Bug Out Caches: Should You Make A Stash?

If your target location is another house or home, then you probably won’t need bug out caches. It’ll already be a shelter and you will have a good place to stockpile supplies. In this guide, I want to focus on less developed BOLs. In other articles, I recommend a spot that’s far away from civilization. If you follow this, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a woodland homestead-to-be.

Map of bug out caches.

If this is the case, some pre-stashed supplies can be a big help. To figure out what to do here, let’s ask some questions.

Can You Leave Bug Out Caches?

There’s a lot of woods. Some woods are privately owned, some are government property. If you, a friend, or a family member owns some property in the woods, this is an excellent place to plan to bug out. 

Your best case scenario for caching is to get permission first. If you know the owner of your spot (and I recommend you pick a spot where you do, if possible) you’re in a good position to prep it. If your bug out location is on public property, such as a national forest. Legally, I can’t recommend you leave caches, structures, or anything else there. If your cache is found it will be removed and you can be fined. That said, the point of caches is to remain hidden from everyone but you.

How Much Should You Put There?

The short answer to this is as much as you can, but there are a lot of limiting factors. 

The first limit is money. There’s no guarantee that you’ll need to bug out soon. For this reason, we plan to bug out, but we do it responsibly. 

The next limit comes from the kind of property it is. If you own the property, or if your friend/family is cool with it, you can do whatever you want. Build a camp, a full cabin, make a shipping crate bunker, buy a pre-built house. 

If space isn’t a limit, you’ll just want to keep in mind that you should split your supplies. You don’t know whether you’ll end up there or hunkered down at home. 

If you don’t own the land or maybe don’t have permission, then space is a big issue. Your supplies need to be invisible to anyone but you.

What Supplies to Put in Bug Out Caches

Things worth stashing fall into two main categories: Consumables and Heavy Gear.

Consumables are things like toilet paper, soaps, and food rations. Toilet paper (as we’ve seen with the Covid runs) is considered by many to be very important. As someone that has used leaves on a 100 mile backpacking trip, I disagree. It’s gross to think about while things are good but there are a lot of things you can wipe with. Toilet paper is bulky, hard to carry, and absolutely unnecessary for survival.

Soaps and sanitizers especially are a lot more important to stash. It’s hard to make things like this out in the wild. Hand sanitizer especially is very effective at germ control. It’s also relatively small. If you’re stashing anything, I highly recommend stashing sanitizer.

Food rations are worth stashing, but are hard to rely on. They’re finite, there’s no way around it. They’re nice to help you bridge the gap to your new Castaway style forest life, but they’re temporary. Don’t go overboard on them. Past a point, your money and energy are better spent on learning trapping, fishing, hunting, and foraging.

Heavy gear is another category entirely that you can stash. Many types of outdoor stoves and cooking tools are very heavy. They’d be back-breaking to haul so you really can’t bug out with them. If you can stash and leave these ahead of time, you can set yourself up in style for the end of the world.

Another type of “heavy gear” to consider is shelter/furniture. If you can, stashing things like tents, cots, chairs, or tables will leap you ahead of pure bushcraft camps. If you have the ability to create and conceal a whole shelter, you’re not bugging out, you’re just moving. 

Keeping Your Bug Out Caches Safe

Here we arrive at making sure your stash is there when you need it. There are two major factors here to consider.

The first factor is wildlife. If you’re burying tasty things in the forest there’s a 100% chance that you’re not the only one interested in it. Any supplies that you bury, food, soap, TP, has to be protected. Use metal containers as much as possible. Gophers and bugs will smell your supplies through anything. They can’t chew through metal.

The other factor is hiding your stash. Animals operate on smell, you don’t need to hide your stuff from them. People, on the other hand, love finding treasure. Any stash that you leave unattended need to be buried, or at least camouflaged. Ideally, your stash should be invisible even when you’re standing right on it. If you hide your stashes well, you’ll need to leave yourself a map based on natural landmarks to find it again.

To wrap it all up, if you can pre-prepare your bug out location, you should. If you’re financially able, build yourself a vacation cabin on some private land. Failing that, build a hunting camp on land that someone tolerates you squatting on. Worst case, hide some germ-ex under a secret rock that only you know the path to. Just be sure that your secret rock isn’t illegally in a national forest, wink.

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