The evolution of the geolocation stashing game continues as technology advances. First, there was letterboxing. Created in Scotland in the 1850’s, it involved hiding a box somewhere then providing written clues on how/where to find it. It was 150 years before the next generation appeared – geocaching in 2000 – enabled by the Internet and GPS. Both of these activities involved finding a container and signing something in it. Now even that simple task has been rendered obsolete by techology.

Say “hello” to Munzee. It’s the latest entry into the geo-game realm – and it is very cool.

In letterboxing, you need a compass. In geocaching, you need a GPS device. In Munzee, you need a smart phone with the Munzee app and a QR code reader.

A Munzee

This is a Munzee. It’s a registered QR code on a sticker, a magnet or a tag. When you find it, you scan the code with your smart phone, digitally signing and recording the find. How cool is that? You can make your own through the web site or you can buy them from Munzee, all ready to go. We ordered 50 stickers. It cost $17.50. No sign or guardrail is safe now.

The word Munzee comes from the German word “mûnze” (moon’-za) which means coin. Originally conceived using coins for game pieces, it evolved away from that but the name stuck.

Munzee has only been around since 2011. It’s the brain child of a group of hobby geeks in Dallas, TX. They originally thought of the idea in 2008 but QR technology wasn’t ready for prime time yet. Now apparently, it is.

Munzee on a sign

Munzee sticker on the back of a sign.

In many respects, Munzee is like geocaching (although none of the developers had ever geocached before). It uses GPS to place and track down the munzees. The entire gaming environment is run by a central web entity – munzee (dot) com. It does, however, have its own language. Munzees aren’t hidden – they’re deployed. Munzees aren’t found – they’re captured. People who play the game are called munzers. Munzers find deployed pieces on the Munzee web site, then track them down with the Munzee app on their smart phone. The capture is done through the app, which opens the QR reader for you.

Munzee capture

Natasha captures a munzee.

Although the parallels are obvious, so are the differences. Munzees can be hidden anywhere, including places where a geocache isn’t practical or allowed, like National Parks. That said, there are already hybrid geocaches that have a Munzee code inside it, so you can get both.

Munzee in a geocache

Munzee in a geocache.

Unlike geocaching, the entire Munzee environment was designed with an eye towards competition and rewards. Munzers rack up points. Families, teams and corporations have had Munzee competitions. Businesses have seized on Munzees as a way to market themselves. Unlike a geocache, a Munzee can easily be put inside a business, which will bring munzers inside. Restaurants put them on menus. Boutiques put them on shelves. Some businesses offer discounts or deals for getting Munzee points at their establishment. Munzee has opened up a whole new world of possibilities previously unheard of in geo-games. Or, you can just go out and have a good time with it, which is what we do.

Munzee hunting is a great way to get out there and get some exercise and fresh air. Parks, lakes, trails, campgrounds, playgrounds, parking lots, zoos and museums all have Munzees. We have yet to find a rest area on the Interstate highways that doesn’t have at least one Munzee.  We took our three year old grandson out last summer and he was hooked. It’s a very healthy, simple and safe activity that you can do on the fly just about anytime and anywhere.

The limiting factors in Munzee are consistent Internet connectivity and GPS location. The game is played in real time.  When you scan the QR code with the app, you have to be within 300 feet of the recorded GPS coordinates to get credit for it.  That’s why you won’t find any back country munzees, although they do show up in some remote and unexpected places.

Munzee on a fence.

Coming soon to a fence post near you?

Also coming online are geocaching apps that will integrate munzees. CacheSense already does it. It’s the one smart phone app you can use to search for, locate and record both geocaches and munzees on the fly. Here’s a separate link to CacheSense for iPhone.

One other thing – munzee is free. You don’t pay anything for membership or the app. However, the munzees themselves cost money. So if you want to deploy Munzees, have your credit card ready. There are also optional premium memberships that cost $30 a year. As part of that, you get some free Munzees to place and the ability to apply search filters on the Munzee map. Honestly though, if your Munzee hunting is going to be local when the opportunity arises, save your money.  The free account and app will do just fine.

So that’s Munzee in a nutshell. We just stumbled on to it a little over a year ago. They were popping up on our CacheSense screen and we had no idea what they were. As soon as we tried it, we were hooked. It’s a natural extension of geocaching with some new twists. Now we do both. Give it a try. We think you’ll like it.

Munz on … Boris and Natasha

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. julie
    Jul 10, 2014 @ 09:41:09

    It was a great find, family from out of state enjoying searches


  2. Ed
    Feb 22, 2016 @ 09:20:04

    As the technology improves, the actual “get out in nature” declines. Munzees tether you to a cell phone signal, and while geocaching has continued to descend into a series of roadside power trails, Munzess starting point in the back of a sign or a guard rail. Are you really interested in drving around finding those?


    • Boris and Natasha
      Feb 22, 2016 @ 19:09:35

      Thanks for your comment. To some extent, I agree with you. We’ve cut back on both. However, our grandkids (6 and 4) love hunting munzees in a park and we’ve taken them on a few geocaches. It’s a great way to get them active and outdoors. Us too. So we’ll keep at it for a while.


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