Paperless Geocaching with Smart Phones


Now that I’ve somehow ended up with a BlackBerry Curve, an iPhone and an iPad, I’ve been doing alot of paperless caching lately with them. And since I’m far from being an expert on paperless caching with smart phones, I’m hoping to strike up a good, helpful conversation in the comment field below in that regard.

I’ll start off by offering my opinion so far. Obviously the iphone and iPad use the same app, so the extent of my smart phone geocaching extends only to the geocaching iphone/itouch/ipad app and the Geocache Navigator app on the Blackberry.

I’ll start with the Geocache Navigator app on my Blackberry Curve. Here’s my review, TOTAL waste of money! Why? Because it doesn’t even work! I’m assuming it’s the compatibility of my phone and not the app, but still, I paid something like $15 for an app that doesn’t work and I can’t even get the money back. I believe it should show a warning telling you what phones it’s compatible with before you purchase.

The iphone/itouch/ipad app is AWESOME! I love it! And it doesn’t matter which one you have to do paperless caching either. With the iPhone you can actually navigate to the cache without a GPS, but in my experience it’s very slow adjusting the distance and it just isnt’ as good as a GPS. So I still load each cache into my GPSr for better accuracy. However, as TomTom pointed out in the comment feild of another post “How do you Record Cache Details before a Hunt” you can actually use your iPod Touch or iPad to do everything else without a data plan, by simply using pocket queries!


Here’s what TomTom said, which I can confirm works perfectly “The Geocaching App ($10) supports all of the same features as

Smart phones make geocaching simple!

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!”

So in my own experience, I’ve had horrible luck with the Geocache Navigator app on my BlackBerry Curve and I LOVE the iphone/itouch/ipad app!

Do you use a smart phone for paperless geocaching? If so what do you use?

  1. Kirk Benson
    Kirk Benson08-11-2010

    I am very happy with the CacheBerry app for my Blackberry.

    I receive my pocket queries via email and load them right up.

  2. Joe Garrett
    Joe Garrett08-11-2010

    I’ve been caching paperless for several years. Started with Cachemate for Palm, went to Sonar for pocket pc.

    My first phone app was the basic app that was available for blackberry. It worked okay, as it gave me basic information for cache description and hints.

    The iPhone app is great. Unfortunately I only had a first gen iPhone with no navigation. But it was great for looking up information.

    Now I have a droid. I’ve been using c:\geo, which is a great app for on the go geocaching. I also have cachemate installed, but I tend to forget to update it.

    But it’s all just for backup, really. When you’re out of the service area, you’re out of luck. I use a Garmin Oregon with all the information right there for me.

  3. Don Bruechert
    Don Bruechert08-11-2010

    I use geocache navigator on my blackberry curve and have been doing so for over 2 years on 2 different curves. If you have Verizon that may be part of your problem because they block the GPS functionality on many of the lesser blackberrys (I think the storm and tour are open now). The next problem is if you downloaded the app from Handmark because that version is 1500 years old. Download it from and you will have the latest version. There are higher version numbers out there but only because they have been tweaked by the place you are downloading them form (app world/) to support their special payment processors.

    If you download it from Trimble you can use it for 30 days before you have to register it. If you downloaded it from Handmark and paid for it the Trimble download will recognize your phone number and you will be fully registered. They also have support forums on their website which are usually helpful. I am one of the major contributors there.

    That having been sais, I still carry my Garmin 60CSx in addition to the BlackBerry and the primary reason is the BlackBerry is a PHONE and phone comes first. When I am 10 feet from GZ I don’t want to have to walk 15 feet before the BB realizes I moved – the phone does not work well for fine movements and start/stop movements, but works great when you are walking a distance to the cache – only at GZ it gets annoying. I think it is great to look up the details on a cache and I use it to mark them found so I don’t have to write them down – I just go to my Field Notes on the website, fill out my log details and hit publish. I can also look up other people’s logs and look at the hint if there is one.

    Other things I don’t like are the fact that you can mark the cache found with Geocache Navigator but you can’t add any notes. This is one thing we have been grumbling to Trimble about for a while. While I would not waste the time to compose my whole log on the phone I would like to be able to note if I grabbed or dropped a trackable, any problems with the cache, or a short note to remind myself about it so I can personalize the log later. For that I still have to jot notes.

