If you like to go geocaching while hiking, running, or biking, it would be great to have your hands free and not having to look at your smartphone all the time to see where the geocache is. Here you can choose the best geocaching smartwatch for your needs. They are great for outdoors and fitness enthusiasts who want to track their runs, hikes, swims, and many other activities. At the same time, they often provide navigation to the desired location, which makes them great for geocaching.
They are also great when geocaching in crowded places among people unfamiliar with geocaching because it helps you look less weird and suspicious while looking for the geocache.
The best wristwatch with GPS for geocaching is one of the Garmin watches or the Apple Watches. You can use a Garmin watch or Apple Watch to track a wide range of activities, from hiking to swimming, but there is also a little-known fact that you can use them for geocaching.
Can you use a Garmin watch for geocaching?
Yes, you can use some Garmin watches for geocaching. The advantage of Garmin watches is their integration with Geocaching.com, a major website for geocaching. This website has a possibility of adding geocaches to the list and then pressing the button “Send to Garmin” which enables sending coordinates to your Garmin Watch from your computer.
Garmin watch has an in-built compass that points an arrow towards the geocache and also the distance to it. This feature enables you to search for a geocache while exercising and not having to carry your phone. Older Garmin watches will have views of an arrow pointing towards the direction of the geocache and the remaining distance. Also, they will have the possibility of showing breadcrumb navigation, which is a line displaying the route you have decided to take. But, they will not show you the whole map.
On the other hand, newer Garmin watches have full maps for navigation, which makes them ideal for geocaching. Once you have saved the location of the geocache on the watch, you can reach it using the full-blown map and having an awareness of the world around you.
How do I download geocaches to my Garmin?
You have to be a Premium member of Geocaching.com and have Garmin Express installed on your computer. Then, using your computer, you add desired geocaches to a list on Geocaching.com, press the button Send to Garmin and Garmin Express will send the list of geocaches to your Garmin watch. Garmin watch should be plugged into the computer. You can read more about this here.
Then you can start geocaching. To do that, you choose the Navigation option on your Garmin watch, then choose the Saved Locations option, and from there follow the menu to start navigation towards your cache.
What is the best Garmin for geocaching?
Best Garmin watches for geocaching are those with full-blown map support, as they make you aware of your surroundings while geocaching. To make sure that you are buying a Garmin watch that supports maps, check that in their product specification it says that they support TOPO maps.
These are the models that support map navigation:
Garmin Fenix 6 Series contains several watches, but not all of them support TOPO maps. Be sure to check that your model has TOPO maps.
Here is how to choose the right Fenix model:
- Choose the right size. They come in 3 screen sizes: 6s (small, 42mm case), 6 (medium, 47mm case), 6x (large, 51mm case). You should choose the 6x model as it has the largest screen, so the map looks bigger and makes geocaching easier.
- Choose between regular Fenix 6 between Pro/Sapphire. Be careful not to choose regular Fenix 6 as it doesn’t support TOPO maps. Choose either Pro or Sapphire models, which have enabled TOPO maps. They also contain additional functionalities like listening to music, so be sure to check them out.
- Choose between Sapphire and Non-Sapphire. Sapphire models have Sapphire crystal glass which is used to make watch face scratch-resistant. Other models have Corning Gorilla Glass DX or Power Glass (which also uses Corning Gorilla Glass DX). Sapphire lens are more resistant, but also more expensive and with worse contrast than Gorilla Glass.
- Choose between Solar and non-Solar. Solar models use Power Glass watch lens to convert sunlight to battery power. This extends the time between charging your watch.
Garmin claims non-Solar models offer up to 21 days of battery life in normal use. And up to 15 hours of heavy use, meaning battery-draining activities like listening to music and GPS activity.
On the other hand, Solar models have 24 days battery use in normal use when outside. And up to 16 hours of heavy use outside.
