Homemade Recycled Geocache Containers
Find Geocache Containers in Your Own Home
While there are a number of geocache containers on the market—from ammo cans to tiny nano caches—there's no need to spend a dime for a perfectly good one.
At least, not an additional dime.
The only money you need to spend for most of the recycled geocache containers shown here is the original purchase of the items that came inside those containers in the first place.
Are you a geocacher?
And do you have placed geocaches of your own?
Characteristics of a Good Recycled Geocache Container
Warning: Not all containers are created equal
For those who've been geocaching for a while and those who have placed at least one of your own, the following are probably in the "no-brainer" category. And they may seem pretty obvious to most everyone else too. Still, these are just things to keep in mind when putting together a cache...
- All geocache containers should be as weatherproof and waterproof as possible, but it's still a good idea to protect the contents in a Zip-loc baggie in very wet areas. Recycled containers usually aren't as durable as commercial cache containers, so they'll probably need to be replaced more often.
- Geocache containers can be see-through or opaque but should always blend with the environment, or at least not be so bright and bold-colored as to stand out if part of the cache might be visible to passersby. Use camouflage tape to make those bright containers blend in.
- If the recycled container originally held food, be sure to wash it really well so animals won't smell residue that your nose might not detect. Wash the container with a solution of water and bleach and run it through a dishwasher if you have one.
- Many recycled containers are not that sturdy. You can reinforce them by wrapping them with duct tape and then paint them or use the camo tape. Screw-on lids are best.
- Identify the cache as a geocache by marking the container with the words "Official Geocache," along with the name of the cache and contact information.
Read more about preparing, placing, submitting and maintaining your geocaches.
Here's What I Mean by Camouflage Tape
This professional-grade tape adheres to a variety of surfaces like cloth, vinyl, leather, plastic, metal, and laminates. It also tears easily without curling, and it conforms to uneven surfaces. It comes in a 1.88-inch-by-10-yard roll.
A Regular or Large Size Peanut Butter Jar
These make very good geocache containers for small caches
We've used both small and large peanut butter jars as containers for several caches here in the high desert environment around Flagstaff, Arizona, and they've worked well.
The downfall of one of those containers was its red lid, which probably caught the eye of a non-geocaching passerby—otherwise known as a "muggle"—who removed the contents and left the empty jar and lid behind on the ground.
So be sure to camouflage those bright lids, especially if they may be at all visible to anyone walking past, who's not even looking for the cache.
Plastic containers will be degraded by sunlight so, again, it's a good idea to wrap them in camo tape, or duct tape and paint.
Occasionally, a geocacher may not screw the lid back on properly, so if you can place the cache in a well-protected spot out of any precipitation, that might prevent the contents from getting wet.
A Plastic Coffee Container
For medium to large geocaches
These hard-plastic containers with interlocking lids are usually brightly colored like the one pictured here, so camouflaging with tape and paint is recommended if there's any possibility the geocache might be noticed. Me, I'd camouflage it anyway.
I would also put a Ziploc baggie inside to further protect the swag and notebook.
A Good Plastic Container With a Leak-Resistant Seal
We've found a few geocaches lately that were in these Ziploc containers with screw-on lids. Granted, we live in the high desert, but it does rain and snow here and did both extensively not long ago. Still, the caches we've found in these containers, which weren't 100% protected from the elements, were dry and in very good condition.
I would not substitute a flimsier food container like those you might find at dollar stores. We've found those before, and they weren't holding up well.
Try these instead.
A Geocache in a Ziploc Container We Found on a Mountaintop
Other Recycled Containers for Geocaches
Here are some other ideas for recycled containers. Again, not usually as durable and long-lasting as ammo cans and lock-and-lock containers (except for the cheap-o Dollar Store kind, which I wouldn't use), so reinforce if necessary and be prepared to replace them more often:
- Soup thermos, plastic or steel
- Spice containers with screw-on lids
- Mayonnaise jars, plastic
- Kool-Aid containers
- Pretzel jars, plastic with screw-on lids
- Racquetball containers, hard plastic with screw top
- Twist and pour paint container
- Nalgene water bottle, wide-mouth
More Instructions on Making Geocache Containers From Items Around the House
- Micro (Geocache) Container
This instructable will teach you how to make a small container from two bottle caps and a bottle neck.
- A Magnetic Geocaching Container
An instructable on how to make an eclipse mint cache container
- A New Geocache Log Container
How to make a micro cache container
- The Evil Cache
This nano cache container may stump a lot of geocachers, even if they're looking right at it.
- Mum's geocaching starters kit
Clever ideas for homemade geocache containers
What NOT To Use as a Geocache Container
It's generally agreed among geocachers that the following do not make good cache containers, due to the fact that some are flimsy, not waterproof or weatherproof, and/or tend to rust:
- Coffee cans
- Yogurt containers
- Gray film canisters with black lids
- Margarine tubs
- Hide-a-Key tins
- Dollar Store containers (like those Gladware tubs)
- Zip-loc baggies
- Prescription pill containers (the plastic tends to be brittle)
- Any container with a neck a lot narrower than the body
I would also not recommend the cheap Lock & Lock containers you'll see at Dollar Stores and the like. They're flimsy and won't out-last a peanut butter jar.
For more examples of what not to use as geocache containers, see the discussion thread about that topic on Groundspeak.com.
And never use glass containers for geocaches!
The Best Geocache Containers—Commercial Geocache Containers Don't Cost a Whole Lot
This ammo can will last a lot longer and protect the contents better than most recycled geocache containers you find around the house, and it cost about as much as a large jar of peanut butter these days. (Have you seen how much the prices on pb have gone up?!) So if you don't want to have to check on and replace your cache as often as you would if you use a peanut butter jar, I'd go with something like this, especially if you're in an area that gets a lot of moisture or if the cache will be in the sun a lot.
This set contains a bolt cache, a utility plate cache, a sprinkler cache, a fake rock cache, and a nano cache. The Tricky Cache Pack comes in a clear bag.
Here's a Nice "Camoflaged" Container Set
I'd been geocaching at least a dozen times before I found out that sometimes caches look like some other common object, so muggles would walk right by those. I actually had to go back to one on my "did not find" list and look more closely at the rocks. Sure enough, the cache was inside one of them.
Read About Geocaching and Geocachers
From Amazon: "Describing the exciting and adventurous world surrounding geocaching ... this book offers an understanding and application of the principles and best practices of the game. What's different is that the authors wrap this knowledge in a tapestry of human stories that range from hilarious to touching. [The authors] interviewed 40 of the world's 50 most prolific geocachers as well as experts in container design, 'extreme' geocaching and other dimensions of the game. They tell how this global activity inspires passion that has helped people heal frayed marriages, establish new friendships--and even save lives.
With rich illustrations complementing secrets culled from experts, this resource gives participants new skills for enhancing their experience and provides a visual montage of the different kinds of spots hobbyists can expect to find in the field."
Learn More About Geocaching
- Visit Geocaching.com: The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site
Geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers with other participants in the activity. Geocaching.com is the listing service for geocaches around the world.