by Jack Woods
The best assurance of survival during a collapse is to be prepared, and to stack the odds in your favor. You can do this by planning to build in redundancies right into your prepper plan, by stockpiling many smaller caches instead of only a few.
The best redundancy plan is to use many caches, and then in the event of discovery or spoilage (when it comes to perishables or rust regarding metal items) you will have not lost everything in one shot.
You can do this quite easily with my caching system. I am telling you readers my system, because it works so well. I also think the best approach to a collapse of any kind is working together. “We often forget to do that in this world these days.” Our pioneer ancestors found it essential to life on the land. “Help thy neighbor.”
My system of caching has been designed around the premise of redundancy. I have achieved this by never storing my entire cache in just one or two locations. You can achieve this efficiently by being mobile at the time of your caching, and mind you might consider whether you will be mobile during or after the collapse.
Conditions may be so extreme you likely you will not be mobile after a collapse, or in the very least you will be on foot at some point eventually. This is a factor to considered carefully regarding the locations of your caches. Before you develop this ultimate caching system, as a prepper you need to understand the conditions that you will be dealing with, when caching at your different sites, and bear in mind what the items you cache are.
Any caching system, no matter what the items are (that are being cached), will be susceptible to the following failures:
- Insect infestation and/or animal disturbances (Bears, rodents etc.)
- Summer Heat
- Winter Freeze
- Moisture infiltration (Leakage)
- Discovery by others (Due to disturbances of vegetation during caching)
- The inability to relocate the cache (By you or someone you trust to retrieve it for you)
Before I get into any detail regarding my caching system, I wish to layout the particulars you will need to consider first. For instance, this method of caching is more designed for remote areas such as we have in the rural settings where there is still considerable distance between you and your neighbors. This is to say, my methods may not necessarily be the best way to cache within urban and suburban areas, due to the factors of rediscovery by others. Such as being observed by nosey neighbors during the caching process. I have my reasons for bringing this point up, and I will elaborate more soon.
The ideal caching considerations for me are these:
- Assurance against the above environmental issues, moisture, temperature, insects, animals, etc.…
- Deciding on the individual cache sites, using the above considerations
- Preparing the cache system for the field
- My big secret; and expediting your caching, by cutting down on your exposure in the field, thus reducing discovery by others
First the system
The best system I have devised over the years is as follows; this is using the most widely available material for my system of “Caching Tubes.” I have found this system to be foolproof so far; it is based around using large diameter ABS OR PVC style sewerage pipes and fittings, for the Caching Tubes.
Any contractor will vouch for the durability of these tough pipes. Not only are they tough, but also when glued up with the proper glue for the type of plastic, they are completely water and weather proof, and rarely come apart even under extreme stress.
Out here in the west of this great country, these ABS OR PVC pipes come in very large sizes, due to the oil and gas industry out here, and can be purchased in diameters up to 24 inches around. However, these large sizes are very expensive, so I only mention common household PVC pipes 6” dia., and under. These anyone can purchase at any hardware store or Home Depot. Obviously, the End caps are expensive.
A prepper can anticipate building one of these for $50 – $100 dollars a tube in the 6” PVC range, cheaper if you buy bulk or go together with a group. The end caps are the most expensive and may need to be order in.
I have found that most of what I personally need to cache in these sizes, can be repackage or broken down to fit into one of these 6” diameter pipes. The bottom end can be capped with a simple glued on end cap, and the top can be fitted with a standard watertight gasket and threaded end cap for easy removal, and then reusable.
(A tip here is fit the threaded cap on before packing the cache tube, as some threaded ends reduce the opening size trapping your items inside.)
Obviously, the length of each pipe is up to you and whatever you decide to cache in these Cache Tubes this will determine their ideal length.
Lets take for instance, a survival rifle, and the ammunition stored in a 4’ foot long Caching Tube. Depending on the model or design of rifle, it may fit easily in a 6” dia. pipe. These can be placed into a tube either whole, or broken down into its various parts.
This is done by disassembling the rifle, for instance a bolt-action rifle, can be processed by removing its stock from the barrel before placing inside the tube. (Remember throw in the screwdriver in for re-assembly.) In addition, some room should be left in the tube to hold sufficient ammunition for the weapon and maybe even a cleaning kit and survival knife, fire starter etc. The key is to pack them solid with anything you will need.
Storing food, in these ABS OR PVC Cache Tubes is also very practical as neither weather, insects or groundwater are going to affect the food inside these airtight containers. Besides, basic preparing methods using these caches, a truly dedicated prepper can use silicate bags to prevent moisture buildup or by filling the food Cache Tubes with nitrogen gas to eliminate any air and removing the potential for moisture, thus preventing fungus and molds from growing on the food or any rust in the case of metals.
My only concern regarding foods containing liquids and the prevention of freezing, such as with bottled water, jars, or canned goods being stored in cold climates must be stored carefully. Items such as these containing water must be stored below the frost line to prevent freezing and possibly bursting over time. I will elaborate more on how to do this a bit later, also on how to prevent this problem from occurring at all.
