Geocaching Preparation – How do you Record Cache Details before a Hunt?


When we first started Geocaching in order for us to know the details of each cache we were about to look for I would take a piece of paper and write down the Geocache code so we know which one to plug into the GPS, the hint (if given,) the cache size, the difficulty if 3 star or more, any info in the description that I believe may help find the cache and if one or more of the last few logs were DNF’s I add that too, just so I know that it may not be there.

After our first 100 finds or so, I got tired of spending 20+ minutes writing all of that stuff down. That’s when we started printing out the full cache page. It’s much quicker and easier, but it takes alot of paper and printer ink, especially if you have a long day of caching planned.

There are a few programs out there that help with this. The most popular is called the “Geocaching Swiss Army Knife” (GSAK) but in my experience it’s incredibly confusing and difficult to use. As a matter of fact, I uninstalled it on the same down I installed it because it just gave me a headache trying to figure it out.

SO, I’m on a mission to make cache hunt preparation quicker, easier and far less complicated! I’m going to have a piece of software developed that is simple to use… does exactly what needs to be done, nothing more and nothing less!

But I need your help! I need to know how you prepare for your hunts. I know those using iPhones are all set (I’m jealous :( and may end up leaving verizon just so I can get an iPhone.)

But if you aren’t a spoiled iPohone user πŸ˜‰ please let me know how you prepare. Do you write down cache info? Do you print the cache pages out like we do? Do you use software?


I’ll be using the info I get from you in order to have this software developed and you’ll have the opportunity to use it once it’s finished.

Thanks and Happy Caching!

img credit: Oberazzi

  1. Russ Dyble
    Russ Dyble01-19-2010

    I’m afraid I’m a spoilt iPhone user… which does indeed make things so much easier – see my review of the iPhone app at

    Before my iPhone arrived I printed out the cache page (usually only the first page) with co-ordinates and hint.

    Sometimes I find long descriptions can cause a problem with this approach, so on the couple of caches I’ve placed I’ve tried to avoid writing reams and reams about where the cache is, why I placed it, what direction the wind was blowing when I put it down etc!

    Once or twice I’ve sent the details of a specific cache direct to my GPS Unit from the geocaching website, but this doesn’t load the hints etc – so not perfect.

    I guess what would be ideal is to be able to print off a simple page (landscape orientation probably) including the cache code, co-ordinates, hint and a boxes to tick for Found and DNF in a table.

    Maybe it’s something might consider implementing?

  2. Ray Culp
    Ray Culp01-19-2010

    I download cashes into my nuvi and my etrex and off we go

  3. Roger

    When I first started I as well used to write the info down and I as well used to print the pages later, then I discoverd paperless caching with a palm pilot and a software program for it. Now a days, while I don’t have an iPhone I do have a Blackberry with internet access and just view the site from there. If you can’t afford an internet package on your phone now you will be able to as the prices get cheaper for it over the next few years. I think software to download info for the hunt is becoming obsolete. I further believe GPS companies like Garmin and Magellan and so on will eventually have more detailed software in there GPS’s for this purpose if not already considering adding internet via satellite into them!

    Geo Ferret

  4. Ray Culp
    Ray Culp01-19-2010

    I use GSAK and Garmin POI loader

  5. Frank Rosquin
    Frank Rosquin01-19-2010

    While I do have an iPhone, I tend to print the caches to PDF, and put those PDF files on my ebook reader (a PRS-505 from sony).

    I started writing a program to pull the data out of the gpx files you get as a premium user and make an ebook out of all the caches I set up for the day, but I have not made much progress there yet πŸ˜›

    But in general, I _love_ using my ereader for cache data. The batteries will NOT run out on you on a single day , no matter how many caches you have planned (4000 page turns / 4 weeks standby), and a lot easier to read then an iPhone screen while walking through the woods.