Solar models are great if you plan on going on multi-day hikes without access to charge. But, for normal geocaching activity a non-Solar model should be enough. Solar models contain the Pro features and they do not use Sapphire Glass.
Forerunner 945 is the only Forerunner watch so far that has TOPO maps. This is the watch for people who run as a hobby, and also great for people who like geocaching when running. There is also Forerunner 945 LTE version for people who like to run without a phone.
Garmin Fenix 5 series
Garmin Fenix 5 series has many watches in it, but not all models support TOPO maps. Only models from Fenix 5 series that support TOPO maps have either “5x” or “Plus” in the name of the model. But to be extra certain, read in specs whether the model supports TOPO maps.
Here are some watches from Garmin Fenix 5 series that support TOPO maps:
What are some disadvantages of getting the Garmin watch for geocaching?
The main disadvantage of Garmin watches is how expensive it is to buy them. They do have a reasonable price if you think about it, as they provide lots of features – tracking every workout imaginable, heart rate monitoring, notifications about phone calls and text messages, compass, maps, information about the weather, etc. Therefore, if you would only use the Garmin watch occasionally for geocaching, don’t buy the watch. But if you like to go geocaching while biking, running, or hiking often, and track your workouts at other times, then Garmin watch is the right thing for you.
Can you geocache with Apple Watch?
You can use Apple Watch for geocaching. There is also a geocaching app for it. First, you will read about the app for geocaching and how it works on Apple Watch. Then, you will read about the best Apple Watch models for geocaching
Geocaching app for Apple Watch
Cachly is one of the rare geocaching apps for the Apple Watch. It is meant to be used together with a Cachly app on your iPhone or iPad. Cachly requires watchOS 4.0 or any later version, which also requires iOS 11 or any later iOS to install it. It enables you to go geocaching while your phone is in your bag or pocket.
When you turn on the app on your Apple Watch, it shows a menu of four buttons: Nearby, Current, List, and Saved.
You need to have Geocaching.com Premium to display cache hints and descriptions.
The Nearby button shows nearby caches. The Current menu button shows the current cache marked on your phone app. The List button shows lists of geocaches, which you need to add to your phone first. The Current menu button shows the current cache marked on your phone app and the List menu button shows lists of geocaches, which you need to add to your phone first.
The app will also display all info necessary about a cache. When you select a cache, the watch will display cache type, cache name, difficulty, terrain, cache size, distance to the cache, and also hint and description if you have Geocaching Premium.
You can also log your cache when you find it. You can also search for, filter, and add nearby geocaches right from your watch.
This app also has a compass that points in the direction of the cache and shows your distance from it. Compass uses GPS.
You can also use maps on the screen on your watch. It displays the distance from the cache and where is your cache on the map.
To see all the premium geocaches, hints, and descriptions, you still need to buy Geocaching Premium from Geocaching.com. But it is absolutely worth it if you’re a serious geocaching enthusiast. You will get access to the best-maintained geocaches.
Cachly is also a paid app but having all the necessary features for geocaching and supporting Apple Watch makes it the best geocaching app for iPhone users.
Best Apple Watches for geocaching
Cachly watch app requires at least watchOS 4.0 or higher to be installed on your Apple Watch. That means that you can use Cachly on all Apple Watch models as they all support at least watchOS 4.0.
The Apple Watch isn’t really as robust as e.g. Garmin Fenix watches, which were made for outdoor activities. But they are still waterproof and fairly durable, which should be enough for most geocaching activities.
You also need to own an iPhone to use Apple Watch because you need it to set up everything on the watch.
If you want to use Apple Watch for tracking workouts and hikes in addition to geocaching, its main advantage is that it offers lots of apps for various activities.
It is also important to note that using built-in GPS for navigation will drain the battery pretty fast. The Apple Watch battery will last for about 7 hours max. If you plan to use it for 12 hours of navigation during geocaching, then bring your iPhone with you. Then your watch can use the phone’s GPS. This should extend the battery life of the watch for the whole day. Or you can carry a portable charger with you to charge your watch.
