What Goes In Your ‘Plan B’ Cache (e.g. Olive Barrel)?

olive barrels

‘NH Michael’ is an advocate of having a ‘Plan B Olive Barrel’ and recently said the following:

I remember my Drill SGT saying the more you Sweat in Training (and Preparing) the less you bleed.

It’s hard to prepare for what you refuse to consider. It’s a lot of Sweat to do Midnight Gardening as to have an effective Plan B Olive Barrel set aside with some “Beater Firearms” shelter tools and materials and supplies.

If you do a Plan B Olive Barrel START with the Assumption you have been driven from the burning ruins of your house wearing bloodied rags from the beating (actually Happened in Bosnia and Venezuela)

What would you need right now to survive and rebuild? Yard sale tools, seeds, Thrift Store Clothing all are easy ways to build this plan.

– NH Michael

So here we go… let’s hypothesize that we’re living through the nightmare scenario of complete societal breakdown.

A group of marauders or other such entity sweeps through your neighborhood pillaging for food, supplies, whatever they want.

If you stay, you may be ‘taken out’ or ‘relocated’. So you decide to bug out, even if (hopefully) temporarily until they’re gone.

‘NH Michael’ likes the idea of a plastic (waterproof) olive barrel as a cache storage.
(I actually have a few of these)

What would or should be in it?

Where and how would you hide it??

A few basic categories might include:
– Water
– Food
– Shelter
– Security/Defense/Offense
– First Aid
– Clothes/Outerwear/Footwear/Backpack
– ?

Imagine if the supplies in this cache will be all that you have…
Note: There’s only about 55-gallons worth of space in this cache –

You may or may not be able to return to your home base. What if ‘they’ occupy it or burn it down? Maybe they won’t do that, but ‘they’ will have taken most or all of your supplies.

It may be quite a far fetched thought process – thinking that something like this would actually ever happen. However for those who do consider such scenarios, I’m curious to get your input regarding cache.

I’ll take that input and list it here in the article after we’ve received enough comment:


  1. I want a few of these….
    Wish i could get them locally, but looks like i would need to ship them in, could actually place a pretty good sized and diverse cache in it.

    Honestly, if someone is marauding and taking everything and prisoners, they will get nothing from me as i would rather burn it than let it fall into their hands, how fast do you think this big cedar box would burn?

  2. Ken generally I found one 40 gallon Olive Barrel per person gave ample space for Plan B supplies. And oddly enough the slightly smaller size than a 55 gallon drum easier to handle and bury. Your likely to be using hand tools and feeling pretty poorly after being bum rushed out of your Homestead.

    Hiding it depends on your water table for burial, your weather patterns (would stink to have 8 inches of ice on top of it) and sensitivity of materials inside to temperature changes. I prefer to Mylar sealed bag with desiccants for moisture sensitive items like radios, firearms and such. Is major fire hazards in your area. All factors to think about.

    As far as “far fetched thought process” the cache system is what all successful guerillas used from the American Revolution through the Polish Resistance in WW2 through the Vietnam War BECAUSE your “Safe House” can become comprised and thus a trap.

    Given the reasonable fear that hungry people may find your preparations looking a lot more interesting than that empty Wal-Mart you may find yourself chased out for your supplies. Unless you figure it’s worth dying for then….

    Shallow burial under a brush pile is pretty simple if your not worried about major fire hazards. Also shallow with brush pile makes busting it out after a Nor’easter more doable as well as some insulation value to reduce temperature swings.

    Looking forward to other thoughts :-)

  3. I’d say a way to GET water. In this scenario water would take up an awful lot of limited space. If you fill up a third of your cache with water, within a few days it’s gone anyway and then where are you? So a portable water filter or materials for a still rather than water itself.

    Seeds, definitely, but specifically seeds suited to your environment. A can full of seeds you’ve never worked with before could be worse than useless, as well as taking up room (that can probably holds less than an ounce of seeds).

    The assumption for me is that I’ll be moving (either to keep the enemy from figuring out where I am or to get to another location) so having a ton of supplies will just be a handicap.

    I personally would focus on things that would let me rebuild–seeds, medical supplies, books identifying wild plants and herbs, basic survival tools. Since it would likely just be me and Dad (or just me) there’s no way I could carry an “olive barrel” worth of stuff.

