Everything you need to get started letterboxing

Gear

While it’s not required, packing a pen will let you date your stamp or take notes about your hike for fun details to read when reviewing your past adventures.

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Which items to get started letterboxing are best? 

With people spending more and more time outside these days, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy nature and get creative. Letterboxing is an outdoor treasure hunt designed to provide a fun problem-solving activity for participants of all ages. The growing activity may be done in a group or on a solo mission and is similar to geocaching.

Following directions from simple to complex, hunters go on an adventure to a local community facility, like their local library, or for a walk in a nearby state or national park to find hidden boxes with a special treat inside — a hand-carved stamp that is unique to the search. What makes letterboxing so unique is that each participant creates their own stamp with which to mark a location they have discovered. 

With a few tools and a little bit of time, you can set off on a letterbox quest.

Tips 

Dress appropriately

If you’re hiking a fair distance to find a letterbox, be sure to wear breathable pants that allow for movement. Make sure you pack layers, so you can cool off or warm up, depending on the elements and your level of activity. 

Avoid questionable vegetation

It’s easy to come across vegetation you can’t identify when hiking in the wilderness. Be sure to be cautious when going off the beaten path, to avoid coming into contact with poisonous shrubs. 

Stay hydrated

Regardless of the temperature outside, you should always be ready to hydrate when participating in any physical activity. Pack a large water bottle that you can use throughout your hike. 

Safety first

Before going out to find your letterbox, be sure you have printed the clues. Depending on where the box is hidden, cellular service may be limited. Bring a GPS device or a paper map to ensure you know where you are throughout the hike. Always tell someone where you are going before heading out, especially on a solo hunt. And, finally, be careful once you find the letterbox! They are often hidden under rocks or in tree cavities, which are also desirable homes for other living creatures. Be sure to clear the area well with a stick or other found item nearby before reaching in to grab your prize.

Supplies

Make sure to do a little prep-work before you set off on your first letterbox-seeking mission. Once you’ve collected all your essentials, you’ll be set to go at a moment’s notice.

Custom stamp

Carve your own stamp and brainstorm a design idea. If you would rather not design one yourself, you can print out an image to fit on your rubber stamp surface and then trace it with a graphite pencil. The graphite should transfer the design to the rubber, providing an outline for you to carve out. You can also purchase a pre-made rubber stamp to use as your call sign. Find a kit that includes multiple rubber blocks so you can tweak your design with various stamps. 

Greta Gray stamp carving kit

Greta Gray stamp carving kit 

This 14-piece set includes ink pads, rubber-stamp blocks and an instructional booklet with design ideas.

Sold by Uncommon Goods

PIXISS Rubber Block Stamp Carving Blocks Stamp Making Kit

PIXISS Rubber Block Stamp Carving Blocks Stamp Making Kit

For the artist who already has a design in mind, the PIXISS kit provides rubber blocks and six cutting blades to allow for precise strokes.

Sold by Amazon

Riley Print traditional rubber stamp

Riley Print traditional rubber stamp

If you want to create a unique stamp, but are afraid to carve the design yourself, Riley Print offers an easy step-by-step process. It allows you to choose the size, clip art and wording before producing your one-of-a-kind stamp.

Sold by Etsy

Ink Pads

While some stamp kits come with standard black ink pads, you may want a fun, colored pad that correlates to your chosen design. Look for saturated ink that can withstand the elements and avoid fading.

Ranger archival ink pad

Ranger archival ink pad

With over 10 colors to choose from, these ink pads are acid-free and waterproof. Your letterboxing stamp is sure to stay in one place with this pad. 

Sold by Amazon

Center Enterprises Ready2Learn rainbow ink pad

Center Enterprises Ready2Learn rainbow ink pad

Let your stamp shine above the rest with the six-colors-in-one circular ink pad. Place your stamp in the center of the pad for a fantastic rainbow-colored design.

Sold by Amazon and Staples

Journal

A journal is essential for documenting your letterbox journey and can hold all of the stamps from your successful hunts. Make sure it’s a good size and weight for your desired treks — don’t go big and heavy if you plan to go on miles-long excursions.

Leuchtturm 1917 softcover medium squared notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 softcover medium squared notebook

This beautiful notebook comes in a variety of colors and includes 123 pages of acid-free paper. An expandable gusseted pocket is included on the back cover, to store any found items from your trips.

Sold by Amazon

Lemome bullet notebook

Lemome bullet notebook

The sustainable cork notebook cover is perfect for the eco-conscious adventurer. The dot grid allows for free-flowing stamping.

Sold by Amazon

Shoes

Letterboxing requires walking varied distances, so make sure you are wearing comfortable footwear that offers good arch support, protection from poor weather and excellent grip.

 

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