Smartphones have all but taken over the world, and as new tech becomes available, these gadgets have replaced the need for various standalone gadgets.
For instance, today’s smartphone nullifies the need for music players and digital cameras. So, it comes as no surprise that many geocaching enthusiasts are considering their options as far as smartphone vs. traditional GPS devices are concerned.
Of course, we can’t just sweep the reliability of GPS under the carpet, but we must also consider that they’ve their shortcomings too. Even military-grade GPSes will sometimes fail to lock on a target under dense canopies or drain out on their battery.
While not any better than the best GPSes, modern-day smartphones offer a convenient and easy way to navigate to geocache locations.
Convenience is the smartphone’s main benefit. You probably have a smartphone already, and you’ve it on you all the time, so it’s readily accessible when you need it.
To use a smartphone for geocaching, however, you’ll need a geocaching app.
Traditionally, geocaching involved the use of the official geocaching app. But there’re many more navigational apps that you may like better, some with more features and cheaper than the official app.
The array of these navigational apps is so much that it might even make for a tough picking.
But you don’t have to beat yourself about it because we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide reviewing the best GPS apps for geocaching in the market.
Table of Contents
The Best GPS Apps for Geocaching For The Money
#1 Geocaching (Official App) - EDITOR'S CHOICE
It’s no surprise that our top pick is the official app, known as geocaching.
Geocaching, launched in September 2000, is a product of Jeremy Irish, the founder of geocaching.
It offers a resourceful guide for locating caches and learning more about geocaching events near you.
The app has both a free and premium version. The free version is basic at its best. It’s functional, though, and will help you search for geocaches around the world.
But the premium plan is the real deal as it comes with an assortment of features and tools for your geocaching experience. I find it worth paying for it if you’re serious about getting into geocaching as it provides more access to caches, offline maps, pocket queries, and plenty of other features.
The big selling point of the premium plan is the ability to save caches to the phone and work with it offline. Remember, many geocaching locates are remotely located, lacking mobile signal, so this feature is handy.
Also, the ability to find caches when connected to Wi-Fi and use them offline later saves on data charges that may be on your phone.
Finding caches with this app is pretty easy and straightforward. If you’re a mobile or Wi-Fi connection, the Find Caches option lets you discover nearby caches locations.
The app also has a nice interface, and when you open it, all nearby caches are automatically displayed. Tapping on any of them shows all the information you need to find it, including the location, difficulty, terrain, hints and much more.
It also comes with a menu at the bottom of the screen, where you can find your profile, lists, messages, and other features.
Geocaching app is also not limited to any operating system as it works on the web and Android and iOS devices. Plus, it doesn’t block other apps and will allow you to use it in conjunction with other apps for navigating to caches.
The only real issue with the app was with logging a trackable. To be fair, though, this is a general issue with Geocaching.com and not specific to this app.
Otherwise, Geocaching is a wonderful app, and despite the steep pricing, it offers the best resource for new and veteran geocachers.
#2 Cachly - Best for iOS Users
For the iOS users looking for a geocaching app similar to Geocaching but skips on the pricey annual subscription, Cachly can be a great option.
While not entirely free, it only requires a one-time payment to unlock all the awesome features such as offline vector maps, lists, and advanced searching abilities.
And the good thing is the app is an official partner of geocaching.com, so subscribing to their service will even get more features unlocked in the app.
Users love the app for its ease of use, especially when viewing a particular cache. The app has a handy menu button that allows you to find caches nearby. I find it handy, especially when looking up for geocaches within a reasonable distance from one I’m working on.
The search option has a “hide” feature, letting you discard the geocaches you’ve already located, so you don’t confuse them with new ones on the map. Besides the found caches, the app also hides the excluded ignore caches, your hidden caches, excludes archived geocaches, and removes inactive ones from the map.
You’ll also love Cachly’s customization feature, which comes in handy when making a list of geocaches to find. For instance, it’s easy to handpick certain caches and add them to a custom list. You can also filter them and save all the visible caches to a list. Overall, the app makes it easy to add caches to a list in bulk.