    A new Sony PRS-300 costs less then $200 if you shop around a bit. I also read a fair bit, so for me the ereader is just an all-round winner πŸ˜›

  6. Wooden Cyclist
    Wooden Cyclist01-19-2010

    I download the Pocket Queries to my BlackBerry Curve and I am off an running. If I find myself in an area that I had not loaded a PQ for I can do a websearch for the 25 nearest caches and download them to the ‘Berry.

  7. starrynite72

    I am very new to geocaching. This is what I do: I download the coordinates into my Garmin, and I print out the pages of all the caches I intend to hunt for on that particular trip. I keep these in a 3-ring notebook. When I find a cache, I record the date, time, what I took and what I left on the printout (then I transfer it to the web pages later when I am home).

  8. Jason Collier
    Jason Collier01-19-2010

    I buy a little notebook (maybe 4 x6) and I write down the caches I want to hunt for, in the order that I want to hunt them. Then, when I get in the field, I just go down the list. I don’t write down caches that have multiple DNF’s.

    I actually like GSAK. It’s not really that hard to figure out the basics. If there was something that I wish GSAK did that it doesn’t do (at least I don’t think), is show a map with multiple caches and allow me to choose them in the order I wish to search for them. Then I could just print out the list and not have to write them all down.

  9. JC_Geo

    I use GSAK when I plan on doing a large number cache run.

  10. Dave oswalt
    Dave oswalt01-19-2010

    I haven’t used the GSAK or any other software to prepare for a caching adventure. I have tried a Pocket Query from, but I really couldn’t figure how the PQ works so my results were useless. In an effort to go ‘paperless’, I used to punch in all the cache information into my Magellan Triton, but that became cumbersome and time consuming! I avoid printing out the cache information because it’s too expensive.

    So, when I prepare for a caching venture, I pick a geographical area … like “South of 465 and east of 65”, or “around Martinsville” or “Mooresville”. Then, I simply look at what caches are listed in I copy the coordinates, cache size, description, difficulty, terrain and other info onto a 3 x 5 note card. I make any driving direction notes on the cards also. Then, I just go out and try to find all the ones I can.

    My lovely wife has an Iphone and I bought the Groundspeak geocaching app. But, I find the app to be very slow and it eats battery time very quickly. So, I don’t use it for much of anything while in the field.

    With my note card system, I miss alot of caches while in ‘the field’ since I can’t see any caches other than the ones I’ve copied down. I heard that Garmin has (or will) introduce some sort of device where your ipod Touch can become a GPSr. Since I have the Touch, I would be interested in that device!

    Until then, I’ll stick with my note card system.

  11. Jeffrey

    I used to do it the hard way, then I bought a Garmin Colorado 400t and just keep an updated pocket query in it. I keep my GPS in the Jeep at all times and hunt when I want. The Oregon and Colorado store all the info I need and make it easy to upload into the field notes. Also, the Droid (Verizon) has apps that are great for caching.

  12. JMurphy

    I use a DeLorme PN-20, and all the info about the cache is in the gps. Plus sending them to my gps is a cakewalk. I can also log my vist info into gps and upload it once I get home.

  13. Kande Jacobsen
    Kande Jacobsen01-19-2010

    I use a little notebook (maybe 4 x2) and I write down the caches I want to hunt for, in the order that I want to hunt them. I write down the code, cache name, difficulty & terain,improtant hints & descriptions. Then, when I get in the field, I just go down the list. I don’t write down caches that have multiple DNF’s. After we find a cache I write down what we left/took etc…

    I also print them off if I am in a hurry.

  14. mickie

    I to would write all the info down and down load to the GPS. Now I have a Garmin Colorado and it keeps all the info for me.A program to print out, that would let you see all your caches in the order you will find them on one sheet would be good. I just like to have paper in front of me that will make me feel better.

  15. Gary

    Ihave the garmin dakota and it downloads all info. If not get a gsak license. Cool program for your computer. Create routes,logs, with and any information you need. I used to write or print off cches on particular route. I also make sure I have my cache stash bag with all my goodies. Pack snacks and water/drinks and always let someone know where we are going.

