Food cache

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    • #4741
      James Tannon

      Under the premise that most people can afford a backpack (with gear) and can learn the basic skills for wilderness survival, it can be assumed that a sufficiently motivated individual could head to the hills to escape either a local or global disaster.
      Where there are still wild places left, there are still places for a few people to escape to.
      The problem with wilderness survival is that most people will starve to death. Sorry, but if you’ve watch the TV series ALONE, you’ll find that most people are near starved by the end of their stay. It’s a common trend in most survival wilderness shows.
      This shouldn’t be particularly reassuring for you. Those people were selected because they were ‘experts’…and they ended up starving.
      So why advocate running to the hills? Good question. My answer is that I’d rather starve to death in a nice wilderness setting than in the city. If you consider it, I think you’ll agree it’s a much more cheery place to die.

      Look, if there is no food on the grocery store shelves, you will starve in the city. Might as well make a final hooo-ra and go on a camping trip. At least you won’t have the concern of your neighbors getting violent AND you’ll have a chance to forage/extended your life. In Canada, it makes particular sense, as without society you’ll freeze to death in hours without wood for fuel/fire. You might as well go where there are fewer of Earth’s top predator AND wood is right at hand.

      Don’t despair, mind you. There is a chance with the right attitude and luck/God’s grace that you’ll make it. As Ray Mears states (paraphrased) If you think that the successful mountain men were experts before they left the city, you’d be wrong. They were simply regular people with excellent observations skills and the ability to adapt. A motivated individual with a high quality survival book, an edible plant book, etc would have at least a reasonable chance. At very least, they’d live longer than they would in the city.
      Who knows? Perhaps you’ll be a quick learner and you will be one of the few who make it in the wild.

      Taking this approach you will find that you can only carry so much gear/books. So what is the post apocalyptic survivor to do? That’s right! Plan ahead. Cache supplies!
      Caching supplies is much cheaper than buying land and all your eggs aren’t in one basket!
      Not once on this planet, (in its entire history) (in any language) did a single refugee say “Gosh, I’m really glad I didn’t have the foresight to cache survival supplies for this crappy situation I’m finding myself in.”
      There is a fine historical precedent for the caching of supplies! Pirates did it. Revolutionaries did it. First Nations did it. Heck, even present day squirrels still do it.

