Just What Size IS That?

Container Sizes Explained

When I got started in geocaching, I had no idea that caches actually came in different sizes. As a newbie cacher, I was like a little kid: all about the swag! The thrill of trading toys in the woods hasn’t really worn off either; I really only go for caches that are big enough for trade items.

However, I know some people who live and breathe for micros. Or, the evil little brother of a mico: the nano.

But, if you’re new to geocaching, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering just what I’m talking about. So, here are cache container sizes explained!

The first place you can see a cache’s size is on the list of caches when you run a search. But, don’t use this chart as the gospel truth of the cache size. I found a cache that was listed as a “small” but was really just a log sheet stuffed behind a sign!

This is shown on the cache listing page.

Cache Sizes

Large – This is listed as the size of a 5 gallon bucket. I’m not really sure how many caches this size exist. I know I’ve never seen one listed in my area, let alone actually found it!

Regular – A regular is an ammo can, nut jar, or other container that is about the size of a 3 pound coffee can. There will be plenty of room for trade items and trackable items.

Regular cache with trade items!

Small – This is defined as holding a log book and a few trade items. I classify my favorite cache containers as a small. A small may or may not hold a trackable item; it just depends on the size and shape of the traveler.


Altoids tin is usually classified as a small.

Micro – a 35mm film canister size. This typically means a log sheet and nothing else. Bring your own pen.


This is somewhere between a micro and a nano.

Nano – This is an unofficial cache size. It isn’t recognized as a real size by geocaching.com but anybody who’s hunted for a cache that’s so tiny it uses 1/4″tall strip of paper for a “log book” will agree this is a far cry from a micro!


This nano was less than 1/2 inch across and about 1/4 inch deep.

Not-Specified – Sometimes the hider of the geocache doesn’t actually say what size cache it is. That can be fun or it can be frustrating. Usually on this “size” I read through the logs to find out if trade items were left, and if so, what types of items. You can pretty much figure that if they say they left a Happy Meal toy that it’s not a micro!

Each cache’s unique page will also have the cache size listed. If you’re not sure if the size is listed correctly, scan through the logs. Usually, if a cache is listed as a regular and it’s really a small, somebody will have mentioned it in a log or two.

Check for the cache size listed on the upper left of the page.

If you’re just getting started, I recommend going for Regular or Small caches since it is more fun to FIND the caches when you’re new. As your geosense develops then start going after the micros.

And if you’re caching with kids: decide if the FIND is more important or if they like the SWAG. My other advice for caching with kids is to make sure they have fun and are successful. Most of the kid cachers I know define successful as finding the cache!

The more you geocache, the better you get at finding the container. I think most geocachers have a favorite size of container that they go for.

You can buy some really interesting geocaching containers on Amazon.com

For the experienced cachers:

  • What is your favorite cache size?
  • And for everybody who loves finding micros and nanos — what advice do you offer to get somebody started with that?