How to Build an Urban Survival Kit

Urban environments present unique challenges during a disaster. Amid the chaos, a carefully planned urban survival kit can provide the essentials to weather the storm. Here, we'll explore how to build effective equipment uniquely tailored to the urban survival scenario.

Understanding the Importance of an Urban Survival Kit

Urban areas can quickly become complex survival scenarios, from power outages and gas leaks to widespread disasters. An urban survival kit helps you navigate these situations effectively, providing essential tools and resources.


Urban survival gear for everyday carry (EDC) should be compact, functional, and effective in various situations, especially those related to unexpected challenges in a city environment. The focus is on practicality and preparedness for anything from daily inconveniences to potential emergencies. Here are some suggestions for urban survival gear:

  1. Compact Multi-tool: A good multi-tool can include pliers, a knife, screwdrivers, a bottle opener, wire cutters, and more. Ensure that the multi-tool you choose complies with local laws, particularly regarding blade length.
  2. Tactical Pen: This is not just a pen but also a tool that can be used for self-defense or to break glass in emergencies.
  3. Portable Charger: Keeping your electronic devices powered, especially your smartphone, is essential. Choose a compact but high-capacity power bank.
  4. Flashlight: A small but powerful flashlight can be extremely helpful. Some flashlights can also be used for self-defense.
  5. Keychain Rescue Tool: Small tools that can fit on a keychain, like a glass breaker or seatbelt cutter, can be life-saving in certain situations.
  6. Water Purification Straw or Bottle: For extreme situations where you may not have access to clean drinking water.
  7. First Aid Kit: Carry a small kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and necessary prescription medications.
  8. Emergency Whistle: This item has the potential to serve as a signal for assistance during an emergency.
  9. Portable Charger/Solar Charger: Keeping your devices powered up is crucial. A solar charger can be a lifesaver if you're in a situation without electricity.
  10. Compact Survival Blanket: Also known as space blankets, they can be used for warmth in an emergency.
  11. Compact Mirror or Signal Mirror: Useful for signaling in emergencies and can also be used for personal grooming.
  12. Paracord Bracelet: These can be unwrapped to provide a length of solid cordage for various survival situations.


Tools for Salvaging and Scavenging 

Looting frequently occurs within 24 hours of a disaster. However, preparing adequate supplies to last at least 30 days is crucial to avoid such behavior. Once the immediate chaos has died down, there might be the need to salvage supplies. The following gear can aid in efficient salvaging:

  • Crowbar
  • Large, robust backpack or bag
  • Axe
  • Tactical flashlight
  • Heavy-duty gloves

Determining Your Urban Survival Needs

Every situation is unique, but there are some everyday needs. Prioritize food, water, shelter, communication, and medical supplies.

Food and Water

Plan for at least three days' worth of non-perishable food and water. Remember, in an urban setting, you may need access to natural water sources, making stored water even more critical.

Shelter and Warmth

While you might initially rely on your home for shelter, emergencies might require evacuation. Include a compact emergency blanket and a lightweight tarp or tube tent.


In an urban disaster, staying informed is crucial. A hand-crank or solar-powered radio can keep you connected to important updates.

Medical Supplies

A basic first aid kit is essential. Make sure it includes bandages, antiseptics, and any necessary prescription medications.

Building Your Urban Survival Kit

Selecting a Bag

Choose a sturdy, comfortable backpack that's easy to grab and go. Ensure it's large enough to fit all your supplies but not so large that it could be more convenient.

Packing Your Kit

Organize items based on priority and ease of access. Food, water, and first aid supplies should be easily reachable.

Personalizing Your Kit

Consider personal needs like prescription medications, spare glasses, or special food requirements. Remember your pets - they'll need supplies too!

Maintaining Your Urban Survival Kit

Regularly check and update your kit. Replace expired items and adjust the contents to match changing needs.


Other Often Overlooked Items for Urban Survival

  1. Crowbar: Crucial for gaining entry into locked or barricaded buildings.
  2. Bolt Cutters: Useful for accessing areas blocked by chains or other obstacles.
  3. Plywood and Plastic Sheeting to save space. These are essential for securing your home against broken windows and other potential entry points.
  4. Duct Tape: An all-purpose tool, duct tape can patch up various items, certain things, or even as an emergency bandage in a pinch.
  5. Fire Extinguisher: In the case of urban disaster scenarios, the risk of fires dramatically increases.
  6. Sewing Kit: Clothes will get worn and torn, and having a way to mend them can help them last much longer.
  7. Non-Electronic Entertainment: Boredom can be a real issue in extended disaster recovery periods. Simple things like books, board games, and playing cards can go a long way to keeping morale up.
  8. Solar Charger: With the possibility of power outages, having a reliable way to charge electronic devices such as phones and radios can be a lifesaver.
  9. Manual Can Opener: A manual can opener is necessary if you're stocking canned food for emergency preparedness.


The Get Home Bag 

The Get Home Bag (GHB) is a crucial piece of gear designed to aid your journey home post-disaster. The items included in this bag should be tailored to individual needs:

  • Respirator mask
  • Work gloves
  • Boots
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Water + water purification tablets
  • Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Poncho
  • Waterproof matches, lighter
  • Emergency whistle
  • Emergency radio
  • Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE)
  • Cash
  • Copies of vital documents



Urban survival requires unique considerations when compared to rural or wilderness survival. The above items form the core of an urban survival kit but remember to customize it to your specific needs and circumstances. The goal is to equip yourself with the tools to protect yourself and your family during uncertain times.

Remember: Preparedness isn't about living in fear; it's about living with peace of mind. Equip yourself with the right gear, develop a plan and practice, and you'll be ready for whatever may come your way.


Q: How often should I check my urban survival kit? 

A: Inspect your kit every six months to replace expired items and adapt to changing needs.

Q: What food should I include in an urban survival kit? 

A: Include non-perishable, easy-to-eat items. Consider protein bars, canned food, and meal replacement shake.

Q: Should I pack a weapon in my urban survival kit? 

A: It depends on local laws and your comfort level. However, a multi-tool with a knife could be helpful in many scenarios.

Q: What kind of bag should I use for my urban survival kit? 

A: Choose a sturdy, comfortable backpack that can hold all your supplies without being too bulky.

Q: Do I need a separate kit for my pet? 

A: You can incorporate your pet's supplies into your kit or create a separate one.