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How To Build A Survival Cache

Editor’s note: Survival caches are the ultimate back-up plan. If you are going for your survival cache, that means Plan A and Plan B went awry. In this case, you may be left with no other option but to survive with only the contents in your cache. You must plan out those contents accordingly.

Given the seriousness of this preparedness issue, many preppers see the value in having multiple caches spread out geographically to fall back on in order to lessen the risk of losing everything. Ideally, you want some of your caches to be away from your retreat. I read about one prepper who has multiple caches along his bug out route and has even sown edible native plants and roots along the way that he can use as an emergency source of food.

Keep these key points in mind when you begin to create your survival cache:

1) How it’s built: two ways because I have several different caches. First is out of PVC pipe with threaded ends, sealed using screw on caps; threads sealed with plumbers tape and then duct-taped on outside. Second, using locking hard cases such as those from Storm Harding. Contents determine size of box or length of tube.


2) How it’s stored: dependent on location. Buried in one case, stored in two others in the basements of people I trust. If I don’t claim the cache within X-number of days of certain pre-set events, they get to use it.

3) How close to home? Buried one is relatively close, along the path of bug out travel. Others are within driving distance of about a half-tank of gas of my bug out vehicle(s). I have three different bug out paths and there is a cache along each one.

4) Finding it: The two stored at friend’s houses are easy. The buried one is in a preselected location far away from any utilities but easily found by landmarks.  Just in case, I do have the longitude and latitude written down.

5) What’s in it: each one contains a complete set of what I deem necessary to serve basic needs of shelter, food, water, first-aid and self defense. This can get complicated to explain but I’ll do the best I can without writing a book. ”Shelter” (to me) can be as simple as a military-surplus poncho, some paracord and a few aluminum tent stakes. Or it can be a tent, or a large tarp w/ tent poles. Dependent on the size and location of the cache, I’ve tried to guesstimate my needs along that travel route and included shelter accordingly.


6) Food and water: Since it’s ludicrous to store water, I have a water filtration system and a “water bottle” in each cache. Water bottle is in quotes because in one case it’s a hydration bladder, and in the other two its collapsible 5-gallon jugs w/ taps.  Each filtration system should clean 1,000 gallons of water each. The food I have stored is an assortment of MREs and other dehydrated food, some having a shelf-life as much as 25 yrs. I have enough in each cache to feed me and my family three meals per day for three days.

7) Each cache also has a prepackaged basic first-aid kit that includes basic trauma care items (tourniquet, pressure bandages, chest seal, pneumothorax needle, etc.). The only thing we really can’t treat is dental issues (obviously there’s no field surgery stuff or vision “repair” items).

8) For self defense I will simply say that there is one folding and one fixed knife in each cache. There is also one firearm with 250 rounds for that firearm.

There is plenty of other “stuff” that could be included but in addition to the caches I have a layered and redundant preparedness plan enacted at my home.  My vehicle bug out stuff stays packed; my bug out bag stays packed; my vest stays prepared; my gun belt and weapons stay ready.


I’d like to extend my cache “reach” further, but realistically speaking, they are placed to support initial travel away from the population density of the eastern seaboard along preplanned evacuation/bug out routes. They would support me getting far enough to relax, recoup and recover, to plan further travel and assess needs.

What do you plan to put in your SHTF survival cache?