    I do have a couple buckets with a two week supply of food, seeds and basic medical, but it’s not up to the olive barrel standard. :)

    1. Lauren I have mentioned a few times earlier that heavy duty black and clear plastic are part of the Shelter part of the Olive Barrel. Some pebbles some cordage (I suggest 550 cord and tarred bank line) and your rainwater collector is ready to fill that 40 gallon water reservoir. Food wise dry beans and rice/corn are very filling and easy to store. The advantage to corn and beans is you can PLANT them for next year :-)

  4. I’m going to go based on the assumption that I’ll have my usual “bug out bag” and its usual seasonal contents, as I generally have access to it in most areas I go. Like most probably have, this includes basic survival stuff for a few days – food, water purification methods and containers, some basic tools, etc.

    For a 55gal barrel with which to rebuild from, I’d try to include some more rebuilding type stuff. I figure, too, if we are intending this to be for rebuilding, go with some useful smaller tools that can be used to make other tools, such as a saw to cut a tree, and use them to make mallets/hammers, shelter, and so much more.

    -Lots of seeds, some gardening tools
    -Weaponry for potential fighting, but more tools to create spears, etc. for hunting and fishing
    -Expanded first aid kit, beyond that in the BOB
    -Extra food stores, and some preservation materials
    -Wood working tools (axe, hatchet, saw, chisels, etc.)
    -Reference books of local edible and medicinal plants

    I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but simply knowing how to local natural resources work, and can be utilised is, in my opinion, of utmost importance.

    Lastly, I’d place one of these in both of the 2 places I currently have scouted out as unofficial BOLs, off the beaten path, near a natural landmark with personal significance, unlikely to be moved/destroyed, and I would preferably bury it underground.

  5. Things I would take into consideration:
    -As NH Michael said…water table. Don’t go below it.
    -Frost line. Don’t go above it.
    -Don’t leave top exposed.
    -Don’t mark the location stupidly.

    I would bury the barrel vs. hiding. Install a second seal for the lid. Thin plastic sheet between lid and barrel. Cover the top of the barrel with an upside down tough plastic ‘bucket’ or tote. Backfill. Put a planter, raised bed garden, anything to make the spot look ‘normal’ on top of ‘the spot’. DO NOT leave batteries loose. Vacuum seal. You don’t want them leaking onto everything else in the barrel. If you can find cosmoline, great. Otherwise coat all tools with Vaseline and wrap with thick plastic sheet. Oil and bag weapons. Put things in buckets that will fit through top of barrel. Tie 550 cord to handle and secure at top. (You want to be able to easily get the things in the barrel out of the barrel.) And remember……always store wine laying on its side. Ya don’t want the cork dryin’ out!

  6. If you would like to feel what it would be like with out this back up. Try this experiment, walk out of your home, apartment, condo look back taking only what you would normal have with you each day, when you leave for work, or shopping.

    Turn around look at your home, now imagine it is gone. It is no longer there with all the items you would have used to keep yourself going in a shtf. Reason for a back up plan B, if not an Olive barrel which I have discovered is a RARE commodity in the zone which grows olives, what a hoot!!

    Use off site storage(storage rentals), not far from your home to store back ups that you will require, if you are like us. Our ground is hard come summer time, it would take a back hoe to dig up the barrel or at least get to the lid to open it. We reside in a high fire area, an the landowners are lazy about maintaining the weed abatement on their lands to help with fire fighting. NO storage here unless it were to be an underground septic/concrete cellar. Which might be an option we will have to consider.

    1. Antique Collector I once mentioned a “Fake Septic Tank” for storage. With a little creative thought I bet not too many folks will unscrew that lid and climb down in there :-)

      If you need a hint look up Sepp Hozers Bone Sauce recipe. That smell lasts forever and would reduce my curiosity of what was in there… In sunlight and rain it fades pretty fast but none of that in the false space between the top lid and your supplies.

      You can even have someone dug it for you and you have to have it “Inspected” so you can fill it up and bury it yourself later. No planning folks knew you wanted a spare septic tank and the back hoe guy thinks your going through the county for….

  7. Good to see this has finally been put into an article Ken. Good job to NHM.

    My caches consist of a pot to piss into, spoon, 72 hrs worth canned food, greased up firearm with no wood furniture ( metal & plastic) at least 200 rounds of ammo with said firearm. 1 spool of 50 lb test fishing line, hacksaw blades fixed blade knife and sharpening stone, shovel, ax and file, lighter, sparking rod with ultra fine steel wool, 1 bag of clean plastic wrapped shop towels, clean plastic wrapped underwear with socks, boots, clothes and outerwear in plain drab colors. brimmed hat because I am bald. fleece watch cap because bald heads get cold. gloves for protection and warmth. Grooming kit which contains: toilet paper, moist towelettes in foil wrappers. lip balm, skin lotion and/or sunscreen, antihistamines, decongestants, artificial tears and pain relievers. Ziplock bag containing books and copies of my paperwork for ID purposes including my old flat badge. ( you can still be traced based upon your badge # even though retired years earlier.). cheap plastic tarp from the hardware store.

    on the top of this stack, inside the waterproof wrapper is an LED headlamp. I had these caches in some old, disreputable storage units in San Jose, CA when I was a student and they came with me where ever I went including my current location. This was kept inside of a clean metal garbage can.

