Letterboxing as a Hobby: A Stamp of Approval for Adventure Seekers

Looking for a unique and exciting way to explore the outdoors? Try letterboxing as a hobby!

Combining orienteering, art, and puzzle-solving, participants find hidden boxes in public places using clues.

But remember to respect the environment and follow rules and regulations while enjoying this fun and rewarding activity.

Letterboxing: A Brief History

If you’re looking for a fun and unique outdoor hobby, you might want to try letterboxing. This activity combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle-solving, and has a rich history that dates back to the mid-19th century.

Letterboxing originated in Dartmoor, England in 1854, when a man named James Perrott placed a bottle with his calling card inside a cairn on the moors.

He invited others to find it and leave their own calling cards behind. This simple act of leaving a message for others to find eventually evolved into a full-fledged hobby that is enjoyed by people all over the world.

Over time, letterboxing grew more complex and organized. Other people began to plant their own letterboxes, and clues were created to help others find them. In the early days, these clues were often cryptic and difficult to decipher, but they added an extra layer of challenge to the activity.

Today, letterboxing is a popular hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a fun way to get outside and explore, letterboxing is a great way to do it.

If you’re interested in trying letterboxing for yourself, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started. You can find clues and information online, or join a local letterboxing group to connect with other enthusiasts. With a little bit of practice and patience, you’ll soon be on your way to discovering the hidden treasures of letterboxing.

1854James Perrott places a bottle with his calling card inside a cairn on Dartmoor
Late 1800sOther people begin to plant their own letterboxes on Dartmoor
Early 1900sClues are created to help others find letterboxes
1998First letterboxes are planted in North America
PresentLetterboxing is enjoyed by people all over the world


The Basics of Letterboxing

If you’re looking for an outdoor activity that combines art, puzzle-solving, and exploration, letterboxing might be the perfect hobby for you. Here are the basics of letterboxing to help you get started.

Getting Started

The first step in letterboxing is finding a location where boxes are hidden. You can check online for clues and hints, or you can ask other letterboxers for recommendations.

Once you’ve found a location, you’ll need to bring a few supplies with you:

  • A rubber stamp with your unique design
  • An ink pad
  • A logbook to record your finds
  • A pen or pencil

The Clues

The clues are the heart of letterboxing. They’re usually a set of written instructions that lead you to the hidden box.

Clues can be straightforward or cryptic, and they often involve riddles or puzzles. It’s essential to read the clues carefully and take note of any landmarks or distinctive features mentioned.

Some clues may include a map or a series of coordinates to help you navigate.

The Stamp

When you find the hidden box, you’ll use your rubber stamp to mark the logbook inside. You’ll also use the stamp in your own logbook to record your find.

The stamp is a way of leaving your mark on the hobby and showing other letterboxers where you’ve been. Some letterboxers create custom stamps that reflect their interests or personality.

It’s important to re-hide the box exactly as you found it, so the next letterboxer can enjoy the thrill of discovery.

Letterboxing vs. Geocaching

If you’re looking for a new outdoor hobby, you may have come across both letterboxing and geocaching. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between the two.


Letterboxing and geocaching are both outdoor treasure hunting games. However, the way you find the treasure is different.

Geocaching uses GPS coordinates to locate a container, while letterboxing uses a series of clues and sometimes a compass to find the letterbox.


When it comes to equipment, geocaching requires a GPS device or a smartphone with GPS capabilities. Letterboxing, on the other hand, only requires a notebook, a pen, and a rubber stamp. Some letterboxes may require a compass, but it’s not always necessary.


Geocaching tends to be more straightforward and easier to find, as the GPS coordinates provide an exact location. Letterboxing, on the other hand, can be more challenging, as the clues may require some problem-solving skills and creativity.


Both hobbies have active communities, but geocaching tends to have a larger following. Geocaching has an official website where you can log your finds and connect with other geocachers. Letterboxing also has a website, but it’s not as widely used.


Geocaching can be done almost anywhere in the world, as long as there are GPS coordinates available. Letterboxing, however, may be more limited in terms of location, as the clues are often placed in specific areas.

