Learn Why You Should Cache Im­por­tant Sur­vival Im­ple­ments. Then We’ll Show You How

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Front Page - By Jim Cobb

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.

First aid

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.

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