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Homemade Recycled Geocache Containers

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Homemade geocache containers

Homemade 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?

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

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

homemade-recycled-geocache-containers
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

More Instructions on Making Geocache Containers From Items Around the House

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.

The Best Geocache Containers—Commercial Geocache Containers Don't Cost a Whole 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.

Learn More About Geocaching

Comments About Geocaching or Geocache Containers?

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on April 27, 2015:

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 from Northeast Ohio on April 25, 2015:

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!

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on September 16, 2014:

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. :)

Damo on September 12, 2014:

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?

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on March 20, 2014:

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

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 20, 2014:

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

anonymous on July 15, 2013:

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.

VineetBhandari on March 23, 2013:

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

anonymous on August 12, 2012:

@Ramkitten2000: Thanks for the opinion :)

Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on August 10, 2012:

@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.

anonymous on August 10, 2012:

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

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Lorelei Cohen from Canada on July 28, 2012:

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 on July 01, 2012:

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

my1eye on April 17, 2012:

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.

Hagglecoins on March 08, 2012:

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!

ChiroAustin on March 05, 2012:

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

NC Shepherd on January 21, 2012:

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.

normandes on January 18, 2012:

will try geocaching :)

sidther lm on January 18, 2012:

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

JoshK47 on January 18, 2012:

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