Every prepper understands the need to be prepared, materially prepared, with all of your equipment and supplies that you might need in a crisis or major disaster close at hand, accessible and most importantly intact.
It is easy enough to take care of the first two but the last one is fairly difficult. After all, your supplies, the ones you have labored over and spent countless hours investing in could be destroyed or waylaid by the event itself or be taken by thieves or other desperate survivors.
That’s just reality, and to cope with this reality every prepper should take it upon themselves to securely cache their valuables and other gear, including weapons, medical supplies, provisions and more.
A good cache will be easy enough to reach and access but hidden and secure enough to keep your supplies and valuables out of reach from thieves, looters and raiders who will hopefully remain blissfully unaware of its existence.
One of the best ways to do this is with a variety of indoor and outdoor hiding places and purpose made concealment solutions.
There are many to choose from, and no matter who you are or what your situation is there are at least a few that are going to be just right for the task. In this article we will be covering more than a dozen ways to construct a cache and hide your gear.
“I don’t need to hide my stuff; I have a safe or vault.”
Oh, if only that were true. Though you’ll get no argument for me that having a safe, vault or some other secure storage container or compartment is indeed a wise choice, it is anything but truly secure in the vast majority of situations.
To deter thieves, the vast majority of residential safes and other security containers are little more than glorified advertising that they have, in fact, reached the mother load and only need to work a little harder to get to it.
This is because modern safes leave much to be desired, at least the ones that are commonly available at typical sellers of safes like hardware stores, gun shops and so forth.
Relatively easy to defeat with a little bit of time and modern power tools, or even plenty of elbow grease and hand tools, these safes are furthermore extremely vulnerable to being carted off entirely by a team of looters to be broken into later at their leisure.
This does not do you any good if you are away from your safe when trouble breaks out or are unfortunate enough to have it hauled off entirely. Your stuff will be gone and that is that.
This is especially problematic considering that, as preppers, we are more likely to have a handful or even several smaller caches of gear and supplies scattered around strategically so that we’ll at least have access to something when trouble is brewing.
A good hiding spot is a great alternate plan for safe, secure storage.
At the end of the day, we just need our valuables and other supplies kept out of the hands of people who would steal from us while also remaining easy, or easy enough, to access when we need them. With just a little bit of creativity, we have a great alternate choice for secure storage in the form of hiding places.
A literally ancient technique for securing valuables, a good hiding place is one where people would never ever think to look or waste time trying to access. They range from the subtle to the borderline insane, but no matter what you are trying to store there’s a good hiding space for it.
As mentioned, coming up with a good hiding place and constructing an appropriate container or other concealment for it requires some ingenuity and elbow grease, and more than a little bit of caution.
So much of what we will need to hide as preppers can be damaged while it is in storage this way. Metals can rust, food and paper can rot and electronics can degrade from the presence of moisture and variable temperatures.
But, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and with just a little bit of prior preparation you’ll be able to ameliorate all of these risks easily enough. The following section will give you plenty of ideas for setting up your own hidden caches.
The Best Small Hiding Places and Caches
Fake Switch or Fixture
One of the best hiding places for a truly small load or valuables is inside a fake wall switch or a fixture mounted either in the ceiling or in the wall.
The best part about this hiding spot is that they are so ubiquitous. pretty much every single structure in the modernized world that utilizes electricity will have an abundance of switches and fixtures in it.
You have two approaches for implementing this hiding place. The first is the DIY route, where you will purchase either a dedicated switch or fixture box from the hardware store that is either oversized to share components with an actual switch that is in use while leaving space behind the plate for your goodies, or you’ll install it completely empty and just dressed up with a fascia and faceplate.
The second round is a purpose designed concealment, typically with a quick on quick off cover that you’ll merely cut a hole for and your wall or ceiling and install it before filling it with your stuff. note that placing these is everything when it comes to safety and security. An oddly placed or unusual looking switch or fixture might invite investigation!
Probably the most time-honored “hide it in plain sight” container that anybody could ever use, the book safe remains a viable choice, if one that is bordering on trope status.
