Can it be done with just a map and compass?

Discussion in 'Geocaching' started by Easy_rider75, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Easy_rider75

    Easy_rider75 Bushwhacker

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    Howdy all yeah gone and done it now I am curious about caching. Haven't done as of yet but I am wondering as I don't have that kinda money right now to drop on a GPS can it be done with a map and compass? If so any compass recommendations for it? Besides I figure I am very new to using one so figure be good training for it.
     
  2. bearkat

    bearkat Scout

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    I have heard of it being done. A member on the geocaching.com, edscott, does it. You just need very detailed maps.
     
  3. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman Banned Member Banned

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    Yes you can use a compass. Be sure you figure in magnetic declination and update it each year because it changes over time. ... Not a lot but depending upon the location it could throw you off after a few years have passed.

    My favorite compass is a Suunto MC-2. They're around $40.00 at Survival Resources (http://bepreparedtosurvive.com/). That's where I got mine.

    Steve
     
  4. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    I would think you will need to learn to rid grid coordinates and have a good UTM gird reader and a 1:24 topo to get the detail you need to find a specific spot.
     
  5. zammer

    zammer Guide

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    Could you do it? yes. would you enjoy it? probably not! better to just concentrate on your map skills and find enjoyment thru that.
     
  6. dwightp

    dwightp Guide Bushclass I

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    Yeah, it CAN be done but it is simply not practical. You can get a GPS for less than a hundred bucks. Just save until you can get one or better still, find a geocaching club and go with some of them.
     
  7. Chert

    Chert Guide

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    It might actually be even more enjoyable/rewarding doing it with map and compass.
     
  8. bearkat

    bearkat Scout

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    Also there are apps now for smart phones that utilize the gps in phones.
     
  9. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    Doing it with map and compass and grid reader will be excellent training. In SAR we do this kind of training routinely. Find point A with map and compass, then find point B, etc. It's the way to learn
     
  10. zammer

    zammer Guide

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    If you like finding 1 cache a week then possibly yes, the overwelming amount of cache'rs I've met like to find as many caches as possible when they go out, that being said the map/compass will not help you find them very quickly, but if the goal is map and compass skills with a little treasure hunting mixed in then it may in fact be more enjoyable/rewarding.
     
  11. Chert

    Chert Guide

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    Sometimes the journey is more rewarding than the destination.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  12. zammer

    zammer Guide

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    Sometimes, and yet sometimes the journey is a great big PITA. I suppose the OP will just have to find out for himself.
     
  13. Two Bears

    Two Bears Banned Member Banned

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    I wouldnt want to try caching with a map & compass, I think it would be more of a pita than it would be with. If you have a smartphone use that. I never use my GPS to cache with anymore.
     
  14. Horned Toad

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    With just a little practice I would think it would be very do able. It’s hard to believe but the GPS is a very modern invention and getting a 10 digit grid off a map is not hard. So in the end you would have a useful skill that does not require batteries and takes a little more thought than following an arrow on a screen.
     
  15. Rockmonkey

    Rockmonkey Scout

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    I would love to see one of those cache'rs 5 miles from the nearest road when their batteries die..... I would like to hear about your success finding the cache with the compass.
     
  16. kornphlake

    kornphlake Scout

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    Google maps might be all you need to find a lot of caches, if you can clearly see the location and identify some prominent feature, like a bush, a boulder or a park bench it shouldn't bee too difficult to find a cache without a GPS. Someone here said they found several caches without a GPS by carefully studying satellite images before going on the hunt. I've searched for a half dozen caches with my GPS and haven't found one yet, even with a GPS locating a cache isn't terribly easy.
     
  17. zammer

    zammer Guide

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    I suppose taking a 2nd set of batteries would be too difficult?...lol

    99% of caches are probably within a mile of a rd or trail, the average geocacher is not out practicing bushcraft skills, its in and out and move on to the next one.
     
  18. Easy_rider75

    Easy_rider75 Bushwhacker

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    I guess part of it aside from the skill building of it I just don't wanna be bothered toting around another electronic toy. As much as I like my electronic gadgets yes I know I can pick a cheap one up for less than a hundred buck but again got other things to buy right now. Plus as was telling a friend think it would be more fun saying I found it that way :D Thanks for the replies folks
     
  19. Horned Toad

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    I have heard there are several levels of difficulties in geocaching but I can’t keep track of how many I have found on accident because they are right by road or trails. I can think of about 5 off the top of my head that are no further from the road than the right of way fence. It sort of turns you off to the whole thing when someone only has to drive somewhere and walk 30 feet to a fence line.
     