    • #4742
      James Tannon

      Why cache? -You can’t carry the world with you.
      -You could be robbed on route.
      -Caching food will buy you time to learn the skills needed for long term living.
      How long will a cache last?
      -Even a half-way reasonable cache will last for several lifetimes. It is more likely to be lost than compromised.
      -Don’t worry about someone else finding your cache. Bury it if you are concerned. I’ve never had one stolen/discovered. You ever try to find a geocache?
      -All suggestions in this article (suggestions below) I have personally tested to have lasted more than a decade in the Canadian wilderness. I’ve even tested spraying tuna cans with shellac and tossing them on the ground in the wilderness to see what happens in ten years of freeze/thaw. Shockingly nothing happened. Nine out of ten cans had no rust or distortion. One can had a failure of the coating and rusted to the point where I wouldn’t trust it. I opened every can and they all smelled and looked good to eat. If you didn’t know the can’s history you would have had no idea. From the other lab testing I’d heard of they should be fine to eat so I consumed two cans. I can confirm that not only did they taste perfectly normal, but I didn’t have the least symptom of eating ‘off’ food. I don’t recommend it, but you could store canned tuna by tossing it on the ground. You might think the freezing and thawing would rupture the can but it didn’t. Crazy.
      What to cache?
      That would be a list a mile long if funds allowed. I’d concentrate on food and food procurement devices as harvesting food in the wild (while the lowest short term priority) is the hardest long term skill to learn.
      -Tools for getting food (traps, gill nets, hooks, line, snare wire, aircraft cable, etc)
      -High quality survival book and edible plant book of your region.
      -Food. -Chocolate (I’m not joking. Have you tried the stuff? Seriously tasty. And point of note: it can help bring people out of depression/shock. It also stores for decades. After ten years I ate some cached chocolate and other than wiping off the white bloom (I was afraid of it) the interior chocolate was devastatingly good. I only test solid bars of chocolate like the ones that go on sale after Easter has passed. *hint* *hint*)
      -Salt (not technically food, but a small amount can make even bark chips delicious)
      -Sugar (While not the ‘best’ calorie it is cheap, tasty and will never go bad.)
      -Honey (Never goes bad.)
      -Lard (I’ve tried 10 year old lard and it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t tell anyway)
      -Pemmican (People say it goes bad in months, but they are dirty liars. I still have a batch I’m eating from that I made four years ago. Stored in name brand Zip lock freezer bags)
      -Beans & Lintels
      -Popcorn (That’s right. After the apocalypse you can site around watching shadow puppet theater eating popcorn that you popped in a pot in a thin layer of lard).
      -Hard candies. Now I’ve been caching for decades and some candies cache better than others. Some (like Bulk store Christmas candies and Jolly Ranchers) melt into one big blob…which isn’t the end of the world, but Gobstoppers and certain British hard candies that are coated in powder don’t change state. Seriously though, just buy a bunch of Candy canes when they go on sale after Christmas. Almost all of them survive well through time. Worst case scenario is a blob of deliciousness with perhaps a candy wrapper or twelve melted in. Your descendants won’t curse you.
      -White Rice (no other kinds. After ten years it yellows a tiny bit, but is perfectly edible and it doesn’t change in flavor. Combine with beans to make a complete protein that has raised literally giggatonnes of humans) An 8kg bag of rice is $10 and is about 14 man days of food.
      -Dry flavor packets (spices, drink flavor crystals, mixes, dressing mixes, etc) Not once has one of them gone bad.
      -Stevia (Not because you’re going to be worried about the calories, but because it is 1000 times sweeter than sugar for the same space.)
      -Molasses. I wouldn’t cache it, but you could. Still good after ten years. Bag the carton in a ziplock just to be safe.
      -Freeze dried foods. I’ve eaten everything from Vietnam era meals to ten year old camping food. Only the whitefish and crab meat salad had any impact, and that wasn’t illness but gas issues that would have made God weep

      Do not cache: -Any oils besides lard and perhaps (shorter term) coconut oil. They DO go bad.
      -Peanut butter
      -Nutella. Not only does it good bad, but you’ll seriously disappoint whomever opens your cache.
      -Canned goods. Why risk it? I tried it out of curiosity, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Costly too.
      -Batteries. Notable and only exception is Lithium Ion batteries. Not only are they lighter, pack more energy, work well even in Canadian winters, have 80% of their charge after 25 years, but they also don’t explode for no reason at all and corrode other items (like alkaline batteries have done for me). Costly, but less so then discovering it dissolved your other batteries. Again, contain the destruction in a name brand ziplock bag.
      -Rechargeable batteries. Most won’t last 4 years. Nickle Iron batteries are an exception and should last hundreds of years. Low Discharge NiMH batteries have also faired well in my testing, approaching 4 years with no serious performance issues due to storage.
      -*smelly foods* If you are caching anything that is smelly it must be in sealed metal containers. I would also recommend caching your tasty/spicy cache in it’s own cache separate from your food supply and tools. Bears are fiends, why risk your other goods?

