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!
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.
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.
Micro – a 35mm film canister size. This typically means a log sheet and nothing else. Bring your own pen.
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!
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.
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?
June 5, 2010 @ 10:08 pm
It was my understanding, according to geocaching.com, that a small container is anything smaller than a shoe box but larger than a 35mm film container. Also, a regular is anything a big as a shoe box but smaller than a 5 gal. bucket.
June 6, 2010 @ 8:02 am
I love an ammo can in the woods near a scenic spot or at the end of a nice hike. I also like clever containers or hides in unusual spots. Nix on those lame micros/nanos on signposts, guardrails, lamp post skirts, etc. Sure, they are great for the FTF Hounds, the numbers-crunchers and those who are not physically able to get to other hides, but I try to leave them alone.
June 6, 2010 @ 8:41 am
My favorite cache size is Nano if my wife is with me. Her first find was a magnetic nano. I like them a bit bigger, like small.
However, I think many cachers are not aware of these specifications and do not identify correctly the size when describing the cache. Or maybe they are thinking “it will be fun to say its a regular and then place a nano”.
Old Man 124
June 6, 2010 @ 1:04 pm
The largest cache that I’ve found had some CDs DVDs a vase a wicker basket 5 basketballs and some other stuff that I didnt dig down to. This large plastic barrel was only 2/3rds full so there was still room for more.
My favorite caches to find are ammo cans in a hollow log or at the base of a tree with 3 or 4 sticks laying on top. 🙂
June 6, 2010 @ 1:39 pm
Look for the unusual. Pay attention to detail. Be prepared for anything. And above all just have FUN. 😉
June 6, 2010 @ 1:42 pm
Randy — You might be right about that. I couldn’t find anything about shoe boxes on geocaching.com, though. I was going to use that as a description of size but the a quick glance in my closet showed at least 4 VERY different sizes of shoebox so I scrapped the idea of using that to explain size.
June 6, 2010 @ 1:43 pm
Hibernian — I agree with you about a decent size cache after a nice hike. I do occasionally like the signpost & guardrails — but only the first couple of times looking for them. I’ve never actually found a lamp post skirt cache so I think the first time would be fun.
June 6, 2010 @ 1:44 pm
Jerry — Yes, the TOTALLY wrong size definitions does make me wonder: ignorance or meanness. I tend to think of caches based off how much swag it would hold and go from there.
June 6, 2010 @ 1:45 pm
Old Man 124 – That sounds like a really exciting cache to have found! Where was it? I’ve never been lucky enough to find something that large but I look forward to doing it someday.
June 6, 2010 @ 1:45 pm
Chellelay — That is GREAT advice. Why play if it isn’t fun?
June 6, 2010 @ 2:33 pm
We’ve found 1 large cache ever. And it was a 5 gal. bucket with a lid. But it was the only one I can see listed within 50 miles or more. They really are few and far between.
Our favorite cache was a regluar – an ammo can that was packed with stuff like a full deck of trading cards, books, a cd, camping odds and ends, and lots of little things like bouncy balls,plastic animals, and such. It was on a unused railroad trestle that we had to cross. Fun!
One thing I always do when caching with the kids is to make sure the cache has been found recently. That way I know it has the ability to be found and we won’t come away disappointed. Nothing is more aggravating than getting to a cache site, looking around for a long time and then finding out that the 10 cachers before you couldn’t find it either but the cache owner just hasn’t disabled the cache listing.
June 6, 2010 @ 6:46 pm
Some of the more “unusual” cache containers that I have found are: thermos bottles, plastic soda bottles, fake rocks, actual rocks/sticks with holes drilled into them and cache placed inside, 40mm ammo cans (about size of 5 gallon can), holes drilled into wooden sign posts, as well as the usual containers. I really enjoy the unusual containers – they make me think and question your observation/tracking skills. Then, once they are found, I can really appreciate the cleverness and time spent in creating the cache.
Not a big fan of the “nano” containers, though I will search for them. Though one of my favorite nano caches was something that looked like used chewing gum stuck onto a guardrail. Was baffled for a few minutes on that one (also was a deer carcass close by).
There were a few instances when I was searching for a “regular” container as described on the geocache page and it actually was larger/smaller as described. That leads me to believe that either the cache was replaced by owner and description was never updated or the cache owner thinks that they are being overly clever. Those are the ones where my “foreign” language skills come out. Main thing is that cache is found and (hopefully) you had fun and learned something new while geocaching.
June 7, 2010 @ 5:02 pm
Thank you for the info, Kim. One of the toughest I found to classify was GC227RC. It defied description and is one of the best cammo jobs I have seen to date. A good way to learn more about the different containers is on Ebay, believe it or not.
June 7, 2010 @ 7:51 pm
Kim, Thanks for the info. Ebay is also a great place to come up with ideas for new cache inventions of your own.
June 7, 2010 @ 8:10 pm
C. and Timothy — Ebay? Never thought about it actually! I try to stay away from Ebay if I can help it — I never find what I’m looking for and spend WAY too much money anyway. I’ll have to go check it out.
Old Man 124
June 8, 2010 @ 4:43 pm
Here is the gc# for the large barrel that I found.
GC1V6X7 I WIN
This is listed as “not chosen” located in southern Nebraska and after looking at my log I see it was only 4 basketballs.
Had a TB (TB1RBQ3) visit this large cache in southern Michigan.
GCK8ZV BIG Orange Travel Bug Convention Center
This is listed as a big and is a “Big Orange barrel” that specializes in travelbug accommodations. Check out the number of TBs that have passed through here and the number of miles added to them.
Have also found several 5gal buckets 2 of which were hanging high in the trees.
June 9, 2010 @ 7:49 am
This one is not far from the zipcode of your ESP site. Its a large storage box.
June 9, 2010 @ 9:43 am
Dear Jim — It doesn’t LOOK far away but it’s a little over an hour from here. What you DON’T realize with GPS coords is that there is an enormous mountain between me and the Verde! I either have to go over or around.
But, this looks like a fantastic cache so the next time I’m on that side of Minus Mountain, I’ll be sure to go for it.
December 1, 2015 @ 12:24 am
It is supposed to be fun and a family activity thus @#&%holes that that misrepresent cache sizes should be reported and their caches removed from geocache sites.
November 8, 2016 @ 7:22 pm
micro: Less than 100ml. [Logbook only, too small to hold trackables]
small: 100ml or larger, but less than 1L. Holds only a small logbook and small items.
regular: 1L or larger, but less than 20L.
large: 20L or larger.
other: See the cache description for information. Unusual geocache containers that just don’t fit into other categories.
The distinction between micro and small is very important. Many people prefer larger caches that can hold trackable and signature items. Many people filter out micros because they don’t enjoy log-only caches. A piece of paper isn’t enough of an enjoyable experience for some cachers. They won’t appreciate being mis-informed.
Also, a bison tube in a birdhouse is a micro, not a small. A bison tube in a hollow log is a micro not a regular. A bison tube in the hollow nook of a tree is a micro, not a large. If you don’t want to choose micro, for your bison in a hollow log, then chose Other and in the description let finders know that the cache is disguised.