How to Customize your Bug Out Bag Contents for an Urban Survival Kit

Urban Survival Kit

To be truly well prepared for a disaster, you need to tailor your survival kit to your surroundings.

For example, someone from a highly urbanized area will have different needs from someone living in a more rural area.

Here we will look at some urban survival gear to add to your Bug Out Bag that will customize it into a self-sufficient urban survival kit. 

Urban Survival Kit Planning Factors

Bug out situations that occur in urban centers have several unique factors to consider when building your Bug Out Bag packing list. These urban survival factors include:

  • Having to deal with building debris and glass in the wake of the disaster event.
  • Increased likelihood of opportunities to scavenge water and food from abandoned buildings.
  • The possibility of finding supply caches in abandoned buildings – looting is not endorsed by this site but if abandoned supplies mean the difference between life and death, go for it.
  • Increased likelihood of encountering humans – This can be both good and bad based on the disposition of the people faced and how you handle the situation. Other survivors can be bartered with and be valuable sources for information as well as dangerous criminals. Approach them with caution in mind.
  • Less need for emergency shelter as there should be many buildings around and debris available to cobble a shelter together if need be.

urban survival gear

Urban Survival Gear Essentials

  • Crow Bar / Pry Bar – For scavenging and removing barriers and debris as well as hammering out glass. The Ka-Bar Becker is an excellent choice for this as it is compact and can smash, pry, as well as cut as the situation requires. The Stanley Fubar is also a very good choice for those with more space in their urban survival kit, and it comes in small and large varieties.
  • Urban Axe – A multipurpose urban axe, such as the Ontario SP-16 SPAX can be an incredibly versatile and powerful tool in your arsenal. The SPAX is a knife, a hatchet, or a pick axe, whatever the situation dictates. It even has the required slots to open and close water hydrants and gas mains. This is useful if you find yourself in a house with gas leaking or if you want to access a fire hydrant for some clean water. As a bonus, it can also serve as an a intimidating self-defense weapon.
  • Multitool – Investing in a multitool such as the Leatherman Wingman will give you the versatility to perform all sorts of unexpected jobs, solve minor problems, or get you out of a tight jam with minimal hassle.
  • Work Gloves – If you have to break glass or move debris, a pair of work gloves such as the Mechanix M-Pact Gloves, will save your hands and keep you working and moving much longer. These can be picked up at any hardware store.
  • Dust Mask – If there are collapsed buildings in your area this will protect your lungs from airborne debris particles. Have a look at 3M N95 Particulate Respirator Masks to a quality choice.
  • Permanent Marker – The nature of the urban environment will give you opportunities to leave markings or notes for yourselves or others in your party.
  • Can opener – In an urban survival situation there will be many more opportunities to scavenge food than in a rural locality. A can opener will enable you to easily access preserved food that you come across.
  • Sillcock Water Valve Key – Ever notice secured water valves on the side of commercial buildings such as malls or rest stops? All it takes is an inexpensive little tool, the Cobra 4-Way Sillcock Key, to access this water.
  • Metal Spork – Scavenged food will need a way to get to your mouth. There are many options for this. I like the varieties that come with an attachment option such as this one.

urban survival kit urban survival gear

Weapons for an Urban Survival Kit

Encountering unfriendly people can be an unpleasant scenario and must be considered in an urban survival scenario.

Ideally, we can either talk our way out of a dangerous encounter or avoid them altogether. However, that’s not always possible.

If a situation does devolve into a fight where you need to defend yourself or your family, consider carrying weapons that can protect you, such as:

  • Repurposed Tools – If you choose to carry a weapon with you, you can either repurpose a piece of urban survival gear such as the above mentioned Ka-Bar Becker or Stanley Fubar.
  • Knife – A knife is also a potential self-defense weapon. The Kershaw Tanto has smooth one-handed opening making it ideal for quick self-defense.
  • Pepper Spray – A popular choice for an effective survival kit weapon that does a great job deterring attackers. The SABRE Advanced Police Strength Pepper Spray is the most recommended choice.
  • Firearm – A gun is also an option if it is legal in your area and you are familiar with using one. Here is a good rundown of some firearm options for an urban survival kit.

