When shit hits the fan, buildings destroyed, government overwhelmed, water sources damaged, and food supplies stopped, will you survive a day?
There are so many situations I find myself saying, “I wish I had,” and then I imagine how it’d be like in an urban survival situation with buildings destroyed and normal life disrupted. You cannot afford to “wish you had” when you need to survive to see the next hour. This is why you need to have an urban survival kit packed and ready to go if shit hits the fan.
How is Urban Survival Different from Wilderness Survival?
Urban centers are congested with people. Here, the gear you carry should help you blend in and draw as little attention as possible, unlike in the wilderness where you need to stick out and signal for help.
In a congested city, resources are limited, so many people scrambling for food, water, and space. This is different from the wilderness where it is you and a lot of space. There might be fruits and streams for water sources in the wilderness, and all you have to do is find the best sources, and you are good to go.
You face a different enemy in the wild, mosquitos, and wild animals. In cases where you need to stick out to find help, you may never have to deal with enemies who are people. For urban survival, people are your primary enemies. This is more dangerous because people are more creative than mosquitos.
People have weapons and they also want to survive. If you have something they need, they turn to you and you better be ready for them. Worse yet, while you may be lost in the wilderness alone, in an urban survival situation you may have a family to protect.
Granted, the survival gear you need for survival in an urban center is different from what you need on a farm or in the wilderness. Sure, some items such as lights, fire starters, and protective clothing are the same. But some items are unique to urban survival.
How do you choose the Best Urban Survival Kit
Your urban survival kit should make you self-sufficient – that might be a lot of gear to carry and you might have to carry it for months. Some of the features to look for include:
We are never sure when an urban survival kit comes in handy or how long we will need it. As such, you need a kit that will last you anything from a few months to a few years. The bag that carries your items should be the most rugged of all as the items are so heavy, and a weak bag will break under pressure.
Although your gear needs to be rugged, you also need something you can carry on your back for weeks. For instance, if you choose a bolt cutter, you need one that is only large enough to cut standard fences and padlocks. You can carry a larger one, but it will only slow you down.
Backup is Key
Your urban survival kit will be heavy because some items need to come with backups. For instance, you need at least three ways to start a fire and at least two flashlights. You also need more than two weapons, say a handgun, a tactical knife, a pepper spray, and a stun gun.
What Your Urban Survival Kit Should Include
A tactical bag is different from the gray man bag because it is more rugged to carry all your gear without ever breaking. These bags feature multiple compartments to hold your items for ease of access.
For instance, you can keep your first aid kit on the most accessible pockets outside the main compartments and the largest items, like bolt cutters, in the large central compartments.
Most tactical bags also allow you to attach items such as water bottles on the sides for ease of access and to carry more items. The bags come in an ergonomic design so you can carry them for hours without fatigue.
Other features include:
• Multiple pockets
• Waterproof construction
• Padded straps and back section for comfort
• Carabiners and straps to attach items
I prefer a black tactical bag because it looks more like the normal office-guy bag – this way, you never have to stick out. You need a medium-sized bag because a small bag will be too tight, making it a challenge to access items fast. An overly big bag will be bulky, challenging to carry for day.
You can check out the Maxpedition Vulture II which is light and with enough compartments and ruggedness for your urban survival kit. I recommend the black one.
Besides the main bag, you need small pouches (also called micro pocket organizers), to hold small items for fast access. Instead of placing your lighters, medical supplies, flashlights, and multi-tool in one compartment, you can buy small pouches and place different categories of items. This way, you never have to struggle looking for a pepper spray in an attack situation. Three or four pouches will be enough.
EDC (Every Day Carry) Kit
The best EDC gear should consist of items you carry every day to work – this way, you will only need to add a few items from your bug out bag to complete the SHTF gear. These items include your phone, wallet, keys, cash, a pen and notebook, knife, and flashlight.
The above items might not make a complete kit, but you can build from there. A knife comes in handy for:
• Opening packages
• Cutting cords
• Food preparation
• Cutting bandages and other STHF gear
Always carry two knives. You can have one folding knife and a multi-tool with a knife. Check out the Smith and Wesson folding knife. It is a small 18 cm foldable knife made of durable high carbon stainless steel and an aluminum handle. It also has a pocket clip for easy access.
