second time it was lost forever. :-(

What I can tell for sure after the first accident: It is robust! So it is probably fine for your situation. The size should be perfect for your childrens' hands, too.

 

If you take #30 or #20 shouldn't matter. But do not take the #10 as you can't use own maps as someone stated. Using a map is helpful and makes things easier and - not to forget - a prefect exercise if the children may do the routing for you. :-)

 

As Lynx Humble points out: forget about the premium caches, they are as good or bas as others. Search for bigger caches (minimal size "small" on the website, better regular) and try to avoid to high of a difficulty rating as this may be frustrating. Perhaps higher terrain (like tree or rock climbing) may be perfect for your children but you know them best.

If you are out in the jungle and climb over heavy rock finding an ammunition box in the end perhaps close to an old bunker - I am sure your children will like this. And with a little more fantasy many places are as cool as that. Perhaps you need to find the correct story? Try multicaching with your kids - some will like it, some won't.

 

There are so many cool caches to do with children. Just have fun!

Jochen

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post

It's really difficult to know which caches are going to be a great shape when you find them - and I certainly recognise the "black, mouldy slab" issue. And, yes, tissues. Why?! :-)

 

You're obviously looking for larger caches which is a good starting point. I guess one thing to look for is resent Owner Maintenance logs. On the first cache you found the owner had visited it just the week before and put in their log about adding swag. That's a great indicator! Ones that have never been visited and the logs are complaining about mess? Good indicator the other way. Obviously this mean trawling through logs for each cache which I can understand might be a drag, but if you want the great stuff to keep the kids keen then this is probably the only way to do it reliably. Once you've found some cache owners who you like, in terms of their caches, you can then think about finding their caches perhaps as well.

 

I'm also completely unconvinced that premium cache are any better in themselves by the way - and certainly no more kid friendly.

 

What you do have fairly close is some great locations for geocaches. I *think* the New Forest operates a system whereby there is a limit on the number of caches allowed. That **might** just mean that the caches there are a little "better" in terms of being looked after and so on - I've visited parts of the forest and the caches certainly seemed pretty good, although I don't recall the swaps situation. Again, I don't think this is foolproof, but when you want a nice day for the kids then that might be worth considering. There's a set to the west of Fritham - which seem to be premium only and also seem to be new - which may be worth a look - the old cache at the Submarine Pens was great and it's a good location for a walk out to as well imo. Probably loads of conkers and chestnuts as well :-)

 

And, honestly, I'd wait until next spring before buying a GPS device. You'll know if you're going to use it regularly by then. Some National Trust properties have ones you can borrow and do cache trails with by the way. That might be worth a look - no idea if there's anywhere like that down with you.

 

 

Edited by Blue Square Thing
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, you can report the caches as Needs Maintenance. You can also clean it up yourself if you like although it's certainly not required. I used to carry wet wipes, dry clothes, some cheap swag from the thrift store, some small notebooks,  and Ziploc bags. I would pick 1 cache per day and clean it up. Of course, before you do that, make sure there isn't a problem with the container because if there is everything will get wet again.

 

I used to take families out. I would always bring a bag of swag so if a cache was disappointing, I would let the kids pick something from the bag. Or just toss some swag into the cache immediately after opening. 

  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post

Again, all great advice - thank you all for taking the time out to reply.  I think I'll bide my time on the GPSr and use the iPhone for the time-being and just enjoy ourselves, and maybe pick up a bargain in the New Year.  I like the idea of taking a bag of swag to avoid disappointment.

 

Good tip to check the maintenance logs when choosing caches - thanks Blue Square Thing.  I don't think that's too onerous, and I'd rather put the time in beforehand and avoid the kids being disappointed.  I'll also have a look at National Trust properties - I had no idea, but that sounds really interesting.

 

Thanks again.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post

Brand new 'newbie', haven't done a single search yet.  I'm wondering which android app is best for this activity.  Suggestions?  Also, can I use a regular GPS to do this as well?  I would prefer a phone app.

Share this post


Link to post
42 minutes ago, LTvstrom said:

Brand new 'newbie', haven't done a single search yet.  I'm wondering which android app is best for this activity.  Suggestions?  Also, can I use a regular GPS to do this as well?  I would prefer a phone app.

 

Do you have a particular phone?  iPhone or other?  Apps tend to be OS specific.  You can try most of them for free, see what seems suitable.  Try the Official Geocaching App.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, LTvstrom said:

Brand new 'newbie', haven't done a single search yet.  I'm wondering which android app is best for this activity.  Suggestions?  Also, can I use a regular GPS to do this as well?  I would prefer a phone app.

As a regular / non-premium member, the official app ("Geocaching" by Groundspeak, Inc.) will limit you to caches under a certain difficulty & terrain rating. It'll give you a taste of caching, but just the "easy" caches. Other apps, such as GCDroid, will limit you to 3 caches per day, but do not have the difficulty/terrain limitation.

You can certainly use a regular GPS to do it, but it's a bit more work getting the coordinates and cache info to the device. :)

Edited by TriciaG
tpyo

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, LTvstrom said:

Brand new 'newbie', haven't done a single search yet.  I'm wondering which android app is best for this activity.  Suggestions?  Also, can I use a regular GPS to do this as well?  I would prefer a phone app.

 

What do you mean by a "regular GPS"?  The one in your car?  Not very well. 

A handheld GPS is ideal IMO.  You never have to worry about not having cell coverage and the battery lasts a lot longer.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 9/25/2018 at 1:08 PM, cerberus1 said:

 

I'd kind of agree, but the 10 is so basic that I believe an investment towards something better is warranted.  

If you like that style, a 20 or 30 would be more practical .

There is little difference in newer phones and handheld GPSrs,  with "accuracy" the same really.

I didn't see which iphone version you have, but most are fine for caching today.

 

Your NM log for a moldy log and contents I feel is warranted.  Smart going after small and regulars to keep the kids interested.  :)

This

MsKitty uses an etrex 20 and has great success with it.

Share this post


Link to post
9 hours ago, BCandMsKitty said:

MsKitty uses an etrex 20 and has great success with it.

 

Talking about accuracy: the etrex series has some disadvantages, e. g. it has a very slow processor, but the accuracy is perfectly fine, even with older models. 😁😁😁 

 

I miss my old etrex 30.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2

×