Sunday, July 18, 2021

Caches: Worth the effort or needless distraction?

Concealing your cache in difficult-to-transport trash like a roll of discarded carpet a quarter-mile from the road might make it harder for others to find.
Hiding them in old tires is another option. The risk is that somebody might dispose of the trash by burning it which will either destroy or expose your cache.
Cache: A hiding place especially for concealing and preserving provisions or implements.

I cheerfully concede that caches are life-saving for some situations. Take Joel who is the author at The Ultimate Answer to Kings. It is entirely possible that Joel could find himself separated from his home and support system by a sudden flash-flood. He lives in the high-desert, an area with low population density. It makes all the sense in the world for a guy like Joel to have a few steel drums stashed in various places with blankets, sleeping pad, sunscreen, hammock, solar battery recharger for phone, food and water.

Ditto for folks in Alaska who might go for long snowmachine rides. The manifest of what they would store would be different that what Joel would put in his barrel, but having a few belts, a couple gallons of fuel and a warm sleeping bag when you are stranded in the ass-end-of-nowhere is a great comfort.

For most of the rest of us, I don't see much utility.

But, but, but....

Some of you are sputtering.

Hey, I am with you regarding caches being a great IDEA. The problem is the execution.

Where are you going to put it? How are you going to get it there? How are you going to find it when you need it? Will it force you to detour when you might be able to avoid detours if you already had it in your pack? If you are trying to be unfindable, will your cache be your undoing? What is the real "shelf-life" of the items you put in your cache?

City people driving through the country-side think "There is nobody here. There are a million places to hide things." And that is partially true.

Every once in a while there is a story of a skeleton found at the edge of the woods. He is sitting on a five-gallon bucket holding a rusty shotgun. DNA determines that the skeleton belongs to somebody who disappeared 20 years ago.

That is the exception for most places in the Eastern US. SOMEBODY owns every square foot and is likely to notice a stranger burying things. Somebody is likely to take exception to the fact.

Short term caches

You can convince me of the value of short-term caches. I know many hunters who leave an Mil-Surplus ammo-box in their hunting blind year-round. They replenish it sometime before or during the hunting season.

The short-term nature addresses the issue of perishability of many items. The fact that it is in a hunting blind gives the owner of the cache some claim to recover it and makes it findable. It is still vulnerable to being found and pillaged by others.

But for most of us, the idea of secretly hiding a vault next to I-96 and it remaining unmolested and unmaintained for decades is not very realistic even if you cover the hidey-hole with a plaque announcing "Evidence of Hunter Biden's Wrongdoings"

But if I did have a cache somewhere

It would be a few boxes of .22LR ammo, a small knife, some butane lighters, water purifier using elemental iodine, two fresh pairs of socks and compression shorts, two twenty-dollar bills, and two-pounds of M&M candies. ---Edited to add: 15 extended release acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, 4 instant coffee packets, toilet paper, hotel sized bar of soap---

If the cache was located on the land of a Progressive, I would also include a shotgun with a 10" barrel and the buttstock shorted behind the pistol grip.

Comments will be much appreciated. Roughly describe your area-of-operation/travel (desert, urban, suburban, coastal etc.) and what you consider the minimum essentials to put in a cache.

Note: Due to the large number and high quality of the comments, I wrote a follow-up post.


  1. I think for the most part caches are not a useful thing. Where ya gonna put em? I live in central california. You can't go anywhere without running into somebody. Every square inch of land is owned by somebody wanting to keep you off of it. If I have to run for my life, I don't think I will be able to dig my cache up at 3 am without someone seeing. There are just too many people here. Even in the mountains. And if I am in a remote enough area no one is around, if I or my wife need help, not gonna happen. So my plan is bugging in, and hope we can live thru it. My"cache" is everything at my home.

  2. FOX NEWS VIDEO - PTA official says 'let them die' about parents fighting critical race theory

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  3. Mid-Michigan area. I would cache a simple bug out bag, plus a few gallons of well sealed and stabilized gas north of Lansing off 127. Would pay/barter/trade for the storage, something off the highway, but not more than a mile.

    Change of summer and winter clothes for family, pair of boots, blanket, water, snack and a few 20s.

    Expected use is coming home from up north because house has burnt down/natural disaster. Maybe going up north on short notice because family member had a disaster and needs it. Doesn't address larger needs, security issues. However, little landowner temptation as would tell/show them everything, except the 20s.

