Cache Containers

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There are many different types of containers used to create geocaches. These containers are categorized into four sizes: Micro, Small, Regular and Large.

Contents

Cache Sizes

According to the "What does a geocache look like?" section of Groundspeak's Geocaching Guide, the four cache sizes are defined as:

  • Micro - Less than 100ml. Examples: a 35 mm film canister or a tiny storage box typically containing only a logbook or a logsheet. A nano cache is a common sub-type of a micro cache that is less than 10ml and can only hold a small logsheet.
  • Small - 100ml or larger, but less than 1L. Example: A sandwich-sized plastic container or similar.
  • Regular - 1L or larger, but less than 20L. Examples: a plastic container or ammo can about the size of a shoebox.
  • Large - 20L or larger. Example: A large bucket.

Micro Containers

A Bison Tube (and a dime, to show relative size)
A Blinker (and a dime, to show relative size)

There are many different types of micro containers used in hiding a cache, some of these include:

  • bison Tubes
  • pet ID capsules
  • match holders
  • soda bottle preforms
  • beach safes
  • oboe reed case
  • blinkers
  • blood glucose test strip container
  • pill bottles
  • pill vials & holders
  • magnetic strips
  • film canisters
  • magnetic key holders
  • Altoids tins (although they rust and are not waterproof)
  • Tic-Tac containers
  • breath-strips containers
  • Eppendorf microtubes (from 1.0ml to 2.0ml)
  • Plastic test tubes

Small Containers

A Beach Safe (and a US quarter, to show relative size)
A Beach Safe (and a US quarter, to show relative size)

Cache containers that are not quite a micro container, nor as large as a regular sized container, are categorized as a small cache. Some small containers include:

  • Small Tupperware containers
  • Military decon containers
  • Small Lock 'n Lock containers
  • Small Rubbermaid® containers(Seal-n-saver is best)
  • Small peanut butter jars
  • Large Beach safes
  • Traveler's Mug

Regular Containers

A classic geocache: A regular size cache in a 50mm ammo box.

Regular containers are containers that are large enough to hold a logbook and still have plenty of room left over for trade items. Some examples of regular sized cache containers are:

Large Containers

There are some cache containers that will not fall into any of the other categories because they are very large. Some examples of such large cache containers are:

  • Large buckets (5+ gallons, 19+ liters)
  • Rubbermaid® ActionPacker® storage containers (8–48 gallons, 30–180 liters)
  • Trashcans
  • Abandoned railroad freight cars
  • Abandoned bomb shelters

Good cache containers

Many of these containers have gaskets to keep moisture out.

Ammo cans

These containers are dry, rugged, cache containers from heaven. They have been known to survive floods, fires, tornadoes and everything else Mother Nature can seem to throw at them. They come in lots of different sizes to suit your caching needs.

Beach safes

Waterproof plastic storage containers designed for beach use. They are called "sport cases" by some manufacturers.

Decon Containers

One of the definitive containers for a small size cache, decon containers are the empty plastic containers from military skin decontamination kits. They are available from military surplus dealers, and are waterproof when closed properly. They are also durable and relatively inexpensive.

Before using a decon container for a geocache, you should sand off the warnings molded into the lid, and peel off (or cover up) the adhesive warning label. (These warnings apply to the caustic solutions in the original decontamination kit, not to the container itself.)

Pill Containers

The best known are the metal bison tubes, but most pill containers (designed to protect medication, vitamins, etc.) make good waterproof micro-cache containers.

Quality Airtight Food Containers

  • Lock&Lock
  • Nalgene® straight-sided jars
  • Nalgene® water bottles (although their neck is small, relative to the volume of the container)

Waterproof Equipment Cases

These are very effective, but they are also expensive.

Waterproof Match Boxes

These inexpensive plastic containers have screw-top lids with a great waterproof seal. They are a little longer and a little narrower than the typical film canister. They usually cost less than a dollar.

Soda Bottle Preforms

A plastic soda bottle starts as a small straight-sided bottle called a preform. To make a soda bottle, a preform is heated and inserted into a mold. Air is blown into the preform, which expands and conforms to the shape of the mold.

Preforms are sold as test tubes at teacher supply stores. They are water tight and make good weatherproof micro-caches.

Paintball Ammo Tubes

Some paintball ammo tubes in the 100-200 round range have spring-loaded snap-shut lids. The mouth of the tube is the same diameter as the rest of the container. They are usually 3-4 inches in diameter and 10 inches long. This size can hold a number of trinkets. They take paint well, and can be coated with faux granite spray paint for excellent camouflage in grassy or rocky areas.

Paintball ammo tube cache with green and granite fleck paint hiding under a rock.

Cache Containers to Avoid

Unused sewer pipes

These containers are quite prone to leaking when they are cooled down in the winter, and then thawed out, creating a vacuum which sucks water into the pipe. Also, these containers resemble pipe bombs, and may create quite a disturbance if discovered by a muggle

Leak Prone containers

There are some containers that just will not keep the water out. Some of these are:

  • Breath mint (e.g., Altoids® or Tic Tac®) and breath strip (e.g., Listerine®) containers
  • Semi-disposable containers (e.g., Ziploc®, GladWare®)
  • Key holders (either magnetic or camouflaged)

Glass containers

Please be very careful when hiding glass containers. With the right kind of lid they seal very well, however broken glass is a hazard to both animals and people. Glass containers should never be hidden near rocks, concrete, or other hard surfaces where they can crack or shatter when dropped. Still, some cache owners have used glass containers successfully in locations with no hard surfaces nearby (e.g., inside decaying stumps, in sandy areas).

Food containers

It can be difficult to completely remove food odors from reused food containers, and these food odors can attract animals. Animals have a keen sense of smell and can detect food odors that we cannot, and they have been known to destroy containers when they smell food.

Still, some food containers (e.g., peanut butter jars) make good cache containers if you can eliminate the food odors. Some cache owners have had success washing containers multiple times with warm soapy water, then rinsing them with bleach.

Plastic containers

Many plastics degrade when exposed to UV light, including the UV component of sunlight. Plastic containers need to be protected from sunlight to avoid this degradation.

Many plastics also degrade when exposed to heat, and should be avoided in hot desert climates.

Many plastics become very brittle at freezing or near freezing temperatures. This is especially true for polypropylene (PP). Such plastic containers should be avoided in places that experience freezing temperatures, because cache seekers could easily break them unintentionally.

Sources

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