Urban Survival Kit List Items to Consider

Ka-Bar Becker

Stanley FUBAR - Small

Stanley FUBAR - Large

Ontario SP16 Spax


Pepper Spray

DON’T MISS: Pack your Bug Out Bag or Survival Kit with our Free Bug Out Bag Planning Tool.

The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit (TUUSK)

I have been working on a project to build a comprehensive, practical, and top quality urban survival solution from the ground up.

I’ve been lucky enough to be teamed up with the founders of Ready To Go Survival (RTGS) on it. We have partnered up to combine my knowledge of survival and preparedness with their experience in building countless custom bug out bags over the years.

We are calling our project “The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit” (also known as TUUSK).

The TUUSK is an urban survival solution that will use the knowledge gained by myself and the team at RTGS from a lifetime of living in urban environments. Our goal is to take all the trial and error we have had over the years and develop a survival kit that will help others shortcut their own paths to preparedness.

We have spent hours selecting and testing the most practical, reliable gear, and are excited to share the TUUSK with the world.

We have documented every step of the process of developing the TUUSK to help others make better survival kits for themselves. Such as:

  • HD video and photos of us testing the gear in the heart of New York City
  • How we decided what to pack and what to leave out of the kit
  • How the TUUSK can help YOU overcome the most common urban survival threats

Learn More About TUUSK: The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit

The TUUSK Loadout

This is an urban-focused bug out bag that leverages our combined city living and emergency preparedness experience to help the 80.7% of Americans that live in an urban environment prepare for disaster scenarios.

Learn More About TUUSK: The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit


The items discussed above can be added to your Bug Out Bag Packing List to transform it into an urban survival kit.

You will, however, have to consider both your approach to survival and your locality when picking and choosing:

  • Do you want to pre-pack lightweight, non-perishable food to fuel your bug out?
  • Are you in an environment where you will be able to scavenge as you go?
  • Are there any factors that make your urban environment unique?
  • How will you deal with other humans?

These are all important factors to consider when planning your urban survival tactics and Bug Out Bag.

Check our out Basic Survival Skills guide to see what tactics you can master to help increase your odds of survival.

DON’T MISS: Pack your Bug Out Bag or Survival Kit with our Free Bug Out Bag Planning Tool.

Remember, chance favors the well prepared.

Do you have an item that you would add to your urban survival kit? Do you have urban survival tactics or advice that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.


Chris Ruiz

My name is Chris and I created this site to help ordinary people prepare for the uncertainties of the modern day world. I believe that a well-prepared society is the best safeguard against any natural or manmade disaster.

22 comments on “How to Customize your Bug Out Bag Contents for an Urban Survival Kit

  1. I have road maps in my kit however I would only use them for way point because you are more likely to get jumped in cities so I think your best chance is to stay away from heavily populated areas. If you are in this situation and its country wide you can bet the UN will have their military here. So you should learn your plants and how to process animals. As for guns get a ruger 10/22. The NRA puts on tons of safety courses at a gun shop or range near you and that 22 is in my book the most reliable rifle and you can carry lots of ammo. Don’t be mislead the 22 can take down deer aswell as small game also its great for protection. The new take downs will allow you better concealment and tell no one you have it not even your children for they are more likely to let it slip.

    1. Thanks Dustin, You make some great points. Agreed that more people in an urban environment can mean more chance for unfriendlies, it comes down to where you are when a disaster occurs and weighing the cost/benefit of staying or traveling to an urban area against that risk.

      I also agree that the .22 is an often overlooked rifle. It is versatile as you point out and the comparatively light weight of the ammo means you can carry more.