    The other thing I dislike about caching with a BlackBerry I’ve already commented on – that it’s a phone first and a GPS a very distant second. The GPS in the BB kind of sucks – it takes forever to get a lock, is not very sensitive and loses the signal very easily – sometimes even when you are facing away from the sats and holding it in front of you. For this purpose I bought a Freedom 2000 Keychain GPS puck. It runs on Bluetooth, is extremely sensitive and fast to acquire and keep a signal. This also gets around Verizon’s little tactic of crippling the internal GPS – they don’t block the bluetooth! Once you pair the device you can just go into the GPS settings, choose it as your default device, save it and reboot the phone (yank the batt or hit ALT + RightShift + Del) and you’re set to go.

    Give the trimble app another shot after downloading from them and see if it works better. If you have Verizon you either need to pay for their VZ Navigator functionality to use the GPS or buy an external one.

  4. Arsenick

    I started geocaching last month with my smartphone. It’s the Motorola Milestone running Android. I’ve tried few different application and ALL of them are not really easy to use…

    First I was sure I could start a geocaching apps, locate my position and find what are the cache’s around… But no, I’m not sure why, I think it’s about policy’s but you have to generate pocket query on the website and then upload it to your phone to get the result expected… Otherwise you can download the single loc file, but this haven’t really succeded with any apps I’ve tried, I had to do this on my computer and put the file on the phone… Once again maybe I missed something because I’m a newbe about geocaching…

    So After I bought my membership on I was able to generate pocket query, upload the zip files containing all the caches 25km around my house to my phone and then everything become clear and easy to use…

    The software I’m currently using is cachemate. 8$ but it’s working fine plus there’s a few day where you can cancel your order if you’re not satisfied with the software… To be honest I didn’t try deeply other apps available on the Android market, this one fit my needs and worked well… I can mark caches as found, and when I got few I just export and upload files to the website and my comments and my caches are marked as found! If you are in the US you can setup a SMS service and send a sms to 41411 to update your field note!

    Geocaching on smartphone, is a little bit hard if your new to this. But you can be sure of one thing. Smartphone will open the geocaching world to a LOT of new people.. I think the most important thing is: You have to try with a good one…

    Plus if I’m not wrong are supposed to release a Android apps just like they did with the iphone!

  5. Stevesy3

    I actually started Geocaching with the iPhone 3Gs just last year. Although it isn’t the most accurate, it gets me to ground zero which is good enough for most caches. It also gets me started in the right direction faster than my gps-wielding friends because it uses cell-tower triangulation while waiting for find satellites. Logging via the phone is slick too (most muggles think I’m texting!).

    The only thing I would complain about is the app switching. I like to take photos with my phone of every cache I’ve found. But then when I switch back to the Geocaching app it has forgotten which cache I was looking for. Hopefully they will fix this soon.

    Lastly, it’s not durable. It’s not water resistant nor is it drop proof. That’s why I bought a cheap gpsr on ebay that I can pull out when it starts to rain, or the trail gets steep.

  6. Mark

    I use another approach. I use the GSAK program to manage my caches, in the same fashion that the iPod relates to the iTunes application. The iTunes is the repository, and the iPod a short term view of what you’d like to hear.

    With GSAK you can flip the meaningless “GCxxxxxx” codes into smart names, and load them onto your GPSr.

    I then use GSAK to select the caches I’m off to for that day, and load the Notes onto my iPod using a GSAK macro. It’s very sweet! You can even select whether the hint goes at the very bottom of the loaded note so that you can leave it as a last resort. I’m completely hooked on the GSAK program, and this macro.

  7. Metal-bijou

    I use the iPhone. Was using groundspeak app and while it is great for using the internet at a location and finding your nearest cache, if you are planning in advance, geosphere beats it hands down. Only discovered just before a road trip to the uk mega in Perth but is was the perfect tool. 200 caches and only four weren’t found using the app.

  8. Team Looney Tunez
    Team Looney Tunez08-11-2010

    For the Droid, we have been using GeoBeagle and like it. It is open source and free.

    If you have cell service, you can look up caches on line directly in the application.

