Before you build that cache tube, read this
Kevin Felts 08.20.13
Are you thinking about building a cache tube to store some SHTF survival gear in? Before you go out and start buying materials, let’s go over some basic questions you should ask yourself first.
What kind of a disaster are you storing gear for? Chances are a cache tube is not going to be of much service after a hurricane, wild fire, or earthquake. In most cases, cache tubes are put down for a complete collapse of society situation.
What kind of gear do you want to store in the cache tube? In a complete collapse of society, we would need access to food, water, fire and security.
Seeds would be something to store in a cache tube, but chances are weevils would eat the seeds. We would also need a place to plant the seeds and wait for the crops to grow. If you are planning on using a cache tube to help you reach a bug-out location, then focus on foods that are portable.
Mountain house 7 year freeze dried meals would be a good choice. Being freeze dried gives the pouches at least a 7 year lifespan. Plus the pouches are light, easy to transport, and will not take up a lot of room in the cache tube. The only problem with freeze dried meals is they require boiling water to reconstitute them.
Lifeboat ration bars contain anywhere from 2,400 – 3,600 calories and are designed to sustain life when no other food is accessible. Depending on the size of the cache tube, chances are you will need to go with the 2,400 calorie bars rather than the 3,600 bars. The 2,400 bars are two rows wide, while the 3,600 bars are 3 rows wide. Lifeboat ration bars do not require boiling water, like freeze dried food does. Nor do they contain any animal byproducts, which extends their lifespan.
MREs would be an excellent choice for storing in a cache tube, especailly since they have their own water proof bag. If water happens to leak into the cache tube, you have a full meal, matches, candy, spoon, paper, and other odds and ends.
The drawback to the MRE is its size. The meals can get bulky and heavy and bulky rather fast. There is not a lot of room in a cache tube, so size does matter.
Rather than storing bottled water in the cache tube lets look at other options.
Water filters, most water filters designed for camping, hiking and backpacking will remove bacteria, protozoa and parasites, but will not remove viruses. Viruses are killed or removed through UV light, chemical treatment, or through the use of a special filter that was designed for virus removal.
If virus removal is important to you, there are some water filters on the market that will remove or kill viruses. When in doubt about water filter specifications, contact the manufacturer.
UV light, SteriPEN makes a device that uses UV light that will make water safe to drink. Before UV treatment the water needs to be filtered to remove heavy sediment. UV light only works if the light can reach the pathogen.
Partials in the water can block UV light. In other words, if the pathogen is in the shadow of a partial in the water, the UV light can not kill the pathogen. So for UV light to be effective the water must first be filtered.
UV lights also eat batteries like they are going out of style. This means no rechargeable batteries, and only long lasting batteries such as energizer lithium.
Boiling water is a time-honored way of making water safe to drink. The problem is you have to build a fire, boil the water, wait for the water to cool, then drink it. So boiling water is not a grab and go option, and then there are the Opsec concerns. As the world collapses around you, do you want to take the time to build a fire?
Chemical treatment is a cheap and effective means to make water safe to drink. Some of the issues with chemical treatment are allergies to the chemicals, such as Iodine. Iodine is not 100% effective in killing pathogens, and chemical treatment is not suggested as a long term option.
Note that Cryptosporidium, a common waterborne pathogen, is resistant to chemical treatment. However, Cryptosporidium is easily removed by most hiking/backpacking water filters on the market.
Grab and go bag
Due to their size, cache tubes should not be designed for staying in one area. If the SHTF, recover the tube, grab the contents, then head to your bug out location.
It would be helpful if there was some kind of small bag, or backpack inside the cache tube. We are talking about something the size of a school book bag, or a Maxpedition Sitka. Something that you can use to carry a rain poncho, water bottle, first aid kit, knife, compass, and other essential gear.
32 ounce water bottle
The nice thing about a 32 ounce water bottle is that it can also double as a secondary storage container. Even if the cache tube leaks, the contents of the water bottle should stay nice and dry.
Between the MRE and contents of the 32 ounce water bottle, you should have the bare essentials. Even if everything else in the cache tube is ruined with water, sealed food and a sealed water bottle should be good to go.
Various other items
- Rain poncho, can double as a shelter
- First aid kit (as compact as possible)
- Fire starter with tinder
- Map of local area
- Paper and pencil (for leaving notes, pencil shavings can be used as fire starter)
- Cord, 550 cord or trotline string
Where are you going to bury the cache tube at? Do you want it in the backyard, or on the way to the bug out location?
If you bury the cache tube on property owned by someone else, it would help if you know the land owner and have obtained permission. Nothing would be worse then burying a cache tube, then the land owner builds a shop directly on top of the tube. Have fun digging through a cement slab to get to your tube.
Areas that stay wet are not advised, as being in water all the time increases the chances of leaks.
My own cache tube was buried in a low area that probably stayed underwater for a month. When the tube was recovered there was no sign of water inside the tube.
Another consideration: do you want to be digging through water and mud to retrieve the tube? My buddy and I waited until the water went down and the land dried up before we retrieved the tube. I would not want to be digging in knee deep water to get a tube buried 6 inches underground.
Chances are you are not going to retrieve the tube. You are just going to open it, pull the items out, then reseal the tube. If the tube is underwater, then as soon as it is opened the tube will be flooded.
In other words, pick a place that is high and dry to bury your cache tube.
Next time, we’ll talk about building and/or buying a cache tube.