Limits to my system
Obviously, the only limit to what you can store in these containers, is perhaps the size restriction, or storing volatile fuels (Flammable liquids etc.). Although the danger of an explosion is not very real, mostly due to the lack of oxygen, or of a proper ignition source. These fuels could be prone to leakage I suspect.
Alternatively, a prepper could simply add a fuel treatment additive to a jerry can and just bury it instead, rather then one of these Caching Tubes. Fuels are not affected much by freezing (So not a concern per se), all though heat could cause expansion and some leakage of your jerry cans (Warning: In the case of the Caching Tubes I suspect the glue might fail from the fuel, and the rigidity of the tube may make it rupture under the expansion from summers heat.) PLEASE NOTE: I do not recommend storing fuel in these tubes.
How to prevent Freezing, and expedite caching
Here is my BIG SECRET.
The beauty of using these cache tubes besides their durability is the way they can be hidden. The quickest and most elegant method is to bury them, and to store as many as one can (virtually undetected), using a gas powered posthole digger to augur the holes. These can be rented from any construction rental store for a reasonable daily rate. One of these and a decent plan using an ATV to get around and you are set to start caching. (ATV can also be rented) The two man style augurs have bits all the way up to 12”, but you would need to be two very big guys to handle one of these.
I have based my design around the 6” augur and materials. These can also be dug by yourself with a single man augur, unless you are digging many deep holes, then two men are best.
Now I know the first thing to pop into every prepper’s head is this:
“Won’t an augur be somewhat noisy”?
The answer to that is yes, it will.
That is why at the beginning of this article I pointed out that this is more of a rural caching system. All though the noise from an auger does not sound much different from a gas powered mower, and I suppose one could easily do this in an urban or suburban environment as well. Just by mowing the lawn the same day you augur the holes, making sure your nosey neighbors see you mowing too.
The beauty for farmers is they can be done while you are doing your normal post digging.
Freezing in Winter
Now to prevent freezing you may need an attachment to allow you to drill below frost line. In my area this is 4’ feet, but that is the worse case scenario due to frost heaving, and according to building codes. If you do not know the depth of the frost in your area, you can get this from most weather station sites, or by Google searching the Internet, or just find it through your local building codes. The next question that I can almost hear from some of you preppers out there is this:
“How do you get the Caching Tube out of such a deep hole when you need it.”
Good question that depends on the type of ground it is buried-in. Remember, only items that you do not want to freeze need to be below the frost line. Bearing that in mind, in relatively sanding soil, they can be easily retrieved from depths of overburden of 4 feet or more, by fastening a chain or cable around the cache before bury it, and using an ATV winch or better yet a vehicle winch, and simply hauling it straight up from the hole.
If trees are nearby the cache hole, a prepper can use a simple pulley system or come-along to do the same thing. The best way to fasten this to the tube is to use a sturdy chain looped and bolted around the tube to create a “cinch” when lifting it out, this prevents the chain from slipping against the glued end cap and potentially breaking the seal.
I have personally used this method, and it works wonderfully well. If you are worried about metal detectors, simply tie a retrieval line to the chain and drop it in the hole atop the cache, and leave just the retrieval rope near the surface to pull up the chain or cable. That way all the metal will be at least 4 feet below the surface and out of the range of the metal detector. A good trick is to through some gum wrappers or a bottle cap near the top to through off the metal detector, once they find one of these they will not bother looking further.
However, in rocky or heavy clay soil this chain retrieval system might end up as a disaster. (You decide as this has never happen to me so far). Perhaps the hole is packed to tightly by rain and the cinched chain slips against the glued upper cap (This has happen to mine and the cap held no problem), then separating it from the cache tube, thus breaking the seal, and contaminating the contents. In these rocky situations, the best method is to fill the augured hole with loose debris, and just cover the top 6” inches with soil and/or foliage. In the worst case, simply dig it out by hand and haul it up.
For caches near the surface, just barely bury the top, and then you can unscrew the head whenever needed and take what you want from it, resealing it by using the threaded cap. This system has many possibilities and as I said before it is very versatile.
Digging the holes
The best method I have found to hide and prevent discovery of these caches is this; I carry a hinged 4’ X 4’ foot sheet of ½” inch plywood with a 12 “ inch hole in the middle of it. For a visual reference, it is simply a 4’ foot square sheet of plywood with a 12” inch hole in the center. I cut mine in half and added 6 sturdy garden hinges to it for convenience so when I carry it on my quad it is easy and portable. I have even added straps and made a pack board out of it, to hold the auger.
The area to auger is first cleared of ground cover in the case of the woods (Leaves and debris to be used later to conceal it when done), and the plywood rig with its hole, is thrown over the area to be augured. This plywood sheet is to prevent spreading of the lower soils during auguring, thus making it that much harder to hide when finished.
Most of you realize that the lower soil colors often are a different shade of color and this makes ground disturbance easy to detect for those trying to steal your cache. The soil is thus brought up by the auger pouring out around the hole and displaced over the plywood, preventing it from damaging the covering vegetation, and then leaving traces of disturbance. (Especially useful in grassy areas)
Thus, the disturbed area is never any bigger then the 12” inch hole in the plywood. A tarp could also serve this purpose, however I found that occasionally it can be caught up in the auger, or in the very least does not work as well as the plywood does when tiding up with a shovel after.