    There are various tutorials on setting up GeoBeagle to use to log caches and how to use pocket queries to send caches to your phone via a email address for “off line” access when out of cell service. So like most open source applications, setup is a slightly more involved but not overly complicated – especially if you are computer savvy.

    All in all we have been very pleased with this free application.

    The Droid does very well as a GPSr except for in heavy tree cover. My Garmin Oregon 550 does better in forests. In open terrain the two have been neck and neck on coordinates. Often I have been to the left 10’; she has been to the right 10’ and both compass needles are pointing toward each other.

    I would still have bought the Garmin Oregon 550, for the ruggedness and water resistance. It is very well suited for hiking and being outdoors. I also like the interface.

    If you have a Droid phone and mostly geocache in fair weather or Urban areas, GeoBeagle will serve you well and is free.

  9. Colin Walsh
    Colin Walsh08-11-2010

    I have a WM HD2 and use the free app GCzll. I would highly recommend it. Available through XDA Developers or direct from the author himself at
    CW in the UK.

  10. Samisgr8

    For the Blackberry, I’ve been using CacheSense (formerly CacheBerry…available on the Blackberry App World, I believe…) They’ve been providing updates like crazy lately, and for only $9.99 for a life-time registration, it’s definitely worth it. There is a free 30-day trial that you can get at

    – Imports pocket queries
    – Allows for multiple databases (I have one for each of several areas that I frequent, and switching from one to another is pretty flawless
    – Recently updated sorting/search options let you find exactly the types of cache you’re in the mood for
    – Transfer kml files to Google Maps for a nice visual for selected caches (since the Blackberry plays nicely with multiple apps running, this is great!)
    – Automatically sends Twitter update when you log a find

    – Doesn’t connect directly with unfortunately. However when you write a field note, there is an option to jump into the web browser to log the find…just copy and paste and you’re done!
    – At least on my Tour 9630, the GPS can take a little while to fire up. However, once it’s up and running, it’s almost as good as my Garmin handheld in open/partly covered areas. Still not that great in heavily wooded areas, but hey, it IS a phone after all…

    For BlackBerry’s, this is a definite try!

  11. GregB

    I’ve been using the app for the Iphone for about a year now. I love it. The accuracy is not as good as my GPSr but it does a good job getting me close. The latest version of the app will allow you to drop and retrieve trackables and attach photos. Well worth the $20 for the app.

  12. Wooden Cyclist
    Wooden Cyclist08-11-2010

    Its too bad that you couldn’t get your BlackBerry to work because it is a great geocaching tool.

    I currently have 1177 finds. About 1050 of those finds were made using my BlackBerry Curve 8330 and no other GPS. Cache Sense has been the only geocaching app that I have used. I find caches, read descriptions, download nearest caches, manage databases and log finds using it.

    The sensitivity of the ‘Berry is sufficient. As you get close to GZ your geosense becomes more useful than your GPS anyway.

    I don’t use the ‘Berry for hiding caches. The coordinates are not consistent enough. I have a Garmin GPS 60 that I use for hiding, but I don’t use if for finding caches very often because it isn’t handy as the ‘Berry is.

  13. Nick

    I have a Droid X. I like C:Geo. It’s a free app. and works very well.

  14. Andrei Link
    Andrei Link08-11-2010

    Hi Josh, I work for Trimble and sorry to hear you’ve had a bad experience with Geocache Navigator on your BlackBerry. What exactly was the problem? Have you contacted our support and, if yes, what was the response? Please let us know so we can improve the app. Thanks, Andrei Link.

  15. Paula

    I love my iPhone and geocaching is one of my favorite apps. The recent update made it even better!

  16. admin

    Hi Andrei,

    Google Alerts are great, aren’t they 😉 It just doesn’t even connect to the GPS. That’s why I made sure to mention in the post the fact that it’s probably my phone and not the app. I have one of the earlier Curves (8310 I think) and I’ve read that they have issues with that. I thought for sure I bought Geocache Navigator, but when I open the app it says my trial has expired. To be honest with you the iPhone app is perfect for me, so now that I have that I really don’t have a use for Geocache Navigator anyway. No offense, just being honest.

  17. Andrei Link
    Andrei Link08-11-2010

    Hi Josh, thanks for the info!