      • #4743
        James Tannon

        How to cache?
        Costly method:
        Buy a military ammo box, clean it, rust spray it and coat it in epoxy. Then bury it. For larger caches use open top steel drums. Be advised those SOBs weight 400 pounds when full of dry food AND they need a big hole to bury. You can also set the metal container on the ground and throw some dirt/forest debris on it to cover it. This is the best way to go for people with heavy coin to put into preps. At this level you are using gps, compass triangulation, secret code stones, cloudy-nighttime deploys. This is what one can aspire to. For now I recommend:
        Cheap Cache Method.
        Of all the cheapo methods I’ve tried, this is by far the best. It will last just as long as a metal container and is free (if you desire). All you pay for is rice and beans.
        You have literally no excuse to cache. Actually, maybe you do. I’d love to hear it.
        Take a 2 liter pop bottle and empty it of pop (or grab one from your neighbors recycling bin). Dry it out (optionally clean it if it was yours, bleach your dirty, dirty neighbors’). You can leave the residue in the bottle as it isn’t harmful. Just ensure it is dry. That, however, is important.
        Now you need to fill it with a mixture of rice and beans (the cheapest food available). I know, I know you’re thinking ‘boring’. Trust me it will be tasty. Hunger really is the best spice. Plus, it doesn’t smell strongly so bears and raccoons aren’t attracted to it.
        Now to fill the container there is a slow, frustrating messy way or the ultra awesome method I’m about to describe: Take another 2 liter bottle of pop. Cut off the top to use as a funnel (actually just cut off the bottom as the extra length will help later).
        Take two caps and cut large holes in the middle of the caps (so they are pretty much just the threads). Take your long funnel and screw one of the caps to it. Take the other cap that you cut a hole in and put it on the bottle you want to fill. Set the funnel on the bottle and align it carefully so that both caps touch/align. Now use silicone or just good quality tape and tape the two caps together. Now you can remove the funnel by unscrewing it from the bottle. Try it, you’ll be please with yourself.
        Now you have a funnel that you can screw on to any bottle you want to fill. Simply screw on the funnel and poor rice and beans into the empty bottle below. Once you have filled the bottle you can jiggle it to settle the contents. NOTE: You will never be able to settle the contents as much as cereal boxes do. Those finks manage to bypass physics to ‘settle’ away half of the package.
        Jiggle, refill, repeat, shuffle step, jiggle. Now you have it full right? No. Now you add either sugar or salt and jiggle. You will be stunned at the amount of salt or sugar that you can add to an already filled container.
        Now there is an easy way to seal it and the likely-unnecessary-and-harder-methods. Let’s explore the harder methods I’ve used first. You could seal the food off with a layer of melted wax, then use plumbers non-toxic putty, then the lid. OR you could use wax then silicone and seal the lid. Both work perfectly.
        Of course, much to my surprise just screwing the cap on also works perfectly. Faster and cheaper, but I still can’t do it that way. It seems too easy… a trap.
        Seriously, I just bought the food for 20 seconds more work I’m going to have a second seal on it.
        The good news is your cached food isn’t going bad any time soon. Dig a hole and put your bottle in it….maybe place a rock over it. It will be there when you return. Ten years is nothing to these.
        If you think about it, it makes sense. The plastic is designed to keep high pressure carbonated beverages in, so it will keep the water out for an incredible amount of time.
        For an extreme test I took 3 year old cache bottles and I put them in a weighted plastic bag and sunk them in a beaver pond (I am in Canada). I let the bottles sit in that slimy leach infested swamp all summer, then all winter, then spring, and (you guessed it) summer again.
        All ten bottles were perfectly dry (on the inside) and intact. Even the three bottles that I just screwed the cap on without special extra work. Now, you’d want to dip the top of those bottles in boiling water to sterilize then before emptying them as they were slimy, but all of them had survived the crushing weight of the pond (I put them only a foot deep to ensure they got a full winter freeze crush). The only point that I should mention, and a curious one at that, was that some of the bottles looked to have ‘melted’ a bit. Obviously, this would be due to pressure and not temperature. The containers that weren’t ridiculously full (like my ground caches) didn’t have the odd distortion. So, if you are underwater caching don’t fill them up the entire way. I’d also recommend a strong plastic bag as you can hook them with a stick to retrieve them. I wouldn’t want my face in that water. To deploy tie a string to a tree when you drop your cache in the water. Simply walk to the end of the string and drop the cache. Bury the synthetic string near its tree (it will last forever). Mark the direction you walked from the tree. When you want to retrieve the cache use the string tied to the same tree. Walk to the end of the string and start trying to hook the bag while walking the arc the string provides. This is just an easy way I found to save time on retrieval. It is faster than trying to triangulate a location while knee deep in leach infested waters.