I can fold my plywood rig containing the final remaining dirt and simply dumping the excess into plastic pails to carry off to somewhere else to be distributed unnoticed (Note: There will always be extra dirt because of the displacement of soil due to the Caching Tube). Then simply put back the proper colored topsoil and cover with surface debris the same way any old trapper knows how to do, and blend your “set” with the surroundings to keep it hidden. The whole apparatus including the augur can be easily carried on an ATV and I have found this system works best of all.
You can imagine how quickly a dozen Caching Tubes can be hidden using a power auger in this way, especially if you, yourself have ever dug postholes with one of these augurs. They are very quick in most loose soils. Yes, sometimes you will encounter rocks during auguring, and may even need to abandon a hole because of these rocks. However all in all this is a very affective method for two people for caching many cache tubes in one day or a weekend of camping. Bear in mind that only caches susceptible to metal detectors, freezing in cold climates or ambitious cache robbers need to be deeper or below the frost line.
Remember the whole set up can be turned into a pack board also, in the case of hiking the augur off road. (I suggest that preppers cache off the trail at least 100 feet when burying things of great value.) The further off the trail the better, you do not want to lose your cache to a some wondering citizen and their Labrador retriever out for a walk one day. Bury them under a bush or in a creek for additional cover use your imagination.
Other ways these cache tubes can be used
Because these cache tubes are watertight, they can be submerged under beaver ponds, anchored alongside a boat mooring, or even buried in a swamp, etc.
You may even want to strap them beside the under carriage of your truck with some straps, such as along the frame, this is a great way hide items in transit when bugging out too.
The sky is the limit. The ideal application for these tubes is to bury them before you need them, and place them somewhere you can get to them when ready for that inevitable day. They are money in the bank.
The beauty of these caching tubes is that even if everyone is using this system of caching, it does not make it any easier to discover your cache. That is why I do not mind sharing my ideas with you the readers. Although I suppose the Government may start keeping tract of plastic pipe sales or augur rentals now.
Who really cares what they do anyway. Certainly bury things on public land might be construed as illegal, but caching is completely legal on land you have permission to be on.
Strategies you may want to consider
Immediate caching around your home is always a good thing. These should be cached items necessary in the event of a collapse and caches you are not so concerned about during government lock downs like during warranted searches or even warrantless ones such as during so-called martial law emergencies.
Reasons for remote caching should be obvious to you now, and should be available to you during a collapse when you need to bug out in a hurry. You cannot always carry supplies with you on the run. Roadside Check Stops might find and confiscate things like your firearms, and who knows what else.
A series of remote caches should be ready in areas you plan to escape to, such as nearby public lands you can access by foot or with an ATV if you are lucky enough to own one. Such remote wilderness areas are ideal, like public forestry’s and logging areas, game preserves etc. These are the ideal cache sites for this type of system of caching. All preppers should consider how readily accessible the Cache Tube system will be to them, and weigh this against how easy it could be for others to find your cache at any chosen location. If you suspect you will be on foot after a collapse, and in a desert zone obviously drinking water caches will need to be strategically placed within a days walking distance from each other for your survival.
Keeping track of your caches
Okay, I can hear you guys now.
“Don’t be daft, of course I can find my cache again, I have an excellent memory.”
Well what if you need to send someone else to retrieve it? You certainly do not want to bring the entire group or family, and friends with you when you go caching these tubes, or have more then one map out there. Besides, a map will be quickest way to loose all your caches to some bad guy out there.
Yes, modern GPS plotting systems are great, but these can also be compromised, and will be of no use at all, if an EMP blasts all the electronics out at your house, or the planets satellite network goes down.
Personally, I will use the GPS coordinates, and save them on flash drive, even though they are encrypted with 128-bit encryption, and not likely to be figured out by anyone, though they can become corrupted and lost. I of course know where all my caches are located, plus a very close friend also knows, they invested time and energy with me to bury them during the caching.
Yet, you know the old saying about a “SECRET”: it is something you tell only one other person, and eventual everyone knows it. So, tell no one about the important items until they need to know. The safest bet is never telling any one where all the caches are regardless of the reasons, unless they absolutely need to know.
So, make your maps, or plot them on GPS printouts. I suggest you use many maps showing only a few hiding places on each, to ensure you will not lose all the caches in one shot if some one finds a map or gets it out of you with some devil truth serum like my personal favorite “Single Malt Whiskey”. Then hide these maps away in anyway you see fit.
Drill out a coffee table leg and roll one up inside. Put one in some fake ice cream containers in the freezer, use a fake birdhouse outback or cache it in a cache tube in a hollowed out tree in the nearby woods, whatever is best, but never have all of them together in one spot. Maybe even give different family members the less important maps just for their safety. (Showing Water, and food caches, etc.)
I believe now, you are ready for anything.
“Good Luck,” From The practical prepper.