For geocachers who love a more personalized experience, you’ve the option of adding notes for your personal use so they can stand out to you in map or list view.
As with the official Geocaching app, Cachly allows you to download maps for offline use, so you don’t have to worry when heading out to the remote areas lacking mobile connection.
And that’s not all!
You can also choose your favorite map app; from Google Maps, Apple Maps, or even Ordnance Survey.
Unfortunately, Cachly is only compatible with iOS users. However, it syncs seamlessly with Apple Watches, so you can access your caches without the need to pull out your phone.
And as we had mentioned, the app liaises with Geocaching, so you can even export the GPX files and templates that will help you logging caches quicker. Here, you get access to every feature you need to find a cache, including location, distance, and hints.
You can access even more features with the app, but only if you subscribe to Geocaching Premium through the Geocaching website or app.
#3 c: geo - Free Version
If you’re an Android user and looking for an open-source, full-feature geocaching app, you should definitely consider c: geo.
It’s a free option, and while it doesn’t necessarily have the sleekest interface such as that on Geocaching
However, it has lots of useful features, some that you won’t even get with the official Geocaching app.
We love the app for its offline capabilities, as it can save maps and caches for offline viewing and log caches offline. You can handpick which caches you want to after and see them on your map, even without an internet connection. Additionally, you can log the caches without the internet as everything automatically syncs once your internet connection is restored.
The app also makes it pretty easy to create a custom local list with just the caches that have captured your attention.
It’s easy to filter the results based on several aspects such as distance, types, terrain, size, difficulty, attribute status, and other criteria. This way, it becomes easier to weed out the caches you’re not interested in pursuing.
Additionally, the app lets you choose which map source you want to work with. You can pick your preferred navigation method from various options, including Google Maps, a compass, and an external map app.
Customization on the app goes even further, as c: geo lets you tinker with advanced settings like hardware acceleration, orientation sensor, database storage location, and the GPX import/export directory.
Pulling up a cache on this app is easy, as you simply need to tap once on the “Live Map” button, and all the details will pop up.
Here, you access the cache’s type and size, how far it is, the difficulty of the terrain, when it was created, its GPS coordinates, and much more.
Once you’ve discovered the cache, you can log your name, create a personal note and share the location with friends over email or app.
Unfortunately, the app is only compatible with Android users.
It’s not a deal-breaker, though, especially considering it’s a free application. It’s also an immensely powerful app and a fantastic resource for serious players and new ones.
#4 GeoCaches - Simple Option
Fourth on our list of the best geocaching apps is an app perfect for those who need a simple and clutter-free option,
GeoCaches is easy to use, a much simpler app than others on our list, and doesn’t come with too many settings.
It’s the perfect option for those new to geocaching using the app as it’s pretty straightforward to use.
However, its modesty comes at a price as it lacks plenty of features and customization options as with other apps on our list.
It’s so simple to use that when you tap a cache on the map, the app displays an S, D, T pop-up box on the screen. The alphabets refer to the size, difficulty, and terrain levels, respectively. The lower the number, the smaller the cache is or rather less difficult it is to locate.
But those aren’t the only features you get on the display. You can tap on the cache for even more information, such as the description, hint, logbook, and much more.
But since the app lacks many features and customization options, the only real changes users can make are to the map type, show/hide caches found, and show/hide inactive caches. It also allows geocachers to filter the results based on size, difficulty, and terrain levels.
Secondly, it’s impossible to turn on notifications for every cache with a global setting. But it allows you to go into every cache’s information box and turn the notification when you’re within 300 meters.
The app has an in-app navigation map, which is pretty decent but doesn’t come with all the features as I would have wished. If you choose to use third-party navigation, you’re limited to using Apple Maps only, which can be a deal-breaker for some.
Nevertheless, the Apple Map works seamlessly, and when you need to use it, you simply open the details of your cache and tap Export to send all the details to Apple Maps.
