Geocaching Cryptex, How To Build


Puzzle caches are one of my favorite types of geocaches to hunt for as they offer an additional challenge to overcome even after you’ve located what you’re fellow geocachers have left for you. Recently I got the idea that I might want to build a cryptex and hide it as part of a puzzle cache.

If you aren’t familiar with what a cyptex is, don’t feel bad. The word is actually fairly new and was created by popular author Dan Brown. If that name sounds familiar it should! Dan Brown was the author of the 2003 best selling book “The Da Vinci Code”. The name “cryptex” is a combination of the words cryptology and codex, and wikipedia defines it as “a small, portable vault used to hide messages”. In the book, and later the movie, the characters rush through a series of clues and events to find the secret code to open their cryptex and reveal a secret message. Sound familiar? The concept of a cryptex loans itself very easily to geocaching. (If you haven’t read the book I highly recommend it)

A cryptex is described in the Da Vinci Code as a stone cylinder that is made up of 6 smaller “stone donuts” stacked one on top of the other. The two end caps of the cryptex allow the user to look into the device and see the contents that are hidden inside. Each of these donuts is carved with the entire alphabet on the surface and in order to open up the device and retrieve the contents the user must spell out the correct word along a single line. Once the disks are aligned, it works much like a lock in that all of the tumblers align and the device can be opened.

Dan Brown even went a step further making his device able to destroy the message inside if it fell into the wrong hands. In the novel he states that the paper on which the secret message is written is made of thin papyrus wrapped in a glass vial of vinegar. If someone tries to force the device open, the glass vial would break, releasing the vinegar and destroying the paper with it.

As with anything these days, you can now buy a cryptex already made. I’ve included some links to Amazon below where you can go and buy such commercially made cryptexes if you want. I even added a link to the book, which as I said above is worth a read.

Or perhaps you’re like us and would like to try and make your own? You really don’t need to be that handy or have a large collection of expensive tools in order to do so. This video is not our own, but it is the one that I’m using as I do try to assemble one for setting out as a geocache. I thought I would share it with all of you in case you also want to give it a try!

If you do decide to build one, please send us a photo! Even if you decide not to build or buy a cryptex, we hope you’ll keep an eye out for one during your geocaching and let us know if you do! We’d love to hear about it! Send us an email on our contact page, Facebook wall or leave a comment below!


  1. Luke

    These look pretty cool, I’ll have to keep an eye out for them when I am caching. So far the only puzzles I have worked on have been in the description of the cache.

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