  16. Terry Presswood
    Terry Presswood01-19-2010

    When I first started caching, I printed each cahe out and like others mentioned, it took way too much paper and ink. At the time I had just an eTrex legend. Then as I moved up to the Vista I was able to download lots of caches and have coords, compass, cache name etc. on the fly. This usually puts me within a few feet (3-20) 0f the cache. From that point I’m kind of on my own. I “look for something that doesn’t belong, or look for typical hiding places. I give myself 5-10 min to find, if no luck I move on and check the missed caches for clues in the evening. I geneally download 10-20 a week and only look at descriptions briefly to get a “feel” of the cache and rely heavily on memory. This has worked fairly well so far. I find about 50% of my searches on the first try,and have counted about 10-12 FTFs and 6 STFs. On some caches even notes or hints don’t help me. There are a good dozen I’ve searched 5-6 times and stll not found! Thatis the true joy of the hunt….The challenge.

  17. Guy (AmboGuy)
    Guy (AmboGuy)01-19-2010

    As with RMckie and Gary, I have a Garmin (Oregon 200- got to love Costo sales), and I use GSAK (though I admit it was extremely confusing at first, it saves you dumping waypoints from your GPS when it fills up so quickly downloading individual caches)
    All the information is on my GPS, 1400 caches at the moment, 1300 of which are for future hunts.

    I have various queries, 50 km radius, and exclude Washington, so I just get caches in British Columbia (which doesn’t work yet with notifications as there is no way to exclude borders with states/provinces or countries – but after an e-mail, then the suggested forum post, they are fixing it- my question is, why has no one been bugged by this, why does it take a new cacher to work out there is a problem here???)
    I also have membership, mine was gifted to me, and it is a godsend, worth it’s weight in gold, and when finances improve, I will be passing this on as a FTF (first non member to find) prize so someone else has the same opportunity as was offered to me (thanks teddy2k)

    I USED TO copy past details/hints etc into a word doc, so I had numerous caches on a couple of pages, and only printed what I needed, a few seconds to save printer ink is worth it to me.

    That’s my input.

    Guy (also can’t afford mobile e-mail :-(

  18. Don K
    Don K01-20-2010

    I usually go out with a pal. I will print out info from and find the location on Google Earth. I load all info on my GArmin PS by hand (have not got a usb cable yet). Then we go out and have fun. We do not do a lot each week (we both are retired), but we still enjoy getting out in the air

  19. isuquinndog

    Don’t leave Verizon yet (though I do like ATT) because rumors are Apple is testing an iPhone for Verizon.

    But yeah, I use an iPhone and go. :)

  20. HoppyFamily

    I make huge lists of 100+ caches or more for road trips. I used to manually type these into our Geko 101, even!

    But now I create a bookmark list for each road trip. I mouse along the map and click a cache that’s on the route. Then, when I mentally note the size, the hint, where it is on the map, or any relative information. I clicke “add to bookmark list,” type the info into the note of the bookmark and save it. I do this for every cache along the route, then send the list to my Garmin eTrex and cut and paste the bookmark list to MS Word for printing. Not the most efficient method, but it’s organized and works.

  21. EastCoastScrambler

    While I am, now, one of those spoiled iPhone users. Up until that point, I simply went to the site and wrote down a list of caches and coordinates in a notebook that was specifically used for geocaching (allowed me to feel like I was a little more eco-conscious and not wasting paper) . This allowed me to check off when I found the cache and write a short review in my notebook for later logging. The only problem was that I usually didnt write down any hints (when I did, I used the encrypted hints) so if I did need help, I was out of luck.