  20. Wildmike

    Wildmike Scout

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    I use a military Cammenga compass and the proper grid ruler and tool for the scale map I'm using and it is no problem at all.

    check out landnav.org and maptools.com both have lots of good info.
     
  21. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    So when a cache is posted does it not have a grid coordinate in say UTM?

    4 digits = 0491 accurate to 1,000 meters
    6 digits = 042915 accurate to 100 meters, a little more than an acre
    8 digits = 04259152 accurate to 10 meters, approximately the size of a house
    10 digits = 0425091520 accurate to 1 meter
     
  22. zammer

    zammer Guide

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    You have to remember, most of the folks who drop the caches don't want to park somewhere and hike in 5 miles to hide their cache, they see a spot in their daily or wknd travels and then check out geocaching dot com to see if anything is in the immediate area then hide their cache.

    Just because something is near a rd doesn't mean its an easy or uninteresting find, one of the best caches I ever found was right in front of our face in the hollowed out bolt holding a stop sign on the pole.
     
  23. Two Bears

    Two Bears Banned Member Banned

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    I know I have looked for or found a lot of caches and wondered why anybody would set a cache here, some of the hiding spots are just for the numbers, some don't make any sense at all. I have 2 set on a trail, I have found/looked for a lot of them in very interesting places. A lot of cache placement is whatever the owner wants to make out of it. There are even puzzle caches out there that you have to figure out as well as multi caches that might be set in historic places, the list is endless and up to the imagination of the person hiding the cache.
     
  24. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    I'm one of the ones who started out, and found 5 without a GPS. Google Earth and the hints on the geocaching site got me on target.
    After I got my GPS, I went back to one we couldn't find. The GPS put me in the middle of a grass field! The usefulness of a GPS is not only limited to the accuracy of YOURS, but the accuracy of the CACHER, also. Plus, weather, satellite acquisition, etc., etc.

    The COORDs are given in Geographic Coords. You can convert them to GeoRef, Decimal, or UTM. I never did the UTM conversion, but I believe it's only to 8 places.

    A lot of people talk about map and compass. IMO, a compass wouldn't do you much good, unless you moved around and triangulated the cache coordinates.
     
  25. SlayerOfBunnies

    SlayerOfBunnies Guide

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    It's not bad at all. I have used satellite photos and so forth to find all but my last few geocaches. Granted I don't have *that* many but there's no reason you can't do the same. The name of the game is spotting good landmarks - 3rd sycamore tree from the left, that kind of thing - and you're good to go. It's not nearly as tough as these nay-sayers are making it out to be. :D

    You will get some DNFs but you get those with a GPS too. Try it - if it doesn't work, so what - you still got a nice walk, right?

    IMO, that is exactly the correct attitude and it applies to many things - not just looking for geocaches.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  26. kevin

    kevin Guide

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    I say no. I tried before I could afford a gps. If u only have coords your likely map will be a 1:24000 topo. Good luck finding something with more detail of your area with topo and coords. A pencil dot on the 1:24000 topo will cover more than 50' of real world ground. If u can dead reckon nav to that point, chances of finding the cache are still VERY slim unless it's painfully obvious. My gps is a foretrex that cost me just over 100. No maps just basics.
     
  27. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    The UTM grid map (and overlays) would be the best system, if using a map alone. It would be very difficult.
    But if a person is on the Internet, they have access to Google Earth, and/or Google Maps. The Geocaching website has a Google Map display of each cache, to get you closer to the ball park.
    The satellite photos are how we found landmarks, and coupled with the hints from other 'finders', it was fun, and fairly easy. Without the aide of the computer, and photos, it would be "iffy". But without a computer you wouldn't know about geocaching, and their website to get the cache locations in the first place, right?
    So, based upon the question stated in the OP (map and compass), then "no...", or at least really, really hard. With photos...pretty easy.
     
