What Goes In Your Geocaching Kit?
Most experienced geocachers like to be ready for any occurrence, be it irritant insects, a filled up logbook or finding the perfect place for a new cache. For that reason most geocachers have taken to keep a geocaching bag or “kit” ready to go at all times. But what should you keep in this kit? We asked many of you through our Facebook page, looked at our own bags and did some research online. The end result was the following list, which we hope will help all of you build out your own geocaching kit. In full disclaimer – the links in each write up are affiliate links to amazon or other websites where you can purchase the good discussed. If you make a purchase we get a (very) small percentage of the sale, which will help us keep the site running.
Backpack – Any good geocaching kit starts with a good bag. There are a lot of choices but the general requirement is that it should be large enough to carry all of the items in your kit and should be comfortable for you to carry. We also prefer a bag that has a high number of pockets; this helps us keep the bag organized with a proper spot for everything you are hauling. Most people will elect to go with an old backpack, but my preference is something along a messenger bag style. I’ve recently become familiar with a company called “Timbuk2” which makes some amazing bags. The Timbuk2 messenger bag is the bag I am currently using, and I love it.
Bandana – Most people laugh at me when I tell them to always include one or two bandanas in their geocaching kit. But the truth is that there are a lot of good uses for a bandana: from a way to signal an airplane, a sweat headband, a sling for a hurt arm, a spot to blow ones nose etc. Bandana packs come in a variety of colors, so you can be sure to find one that will match your personality.
Batteries – There is nothing worse than getting close to a geocache and seeing the blinking signal that the battery is running low on your GPSr. Geocaching can eat a lot of batteries and you need to make sure you always have spares around. But let’s keep things green! Use rechargeable batteries and help save some batteries from the landfill. The small upfront increase in cost will be made up quickly but not having to buy so many batteries over the life of the GPS.
Bear Spray – This probably doesn’t make sense if you spend most of your time doing urban geocaching but we noticed that a few of our readers had this on their list. All we have to say is be careful with this stuff; it’s like super mace and in some states that can be considered a weapon. Make sure you really need it before you order bear mace, and once you do, handle it with care.
Bug Spray – Mosquitoes, black flys and all manner of flying irritants wait for us when we go after those hard to find geocaches in the woods. Kurt and I grew up in Maine where the unofficial state bird is the black fly and the mosquitoes will keep you out of the woods they can be so thick. Your only chance of survival is to purchase and use some bug spray. We have also had good luck with the clip on bug fans on a limited basis.
Dog Treats – As we’ve discussed many times here on the blog and on our Facebook wall, we love to cache with our four legged friends. They get hungry too and we like to treat them when they behave well. We prefer all natural dog treats for our pups.
Duct tape – C’mon, you know duct tape is useful for about a thousand different reasons. You don’t need a full roll, but having some duct tape around sure does make me feel a little better!
First Aid – When I first started geocaching I was alarmed that some of the harder to find geocaches in my area were down steep ravines or needed the use of ropes to access. A quick read of the cache log showed that there had indeed been injuries at this location. I decided then and there that I needed to include a basic first aid kit inside of my geocaching kit. You can purchase complete first aid kits that are full and ready to go!
Flashlight – It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit. I swear that I must have enough time to get to a cache deep inside the woods and get back out before the sun goes down but I never count on the extended amount of time it would take to find a particularly hard hide. For that reason I often need a flashlight to find my way home. When purchasing a flashlight you should look for one that uses LEDs as they use less battery power and shine brighter than a traditional flashlight. Be sure to look both at a handheld flashlight and a LED headlamp, which can leave your hands free for other purposes.
Flint / Waterproof Matches – While not critical for geocaching per say, buying a flint or fireproof matches and keeping them handy can literally save your life in the event that you find yourself exposed in the wild overnight. It’s a cheap insurance, buy them once, put them in the bag and hope you never need it.
Geocache Containers – Why carry extra geocache containers? Simple! You never know when you might stumble upon the perfect location to hire your next cache for others to find. Since there is limited space within your bag you’ll want to keep these on the smaller size. We recommend a few of each; micro, bison tubes, decon containers to name a few.
