Urban Survival Tools You Need to Have: Essential Gear for City Dwellers

urban collapse due to rioting

In today’s rapidly changing world, it’s essential to be prepared for unexpected situations, and urban survival tools are critical to navigating various challenges that may arise in cities.

Whether it’s a natural disaster, civil unrest, or any other emergency situation, having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference in ensuring your safety and well-being.

This article will introduce some essential urban survival tools that you need to have in order to face various emergencies effectively.

By combining common everyday carry items with specialized tools designed for urban environments, you can be better equipped to handle a wide range of scenarios when the unexpected occurs.

So let’s dive in and explore these vital tools that can help you prevail in urban survival situations.

Essential Urban Survival Tools

Multi-Functional Tools

One crucial aspect of preparing for urban survival is having multi-functional tools that can play various roles in various situations.

A great example of a versatile tool is the knife designed specifically for urban survival, which can smash, bash, pry, chisel, hammer, and cut.

This multi-purpose tool is perfect for lifting hinge pins and breaking glass.

Another essential urban survival tool is fire steel, which works in both wet and dry environments and is easy to use.

Fire steels can help you start a fire when needed, making them an indispensable part of an urban survival kit.

Communication Devices

In any urban survival situation, maintaining communication with others is critical.

Having portable, reliable communication devices can make all the difference.

Here are some key communication devices to consider:

  • Two-way radios: Allow for communication over short to medium distances without relying on cell service or the internet.
  • Solar-powered or hand-cranked AM/FM radio: To receive important news updates and weather alerts.
  • Whistle: For attracting attention and signaling for help.

Self-Defense Items

In an urban survival scenario, being equipped for self-defense can be a lifesaver.

Here are a few self-defense items to consider adding to your kit:

  • Pepper spray: A compact, lightweight, and effective option for personal protection.
  • Tactical flashlight: Useful for illuminating your surroundings, and can also double as a self-defense tool due to its heavy-duty construction and strobe mode.
  • Lockpick kit: Essential for both disaster situations and the aftermath, as it enables you to access certain buildings and resources that may be necessary for your survival.

Water and Food Storage

Water Purification Systems

Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
  • Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting, domestic or international travel, and emergency preparedness
  • High-performance 0.1 micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just 2 ounces; 100% of MINI units individually tested three times to performance standards by Sawyer
  • Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard 28 mm disposable water bottles, hydration packs, or use the straw to drink directly from your water source
  • Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria (Salmonella, Cholera, and E. coli); removes 99.9999% of all protozoa (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium); also removes 100% of microplastics
  • Filter rated up to 100,000 gallons; Includes one Sawyer MINI filter, 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch, 7-inch drinking straw, and cleaning plunger.

Access to clean drinking water is essential for urban survival. It is necessary to have a reliable water purification system in your survival kit.

One popular option is a personal water filter like the Sawyer Mini, which can purify up to 1000 liters of water and remove 99.99% of bacteria.

Additionally, having water purification tablets in your bag is a good idea as they are inexpensive, lightweight, and effective in making water safe to drink.

Food Preservation Techniques

Storing food for emergencies is crucial for long-term survival.

Proper food storage requires a space that meets specific conditions. Ideal food storage space should:

  • Be well-ventilated and airy
  • Not receiving direct sunlight
  • Be temperature controlled, preferably below 80 degrees F (70 degrees or lower for longer-lasting food)
  • Be dry, with no moisture or standing water
  • Be pest-free, if possible

In addition to creating the right storage environment, learning proper food preservation methods such as canning, dehydrating, and vacuum sealing is essential.

These techniques can prolong the shelf life of various food items, ensuring you have a reliable source of nutrients during a crisis.

Shelter and Warmth

Portable Shelter Options

During an urban survival situation, having a portable shelter can be a lifesaver.

Good urban survival shelters should utilize available resources like cardboard, abandoned clothes, discarded materials, or even buildings. Examples of portable shelter options include:

  • Tents (compact and lightweight)
  • Tarps (water-resistant and versatile)
  • Bivvy sacks (insulated and protective)

Emergency Blankets

Emergency blankets, also known as space blankets or Mylar blankets, are an essential tool for maintaining warmth in a survival situation.

These lightweight and compact blankets are designed to reflect your body heat and keep you warm in cold conditions.

Warm Clothing

Warm clothing is crucial for staying comfortable and maintaining body heat when exposed to cold weather or when facing wet conditions. Here are some key items to include in your urban survival kit:

  • Insulated jacket or coat
  • Thermal or moisture-wicking base layers
  • Wool socks and gloves
  • Waterproof or water-resistant footwear

Medical Supplies and First Aid

First Aid Kits

Adventure Medical Ultralight/Watertight Pro Medical Kit
  • Laerdal CPR Mask with O2 valve for protected mouth to mouth resuscitation
  • Detachable Ultralight / Watertight bag for summit attempts or trips away from basecamp
  • Irrigation syringe and wound closure strips to clean and close wounds

When preparing for urban survival, it’s essential to have a well-stocked first aid kit.

This includes various items to help deal with minor injuries and common medical emergencies.

