Winter Geocaching Habits

HeadHardHat shows us how to winterize your geocache: the cold weather is upon us!









Winter Geocaching Habits

  • Question:
  • When going out into cold and humid weather. The best way to protect yourself best is to do something called layering. What is layering?
  • Answer at bottom of show notes.

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How to winterize a geocache and is it necessary at all?

  • To keep a level playing field here lets assume we are talking about geocaching areas where you receive extended periods of snow and below freezing temps. The states like North Carolina (not including the mountains) we normally get a day of snowfall on the ground before it melts. The small ponds MAY get a slushy layer of ice in the coldest week of our winter but that is about it.
  • Things to consider:
  • If you have ever watched my GeoSnippits geocaching video: What NOT to Hide as a Geocache you will see that cold can be a definite factor when hiding a geocache. One of the key points that was brought up in the discussion is that you have to plan the worst weather conditions for your geocaching hide. In other words it might be sunny and 80 degrees out right now but does your geocaching site get 144 inches of snow in the winter? Is your hide on the ground and potentially can be trapped and/or crushed in ice? In the more spring temps can it be floating in water or washed away in flood? These are very important things to consider when placing your hide.
  • Cold can do strange things to plastic. I lived most of my life in Michigan so I know all about harsh cold. One of the things my brothers and I did during winter was to take plastic army men and place them in a battle scene on a make shift snow mountain. Then we would take our BB guns and shoot from a distance. In the summer you could shoot the plastic warriors a bunch of times with minimal damage. In the winter they would shatter as if made from glass. Why? The cold made the plastic hard and brittle. Now imagine what happens with your plastic geocache when somebody jabs it with their walking pole. Yep, the lid shatters as if it was shot by a bullet.
  • So my suggestion for people who live in the colder climates. Forget about using cheap plastic containers for one. They are not waterproof to begin with and the winters will leave you a pile of busted goo by spring time. The more heavy duty and waterproof the geocache the better. I would also suggest putting your geocaches up higher if possible. People are less likely to stick them with a walking pole or to get crushed by the ice.
  • Final Thoughts
  • Some things that you may want to consider about your geocaches during winter. Several geocachers mentioned that they change out pens during the winter months to pencils. Why? Apparently the ink can actually freeze breaking the pen. When spring comes you have a nice inky mess in your geocache when it finally melts.
  • If you hide your geocache during spring and summer months, remember the foliage that so nicely hid your geocache may now be completely gone leaving your hide wide open. You may want to check your geocaches around this time of the year for not only this scenario but for regular maintenance as well.
  • So depending on your geocaching hide conditions you may want to now consider doing a quick fly by to check on them. Making sure that they survive a winter full of geocaching goodness can save you a bunch of grief and other geocachers finding a cache full of waterlogged goo.

Winter Geocaching: Be Safe Out There

  • It’s winter time out and that means cold weather for many of us. Depending on the climate you may find a great many challenges when geocaching during this time of year. So before you head out into the frozen tundra you might want to consider a few safety measures to keep your adventures fun for both you and your family.
  • Urban Geocaching – Watch them roads
  • Now depending on how you geocache in general presents certain challenges during the winter months. For example, if you are urban geocaching and you want to get a fair number of finds in a trip you will be driving from one geocache to the next relatively quickly. Not speeding per say but a lot of starts and stops. If the roads are slippery or snow covered you are going to want to make sure your car tires and breaks are in good working order. Be aware that there are usually a lot of muggles out there and you need that extra distance to stop in time. Also just getting in and out of the geocache-mobile can be a possible hazard so watch your step. Always be mindful of what could happen if your transportation suddenly runs down. Do you have blankets for everyone just in case?
  • Geocaching on the Open Roads
  • As much as we geocachers take for granted our vehicles while geocaching some real consideration and planning needs to be done if you are going into areas where there are not that many people around. Some areas are prone to snow drifts and can cause you to get trapped miles from the nearest help. Let’s face it, a lot of us don’t even think twice going into extreme conditions when the weather is nice. When you are playing with the dangers of winter it is a whole other ball game. So please be sure you have all the necessary items in your car to keep you and your family dry, warm and nourished if something unexpected happens. Remember that all too handy cell phone may not have signal as you go further away from cities and towns. Get stuck and you may be looking at a long walk back. Did you remember your boots?
  • Winter in the Woods
  • So the roads are pretty good today and you decide to do some geocaching in the woods. The scenery is amazing and you plan on spending quality time outdoors all day. Sounds great and quite frankly I wish I was there with you but did you consider what to do if something unfortunate happens? A simple 2-3 mile hike in the summer may be no big deal but in the harshness of winter an injury or getting lost could be tragic. Unexpected storms could happen with you miles from the car or a twisted ankle at the wrong time can become life threatening so go with the number one rule of geocaching, “be prepared”. Okay I know it’s the Boy Scout motto but it is a dang good one and needs to be followed…

Here are a few suggestions that are pretty much common sense but it is always good to prepare for the worst:

  • When geocaching in more secluded areas you should:
  • Try not to geocache alone.
  • Allow time to get back before bad weather or darkness is upon you.
  • Let someone know where you went geocaching in case you don’t report back.
  • Dress for winter. Just because it is sunny and nice out now doesn’t mean it will change.
  • Carry an emergency day pack including:
  • Dry clothes (especially socks)
  • Water
  • Matches
  • Flashlight
  • Map and Compass (GPS batteries can go weak in cold weather)
  • Energy Bars
  • Day Shell – If you are really on a hike and get snowed in.
  • Geocaching is a fun and exciting game, sport, obsession for the whole family. It is up to us to take that few extra moments to make sure that we and our loved ones are safe while out there. The last thing we want is to get frostbite or worse while looking for our treasures. Being prepared for what might happen will help us most when it does happen.
  • Be safe out there!
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  • The best way to dress for cold weather is to layer clothing. Clothing creates air space that absorbs body heat. Wear several light garments instead of one heavy one to trap air next to the body, increasing insulation. Multiple thin layers trap air both within and between the layers, creating a comfortable environment next to the skin.