Glasses – If you wear corrective glasses or contacts it makes sense that you’ll carry a spare set with you in case something happens. I travel a lot for work and I learned the hard way that being blind when you least expect it is a bad situation to be in.
Granola Bars – All that hiking around can leave one quite hungry and granola bars pack a lot calories and nutrition into a dense form that is easy to consume. Even better they can last a long time so there is no need to eat them quickly. The chocolate chip clif bars are my personal favorite, but you should experiment to find the flavor you find most tasty.
Hand Warmers – Simple to pack and light to carry these hand warmers can be very useful in keeping your hands, feet or other locations warm while you are out caching. They go by many names, but if you go into any outdoor store and just say you want to buy some “hand warmers” the shop attendant will know what you are talking about.
Logbooks – Have you ever visited a cache and found that the logbook is already full? We geocachers have to take of one another, and each other’s caches as well! You could always buy your logbooks or, as a reminder we have a free section where you can download free logbooks.
Magnetic Reach Tools – Some of you clever madcachers said that you carry magnetic reach tools in your geocaching kits. These can be handy if metal cache containers are just outside of reach. A word of warning here though, magnets can cause a ruckus with electronics, so if you do indeed purchase a magnetic reach tool be sure to keep it a safe distance away from your GPSr to avoid wiping its memory or programing.
Medication – Like eyeglasses your medication is critical – make sure you bring it with you on any long trip or hike. You don’t want a day that started with the fun of geocaching to go sideways because of a missed pill.
Mirrors – Geocaches can be hidden in some pretty odd places, around corners, under thing, above them. Sometimes in places you just can’t see. An extendable mirror can help you see those hidden gems. You need to pack them carefully though as mirrors can, and do break. And you don’t need 7 years of bad geocaching luck!
Path tags – Pathtags are a unique indicator that you’ve found a cache. Not sure what a path tag is? Visit www.pathtag.com to find out!
Pencils – Some people prefer pens, but for us nothing beats the simplicity of a pencil. Plus, pencils can’t explode inside of your bag and cause a big mess! One of my favorite stories that I can’t help but share about pencils; During the cold war when the USA and the USSR were going head to head in the race to space the US government realized they needed a way for their astronauts to record data in space. To this end they spent MILLIONS of tax dollars on engineering, designing and building a pen that could write in zero gravity, upside down and in most any temperature. What did the Russians do? They used a pencil!
Poncho – You never know when the weather is going to change unexpectedly. While some people recommended bringing a full set of rain gear, that can be very heavy. We recommend just brining along a plastic rain poncho that will keep you mostly covered and allow enough room underneath for your bag and GPSr.
Sunblock – While I love the summer and sunshine I was blessed with Irish skin and burn very easily. Sunblock is critical for me if I don’t want to end up as red as a cooked lobster and in some serious pain. You can buy sunblock in small containers with carabineers so you can clip the lotion on to your bag for easy access.
Survival Blanket – In a pinch if you are lost in the wilderness a survival blanket can be used to build a shelter. It can also be wrapped around someone to keep their core body temperature up. Like the fire starters listed above; buy a survival blanket and hope you never have a use for it.
SWAG – Everyone has his or her favorite item to leave behind in geocaches. Geocachers call this stuff “SWAG” and we make sure we are always well stocked in our geocaching kit.
Trash Bags – Litterbugs are annoying, but they also ruin the pristine areas that geocaching is meant to show us! Beyond not littering ourselves, we like to practice what has been called “CITO” which stands for Cache In Trash Out. So grab a few trash bags from under the kitchen counter and stuff them in your bag. Leave your cache area and the paths to and from it better than you find it.
Travel Bugs – Any travel bugs or geocoins we pick up during our geocaching we put right into our geocaching kit. That way we don’t lose someone’s travel bug and we always have them handy to place into the next cache in their adventure.
Water Bottle – Staying hydrated is critical to enjoying any outdoor activity. Buy a quality water bottle and it will be something you have for years to enjoy.
Ziploc Bags – Ziploc bags are helpful for a number or reasons, but mostly they keep things dry. We have found them useful for an entire host of reasons.
What did we forget? Do you not agree with something we’ve put in the list? Give us (and everyone else) some feedback in the comment section below so we can improve the list overtime.
Thanks for reading everyone and happy geocaching!