As I go through my growing collection of survival related books, magazines and videos, I have noticed that little attention seems to be directed to the task of establishing hidden caches of supplies that can help one avoid capture, detection or whatever(with some exceptions). I’m not really certain as to why that is, as a secret cache can be a vital component to your long-term survival plans in the worst case scenarios that may soon play out here in the US. Part of a good plan to survive the coming times is to have a destination to go to when all else fails and you need to get out of Dodge before the Marshall rides into town, and by secreting caches along your planned route you’ll be able to get by with carrying less.

Perhaps one of those reasons for lack of coverage is because of the stigma that seems to have been attached to the idea of depositing these containers in the middle of no where, like a thief hiding his stolen treasure. No matter the reasoning, it is still an important aspect of your survival plan. But what exactly do I mean when I say hidden cache? A hidden cache is a container built to be placed underground for a long period of time, with essentials that you may need at a moments notice, but may be cut off from those essentials under extreme circumstances. Normally, when dealing with a survival situation firearms and MREs are usually the first things to come to mind. But other things can be cached as well.

Tools, maps, repair parts are all things to consider stashing away for later, because you may well need these things. But what exactly is a cache, you may be asking? A cache can mean a lot of things. For instance, if you are out hunting or fishing, and you suspend your catch from a tree to deter the critters, you have a cache of meat. There is also a sport called geocaching that requires people going around finding things others have hidden, using clues to find them, normally using a GPS device. But for our discussion, a cache is simply a container placed underground filled with whatever you have decided to cache, or hide. Frequently this will be a firearm and ammunition of some sort. So a cache can encompass a lot of meanings and uses.

How do you build a cache container? Well, there are as many ways to build a tight container as there are ideas for it, but there are a few tried and tested ways to go about it. For very short-term, you could get a heavy wall ammo can or locker, seal the lid with a toluene based caulking and paint the whole thing with a couple of layers of the paint that is used to coat industrial shop floors. But steel tends to oxidize fairly quickly, even if protected, so don’t plan on more than a couple of years at best. It could last longer, but I would not want to place my chances of survival on this sort of rig. A lot of people do, though, and some swear by the old ammo can cache.

To illustrate my point, let me say here that everyone I have talked to that recommends the ammo can regularly checks on their cache every couple of years, and replaces the can, and sometimes the contents. Other choices are rocket and mortar tubes, provided they are epoxy coated in and out, but the size is pretty limiting for most calibers. And then you have the problem of all that metal should a stray metal detectorist come along. Far better is the old standby, Poly vinyl chloride piping, or PVC as most people know it by. Introduced to the world in Europe early in the last century, it gained prominence during the 30s, and there are still homes using the then installed piping systems, over seventy years later.

The type usually called DWV, which stands for drain, waste and vent, is the better choice as it has a heavier wall, and if you can get it, schedule 80 piping is the strongest and most durable over time. Usually you’ll only be able to find schedule 40, though. But no matter, PVC piping has a life expectancy of over 100 years, and some say it could well last for an eternity under some circumstances. As to the sizes, most of it comes in ten foot lengths, with readily available sizes up to 24″ in diameter. Figure out what you want to store in the tubes, and get your size from that need. Just remember that the larger the diameter, the bigger the profile will be in the ground. Also, you’ll want to bury it in a vertical position for that reason.

Once you size your tube, cut it to length with a saw, and remove the burrs left behind. Lightly sand one end of the tube and coat it with a PVC primer. Then coat an appropriately sized cap with adhesive, and install it on the end of the tube. When dry, stick that end of the tube into a bucket of water and leave it there for a few minutes to make sure there is no leakage. If it leaks, seal it again, or start over. When ready to move on, take a fitting that will take a screw on plug, or a threaded cap and glue it to the other end in the same way. Coat the threads to the plug with a thread sealer, or tape and screw it onto the tube. Then submerge the whole thing for a couple of hours in a tub of water.

After a couple of hours is up, remove the tube and dry it off, remove the plug, and if it is perfectly dry inside, then you are good to go with it. Remember that when it comes to storage, moisture is your enemy. You want zero percent humidity in your cache tubes, or your material may/will be ruined. The next step is to pack the tube with whatever you want to cache. Insert a desiccant large enough for the space to be on the safe side along with your products. Make sure any containers with liquids are double sealed in a leak proof bag, just in case they get broken. It also wouldn’t hurt to double bag any ointment or creamy compounds you may have as well. I have read in a couple of places that you should also paint the tube with an epoxy paint, but I am not convinced it is necessary to do that.

This type of tube device should be more than sufficient long-term storage for just about anywhere. You could easily expect ten or more years, depending on how good it is sealed and what you have inside for product. However, I would try to avoid locating it in areas prone to earthquakes, swampy areas or bogs, and below a water level, especially near the sea-shore where the water may be salty. Also, think ahead and try not to put it someplace that might be developed into housing of a strip mall in a few years.

Once you’ve decided where to bury your cache, you’ll need to get an auger or post-hole digger for the burying part of the job. Remember, vertical burying means a lower profile if somebody comes along looking for buried treasure. A long hole will eventually create a long trench, a tell-tale sign that something is there that shouldn’t be. Dig your hole as deep as you can and place the tube into it. Pack dirt around and on top of the tube as tightly as you can to minimize settling of the earth and leaving a depression. Scatter the dirt so there remains no indications that any digging took place at the location. One trick here is to carefully remove a layer of sod and topsoil, then dig your hole. Carefully returning the sod to its location does a better job of hiding the fresh dig.

As for finding the cache agin, five or even ten years later, that’s a tough one. Scenery changes over time so merely writing a brief description of the spot may not be helpful. Some say take the GPS coordinates and save them as a waypoint in your data log. I say that is dangerous. Having a record that anyone can tap can cause you a lot of problems down the road. It is better to check the coordinates, write them on paper, and then later save them in some sort of coded message. That way, if someone gets your GPS, they cannot use it to find your caches.

As with any survival storage and supplies you may have, don’t broadcast what you have or where it is. You are just inviting trouble to come waltzing through your front door if you do. Things will be tough enough as it is without having to fend off greedy little lazy buggers that failed to provide for their own survival. Remember, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

  1. […] you can bug out to when the going gets gone. I’ve already posted on the lowly cache in Your Survival Cache back in December, and I am planning on going into the issue in more depth as well. But while I […]

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