#5 Geocache Placer - Best for Creating Caches
Geocache Placer is different from other previously reviewed items on our list.
As its name suggests, this app isn’t meant for finding geocaches but rather for making your own.
While creating a geocache is pretty simple, you must ensure that the coordinates are just right so that users can accurately find the geocache through whatever app or GPS they’re using.
Fortunately, Geocache Placer provides a convenient way to save multiple places using their coordinates instead of using an address, as most navigation apps do.
Once you collect the coordinates of locations you want to add to the Geocaching service, you then utilize the Place button on the app to find all of them. It’s here where you can tap to open and share them using the built-in share button.
The app also has an in-built distancer, or rather the 161/528ft circle for overlaying on a map. Remember caches are only accepted at geocaching if they’re placed over 161m from one another. The distancer is a great way to visually see how far your cache is far from your last cache or any other cache. This way, you minimize the chances of getting rejected by geocaching.com.
Geocache Placer also allows users to import and export places to GPX files to have everything you need to set the next cache on your screen.
Additionally, the app supports a lot of customization. The advanced settings allow you to use different positioning settings, change the delay time between measurements, change map style, and even adjust the coordinates’ format.
Best Apps for Geocaching Buying Guide
There’re numerous apps in the market already, and choosing one that will suit your geocaching needs can be a bit challenging.
Fortunately, we’ve outlined everything you should know about selecting the best app for geocaching.
Here, we look at some of the essentials that every GPS app for geocaching should have.
Factors to Consider in the Best GPS Apps for Geocaching
Having an accurate map to work off is necessary, so you don’t end up wandering in the woods for a geocache that doesn’t even exist.
Beyond giving you a bearing, the live map should also reveal if other treasure hunters have recently visited the location or if new geocache locations have been added.
It should also show you if there’re new tips and tips for the hard-to-find locations.
Multiple Map Sources
The best GPS apps for geocaching don’t just rely on a single map, like Google Maps, for example.
Instead, some come with different map sources, allowing you to choose the map you’re most comfortable with.
While this impacts your geocaching experience, it just makes it easier for you by letting you use an app or rather interface you’re already familiar with.
It’s not uncommon to find some of the geocaches way off the map.
Now, if you’ve an eye on such a rural and remote geocache, you must ensure your choice of the app has offline support.
This will allow you to navigate to the remote area with ease and without getting lost.
It should also offer navigational support even in areas where there’s a drop in the Wi-Fi or cell range connection.
If you know a certain location has several geocaches and you want to visit again but aren’t sure you’ll remember, pick an app with the saved search function.
These apps will allow you to save your searches or even let you favorite a certain location or geocache so that they’re easier to find in your next outing or the future.
When choosing a GPS app or rather any other app, always consider the user’s reviews.
They’re invaluable as they depict the real picture of an app.
For instance, you should keep away from apps with anything less than 3 stars. On the other hand, apps with 4+ stars show they’ve a lot to offer.
Additionally, the app’s reviews lead you to the specifics, including the pros, drawbacks, usability, and ease of using an app.
Browse through the details in the review section and ensure your device is compatible enough to satisfy all your geocaching needs.
If you’re seeking something niche-specific such as geocaching in a targeted location, it’s a good idea to ask around.
You can visit the geocaching forums or even the community to see whether they can advise you on what to pick.
Ease of Use and Control
Apps for geocaching are like any other tool, so you need to evaluate the need for control and usability.
Your choice of the app should feature an intuitive interface and should be easy to operate.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our list of the best apps for geocaching has some awesome options, but it’s hard to find anything that beats Geocaching.
After all, it’s the official app for geocaching.
And that’s not all!
It’s one of the versatile options, compatible with all the different platforms, including iOS and Android.
Plus, it supports different navigational maps, so it will make it easier for you to pick a navigation system you’re comfortable with.
The premium version is a bit expensive, but if you’re looking to take your geocaching game a step higher, this option has all the tools you need for the task.