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What to Bury: A Guide for New Preppers

Because no one can take what they cannot find

If you are simply safeguarding valuables or constructing a time capsule for your kids, then you already know what items you’re burying. Chances are, however, that if you’re stashing stuff underground or stock-piling supplies then it’s more likely that you’re a prepper or survivalist of some sort. With hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of survival-geared websites currently available, I’ve seen considerable conflict about exactly which items someone might need to cache and it can be a little confusing for someone new to the idea of prepping. With this in mind, I thought I’d try to simplify the process of deciding which items should have priority when prepping.

Regardless of whatever disaster or emergency you might be prepping for, you’ll want to use the same method when prioritizing and acquiring your gear. Imagine the event (economic collapse, World War III, zombie infestation, or whatever) happening on a certain day; your highest priority should then focus on any items that would be impossible or very difficult to make or find after that day.

For almost everyone, this automatically puts firearms and ammunition at the very top of the list since they are nearly impossible to manufacture or even repair in the field. The next most difficult items to reproduce ‘from scratch’ in the field are (not in any particular order) cutting tools and weapons such as knives or arrowheads, cordage such as string or rope, containers to carry water such as jugs or bottles, and fire-starting devices such as lighters or ferro rods.

I’ll give an example. Say I only packed my survival kit with a 12ga shotgun and shells, a knife, some military 550-cord, a stainless-steel water bottle and a flint & steel fire-starter. Using only these items, I can carry water wherever I need to and use the fire-starter to light a campfire to boil the water; thus giving me clean drinking/cooking water. I can also shoot a couple rabbits, cook and eat the rabbits and use the knife, rabbit furs and 550-cord to make a hat. Do you see where I’m going with this?…by packing the 5 items listed above, I’ve eliminated the need to store or carry large quantities of food or water and also given myself the ability to make and/or repair clothing.

The water and hat analogies may seem silly but there is a lot more that one could do with those five items. You’ll want to consider things like this when deciding which items to cache. It sounds great to pack 50 gallons of spring water and 5 cases of MRE’s (which actually is a good idea) but you need to be prepared for when the water/food runs out. You’ll also want to consider your own skills when deciding what items to stockpile or cache. Speaking for myself, I am very confident in my ability to find food in the wild. During certain times of the year, I can scavenge more food than I could possibly eat; however, I am totally incompetent with the idea of making string/rope from scratch or trying to build a fire without help. So when caching emergency supplies, I would never waste precious space with food; although I feel I should clarify that most preppers might not agree with this. I would also never need a compass although I strongly recommend them for others. Do you see how this works?…everyone’s survival kit isn’t going to be the same.

Bear in mind that if you require corrective lenses, spare eyeglasses and several years worth of contact lenses/solutions may also necessary; and you’ll want baby-wipes or hand sanitizer for handling your contacts. Don’t forget critical medications or any other medical supplies (like inhalers) for physical ailments or disabilities that you or a family member may have.

Keeping all of this in mind, this is how I would personally pack for a disaster or widespread emergency scenario. Remember that this would be my own personal stash and that yours may vary depending on your skills and environment. I have always been more comfortable in the woods that anywhere else, so you’ll see that I would pack/cache accordingly since I have no intention on staying in an urban environment during any type of widespread emergency.

  • a rifle, shotgun and pistol along with plenty of ammunition, cleaning supplies (patches, towels, solvent and gun oil) and accessories (such as related tools or magazines) for each firearm
  • two flint and steel fire-starters from UST or Gerber, a half-dozen or so canisters of waterproof matches, 50-100 pieces of commercially manufactured tinder and a half-gallon of lamp oil
  • a fixed-blade hunting knife like a Ka-Bar, a one-handed folder with a serrated blade such as a Spyderco Endura, any skinning knife with gut-hook and several sharpening stones, needle files and oil; along with a machete, shovel and a hatchet
  • a LifeStraw or other water filtration device, a 2qt collapsible canteen, an aluminum water bottle, two cooking pans and a gallon of bleach; all stored inside a plastic 5gal bucket
  • ten 100ft sections of military 550-cord, 100ft of kernmantle heavy-duty rope, 100ft of 1/8th or 1/16th inch steel cable; along with wire cutting and splicing tools

As you can see, those five categories turned into much more than just five items; and this is just the ‘bare-bones’ basics that I consider necessary for long term survival. I’m hoping you noticed that I made a point of mentioning what I call support items. These are supplies like gun oils or tools such as wrenches or metal files needed to keep your firearms and knives in top working order. Support items can also be necessary to maintain something as random as lanterns (spare mantles) or hiking boots (mink oil) and might be something as simple as a bottle of bleach to sterilize your drinking containers.

These 5 categories of items are very versatile; not only could they keep me alive almost indefinitely but these items are the most difficult for me to manufacture in the brush. Most of them would be downright impossible for me under even the best of circumstances, which also makes them critically valuable. Allowing for $1000 in firearms and another grand for ammo, you’re looking at a total of around $2500 to complete this most basic list. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m not a hard-core prepper and I would feel comfortable stopping here; but most preppers wouldn’t…

So let’s say that I was to continue stockpiling supplies, I would continue imagining the next 5 groups of items that would be the most difficult to manufacture in the field after whatever disaster or event I was prepping for. Once again, this is my own “what-if” list geared towards a ‘wilderness’ type situation and yours may be somewhat different.

    • materials for making a long stay in a permanent shelter; including an axe or folding saw, tarpaulins or large sheets of plastic, blankets or sleeping bags and lots of extra clothing
    • first aid supplies such as gauze/bandages, blood-stoppers like QR Powder, surgical tools such as scalpels, SAM splints, radiation pills, Isopropyl alcohol, saline solutions and flushes, a venom extractor, medications such as Imodium, Excedrin, Benadryl and anti-biotics (if you can get them) like Cipro or Amoxicillin
    • hygenic supplies such as soap (and plenty of it) toothbrushes and lots of toothpaste, nail clippers, tweezers, hair scissors, a small mirror and a couple disposable razors
    • extensive cooking supplies such as extra cast-iron pots, pans and skillets, extra hunting knives with gut-hooks and extra fillet knives, basic tableware/silverware including large cooking forks, tongs and ladles, a gallon of cooking oil and a dozen rolls of heavy-duty aluminum foil
    • hunting and fishing supplies including a full tackle box and at least 2 rod/reel combos and lots of extra fishing line and hooks, a PSE 40lb recurve bow with plenty of arrows, fletchings, broadheads and extra bowstrings, a Cold Steel 5ft 625cal blowgun and a good supply of darts, and dozens of animal traps including leg and conibear traps of various sizes

Last and most certainly not least, you’ll want back-up copies (or maybe originals) of hard drives containing precious photos or important documents like birth certificates or deeds.

Now I would imagine that burying everything I’ve listed so far in this post would be a massive project if undertaken all at once. Moving these supplies from one location to another would also present a problem without trucks or boats; and that should be taken into consideration when choosing a location. If you’re caching above ground, you’ll want some sort of secure location as everything I’ve listed in these 10 categories could easily run $4k or higher; and these 10 categories aren’t even close to being ‘enough’ for most preppers.

And you may have read my lists and thought, “Hell no, he’s wrong. I’m not caching any of this stuff, I’m caching this other stuff” and that’s also fine. With a few exceptions, there are no right or wrongs as everyone has different needs, skills and fears.