Hiding a GeoCache – A Comprehensive Guide


We now have 730 finds under our belt and still haven’t placed our first hide. I have nearly all of my creative containers prepared, have a stock of tupperware, pencils, swag, a few unactivated trackables ready for their journey, a stack of logbooks and have even worked out where they are going to be hidden. SO WHAT’S MY EXCUSE? I dunno, I guess I’m just a bit of a perfectionist and want to get everything exactly right before hiding. We’ve also been going mega crazy on cache runs so haven’t really had the time. I’ve decided Sunday is the day to get all the boxes ready for hiding. So as I like to plan I thought I’d knock up a quick guide on things to consider, buy, and do ready for hiding a Geocache…

Prepare the box

1) A container

Small and Regular Containers

Shops like Poundland, Tesco, Wilkinsons, QD, etc. can provide you with relatively cheap tupperware. Remember though if you get cheap containers they’re not going to be as water tight as the more expensive ones. If you are laying caches that you will regularly check on I guess the cheaper ones will be fine. If you’re laying caches where you may not be able to get to them for regular maintenance perhaps invest in the more expensive ones.

Micros

Grr… I had a real hard job getting hold of film cannisters. In the end I settled for importing them from a German caching site. I brought 40 of them, plus some other stuff to make the 9 Euro postage worthwhile. I had a look at quite a few of the other online stores and they had the best deal.

Nanos

Nanos are pretty easy to get hold of from most of the geocaching shop. You may however consider painting these to blend in with the object they are going to be stuck to just to add a bit more camo.

Creative containers

I really enjoy these! If you look in my previous blog posts you’ll see I’ve made a whole host of creative caches. For most of my creative caches the logbook is inside a “1.5ml eppendorf” container. These are readily available to me so didn’t cost me anything, I have a feeling they may be called something else, but these are really useful for creative caches.

2) The essential externals

Natural camoflage

You may want to collect together some rocks, sticks, moss, leaves, etc. for use in hiding the cache. It could be that they are readily available at the location, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to be prepared

Tape

I purchased some camo tape for sticking on my micros, and also have some Black Gorilla tape for taping magnets to film cannisters, or covering other containers.

Bags

Black and camo drawstring bags are available at most online Geocaching shops. I found Geotees to be the cheapest for camo bags. These really do help hide your container and are very useful if they’re in a location that frequently gets muggled

Paint

How about painting your containers? This really does help disguise them. I’ve come across quite a few containers that were painted and had paint flaking off. As a result I had slighly discoloured hands by the time I replaced the cache. Thanks to qichina, I discovered the secret to keeping paint on your containers… Xylene. Read my blog post here to discover how you can do it.

A Label

Download a label from on top of your cache to mark it as a geocache from here. You can buy these, however this could work out pricey for a lot of hides. I shall be printing mine on a label and putting sticky back plastic over to top to protect it from the elements.

3) The essential internals

Swag

I think it’s a great idea to start with a little bit of swag in your small and regular caches. That way when you check back on the caches you will be able to see what others have left. This may be a bit more exciting than finding just the logbook.

Logbooks

I’ve stocked up on 11p small books from Wilkinsons. These are quite flimsey and I don’t expect the glue that holds the pages together to hold up for a long time. Therefore I will place a couple of staples along the top of the pad for extra help holding the pages together. Other than that I’ve seen cheap small notebooks in Tesco and Poundland that you could pick up.

For micros you don’t need logbooks, just print off a sheet from here.

Pencils/Pens

I think it’s handy to have a pencil in all caches, just in case. I know in the very beginning we didn’t always take a spare pen and just expected one to be in the caches. Occasionally we had to sign logs using a stick with mud on it! Now we take about 5 pens, just in case! You can get a pack of pencils for about 50p. So you can saw these down to fit into micros, or so they are the right size for the container.

FTF Prize

How about a pound coin, a gift card with some money on, or an unactivated travel bug for the FTF if you have layed a long/tricky multi or puzzle cache?

