The difference between SWAG and trackables

The core of geocaching is pretty simple: to inspire geocachers to have an adventure at every location. But the game of geocaching can be much more complex. There are acronyms (TFTC, FTF, etc.), different cache types, SWAG, and trackables.

Today, we’re focusing on SWAG and trackables, but be sure to check out the glossary and Help Center for more information if you’re just getting started with geocaching. Both SWAG and trackables are items that you have probably seen in a geocache before, but even though they can look similar, they are actually much different! Below we’ll explore some of these differences.

First up: SWAG. Small toys, keychains, and other treasures found in the cache – that’s geocaching SWAG – or Stuff We All Get. SWAG is often something homemade, or represents a geocacher, their interests, or where they’re from! Geocachers trade swag by replacing items in the geocache with something of equal or greater value. Take a look at some SWAG examples below!

Trackables on the other hand, are traveling game pieces that geocachers send out into the world via a geocache or at an event, often with a goal or mission. Some of these goals could be specific, like visiting every state in the US, or they may just want to go on an adventure to as many caches as they can.

Either way, trackables let you experience an epic journey, one story and one geocache at a time. Each log from your trackable is a page in a digital diary. You can see exotic locations, read entries of your trackable’s travels, and connect with the geocachers who carry your trackable from geocache to geocache. View some trackable examples below!

The main difference between SWAG and trackables are that you can keep SWAG, but unless a trackable says it can be collected, then the best action you can take is to move it to another cache, closer to its goal!

So far so good? Now some time for etiquette. Don’t worry, it’s only a few reminders!

How can I tell the difference between trackables and SWAG?

The easiest way to differentiate the two is to look for a tracking code on the item. Tracking codes can be found on the item directly, such as written or engraved, or attached to it via a tag. Below are three different forms of trackables.


Trackable code items:

Can I keep SWAG?

Yes! Just be sure to leave something for the next person by trading up or trading evenly.

Can I trade SWAG for a trackable?

SWAG is meant to be a trade item in geocaches. If you take a piece of SWAG, then you should leave something of equal or greater value behind. Trackables want to move from cache to cache, collecting stories along the way. No need to trade items for a trackable. Just ensure you can help move a trackable toward its goal if you take one from a geocache.

Can I keep a trackable?

Unless a trackable specifically says it can be collected, you should not keep it. Instead, try to move it closer to its goal! If you’re not heading in the same direction, try discovering the trackable instead so that it’s owner knows it’s still in the cache.

Inspired to trade SWAG or send a trackable out on a journey of its own? View our trackable inspiration album and check out the latest in Shop Geocaching.

But it begs the question, what’s the best SWAG or trackables you’ve ever encountered?

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