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.


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

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:

  • Altoids tins
  • Tic-tac or Listerine containers
  • Semi-disposable containers (Ziploc Snap 'n Seal, GladWare, etc.)

Glass containers

You should not hide anything in a glass container. Glass containers can crack or shatter if they get frozen, dropped or stepped on. The broken glass is then potentially dangerous to animals and cachers. Broken glass might also focus sunlight and start a forest fire.

Food containers

Food containers smell like food, and critters will nibble on or otherwise disturb them. Even if you wash them really well, they still smell like food to animals.

Containers made out of certain plastics

If the cache is to be placed in an area that experiences temperatures that are near freezing or below, it should be known that certain plastics that are commonly used in food containers get very brittle in such temperatures. This is especially true for polypropylene (PP). A person finding the geocache during cold might hence unintentionally break it, which is why such plastics are not recommended.


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