Sep 222012

I’ve finally got around to posting a “what’s in my geocaching bag” article.   I’ve wanted to do this for a while.  Maybe you’ll see something in my bag and think of adding it to yours.   If you comment on the article I might find something I should add to my bag. Below is a list of the gear in my bag followed with details of why I pack those items.  You can click on the picture for a larger version.

Geocaching Bag Contents

  1. The bag itself
  2. Bendable grapple
  3. Extendable magnet and mirror
  4. Spare FireTacks
  5. S-Biners
  6. Spare carabiners for swag
  7. Trackables for trade
  8. Baling wire
  9. Small Bungee
  10. Pencils
  11. Reflective cord
  12. Gloves
  13. Cooling Cloth
  14. Water shoes
  15. Stuffable rain jacket
  16. Smartphone with geocaching app
  17. Spare camo tape
  18. Spare containers
  19. Spare Logs
  20. Reflective lanyard
  21. Mini tripod
  22. Tweezers
  23. Pens
  24. Swiss army knife
  25. Notebook
  26. ID Stickers
  27. Batteries in Powerpax battery caddy
  28. Green Laser
  29. UV light
  30. Small flashlight
  31. Large Flashlight
  32. Waterproof camera
  33. Mosquito repellant
  34. GPS
  35. Irix II headlamp
  36. Water

I use a Vaude cycling bag.  I purchased before I started caching and it’s served me well.  It has a curved metal frame that allows my back to breathe.   This helps keep me a little cooler in the summer.   It has all the necessary features for a drinking bladder but I’ve never used that.  I’m heading to Phoenix in a few weeks so I’m thinking of taking a water bladder with me.

The bendable grapple helps extend my reach either for caches placed a little higher or for a little lower.   It won’t support a lot of weight so it’s only really good for micros and the like. The extendable magnet is really and extendable mirror the magnet is just a bonus.   I use the mirror to look up dead trees to see what’s hiding in there.

I carry spare FireTacks either to repair a cache that’s missing a few or in case the urge strikes to place one while I’m out. I used to keep a number of standard carabiners attached to my pack.  They come in handy for hanging hats or watershoes or other items I don’t want inside my pack   I’ve since switched to the s-biner.   With the s-biner I can more easily remove things that are attached to my pack or elsewhere without dropping the item. I don’t do a lot of swag trading these days but I like to keep some items in my bag for that purpose.   In this way if I have my kids with me or I see something I’d like to trade for I’ve always got something I can swap out.

I carry baling wire in-case there is a micro that needs to be re-hung or attached more securely to it’s hiding place.   A little baling wire and camo tape makes a great way to fix up a micro cache.   The baling wire can also be used to extract a cache from a tight hidy-hole.

A small bungee can be used to secure a cache, maybe just the lid.  I can also combine the bungee with some s-biners to attach and secure something a little larger to my pack.  For instance a sweater or jacket.

The reflective cord can be used either for an impromptu night cache repair or to help secure a load.  It even works as an emergency shoe lace.  I’ve even thought of using it full time as shoelaces.  Not sure about that yet.

Gloves work to keep your hands clean and dry when retrieving a soggy cache.   They also come in hand to keep your hands warm on those chilly morning cache runs.

The cooling cloth is a new addition to my pack.  These cloths are great in the summer to help cool down on a long hike or a steep climb.   I also use mine as a backup drying towel.

One October I did a river crossing in Northern Ontario.  The water was freezing and the twigs and stones were painful.  That’s when I decided to always carry water shoes in my pack.   These have come in very hand a few times.  Once they are wet I attach them to the outside of my pack with my s-biners until they are dry.  I prefer water shoes to waders which is why I wear convertible pants with zip off legs.

I was out caching last fall and we had an unexpected rainfall.   I already had on my rain gear but one of the people I was caching with didn’t.  My handy-dandy stuffable rain coat came in, you guessed it, handy.   The small size allows me to leave it in my pack.  In this way I’m always prepared for a little rain or even a little wind and cold.

Well a smartphone is a bit of a no brainer.   How else can you make a desparate phone-a-friend to avoid a DNF?

