How to Build the Ultimate Survival Cache – Mandatory Supplies for SHTF

Comments: 4 Post Date: March 21, 2018

Today, we often hear talk of how important it is to stock up on food and water supplies in case of an emergency situation. Stocking up is important at home and at the bug out location. In fact, stocking up on supplies is mandatory for survival. But have you ever heard of a survival cache?

Just think about when you are not at home or at your bug out location (BOL). Have you considered the notion that you might end up between the two locations or you will have to leave one of them unexpectedly and in a hurry?

This is where the concept of a survival cache comes into play. A survival cache is a secret hiding place for a valuable, emergency stockpile that is needed to survive when you have no other options.

There are a few reasons why you would want to have survival caches. Keep reading so that you and your family are prepared to survive in an emergency situation.

Why Maintain a Survival Cache?

Man hiding his buriable survival cache across the river.

Be prepared to survive a disaster with well-placed survival caches hidden away from your home.

In a perfect world, you will be at home when a disaster hits, or in a reasonable distance to your home or bug out location. However, this world is anything from perfect. There are several situations in which you might not have access to the supplies you have stocked up at home or at your bug out location.

In these situations, a survival cache can mean the difference between life and death.

These situations include the following:

You Want to Split Up Your Supplies

Survival caches are a good way to split up your supplies so that they are not all kept in one location.

This method offers better security for a couple of reasons:

1. You need to take into consideration that your home and bug out location are susceptible to destruction. This could be due to fire or a natural disaster.

2. Your home and bug out location can be raided by people who want to take what you have.

If anything happens to your home or BOL and you have to leave, your survival cache will provide you with the means to survive. The survival caches need to be in close proximity to your home and BOL in case the SHTF.

When You Need to Travel

There might be times when you need to travel. You will need access to supplies during these situations, which include the following:

● Traveling from your home to your BOL.
● Traveling from your home to a relative’s or friend’s home in an emergency. This might not be the final BOL; it might be a temporary situation. However, it’s best to be prepared.
● Bugging out without a BOL. In this situation, you should have a fallback position. This is where you hide your survival cache container.

Water is a mandatory supply you need to include in your Survival Cache

There are mandatory supplies you need to include in your survival cache.

Mandatory Supplies to Include in a Survival Cache

With all the above information in mind, you need to give careful consideration to what you will stash away in your survival cache. The contents of any emergency stockpile you assemble will depend on why you need the cache, at each location.

The supplies you hide for traveling to your BOL will not be the same as the supplies you hide for when you have to flee your home or BOL. If you have multiple caches along a route or scattered around your home or BOL, they might contain different supplies depending on the use at each cache location.

For example, consider the situation in which you are bugging out to a location that is 100 miles away. You have just left your home with your bug out bag and you have to go on foot. At the 10-mile mark, you uncover a cache you have hidden that contains some extra rations and water, a small tent, and a change of clothes.

Now say, the next cache is buried near a river at the 25-mile mark. It might contain fishing gear to help catch food and extra ammo, in addition to rations and water.

The point is, the contents of your survival caches are not carved in stone.

Having said that, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

If you are forced to flee from your home or BOL, you might have nothing but the clothes on your back. To prepare for this, you should have a survival cache that contains a bug out bag. This will ensure you have what you need if you can’t get back to your home or BOL.

1. There are basics you should include in every survival cache. These include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Paracord
  • Water filter
  • Knife
  • Firestarter or waterproof matches
  • Tarp
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Warm clothing

2. You might be concerned that the government might confiscate certain items, particularly firearms. If so, be sure to create a survival cache container close to your home that includes these items.

3. If you are able to drive to a BOL that is a long way away, you can hide extra fuel in your survival caches. Just spread these caches out along your route.

4. Hiding money or gold and silver can help in a situation in which currency still has some value.

5. Hide your water in a separate cache container. This way, if the water containers leak, the water won’t destroy your other preps.