A flashlight comes in handy for:
• Lighting the way
• Emergency signaling
Always carry an extra flashlight and extra batteries to be ready.
In your notebook, note all important telephone numbers in case your phone goes out of charge or you lose it and you need to make a call. Anything you need to remember should be in the notebook.
A concealable handgun comes in handy. A Glock 19, for instance, is light, concealable, and easy to operate. Always carry at least two extra magazines. If you live in a state or country where guns and knives are not allowed, a pepper spray would be an excellent weapon.
Clothing is an essential part of your SHTF gear. For starters, you need a tactical summer raincoat. Like the tactical bag, always pick a black raincoat, or any other color that does not stand out, to blend in. Most tactical raincoats will not only protect you from the rain, but also keep you warm, thanks to the extra layers.
Here, you can check out the Tru-Spec ECWCS Parka Jacket. It is a lightweight jacket with a strong nylon ripstop fabric. It comes with zipped pockets to hold your phone, small flashlight, a lighter, and any other small item you need to access with ease.
From a raincoat, you need a pair of boots. Boots will keep you warm, they are rugged and will last for many years even when you wear them often, and they are comfortable to walk with (if you choose the right pair). Always go for a pair of warm but lightweight boots that you can wear for days without feeling the fatigue from their weight. Because boots are bulky, do not pack them in your bug out bag. Instead, keep them in your car or anywhere else where you can access them with ease.
In an urban survival situation especially where you are forced out of your home, food rations become very important. Among your SHTF gear, pack a few food rations that can last you a few weeks. When shopping for food, consider the following:
• A long shelf life (at least five years)
• Contains all major nutrients you need to survive (check the calories and fortification info)
• Should be sweet
• Should be in a compact package
You can try the SoS emergency food rations, which come in a pack of nine fortified 3600-calorie food bars. As fortified bars, they give you all the nutrients you need to survive for months. The rations have a 5-year shelf-life, does not make you thirsty, and they have a sweet coconut flavor. A few packs should last you long enough to find more food.
A spork is essential to eat your meal in peace – you can use it as a fork, and you can also take soup with it. When you do not have a place to wash the spork, use chopsticks. If you have never used chopsticks, today is a good day to learn how to use them.
Although water is available in an urban setting, the water sources might be contaminated. To avoid diseases, you need to have a water filtering system, but that will take a lot of your bag space. You can use a filter straw or a mini water filtration system such as Sawyer.
A filter straw is preferable for its small size. You also need a water bottle that can carry at least half a liter of water. A water bottle with a water filtration system such as the Brita Stainless Steel water bottle is better as you do not have to carry a filtration system. Its built-in water filter filters water as you drink. Because the body of the bottle is stainless steel, it will survive through the years. It carries up to 20 oz. of water.
Your urban survival kit needs a few first aid kit items. If you do not want to stress yourself about what to buy, you can buy a fully stocked kit such as MyMedic MyFak First Aid Kit. It is a lightweight and compact package at only 7.75 inches tall. You can carry it anywhere you go without feeling the fatigue. It has all the supplies you need including painkillers, bandages, surgical spirit, and tourniquet, among others.
If you on a budget, you don’t have to buy a fully stocked kit (though it would be more convenient). Instead, choose a few necessary items from the kit and use an organizer pouch. Some of the necessary items include: Bandage, Tourniquet, Painkillers, Surgical spirit, Surgical scissors, Safety pins, Plaster, Gloves, Antibiotics, Thermometer, Pressure dressing, Alcohol pads, Scalpels.
Most of these are small-sized items that will fit in small first aid box to fit perfectly in your bug out bag. You need to test out some of the things you have in your first aid kit, such as the tourniquet, to ensure they work perfectly. The same way you cannot buy a handgun and keep it packed in your SHTF gear for use later is the same way you shouldn’t just stash away the medical kit. Occasionally check that they have not expired. Unlike in the movies where they say “stay strong, help is on the way,” in a civil unrest situation, you will have to stay locked away for a long time. As such, you need to stock enough to last you many months until everything settles.
Your urban survival kit should have wet wipes and a few rolls of tissue paper. Wet wipes and tissue paper help you maintain your hygiene (to avoid diseases). Wet wipes are especially important when you have a wound and need to clean it often.
