So you want to go geocaching?



Taking up the sport of geocaching is simple. All you need is a GPS unit, a compass, a map and a sense of adventure. You can even forgo the map and compass if you have to.

GPS units are available at many sporting goods stores in the Treasure Valley. REI has perhaps the largest selection. Brands like Magellan and Garmin are the most popular. With greater price comes better features. In order to download basic topographical maps you may opt for greater memory on your GPS unit. You can get started for about $100, but some of the top models include a two-way radio as part of the device cost much more.

You may also want a compass. Some GPS units have electronic compasses and altimeters, but they can be tricky to learn to use. Knowing which way is north can be very important when navigating in the woods.

While you can purchase a basic software of topo maps for downloading onto your GPS units, it is advisable, especially when trying to find geocaches in the deep woods, to have an detailed topographical map. National Geographic's TOPO! series and waterproof printing paper are ideal for this purpose.

If you go geocaching on longer hikes or try to reach more difficult cache locations (geocaching.com ranks difficulty using a one- to five-star scale), then you may need additional equipment like climbing gear or survival gear.

When you find the cache, make sure you note your visit if there is a logbook. If you brought an item to leave behind, do so. You should also take an item if the cache instructions (which should be in the cache) say to do so. Put the cache back where you found it and once home, log on to a geocaching Web site to log your visit so that others may know when it has been visited and be updated on any unique conditions in the area. At all times, follow the leave-no-trace policy and pick up trash when you find it.


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