  22. Lora Warren
    Lora Warren01-20-2010

    I load them into my garmin 60CSx from Easy GPS which will give me the hint. Sometimes we print out the Easy GPS query so we know what size and extra into. We do not have the Oregon or an I-Phone so we kind of do it the old way.. but it works and I also read the cache pages to make sure there haven’t been a lot of DNF’s lately.

  23. Paula

    Nothing is easier than my iPhone! I do however, download some of the remote ones onto my Garmin/Oregon but use the “save” feature on the iPhone for the details. The phone is perfect for those “I didn’t plan to geocache moments”.

  24. GoDux

    I use cachemate on my palm tungsten with GSAK. It stores the whole description of the cache, the coordinates, the whole hint, difficulty level, terrain level and the last five logs from This works really well because I click on the cache that I’m looking for and then I get any info I may need and when I do find the cache, I can click the cache category on the Palm and move it to a “found” category (created by me). This makes is so much easier when logging finds because it even gives me the GC# of the geocache! I hear that you can now get “cachemate” installed on your cellphones! (if compatible)

  25. Leary

    I use a Blackberry Tour on Verizone, with Blackstar software. totally paperless, interfaces to, interfaces directly to google maps… very accurate and very fast. Great combination. And the one advantage of the Blackberry over the iphone… one handed operation.

  26. Arkville

    I print most but have downloaded to my Etrex Yellow. Would download to my Garmin Vista H if I could only figure out how. It seems I need to get drivers or something.

    It is so simple with the old etrex yellow, just download to EasyGps and then transfer to GPS. The Vista makes it a problem. Why can’t they leave the simple stuff that works alone.

  27. ABritton

    Being new to geocaching and not wanting to regret my GPS purchase, I did a lot of research into different manufactures and models. I chose the Delorme PN-30 for several reasons. First Delorme base maps have more detail than others I looked at. They put topo map cd’s in the box with the new units. If you want different imaging (i.e. aerial photos, satellite images, etc.) you can download them from DeLorme with a map library membership that is very inexpensive.

    The PN series units are also paperless caching capable, with all the hints and previous visits in the info right on the unit. It’s one click to load the info on the unit, no converting the gpx files or anything else time consuming. I don’t print anything, I don’t write anything down.

    I found my GPS on E-Bay for around $100 off Manufacturer retail price. It may not be the most expensive or fanciest unit out there, but it does the job, and does it well. I know this sounds like a DeLorme ad, but I am really happy with it.

  28. Jill

    We have made a simple form with the info. that we feel we need. We made copies 2 per page . We read through the comments and copy down a few clues, size, terrain , co-ordinates , and driv. directions. Often we draw a simple map from the google map information. We record some in the evenings and staple groups by area (seen on the geo. map). It does cost us about 12 cents a sheet (2 logs) but it sure is cheaper than computer ink. We can fold the 1/2 sheet pretty small and carry it with the GPS. Originally I was putting the coordinates on a post-it and carrying with the GPS as it eliminated bigger sheets. That worked too. It does take time to “prepare” for a good hunting day.

  29. Bob Beer
    Bob Beer01-21-2010

    I have a journal that I write down the clues, cache size and any other important info. I download the caches into my GPS and away We go. With snacks and water extra batteries, etc.

  30. Vicki Chessor
    Vicki Chessor01-21-2010

    I download the co-ordinates to my Nuvi. Then I write in a small notebook any info and the clues that would help me find it. Grab a small pen or pencil and off we go. You can make notes, DNF or whatever in the notebook for when you return home. What more do you need? If you have a GPS or Iphone or other tool that puts you right on top of the cache, where’s the fun of the hunt? Close is all I need..

  31. Mark

    I use All my PQ emails get forwarded to my bcaching account automatically. When I want to go caching I plug in the garmin 60CSx and use bcaching to send waypoints for the areas I’m planning to go – with custom icons, cache rating, size and container in the description. In the field I use the bcaching mobile view on my droid (previously a blackberry) to read the cache page, hints, logs, etc. and to log finds, dnfs, and TBs. Back home I upload the field notes from bcaching directly to the geocaching web site to finish logging online.