6. Consider including items that are valuable for trade. This can include things like coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, extra batteries, soap, deodorant, and toothpaste.

7. If you leave a gun in your cache, make sure to use a desiccant to absorb water. Also, ensure the gun is well lubricated to prevent rusting.

8. If you are hiding a cache for the purpose of resupply, then food, water, ammo, and fuel might be all you need. If you want to hide valuables, then create a survival cache just for that.

The key is to put into the survival cache what you need based on your personal situation. Just remember, creating a cache isn’t as simple as throwing a few things into a bag or box. There are considerations to be made when choosing how to store your supplies.

What Type of Survival Cache Container to Use

An Ammo Box is a solid Survival Cache container

An Ammo Box is a solid Survival Cache container

The most important consideration for your survival cache is finding the right buriable storage container.

You do not want your supplies to get wet. If this happens, they will be ruined. The container must also be rodent and insect-proof. You don’t want critters to eat your food.

Fortunately, there is no need to build a container of your own. There are plenty of options you can purchase, including:

Ammunition Box Survival Cache

Many ammo boxes have a waterproof seal. However, they are still susceptible to corrosion and rust. This is best used if you think you will need to hide a survival cache for the short term.

Plastic Bucket Survival Cache

These can hold large quantities of items. Just be sure they have a waterproof lid. A food storage container with a waterproof or screw-on lid is ideal. The drawback with buckets and barrels is that they are harder to bury due to their size. However, if you need something that big, then by all means, use them.

PVC Tubing Survival Cache

This is a go-to for many preppers when considering underground storage containers. The key to sealing a PVC tube against moisture is as follows:

Use PVC glue to secure a cap to one end of the tube. If you use PVC glue on both ends, you will require something to cut the tube open when you need to access the contents. Take this into consideration, as you might not have the tools with you to be able to do this.
Alternatively, on the other end, use what is called a test plug. This is a rubber gasket you can insert into the other end of the tube. As you tighten the wing nut on the gasket, the rubber will be pushed out to meet the inside wall of the tube. This will create a waterproof seal. You can then cap the gasket end with a cap.

Ideally, you would store all of your items in multiple Ziploc bags or vacuum bags before putting them in the container. This will add extra protection against moisture. Placing desiccants and oxygen absorbers in the container, and/or into each bag, is also important.

How to Hide or Conceal Your Survival Cache

Abandoned buildings are not a good place to hide your Survival Cache

Abandoned buildings are not a good place to hide your Survival Cache as they can often be over-run or even burned down.

There are a number of options you can explore when it comes to hiding your cache. One prepper said he hid his in an abandoned vehicle in the forest. He hollowed areas of the vehicle out, stored his supplies, and replaced parts so his stash was concealed.

This is an example of ingenuity and working with what you have. Having said this, there are some places you should never hide your cache.

Where NOT to Hide Your Cache

First, let’s look at where you shouldn’t hide your survival cache:

Abandoned buildings: These become places of refuge for people in times of disaster, and they are also regularly burned down. Thus, your survival cache could easily be discovered or destroyed.
Commercial storage: Commercial storage is not a guaranteed safe place to hide your cache. These storage units would be prime targets in an emergency for people looking for ways to survive.
Apartment building basement storage: The basement of your apartment building is no better than a house. Your supplies are still onsite. If the building is burned down or you have to evacuate and can’t get back, your supplies are lost.
Anywhere you suspect could be a location for future development: Otherwise, you risk your survival cache being destroyed by construction equipment or discovered by construction workers. Either way, you will lose it.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at where you should hide your survival cache. . .

The Best Hiding Place

Instead of the above locations, your survival cache should be stored well away from your place of residence. Ideally, the cache is hidden in a remote area. This is a place to which you have relatively easy access. Yet, it is out of the way enough so people cannot see you hide or retrieve your supplies.

Ultimately, when all is said and done, the best place to hide a survival cache is in the ground. Burying your cache will keep it well out of sight. The key is to know where to bury it.