In any size, in any format and virtually any setting where books are found, this is a great container for keeping the hands of honest people, think nosy friends and relatives, off of your stuff while deterring thieves who are in a great hurry to rifle through your belongings.
You can easily purchase a book safe online that is ready to use, though these vary greatly when it comes to verisimilitude.
Some barely look like books and are made from materials that books are usually not made of, meaning they’ll stick out no matter where you place them, while others are incredibly intricate and authentic simulations that can be had with a variety of weathering and bindings to blend in any home library.
Chosen carefully with an eye for detail, a book safe will blend in seamlessly on a shelf of other books or in a home library. But if it is chosen and implemented in a haphazard way it is quite likely to attract attention from wandering eyes.
Also, take a tip from me. make sure the title of the book is nothing salacious, humorous or attractive enough that it will actually invite people to pick it up and attempt to read it!
The can safe is a sort of relative to the book safe and that it is not a truly secure container at all, merely just a container but one that is designed to hide in plain sight among other outdoor or household goods and is so stereotypically boring and basic that it will invite no investigation.
This could be anything from an empty cereal box or tubular can of chips to a purpose made consumer container that is only disguised as a commercial can of shaving cream or something else.
Whether you decide to go with a DIY version or an off-the-shelf model as with the book safe verisimilitude is king here. Your item must blend in to the other items around it, whatever it is, and not look out of place.
Also, according with most consumer goods, you are sharply limited on the amount of supplies you can place in one of these concealments.
That being said, a small gun, wad of cash, medical supplies, tiny emergency kit and more can easily fit in a surprisingly small space, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.
Also, really think through the consequences of what your chosen container might invite. A popular children’s cereal box is probably the wrong answer if you have children of your own or nieces and nephews over.
A false soft drink can in the fridge will eventually be reached for by company or even a crook who is raiding your home and working up a good thirst!
a sort of distant relative to the false switch or fixture that we detailed previously, air vents have long been a good hiding spot throughout time.
Generally difficult to see into and reasonably protected from sticky fingers by screwed or bolted on register covers, with a little bit of work an air vent can be a reasonably accessible concealment for your valuables but difficult to reach my people who are in a hurry on a decidedly time limited operation.
As always, it would be best if your items are not visible at all if someone peers into the vent, whatever level it is at, and if a bend or corner in the vent is close enough you might be able to successfully tuck your supplies or valuables behind it to keep them even safer.
The trick with air vent concealments is to try and keep your items as rapidly accessible for you as possible. A standard screw or bolt on register cover will require tools, obviously, but you might be able to DIY a swing away or pop off cover instead, and periodically you will find commercially available and purpose designed concealment covers, although getting one that will match the existing hardware in your home is easier said than done.
Probably the best part about a vent concealment is that you have quite a lot of room to work with if you are careful. Rifles and entire backpacks can be concealed in these vents, though you’ll need to be thorough about checking on it periodically due to the preponderance of hot or cold air blowing through it!
Shelf or Mantle Compartment
For those who don’t mind a little remodeling or are very handy woodworkers, a floating shelf or mantle concealment might prove to be an excellent hiding spot for your survival supplies.
Usually consisting of an oversized shelf or mantle with a pull out, swing out or drop down compartment held in place by a switch and completely concealed by the design of the unit itself, these hiding places can be made to work with any home decor and in virtually any size.
Even better, you can usually purchase or craft these to operate via a completely hidden magnetic switch that will keep your goods securely hidden and in place unless one knows where to put the key and knows what the key looks like.
Ideal for basic survival supplies and firearms in particular, it is possible to access one of these compartments in a matter of seconds with a very little fuss once you know the trick. Considering that you can usually finish or trim these to match any home decor, they can be a truly seamless option for the security conscious.
If you have ever wanted a submersible, concealed hiding spot, but don’t want to trudge all the way out to a lake or pond, you are in luck because you can make use of your own toilet tank for the purpose so long as it has a lid that you can remove to access its internals.
