According to various estimates the majority of Americans are unprepared for even small-scale disasters. Once it hits the fan, you have a few hours until your local supermarkets and convenient stores get stripped of valuable supplies. To give yourself a fighting change, you should consider making a survival stash using the proper cache containers.
What is a survival cache?
A cache is a long-term investment meant to provide you with help when all other options fail. Hiding your supplies means securing your valuables from an unwanted intrusion, but at the same time, it also means those supplies will be handily available in case you need them. Caching on the other hand means having a long-term storage that you may or may not need for months or even years.
Your cache should provide you with supplies, gear and other essential items that would become highly valuable during a crisis. You may one day need these for your survival so you should think of stashing your caches in proper locations. Future retrieval and use shouldn’t pose a problem even if time is against you.
Choosing cache containers
As you can imagine, you need a container to properly store all your supplies. There are various options available and just about any container can be used. However, if you use a plastic garbage bag, don’t expect the contents to remain dry and undamaged. As a general rule, cache containers should withstand the following:
- Temperature extremes
- Rodents and insects
- The elements affecting your region
Keep in mind that you aren’t caching supplies for a short period of time. You should expect to retrieve your cache after 6 months or more. It’s a long-term investment and you shouldn’t touch those supplies unless you desperately need them.
Here are my suggestions for cache containers:
Plastic food storage buckets
If you are preparedness like-minded you should know by now that these buckets are inexpensive and durable. Besides being waterproof they are readily available and you can find good deals at various stores. I have a friend that gets them for free from the local restaurants. Regardless of where you get them from, make sure those buckets didn’t previously held dangerous chemicals or toxic materials. To be on the safe side, stick with the ones that were used to store food. Once you have your cache containers, top them with airtight lids or resalable Gamma lids.
For extra protection, some prefer to use a five gallon Mylar bag with each bucket and heat seal it before closing the container. This provides extra protection for the items you plan on caching.
Steel ammo cans
These cans are ideal cache containers because they are extremely strong, airtight and watertight. As an added bonus, most cans are also lockable and they come in different sizes. Most steel ammo cans come fitted with a rubber seal to ensure the contents stay protected from the elements. If you plan to use these as cache containers, make sure you check the web. I’ve seen great deals on Facebook groups and there were people selling even .50 caliber ones.
When using steel ammo cans as cache containers, keep in mind that long exposure in wet condition may damage the cans. Corrosion becomes the main problem when using these containers and some people decide to spray paint them using hydrophobic sealants. If you manage to deal with the corrosion issue, these are a great option for making a cache.
Suggested reading: Stockpiling ammo for SHTF – How much is enough?
Plastic ammo cases
These are somewhat similar to the steel cans but nowhere near as sturdy or durable. These cache containers are lightweight and won’t rust when exposed to damp conditions. Some models even come with a rubber seal, but as I have discovered they are not airtight. When using plastic ammo cases as cache containers, make sure you put the contents in a Mylar bag before sealing the cases.
Pay attention to how you handle these cases as they won’t stand up to much abuse. You can easily crack them if you store heavy and bulky items. One clumsy move and you will need to replace the case.
These are some of my favorite cache containers because they are highly effective and practical. I’ve made various survival caches using PVC pipes and they work great. All you need is a section of PVC pipe and fittings. Every material you need can be found at your local hardware store and you won’t have to break the bank. At the end of the article I will let you know how to make a quick PVC survival cache.
These bags are often used as cache containers with no added protection. Preppers prefer the ones with more layers (more aluminum foil) since they are stronger than the regular ones. They are used to store just about anything that needs protection from moisture, light and oxygen. Ammo, documents, money, electronics and anything else you can think of can be properly sealed in a Mylar bag.
If you plan to store food in your Mylar bags, make sure you also add an oxygen absorber or two before sealing the bags. Although these bags are quite strong, keep in mind they are not puncture proof. This is the reason why people use them in conjunction with plastic or metal cache containers.
Making cache containers from PVC Pipe
If you are dealing with a tight budget and you don’t want to buy ammo cans, you can use PVC pipes for your cache containers. You can make a watertight cache using a pipe and parts that you can find at any hardware store. Here is what you need
- PVC pipe cleaner and cement
- A two-foot section of 4” diameter PVC pipe
- 4” diameter PVC pipe cap
- A pipe threaded clean-out plug, 4” in diameter
Once you get your materials in your shopping cart. Pre-assemble all pieces to make sure they fit as intended before leaving the store.
At home, lightly sand and wipe clean inside the PVC surfaces to be joined. Use the PVC cleaner and apply a thin coating using a piece of cloth. Allow to dry for a few minutes. Next, apply PVC cement following the directions on the label. Join individual pieces together one at a time. Avoid applying PVC cement to the threads of the clean-out plug. Set your PVC cache container aside to dry.
Optionally, you can use a spray paint as desired to paint the PVC cache container. If somehow it gets exposed by the elements, it will be harder to spot if you paint it using the colors of the environment where it will be stashed.
A well-planned survival cache is a long-term investment that requires planning, time and effort to payoff. Make sure you know exactly what your needs are and what to put in your survival cache. Think outside of the box and consider all available options for concealment and retrieval. I wrote in this article about how to go about caching location, make sure you read it if you want to learn more. As always, stay safe and be prepared.