Opencaching is a term for geocaching that is used mainly by those in Europe. It refers specifically to websites and services that offer a free and open portal for all of those who are interested in the activity, or sport, of geocaching. Geocaching is the term applied to the practice of hiding and finding logs or even small items using a GPS system. Opencaching has several websites that are specific to different European countries, plus a site that indexes and provides links to these various country website locations.
European countries with opencaching websites include Germany, Sweden, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Some countries may have competing sites that list other geocaches as well, but there could be fees associated with those sites. As the hobby continues to grow, it's likely that such sites will be available in more locations.
The main difference between opencaching and more traditional geocaching is that all services are open to the public in opencaching at no cost. Generally, most geocaching services or websites offer some basic information for free, but users may have to pay for premium information. This is not the case with opencaching; every geocache is listed and accessible to everyone.
In many cases, those who register can do so for no charge, and there are often additional benefits included in registering. One of the main benefits is that registrants can post geocaches of their own and advertise their locations to others. Those who have placed geocaches are responsible for maintaining them and taking care of any issues that may arise. Another benefit to registering is that users are able to log all their finds in one specific location.
Despite the advantages of the opencaching system, participants will still need to invest at least some amount of money in the hobby. The websites may provide coordinates to geocache locations, but can do very little to actually help you find it without a handheld GPS system. Basic systems are relatively inexpensive, but additional features will raise the price. Some cell phones also work as GPS devices.
To get on the opencaching websites, you will also need a personal computer or web-enabled phone in many cases. Some GPS systems may also link directly to such sites via satellites for easy and convenient access. These devices are at the higher end of the GPS market, however, and may not be the most appropriate choice for those just starting out in the hobby.