Obviously, you’ll need to waterproof whatever it is you are storing with this method, and you had better be damn sure that your waterproofing job is up to the task. You can use a pair of Ziploc gallon freezer bags and copious amounts of duct tape or a small, totally waterproof container like one made by Pelican or other specialist submersible boxes or tubes.
Once you have tested, double tested and triple checked that your container is up to the task all you need to do is place your possessions inside, seal it up tight and then stick it inside the toilet tank.
Make sure you place it in such a way that your tank’s components are still free to operate normally, and you must ensure that it does not get sucked into the valve or else you could be dealing with a malfunctioning toilet.
A picture frame might seem like an unlikely hiding place, but for small quantities of cash, important documents and other slender valuables it could be just the ticket. Ultimately, if you have a large and impressive looking frame that is heavily built up with trim and hangs on the wall you might be able to conceal survival supplies inside the void between the picture and backer and the wall.
This will likely require some modification to pull off, and depending upon the weight of the items you are trying to hide you might not actually attach them to the picture frame but instead use the frame to cover items hanging or otherwise placed on the wall.
This method has an advantage and it does not look out of place in most residential or office settings. Anywhere that there might be framed art, photographs or even documents such as blueprints hung up you have a potential hiding place.
Headboard / Footboard Post
If your bed features a head or footboard, or both, with larger traditional posts you might be able to make a compartment out of any or all of them assuming they are not hollow already. Cutting off an ornamental top and turning it into a secure and sneaky lid is easy to do even for amateur woodworkers.
This method has many advantages because thieves, as a rule, don’t see most furniture as particularly valuable and this is a hiding place that is rarely employed.
Your home might be ransacked front to back and from top to bottom, but chances are no thief that is on the lookout for valuables or desperate raider looking for supplies to stay alive is going to mess with a large and bulky head or footboard.
Of some note, you’ll see better returns on this method the lower you can effectively place things inside the headboard or footboard posts. You’ll only be able to reach in so far, so constructing a holder or carrier that you can raise or lower using string or other cordage is probably a good idea.
PVC Pipe Container
A PVC pipe cache is a great DIY solution that is well loved and totally suited for prepping. Common PVC piping is readily available, virtually bomb-proof and an ideal material for storing in a dirty, damp or what environment because of its manufactured resiliency.
In essence, you buy a large section of PVC pipe along with a couple of end caps to create a sort of capsule that you can fill with gear and supplies before hiding somewhere out in the world or even burying.
Depending on your specific application, you might choose to use PVC cement to completely seal the end caps on, or just use a waterproofing chemical on the threads of a screw-on cap. Done correctly, your container will be pest proof and virtually indestructible until you retrieve it later.
Obviously, any permanently affixed caps will need to be destructively removed in order to access your gear, easier said than done because this stuff is tough!
When it comes to hiding your PVC pipe cache, the sky is the limit. You can stash it in or around abandoned buildings, hide it in a terrain feature or even bury it near a landmark that you’ll always be able to locate in the future.
The methodology for doing this is an entire article in and of itself, but wherever you bury it, make sure it will remain accessible. You would be horrified to find out that your supplies are now located under a building because the land you buried your cache in was developed, or is currently under several feet of water because of a flood event!
Trophy or Vase
A classic hiding place, trophies and decorative vases often have ample internal volume that works just fine for hiding a small stash of gear and other supplies.
I particularly like this solution in an office environment so long as the setting supports decorations for aesthetics or achievements. As a rule, people don’t move or disturb these things out of common courtesy.
This makes a great hidden in plain sight option although one should keep in mind if any trophy or vase looks valuable enough it might be a target for theft. So long as it is obviously a cheap decoration it shouldn’t be bothered.
A decoy container is an obvious storage container, but one that is holding something besides what it’s appearance would suggest.
At its simplest, and least effective, this is the shoe box that is repurposed for something else, typically a stash of cash. With a little more forethought and intricacy in planning a decoy container can be quite effective.
For instance, you might rig up a box that obviously held Halloween decorations for the purposes of storing your bug out bag, a firearm and other supplies either at your home or at a remote storage location.
Placed by itself it might escape notice and further investigation, but if piled up with other obvious and genuine Halloween decorations, it is very unlikely to be disturbed.