  28. Driftingrz

    Driftingrz Guide

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    havent posted here in Ages... but to answer the OP... its very doable... and it just depends on how lazy the cacher is... when i first discovered geocaching a few years around 07-08.. i reallly wanted to go caching... yet no gps or money for one... so like someone else said i stuided satellite images and maps before going caching.. not to mention the "hints" given on some caches.. may not seem like much but write it down on paper or keep it in your head because they help ALOT when your in an area and it makes sense... i found a few dozen caches before i got to busy to go... and not to long ago got back into it with a gps i use for hunting plus my android phone


    scales/legends on google maps helped me pinpoint some caches by figuring the distance from a certain "landmark" nearby in ft/yards and once on location used compass or general direction to find alot of caches.. urban and rural
     
  29. Old Philosopher

    Old Philosopher Banned Member Banned

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    With Google Earth, you can measure distances in feet, yards, or meters. Twenty feet from this street corner, and 30 feet from that tree. That can get you as close as some GPS units on a bad day.
     
  30. L.V

    L.V Guide Bushclass I

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    Actually it's quite used method (only map and/or compass and satellite images etc.) here in Finland. Sure when the hobby reaches some certain point you get the GPS ;). In urban and in cities it may actually be lots of better than GPS when there is lots of buildings blocking the signal. If I recall the googlemap in gc.com isn't accurately showing the spots if you aren't premium.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  31. laboucan

    laboucan Tracker

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    Its a Canadian site (there must be a US site) anyway, enter your lat/long and the mag dec will pop up and your good to go
    http://geomag.nrcan.gc.ca/apps/mdcal-eng.php
     
  32. chukar8

    chukar8 Scout

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    Can it be done? Yes. Your success will be minimal at best, heck some caches are hard to find WITH a GPS.
     
  33. hog

    hog Guide

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    It can be done as already said but it would be horrid in the wind and if it started to rain, if you were using a map, also you would have to search much harder to find some of the caches as the accuracy of the point your map and compass puts you will not guide you in like a GPS does.
     
  34. Bush Otter

    Bush Otter Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I learned my nav skills doing free style orienteering at the NCO Academy and it showed me that a spot on the ground will correspond to a spot on a good map and you can find that spot with a good sighting compass and skill . I have never used a GPS but they have their place in work and play but puts you at the mercy of a battery.
     
  35. Peacelovingirl

    Peacelovingirl Guide

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    Check the local pawn shops for a GPS... when useing your compass DONT FORGET ABOUT DECLINATION... thank God the good people here educated me on this subject.
     
  36. AncientNCO

    AncientNCO Tracker

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    I've done it quite q bit. The more experience you have at Geocaching, the easier it gets. The nice part of it is that once you've found your cache, you've just confirmed your location. Making the move from that point easier. If your with another person, you cab leap frog and make good time. I enjoy caching with a map and compass, it helps keep those land navigation skills honed.
     
  37. L.V

    L.V Guide Bushclass I

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    I did do that with only map and compass for my ten first finds, but I used google satellite view to pinpoint the chache first then move it to topo map and used the compass to only show me the way to about right spot. Need way more work than with GPS. Then I moved to el cheapo chinese keychain compass and find about 35 caches with it and after that I did eventually upgrade to smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Xcover + c:Geo)
     
  38. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Can it be done ? Certainly. I seem to remember this whole country being surveyed with compass and chains for a few hundred years, and surveyors today can still find those benchmarks and corners.

    Is it easy ? Not unless the description gives good map co-ordinates.
     
  39. EdD270

    EdD270 Guide Bushclass I

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    It can be done, but you'll need a better compass than most "-Mart" stores sell, and also very good detailed small scale maps. You'll also want some sort of UTM gridder, a plastic template to go on a map to help pinpoint locations using UTM coordinates. Even then, it's not nearly as easy as using GPS, but still can be done, and is very satisfying when you do find a cache. Our Scouts sometimes go geocaching with map and compass and some other navigational aids, gridders, etc., and eventually find the cache, but they're Scouts and don't quit and have a group of eyes looking everywhere.
    You will need to be very precise in measurement of distance as well as direction, both on the map and on the ground.
     