        Semi-cheap-AND-LAZY-cache method:
        Stainless steel water bottles from dollar stores or from thrift markets. These make excellent 1 liter caches. They are water proof and impact/rodent resistant. This you can set on the ground (not having to dig a hole to protect from rodents) and they’ll sit until another human picks them up. They can be painted in camo colors, hung up in trees or in the hollows of trees. Cheap, fast, fun.
        Using the tricks listed your food cache will be safe for decades. You will, however, be very lucky not to need it within the next five years.

        Summary, caching is cheap and doesn’t take much work. It can save your life. It can buy you time to get setup for procuring food. At VERY least it will push back the panic envelope and allow you to think clear headed for a time. Even if all it does is give you a few extra weeks of life, I have to ask, what is that worth to you? Is a week of your life worth $5 ($3.80US)? What about your children’s or grandchild’s life?

        You will never have more discretionary money than you do today and food will never be cheaper than it is right now. Plan accordingly.

    • #4750
      Crow Bar

      Interesting idea.

      I think I would rather own a spot in the country that is semi-head for the hills, have gardens, a fully pantry, and a mix of small and medium livestock.

    • #4752
      Josefina Arenas

      JT…great ideas and a good list.  Had never heard of a GHB (get home bag) before reading here.  Since walking a long distance may be inevitable for some of us, finding cache locations for food/water along the way would lighten the load.

    • #4759
      James Mitchner

      Excellent, JT.  Gives me some things to think about.  Glad you were the guinea pig, however!

    • #4765
      Crow Bar

      Just got back from walking the dogs.

      If you live in a snow region, food cache location will look different in the winter than in the summer.

      Also, make sure you have a good shovel.  Maybe a pick ax when the ground is frozen.

    • #4768
      Jade Jasmine

      Nice post! Good advice. I like the stainless steel mini cache. That would be great for a 24 hour or 72 hour kit depending on what you put in it.

    • #4792
      OldMt Woman

      Very interesting ideas on Cache.  I like your research.  I can implement the mini-SS [stainless steel] vacuum bottles nearly immediately.  We’re in wild animal country and really canNOT leave any food/garbage EVEN in our vehicles.  [ask my neighbor about their new SUV that the bear entered when garbage bags were in there only 3 hrs….wasn’t pretty]  I do take ONE chance with my truck……a.k.a. BOV…….a.k.a. storage for most camping supplies, etc.  I put rice into clear plastic juice containers – container well washed.  I figure rice is one of the least-odor foods that can take severe temperature fluctuations.  {unlike beef jerky which I’d like to stash…}

      But I’ve often thot about if we had to flee the house and vehicles, I’d like to pre-position something in a protected area near us.  But then I think of bears and ….   Bear vaults for food if you backpack in bear country are SS.  And expensive.  But those cheapo SS vacuum bottles….would a bear’s teeth penetrate?  If they can’t smell anything….dunk in bleach and don’t handle it directly……would they ignore it?  Digging when ground is locked, frozen solid half the year would be out.   Ideas churning…thank you, JamesT.   Haven’t had a new angle on this for years.


      However, just to stick this caution in here:  I have an abhorrence of the Flee To The Mountains myth that we humans seems to carry within us.  Don’t get me wrong…I LIVE in the mountains, thus have already fled here.  And as JamesT noted, for most it would only postpone the inevitable.  And Wilderness certainly doesn’t always mean “mountains”….  I just really have a horror of inexperienced/not-informed folks thinking they’ll survive the night…let alone a week in ‘them thar hills’.

      I’m in the western mts and believe me, folks….there is VERY little that grows well up here.  Alpine Desert.  Even less is edible/usable.  Edible does not in any way guarantee “palatable”.  Found that out when I was ten…eating cattail roots.  There’s the right way and there’s the wrong way to harvest that bounty.  😉  I make it a point to learn about each of the micro-climate areas that I’ve lived in and this is the worst for diversity of plant/animal life.  It is not “lush” like eastern woodlands.  Partly due to altitude.  Partly due to lack of moisture.