  18. stickerooni

    I bought a Droid back in November and have been absolutely thrilled at the ability to cache at a moment’s notice (I didn’t always have a GPS or loaded cache when I found myself in a new area, but now it doesn’t matter).

    As relatives had been bragging about the ability to cache with iphones, I was disappointed that the Droid app wasn’t ready, so I tried out a few different free apps and found c:geo to be absolutely fantastic! It’s so good, that even though groundspeak has finally come out with their own $10 app (which I bought), I still refer to c:geo when groundspeak’s leaves me slightly mystified.

    Both apps have the ability to post logs right there in the field, and boy was that great while driving across country on vacation! No having to remember which cache came first! I just logged them as I went!

    One downside so far … none of the apps I’ve tried or currently use allows me to drop a coin or TB while I’m posting my log in the field. Since the apps have the ability to show a coin or TB in a cache, I don’t quite understand why I can’t drop my coins while I’m posting a log.

    Oh well…I suppose they have to have something to upgrade to…

  19. Becky C.
    Becky C.08-24-2010

    We (me and my hubby) have been using Trimble’s Geocache Navigator on our BB Storms (#1). After we figured it out and read the “manual” online, we have become pros at it and love it. Yes, using a Smart phone application can suck sometimes (have to keep pressing the screen cuz it dims out quickly) it’s a great way to look stealthy as you are out buzzing around like a drunk bee looking for caches. The other app that we use on our BBs is Blackstar (helps with hiding caches, as the GPS coordinates are a bit better).

  20. Rose

    I use an Evo to geocache. I love how you can be anywhere and can look up nearby caches. No planning necessary. Then I use the sprint navigation to drive there if I need to and the map when I walk there. I too wish I could drop tb’s using this app but they are upgrading all the time so maybe soon it will be available. It has been right on target. I often geocache with my sister and she uses her Magellan 400 and I am often the one with the spot on coordinates. The down side is that the battery runs low quickly.

    My gpsr, Magellan 210,last for 18 hours so no problem with having to hook it up to a power source. However I do have to know where I am going and I have to download all the nearby caches from the computer first. With my gpsr I also usually print out the information/hints as that is not downloaded into my Magellan 210. Maybe there is a way to do it but I haven’t ever been able to figure it out.

  21. TxStrawberryCreek

    I started Geocaching with an iPhone 3G (now a 3GS). The advantage of the Geocaching app is universal access to the entire Geocaching database. Off the cuff, unplanned geocaching is ridiculously easy this way. The disadvantage is that the GPSr on iPhone isn’t suitable for Geocaching. It’s great for locating your position on Google Maps, but that won’t get you close to certain caches, particularly if you have to go under tree canopy.

    The problem is that iPhone apparently only has four GPS channels. You can triangulate pretty well if all four are receiving strong signals. When you lose sight of a satellite, the position quits updating. By contrast, the 60CSx that I ultimately added will look for as many as 12 satellites, and if it loses some of them, it’s more likely that it will continue to be able to see enough satellites to do good positioning.

    Loading coordinates on the Garmin manually is a PITA. Loading PQs is a bit better, but it requires that you have a plan or destination in mind before you embark on your geocaching expedition. Best application for a Mac user is Garmin’s Road Trip. I’ve heard people talk about GSAK, but not being a Windows person, I can’t comment on it.

    Bottom line, both items are useful in their own way; iPhone with the Geocaching app, and a dedicated GPSr for fine locating.

  22. Lia Steinberg
    Lia Steinberg09-02-2010

    I use the iPhone app for geocaching and I absolutely love it! I’ve had no trouble locating geocaches and it takes me right to the spot every time. This is the primary device that I use for geocaching and I have no complaints. The geocaching iPhone app is definitely worth $10.00 and I would recommend it to anyone who is a beginner and does not want to spend money on a fancy GPS.

  23. MoveMaine

    I’ve been using geocache navigator by trimble and it’s great. My blackberry’s gps isn’t as accurate as a handheld (especially in the woods) but the app has been great. Anywhere I am, I can look up the nearest caches to me. No pocket queries, no loading things onto the phone, it simply pulls the data from Brilliant.

  24. Jurrien

    I have been using several apps on my I Phone such as MotionX GPS, however I still prefer to use my Garmin Vista as I can record longer tracks and the reception is better. I also use a good camera and upload the tracks and pictures to They have great free software where I can edit tracks and pics and film. Looking forward to when a good GPS will be combined with a high end camera.