  40. Bush Otter

    Bush Otter Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I got one word for land nav , terrain features , old soliders routinely orientate their maps to grid north with their compass then turn the map in the direction they are traveling works as long you can see the terrain , they can go to a specified spot on the ground usually without other use of devices
     
  41. Kenton

    Kenton Scout

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    Here is what i used to use. Wicked cheap and a decent GPS.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Garmin-eTre...0833532993?pt=GPS_Devices&hash=item460b136c41
     
  42. AncientNCO

    AncientNCO Tracker

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    It's a great starter GPS, cheap too! But if your serious about caching or using the GPS for other outdoor adventures. Consider getting one the mapping capabilities. You won't know how important good maps are until you've walked way out of your way just to find a water obstacle or other terrain feature sending you back. Map recons are a must, it save a ton of time and is a great safety feature.
     
  43. Mudcat

    Mudcat Scout Bushclass I

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    I learned land navigation in the Army and got lots of practice. I like to geocache with a map and compass, it is a challenge that I enjoy. It's not easy but then again neither is starting a fire with flint and steel at first or a bow drill still yet for me. But it is something that you will get better at and enjoy. If you don't have any land nav skills or a compass then it may be cheaper and easier for you to get started with a low end GPS or smart phone app. I like using the terrain features on a map if the cache is in such an area that makes it possible. The main thing is to get out and get some outside time. Good luck and have fun no matter which way you navigate.
     
  44. VinWild

    VinWild Scout

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    I have extensive navigation training and I am well versed in the use of a map/chart and compass both on land and water. And I have to agree with the "No" crowd on this one.
    At best you would be "ball-parking" your figures and doing more estimating and guessing for the end result. To me; guesswork get's you in deeper, and if it is a life or death situation - more prone to the latter.
    If you want to cache, do it, but use the technology that exists to do it with precision.
    I would challenge my skill with a map and compass against anybody within this forum; and I can confidently say it's near impossible for an average person to do what you are asking without electronic influence (satellite imagery; aerial photos etc.).
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  45. AncientNCO

    AncientNCO Tracker

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    Pretty good points VinWild. After re-reading through this thread I'd like to point out that I should have paid closer attention to the first comment posted. I would like to clarify further that if you have never done Geocaching, I would not try it without a GPS first. I stand behind my comments about it being able to be done with a map and compass, only if you have had some experience caching. More than half the battle in finding a cache is having some experience with the many different types of caches and hiding techniques. There is no need for pin point accuracy in Geocaching. There are so many variables that you seldom find caches right on the money, especially with civilian GPS units. I'm not saying that I have never found a cache right on the coords, but some of them can be up to 30 feet off. There are tell tale little signs that give a cache hide away, so even if you were using a map and compass these signs would be helping you along. I agree will VinWild from a safety standpoint, maybe you shouldn't try it unless you are extremely skilled in map and compass work and have a working knowledge of caching. VinWild, do you cache at all? Just curious!
     
  46. rokclmb

    rokclmb Tracker

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    I've done a few without anything. I would look at the map and the cache's page before I left and then figure it out when I get there. These were ones that were pretty easy (obviously), but if you do your homework before you head out you should be able to do it without a GPS.
     
  47. VinWild

    VinWild Scout

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    VinWild, do you cache at all? Just curious![/QUOTE]


    Not in a few years and only then with my Garmin in my hand. :8: I've since upgraded & updated my charts and navigation through the USCG/Maritime Center and obtained my 100-ton Near Coastal OUPV Credential. Though, I spend most of my time on wilderness rivers where extreme navigation is not necessary as we run the same rivers hundreds of times; I do have some very specific; highly detailed, custom MyTopo maps made for the areas that I am outfitting. Caching could be done with the maps I have; but would be very, very difficult for a novice to nail down the necessary degree of accuracy needed to be successful.
    Granted, if the techniques used for hiding the "prize" were catered to map & compass - yes - it could be fun and fulfilling to play.
    Most commercial maps I have found and used are fine for navigation; caching is another venture completely. NOAA Charts are an exception as are USFS/USDA surveying maps - which could be used for geocaching.
    I do hunt, hike, camp and look for antler sheds, using my stored data on my Rino; which in a sense - is geocaching !
    I mark all the little honey holes (springs, berry patches, saddles, stands, blinds, heavy wintering grounds, vantage points etc.) and to return to the same haunts year after year. This stored information is worth it's weight in gold to me personally !
    Great thread.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013

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