January 21, 2008

Paperless Geocaching, Part I

In the old days (way back in 2003/04), when “gearing up” for a typical geocaching outing, you had to bring everything and the kitchen sink. At a minimum, you needed your GPSr device, and hard-copy printouts from geocaching.com containing the cache information for all of the cache sites you intended to visit that day. It was also a good idea to bring a cell phone for three reasons: (1) for safety, (2) to call the cache owner or recent cache finder for an extra hint for that hard-to-find cache, and (3) to phone home and inform your spouse that you’re going to be late for dinner because there’s one more cache that you just have to find. And of course, you need to bring water, snacks, camera, cache trade items, and extra GPSr batteries.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in the geocaching world was the advent of programs like CacheMate that allow you to load all of the cache listing information you want from geocaching.com onto a PDA or other electronic device. Not only does this free you from having to carry around reams of paper, but you can basically load an entire pocket query worth of caches onto your PDA device so you’ll have all the cache information for hundreds of caches right at your fingertips. It provides you the ability to enter your log information into your device from the field, and then upload your entry directly to geocaching.com when you return home to your computer.

Of course, if you have a Smartphone or PocketPC, you can simply visit the geocaching.com web site from your mobile device and get the cache information directly. But often times you’ll be caching in areas with poor or no phone signal, which makes having cache listings pre-loaded on your device a must. More on this topic in the next post.

1 comment:

Trailmix.Net said...

My wife recently signed up for the Trimble Outdoors package, which allows you to cache from your cell phone. The service is great and really cuts down on the pre-caching prep time.

The downside is that the phone doesn't have a very good gpsr on board and the accuracy is very low.