BUILD AND STASH YOUR OWN PVC PIPE CACHE
Learn Why You Should Cache Important Survival Implements. Then We’ll Show You How
You fled your home several days ago when you received word of mass rioting heading your way. You haven’t eaten since losing your bug-out bag to a horde of attackers two days ago, but you managed to get away with a few cuts and bruises — and most importantly, your life. You’re cold, tired, hungry … and still at least 20 miles from your bug-out location.
As you crest the next hill, your mood improves as you see how close you are to that proverbial X that marks the spot. Within an hour, you’ve dug up one of the caches you squirreled away along your planned route, and if your upturn of luck continues, you’ll recover the rest and replenish your supplies. You now have water boiling over a fire, almost ready to pour into a bag of freeze-dried food. You’re warm, dry, and just about ready to tackle the last leg of your journey. Morale is improving, energy is returning, and gratitude is at an all-time high because you’d taken the time to bury these important items. Who knows what’s become of those who thought they’d never encounter this situation and never bothered to stash some lifesaving tools. A cache, pronounced “cash,” not “cash-ay,” is simply a collection of gear and supplies you’ve hidden away for future use. For the last few decades, they’ve traditionally been made using PVC tubing of various diameters. I was first introduced to the concept back in the mid-1980s in a book by old-time survivalist Ragnar Benson.
Other common cache containers include ammo cans and 5-gallon plastic buckets. The popularity of geocaching has led to the creation of many types of purpose-built cache containers in every imaginable size and shape, from small ones the size of a 35mm film canister to caches resembling a log.
The size of the cache container dictates what you can stash inside. Fortunately, many of the high-priority items we’ll want to cache aren’t that large.
One of the first survival needs you may need to address is protection from the elements. If you read the news recently, we had snow in all 50 states at the same time. In other words, don’t overlook the importance of staying warm. Items such as an emergency blanket take up very little space in a cache. A bivvy may be beneficial as well. A wool hat, cold-weather gloves, and a shemagh will help if you’re forced to bug out in the cold months.
Space permitting, consider tossing in a small tarp and cordage, such as tarred bank line or paracord. This will allow you to construct an expedient shelter to protect you from rain, wind, or snow. An extra pair of socks may also prove to be something you never thought you’d be so excited to see again, especially if you’re desperate for warm, dry clothing.
Use a two-pronged approach to meeting hydration needs with your cache. A variety of companies make water pouches. You often see these in first-aid kits; they’re small, easily storable, and filled with purified water. Most are rated to last a few years. Depending on the company’s ratings, the pouches usually won’t burst if they freeze, though you should be careful to bury your cache well below the frost line anyway.
Cache enough water pouches to prepare at least a couple of meals as well as to hydrate you and those you expect to be with you. Two pouches equal one cup, and there are 16 cups in a gallon. Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses (or a ½ gallon) per person, each day. It may sound like a daunting task to cache this much water, but it’s all about prioritizing — you’ll be thankful you did if it means the difference between life and death.
In addition to the water pouches, the second prong to fulfill your hydration needs would be to cache a small water filter and collapsible container. Check out RECOIL OFFGRID Issue 15 for our buyer’s guide on water filters. A receptacle for water, like the Aqua-Pouch from Survival Resources, folds flat, and takes up almost no space in a cache, but will hold a full liter of water when deployed.
Storing food items in a cache can be somewhat problematic as you can’t rotate the supply like you would at home or in your bug-out bag, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally without options. What you put in your cache might be there for years, and it’s up to you to be cognizant of when it was stored and how long it’ll last buried.
Stick with dehydrated or freeze-dried options. These require nothing more than hot water to prepare, and you can rehydrate the food right in the pouch. The amount of water needed is noted on the pouch, typically one or two cups. It isn’t absolutely necessary to use hot water. Cold water roughly doubles the time needed to rehydrate the food, but hot water does improve the taste considerably and won’t decrease your core temperature.
Depending on the size of your cache, a metal pot large enough to boil water as well as utensils could also be stored. Check out our portable utensil buyer’s guide in Issue 23.
Fire is life. You’ll need a way to heat the water for your freeze-dried vittles, stay warm, dry out, and just generally keep your morale up. Store multiple ways to light a fire. Options include good quality disposable lighters like BICs, a waterproof container of strike-anywhere matches, and a ferrocerium rod with a striker. Waterproof matches should also be considered. Bottom line — have multiple methods to start a fire stored in case one unexpectedly fails.
Packing lighters in a sealed plastic bag will help reduce any chance of corrosion if your cache leaks, or having fuel from the lighters leak and affect other stored items.
In addition, pack tinder of your choice in a sealed container within the cache so it stays dry. Instafire is a great store-bought option, as are WetFire Cubes. A common DIY option is cotton balls smeared with petroleum jelly. You won’t want to deal with finding dry tinder if it’s pouring rain out.
A good knife is one of your most valuable assets in a survival situation. Got a few? Stash one in each cache you create. Lighting is also beneficial, so think about storing some flashlights in your caches. Store the batteries separately from the light. Toss in a few chem lights as well. They glow very bright and don’t require batteries to operate; simply crack and shake.
You, or someone with you, might very well be in rough shape when it comes time to access the cache. Adhesive bandages, gauze pads, and other basic first-aid items should store just fine. As for medications, if they’re kept cool and dry, most remedies will remain viable for many years, even after the stamped or printed expiration date on the package. Exceptions to this include nitroglycerin and insulin. For each medication you plan to include in the cache, do your homework and talk to a pharmacist or your doctor to determine just how long they’ll remain useful and under what conditions they’ll become toxic or ineffective.
You can also use a vacuum sealer (see Issue 10) to seal and protect items that you store in your cache. Items in vacuum sealed bags aren’t too pliable once they’re sealed, so give some prior thought to how you group your items and consider trimming bags to fit your items.
A cache is a great way to supplement your bug-out bag and other gear. Like most of our survival supplies, we hope we’ll never truly need them, but it’s reassuring to know it’s there.