What Is in a Geocache? The Essentials

what is in a geocache

A geocache is a container that is the central focus of this recreational activity that involves using GPS coordinates, given to you virtually, to find the ‘caches’ all around the world. There are several apps available that you can use to start geocaching, but you’re probably wondering, “What is in a geocache?”

Geocaches contain a log that you sign. They may also contain trade items called Swag. The swag can be items such as marbles, coins, money, jewelry, and small toys. A geocache may also contain a trackable item called a travel bug, that moves from cache to cache, or a pathtag, which is a collectible piece of swag.

Here is your essentials guide to what is in a geocache, and all of the tips and tricks that come along with it so that you can maximize your experience and know exactly what to do with what you find.

What Are Good Geocache Finds?

Geocache finds can be very hit or miss. There are some items that you can open up a geocache and feel extremely excited about. The value of the items you find is going to be subjective. If the item in the box aligns with things that you like and enjoy, you are going to deem it valuable. The most valuable part of geocaching, however, is the experience itself.

Some interesting finds that you can collect in a geocache can include:

  • Marbles
  • Small toys
  • Trackables
  • Pathtags
  • Jewelry Items
  • Coins
  • Poker chips
  • Insect repellent
  • Hat or lapel pins
  • Money
Examples of what is in a geocache
What is in a geocache – Examples

What Should I Do If I Find Something I Like?

When you find something you like while geocaching, you should be pretty happy! It’s not every day that you find something that you enjoy, and when you do, you might wonder how you can take it properly.

If you’d like to take the contents of the cache, what you’re going to do is trade for it! The rule is that if you take something, you must leave something of equal or greater value. However, not all items are tradable, such as trackables.

Trading For Something You Like

When you’re trying to trade for what you like, you’re going to want to make sure that you have something sufficient to trade in its place. You want to put something in there that is going to appeal to the next person.

Carrying around these little things in your cache kit makes trading for something you like a lot easier! You might also have a unique thing like an item from a local store, or something you’ve created yourself. These items sometimes make for the best finds!

What Should Not Be Left In a Geocache?

Geocaching is a family-friendly activity! As you’ll notice from a lot of the items left in the caches, they can range from little McDonald’s toys to Hot Wheels cars. However, this isn’t always the case. Some people don’t understand the rules of geocaching and they leave things that should not be left in a cache container.

Here’s a list of a few items you should NOT leave in a cache box:

  • Any type of food item
  • Illegal substances
  • Any type of bottle with liquid
  • Sharp items
  • Weapons
  • Trash

These items are to ensure the safety of people who are participating in geocaching. If you find any of these items in a geocache, you should report it and it will most likely get temporarily disabled. Putting any type of food is going to cause an issue, as most caches are outside and will be ravaged by wild animals, as well as liquid.

In some cases, the owner may allow items that are not safe for children, in which case they will have selected the option for AOC (adult only cache.)

Geocache Travel Bug

Geocache travel bugs, also known as trackables, are specialized items that are not for trade. They have a trackable number that allows them to travel from cache to cache. Most travel bugs have a dog tag with a small toy attached.

The owner of a travel bug/trackable usually sets a goal for the travel bug, such as making it to another country or going from one state to another. If you find a travel bug, you should only take it, if you can help it reach its goal, and move it to the next destination. Never keep a travel bug as swag.

Geocaching Pathtags

A geocaching pathtag is a type of collectible swag. These you are allowed to keep, and many times they are given away as goals, such as FTF (first to find.) Sometimes the owner of the cache will make personalized pathtags to give away, that have their screen name and a design.

Many people trade pathtags on websites, groups, and forums. I’ve seen pictures of people with hundreds of collected pathtags, how cool is that! Unfortunately, I have yet to personally find a pathtag.

Where Should I Start Geocaching?

Geocaching is a simple and easy thing to start for people of all ages! You can easily start by downloading the official geocaching app. This app makes it simple and easy to navigate to the nearest caches to you. You can also mark down when you’ve found it so that people who are also on the app know how recently it’s been found.

You can start right in your own town, looking for smaller local caches. As you work your way up, you might be able to find your way to some bigger and better caches that will lead you to nice vacation spots. Most places around the world have some cache spots!

Check out our article Geocaching for beginners

It’s In The Destination

Sometimes the destination is greater than the reward. This can also apply in geocaching because sometimes the item in the cache you find is not the great reward. You might find a beautiful hidden trail or a small beach that’s secluded from people. It all depends on the spots that you personally choose when you are going geocaching!

Here are some great cities that you can find geocache boxes in!

  1. New York City: Looking around in the city can yield you some pretty nice prizes. If you want something unique to put in the box, put in a big apple pin!
  2. San Francisco, California: This is another big city that has a lot of foot traffic. If you’re looking around here, and you want a unique item to put in the box, you can find a Golden Gate Bridge pin!
  3. Reno, Nevada: In Nevada, you can find a lot of geocaches due to its close proximity to Las Vegas. When looking in boxes and trying to trade, you may want to pick out some poker chips or a deck of playing cards to feed into the gambling hotspot.

You can also find some international spots to geocache! There are geocaches on every single continent, as well as 191 countries. This makes for a good time when you’re on vacation and you can find a lot of great things that are local to that area! Source.


Now that you have a little bit more insight into the geocaching world, you’re ready to go out and find some small treasures! If you are looking to start geocaching, make sure you build a little outdoors kit and include some cache stuffers. Follow the geocaching rules and etiquette and you’ll have a fun time adventuring!

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an expert treasure hunter who is experienced in metal detecting, magnet fishing, and geocaching. He enjoys the outdoors, making new discoveries, and helping people get started.

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