Stash Notes

Make sure everyone (muggles especially) know what this random container in the woods is doing by placing a Geocaching.com stash note inside. Hopefully muggles will be less likely to take the container if they understand what it is.

Fastenings

Magnets

The little magnets you can get from the online Geocaching shops are surprisingly strong (be careful with your fingers). You can use these to stick film cannisters to railings, or road signs, or even put the larger containers under bridges or stiles.

Wire or Cable Tyes

How about getting a bit more inventive? Don’t just hide your micro at the base or center of a tree, hang it from a tree using wire, or maybe use cable tyes to fix a film cannister to a branch.

Nails, hooks, screws, Fishing line, etc.

It’s amazing how much more challenging you can make your hide with a few fastenings. You can really catch finders off guard when they don’t find their micros where they expect. Make sure you increase the difficulty slightly if you do something like this. You could put a nail, screw or hook on the back of a tree, or under a bridge and hang the item on it. You could also tye fishing line to the container and dangle it down behind something. How about using the fishing line to help the finder as well. If your container is high up in a tree, attach the fishing line to it and tye it to a branch. Then when the cacher tries to grab it, it can get knocked out of the tree and dangle down for them easily to open up.

Find the spot

Permission

I highly recommend referring to OS maps if you are hiding your caches in rural locations. Ensure that you are hiding your cache on public footpaths in locations that aren’t going to upset any private land owners, or cause any finders to get into trouble.

I’d go as far as to say try to respect land owners’ items as well as their land. For example: A tree along a footpath, a public footpath sign, a railing, metal steps, a stile, a bridge, a road sign and a fence along the public footpath are all pretty public locations. However, what about a private fence? A private farmer’s gate? Or an animal trough? In my opinion, these have an owner and your cache is now placed on private property. I’d urge hiders to think about this when placing their cache. If the owner finds the cache they are not going to care what the stash note or cache label says about Geocaching being a little game. They are just going to remove the offending item from their property.

If your cache is hidden along a public footpath then your local reviewer will probably be ok with you not obtaining permission from a land owner (It most cases it will be impossible to track down the land owner anyway) however, if you hide it in a national park, or a more urban location, be sure to contact the appropriate authority/owner.

Footpath and parking waypoints

Don’t just leave finders in the dark! Find one or two suitable parking locations and grab the co-ordinates for them. Add these additional waypoints to your description.

Also, especially if you are laying a trail or if your hide is down a footpath where the sign is quite overgrown and hidden, add a waypoint for the start of the footpath, or the start of the next footpath for the trail. You have no idea how useful these can be! Just because the path is obvious to you, it’s not necessarily obvious to others. You don’t have to be perfect on your co-ords for these either, just get something to guide the finder in the right direction.

Get the coords

Use a reliable device

I think the general rule of thumb is don’t use your iPhone (Or other smartphones) to hide a cache unless it’s absolutely the only possible way you can do it and you’re pretty much 100% certain your coords are right. Certainly don’t use the Geocaching.com application, instead use MotionX GPS (Lite or full versions) as they are more accurate. If you’re a new hider, seasoned cachers won’t appreciate really inaccurate co-ords and may avoid future hides from you. The GC Podcast only recently recorded an episode on getting accurate co-ords from an iPhone, so perhaps check that out first.

Try and try again

The only true way to get accurate readings is by going away and coming back to the cache location. Keep doing this several times and take an average. The co-ords will differ depending on the outdoor conditions, so revisiting the cache site on different days will add accuracy to your coordinates. Be sure to let your GPSr settle for a few minutes before taking its reading as gospel!

Uploading your hide

A map

How about a small OS map with your cache on it on the cache page? You could take a print screen from the Streetmap website and place it in the description, or if you are laying a trail, how about following my previous post on how to mark a cache trail on an OS map.

A bookmark list

If you’re laying a long trail or a series/theme, how about creating a bookmark list so that finders can easily generate a pocket query so that they can find them.

