Add Your Tips to the Geocaching “Rules of Thumb”


Geocachers Opa&PK recently sent a letter to Groundspeak Headquarters titled, “Opa’s Rules of Thumb for Caching.”  The rules embody lessons learned over years of geocaching. The team has been geocaching since 2003 and has found more than 2000 caches.

Opa taught geocaching classes with another geocacher, Lynn from “QuantumFarms.”  The experience helped Opa develop the rules you’re about to read.

Opa says, “I do think they could be used as a teaching tool for ‘newbies.’ Even though tongue-in-cheek, every one has a practical application as well.”

Here’s ten of the rules that they discovered on the geocaching trail:

1- No matter how much advance research you do, the cache will be on the other side.

2- Any references to water/swamps/mosquitoes/tics in a cache’s description or log entries should be believed.

3- Always take the official bushwhacking distance and multiply by 3.62.

Opa, packing spare batteries, at the Original Cache

4- Waterproof footwear isn’t waterproof — unless the water is already inside.

5- You are allergic to some form of plant life; you just don’t know which one yet.

6- Always carry spare batteries, always.

7- If something looks out of place for the locale, it could be the cache.

8- If something looks absolutely authentic for the locale, it could be the cache.

9- Sometimes you have to just trust the instruments; at other times go with your experience and instinct.  The trick is figuring out which approach to use for THIS cache.

10- Excessive coffee drinking does not go well with caching.

There are many more rules out there. Post a comment. What rules of thumb would you add?

  • Opa

    Thanks to Eric for the editorial assistance. 98.6 percent of the rules are based on surprising, or ugly, experiences, so “Let's be careful out there.”

  • Phxhawke

    Always remember, don't follow the GPS blindly.

  • Let the kids get a few to keep them interested.
    Take the family dog for 'stealth' purposes.
    Don't yell 'found it'…it draws unwanted attention.
    You are not a crow so don't go the way the crow flys…look for the trail.
    The one holding the gps rarely finds the cache.

  • Soccer Bulldog

    I really agreed with rule #6-Always carry spare batteries, always. I learned it the hard way caching out in the woods miles from parking. We found one cache and my GPSr died. Now I carry some extras in my backpack.

    Another rule: Be very careful entering coords for the second (or third etc.) stage of a multicache. (If you make a mistake it can lead you far away from the last stage, and put you in a dangerous area.)

  • BigSmellyMonkey

    Funny I came upon this article…

    ALWAYS make sure to keep your gps up-to-date…

    Went for an 2-hour+ hike with my 4 year old today. Called the wife when we were almost there so I could give her an ETA for dinner… she asked what cache I was doing, she looked it up online while I was still on the phone…. Then she said, “Uhm, that cache was archived 3 weeks ago…..”

    Oh, did I mention that we were bushwhacking for over an hour…. terrain was 'supposed' to be 2.0, more like 3.5…

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Pippamer

    If you think you're there you're there
    If you think you're not you're not
    If you think you're there you not
    If you think you're not you are
    If you think you're there you might not be there
    and if you think you're not you're probably not
    Either way you should be having fun doing it and be able to say “Doh” when you do find it where you thought it was/wasn't. There doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule for this crazy sport other than you WILL get lost, you will be late back, you will not give up easily and you will mostly have a smile on your face at every find. :o)

  • lionchaser

    Yes! You nailed it!!

  • Monterey Company

    Benydryl… ALWAYS have that with you. Because #5 is REAL.

  • Ruthyless

    I always sing that kid's song “One of these things don't belong”. Works about 75% of the time!

  • Styrian

    a few kilometres on a path could be much better (and faster) than hundred meters across country…

  • Jacobsw

    If there is blackjacks, there will be a cache.

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  • Ladybugsho

    This I learned on my first weekend of Geocaching. Don't Geocache in the brush in the summertime. Stickers from head to toe. yes I was pulling them out of my hair!!!!

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  • WRWhizard

    The cache hider isn't always as evil as you are. Don't assume it's in the worst location. K.I.S.S. before you go down into that ravine.

    Learn to track. When you get close to GZ, slow down and don't go barging in. If the things been found recently, look for signs. If you're going for the FTF, look for the CO's foot prints, broken twigs, bent weeds, turned rocks, etc.

  • One digit off is not insignificant.
    Holes are great places to look for geocaches…and find unhappy creatures of all shapes and sizes.
    Travel Time= Y; Estimated Travel Time w/ Caching = 1.5 x Y; Real Travel Time with Caching = 3Y

  • Coman123

    Of Course it is going to be in the last spot you look.
    Once you found it, why would you keep looking?

  • Found it, DNF, snakes, trip hazzards, nasty beagles whatever keeping it coming. I love this sport and everything that comes with it.

  • jo_botmn

    Before you DNF it, ask yourself ‘Where would I hide it?’ That usually does the trick.

    If group geocaching for an extended period of time, synchronizing bladders is not a bad idea.

    If on said trip, eat a good breakfast, a light lunch and stop and eat at a normal time for dinner, it mitigates the beast at 2 am. (first hand experience–I’M HUNGARY!!)

    Once again, if on said trip a road map is absolutely necessary (at least for my mental health).

    Bring extra socks…extra shoes might not be a bad idea either.

    Baby wipes are a god send.

    Shorts might be nice in warm weather, but be prepared for the scratches, stings, bites, and rashes–and they might linger month or later.

  • Khadija

    My own rules (also based on experience):
    Bring your own pen #1: the more pens you find in the cache box, the less of them are working
    Bring your own pen #2: (for drive in’s) the likelihood of an non-working pen in the box ist proportional to the walking distance from your car