How To Create a Rolling Survival Cache

How to create a rolling survival cache

I’ve already addressed the idea of having a secret cache/safe place in the city here on Mind4Survival, describing my personal experience building (and testing) one to illustrate the proposition. Now, I’ll go over an alternative strategy: a rolling survival cache.

As described in the article, I’d put together that small storage room during a period of great political and social turmoil in Brazil. At about that time, I was consulting street survival for a guy who couldn’t create a safe place for himself and his family. He was going through a financial slump and would have to hand over his office locations in another part of town.

But he still wanted to be prepared in case the riots worsened, and since he had an old white van sitting unused in said office (he had to keep it for legal reasons), I proposed he use it instead. He agreed, and we started laying out the plans so he could check beforehand the changeover would fit his budget. It did, and we began to lay out plans for his rolling cache.

Planning Your Rolling Survival Cache

They will contain most (if not all) items and other apparatus to allow for a relatively comfortable retreat for a small family in case of turbulence or other disruptions that force a bug-out, temporary or definitive. It’s one of the best A plans for a mid or longer-term stay in case of SHTF (a boat or boat house is another, but that’s for a future post).

However, for those same reasons, they also draw more attention. They can become a target – even ones parked inside a garage or private property or on the move – precisely during situations or periods when we want to avoid that. With that in mind, we decided our project had to differ in form and function:

We set off to build a cache similar to mine but rolling instead of fixed.

It had to fit a small budget.

Like my small place, it would have none of the conveniences found on a camper or trailer (shower, TV, kitchen, etc.), only enough amenities to allow for a short “emergency” accommodation in an emergency.

An inconspicuous van makes a great survival cache

An Inconspicuous Van

I can’t say for sure because we haven’t tried this out, but from my research and some common sense, an old white van would be a lot more inconspicuous than a motorhome or trailer, thus less attractive to potential looters and robbers.

It can sit parked in a garage on a building at walking distance to his house, much like I had done with my small cache. But unlike it, a van can be moved and change places easily and quickly, if necessary, for any reason. Constantly moving can increase OPSEC, too, as maintaining it (resupply, rotate, fix, etc.) draws less attention from those around.

A car or old van parked inside a building can hold food, water, and other supplies such as clothing, medicines, guns/ammo, and money. Of course, that strategy demands good planning and an even better execution. As always, OPSEC is mandatory: everything must be done as secretly as possible. We set out to build it in his soon-to-be-returned office, and only then.

The car must be inconspicuous and, at the same time, well-guarded with alarms and other monitoring systems. It must be kept in the shade, as heat and sun would render supplies worthless in no time. The parking should also be considered: somewhere accessible yet safe, far from the eyes and attention of eventual looters or anyone looking for stuff during an SHTF.


An old white van with a diesel engine runs for little money compared to an apartment, a rural farm, or a country house. It can accommodate a small family if necessary, as long as it’s well maintained and kept in order. I’ve slept, cooked, and performed tasks (gun cleanings, radio operations, fixings, stockpile rotations, and so on) with my client and a friend for a couple of weekends in it, and everything went smoothly.

If homelessness increases and staying home isn’t safe or viable, it’s perfectly possible to live in a van like that inside a parking building or other place as a safer, more protected option to living in a car in the streets or even as a homeless outdoors. It would most likely be cheaper than paying rent in a decent place. And if others would join in, perhaps a small community could be formed, helping with defense and acquisition of resources.

An RV is another viable option for a rolling cache


Of course, an RV would be even better, even though it may become an easier, or perhaps more obvious, target to criminals and people looking for supplies. RVs are not as common in Brazil as in the US or Europe, where traveling around in such a vehicle is safer. There are few RV parking and camps here, but it can be a good – certainly more comfortable – option if RV touring is common in your country. Again, it’s important to consider the situation as everything changes if it hits the fan.

As usual, an escape strategy would be necessary. But the idea here is to offer a viable alternative for keeping a “mobile” stockpile. In difficult moments, we’ll need to be creative and adapt. Thinking ahead and planning may give you options and prove an advantage if things turn dire.

Final Thoughts on Rolling Survival Caches

Building a dedicated space (or vehicle) for emergency storage and eventual staying isn’t for everyone. There are costs associated with planning, investing, and keeping it (taxes, maintenance, etc.), among other issues. I’ve presented my strategy, and it is based on my context.

Around that same time, I was testing my strategies for living in a car. I figured it could be used for the same purpose; after all, preppers worldwide use RVs and trailers all the time for that exact purpose. Before laying out my place, I’d given the rolling stash a brief thought, mainly because it would afford even more mobility and perhaps be as effective in creating a small, simple cache for short-term emergencies. As a prepper, one of my primary concerns is to keep a degree of mobility, regardless of other strategies and sitting plans I may have.

Since 2016, the situation has improved with the end of protests and political turmoil. However, things got sketchy again in 2018 when the truckers went on a national strike, creating shortages, disruptions, and unrest. After that, we had Covid-19 and another round of turmoil with the lockdowns and craziness in 2020 and 2012. We never know, and that’s why we prepare.

Admittedly, it’s not a new or original idea; as I mentioned, RVs and trailers have been used as rolling houses for ages. SUVs and trucks have also worked well as bug-out vehicles. 

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Fabian Ommar

Fabian Ommar is a middle-class worker from Brazil devoted to self-reliance, outdoor activities, and life in big cities. He’s been writing about Thirdworldization, or the slow-burning SHTF typical of less privileged places, since the 2008 financial crisis. His Street Survivalism e-book is a practical training guide for city dwellers looking to prepare for the harsh reality of the urban environment. It’s based on the lifestyle of real-life street survivors, the homeless. You can follow Fabian on Instagram at @stoicsurvivor.

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1 Comment

  1. Grampa on January 30, 2024 at 10:17 am

    What many fail to think about is tires or anything rubber. it all deteriorates. Tires dry rot and hoses also. belts dry out and fail. the answer can be simple because to deteriorate they must oxidize having compounds leach out and evaporate. I know you have seen the effects. Your dashboard getting a haze forming on the surface. Stopping it would require sealing it off from the air. having belts and coolant hoses small enough to be sealed off with vacuum package tires would be another problem. Having a coating for them may work but I don’t know what it would be. does someone have an answer? I had a tire that came from a new car that was wrecked it sat for ten years in my basement. I needed a tire and put it on the car and it didn’t last ten miles and shredded. if you have a car or truck you will need to depend on check your tires often.——— I, Grampa

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