There are multiple Apple Watch models you can buy. Many models are discontinued but can still be found on the market. Apple Watch 1st generation, Series 1, and Series 2 are discontinued and can be hard to find on the market. Series 1 also isn’t waterproof, which is important for geocaching in rainy weather. Series 4 and Series 5 are also discontinued but they can still be easier to find on the market. Only Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch 6 are not discontinued.
Here are the best Apple Watch models for geocaching:
Apple Watch Series 3
Apple Watch Series 3 has a built-in GPS which enables you to not carry your phone when geocaching. It’s also waterproof like all other Apple Watches and enables you to track your workouts. Their production is still not discontinued, and its best advantage is the price – they can already be found for a price of $199.
Apple Watch SE
Apple Watch SE is a newer and more expensive model with a price being around $279. It has around a 30% larger display than Series 3, which means it’s easier to see the map when geocaching. It also has faster processing power and more storage, so apps will run smoother.
It possesses a better altimeter than Series 3, and a compass for better directions, so it is better if you need this stuff for hiking or climbing.
Apple Watch SE has a GPS-only version and a more expensive GPS+Cellular version. It’s also the cheapest Cellular model on the market (the Series 3 Cellular model was discontinued from the market as of September 2020).
Apple Watch GPS+Cellular comes with internet and phone connectivity by using your carrier plan with an additional charge. It enables you to listen to Apple Music, podcasts, phone calls, text messaging, and get notifications without carrying your iPhone. On the other hand, GPS-only needs to be close to the iPhone for daily use.
When turning on the Cellular option on the GPS+Cellular model, the battery will drain pretty fast. It lasts up to 4 hours, but if you use it paired with an iPhone it will last about 18h as per Apple’s own battery tests, the same as the GPS-only model. This means you can go on your daily runs and work out using only your GPS+Cellular model while being able to receive calls and listen to Apple Music, but for 16-hour hikes you will have to carry your iPhone also.
And, most importantly, if you want to choose a Cellular model, please make sure that Cellular is even supported in your country and by your carrier. It is also impractical for travelers because using it abroad will make additional charges. You can’t really swap SIM cards from another carrier in another country because Apple Watch has no SIM Card. If Cellular is not supported, and you want to use Apple Watch when traveling, choose the GPS-only version.
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6 is a better model than Apple Watch SE, but also a more expensive one. Its price starts from $399.
It has some additional features like an always-on screen, monitoring blood oxygen levels, an ECG app, faster charging but slightly shorter battery life than Apple Watch SE. It also has a GPS-only version and GPS+Cellular version like Apple Watch SE with the same differences between versions.
If you carry this watch outdoors a lot, this is the most robust Apple Watch because it is available to order with a stainless steel or titanium frame.
Its main advantage compared to Apple Watch SE is the always-on screen, which means the screen is always on when you look at the map when geocaching. You can also make it more robust if you order a watch with a stainless steel or titanium frame. This is important if you spend time outdoors a lot. On the other hand, the SE model is also fairly resistant too but also cheaper.
What are some disadvantages of getting the Apple Watch for geocaching?
Apple Watch is not as robust as Garmin watches and does not have a battery life like them. It is not made for extreme outdoor activities like multi-day hikes.
On the other hand, it has a great app Cachly for geocaching, and many other apps for tracking your workouts. Battery life is worse than Garmin watches, especially if you use GPS for navigation during geocaching. But if you take your iPhone and use its GPS, the battery will last the whole day.
And most importantly, if you already own an iPhone and use it for geocaching, it can be a no-brainer to choose Apple Watch for the geocaching smartwatch.
If you also like geocaching as an exercise, you might want to find more about smartwatches suitable both walking and cycling. Or if you like hiking more, find more about smartwatches for both hiking and cycling.