This is another option where your imagination can take you far, and no matter what your living arrangements are or what you are trying to hide and where there will always be ample opportunity for crafting decoy containers for the purposes of pre-placing and hiding your gear.
Paint Bucket Stash
By far one of my favorite hiding places, the paint bucket stash method is ingenious, highly adaptable and very rarely foiled. Execution is simple and easy, and can be tailored for use in a number of settings.
To implement this technique, you’ll need a paint bucket, either a gallon or 5 gallon size, potentially some non-toxic latex paint or other easy to handle coating and whatever supplies you want to hide inside the bucket.
There’s two ways to begin this project. First way, take a used paint bucket that is pretty much empty and clean up the interior as best you can.
Alternately, let the paint dry well and then try to peel it out. We are just trying to avoid contamination if we can. Second way, buy a clean, new paint bucket and then we will dirty it up using some latex paint on the outside.
The messier and battered your bucket looks on the outside, the better, as this will make it look like what we want it to, which is a used, nasty bucket of paint! The more drips, chips, scuffs, weathering, fading and general distress the better.
Then all you have to do is place your supplies inside the bucket and put the lid on it before stashing the bucket in a place where it looks at home, so maybe a shed, your garage or if in a vehicle, alongside a trash bag holding some equally nasty rollers and other painters tools.
Trust me, no one will ever give this thing a second look and you can easily access your supplies with virtually no effort. Even better, these cans seal tightly, affording your supplies a good degree of protection for moisture and excellent protection against pests!
Example Hiding Places “In the Wild”
Regardless of the reason or situation – here are a few examples of above ground hiding places:
Old hollowed-out tree stump
The tree stump shown here is badly mauled and mostly hollow on the inside.
A sturdy, sealing container that will protect it from rain and pests will keep your gear easily accessible and unlikely to be found by anyone who has not picked up your trail.
Do keep in mind that using a stump like this in or near settled areas might not be the best idea, because homeless people commonly hide valuables in similar caches to be retrieved later. that could lead to a higher than normal chance of discovery.
You can even use a live tree for a similar purpose. Sometimes trees naturally form with hidden nooks and crannies in their trunks, or are otherwise hollowed out by animal activity.
This can make excellent, generally weather resistant hiding places for your gear. However, always take care when placing or retrieving your cache that it is not occupied by an animal or, even worse, a venomous snake or swarming, stinging insects!
Well houses, pump sheds and other utility installations can make reasonably effective hiding places if they will rarely or effectively never be investigated by people who are looking to service or otherwise interact with them.
Perhaps the best part of using a structure like this for hiding your cache is that they are naturally weatherproofed to a degree. However, you’ll need to work a little harder to ensure your things are properly hidden and out of sight once the structure has been accessed.
Under a shed – possibly stuck up against floor
Sheds, mobile homes and other raised structures present ample opportunity for hiding even large gear beneath them, either behind a decorative screen or in the substructure or undercarriage.
Most folks are naturally hesitant to get down on their bellies or backs and crawl around under them without good cause.
Behind and inside bushes
Never underestimate the ability of natural foliage to conceal and hide things that you want to remain. properly color matched and perhaps dressed up with similar textures, something that is hidden in a bush, shrub or among other leafy, live growth can be virtually invisible and very difficult to see even if you are right on top of it.
Obviously care must be taken to inspect and maintain your hiding place since plants can die or just lose their foliage as seasons change!
There are tons of locations to be considered. The above choices were presented with the idea that a group of people may search the property for supplies looking in the normal places – and may miss others. It would take quite an eye for detail to find an ammo box set down inside the cavity of the tree pictured above.
Needless to say, a good security system would be my first defense. If a would-be thief were able to penetrate that, then good luck finding anything in my hiding places.
What to hide? That is up to you. Could be a pistol with a couple of extra mags. A survival kit in a small backpack. Possibly a bottle of Crown Royal your spouse doesn’t want to see in the house anymore.
A buried cache is no doubt the most secure – but not the most accessible. Let’s hope neither is ever needed.