Choosing your difficulty and terrain rating

Again, check my previous post here with tons of details on exactly how to rate your cache.

Do use attributes

Use attributes to be specific. Is the route bikable? Are dogs allowed? Are there any dangerous creatures or animals near the cache location? Let people know and they will be more likely to catch your cache during a pocket query.

Use Geochecker for puzzle caches

Geochecker allows cachers to check their suspected co-ords against the real co-ords for a listing. You can enter the real co-ords for your cache on the website and then link to the Geochecker page in your description. If cachers know they can check their answer they will be more likely to try your puzzle as they can avoid chasing after a cache that they aren’t sure is where they think it is. This will allow them to keep trying until they have got it right!

Sell it! (Not literally!)

Make people want to visit your cache! Add photographs, interesting facts about the location, add waypoints for interesting objects or views, etc. the description field is pretty much a free text field for you to really sell your cache!

And there you have it. Make up your boxes ready, stick them in your bag, grab an OS map and take a stroll down a footpath with your GPSr. You’re all ready to hide now, or more importantly I am and I now have no more excuses…

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12 Responses to “Hiding a GeoCache – A Comprehensive Guide”

  1. Abi Says:

    Excellent post on how to hide your first cache. I really want to devise an ingenious puzzle cache but am really stuck on ideas. I think my husband is tired of the amount of tupperware in the house…which reminds me I have a cache to replace this week!

  2. Sixdogteam Says:

    Pretty good article for someone who has never hidden a cache. BTW the grey and black film cans are not waterproof. The translucent ones, where the cap snaps down inside the top of the container are, tho…

  3. geocass Says:

    Well the point was that these are the things I was considering whilst preparing my hides. Got a trail hidden now though, just need to submit and publish! πŸ™‚

  4. Our first hide – success! « GeoCass UK GeoCaching Says:

    […] I know you have to be nice to newbies and I’m not p*seed off about it as some may get. As someone who waited until 900 finds before submitting I couldn’t imagine hiding one after my 6th find! I wouldn’t have a clue! I will keep my eye on it and see how it unfolds. Maybe give him a few pointers. I know of a nice you g lady with a fab blog on caching who has a great article on hiding your first cache!!! […]

  5. Andy_UK63 Says:

    I just found this blog and I think its a fantastic resource – Well done Cass and thanks for taking the time and effort to create it.

    Some great advice and tips on this page especially and I’d like to add something to it if I may…

    I’m concerned at the number of caches I find that are wrapped in plastic bags and I think people mistakenly feel that they help to protect the container. Nothing could be further from the truth though. In fact, if the cache does get damp, a plastic bag will just serve to hold the moisture in and prevent the cache from drying out properly. They also deteriorate after a while making an unsightly mess and causing a real hazard to wildlife – I once found a dead mouse in a plastic bag used to hide a cache! I can’t be sure the bag killed it true, but I’m sure it didn’t help. Things like this can give caching a very bad name (especially with the local authorities and landowners) so I make a plea to all cachers placing hides not to use plastic bags and lets help to keep the countryside free of this material.

    Thanks
    Andy (Andy_UK63 on geocaching.com)

    • geocass Says:

      Hi Andy,

      Thanks very much for your comment and kind words. It’s always a good feeling to know that people are benefiting from and enjoying the blog! I hope you enjoy reading through.

      I agree totally with your concerns about caches in plastic bags. I hadn’t thought about the harm to animals that they could cause, but that is an extremely good point. We have found several caches in plastic bags and when we discover them I always give them a good poke with a stick to ensure that I hear the satisfying thud of plastic before opening. I recall one that I found in a tree which was wrapped in a plastic sack. The plastic sack was full of water and I wasn’t sure what it could be so was very caucious. Another was in a bag that I guess the council had been giving away in the park, as it had information on the front about picking up dog poo. Should we really be opening up dog poo bags to find a cache? Next time we open up a dog poo bag thinking it’s a cache we may be a bit of a shock!