Electronics and Communications
Your phone may not work in a civil unrest situation, but it is still essential to have it in your SHTF gear. With your phone, carry a large capacity power bank to last you a few weeks. The power bank will also charge your flashlight (if you pick a USB rechargeable flashlight). Do not forget the charging cables to keep your phone on.
When SHTF, smoke signals might be more reliable than cell phones. Worse yet, what you do not know (in the case of SHTF) can kill you.
When your phone doesn’t work, you need a handheld walkie talkie. These are great to have in your urban survival gear as they allow you to make short-range communication with a small group of people. If you need to communicate with family members or you have a small survival coalition, a walkie talkie keeps you in the know. Check Motorola T465
However, when you need to know what is happening the world yonder or talk with people from far, a walkie talkie is useless.
Ham radio was a popular device in the middle 20th century. Unlike a walkie talkie, it sends communication over a long-range, and the range is not affected by tall buildings, trees, and hills such as a walkie talkie. The radio does not rely on cell phone towers.
With ham radio, however, you need a license to have one. Although you do not need a license in an emergency, you must buy one today and stash it in your SHTF gear as you may not have the time or a place to buy in a civil unrest. Another challenge with ham radios is that the cost is relatively high and you need time to learn how to use it.
If getting a license sounds like a long process, you can buy a ham radio and just listen – you do not need a license for that. You also need upgraded ham radio antennae so you can listen to transmissions from a long distance.
A Citizens Band radio does not require a license. It operates on a range longer than a walkie talkie, but shorter than a ham radio. Again, its signal is weak in case of the tall buildings, hills, and trees.
For SHTF gear, carry your cell phone (just in case cell phone towers and electricity area available) and either of the other three. A ham radio is preferable as it keeps you in the know not just with local news, but news from distant places.
Tools come in handy when you need to get in or out through a wire fence, or when you are locked in or out of your house or car. It is crucial that you only go for lightweight tools, preferably not larger than 12 inches, as you need something that fits in your urban survival kit succinctly. Again, be sure to pick tools that do not rust as you will be using them outdoors. Some of the tools you need are as shown below.
A Tac Tool and Multi-tool
An excellent tac tool or multi-tool is a versatile tool to have in your SHTF gear. You can use it as a knife, a saw, a crowbar, a hammer, and a weapon. Some multi-tools are small and can fit in your pocket, and others are large and bulky – choose one that you feel fits in your budget and one that feels light in your urban survival kit.
You can try out the Ka-Bar BK3 Becker Tac Tool. It is only 1.3 pounds with a seven-inch blade, so it does add so much weight to your urban survival kit. It has a rounded ergonomic handle for ease of use, a knife section, a saw, a crowbar section, and a blunt section after the handle, which you can use as a hammer.
The Bell and Howell Tac Tool is another excellent option – my favorite option. It is an 18-in-1 tool with some of the handiest tools such as a claw hammer, pliers, knife, saw, bottle opener, screwdriver, wrench, wire cutter, wire stripper, and a file. The tools are rust proof to last long in an urban survival situation. Although the tool is lightweight and compact, it still delivers enough pressure so you can use its hammer utility.
A Bolt Cutter
A bolt cutter is the ultimate rugged tool when you need to break fences and padlocks. It can also be used as a weapon. However, it is heavy and adds so much weight to your urban survival kit. You do not want a very large cutter in your SHTF gear, thanks to its weight, and you also do not need a cutter that can’t do the work. A 12-inch bolt cutter will work just fine and fit in your urban survival kit succinctly.
You can try out the BlackHawk BoltMaster. It sports a heavy-duty chrome molybdenum steel blade that will cut through the toughest objects. These blades are also heat-treated to resist damages and retain their edge for long. Its non-slip ergonomic handles make it easy to use when your hands are wet and slippery. You can use it to cut bolts, chains, threaded rods, wires, padlocks, and other metals.
Lock Pick Set
If you are locked in or out of your house, a lock pick set comes in handy. You need a set made of stainless steel with a comfortable handle. To pick as many padlocks as possible, pick a set with at least thirteen pieces.
The Multitool Lockset is my favorite. It comes as a 15-piece set, all stainless steel pieces. Each piece is smooth with no loose parts, which makes the set easy to use. It has comfortable handles and comes with a book guide to help you get started.