    Also, builds personal network of local/semi local people you know. Have a few acquaintances that I think might be ok to do this as a trade, plus some venison (none in ideal locations, but all fulfilling the primary goal of an off-property set of essentials).

  4. Over the years I have found two caches in my woods on my farm near the side road. I looked in them and re-buried them intact with a note "Please leave money next time". Next time I looked they were gone.---ken

  5. Rural north Texas here. Bug out bags are the go to. Caches are harder out here, because of the terrain and lack of trees in most places. Minimum would be space blanket, water filter/iodine tablets, a little money, and a spare .22 with 100 rounds.

  6. I think it depends on the purpose of the cache. I may have one buried at my "place" for ammunition, some guns that washed up on shore after canoe accidents, and cash\silver as a deep reserve in case things get REALLY weird (as in organized government looting or informal reparations, etc.).

    Also, I remember reading a comment on Survival Blog about an ex mil MD who moonlighted as an ED doc for a week a month someplace in Cali, but lived in Idaho who kept a storage unit with supplies to get wait a week or so then enough to get home on.

    Caches don't always need to be buried. Think of (I think it was a John Wick movie) a safe deposit box with cash, valuables, fire arm?? etc.) in a location you may travel to regularly if you have to travel for work...

  7. Desert here. A cache here would have water as the main component, but I'd have to seal that in mylar - coyotes are good at smelling water and will dig for it. A small tarp, an emergency blanket, a knife or two, gloves, some cord, and some hard candy (also in a mylar bag). As noted, it would be easy to see someone here burying it and digging it up, so has limited utility.
    Having a piece and accompanying ammunition buried on your property just in case isn't a bad thing. Trading 5 gallon buckets with a friend makes some sense as well.

  8. What you cache depends on the mission:

    Natural disaster?
    Deep state folks stacking up at your door? (and are you at home or just Cant
    t Go Home because of that?
    Fire or other disaster backup? (and Summer or Winter?)
    Civil unrest and you can't get home or are trapped in a city?

    A cache should have a specific purpose, and should have material to enable you to do the task the cache was placed for....Yes, you can be general, but at some point it becomes a catch all and too big.

  9. BTW, my AO is similar to yours. Rolling hills/woodsy/fields. Fairly wet.

  10. Great article ! I like ERJ's cache. However, for my purposes, it makes more sense to carry a few things in my car and/or a few things on my person. In case I would have to abandon my car, I could carry a few items in my (lightweight) backpack. MY AO is between two small towns, with an occasional trip to a small city. I keep my car well maintained and fueled up at all times. We generally stay close to home.

  11. don't depend on the lighters. the flints degrade and it won't spark after a couple years. i just had to toss a fifty pack of bics, and several dozen scriptos a couple years ago. agree with the rest. i live in the eastern woodlands, i have been way back in the woods sitting against a tree, sure i was alone, until a fellow stepped out of the bushes right next to me. he never even saw me. guess he was sure he was alone too.

  12. Several years ago I was grouse hunting on what was then mining company land and most of the pats I was flushing were up in trees so I was walking along looking up and I spotted a backpack hanging probably 20 feet up a large tree. If I wasn't looking up for birds I would never have seen it. I assumed it was someone's cache and didn't bother it. I had forgotten about that until reading this. As far as being hidden it worked well. ---ken

  13. Dogsledder:

    I too have a LOT of general purpose items in the cars. Just so I can walk out of things.
    Food, some water, a water filter, a small caliber rifle (generally have a pistol and reloads on me where it is legal) compass, knife, hatchet, fire starters, canteen, some rope, etc....and a pack and harness to carry it all.
    I think a cache should be for a specific purpose....not for a bug out scenario. It can be for that too, but those types of caches are better placed in a more secure location than "somewhere in the woods" where anyone can find it.

  14. Wow- everyone is talking about caches today.

  15. Small cache would not be a bad idea. As a noted blogger used to write, a thousand dollars and a loaded handgun can solve a lot of everyday problems. A small hide-out with conceal carry holster would be an easy item. Best it not be registered to you should it be found by someone else.

    B 10:09 - a good 'string bag' would probably be a little more 'Grey Man' than a real pack, but that is pure conjecture.

    Thank you for all of the caching item ideas above.