Over 1 Million Geocaches are Hidden Around You

By Daniel Bernzweig

Selecting the best metal detectors for locating hidden Geocaches

Do you remember the thrill of childhood treasure hunts? Nothing could be more exciting than following a map and discovering hidden treasure. What’s really neat is you can still experience this excitement as an adult by taking up geocaching. Geocaching is the game, or hobby, of hunting for hidden treasure using GPS coordinates. A geocache is defined as a hidden container that includes, at a minimum, a logbook. The real fun is finding the other small treasures hidden inside the geocache, but you don’t get to keep them! Instead, the logbook keeps track of each person who has found this geocache. The game of geocaching began in May, 2000 with only 75 hidden treasures. Now, there are well over 1 million hidden geocaches. Each week, approximately 6,500 new geocaches are hidden and 1.4 million log entries are filed at the Geocaching website online.

How do people get started geocaching?

First, you must decide on the type of geocache you would like to search for. There are beginner’s geocaches, multi-caches (more than 1 location), advanced-level caches and everything in between. At one of the geocaching websites, locate the coordinates of a given geocache. Then, you’ll need a GPS device to input these coordinates. Upon determination of your geocache location, it’s time to set out in search of the treasure. You can get valuable tips and tricks from experienced geocachers—as well as suggested equipment for finding caches. Be sure to read our related blog post entitled “Bring Your Metal Detector Along when Geocaching.”

How to Find the Geocache when you’re on Site

Beginning geocachers should note—GPS will lead you to your approximate destination. But even the best GPS devices are only accurate to within 10 feet. That’s 10 feet in every direction. So, you’ll need to count on your instincts and any tips you were given to lead you the rest of the way. Successful geocachers give these tips for zeroing in on your target once you’re in close proximity:

  1. Look for anything out of place. For instance, is there a pile of leaves that is placed perfectly? Is the bark covering a tree stump the wrong color? If the scene doesn’t look natural, it probably isn’t. Geocache owners factor these clues into their difficulty rankings.
  2. Are there any natural hiding places around? Seek out places that look obvious for hiding a geocache. Fallen trees are a favorite because their roots and trunks present natural crevices. Many caches are covered with camouflage tape, which can really blend into a wooded setting.
  3. Clues from previous visitors. If your cache has been found more than 20-30 times, look for “geopaths,” which are tracks created by fellow geocachers. They leave trails while hunting for the same treasure—especially if there’s snow on the ground. Also, look for broken branches and trampled leaves.
  4. Look up & down, not just in front of you. Part of the game includes hanging containers in trees or suspended from light poles. You may see items in branches that don’t look right—like a pine cone in an unnatural color. Keep an eye out for fishing line, since this is a trick for hanging geocaches.
  5. Think like the person who hid the geocache. If you were hiding a cache, where would the most obvious place be for you to put it? For difficulty 3 and below, basic hiding places are a good bet: tree trunks, rock piles, hollow stumps, etc. For difficulty 4 and above, the owner has probably gotten more creative. Search for heavily camouflaged items, like false rocks or caches suspended overhead.

Why Metal Detectors Help with Geocaching

First and foremost, geocachers place a strong emphasis on the fact that treasures are not buried. Many hobbyists are worried that if digging and upsetting nature is perceived, this will create a bad reputation for the game. Nevertheless, a metal detector can still be extremely useful for locating various types of geocaches. If you are hunting for a metal trinket buried under snow in winter, a metal detector will definitely speed up the process. Caches with a higher difficulty level may be hidden under thick foliage, making a metal detector very handy. Ammo cans are very popular geocache containers, and they are made of metal. Be sure to read our related blog post entitled “Geocaching with a Metal Detector.” Here are some thoughts about the usefulness of a metal detector from an online geocaching forum:

  • Perfect for locating ammo cans under the snow. Ammunition cans (ammo cans) are a very popular geocache container. They are military surplus steel cans that are sturdy and waterproof. Their olive color blends in with the environment so they are difficult to spot. One geocacher mentioned, “We knew the cache was an ammo can full of pennies, so a metal detector would be the perfect tool. We found it with little searching.”
  • One geocacher says he was able to locate several covered benchmarks with a metal detector. Benchmarks are brass disks embedded in the ground with sequences of letters and numbers. They help land surveyors, builders and engineers.
  • Many geocaching sites lend themselves to coin and relic hunting. After you’ve found your geocache, you can do some treasure hunting with a metal detector.
  • A hobbyist who hides geocaches: “I've been thinking about combining the two hobbies. I am considering making a metal detector-necessary cache where waypoints would be nitro tablet containers (metal keychain fob or small metal container) pressed into the dirt or sod.”

Best Metal Detectors for Geocaching

A metal detector can help you locate a geocache, but ideally it will allow you to do some hunting for buried metal treasures, as well. Metal detectorists truly love the thrill of finding historical relics, gold jewelry and watches, antique items and especially coins. There is a big market for old coins, antiques and war relics—and we all know how high the price of gold is. Geocoins are custom minted coins or medallions designed to place in geocaches. They are highly sought after and a popular geocache to track down. A coin-hunting metal detector will make easy work of locating a cache with geocoin(s). Be sure to read our related article entitled “Metal Detectors are Useful in Geocaching.”

A general purpose metal detector will also serve you well because you can hunt for any type of metal in multiple soil types or terrain. Entry-level metal detectors that are available today offer advanced features and professional circuitry. And many are pre-programmed, so they are ready to turn on and go. Depending on your budget, a mid-level metal detector is a great investment! For a little higher price, you can get advanced target identification on an LCD display, adjustable discrimination to eliminate junk targets, adjustable ground balance, a pinpointing control and many other cool features. To learn how to choose your first metal detector by selecting desired features and narrowing down your top choices, be sure to read: How to Select a Metal Detector.

Here are our most popular multi-purpose metal detectors:

Entry Level:

Mid Level:

High End:

Top Deep Seeking Metal Detectors:

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