Geocaching 101: An Introduction to Geocaching Terminology

Welcome to Geocaching 101, where we will explore geocaching terminology and learn the basics of geocaching. Geocaching is a great way to explore the outdoors, get some exercise, and enjoy a fun family activity. So let’s get started!

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a treasure-hunting game that involves finding hidden items (called geocaches) using GPS coordinates. The goal is to locate these hidden items and then log your find on an online geocaching website. Geocaching is an exciting way to explore the outdoors and is a great way to get the whole family involved in a fun activity.

Geocaching originated in 2000 when the U.S. government removed selective availability from the Global Positioning System (GPS). This made it possible for anyone with a GPS receiver to accurately pinpoint their location on the Earth’s surface. Geocaching was born shortly after this, and now millions of people around the world enjoy hunting for geocaches.

Geocaching terminology explained

Geocaching is a fun way to explore the outdoors, but it can be confusing for new geocachers. Here are some of the most common terms used in geocaching:

  • Cache: A cache is the hidden item that geocachers search for.
  • Waypoint: A waypoint is a set of GPS coordinates that geocachers use to locate a cache.
  • Muggle: A muggle is someone who is not aware of geocaching and may inadvertently stumble upon a cache.
  • Signal Strength: Signal strength is the strength of the GPS signal that geocachers need to locate a cache.
  • Cache Owner: The cache owner, often abbreviated as CO, is the person who placed the cache.
  • Logbook: A logbook is the record of all the geocachers who have found a cache.

These are just some of the terms used in geocaching. As you get more experienced with geocaching, you’ll learn more terminology.

Types of geocaches

Geocaches come in a variety of types and sizes. Here are the most common types of geocaches:

  • Traditional caches: Traditional caches are the most common type of cache. They are hidden in a container and contain a logbook and a few trinkets.
  • Multi-caches: Multi-caches are caches that require the geocacher to find multiple locations before finding the final cache.
  • Mystery caches: Mystery caches are caches that require the geocacher to solve a puzzle in order to find the final cache.
  • EarthCaches: EarthCaches are caches that require the geocacher to find a unique geological feature.
  • Letterbox hybrids: Letterbox hybrids are caches that contain a logbook and a stamp for the geocacher to use.
  • Virtual caches: Virtual caches are caches that require the geocacher to visit a location and take a photo or answer a question in order to log their find.

Each of these types of caches have their own challenges and rewards.

Geocaching acronyms explained

There are many different geocaching acronyms. While this is not a full extensive list, here are some of the most common acronyms and their meaning.

  • D/T: Short for difficulty and terrain, is 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.
  • FTF: 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.
  • GZ: This is short for ground zero and is the point where your GPS device shows that you have arrived at the geocache coordinates.
  • LPC: Stands for “Lamp Post Cache”. A common type of geocache hidden under the skirting of a lamp post base
  • STF: Stands for “Second To Find”. Is often seen in online logs by the second person to find a geocache after it has been published.
  • SWAG: 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.
  • TFTC: 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.
  • TFTH: Stands for “Thanks For The Hide”. Occasionally written as T4TH. Often seen in online logs and is another way to take the CO.
  • TNLN: Stands for “Took Nothing. Left Nothing”. Usually written by geocachers either in the physical or online log who do not trade out any SWAG.
  • TNLNSL: Stands for “Took Nothing. Left Nothing. Signed logbook”. Usually seen in online logs. Sometimes shortened to TNSL, “Took Nothing. Signed Logbook”.
  • TOTT: 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.


Geocaching is a great way to explore the outdoors and get the whole family involved in a fun activity. In this article, we have explored geocaching terminology and acronyms. Now that you have a basic understanding of geocaching terminology, it’s time to go out and start geocaching! So grab your GPS receiver, put on your hiking boots, and get out there and explore the world!

Happy geocaching!

Related Podcast Episodes

S1E10: Geocaching Terms and Acronyms

Related Articles

Geocaching 102: Geocaching Terminology Part 2
Geocaching 103: Geocaching Terminology Part 3

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