  25. w9jim

    While the iPhone is great for off-the-cuff geocaching, it has two major flaws. The first is AT&T’s horrible coverage. I like back country caching and often have no service. No service (or AT&T’s Edge network) equals no geocaching.

    The second flaw is the phone’s dismal GPSr performance. As mentioned above, the GPS just doesn’t have enough channels to give an actuate location and it’s refresh rated is frustratingly slow. Walk 25 feet toward the cache and the app shows you haven’t moved.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I actually left Verizon and got an iPhone for the geocaching app. I know its limitations and can (usually) live with them. Give the iPhone’s GPSr some time and move slowly, and it will refresh to give you somewhat accurate data.

    When Verizon gets the iPhone, I’ll dump AT&T like a hot potato. But until then, I’ll plan out my caching adventures ahead of time and load up the Garmin 550t or use the iPhone for ad hock caching adventures.

  26. bladesedge

    I too have a Blackberry – a Bold 9700. I tried Geocache Navigator – and did manage to get my money back when it ruined my phone. Everytime I installed it, within a day I had to reformat the phone again and start from scratch again.

    I have been using CacheBerry/CacheSense all year. love it. Much better! I love it – it’s so simple and has all the info you need!

    The only thing I’m missing is a map I can view a region and see all the caches in the area….. preferably downloaded from a GPX file, rather than viewing online. The problem with viewing online is that when you’re out of coverage you have no map.

  27. Andrei Link
    Andrei Link11-01-2010

    Hi bladesedge, I have checked with our customer service and they can’t find any records of arranging for a refund related to such a problem – or anything like the problem itself. This looks strange. Could you please provide a bit more detail?
    Andrei Link, Trimble

  28. beemer530

    I began caching with a T-Mobile Wing by HTC using Basic GPS and a Delorme earthmate with a bluetooth battery pack adapter. I found it to be very accurate getting to GZ, but I didn’t try paperless caching until I became a premium member. I also have the delorme street maps and topo maps for the whole us, so I could load maps for caching anywhere, since I am often out of data signal range.

    I recently got an HTC HD2 and have both Basic GPS and GCzII software. So far it has proven to be slightly less accurate and slower to respond when near ground zero, hopefully I won’t have to go back to the external GPS. Unfortunately, my delorme handheld software doesn’t allow me to zoom from the touchscreen so until I find another workaround I’ll have to try downloading the maps at a usable zoom.

  29. Kruxoli

    I use the C:GEO app from the Android Market on my G1. Really easy to use, but the phone’s GPS isn’t the greatest. Getting a real GPS unit soon and I’m exicted to see the difference.

  30. Theresa Holsapple
    Theresa Holsapple02-25-2011

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  31. Luke

    I wrote a similar post on my blog about using a smart phone for geocaching. Despite the shortcomings, it is very convenient. If I am planning to go out caching, I bring my Garmin, but I have found many caches on a whim by pulling up the app on my iPhone to see what is nearby.

  32. Barefoot Tyler
    Barefoot Tyler04-11-2011

    I just started geocaching(parents are long time freaks) and we both make use of our iPhones.

    I don’t have a printer, so I used the imgur uploader plugin for Firefox to capture the page(it has a selective screenshot setting and saves it in png which is great for text). Then I just email the link to myself, open the picture, and hold my thumb on it to save it to my images.

    This makes it so I can access the cache site without service. It is free, doesn’t require extra apps, and works great. See :)

  33. Rick

    I am really new, I think 10 days now. I only paperless because I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way. I got C:geo for Android (free) and it allows me to search and log. I have been scouting an area where I might want to go on the net to make sure that it is viable and then I head out. I got 8 yesterday with nothing more than my pen to sign logs and my smartphone. Pretty cool!

  34. Barry C
    Barry C03-26-2012

    I havent yet had the opportunity to use my smart phone for geo cach yet but I do have the C;geo app for my android and from what I can tell its one of the best can wait to really use it and give my opionion

  35. Gabbie

    there lots of apps developed for both android and iphone, c:geo is one of them, if you have a smartphone, i suggest you grab one of them, some are free some are paid, here is an article on top 6 android geocaching apps

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