If you cannot pick a lock, now is the best time to learn how. Although it takes time to pick a lock like a professional, it is a skill you cannot afford to lack.
You can have these tools in your urban survival kit, but they do not have to be part of your EDC gear. The tools are also heavy and you need to ensure you pick only the lightest in their category.
Maps and compasses come in handy in a wilderness survival kit, but you also need them in an urban survival kit. In the case of a civil unrest, buildings might fall, and no matter how well you know your city, you may find it challenging to find your way. The map on your smartphone will come in handy if the cell phone towers are still working.
If the towers are down, you will have to use paper maps and compasses – it is time you got a map of your city and a compass and learn how to use them. You can get the map from the local gas station or city council buildings.
You can also print one from Google Maps and learn how to use it.
Instead of a compass, I prefer the RNS Star 6-in-1 survival bracelet. It has a compass (which takes 70 percent of the face), a flint fire starter, a survival knife, a fire scrapper, and an LED emergency function. It gives you more features at a price lower than a standard military compass. Better yet, it sports a rugged construction, so it doesn’t break on you when SHTF.
Cold is a challenge when you bug out. With a fire starter in your urban survival kit, you are set to survive when the streets are cold and uncomfortable. You can also cook your own meals and keep your enemies away, especially wild animals which might find their way into town.
You need at least two big lighters to start a fire. Because lighters might go off, consider carrying lightbox matches, and any other fire starter that can fit in a small pouch. You might also want to learn how to make fire using stones now that you will be in an urban survival situation. Keep all fire starters in one pouch for easy access.
A survival blanket protects you in all weather and even from fire. You can use it to make a tent, reflect heat, signal for help and keep you warm at night. The blanket is lightweight and only measures about five by seven feet, so it only takes a small space in your urban survival kit bag. The unit is also waterproof and windproof, so, you can use it as a shield when SHTF.
In my urban survival kit, I have the Arcturus Heavy Duty Survival Blanket. It is a company blanket with a thermal barrier to keep heat off. I can use it as a blanket if civil unrest forces me to sleep outdoors, like a tent, or a rain and windshield. At only 60 by 82 inches, the blanket fits in my bag without adding so much weight.
Test Your Tools and Have the Skills
Before now and the next civil unrest, you have enough time to test your tools and have the necessary skills to survive – or maybe you do not have time. No one knows when we will need the tools in the urban survival kit, and so, it is always good to be ready. Test out the tools and ensure they are in good condition.
Tools and supplies such as tourniquet, your handgun, bolt cutter, multi-tool, survival blanket, water filter bottle, and many others need testing. Once you are sure they work perfectly, pack them nicely in your urban survival kit bag. If any of the items in your urban survival kit expire (medicine or food rations), replace them.
You also need to have the necessary skills to use the tools such as your lock pick set. Attend a self-defense class to be ready for combat.
Vism Plate Carrier Vest with Two Ballistic Plates
When you need protection for your upper body, this carrier vest offers you protection with its ballistic plates. It comes with two plates for added protection. The vest sports a high-quality nylon construction to protect you from impact and for durability. It has durable straps, and is lightweight so you can wear it all day.
You can choose from a range of five colors, but I still advise a color that doesn’t put a target on you. Check Out Vism Plate Carrier
Barska Digital Binoculars
This pair of binoculars gives you a clear view during the day and at night. It uses advances infrared illumination, allowing you to see up to 100 meters in the dark. It also records images and video and gives you a wide viewing angle. For an SHTF gear, it sports a waterproof construction.
You can hang the binoculars around your neck with the provided neck strap, so it doesn’t take up space in your urban survival kit bag.
We are not expecting a zombie apocalypse, but if shit hits the fan, will you be ready? Most of the items above will not cost you much, but they will help you when the world faces civil unrest, and everyone has to survive on their own. In instances where the government is overwhelmed, and there is no order, it will be you and your urban survival kit. You can add many more items to the survival kit depending on where you live, your family, and any medical conditions you might have.
Check out the gear above, and thank me later.
Abdo is a Zoopy writer who loves spending his free time outdoors, camping, and enjoying the peace that nature brings. He also enjoys fixing things - he's particularly good with electronics. His favorite movie is I Am Legend, and he's fascinated by survival gear and safety.