Updated February 2017
You’ve decided to hide a geocache. You’ve got the perfect container but now you have to do the camouflage. Ah, camouflage, one of the most important factors in hiding a geocache. I’ll be covering some tips & suggestions on how to doctor up your cache!
I’ve found some pretty-cool micros (okay, so I had a caching buddy point them out to me since I don’t really do micros) and I’ve found some caches with amazing camouflage. This article is how to put camouflage on an ordinary, run-of-the-mill cache.
Picking Your Container
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a ton of ammo cans laying about to be made into geocaches. So if you need to use a plastic container, here are my recommendations.
- Make sure it has a tight-fitting lid.
- The wider the mouth, the better. Even if it is clearly too small for anything but a log sheet, somebody will try to cram a trade item in it sooner or later!
- No glass containers! (I’ve seriously found a few)
- I prefer plastic to tin. Cookie tins (and the like) seem to rust very easily. And they’re very difficult to water proof.
- Make sure it is clean inside and out.
- If you’re using a recycled food jar (nuts, peanut butter, etc) make sure it is very clean or the smell can attract critters.
- I tend to stay away from the plastic coffee cans. The lids don’t hold up after repeated openings (especially in the cold!) and the containers seem brittle and flimsy.
My container of choice is actually a used Tucks container. It’s a small size (easier to hide and easy to fill with swag), pretty much free since I have my whole family saving them for me, it’s practically waterproof, and very sturdy container.
Since I have a lot of these containers, I like to spray paint them. It took me a while, but I figured out the best way to get it done.
- Container & lid to be painted (be sure you’ve removed any paper labels!)
- Dark green spray paint
- Dark brown spray paint
- Black spray paint
- Thin wire or thin string (8 inches or so)
- Garden kneeling pad
- Clothes you’re okay with (maybe) getting paint on
First, make sure the container is dry and dust free. It’s not really hard to spray paint the container but it’s a pain if the paint flakes off because the container was dusty. (Been there, done that!)
This can be kind of tricky but once you get the hang of it, it’s a really good painting technique! Take the lid off the container. Fold about two inches of wire or string over the threads of the lid so there’s an inch inside the container and the rest is on the outside of the container. Holding the wire in place, screw the lid back on.
If you’ve pinched everything correctly, then you now have a “handle” to use to hold onto the container while you paint. I use bits of old phone wire since is it VERY thin and very flexible. I’ve never tried it, but I bet embroidery floss or monofilament fishing line would work as well.
You’re ready to paint!
When working with spray paint, be sure to remember:
- Work in a well-ventilated area. Outside is even better.
- Don’t use spray paint on a windy day. It just makes a mess.
- Wear gloves (latex is good), a dust mask, and safety glasses.
- Use the paint away from cars, buildings, and vegetation.
My favorite spray painting spot is at the end of my parent’s driveway. I can’t get paint on their house or cars if I tried! I’m blocked from any breeze by a large bush and there’s a shade tree.
I like to kneel on my garden kneeling pad since I feel it gives me the best control of the paint AND the container.
Holding the container by the wire or string, give it a coat of green. You don’t need to worry if the paint is even or if it covers all writing. Let it dry. (Or mostly dry if you’re like me and impatient!)
Still holding the container by the string, paint a coat of brown. Let it dry. Repeat with the black spray paint.
Once I have all three colors on the container, I start to think about making sure I have the bottom of the container. It’s a bit hard to paint, but the part that is hanging the lowest needs to be painted. Now, just keep layering the spray paint until you’re happy with the coloring.
Wrap the wire around a tree limb and hang to dry completely.
I like to paint a bunch of containers all at once. That way I can hang them in the shade tree between coats. If you let the paint dry completely before painting it with a different color, it’s less likely to scratch off.
Okay, I know not everybody will be able to hang their caches containers in a tree to dry. Just remember that the paint WILL drip and can still rub off on other items.
Sometimes, a Tucks container is too small. The other container I like is a nut jar. However, the plastic is thinner and doesn’t survive very many cachers dropping it. The corners are especially vulnerable to becoming cracked.
- Clean, dry container with lid
- Camouflage duct tape
- Sharp scissors
What I like to do with a lighter-weight plastic container is to cover it with duct tape. You can buy duct tape in a variety of camouflage patterns and colors. Here’s a link to camouflage duct tape on Amazon.
This stuff is more expensive than plain old grey but come on! How cool is camouflage duct tape!?
Here are some things to consider with duct tape:
- The container really needs to be clean and dry.
- The bigger the pieces of tape the better. You want it to really stick to the container so water and dirt can’t get under the tape and cause it to lift.
- Remember that the tape sticks to itself! (I don’t know how many inches I’ve ruined because of that!)
- Cut it rather than tearing. You get a cleaner edge and fewer places where water and dust can get under the tape.
- Start by taping any areas that don’t lend them to large pieces of tape. (The shoulders and bottom of the jar, for example!) That way, you can cover the ends with a longer strip.
- Be sure to really PUSH on the tape so it adheres to the plastic.
Getting the tape on the container smoothly is a lot harder than it looks! It takes practice.
The lid is one of the hardest parts of the jar to tape up. I do it first, still attached to the jar. That way, I know I’m not taping it TO the jar and then it won’t come off!
Next, I do the “shoulders” and bottom of the jar. Remember to keep the pieces as large as possible, avoid creases as much as possible, and really push the tape onto the surface of the container.
Then, just finish wrapping the container in tape until it’s completely covered. This jar took three strips going from top to bottom.
So, all you experienced cachers out there:
How do you put camouflage on the cache? Do you prefer tape or paint? What’s your favorite method of getting a run-of-the-mill cache ready to be placed?