Geocaching is a great fun, but it is oriented on GPS devices. I'd like to participate in searching caches, which location is given on the map (full, or fragmented, or just a drawing) - like in orienteering.

Does such alternative exist? I'm asking about the activity that has numerous active participants worldwide, not only a theoretical concept.

3 Answers 3


Letterboxing is very much the precursor to geocaching, although it's available in relatively limited places compared to the former. Dartmoor is where it was invented, and is thus the most popular place - you can easily find some boxes just by looking under "suspicious" rocks. I believe it's also available elsewhere in some areas in the US, though I'm not sure where.

You can of course still use a GPS, though it's entirely possible to find boxes without. You're usually given a grid reference and a number of bearings to the correct point - you have to navigate to that point and then search around for the box. It takes more time, especially initially - since you have to stop and gauge bearings pretty accurately. However, I personally find it more fun since the effort and therefore reward is greater!


I have not done any geocaching but as I understand it, you get the coordinates of the cache and then you go find it with a GPS.

Well, you don't need to use the GPS if you don't want to. If you know the coordinates, you can search for it with a map and compass. It will just be harder.

  • 2
    +1 All a gps is, is a map that tells you where you are - taking 1/2 the fun (and all the skill) out of navigation.
    – Lost
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 14:46
  • 1
    Yes, LBell, not to mention, that GPS is always telling you where the cache is, and the map fragment can require that you will match it to the full map, not knowing exactly is it 100 meters here or there Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 18:38
  • @lechlukasz I am not quite following your map fragment idea... if the cache has coordinates (lat/long, UTM, etc...) you can use any topo map that includes these coordinate systems. So it seems you could easily adapt the current and extensive network of geocaches to your analog approach.
    – DQdlM
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 19:34
  • But having always the coordinates takes a bit of pleasure of finding the place itself... Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 19:37

That would make you a 'naked geocacher'; a player who searches for geocaches by using a map, not a GPS.

It's not uncommon, though it is a minority section of the international geocaching community. I cached naked for my first 40 hides, using maps and satellite images from Google Earth - it generally requires more preparation and a longer search at GZ but I believe it helped my geo-skills considerably.

You can read about another naked geocacher here (scroll down the post to find it): http://www.notaboutthenumbers.com/2011/02/07/shhh-ive-been-caching-naked/ Just don't confuse naked with nude: a nude geocacher is somebody who searches in their birthday suit (and there are more than a few of them out there).

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