Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Kit and Mobile Blogging

Alright, I've got some clues scribbled up and I am going to go out and get those other two boxes I'd planned on getting the last excursion today. I snapped a couple of photos of the "kit" I've put together so far. You don't really need much to pursue letterboxing as a hobby, but there's a couple of things to make your hunts easier and more organized. As a side note, I signed up for Blogspot's mobile blogging, so now I can bring you notes from the field, as it were. It's pretty simple, you can simply send photos and messages via texts from your phone and it'll publish to either a special mobile blog or your existing blogspot account. I'll try it out to see how it goes later today.

Must Haves
  • Letterboxing Clues: The most important thing. Most clue sites like and AtlasQuest let you print clues directly from their pages, you can write out the pertinent parts, or even carry your internet-enabled phone with you to look up clues without getting paper involved. In any event, you're not going to get far without these.
  • Find Book: For recording your finds, obviously. The hemp and leather cover to the left is mine, the pages are unlined with a natural look to them, made from lokta paper. The one on the right is Red Wolf's, which is just a nice leather journal with lined pages and a brass clasp. You don't have to get fancy, any old sketchbook or journal will do, though I do recommend one with fairly smooth paper for optimum stamping results.
  • Personal Stamp: Either handmade or commercial, whatever works for you to leave your mark. Something to keep your stamp safe in if it's unmounted like mine is a good idea, too--an empty CD jewel case is ideal. Some people don't even use a stamp, but leave their fingerprint instead!
  • Inkpad: Apparently some people include inkpads for stamping in their boxes, but the vast majority don't. Why? Because it's generally a bad idea--many letterboxes spend years in their hiding spots, so between dramatic temperature shifts, moisture and time, even a quality inkpad could become useless pretty quickly. Some inks bleed more than others, some require a heat set depending on the paper you're stamping on, so experimenting to find out what's going to work best for the paper in your find book is a good idea. Personally, I'm a big fan of Ranger's Archival line. It's waterproof and extremely fade resistant, dries very quickly and generally leaves a nice impresion. The sepia pad you see in the photo above I've had for more than a decade for various light duty crafting, and it's still kicking.
  •  Pen or Pencil: For recording details like dates and names in both your find book and the letterbox's log.

Additional Considerations
  • Tough Shoes: Even if you're doing most of your hunting in suburban parks and cemeteries like I am, not all boxes are conveniently located and you may find yourself having to take short hikes or go through treelines and shrubs. Box clues usually indicate how much walking or hiking you'll have to do beforehand, but it never hurts to keep your feet dry and safe. 
  • Compass: Some letterboxers give very specific directions using compass points and paces as well as stating landmarks. Obviously the sun sets in the west and lichen grows on the north side of trees, but it couldn't hurt to carry a compass to orient yourself with, or a compass app on your phone, if you want to cut down on the amount of stuff you're carrying. I happen to own a very nice compass, and I enjoy any excuse to use it.
  • Flashlight: I wouldn't recommend looking for anything in the dark of night, but a flashlight can be extremely useful if you're hunting in a wooded or shaded area, or for getting an eyeful of just what might be down that hole or in that bush before you go sticking your arm in there.
  • Flushable or Baby Wipes: Great for cleaning ink off of stamps so that they don't stain, also great for cleaning up dirty hands. If that's all you use them for, a single pack will last you quite a while, so it's inexpensive in the long run. Also, if you're out hiking around in the woods away from a public restroom... well, that's handy, too. A note about these though, the labels on these things say flushable, but I looked up a number of consumer reports that say that they really don't break down and are not as sewer or septic safe as they claim. I'm going to keep looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative to replace this box once it runs out.
  • Bag: To carry all the other crap in one convenient place! Any old backpack or messenger bag should do, mine is kind of big since I'm typically carrying the gear for two people. Before the basketweave one in my recent photos, which was a last-minute Barnes & Noble purchase, I used a beaten up messenger bag I'd had for ages. Check out your local military surplus or thrift store to find something sturdy, or go to Etsy and support an independent craftsperson! Chances are more than likely if you see something you like but want certain changes, or have an idea, you can find someone talented to make you the perfect bag. Inner pockets are great idea--the zippered mesh portions on the inside of my bag have perfectly sized slots for everything I carry and thensome.


  1. I had to google what letterboxing was, but it sounds really awesome! This post was very informative, thanks :)

  2. Never heard of letter boxing. I would love to try it

  3. Amazing stuff. I definitely want to try this out. Thanks for the information.

  4. Wow this looks tough! I'd never be able to rough it letterboxing

  5. This is the first time I heard about letterboxing.

  6. your post today is amaizing! i like it!
    supportin & follouing!

  7. this was very impressive lad...

  8. @Carousellian: It's not, really. :D At least it hasn't been so far, but hopefully this spring I'll be able to take some time off and head down to Yellow Springs where there's some state parks and do some real hiking. Most of my trips so far have been very local and it typically doesn't take long to find a single box.

    @pretty much everyone else: thanks for your comments! :D It's amazing, this is like the coolest thing I've ever gotten into, and only two people I've spoken to about it have even heard of it!

  9. This seems really cool. I'd heard about it, but I live in a pretty rural area, so it seems like I'd have a low chance of actually coming across anything in my area.

  10. Actually, it's not as hard as you'd think to find letterboxes in rural areas since there's a lot of crossover with hikers, campers and geocachers. Check out the map here:

    You can look up clues in your area up by state, county and city assuming that you're in the US. I know there's an active community in Europe as well, though I haven't sought out information on them specifically since I'm an ocean away.

  11. Always cool to learn about a new craft or hobby. I'll have to keep an eye on this blog and see what you're up to.

  12. I've actually been considering trying letter boxing out, but I wasn't sure where to start. It's not quite as popular as geocaching it seems (my dad got into that not long ago, and I've gone with him to a few sites). It sounds like fun, though! I'll have to look into it a bit more.

  13. nice post, this is what my mum is definitely interested in! thanks for the share dude!