    I did not mention money because that is a personal decision on your part. There is some cash in the location with the paperwork. I figure if SHTF, the cache location will be compromised and so I will probably access it then move and carry to a new location.

    When in or around a campsite area of human habitation, consider hiding valuable stuff around the proximity of the outhouse, place where people relieve themselves or downwind of said location. I set up my cache and got serious about it after responding to house and apartment fires where families had a rude awakening and had to run out the door in their pajamas and bathrobes. Most did not get a chance to grab a pot to piss into.

    Obtain a grocery cart for mobile hauling and I fit right in with the growing horde of homeless people.

    1. Good info Cali
      I’ve been working on this and will take your recommendations into consideration.

      Paid small storage unit for plan b seems like a better option for me.

      What do you use for the grease on tools and firearms? We talking mechanics bearing, joint / axle grease? Would be a pain to clean up certain components trigger spring assemblies etc.
      Live in a Humid Swampy location.

      1. White Cracker did you see the posting about sealed Mylar bags and desiccants few postings above? I could add I find Frog Lube very nice for storage as you can shoot with out cleaning the barrel.

        My dislike for Storage units is from the comments of some who PLAN on going Shopping there if SHTF for stuff. Out of my sight, out of my control and too many times I have heard of fully rent paid units accidently emptied. Not cool and you have no recourse given most storage units have BANNED a lot of “Survival” stuff like ammo, Guns, etc.

        Aside from that IF SHTF and power was out how will you get there? Going to be pretty Chaotic out there and the electronic gate may not work. If someone patrols or lives there they may object to you cutting the fence etc.

        You might make it work but there is a lot to think about.

        1. @ NHM Good observations.
          I am always a 3 is 2… 2 is 1…. and 1 is 0 kind of guy.
          Just looking to expand options.

          The storage unit would be closer to my BLO in a rural area. not down the street in suburbia. A short few days on foot or 1 day by bike to reach it. Plus I like to bury stuff so there would be back ups to my backups…

          I never adhere to any rules of man.. If they say can’t do something I still do it along as it fits within my own moral compass.
          Gun Free Zones pffffff…….

          As I tell my liberal sissy inlaws… You are no longer in a Gun Free zone when you stand next to me :)

        2. White Cracker where in the OPSEC manual does it say to piss off liberals with the fact you are armed? That’s a lot like arguing with Liberals, when have you ever won an argument with them? In their eyes you self ID as a crazy.

          Do you think they will suddenly have a revelation that Guns are Good? Or will they turn you in someday?

  8. ok, I have to say I have only had time to scan many articles, so this may have been said. But, are those olive barrels (above) some type of heavy /leak proof plastic? Will they really keep the water/moisture out? Where does one secure such barrels? thks

    1. Anon they are screw top heavy plastic barrels used to ship olives in salt brine from Greece among other places.

      So if they have the inner seal they are quite water proof. I find mine on craigslist or local hardware stores. Farmers love them for feed grain, keeps the rodents out.

      1. NH Michael , Thanks for info. Will keep my eye out on second hand sites etc..

  9. If I were to plan on building something, there would be an assortment of nails, lots of cordage, claw hammer, along with some tarp, survival clothes, food, etc.
    Shelter will be very important, even life saving.

    1. Good Morning tango with the background of my beloved watching the “Royal Wedding” (muffled gaaking sounds) I read your post. I plan on salvage tools and repair items like tarps (doors, leaky roofs), clear plastic sheeting for window replacement (often destroyed) and such.

      Shelter is critical.

      Help, my brain is melting from all the British accents…..

  10. OK maybe I am just being contrary but If a horde is going through and looting they just aren’t going to get anything from me. As someone else said I would burn it all to the ground first. As far as a plan B I also don’t have a plan ( in this situation ) to take off and leave my home.I am just to old and tired to start running out into the woods or a different area and try to start over. if the horde is going to come through then they are going to just have to pay the price to get past me. I realize that I can’t hold off a large group and that they WILL take me out sooner or later ( probably sooner ) but there comes a point when I just don’t give a damn. I am NOT going to run away so they can get what I worked my life for. Just not gonna happen.

