I have found enough caches to know which things I do not want to be without when I’m out caching. Here they are in no particular order:
1. My GPS unit. Whether it’s a smartphone or a dedicated gps unit, the best GPS is the one you have with you. On the road or on a trail, my handheld gets me where I need to go.
2. Tweezers. Many times something smaller than my fingernails is needed to pull/grab/twist a cache.
3. A small mirror. Sometimes caches are hidden with magnets or wedged out-of-sight behind or underneath something else. A mirror is useful for seeing around and under and behind various obstacles and surfaces.
4. Comfortable shoes. I bought a pair of Keen hiking shoes about 2 years ago. Get this: I bought them the week of a backpacking trip whereupon I hiked 10 miles. Not one blister. Not even a hot spot the entire weekend. 2 years later, who-knows how many miles those shoes have carried me, and I still haven’t had a blister. Best shoe purchase I’ve ever made. Worth every single penny.
5. Extra logs and containers. Karl and I found a cache today that contained a nasty, wet log that we couldn’t sign. We had another log and small pill bag to replace the nasty one. The extra containers are for those times when a cache is obviously missing and needs a quick replacement until the owner can revisit the cache. Most cachers don’t mind when others perform a little cache maintenance.
6. PENS and paper! Geocachers resort to anything they can find when it comes to signing a log. I’ve heard of people dirtying a thumb or finger to leave a fingerprint. I’ve heard of prints being made with berries. Not too long ago, Karl and I were the first-to-find (FTF) a cache, but both of us forgot to grab a pen. There just happened to be some dreadful briars right next to the cache, so Karl stabbed his thumb with the thorn and I used a small stick & his blood to paint our names on the log. The extra paper is for when you need to make notes when solving a puzzle or figuring the coordinates in a multi.
7. Water. You won’t find many caches without something to drink. Water is best.
8. Cell phone. At local caching events, the geocachers will exchange phone numbers so that we can phone-a-friend (PAF) or text-a-friend who previously found a cache we might be having trouble finding. And, of course, it’s important to have a way to get in touch with someone if you need real help, like if a car breaks down, you get lost, or if there’s an emergency.
9. Light. I keep my favorite flashlight and, sometimes, a headlamp in my backpack. You never know when you may find yourself in a dark place like an abandoned fall-out shelter.
10. Batteries. It’s a good idea to keep several extra batteries (rechargeables) on hand for the gps and the flashlights.
Honorable mention: tree-climbing gear. I have some great caching friends whose favorite caches are the extreme ones that require special equipment. We were caching in Mississippi one afternoon when we came to a cache that was way up in a tree. The only way to retrieve it was to shoot a rope over one of the high branches and use….I don’t even know what they’re called. But it enabled them to climb the tree and get the cache down for us. They don’t go caching without their tree-climbing equipment.