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OS Game Review: Geocaching

• Family activities • Sep 01, 2021 • 10 minutes

Introducing the first in our series of outdoor game reviews: Geocaching. We spoke to walkers and cyclists to see what they thought of the popular location-based game Geocaching.

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Have you ever wanted to go on a world-sized treasure hunt?

That is Geocaching in a nutshell. Anyone interested in becoming treasure hunters, even in your local area, can create a Geocache account online, or download the app. You’ll then have access to a map view of Geocaches nearby.

Geocaching app

In the example above, the map shows the area around Ordnance Survey HQ with an aerial view of local Geocaches (left image). Clicking on one of them shows you its approximate location, can help you navigate towards it, and even has a hint you can use to find the cache once you get there (right image). Users can also check the ‘Activity’ section and see how others fared; or whether they found the cache at all.

Geocaches can be almost anywhere. Some encourage exploration of National Trust locations; others could be found on the beach or walking in the hills. As you can see in the image above, there is a level of difficulty. Some Geocaches are deliberately harder to find than others and can have you searching among bushes and brambles which only adds to the fun!

Always remember to take care of the environment while playing the game.

What is a Geocache?

A ‘cache’ is a waterproof treasure box, hidden somewhere outdoors. The box should contain a logbook, so hunters can sign and date their find, and perhaps leave messages to the next person or people to find it. You can then log on the app if you found the cache, or Did Not Find (DNF) if you didn’t.


The GetOutside team Geocaching near OS HQ

Some treasure hunters also like to swap or leave trinkets, so you could take some curios you don’t mind sharing. Something small like a seashell or toy figurine, when left behind, could one day end up on the other side of the country or even further afield!

Community gaming

Caches are always hidden by other players of the game with many people being highly creative when making them. If you want to contribute to the game and make your own cache, you can always look on YouTube for inspiration, as players are highly active on social media.

“My favourite part was the satisfaction of finding a cache, and the exploring and the searching was fun! ”

Geocache your way

The in-game map allows you to select caches to target and chose an appropriate level of difficulty. If you are planning a whole morning out, look for groups of numbered Geocaches hidden along popular walks. They often list the length of the suggested route and the time it will take to complete the series.

If you’re in a more exploratory frame of mind, open the app while you’re already out on a dog walk or a bike ride to see where you could go for your first cache.

Geocache bike

Geocaching on two wheels

“I played solo but could have easily played with friends or family physically together.”

Once you’ve chosen your cache, you can head towards it, consulting the map as often as you need to. Depending on your knowledge of the area, you may not need to check it much at all. Then you can enjoy your walk and local surroundings, with the knowledge that you’ve got a destination in mind, and a game to play once you get there.

How you get there depends entirely on your outdoor style; walk, run, cycle, even horse riding, if you so choose! Just remember that you’ll need to put your run on hold, or make sure your bike/horse is secure, once you’ve reached the cache site.

We’re going on a cache hunt

The nature of Geocaching makes it an appropriate choice for families. Our reviewers agreed:

I would recommend the game to other families to help motivate the kids to come along.

I played solo but could have easily played with friends or family physically together.


A well hidden Geocache

Geocaching is a great way for a family or group of friends to engage with the outdoors, do some exploring, add a fun element to exercise, all without having to stare at a phone screen in order to play the game. You can consult the app to ensure you’re heading the right way, and then start on finding the cache once you get there, but Geocaching doesn’t demand much in the way of ‘eyes down’ play.

Yet, it’s still a form of active encouragement to walk longer and further and extend your time outside. One of our reviewers who did test the game with their family discovered this for themselves:

“There was an element of ‘just one more turn’ if we saw a nearby cache. It was a really nice activity that we could do together. We were happy to go home after five caches, which still took us two hours!”

Every journey starts somewhere

Geocache could be an ideal choice for newcomers to geo-location games. Using the site or app can take a little getting used to, but there’s no gameplay controls to learn or lore you need to be aware of. Our reviewers found it easy to get into, and once you’ve got the hang of finding the locations, you’re into the swing of treasure hunting.

“The game definitely encourages exploration as it won’t take long to exhaust the local caches. This makes it great for forcing me out at the weekend, looking for new places to visit, but isn’t designed for regular, local exercise.”

The verdict

Walkers 5/5

Geocaching is a great introduction to Geo-location games and turns any walk into a treasure hunt. The freedom to find any number of caches on any walk allows people to play the game in a manner that suits their own age and fitness level requirements. It’s significantly more fun to play as a group of friends or family.

Cyclists, riders, paddlers 2/5

Geocaching is not ideal for people riding a bike or horse as you’ll need to dismount when hunting. There are occasions where you’ll need a boat or paddleboard to succeed, so you could target specific geocaches to suit your mode of transport.

Joggers 1/5

This game is probably not for you as you’ll need to stop and hunt for any cache for an unknown duration, ruining your times on Strava!


Geocache treasure!

Our reviewers agreed that Geocaching was a fun way of encouraging exploration, so perhaps Geocaching is a great app to have in the background. It adds a layer of interest to your local area and could make for more interesting lunch break walks. Then, if/when you’ve exhausted your local area, keep the app and use it again when you’re on holiday or visiting another town. It’s additional enjoyment to your journey, and it doesn’t require much time looking at your phone. (Depending on how much you need the map, of course.)

“I would recommend the game to other families to help motivate the kids to come along..”

Think of it like a companion app; a way of making outdoor adventures more entertaining.

We’ll be reviewing other geo-location games other than Geocaching, such as Run an Empire. So, be sure to check out our other reviews in coming weeks and see if you can find just the right game that motivates you to #GetOutside.