  32. Team 2E
    Team 2E01-22-2010

    We print the pages…when we went on a cache event, we had to use a three-ring binder to hold them all! Now we use the binder to print them as they are available so we can look for them later.
    We used to load them into the GPS, but it was getting confusing for us. So we only do that now if we are planning a day. The paper and the programed GPS and we are off!

  33. princess toadstool
    princess toadstool01-23-2010

    I first create a pocket query using the geocaching website of the area I will cache in. I’ll get the coordinates for the center point of the query from Mapsource. I normally exclude unknown caches, events, and multi-caches. I also select active caches that I have not found. If I am traveling, I’ll use google earth to create a route, then use the geocaching website to create a pocket query of the route usually within 1/2 mile of my route. Once I receive the emails with the pocket queries, I load the data into GSAK. I filter out the last 2 DNFs. Then I use GSAK to send the data to my GPS (Garmin 60CS). I include the difficulty, terrain rating, cache type and hint on my GPS. I then create a GPX file (using the export feature in GSAK.) I’ll send that file to my smartphone (Palm Treo 755) via blouetooth. On my smartphone, I’ll load the data into Cachemate, which is basically the description, hints and a few logs. I also load the GPX file into google earth and I may print a picture from google earth of the area I’ll be geocaching in especially if there are physical barriers between caches or off-road trails to follow. It sounds like a lot of work but I’ve done it so often, it’s really pretty quick and straightforward.

  34. William Hook
    William Hook01-30-2010

    If you have a phone that supports it, you could always use Evernote. πŸ˜‰

  35. Craig King
    Craig King02-07-2010

    Usually before a weekend outing, I’ll pick a cache on for an area and see what’s in the area. Once I have a general idea of a route to work, I’ll list the cache designater, name, coordinates and any brief information I think might assist. As someone noted above, having paper or a small notepad is handy for keeping track of notes, thoughts and observations.

  36. domichal

    I use geobeagle on android phone, but waiting for official app as well :)

  37. motorcity0628

    When I first began, I’d print the pages of the caches in the area I was looking for. That got tedious so then I switched to GSAK. It had a bit of a learning curve but I got used to it after an hour or so. I downloaded every cache here in Korea (there are now 2700+) through pocket queries and loaded them into GSAK. From there, I downloaded them into Cachemate on my PDA. When I got a Colorado, that eliminated the need for the PDA; however, I still use it for notetaking while geocaching.

    The only bad thing for me is that pocket query output transforms log entries in the Korean language into an unreadable mess, so manytimes having the log with me is useless. Luckily, every point in the country is no more than 15 minutes or so from an internet cafe. (As a foreign devil, having a Korean iPhone is out of the question – either pay $800 up front or have a Korean get one for you in their name)

  38. Regina Yates
    Regina Yates03-22-2010

    I have AT&T as my cell phone carrier and I use my cell phone, the LG Xenon, along with the Trimble app to find caches. It is real simple, gives you the coords, acts exactly like my Garmin GPS unit, and shows you the entire geocaching webpage for each cache. But I do use GSAK which is loaded onto my laptop and I take it with me so I can easily keep up with my founds and DNF’s.

    Hope that helps!

    Regina aka serf050505

  39. Mitchi

    Two ways I used to do this really. When I first started out, I would geocache in a group, and only one person had a GPSr. He would actually write out to name and coordiates in a notebook, which he would input as we were out. Later we found out how to download them directly into the unit.

    However, he has one of the types that doesn’t really allow you to enter comments, so we would do one of two things. We would either skim over and note the important sounding details (and the hint…though usually only one person was in charge of the hint), or we would copy paste the text into notepad and print it out from there.

    Up until a few weeks ago though, I was a spoiled smartphone user. Not the iPhone, but the Droid (which actually has a few rather good GCing programs available for it). As my new GPSr has one of those little nubby joystick buttons, I still have to carry a notepad anyways to log field notes, but my husband still brings his droid so we can read the comments and such.