      Our house is a cache of food/supplies/tools…since we live here year ’round.  Yet… in a severe StuffHitsFan scenario, I do not believe we would survive longer than that supply.  We would need to come down this mountain.  One reason I’m pretty sure of that:  I like to check out how the pre-industrial/technological people groups lived in my areas.  😮   …..they moved out during winter.  Snowbirds.  Migrated to hit the most survivable regions during different seasons.  And they were the experts in surviving without industrial/technological backups.  Just takes toooo many calories to keep warm.

      OldMtWoman ….check out the earlier people groups in your region.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by OldMt Woman.
    • #4826
      Crow Bar

      Great post OldMtWoman!

      Is it possible people could head my way?


      But even between here and town, we can get even more snow then they do.  So, the snow and the cold are somewhat deterrents.  The forecast has 17 for the high on Thanksgiving.

    • #4856
      James Tannon

      All of you make great points.


      If you bury your cache don’t bother with a pick axe….just build a fire on top and melt through the snow until the ground is loose.  As you get closer to cache depth just scrape coals on top.   If you can’t risk smoke just stash a bag of charcoal and use it to melt things.  As long as the charcoal isn’t right at the site of the bury people will have NO CLUE.  Tried it and it works, although I use wood as no one is anywhere near….less to cache.


      A pick axe is a pain to cache.  If you’re going to do that I’d recommend a cheap crowbar.  Even left in the woods unprotected they won’t rust away in any reasonable amount of time.  A simple coating and they’re good for a lifetime (not near the coast though).


      I’m not sure how bears/wild animals are in your area, but I’ve put test sites out where a plastic bottle filled with rice sat on the surface for a year and nothing bothered it.  I’d be worried near parklands as the wildlife are trained to eat from humans and may chew through to investigate.    Mine lasted a year, where (by a hunch) I’d say all the smell was pretty much gone.

      Bears COULD bite through most cheap stainless canteens. Not one of mine has ever had a scratch (40-50 tested or deployed).  Just rinse them before deploy.  I also stash them in logs.  Did you know that the same log will be there 10 years later !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!  (Not Birch though).  Useful tip to know.



    • #4942
      Loving Life

      <p style=”text-align: left;”>@Crow Bar and @OldMtWiman .I agree with both of you.  I live a but further north than Crow Bar.   I live in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park.  The mountains here can be very unforgiving.</p>
      I have several areas in the house and outbuildings that I have stored caches.  I am going to bury one in the spring.  Like @Crow Bar stated,  accessing the cache during winter will be difficult.



    • #4947
      Crow Bar

      Yeah, we have a few spots it would be hard going just to dig that initial hole for the container.  Clay, field stone rocks, that kind of thing.  If I were to do something like food caches, I would need a good shovel, a pick ax and maybe even a breaker bar.

    • #4963

      Thanks James for great post.

      “Bugging out” to wilderness without any plans is another popular myth, and I also thing great majority or people simply would die in it.

      In order to survive in wilderness you really have to be skilled and ready for lot of things, but yes it is about from what situation you are running from, and if you are getting away from certain death then it make perfect sense.

      My plan about cashes is simply having it around me (in city) as a help if (when) situation gets very “fluid” so i I might get in position to use help of small hidden cashes with stuff like canned food, first aid kits, ammo, even weapon.

      Also I will use it as a possible help on my way to planned bug out location.

      All that still does not mean I will not find myself in situation where I have to spend like month in woods somewhere on my way to BOL instead of planned 3 days, so point is that plans are one thing, reality and adapting to it is another thing.

      So basic rules that I use is i rather have more small cashes to cover my route to BOL and alternate routs to it, and I do not cash anything that I am not ready to lose (and live with that fact).

      As i wrote, I suggeest to have stashes hidden also close to you, not only on your way out (bugging out) somewhere in wilderness, because to have plan to run from city (if you live in city) is great, but often people stuck where they are because many reasons.

      Mostly i use water pipes (PVC) abd “bags in bags”.

      Again, great and very detailed post!


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