Preppers spend a lot of time talking about what gear to put in their bug out bags. (see our bug out bag list) By comparison, we hardly ever talk about urban survival gear beyond the obvious like food, water, and emergency lighting.
The truth is that you should be just as prepared for urban survival (aka hunkering down) as you are for evacuation into the wilderness. In fact, there are a lot of situations when it makes more sense to hunker down:
- It is winter
- You don’t have advanced wilderness survival skills
- There are elderly, disabled, or children in your group
- You don’t have a survival property to go to
- It’s unlikely that you’d be able to get out of the danger zone even if you did flee…
Because of these harsh realities, we should really spend some more time thinking about urban survival gear for SHTF situations.
I’ve already got a useful Urban Survival Gear Checklist that you can use to prepare. But here I want to talk about the urban survival gear that most people forget.
No matter how much you prepare, you might have to scavenge when SHTF. A crowbar (Amazon link) makes it possible to get into locked and boarded-up abandoned buildings.
Not that I am encouraging looting – just saying that you should be prepared for anything!
2. Bolt Cutters
Bolt cutters (Amazon link) are important for scavenging, but also in case you need to get access to chained-up places.
I’d especially make sure to have a pair of bolt cutters in your vehicle when evacuating in case you need to cut through chain roadblocks.
They would also be useful for cutting:
- Security fences
- Power cables
- Alarm cables
- Handcuff chains
3. Plywood and Plastic Sheeting
You must have a way to board these up to keep out intruders as well as the elements.
A good rule of thumb is to get enough plywood and plastic sheeting for each window and door in your home.
If you are unsure of how to board up your home for emergency preparedness, there is a good guide here. Or watch the video below.
4. Activated Charcoal
You will need activated charcoal (Amazon link) for this.
5. An Emergency Toilet
This should be one of the FIRST pieces of urban survival gear that you get. Yet, a lot of preppers just don’t want to think about the gross reality of having to crap into a bucket.
But if you don’t get this gear now, it will give a new meaning to SHTF! Learn how to make an emergency 2-bucket toilet here.
6. Fire Extinguisher
This should be self-explanatory.
7. Emergency Face Mask
September 11th taught us the importance of having a survival mask. Unfortunately, many people are still suffering and dying due to the terrorist attack because of all the toxic debris which was released into the air and caused diseases years after the fact.
I’d recommend getting an N95 face mask. (Amazon link)
8. Solar Charger
There are a lot of options for emergency power, such as generators and huge solar panels. However, for most emergency needs, a small portable solar charger will suffice. See here for our recommendations for the best portable solar charger.
9. Heavy-Duty Gloves
How about scavenging for supplies with your bare hands?
Better get several pairs of heavy-duty gloves to be prepared for urban survival!
My Bosnian friends have told me their survival stories. One thing that stood out is how during the Siege of Sarajevo they chopped down all of the trees in the parks for firewood.
They also would chop up any loose wood they could scavenge. A survival axe is also great if your crowbar won’t get you into a boarded-up place!
11. Self-Defense Weapon
I know a lot of people are all about firearms for urban survival, but there are plenty of alternatives to guns which might make a lot more sense for certain situations.
Remember that you should only stock a firearm for self-defense if you actually planning on using it.
In a true SHTF situation, I’d do anything to protect my family. However, past disasters have shown us that rioters and looters can be as young as 9 years old!
I don’t know how I’d live with myself if I had to shoot a 9 year old.
So, I’ve made sure to stockpile lots of pepper spray with my urban survival gear too!
- Quick and dirty guide to self defense
- Best pepper spray for self defense
- Best baton for self defense
- Best keychain for self defense
- Best knife for self defense
- Best canes for self defense
- Best umbrellas for self defense
- Best non lethal weapons
12. Survival Books and Printouts
Most of us have gotten spoiled by having constant internet access. We have all the info and advice for survival at the tips of our fingers… Until the power goes out!
Make sure to have books or printouts of vital survival info, such as:
- How to find, store and treat water in an emergency
- How to make a tarp shelter
- Survival first aid
- Edible plants in your area
- Instructions for using specific survival gear
With the lights out and nothing to do, sex is one way to relieve the tension… But this is NOT a time you want to get pregnant!
Make sure to have lots of condoms in with your survival gear. You can also use them for bartering.
14. Backup Glasses
Keep an extra pair in your Bug Out Bag. If you can’t afford a third backup, just take the BOB pair out if you need them while hunkering down.
15. Shut-Off Wrenches
A shut-off wrench is used for this. You’ll also want shut off wrenches for your plumbing too.
This wrench works for both gas and water – check on Amazon
In addition to shut-off wrenches, you’ll need various tools to help you get through the urban disaster. For example, tin snips (Amazon link) are great for making an emergency stove out of a tin can. Hammer and nails are needed for boarding up windows.
Here are some of the basic tools you need for emergency preparedness:
- Hammer (Amazon link)
- Screwdrivers (Amazon link)
- Tin snips (Amazon link)
- Saw (Amazon link)
- Drill (Amazon link)
- Rope (Amazon link)
- Shovel – Check out our survival shovel reviews
17. Emergency Raft and Paddles
If you live in a flood or hurricane zone, it is really worth it to buy an emergency raft and paddles. (Amazon link)
Even if the water isn’t coming to the second floor of your home, it is still better to use the raft if you have to leave the home than wading through hazardous sewage water.
18. Waterproof Waders
Will you ever have to leave your home – such as to dispose of waste?
19. A Get Home Bag
In addition to a Bug Out Bag, you need a “Get Home Bag” with all the survival gear necessary to get you home should an emergency happen while you are out.
Learn more about Get Home Bags here.
In an urban survival disaster, buckets are used for toilets, collecting debris and trash, storing food, seats, keeping supplies dry… You can really never have too many buckets! (Amazon link)
Just make sure to get the waterproof lids and a bucket opener (Amazon link) is great to have too.
What else would you add to the list of forgotten urban survival gear?