      Tupperware boxes can be quite easy to see if the previous finder hasn’t put enough of the twigs, sticks, rocks, etc. back on top, however there are loads of different ways to camo a box that I don’t think there is any excuse to put it in a bag. Any Tupperware that I hide is first coated in Xylene. After this has eaten away at the resin I spray paint the box black. The Xylene stops the paint flaking off so easy and the black paint makes the boxes very difficult to see if you’re looking for them!

      I think your comment may have to be followed up with a future blog post about ways to camo your containers so thank you for bringing this up! πŸ™‚ I can then add the bit about plastic bags and hopefully make a few more people aware that these really shouldn’t be used.

      Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog πŸ™‚

  6. Hobgoblinkiteflier Says:

    Great article – very useful information.

    An excellent source of cheap magnets is from a broken hard drive. You get a pair of horseshoe shaped magnets in each one, and they are very strong. A piece of duct tape is enough to hold one inside a box and it will easily support the weight of the box and contents. Just be careful with any metal swag items!

    • geocass Says:

      Glad you like the article. Thanks for adding your hint. As it happens I dismantled 10 hard drives yesterday and took all of the magnets. My colleagues were intrigued as to what I was doing with them. I told them I was building a sculpture, but they didn’t believe me and said “I bet you want them for your dodgy Geocaching thing” πŸ™‚ … Maybe! πŸ™‚

  7. red.dog Says:

    Hi
    Just wondering how you add pictures to a description when hiding a cache?

    • geocass Says:

      Hi Laura,

      Good question. First, you need to upload you picture to the cache page. After the upload, if you click on your picture so that you go and see it in your web browser then look at the address bar along the top you will see the address to your picture, e.g. http://img.geocaching.com/cache/b726e7ae-29a6-4d3a-a2a1-38290a04276b.jpg.

      Now go to your cache description that you are creating. Ensure that you tick the box that says “The descriptions below are in HTML” as HTML is what we will be using to do this. Now in your cache description where you want to insert the picture enter the following:

      <img src=”http://img.geocaching.com/cache/b726e7ae-29a6-4d3a-a2a1-38290a04276b.jpg” width=”450″ height=”338″ />

      However, replace the link that I have to my picture with the one for yours and ensure that it is between the “” symbols. Where it says width and height, modify these to match your photo sizes. If your photo looks too big on the cache page you can change the width and height to shrink it. So if we have a photo that is 500 x 400, we could write width=”250″ height=”200″ and it would be 50% the size.

      You can make your cache descriptions a lot prettier using html. For example if you enter enclose words in the bold take you will make the text bold. e.g. <b>All this text will be bold</b> You can do the same making things italic <i>All of this will be italic</i> You can also centre your photo or text by wrapping it in the center tag. e.g. <center>This text will appear in the middle</center> or to make the photo central: <center><img src=”http://img.geocaching.com/cache/b726e7ae-29a6-4d3a-a2a1-38290a04276b.jpg” width=”450″ height=”338″ /></center>

      Finally if you want to add some line breaks you can enclose paragraphs of text in <p></p> or add 2 line break: <br /><br /> after a section of text to insert a blank line between.

      For more information on HTML for Geocaching pages, have a look at the resource on Follow the Arrow:
      http://www.follow-the-arrow.co.uk/resources/htmlcodes.html

      Or if you have any problems doing it on your cache page, just add a comment and tell me what problem you’re having and I’m happy to help! πŸ™‚

      Cass

  8. Bill Derwent Says:

    I know this is, like, way old now, but due to one of our other hobbies (Tarantula related) film canisters are a regular thing around the house. Try boots (One that does photos) or your nearest corner-shop style photo developers. Chances are they’ll toss you a few for free if you’re nice, or even help you buy a more sizable amount if you have a precise idea in mind.

    – Bill, AKA Tony ‘n Chelle.


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