I carry cloth camo tape and it’s full of uses.   There is the use it is designed for, obviously.  It can also be used to repair things like rips or broken containers.  Heaven forbid you’d need to but it can also be used with two sticks to make an impromptu splint depending on how far you are from help.

I carry a variety of geocache containers with me either in case I want to place a cache or in the event a cache container is damaged.   These are also handy in case I need to do maintenance on one my my own caches.  By having various sizes I can replace stages as well as finals if the need arises.   I have even used a container as a temporary waterproof container for my phone.

Everyone carries spare logbooks, right?  I keep a variety of sizes in my pack included nano logs.   Sometimes I just take some sheets out of a logbook or other times I’ll actually replace the whole book.  As with some of the other items in my pack spare log books are also helpful when I have to do maintenance on my own caches or if I want to place a cache. It’s nice having everything I need to create a cache.

I either carry a small tripod or a c-clamp with camera mount in my pack.   The tripod draws less attention at airport security.     From time to time I’ll pack my DSLR but for most caching trips i’m satisfied with my waterproof camera.

For more than 20 years I’ve been carrying a pocket knife.   You don’t want to carry it if you are getting on a plane though.   I know my pocket knife all the time.  It’s a bit misleading to say I carry this in my geocaching bag as most of the time I have it in my pants pocket.

Considering the amount of night caching I do it’s not surprising that I’d carry a number of flashlights.   Something more important that the flashlights are batteries.   That’s because without batteries the flashlights or my GPSr are useless.    I carry three different Powerpax in order to manage my spare batteries.   There is the 12 pack that’s either in my geocaching bag or my camera bag.   That holds the bulk of my AA batteries.   I also have a Slimeline AA Powerpax that I carry in the event I need that I’m doing a grab and go.   My third Powerpax is for my AAA batteries that I need for my UV light and my laser.

My favourite flashlight is my single AA Link.  I was out caching today during daylight and I used my Link several times.   The carabiner clip makes it very easy to carry and keeps it within easy reach.   My Rogue II is my larger light that I use when searching for a hard to find cache at night.    If I’m doing a FireTack cache I use my headlamp.   FireTacks are so much easier to see with a headlamp.

Of course I wouldn’t be caching without my GPSr.  I typically clip my GPSr to my back pack.  This makes it convenient to access but it has one downside over a lanyard.   It’s much easier to misplace the GPSr if it’s not connected to my body in some way.    At night I turn on my ziplit so that if I do put the unit down I can always find it again.

What am I missing?  Do you carry something in your geocaching bag that you can’t live without?

Tips for Caching at Night

 Geocaching  Comments Off on Tips for Caching at Night
May 092011

What do you really need for a successful night of caching?  There are five things that you must have:

  1. Permission to be in the area
  2. Headlamp
  3. Flashlight
  4. Batteries
  5. A Buddy

Not all areas are open after dusk.   Look for attribute icons when you aresearching for night caches.  Not everyone uses their allotment of 10 attributesso be sure and look for signs when you enter the area.

I think that a headlamp is required when you are walking around rural areasat night. Headlamps aren’t as important in urban areas.  That being said you might not want to cache is some urban areas at night.  My headlamp of choice, the Irix, has variable output.  I find I don’t need full power when I’m walking on open flat trails which provides the best battery life.

In addition to my headlamp I bring along a bright flashlight.  I switched to LED flashlights a few years ago and haven’t looked back.  My 100 lumen Rogue2 provides an excellent, clear, beam when searching for those hard to findgeocaches.  Again, it’s good to have a flashlight that has a low power settingin order to conserve battery power.  When caching in the dark months it’s not uncommon for us to have our flashlights on for 4-6 hours straight. Battery management is key.   (If it’s cold keep your batteries inside your coat)

Speaking of batteries you can’t have too many.   Even though I use rechargeables I like to keep a couple of alkaline batteries around just in caseI forget to charge up before going on an outing.  Just about any device you use at night will need batteries.  I keep a wind-up flashlight in the car but that’s for emergencies, including getting that caching fix!

I very rarely geocaching alone at night.   I might do it if it’s a quick drive-by but I don’t go out on trails at night by myself and it’s not becauseI’m afraid of the dark.  It is a matter of safety.   Hurting yourself at night gets complicated if you don’t have someone there to help you.