Pirate Maps

Last Updated
8/7/2011

How to Create a Pocket Query

Map with Magnifying Glass

Pocket queries are a powerful feature of premium geocaching accounts.

Pocket queries are, without a doubt, the main reason to upgrade from a free geocaching.com account to the premium membership. Sure, there are other benefits, but nothing beats being able to load hundreds of caches into your GPS with a few mouse clicks.

Yarr, it makes plundering vast quantities of cache booty much easier!

Pocket queries allow you to request a list of caches that meet whatever criteria you set. Perhaps the most common use is selecting all caches in your area that you haven't found yet.

If you decide to make a power run, you can select only traditional caches (without the time draining multi or puzzle caches) and limit the results to low difficulty caches. This type of query will really expose the low hanging fruit in your area and pump your smiley count.

Pocket queries are also vital to paperless caching.

Getting Started

You have to have a Premium membership at Geocaching.com to create and run a pocket query. Log on and go to your "My Account" page. Once there you will see a list of options along the right hand side. One of the sections is titled Premium Features and the first option is "Build Pocket Queries". Click on that link.

Once you have clicked on the link, your browser will go to a new page called "My Pocket Queries". You can bookmark this page so you can easily return directly to it at a later time. From this page, click the "Create a new query" link in the pink box.

Building the Query

Building your query is quick and easy and you'll probably be making lots of them once you get the hang of it. The first thing to do is give your query a name. Try to make it descriptive so you'll know which one does what.

Next is the "Days to Generate". We've found it's best just to leave this on the defaults. Yes, you can automatically generate a query on certain dates, but we've found that we like to generate them on demand. We also leave the "Uncheck the day of week after the query runs" selected. This prevents the query from re-running automatically.

The next part is the number of caches. The maximum number of caches you can select in a pocket query is 500. Since you're probably going to be loading this query onto a GPS, make sure that you don't pull more caches than your GPS can hold.

Now you can select the type and size of caches you want. You can just leave the selection at the default if you want all types of caches.

The next section we find really useful. It doesn't make any sense pulling down caches we've already found so we select the "I haven't found" criteria. We also select "I don't own" since we don't want to hunt our own caches. Finally, we also select "Is Active" to remove any disabled caches from the query.

If you want, you can limit the Terrain or Difficulty of the caches you pull. Looking to make a power run? Combine limited cache types with limited terrain and difficulty and you can design a query that will only select only the "low hanging fruit"!

Now we come to the part of the query that defines what part of the world you want it to pull caches from. The most common will probably be "My Home Coordinates" but you can choose any criteria you like. Many folks use the "Postal Code" option. This can be handy if you're going on vacation and you know the zip but not the lat/long. You also define the radius of the query, we generally leave it on the default 100 miles.

If you're looking for recent caches, you can select caches based on when they were placed. Also, you can include/exclude certain attributes. We generally do not use these options.

When the query is run, it will email the results to you. You can choose to email the results to any email address or just have it sent to your default one.

You can choose the format, either gpx or loc. We also choose the gpx format, it seems more universally acceptable for our uses. You can choose to send it in eBook format as well. We've tried this option in the past and were not satisfied with it. Always, always leave the "Compress files into *.zip format" selected!

You're done! Hit the "Submit Information" button. If there are problems, you will get an error message. The most common one is forgetting to select an origin for the cache. Click the "return to list" link to see cache added to your list.

Now what?

So, now you have a pocket query in your list and you're probably eager to run it and have it emailed to you. Before you do, though, it's probably best to test it out. Geocaching.com gives you a couple of ways to do this, either in a list or on Google Maps. You do this by selecting one of the icons to the left of your query name.

After you've previewed the query, if you find you need to edit it, you can change it by clicking on the query name.

To run the query, check the box corresponding to the day of the week you would like it to run. Generally, when we run a query, we choose the current day of the week.

Soon the query will be sent to your email account. When it arrives, just unzip it and you'll have your personalized gpx file.

Final Thoughts

Pocket queries are a powerful tool available to premium members. The ability to load hundreds of geocaches onto your GPS automatically is priceless.

Once you receive the email containing the results of your pocket query, you can load it directly onto your GPS. There are several programs that can do that and we use a program called Route Buddy to accomplish this on our Mac.

Don't try to run your queries too often! You'll find the response time for your queries declines if you run it frequently.

When you unzip the query, you may find two sets of gpx files. If a geocache has additional waypoints associated with it, these coordinates will come in a separate gpx file. This file will have a "-wpts" attached to its name. We have never used these points ourselves but they may be handy for you.

Geocaching.com Pocket Query page (Premium Geocaching.com account required.)

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