Where to Bury Your Cache

It is best to bury your survival cache in a place that allows easy access. This means close to your home or BOL or along the most likely path of travel. For example, if you are forced out of your home and cannot regain access, where would you go? You should have a fallback position, even if it’s a camping area set up in the forest.

You would hide your cache at or along the route to your fallback position. If you have the means to take your house back from the people who have taken it, your cache might be within a mile of your house. Or it could be five miles away, where you have decided you will make camp if necessary.

Another alternative is that you are hiding survival caches to help you as you make your way to your bug out location. If this is the case, burry your caches a few feet off of the highway, in strategic locations, along your routes of travel.

Be sure to bury your cache so that the top of the container is a few feet below the ground surface. However, don’t bury it so deep you will have a difficult time digging it up. And, be sure to bury the cache near a natural marker and to mark the location of each cache on a map.

In all circumstances, make sure the location of each cache is such that you can access it from different directions. There is a chance that someone will see you going to and from your cache. If you go in empty-handed and come out carrying supplies, or vice versa, you will give your cache away.

For this reason, always watch your back when going to and from your cache. You want to know if someone is following you. And, NEVER, take the same route out as you take in. Mix it up so your route is unpredictable and the cache location remains undiscovered.

Bury your Survival Caches in the best places

Plan ahead to bury your Survival Caches in the best places.

Final Thoughts ─ It’s All About the Planning

Ultimately, if you plan ahead when creating and hiding a survival cache, things will go smoothly. Just remember to consider your individual situation and needs. You will base the contents, number, and location of your caches on these details. Then, your survival cache(s) will contain precisely what you need for your particular survival situation.

Ready to Go Survival

Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear your survival cache experiences.

And, if you find this information useful, be sure to share it with your family and friends so that, they too, will be prepared to survive in an emergency situation.

Comments (4)

  • WOOT666 Reply

    I bury bucket caches every 5 miles along my evac routes, which I like to have 3 of. In an evac, I plan to hit one every 10 miles so that friends or family can follow later and have caches ready. I bury them way off the road, over the creast of a hill, with an inconspicious marker on top. Hidden with good water drainage so I can bury them just below the surface. Each has an esbit pocket stove, 20 fuel tabs, lighters, paraffin disks and pet jelly cotton balls, a tarp, a space blanket, paracord, axe, 2400 calories of high energy bars, a magnesium scratcher 1 gallon water, a ziplock of coffee packets, tea packets, sweetners, powdered creamers, 5 packets of idahoan instant potatoes, 5 packets tuna fish. One metal cup. 2 spoons. Thats all a bucket can hold, if you are careful.

    Its alot of work setting these up and sneaking around to do it. I did most of it at night and plan to keep doing it that way. I donrt use anywhere with a farm dog. Too much risk and in a grid down, you could get shot. Best to have a burned out house to add security to your hide in that event.

    October 21, 2020 at 08:06
    • Cru_42 Reply

      What about accessing them if you have to bug out in the winter when the ground is frozen?

      February 22, 2021 at 10:23
  • James Reply

    The first and primary reason to have a survival cache is to not have all of your eggs in one basket. Everything else is a secondary consideration. A tornado or flood chould destroy your house in a heartbeat. A raid on your home is unlikely (but feasible, especially in or near metro areas).

    Survival cache should be between your home and bugout location. Maybe one between your work and bugout location. There’s no point burying caches all over the place.

    A survival cache should NOT.. NOT be too close to your home. It does you no good if the same the flood that wiped out your house has your cache under 12 feet of water. It does you no good if the same criminals that raided your house followed you for two miles before they gave up, and you buried your cache 1/2 mile away.

