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Geocacher Stages of Evolution

One of the joys of paperless caching and premium membership to Geocaching.com is being able to set up notifications when someone logs a find in your area. On some days this means my Blackberry is beeping every few minutes. On other days it stays dead quiet. One of the interesting observations I’ve been able to make monitoring these logs is seeing which caches geocachers of different experience levels are finding. Watching these cachers over time has led me to a new Theory of Geocacher Evolution.

image courtesy of Geocoinshop.de
Disclaimer – This theory is my own rambling thoughts about geocacher evolution based on my own eclectic observations of geocacher behaviour. As with any good theory it is likely that you are an exception in some way to anything expressed below.

Stage One – The Newbie Monkey

The Newbie Monkey (roughly 0 – 50 finds) tends to be finding those easy caches that you probably found when you started geocaching (unless you started caching when caching started!) and should not be confused with the travelling cacher who is just passing through and does not have time to do caches of their experience level. The caches are most typically urban traditionals and the Newbie Monkey logs tend to show they are overjoyed at the experience.

Stage Two -The Neolithic Geocacher

Like the Neolithic period this is era where the geocacher is starting to use more tools and really make things happen for them. As the easy urban traditionals are starting to get a bit thin on the ground they start trying their hand at puzzles and some of the medium level multis. At this stage they also seem to start making a few geocaching contacts and their logs start showing signs they are getting help solving some of their geocaching problems. You’ll find the Neolithic Geocacher starting to stretch out to the more elusive bush caches and getting a taste of what some would call the true traditional geocache. They may also be branching out by placing their first caches and it is likely they will place a number of easy urban traditionals during this time. Opinions also start being displayed in logs, albeit still very carefully. Roughly 50 – 200 finds at this stage.

Stage Three – The Geo-Sapien

Now with over 200 finds the Geo-Sapien has exhausted most of the caches in the vicinity and now seeks those further afield. They have discovered the joy of puzzles and multis and attempt to solve and find at any opportunity. There may be the beginnings of a preference for bush caches and they will certainly be doing more and more of these.  Some will start displaying a preference for cache size and this may be displayed by the size of the caches they put out.

They will be starting to find their own geocacher style and is likely to be one of the following:

  • The Outdoors Cacher (someone who displays a distinct preference for bush caches and/or an environmental aspect to their geocaching. Logs may tend to talk about how much CITO they did)
  • The FTF Hunter (tends to be someone who will race to any urban cache the second it is listed)
  • The Numbers Cacher (note the find number in each of their logs, has a full set of statistics on their profile page, celebrates milestone finds)
  • The Travelling Cacher (someone who regularly takes geocaching road trips targeting multiple easy traditionals along the way. May be a Numbers cacher who has run out of caches in their local area)
  • The Must-Not-Be-Too-Far-To-Walk Cacher (a prolific cacher who is likely to be physically capable but who dislikes having to put too much effort into finding a cache so will tend to avoid anything that has more than a 30 minute walk)

Stage Four – The Confirmed Cacher

250+ finds tends to put someone in the Confirmed Cacher catergory. This cacher is now fully committed to caching and is likely to be quite involved in the caching community. They will have established their prefered geocaching equipment, have numerous geocoins and trackables, have a special caching bag, own a safety vest, own more than one GPSr, own a geocaching t-shirt, and keep geocaching gear in the car ready to go. At this point it is safe to say they will be a commited geocacher for quite a length of time.

Stage Five – The Geo-Elder

At least 700+ finds. The wise old elders of the hobby who have been around for a while. The number men have streaked ahead in numbers whilst the others plod along happily enjoying nature or their urban environments. The elders are happy to share their wisdom and knowledge when you seek it. They have well-formed and considered opinions on all things geocaching. They may hold the title of reviewer or a position in a geocaching organisation. Their name is normally towards the beginning of most cache logs, particularly the old caches. They tell lots of stories that begin “I remember when had a hide called here”. There is likely to be little they haven’t seen or experienced in geocaching and they will solve puzzles with magical ease. They have a sixth sense about finding caches and can spot the most difficult hides.

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  1. Collin

    That’s superb! I am in the “Confirmed Cacher” group, even though I don’t have a t-shirt (yet)! I have more than one bag though – one for each car, permanently in the car. The only things that changes is where the GPS is – normally with me and if not I’ve always got the iPhone…

  2. SudsyMaggie

    I have 300+ finds but I think I’m in Stage Three – The Geo-Sapien. Great post! 🙂

  3. Guwapo's Papa

    Absolute classic!! I have often referred to a sub-class of the FTF Hunter as the Dressing Gown Brigade, or the Pajama Brigade, there FTF logs always start with something like “Just about to head off to bed when this was published”. I have a couple of colleagues at work who fit this category!!.

  4. BernieTheGeocacher

    Definately heading towards The Geo-Elder, but not quite there yet although I now have 1560 finds and have placed 19 caches which include 3 meets.!!

  5. cumbyrocks

    I suspect I was a confirmed cacher a few caches ago but like Collin am yet to get the t-shirt (hint hint kjwx).

  6. The Spindoctor

    Great article. Although the number of finds may vary for place to place and person to person, it certainly reflects the evolution of the geocacher.

    I love the line “Opinions also start being displayed in logs, albeit still very carefully.”

  7. Aggrajag

    For stage 4 do you mean “now fully committed” rather than “not fully committed”? It contradicts with the word not.

    Great article though – I see myself in all the stages 🙂

    1. cumbyrocks

      Thanks Aggrajag. Another good example of why I’m not a sub-editor! 🙂

  8. Lone R

    Been geocaching since xmas eve 2001 so I’m firmly in Stage 4 “the Confirmed Cacher” and have some Stage 5 “the Geo-Elder” tendencies, which can be observed in the GC forums (which is where I heard about your excellent blog entry).

    1. cumbyrocks

      It is interesting reading all the comments about this ‘theory’, especially some on the geocaching.com forum that don’t fit into it. I’d say there are distinct regional differences and certainly my numbers for each stage will never fit all. It’s more based on my subjective perception of cachers here in the Dunedin, New Zealand area. Whilst my theory is a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ it would be interesting to see a bit more investigation into geocacher characteristics to establish regional differences. Hmmm, I sense an online survey coming on here…

  9. Annemarie

    Great little article which made me laugh. I am definetly at Stage Four – confirmed cacher, with 851 caches. Got the bag, the badges/patches on the bag, got the T-shirt and plenty of trackables and an upgrade on the GPS is due for Christmas. YAY.

  10. alldatndensum

    I am definitely in the stage 4 now. I am nearing 500 finds, have my own bag, am looking at a 2nd GPS, have a trackable t-shirt, and have several trackables. I also have 20 caches of my own that are both micro and full sized caches. I won’t plant a lamp skirt or guard rail cache, either, as I am tired of those.

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