What to know about choosing a geocaching trackable
Everything you need to know to choose a geocaching trackable
The first thing that you need to consider when selecting a trackable is exactly what you’re going to be using it for. The three main options are:
- Use it for a souvenir
- Give it as a prize.
- Send it out into the world to travel.
Trackables as souvenirs
If you are looking to use it for the first option, you really don’t need to worry about any of the information I am going to cover in this article. However, if you’re looking for a trackable that you want to send out into the world that will last the test of time and spend many years travelling around the world gathering stories and going through many people’s hands, this guide may be helpful. It is important to choose the right trackable, as your selection is going to make a big difference about how long it will exist in the wild. What it will look like after being in the wild for a long time and ultimately the amount of adventure that this trackable will be able to go through.
Trackables as prizes
The commonest one is FTF (first to find) prizes. This is where a cache owner will put a trackable (normally a geocoin) or something similar into a cache and when the first person finds the cache, they are rewarded for their hard work. If you’re planning to use the trackable for an FTF or other prize, it really doesn’t matter too much exactly what the trackable is, because there’s a good chance that the person will keep the trackable as a souvenir in their personal collection.
Something to keep in mind when you are going to use a trackable as a prize is its size…make sure the trackable is the right size for the cache you’re placing it in. This means you shouldn’t get a really big trackable if you’re a hiding a small cache.
Trackables for travel
For the rest of this guide, I’m going to focus on trackables whereby the goal is to travel around the world and really spend a lot of time gathering stories and visiting caches. Keep in mind these are not rules, but things to keep in mind when you’re selecting a trackable, as it is going to make it easier for people to find it and for you to maintain it for years to come. Readability and Font Size
One of the first and most often overlooked things when choosing a trackable is the font size on the trackable. Trackables with really tiny lettering on may be good for some things, but the result is that not everyone is able to easily read the tracking code on the trackable or to do so they require special glasses. You should be looking for a trackable with a font size of about 12 points (normally printed paper font).
The next thing to consider is the material of the trackable. The most common form of traveling trackable is travel tags, which are normally aluminium. This is by far the most popular choice for material, as aluminium is what travel bugs are made from and is now the default standard for travel tags. It’s really the gold standard, because:
- It lasts for a long time (5–10 years with printed material).
- It is relatively cheap.
- It is durable and doesn’t break easily.
- It is able to hold ink well.
Any aluminium travel tags should be about 0.5 mm thick and most travel tags will be this thickness.
If you are looking for a tag that will last a really long time, go for one with an epoxy coating, as it adds a significant amount of protection and will make sure the printing looks great for a long time.
The next thing to consider is to what you are going to be attaching the trackable. Obviously, different trackables have different ways they can be attached to other items. The most common thing you’ll see is a little bead chain that comes with lots of travel tags. These chains are normally about 10 cm long and are designed so that you can easily attach something to the travel tag. Items are often attached so that when you send it out into the wild, it’s got a bit of bulk.
Ideally, the thing you attached it to also adds a bit of interest. When choosing an item, it should be something that is not too valuable because it could increase the chance of the trackable going missing. You want it to be big enough so that it helps your trackable not to get lost.
Before you send it out
It is highly suggested that you record the tracking code of the trackable before you send it out into the wild, because if it gets lost, you’ll have options to replace it. It is common to write the tracking code on something else or a replacement tag, which will it will serve the same purpose is as if the original trackable was still around.
One thing to consider before sending out a replacement trackable is that if the original shows up, you will need to contact the person who has the replacement one and stop them from continuing to move that trackable around.
If you think about the purpose of the trackable, the font, material and what it is attached to - your trackable will have the best chance to have a fun, productive life filled with adventure.