Homemade Recycled Geocache Containers

Updated on October 15, 2019
Ramkitten2000 profile image

Many of my articles are about footpaths, journeys and outdoor adventure around the globe.

Homemade geocache containers
Homemade geocache containers | Source

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?

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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 . . .

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Also consider reading more about preparing, placing, submitting and maintaining your geocaches.

Here's What I Mean by Camouflage Tape

Duck 1388825 Not Available Duct Tape, Single Roll, Digital Camouflage
Duck 1388825 Not Available Duct Tape, Single Roll, Digital Camouflage
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.
Recycled geocache container
Recycled geocache container

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.

Recycled geocache container
Recycled geocache container

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

Recycled geocache container
Recycled geocache container

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

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Recycled geocache container
Recycled geocache container
Recycled geocache container

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

MTM Case-Gard 50 Cal Ammo Can, Forest Green
MTM Case-Gard 50 Cal Ammo Can, Forest Green
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.

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.

This Tricky Cache Pack 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.

Comments About Geocaching or Geocache Containers?

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    • Ramkitten2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Kingsbury 

      5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I wouldn't say it's difficult to do if you know how to use a GPS. That said, some caches are harder to find than others depending on how well they're hidden, their size and where they're located. Some are close to roads and where you can park, while others require long, challenging hikes and everything in between. You get that information from the geocache listing, so you can decide if a cache is possibly too difficult for you or maybe even not challenging enough, physically speaking. So it's really something for people of all physical abilities and from children to adults of all ages.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      I never done geocaching before. Is it something easy or hard to do? What great ideas to make homemade containers out from them. Voted up for useful!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Kingsbury 

      5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Thanks for the heads up, Damo. I don't know if that was "right" or not, but I certainly changed to another listing that's direct through Amazon. Looks like the other one had changed to just a third-party seller, and sometimes those prices get crazy. Duct tape shouldn't be THAT much! Even the camo kind. :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The link for the camo tape brings you to an amazon page where they're trying to flog a roll for £43! Can that be right?

    • Ramkitten2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Kingsbury 

      6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      @junecampbell: Enjoy! "Sport" ... love it.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I'm a newbie to this sport so I am just here to learn.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Ziploc containers don't last long. The twist tops last longer then the other types but they too will crack and deteriorate fairly quickly. If you don't mind replacing them every 4 months go for it.

      The folgers jug is not watertight at all and animals love to chew on the thin plastic.

      Best recycled container is the peanut butter jar. I like to cut a piece of thin round fun foam and glue it to the inside of the lid to act as a gasket.

      After 10+ years of hiding letterboxes and geocaches I highly recommend the authentic plastic Lock & Lock. Heritage Mint sells them online if you can't find them at Target, Sears or Walmart. Do not use dollar store knock-offs - the tabs break off quickly.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Home made things saves money & gives a feelgood factor for learning something new

    • Ramkitten2000 profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Kingsbury 

      7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      @anonymous: Sounds different than any cache I've seen, that's for sure! My personal opinion is that maybe three container "levels" would be enough, but you could always try your idea and see what kind of feedback you might get. I think the challenge is more in finding it than unwrapping, but a few layers would be something different and fun.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Im making my first geocache and the idea of it is tat there will be a pillbox in a bigger pill box (wrapped with tape) in a hot chocolate tin (wrapped with tape intensely) in a zip lock bag with a cloth in it to make it warm ? maybe in another intensely wrapped hot chocolate tin in two zip locked bags ? Does it sound fun ? (Im going to put an sd card in it as well)

      The cache will be located on a beach set in regions of temperate climate ? Please reply to any good ideas to add to this. Thanks John


    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I have heard so very much about geocaching that I would really like to give a try one day. Love your suggestions on containers for geocache items. Very logical reasoning behind their use that one might not otherwise take into account when using them.

    • Caromite profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for your lens :) I go geocaching for 5 years now (very seldom, sadly,..) but I've never hidden a cache.

    • my1eye profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for this . My family are big fans of Geocaching -

      It's a great way to get outdoors, exercise and play with some gadgets too.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      That is a great book, that I also recommend! Thanks for sharing, especially the tip on using camo tape. That disguise most "self made" caches very nicely!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      really great lens...I just got into geocaching and am excited to hide my own.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 

      8 years ago

      Nope, I'm a letterboxer. I've done a bit of geocaching, though. I'd do more if I had a GPS, because there are a lot more opportunities to geocache than letterbox...especially around here. I really need to use your suggestions to make better containers for my letterbox plants. Mine tend to break down and get wet inside.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      will try geocaching :)

    • profile image

      sidther lm 

      8 years ago

      This is so cool! I will have to try geocaching!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've never done geocaching - but it certainly seems interesting! Great work on this lens!


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