Some items to include are:

  • Band-Aids / Gauze Pads / Tape
  • Liquid Bandage Adhesive Strips
  • Suture Kit
  • Israeli Compression Bandage or Quick Clot
  • Splints / Bandages / Supports
  • Tourniquet
  • Antibiotic Cream & Medication / Antibiotics (Oral)
  • Stomach Medication
  • Allergy/Sting Medicine, Benadryl
  • Pain Relievers
  • Thermometer
  • Iodine / Potassium Iodide / Radiation Meds

Consider obtaining a pre-made first aid kit or assembling your own, tailored to your specific needs and location.

Common Medical Emergencies

During emergencies and survival situations, it’s crucial to know how to handle common medical emergencies.

Familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures to respond effectively to situations such as:

  • Cuts, scrapes, and puncture wounds
  • Sprains and fractures
  • Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
  • Hypothermia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Burns and scalds
  • Choking
  • Poisoning
  • Seizures
  • Heart attacks and strokes

Getting a basic first aid training course can be life-saving in urban survival situations.

It prepares you to manage medical emergencies even with limited resources.

Always prioritize safety and effectiveness when providing first aid and don’t hesitate to call for professional help if needed.

Navigation and Orientation

Urban Maps and Navigation Apps

In an urban survival situation, it is crucial to use reliable maps and navigation tools.

This will aid you in finding safe routes, resources, and evacuation points.

A topographic map is essential, as it provides detailed information on the physical features of an area, such as elevation, buildings, and infrastructure.

Use topographic maps for accurate navigation during emergencies.

Complementing paper maps, and navigation apps can also be beneficial in urban environments.

Some apps, like Google Maps, can work offline for a limited period, which can be useful when cell service is unavailable.

Be sure to regularly update your maps and familiarize yourself with their use.

Compasses and Emergency Whistles

Although it may sound old-school, a compass, and a map are invaluable tools in urban survival situations, especially when modern technology fails.

Knowing how to use a compass and orient yourself in relation to landmarks can save you time and energy when navigating through an urban environment.

Emergency whistles are another useful item to consider. In addition to signaling for help, they can serve as a deterrent against potential threats, drawing attention to your location.

A survival whistle can also assist in locating other members of your group when navigating through a chaotic cityscape.

Power and Light Sources

In an urban survival situation, having access to reliable power and light sources is crucial.

The following sub-sections explore battery-powered devices, solar chargers, and hand-crank radios as essential tools for your urban survival kit.

Battery-Powered Devices

Battery-powered devices such as flashlights, headlamps, and portable chargers provide essential light and power sources during emergencies.

It’s important to include these items in your urban survival kit.

Consider the following:

  • LED flashlights or headlamps: These offer improved battery life and brightness compared to traditional bulb types.
  • Portable chargers: Keep your electronic devices charged with battery-based power banks, enabling communication and access to critical information.
  • Extra batteries: Always carry additional batteries compatible with your devices, ensuring continued operation when needed.

Solar Chargers

Solar chargers are an eco-friendly power source well-suited for urban survival.

Harnessing sunlight to recharge electronic devices or power banks, these chargers offer a reliable source of energy when traditional power is unavailable.

Key features to consider when choosing a solar charger include:

Choose a charger with sufficient output to effectively charge your devices or power bank.Opt for foldable or compact solar panels for easy storage and transport.Select chargers built to withstand harsh weather conditions or other potential damages.

Hand-Crank Radios

Hand-crank radios are essential tools for both power and communication during emergencies.

These versatile devices offer the following benefits:

  • Power generation: Cranking the radio produces energy to charge devices or power the radio itself.
  • Communication: Access essential news updates or weather alerts through AM/FM or NOAA channels.
  • Light sources: Many hand-crank radios include built-in flashlights or emergency lights, providing an additional source of illumination.

Including these power and light sources in your urban survival kit equips you with essential tools for powering devices, maintaining communication, and staying informed during emergencies.


What are the top 3 essentials for urban survival situations?

1. Get Home Bag (GHB)
2. A Bug Out Plan
3. A Bug In Plan

What should I consider when choosing an urban survival bag?

1. Don’t overpack
2. Don’t advertise the contents or purpose of the bag
3. Durability and functionality of the bag.

Where can I find water sources during an urban survival situation?

Having a disaster-prepared home means you’re aware of the nearest and best water sources.

However, if needed, you have to venture further afield to locate additional water supplies during emergencies.

What are some items useful for bartering during an urban survival scenario?

Some of the suggested items to barter are precious metals, food, water, hygiene products, and various survival tools.

It’s essential to diversify your barter items instead of relying on just one type of resource.


In summary, urban survival tools are essential components to facing unexpected situations in today’s modern cities.

By equipping ourselves with these vital items, we stand a better chance of overcoming challenges that we might encounter.

Some tools, such as Everyday Carry Urban Survival Gear and a get-home bag or bug-out bag, are crucial components that should always be present with us or within easy reach.

Other essential tools include lockpick kits and slingshots that can be used for multiple purposes, such as gaining access to buildings and hunting small game.

As we’ve seen throughout this article, being prepared for urban survival situations goes beyond just one or two items.

It requires an understanding of various tools and their uses, along with a commitment to consistently carry and maintain them.

By following the advice and recommendations offered, we can all be more confident navigating an uncertain world.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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