What Does FTF Mean In Geocaching?

Along with lots of other acronyms, Geocachers sound like they have their own mini language within English when talking about their sport. Alongside terms like BYOP, TOTT and TFTC, what does FTF mean?

FTF is shorthand for First To Find in Geocaching. It simply means a player is the first to find a particular Cache after it was created. There is a element of kudos within the community for those who are first to find Caches.

Geocacher celebrating being first to find a Cache

As with most sports, there is an element of competition in Geocaching. While there is undoubtedly a sense of belonging to the global community of Geocachers (don’t tell the Muggles!), the pride of getting an FTF achievement for being first to find a given Cache is something cherished by avid Cachers.

How To Find Unfound Geocaches

A common question for those in search of their first FTF status is how to know where an as yet undiscovered Cache is hidden. It’s not immediately obvious from the database of caches on the Geocaching.com website or app whether a given location has already been discovered.

Just because no-one has referenced finding the target in an online log of the Cache doesn’t automatically mean you won’t track down the item and discover a paper log that’s already been completed.

So then? Is there a sure fire way to select a Cache to find that’s never been located before?

There’s no way to know for sure without getting out and about and finding the Cache itself. If no-one has found it online or left a record with the cache, then you can say with as much confidence as is possible that you’ve earned yourself an FTF!

That doesn’t help a great deal though unless you fall lucky, so what can you do to increase your chances of getting a First To Find?

Our single best top tip is one that’s not really a secret as such, but there are a lot of players that don’t realize that they can make use of it in this way.

Simply join and become a premium Geocaching member, and part of that subscription gives you the ability to have email notifications sent to your iOS or Android device email app when new Geocaches are added.

For example, if you’re a Premium member and have the app on your iPhone to use for Geocaching, you can set up email notifications to appear on your home screen when a new cache has been created near to you. That means that you’re in great shape to get straight out and search for not only the Cache itself, but also that elusive FTF status.

Of course, you might not be at home when the notification pings up, or be at work and unable to drop everything at that moment, so how helpful this tip is will vary from person to person. If you work from home in a job where you can be flexible, this may be perfect, but if you get paid to answer the phone for a company between specific hours, it’s no help at all to get a ping mid call.

The key is to make sure that you’re available at least some of the time when the message arrives. If you’re really wanting that honor of being able to say you’ve had a FTF win, then it’s a great way to achieve your goal.

It gives you a head start over all the free members, who will have to check the app and maps manually. It also means you’re in with a better shot than other Premium Geocaching subscribers that haven’t set up notifications – perhaps because they’ve not thought through the opportunity they’ve got as part of their annual fee.

Why Is FTF So Important To Players?

The First To Find achievement is like a badge of honor to some players, as it’s a way to achieve something as part of a sport they love. What’s more, once you’ve got the FTF on a Cache, no-one else can match it. There’s one spot available per Geocache, and once it’s won, nobody else can be first.

To put it bluntly, it’s just like many sports, hobbies and pastimes, when you achieve something it comes with an unwritten rule known as getting bragging rights.

Less importantly (for those who love to boast about how amazing they are) is a trend of a Cache containing a FTF prize too. It’s a type of SWAG that’s reserved for the FTF player that finds it. It’s certainly not a given that you get a prize for being first, but it’s a great and unexpected reward.

How Do I Tell People I’m FTF?

For something that’s such an accolade for players, there’s actually very limited FTF functionality built into the Geocaching.com website and app.

The way people know who was the fist player to uncover a Cache is simply that they’re at the top of a paper log. Sometimes when a log is full (or people are trying to be clever), we’ve seen extra entries scribble in a gap at the top of a Geocache log, but it’s almost always obvious that the first entry is the one in the logical place you’d write in an empty log – i.e. not crammed in a tiny space above the first tidy entry.

Similarly, the earliest notes about finding a cache on the website or app entry serve to help identify a FTF player, so why not take a photo of your find, and waste no time in uploading it via the app or website to save your place in the hall of Geocaching fame?

What Is FTF$?

You probably won’t stumble across this variation very often, but a subtle variation in the FTF concept relates directly to the prize we mentioned earlier. FTF$ stands for First To Find Prize. While it implies cash with the dollar sign, that may not be the case (although it very well could be).

When someone creates a cash, a fun twist might be to leave a small cash prize for the first player to find it, or some kind of trinket specifically intended for that FTF winner. Unlike other SWAG, you may choose to just take it rather than swap it if you get there first.


Hi, I'm Kevin. I discovered Geocaching several years ago on a family vacation at Center Parcs in the UK with my wife's family. Since then we've regularly been out and about avoiding the Muggles and hunting for caches.

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