  11. For anyone who’s ever read Ragnar Benson’s books, he talks about bearing 6 inch by 5 foot PVC pipes with supplies. Much easier to bury with an auger or post hole digger.

    Glue cap one end, use threaded fitting for the other end. I can’t imagine burying a barrel…. too much work…

    1. Ken if your going for Ragnars 6 inch PVC cache (not a bad one) please remember it’s Very Hard to get stuff out of it with out digging it all up. In our area and even warmer areas with clay soil that is quite a task. I know this because I’ve done it and I was much younger then. :-)

      If I were to do it again for say low target area for metal detection I would use an 8 inch PVC and out that 6 incher INSIDE it. Much easier removal and given the money spent on the gear inside as well as the burial effort not that expensive.

      However I have noticed that some areas in our Northwood’s have very little frost line action doe to perhaps the warmth of natural decay. Think a little about this. Where around your woods and homesteads are warmer in winter.

  12. To: White Cracker, NHM and poorman.

    I used a storage unit in San Jose CA when I was living in an apartment. Storage unit did not mean place and forget. You must stay in touch with the folks that run the place. I chose the older storage places because they are the ones least likely to have electronic locks and more likely to give the the gate combo or key for the outside gate for 24 hr access. The unit I rented was so old fashioned they had a dog as part of their security team. (my kind of people). When you live in an apartment, you do not have a yard to bury things in. I was going through trade school with a person whose parents managed the storage facility and I helped the old couple clear out old units that were behind on rent or abandoned. ( to help pay my rent or at least stay on good terms with the managers.)

    Gun storage within a locked, sealed container has one enemy: condensation. NHM already mentioned Froglube, Mylar bags and desiccants. I agree on all of the above though in my early years with not a lot of cash, I have also used cotton towels wrapped around firearms soaked with cosmoline ( the packing gun grease used by manufactures and gunsmiths.) in a pinch, Have used cotton cloth soaked with 30 weight motor oil too. The greased up gun will require a good amount of time to clean up starting with running patches through the bore.

    The standard gun oils out there like LSA – light weapons oil is not viscous enough for high moisture environments or salty fog zones so if you use only light weapons oil alone, you may find a fine patina of rust forming on parkerized surfaces when you reach for old Betsy next time. I leave my stored gun within a cotton cover with some type of lube on the cotton.

    the 50 lb test fishing line is for making pull throughs to run a patch through the bore of firearms as well as making snares. A cache is not the place where I stored most of my firearms. Only one or two. Enough to get me out of trouble yet not enough to draw negative attention. (same with amount of ammo stored.)

    Like poorman out there, I do not plan to run from my home but the one thing that will make people leave their home rapidly in unplanned fashion is a fire. If you live in an apartment, you may be forced to leave at a moments notice due to a drunk, careless or mentally unstable neighbor. Having enough supplies cash and copies of personal papers in an alternate location is a good idea. This is coming from a guy with a background in emergency services.

    I have had and seen trouble when people try to “cache” or store things at the homes of others. The safety of your items is reliant on your trust and relationship with the person that now has your stuff. One of the gun shops I worked at kept getting broken into as well so a place of business is also a poor location to cache things. ( thieves did not know what to do with barrel blanks, wooden stock blanks and barrels of parts. the truly valuable items were too heavy to cart off: milling machine, lathe and bench with 2 vises.)

  13. To NHM:

    If I remember right, you are also a bicycle rider? The lithium grease used for bearing several times per year also works on firearm surfaces and is a bit easier to work with than cosmoline. It is also easier to find these days as bicycle shops seem to be more common than an old fashioned gunsmith that uses a lot of cosmoline. ( going the way of the dinosaur.)

    Part of survival for me is to make some items multitask. I just hope I do not live in a world where I have to use both firearms and bicycles with any great frequency out of necessity.

    1. CaliRefugee I do enjoy bicycles however I think Frog Lube paste is far superior for cleaning/lubing and storing firearms if I had any. Lithium grease is great on bicycles.

      Now if I could find a folding bicycle that would fit in a 40 gallon olive barrel :-)

  14. Goodness after a busy week of blackflies and mosquitos while yard work and garden expansion I noted I never posted about Aluminum Window Screening Material.

    Good to add to your Plan B Olive Barrel as broken windows tend to have ruined screens also. Also very useful in making drying trays for your solar dehydrator, winnowing tray to remove chaff from seeds, part of an water pre-filter , making fish/crawfish/bird traps with a little reinforcement AND keeping you sane trying to sleep with biting bugs.

    Think what the 1800 pioneers would have given for this material.

    Anybody have any other ideas for Aluminum Window Screening?

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