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Defining a quality cache.

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With all of the talk about what makes and doesn't make a quality cache. I decided to write a tutorial on placing a quality cache. It's just a little something of a guide for a newbie to be able to successfully place a cache people should be able to enjoy. Most of it is already written, but I'm lacking "getting it approved" and "maintenance" sections. I left it at work so I decided to do this instead.


To place a quality cache, one must be able to define a quality cache. Here's my take on what makes a quality (not trash) cache. It's not just what I like about caches, but elements that help the game itself. Also, it's not meant to be a list of requirements in order to place a cache.


Cache container:

  • Sturdy and has a positive closure so the lid doesn't come off accidentally or can be removed by a mouse. No disposable plastic containers, they leak. Examples of a good container: higher-end Zip-lock and Rubber-maid containers, and ammo boxes.
  • Weather proof. Water proof if exposed directly to the elements. The container has to protect its contents from the elements so a cacher doesn't find a soggy, mildewed cache.
  • It's marked as a GEOCACHE or similar with contact information on the outside. This can be done even on elaborately camouflaged caches.
  • NOT wrapped in a black garbage bag. Quality containers and a can of flat black KRYLON will prevent us having to put our hands in a wet plastic bag. YUK!


Cache Contents:

  • Logbook with space to write.
  • Spare pens (and pencils in cool climates)
  • "You found it!" sheet or something similar explaining what the cache is.
  • Non-trash, not broken trade items.
  • No contraband as defined on this site.


Cache page:

  • Accurate coordinates.
  • Accurate cache type i.e. fill-in-the-blank puzzle caches are offsets and should be listed as multis.
  • Meaningful hint.
  • Description of the cache container.
  • Original contents written as a note, not in the cache description. (pet peeve)


Placement: (hunt oriented)

  • Difficulty and terrain ratings that follow a standard i.e. */* caches really are in plain sight or easily found within 5 minutes and it's wheelchair accessible. (short rant, sorry)
  • Area is fairly safe and clean. i.e. NOT Skid Row or the local unofficial dump.
  • Presents a challenge within the ratings.


Placement: (spot oriented)

  • The area must have something interesting.
  • Not just one of several dozen other caches showing us the same thing.
  • Again, accurately rated.



  • First is that it's actually done.
  • Prompt answering of email.
  • Prompt checking of cache if a problem is reported.
  • If you're getting out of the game, archive your caches or let someone take them over.
  • Coordinate cache care if you're going on extended vacation or any other reason for not maintaining the cache.
  • No absentee cache owners.
  • Remove inappropriate cache items. Hey, it's your cache. Beyond the contraband, anything you want or don't want in your cache is up to you. But at least remove trashy and broken items. Replenish when neccessary.
  • Make sure it's holding up to the elements.
  • make sure your cache is not negatively implacting the area.
  • If you have to move your cache, put a warning up for at least a couple of weeks with the new coordinates in the description. Don't let a cacher hang out to dry if they don't have the latest coordinates.


There you go. It kind of eased away from a definition in some spots. I may think of some others things later, as well.


But that's basically my shot at defining a quality cache. I'd like to hear yours.





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Most importantly, a quality location, preferably reached during a quality hike or other adventure. To me, that's paramount.


The terrain and cache difficulty ratings should provide an accurate indication of the experience. (Edit: Overrated caches generally prove to be major disappointments, and underrated caches prove frustrating to many cachers.)


The cache container proper should be suitable in size and structure for the chosen area, and should be hidden well enough to avoid accidental discovery.


A means to verify the visit with the cache owner. (Logbook or other means of verification, as decided by the cache owner.)


That's it. I couldn't care less about specific types of containers, their markings, or any items included therein.


That's looking at if from the perspective of a cache seeker. I agree that cache management (log verification, site/cache maintenance) are (well, should be) major responsibilities of the cache owner after placement. Unfortunately, there is too much evidence that those after-placement responsibilities are routinely ignored.


So, if we as cache owners lived up to our responsibilities and were perhaps more willing to "pull the plug" when our caches had outlived their usefullness ...


[This message was edited by BassoonPilot on March 01, 2003 at 05:54 AM.]

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Originally posted by OUTSID4EVR:

Check out this topic: http://opentopic.Groundspeak.com/0/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=1750973553&f=3000917383&m=1740988355


There, I suggested that there are bare minimum requirements that should be met. The Mystery cache category could be for caches that don't fit the mold.


I think many of us can agree on the factors that make a quality cache.


"Not in a restricted area" is a good one. I hate coming up on an area with No Trespassing signs.


Instead of requirements for a cache, I'm trying to define a "quality" cache.


Interesting spots are subjective, but I think one can tell the difference between a sweeping vista and the dead-end where people dump their trash. I love discovering new parks, especially cool city parks. I don't know why as I don't care for cities that much.


"Commerical caches" shouldn't be excluded in the definition of a quality cache. The posting of a commercial cache is up to TPTB and could further the game. I wouldn't mind hunting a cache sponsered by Coke, West Marine, or Footlocker as long as it fits the definition of a quality cache. If I can be First Finder and get a 50% off coupon from West Marine...


