S1E10: Geocaching 101 – Terms and Acronyms

There are a supersizing amount of terms and acronyms in the game of geocaching and if you’re new to the game they can get confusing very quickly. FTF, CO, BYOP, and so many more. What do they all mean? In this episode I explain a lot of commonly used terms and acronyms of geocaching.

Places and Things Mentioned
NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS)
Benchmark Hunting
Geocachers’ Creed
St Charles Country Library

– “Glossary of Terms“, Geocaching.com

Related Episodes
S1E9: Geocaching 101 – Advice for Beginners

Cache Highlight: Major134 Blows By Cache #4000

Major134 Blows By Cache #4000 Geocache


There are a lot of different terms and acronyms in geocaching and I thought this would be a good opportunity to shed some light on some of them.  This list is not all inclusive but I feel it does cover a good portion.  As always, sources used for this information can be found in the show notes.


Stands for Additional Logging Requirement.  ALR’s are requirements beyond finding cache and signing the log. All ALRs must be optional for finders of a geocache.


Archiving permanently removes a geocache listing from search results. A geocache owner can archive their own listing but cannot unarchive it.  Caches can also be archived by reviewers.


Using your GPS unit and/or written directions provided by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS), you can seek out NGS survey markers and other items that have been marked in the United States. See the geocaching.com page about Benchmark Hunting for more details.


Also known as a “Bison tube”, is a small, metal, water-tight cylindrical container that is often used for micro sized caches. The name comes from the original manufacturer.  You can find them or one of the other brands on amazon.com.


Which is short for Travel bug, a type of trackable tag with a unique tracking code that can be attached to an item.


Stands for “Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil”.  You’ll often see it listed in the cache description of a nano micro, and sometimes small sized caches.


Stands for “Cache In Trash Out”.  Established in 2002, it is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community.


Stands for “Cache Owner” and refers to the person who placed and is responsible for maintaining a cache.


A status assigned to any trackable item that people can keep it in their possession, and do not have to physically move it to another geocache.

The Creed

Also known as the “Geocachers’ Creed”. Designed to help orient new players to the ethos of the geocaching community.  It is also to help guide experienced players in questionable situations.


Related to GPS, datums are different calculations for determining longitude and latitude for a given location. A datum is chosen to give the best fit given the true shape of the Earth. Geocaching.com currently uses the WGS84 datum for all caches

Difficulty and Terrain or D/T

A 5-point rating scale using half-point increments assigned to every geocache. Difficulty relates to the mental challenge of finding a geocache, while Terrain describes the physical environment.  Simply put a D1/T1 rating would be the easiest geocache, while a D5/T5 rating would be the most difficult.


A way to log a trackable at a geocache while still keeping it in your inventory. This registers miles traveled on a trackable.  It is logged as a visit.


Stands for “Did Not Find”. An acronym used to state that a cacher did not find a cache and is seen in online logs.

Find Count

The number of caches a geocacher has found.


Stands for “First to Find”.  An acronym used by a cacher to indicate they are the first to find a new cache.  Typically seen in online logs.

GC Code

The unique identifier associated to every geocache listing. The code always starts with the letters “GC” and is followed by other alphanumeric characters.


Geocoins are trackable coins with a unique code that can be attached to an item.


Stands for “Global Positioning System”.  The system of satellites working with a GPS receiver to determine a person’s location on Earth.


Slang for a GPS receiver. 

GPS eXchange Format or GPSx

Is a common GPS data format used to define waypoints tracks, and routes that can be transfered between GPS devices and software.

Ground Zero or GZ

Is the point where your GPS device shows that you have arrived the geocache coordinates.


Groundspeak, Incorporated is the company that owns and operates geocache.com. The headquarters is located in Seattle, Washington, USA, and is known as Geocaching HQ.

Lock & Lock

A Lock & Lock is a container that uses four snaps on the lid to seal it in place and is a common container used to hide geocaches.


The physical and/or the online record of everyone who has signed/interacted with a geocache or the online record of everyone who has interfaced with a trackable.


A physical record that is signed by everyone who has found a geocache.


Stands for “Lamp Post Cache”. A common type of geocache hidden under the skirting of a lamp post base.


The smallest geocache size. Micros are typically about the size of a film canister but can be smaller.


A person who is a non geocacher. And yes, it was take from Harry Potter.


Refers to when a cache has been discovered by a non geocacher or muggle. Typically, a cache that has been “muggled”, means it was dismantled or removed by an unsuspecting non-player.