Overall, both letterboxing and geocaching are fun and exciting outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you prefer the straightforward nature of geocaching or the creative problem-solving aspect of letterboxing, both hobbies offer a unique way to explore the outdoors and discover hidden treasures.

The Letterboxing Community

As a letterboxer, you are part of a vibrant and welcoming community that spans the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, you’ll find plenty of support and camaraderie among your fellow enthusiasts.

Finding Letterboxes

One of the most exciting aspects of letterboxing is the thrill of the hunt. Using clues provided by other letterboxers, you can set out on a quest to find hidden letterboxes in your area. These clues can be found in printed catalogs, on websites like Atlas Quest, or through word of mouth within the community.

Once you’ve found a letterbox, you’ll typically find a notebook and a hand-carved rubber stamp inside. You can make an imprint of the letterbox’s stamp in your personal log book, and leave an imprint of your personal stamp in the letterbox’s logbook.


Letterboxing is also a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals. Throughout the year, letterboxing gatherings are held in various locations around the world, where participants can meet up, swap stories, and go on group hunts together.

One popular gathering spot is Seattle, which has a thriving letterboxing community. In fact, Seattle was home to the first-ever letterboxing event in North America, back in 1998. Since then, the community has grown to include hundreds of active participants.

At gatherings, you’ll have the opportunity to trade stamps, attend workshops, and participate in group hunts. It’s a great way to make new friends and deepen your love for this unique hobby.

To get involved in the letterboxing community, start by checking out some of the resources listed above. With a little bit of effort, you’ll be well on your way to discovering a world of hidden treasures and new friends.

Creating Your Own Letterbox

If you’ve been enjoying letterboxing as a hobby and want to take it to the next level, consider creating your own letterbox. This can be a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to share your passion with others. Here are some steps you can follow to create your own letterbox.

Carving Stamps

The first step in creating your own letterbox is to carve a stamp. This stamp will be used to mark the notebook of anyone who finds your letterbox.

You can carve a stamp out of a rubber block or linoleum using carving tools. You can also purchase a pre-made stamp if you don’t want to carve your own.

When carving your stamp, keep in mind that it should be unique and representative of your letterbox. You can use any design you want, but it should be something that will be easy to recognize and remember. You can also include your letterbox name or location on the stamp.

Creating Clue Sheets

Once you have your stamp, you need to create clue sheets that will help others find your letterbox.

Clue sheets should include a description of the location of the letterbox, any landmarks or features that will help people find it, and any other relevant information. You can also include a riddle or puzzle that will add an extra challenge to finding your letterbox.

When creating your clue sheets, be sure to make them clear and easy to follow. You can use tables or bullet points to organize the information and make it easier to read. You can also include a map or diagram if it will help people find your letterbox.

Hiding Your Letterbox

The final step in creating your own letterbox is to hide it in a location that is accessible to the public. You can choose any location you want, but it should be somewhere that is safe and won’t be disturbed.

You can also include an address or GPS coordinates on your clue sheet to make it easier for people to find.

When hiding your letterbox, be sure to place it in a waterproof container to protect it from the elements. You can also include a logbook or notebook for people to sign when they find your letterbox. This will allow you to keep track of who has found your letterbox and when.

Creating your own letterbox can be a fun and rewarding experience. By following these steps, you can create a unique and memorable letterbox that others will enjoy finding.

Tips for a Successful Letterboxing Experience

When it comes to letterboxing, preparation is key to having an enjoyable and successful experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your letterboxing adventure.

Safety Tips

Before heading out on your letterboxing adventure, it’s important to prioritize safety. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Bring a map and compass, even if you have GPS coordinates.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the terrain and weather.
  • Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Apply sunscreen and bug spray to protect yourself from the elements.

What to Bring

To ensure a successful letterboxing experience, there are a few essential items you should bring with you:

  • A store-bought or hand-carved rubber stamp to leave your mark in the logbook.
  • An ink pad to use with your rubber stamp.
  • A notebook or logbook to record your finds.
  • A pen or pencil to write in your notebook or logbook.
  • Snacks to keep your energy levels up during your adventure.
  • A backpack to carry all your supplies.

