Types of Caches: More Than Just Boxes of Swag

Over the past few weeks, I’ve covered the different sizes of caches, what I like to use for a cache container, and cache camouflage. Now, it’s time to talk about that all important category:

Non-Traditional Caches

For the longest time, I thought that a cache was just a box hidden in the woods. Or the city. Or wherever. I had no idea that geocaching actually offered more than just a “Here’s the coordinates, go find it” type of experience. Each cache not only has its own definition, it also has it’s own icon on the geocaching.com website. All of the icons shown below are copyright and property of Groundspeak.

Multi-Cache – A multi-cache (sometimes referred to as a “multiple”) involves two or more locations, the final location being a physical container. There are many variations, but most multi-caches have a hint to find the second cache, and the second cache has hints to the third, and so on. An offset cache (where you go to a location and get hints to the actual cache) is considered a multi-cache.

The first time I did a multi-cache I had no idea that there would be different “legs” to what I was finding. Imagine my surprise when instead of finding a container full of swag, I found a magnetic key-hider with coordinates in it!

These were the coords to the second leg of the cache.

Puzzle Cache – A puzzle cache, sometimes known as a mystery cache, is the “catch-all” of cache types. A puzzle cache involves puzzles (sometimes really complicated puzzles) you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates.

I’ve never actually tried a puzzle cache but I look forward to. (Or, I look forward to convincing ESP Boss that we should try one. He likes the good old fashioned PNG.)


Event Cache – Occasionally, local geocachers and geocaching organizations designate a time and location to meet and discuss geocaching. After the event the caches are archived. Event caches can have caches hidden specifically for the event, prizes, poker runs and more. Each cachers who participates gets credit for “finding” the event cache.

My first event cache was the A.J.A.C.S. 6th Annual Campout Event Cache. For three days, we searched for new caches (got our first FTF), met geocachers from across the southwest, camped and generally had a blast.

Letterbox Hybrid – A letterbox is another form of treasure hunting using clues instead of coordinates. In some cases, however, the owner has made it both a letterbox and a geocache and posted its coordinates on Geocaching.com. If there is a stamp inside a letterbox hybrid, it is not an item intended for trade; the stamp is meant to remain in the box so that visitors can use it to record their visit. To read more about letterboxing, visit the Letterboxing North America web site.

An artist friend of mine, Ann, has hidden several letterboxes near Prescott. I had actually known of letterboxing long before I knew about geocaching. But, I thought it sounded complicated and was positive there wouldn’t be any near where I live. I was totally wrong on that! (But, between you & me, I prefer the principals behind geocaching!)

Mega-Event Cache – A Mega-Event cache is similar to an Event Cache but it is much larger. In order to qualify as a Mega Event, the event cache must be attended by 500+ people. Typically, Mega Events are annual events and attract geocachers from all over the world.

I’m trying to convince ESP Boss and The Queen Mother that we should attend GeoWoodstock VIII this year. I’ll let you know if we’ll be there!

Earth Cache – An EarthCache is a special physical location that people visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. EarthCaches include a set of educational notes and the details about where to find the location (latitude and longitude). For more information about EarthCaches, visit http://www.earthcache.org/.


Grandfathered Cache Types

These are cache types that are no longer available for creation on geocaching.com. These cache types are now considered waymarks and are part of Waymarking.com

Virtual Cache – A virtual cache is a cache that exists in a form of a location. Depending on the cache “hider,” a virtual cache could be to answer a question about a location, an interesting spot, a task, etc. The reward for these caches is the location itself and sharing information about your visit.

I’ve run into a few virtual caches but I never participated — I wasn’t sure what the ghostie meant and it made me nervous!

Webcam Cache – These are caches that use existing web cameras placed by individuals or agencies that monitor various areas like parks or road conditions. The idea is to get yourself in front of the camera to log your visit. The challenging part, however, it that you need to call a friend to look up the web site that displays the camera shot. You will need to have them to save the picture to log the cache.

I tried to do a webcam cache the last time I was in Las Vegas. Even though I found the correct street corner, I couldn’t figure out the whole camera-online photo thing.

Locationless (Reverse) Cache – Locationless caches could be considered the opposite of a traditional cache. Instead of finding a hidden container, you are given a task to locate a specific object and log its coordinates. A scavenger hunt of sorts, it involves collecting waypoints of various objects around the world.

My favorite type? Caches with lots of good swag!

All in all, I know I prefer a nice traditional cache with a few multi-caches thrown in for spice. And the next time I have the opportunity to attend an event cache, you can count me in!

What’s Your Opinion?

  • Do you have a favorite type of cache?
  • Do you participate in any of the “sister” games to geocaching like letterboxing or waymarking?
  • Have you ever been to an event cache?