Nano is the term for the tiniest of all Micros and is about the size of a pencil eraser.  It is considered an unofficial geocache size


A status assigned to any trackable that is intended to be grabbed, discovered, and moved from cache to cache to get to an intended goal.

Posted Coordinates

The latitude and longitude listed for a cache are known as the posted coordinates. Posted coordinates can be the physical location of the geocache, the first stage of the cache hunt, or a general reference point in the area depending on the type of geocache. They can also be the physical location of an event.

Power Trail

A path with a large number of geocaches placed within close proximity to each other.


Is the term for a durable, water tight, plastic container that looks similar to a test tube, but with a threaded neck.  They can be formed into containers such as bottles or toys or can be used as is.


Reviews are community volunteers from all over the world who review geocache listings for content and publish cache listings on Geocaching.com and make sure they adhere to geocaching guidelines


Is a simple letter substitution code, where each of the letters are rotated 13 characters up or down in the alphabet.  When using the online site, hints for geocaches are encrypted using ROT13.


Short for Signal the Frog, who is the official mascot of Geocaching.com.


Simply means “Signed Log” and is sometimes seen in the online log.


Stands for “Second To Find”.  Is often seen in online logs by the second person to find a geocache after it has been published.


Stands for “Stuff We All Get” and is trade items left in caches by cachers.  You can listen back to Episode 7: Cache SWAG for more information on the rules and ideas for SWAG.


Stands for “Thanks For The Cache”. It is often included in the online geocache log to thank the CO for placing and maintaining a cache.


Stands for “Thanks For The Hide”. Occasionally written as T4TH.  Often seen in online logs and is another way to take the CO.


Stands for “Took Nothing. Left Nothing”. Usually written by geocachers either in the physical or online log who do not trade out any SWAG.


Stands for “Took Nothing. Left Nothing. Signed logbook”.  Usually seen in online logs.  Sometimes shortened to TNSL, “Took Nothing. Signed Logbook”.


Stands for “Tools of the Trade”. An acronym used for any of the tools that might be used to search for, find, retrieve, or log a geocache.


A is a tag or item with a unique code.  The trackable is then moved from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world, and its progress can be followed on geocaching.com.  For more information on trackables you can listen back to Episode 8: Trackables.

Tracking Number

The unique number associated with a trackable, Travel Bug or Geocoin and are used to log a trackable’s grab, dip, drop, or discovery.

Travel Bug

Also known as a TB or Bug, is a type of trackable tag, similar in appearance to a dog tag, with a unique code that can be attached to an item.

Travel Bug or TB Hotel

A “Travel Bug Hotel” is a geocache placed with the intended purpose of acting as an exchange point for Travel Bugs and other trackables. These are almost always regular or large sized containers.


A reference point for a physical location.  They are defined by a set of coordinates that typically include longitude, latitude, and occasionally altitude.


Stands for the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84) and is the most current geodetic datum used for GPS.

The cache was called “Major134 Blows By Cache #4000”

Cache ID GC4TEB2

Difficulty rating 1.5, Terrain rating 1.5

The description read:

This is a Multi type geocache.  I am placing this cache in honor of Major134’s 4000th cache.  I am sure I have found at least 1000 caches with Major134 and they have all been enjoyable.  .

To find this cache, start at the posted coords.  Find the clue for the final location.  This cache can only be accessed:    between 9am and 9pm Monday thur Thursday  between 9am and 6pm Friday and Saturday and  between 1pm and 5pm on Sundays.  If you have seen this type of cache before, it will be easy, if not, you may have to phone a friend

Hint: Go inside

I had this one on my radar for a while and was excited when I finally got to go out and find it.  It was a multi cache outside the Spencer branch of the St Charles Country Library system.  I had seen pictures and videos of library caches online where the cache was hidden inside of a book and had been wanting to find one.  Now was my chance to find one.  The posted coordinates started out at a lamp post in the library’s parking lot.  Under the light post skirting was a prescription bottle.  Inside the bottle was a slip of paper with the author and title of a book written on it.  It read Eric Sherman, Geocaching: Hike and Seek with your GPS.  I went inside and looked up the title in the library’s computer.  Once I had the location number I went searching through the library for the section I needed.  I found the book and flipped through it.  In the very back was pocket and inside the pocket was the log.  I pulled it out and signed it with a feeling of satisfaction.  I had checked of a multi cache and a library cache off my list with one find.  I found two library caches that day.  The other was a different book but otherwise it was the same scenario.  I liked the library caches just because they were something a little different.  I hope to be able to find more of them some day.

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