  40. Krista

    This is quite a bit later, but even though I have an iPhone and think everyone in the world should have one, I do have to say I bet the Droid will get an app soon. Anyway, something I like to do to supplement my iPhone is just print out a map of the area I plan on being in with the caches on it (from the geocaching website). That way I can physically see what caches I am close to since my iPhone app may say a cache is 1.6 miles away but doesn’t take into account the MS river and the 20 minute drive to get to a bridge.

  41. Heather

    We love cgeo on droid, but are hearing it’s not allowed by Geobeagle is our second choice… Wish they would hurry up and release the “official” app for droid!

  42. Vanderarban

    We have developed a method that has really been working out for us that is totally paperless. I create my pocket query and download it. I send it to my garmin etrex legend h(my cheapo handheld unit that we use for locating the cache) and also to my garmin Nuvi 1300 which certainly helps me save gas and navigate as close as I can in my car to the location. I usually use CacheMagnet(free) to send the whole big ol GPX file over. Then we download the gpx query direct from onto our Ipod touch. We have a $7 program called geocaching with geosphere that rocks(now it won’t navigate as we do not have gps on our touch) It is loaded with features that allow me to see all the details I need, find other caches near my target, make notes, even view recent logs and inventory. We don’t have #g on it. But it makes all of the data available offline via our pq file. I would totally recomend it if you have a Touch. We bought ours from a pawn shop for a pretty good deal awhile back ago, so we worked with what was available to us already and a $7 investment

  43. The TomToms
    The TomToms06-13-2010

    We have followed in the same footsteps it seems…
    Do not purchase an iPhone, get an iPod Touch 3rd Gen (32GB). It saves TONS of money in the longrun.

    The Geocaching App ($10) supports all of the same features as the iPhone, except for the realtime GPS location. You can create pocket queries online, and load them in to your iPod Touch for offline viewing. You can also choose which caches to mark as “Favorites” and it will save those for offline viewing. I have the entire southwest Michigan saved via Pocket Queries, and it hardly makes a dent in the storage of my device.

    While using our Garmin GPSMAP 60Csx as our locating device, we can log field notes “offline” and save them for later on our iPods. Once we hit a WiFi hotspot (or get home), we click on
    “Submit Field notes”. DONE!

    Best investment we ever made.

  44. admin

    Hey Vanderarban and TomTom, thanks for the input! I have an iPad and I’m giving this a shot.

    Everything is working and I see the caches from my pockey query in the GC app, but when I’m not connected to the internet, although I DO see the caches in the “saved” area, I can’t access the description etc.

    Any ideas?

  45. The TomToms
    The TomToms06-13-2010

    As long as you have downloaded and updated your Pocket Queries in the Search->Pocket Queries, you should be able to access all geocaches from each Pocket Query through the Saved tab.

    Sometimes it takes a few to load, we recommend backing out and trying again. I don’t know how well the iPad works with this app, because I don’t have one (jealous).

  46. Josh

    You were right, TomTom. I just wasn’t giving it enough time. Thanks to you and Vanderarban for the tip!

    This is the way I’ll be doing it from now on!

  47. Dayle Rees
    Dayle Rees06-21-2010

    Hi there!

    I wrote a PHP script at :

    which takes an upload of a zipped GPX pocket query file, and then outputs all caches in a printable format with those attributes you mentioned :)

    Hope this could be of help!

  48. stacy white
    stacy white07-11-2010

    I use pocket queries to load my GPSr. Then I use my BB web to access the info once at the site. It is a bit aggrevating at times but it beats writing all that stuff down.

    summit, ms

  49. Treesape

    I write everything down on paper such as hints and comments and download cords to my Garmin phone. i don’t really want to waste all that paper for a couple of lines of useful info.

Leave a Reply