To make it easier to keep track of everything you need to bring, here’s a table summarizing the essential items:

Essential Items
Rubber stamp
Ink pad
Notebook or logbook
Pen or pencil

By following these tips and being prepared, you’re sure to have a successful and enjoyable letterboxing experience. Don’t forget to check out letterboxing.org for more information and to connect with other letterboxers!

Advanced Letterboxing Techniques

As you become more experienced in letterboxing, you may want to try some advanced techniques to challenge yourself and add some excitement to your hobby. Here are a few techniques to consider:

Puzzle Solving

Puzzle boxes are letterboxes that require you to solve a puzzle or riddle to find the location of the box. These puzzles can range from simple word games to complex mathematical equations. Some puzzle boxes may require you to visit multiple locations to gather clues before you can solve the puzzle and find the box.

To get started with puzzle boxes, look for clues in the letterboxing community forums or on websites dedicated to puzzle solving. You can also create your own puzzle box and challenge other letterboxers to solve it.

Virtuals and Postals

Virtual letterboxes are boxes that exist only online. Instead of searching for a physical box, you solve a puzzle or complete a challenge to earn a virtual stamp. Postals are similar to virtuals, but instead of solving a puzzle, you send a postcard to the box owner to earn a stamp.

Virtuals and postals are a great way to participate in the letterboxing community without leaving your home. They are also a good option if you live in an area with few traditional boxes.

Bonus Boxes

Bonus boxes are hidden boxes that can only be found after you have found a certain number of other boxes in a series. For example, you may need to find five boxes in a specific park before you can find the bonus box.

Bonus boxes are a fun way to challenge yourself and explore new areas. They also encourage you to search for boxes in a specific series, which can be a great way to discover new letterboxing locations.

Traditional Boxes

Traditional boxes are the classic letterboxing experience. These boxes are hidden in outdoor locations and require you to use clues and your orienteering skills to find them. Traditional boxes usually contain a logbook and a rubber stamp, which you can use to mark your visit.

To find traditional boxes, search online for letterboxing locations in your area. You can also ask other letterboxers for recommendations or create your own traditional box and hide it for others to find.

Letterboxing as a Family Activity

Letterboxing is a fun and exciting family activity that can help create lasting memories and bring families closer together. It is an outdoor hobby that involves searching for hidden boxes using clues and a compass.

One of the great things about letterboxing is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages, making it a perfect family pastime. Children can learn important skills such as problem-solving, map-reading, and compass navigation.

Additionally, letterboxing can help families explore new places and appreciate the beauty of nature.

As a family activity, letterboxing can be a great way to bond and create shared experiences. It can also be an opportunity to collect stamps and create a family scrapbook or memory book.

Each time you find a new letterbox, you can stamp your family’s personal stamp in the notebook found inside the box. This can be a fun way to track your family’s progress and create a lasting record of your adventures.

To get started with letterboxing as a family activity, you can visit websites such as Atlas Quest or Letterboxing North America to find clues for letterboxes in your area.

You can also create your own personal stamp and notebook to take with you on your adventures.

Here is a table summarizing the benefits of letterboxing as a family activity:

Benefits of Letterboxing as a Family Activity
Can be enjoyed by people of all ages
Helps children learn important skills such as problem-solving, map-reading, and compass navigation
Provides an opportunity to explore new places and appreciate nature
Can be a great way to bond and create shared experiences
Can be an opportunity to collect stamps and create a family scrapbook or memory book

In conclusion, letterboxing is a great family activity that can provide many benefits such as creating lasting memories, collecting stamps, and exploring new places. It is a fun and exciting way to spend time together as a family and can help bring you closer together.


Letterboxing is a great way to connect with others who share your passion for adventure and exploration. By joining online communities or attending letterboxing events, you can meet other letterboxers and share your experiences. This hobby can be a great way to make new friends and discover new places.

So why not give letterboxing a try? Whether you’re an experienced adventurer or just looking for a new hobby, letterboxing offers a fun and exciting way to explore the world around you. Who knows what hidden treasures you might discover?

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