    1) The man who’s put more thought in to survival categories is none other than the pathfinder bushmaster himself, Dave Canterbury. Here’s my post on the 15 C’s of survival:

    You may have heard of Dave Canterbury’s 5 C’s of survival. It’s a very old list, and he later expanded it to 10 C’s. A couple of years ago, a reporter asked him what he would change about the list. Well, Dave rambled on for a while, but I listened to every word and recorded every category and example below:

    1: Consumables – Something that you can eat /drink. (Food or water.)
    2: Cutting – Anything that can accomplish cutting tasks . (Knives , tomahawks, axes.)
    3: Combustion – You need to make sure you have a few ways to create fire. (Matches , Fire steel, Lighter.)
    4: Cordage – Anything that can help you lash and tie things together. (Para cord , Bank line, Kite string.)
    5: Container – Something you can carry , boil and store water in. (Stainless steel water bottle, stainless steel bowl.)
    6: Cargo – A backpack or something you can put your gear into. (Backpack or other carrier.)
    7: Compass – As the name suggests , something that can determine accurate coordinates . (Compass, map.)
    8: Cover – Something to shield you from the elements. (Tarp or tent.)
    9: Candle or flashlight – Something that can provide a source of light. (Candle , flashlight.)
    10: Combination tool – A tool that can complete more than one task. (Leatherman , Folding saw, Pry bar.)
    11: Cloth or bandanna – There are many different uses for cloth in a survival setting , you just need to let your imagination go wild. (Cloth, rag , bandanna.)
    12: Combat tool – You need a weapon that you can trust your life to. (Fire arm, Bow , Club, Sword.)
    13: Clothing – A spare change of clothing . Make sure the clothes you choose are suitable for the weather you’re likely to get in the future. (Jacket , pants , shorts , underwear.)
    14: Capturing – Something you can use to catch /trap animals with. (# 110 Conibear, pocket fishing kit , mouse trap, snares.)
    15: Communication – Something you can use to communicate with other humans. Whether that be asking for help or giving the all clear . (Brightly colored cloth , signal mirror , laser pointer, mobile phone or any other telephonic device.)

    Remember, Dave is possibly the world’s foremost bushcrafter. His list isn’t specifically for survival in all situations, and it certainly isn’t a list of preparedness items. What it is, is a well thought out list of categories by a man who’s thought on the subject a whole lot more than most people do. 😉

    Notably missing for preppers is First Aid / Trauma kit and Water Purification. I’m sure there are more tidbits. This is just a starting point, that’s all. 🙂

    3) Neither gasoline nor modern diesel will store for long. You MUST add fuel stabilizer and rotate these caches yearly. It’s advisable to make separate fuel caches since they will be more susceptible to discovery.

    6) Only dry cell batteries are able to be stored long term. Nobody uses dry cell batteries. Count on any other batteries you bury either leaking or going dead before you dig them up.

    7) Dessicant isn’t a terrible idea, but traditionally guns stored long term are stored in axle grease.

    ..A waterproof ABS ammo can is also crush proof.

    ..A 5 gallon bucket is not.

    ..Some people weigh down PVC pipe caches and bury them under water. (Again, don’t count on getting near that cache in a flood.)

    ..cache should be buried at least 2 feet underground so animals can’t smell it and dig it up. (actually, most animals will give up trying to dig it up, even if they do smell it, before 2 feet.)

    ..any buried cache should be above the water line. We’ve seen one guy who buried his cache next to a river watch his cache float down the river after a minor flood.

    Your main cache should be AT your bug out location. Your bug out location is intended to be a resource center for planning, education and farming. It will be useless if all of those supplies disappear before you get there. We’ve seen many people’s bug out location get raided or trashed and vandalized because nobody was at the remote location.

    Let’s see..

    You forgot to mention maps (waterproof).

    You forgot to mention operational security.

    You forgot to mention food storage. There are a minimal number of foods that will survive being stored underground for years, even if they’re packaged properly. Also, you should count on at least one package breaking open or blowing up due to being contaminated.

    Which brings me to the final point you forgot, hand sanitizer.

    March 4, 2020 at 17:13

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