The proliferation of handheld GPS units has resulted in a geocaching craze. If you’re not familiar with the sport, here’s the scoop. People venture out with GPS devices and look for containers hidden in the great outdoors by other geocachers. Once found, you jot your name in the logbook, put the container back where you found it, and go find another. Think of it as a pumped-up version of the treasure hunts we used to go on as kids.
Since iPhones come equipped with GPS capabilities, it’s no surprise there’s been a recent jump in geocaching apps and tools available in the App Store, many of which nicely complement the open source geocaching apps already available for your computer. There are dozens of iPhone apps to choose from, but here are eleven good ones to get you started. Happy hunting!
Geocaching Toolkit iGCT (Free) — There’s lots of calculations involved in geocaching: from figuring out distances based on location, to translating roman numerals into normal numbers. This toolkit helps cut through some of that drudgery with calculators that help you convert degrees, minutes, seconds, geographical coordinates and more. It will also help you decrypt hint text to plain text, intersect lines and circles, and even remind you which letters correspond to which numbers on a telephone dialpad.
Geocaching With Geosphere ($7.99) — Here’s a great navigation tool for people already familiar with geocaching. Use it to import GPX or LOC files; organize, group, highlight or ignore caches; and display a compass to keep you on track. If you fire up this app while connected to the Internet you can use it to view video tutorials, access satellite images of your surroundings, and visit geocaching.com to find out what caches are nearby.
Geocaching Buddy ($9.99) — This is a great little app for participating in multi-caches or preparing them at home for other players. Make log notes, track parking as you travel, and answer questions at waypoints along the way, then use those answers to calculate new waypoints. Check out this screencast to see the app in action before you buy.
Geocaching ($9.99) — This simply-named app offers real-time access to new information in the databases at geocaching.com. You can also browse more than 800,000 worldwide geocaches, access their details, and save them for quick retrieval later. You can even use it to log into an existing geocaching.com account and check out searches you’ve already saved.
Geopher Lite ($1.99) — This app is designed for 3G/3GS phones and meant for geocaching on the fly. Use your phone’s GPS receiver to determine your location, then tell the app the latitude and longitude of where you want to go and Geopher Lite will show you how to get there.
GPS Compass ($1.99) — If you want to go on your next geocaching adventure armed with only the basics, then make sure you download this app. Toggle back and forth between your iPhone’s internal compass or the satellite-based GPS version to find out which way you’re going. Set the display to show a beautiful brass compass, or a plate with a rubber chicken as a directional needle, depending on your mood.
GPS Kit ($9.99) — Great for more than just geocaching, this app has tons of handy tools that make it perfect for everyday use. A personalized dashboard displays real-time data in metric or imperial units, manages an unlimited number of waypoints and trackpoints, integrates well with Google Earth and Maps, and keeps track of data like stopped time and average moving speed.
iGeoCacher ($14.99) — If you’ve been using the Web app iGeoCacher for paperless geocaching, then you’ll want to grab this version for your iPhone or iPod touch to view data on your device while offline.
iMarkMySpot ($0.99) — Like to take pictures while you’re geocaching? Then “snap up” this app. Use it while you’re out and about to take photos and automatically record your waypoint data, then display them all on a Google Map or email them to friends. Once you get home, iMarkMySpot makes logging and recording your expeditions a breeze since all your images will already be geotagged when you upload them to your computer.
Seek Cache ($0.99) — If you like to hit the geocaching trails without a lot of prep and hoopla, then check this out. Open the Seek Cache app on your iPhone and wait a few seconds for it to determine your GPS coordinates. A list of nearby caches pops up in a Safari browser window, and you’re off. What could be easier?
Caching ($6.99) — Seek Cache is great if you have an unlimited data plan or happen to be in a spot with a great connection, but otherwise Caching is a better option. Use it to find and load cache descriptions, hints, logs, and other information on your iPhone before you head out, then bring up the data when you’re out in the wild — no connection necessary.
If you’re a new or experienced geocacher, what apps do you use? Let us know in the comments.