Bassoon Pilot, I understand where you are coming from on the issue of contents. I'm just thinking of people who like to trade, too. IMO, a cache doesn't have to be a trading cache, but if it is at least put in, and maintain, non-trashy items.





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It seems that the poor caches (low quality) are a result of unclear requirements on the "hide a cache" page.


Take the container...There is nothing saying that the cheapest plastic container can't be used. Common sense, resulting from experience, shows that Gladware and similar thin plastic containers don't make quality cache containers. Mega-hiders love them for the cost savings.


The requirements should reflect the experience of geocachers "in the field".

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I have placed 2 caches lately that I want to share with you as a quality cache


black box 1


black box 2


I was given these black boxes and thoght I could use them for a cache. The I thought of the plane crashes as I live near the airport here. Hence the name.


I think these are good as it shares a event and gives all a history lesson.


They maybe placed as easy drive to caches but I seem to be getting good logs.

It is not the spot but the story I am telling.


I agree with most are saying here and as cachers get more experience we should get better caches.


I still have black box 3 to go out.




Ontario geocachers http://groups.msn.com/GeocachinginOntario/homepage

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Originally posted by OUTSID4EVR:

It seems that the poor caches (low quality) are a result of unclear requirements on the "hide a cache" page.


I agree. Hopefully there will be better definitions on the new site.



Take the container...There is nothing saying that the cheapest plastic container can't be used. Common sense, resulting from experience, shows that Gladware and similar thin plastic containers don't make quality cache containers. Mega-hiders love them for the cost savings.


Also, I don't want to give the impression that you can only use ammo cans or higher-end plastic containers. But, I would advise getting a little experience at hiding under your belt before experimenting with alternative containers.


I recently found a cache that was a Fritos or Doritos container. They are fairly lightweight, but the placer had cleaned it out, painted it black, and velcroed it under a wooden foot bridge in a way that it really can go only one way. This showed care and thought in the placement as you couldn't see the container from the trail at all, it was protected from rain directly and because it could only be replaced upright, it was protected from water running into it. This is a prime example of an experienced thoughtful placer and something that would be hard to write up in a brief tutorial.


Like you said above, the directions are unclear. There probably should be a cache requirements list that caches must adhere to and a guideline of what is expected of a quality cache. This way, the norm is defined while the minimum requirements allow creativity.





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I am getting ready to hide my first traditional cache, probably sometime this weekend if I can get away from the computer....


Container: Something durable and waterproof. Ammo cans, and other military containers, and anything resembling a pipe-bomb are perhaps not the best--even if we recently downgraded to threat level yellow.


Location: Like they say in real estate "location, location, location"!!!! I have been to caches and looked around and asked myself "WHY would someone think I should come HERE????". I have also looked around and thought that I was brought to a great place that I wouldn't have thought to come on my own.


The Rating: This is an area of great subjectivity and inconsistency. I have found a cache with a difficulty rating of "2.5" that was visible 25 yards away, and there is a "1" that I have been to 3 times without finding. (Maybe today....)


In general, I like that there are a good number of fairly easy caches to get started, and then there are many levels of increasing challenge and reward as (if) I get better at this.




My two cents worth, refunds available on request. (US funds only)

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Originally posted by OUTSID4EVR:

It seems that the poor caches (low quality) are a result of unclear requirements on the "hide a cache" page.


I think that between the guidelines and the forums, there is more than enough guidance and many examples of how to plan a quality cache. I think that no matter how you write the "rules" you are going to get a wide variety of cache hiders and a wide variety of caches.


Most cachers seem to agree that caches should be planned and placed in areas worth visiting, even if there weren't a cache to find there, and that the hide should provide a challenge and be done with some imagination and creativity.


There are, however, some who seem to think that there should be a cache in every vacant lot and that the "quality" of the neighborhood and the hip deep trash are okay if you can build your found count.


Half the people out there are below average, and the bottom ten percent is the bottom ten percent in any population....




My two cents worth, refunds available on request. (US funds only)

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I think that quality itself is subjective. I agree that we should strive to do certain things make our caches better as in more durable, more enviromentaly friendly, etc., but when you start limiting people on how and where they can or should place a cache because it doesn't meet someone elses idea of quaility you will hurt much of the creativity that makes this so fun.


I have a cache that is placed behind a public restroom, not a very attractive spot, although the park it's in is nice, and yet it is one of the favorites of people that find it. I also have caches placed in extremly beautiful places, they have value for a different reason.


For a different perspective on quality try reading "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance".

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Here I go thinking again...


It could be some of us, in trying to "define" a cache, are mixing what is the minimum requirements to be listed as a cache and what the community expects to be a cache. I guess what I trying to define in this thread is what the community expects as a quality cache. Not what should or shouldn't be listed as a cache.


Heck, even if a cache goes against some of the recommendations, depending on which ones, wouldn't mean it couldn't be a quality cache.


It could be easier to define "quality" as how many people you are going to disappoint or "WOW!" over the life of the cache. Not everyone gets the same thing out of caching so there can't really be a set formulae at making a quality cache.


But, even within the board range of different types of caches, and cachers who hunt them, you can take measures to diminish disappointment. Those measures can certainly be listed. Perhaps that is what I'm trying to do here.





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