      1. Here’s another one that nobody thinks of vitamin C back in the day a lot of people died with not having enough of it however the cool part is you don’t have to carry it. There is more in pine needles than in lemons all you got to do is make tea with it. You’ll come to love pine tree’s. The pitch is highly flammable and burns for a long time as well it’s an anti septic and it works like liquid band aid

    2. In an urban area a rifle will be hard to come into play unless you carry it in your hands. Not a good idea in an urban environment.
      Handgun much better choice.

  2. I include “S” hooks in my kit. They can be hung over door hinges to keep a door from closing completely, if you had a need to keep one open.
    And don’t forget a good flashlight 🙂

  3. I would include a lock-pick kit. Some doors are reinforced and a pry bar will not work or may draw unwanted attention.

    A siphon hose should be included as well. Diesel fuel is used in many generators as well as large vehicles and will be more readily available and easier to siphon from than standard passenger vehicles. Depending on the situation, diesel vehicles would not be effected by an employee event having no spark plugs and running off compresion.

    The most important thing would also be knowledge. CPR, medical/trauma care. Perhaps take a TCCC class. Injury and infection will be the #1 causes of death in a bug-out situation.

    If you chose to wait it out In a city, be prepared to filter and boil water. Sewage treatment will be down and water pressure will eventually drop as the plant is forced to shut down due to power loss or other issues.

    Just my $0.02

    1. Hi Jason,
      Thanks for providing your .02! I agree 100% that the most important thing will be knowledge. It weighs nothing and is a force multiplier in really any situation.

      A lockpick kit is also a good idea, a subtle entry is much better than a loud one!

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge and good luck prepping!


    1. Weight, bolt cutters weigh a ton and will cause fatigue to set in much faster. Better to go light and agile in urban settings. Bolt cutters would be useful if you had a base camp and went out scouting for materials and food.

      1. But if you were going to be gone a while I would stash bolt cutters somewhere for later use. Just too heavy.

    2. A hacksaw could help along with a smaller pair of heavy duty wire cutters, pliers, a multi-tool or even a short tube notched at one end to twist the wire and break it. One or two small tools could get you thru a fence.
      The main problem with short handled tools is the lack of leverage, so for that reason I suggest the hacksaw. Besides if you get a short one they’re very light and it’s easy to pack a few extra blades. Plus they are cheap for what they can do.

  4. Great list. I settled on the Black Gerber Gator Machete for my survival knife/weapon. If the risk of getting jumped is low I would just keep a nice folding knife handy and pack the Gerber. I would venture to say a military grade gas mask and a few canisters might be a good idea for those in target cities like NY and DC. My goal in all this is to walk out of a disaster and get back to my family in the burbs.

    1. Hell, if you have an office you may as well keep a whole chem suit in there just in case dirty bomb or something worse.

  5. I live in the country but drive to the city for work. 70 plus miles one way. I have a pair of hiking boots with my GHB and a change of clothes

  6. On the subject of entering and getting out of buildings, I’d get a couple of those door stoppers (Those little wedges). They sell them at Dollar Tree along with cheap string (3 Packs of colored twine), wire and hairbands which are all useful to tie, bind or secure a door or tie things together or even rig a trip line.
    In an urban environment, a few tools might be helpful to remove screws and nuts or to repair something. And maybe some penetrating oil to loosen rusty bolts.
    I didn’t notice anything about cooking. Seems like a small cook kit would be a necessity.

  7. get yourself a hi end hammock. I use a clark nx 270 model and sleep very well at 63 yrs of age. in the morning I roll out with no aches, pains, bug bites or wet clothing. all up with tarp over and titanium flyz and biners I have about 4.5 lbs to tote. think quality gear and lightweight to be mobile like the grey man philosophy.

  8. mylar survival blanket. when folded for packing, they each occupy about the same amount of space as an empty wallet. when unfolded for use, one could easily be the deciding factor when facing extreme weather. in cold, they’ll preserve about 98% of the body heat lost to expiration, preventing hypothermia in freezing temperatures. they can provide protection from heat as well, a use that goes overlooked.

    i’ve seen them for anywhere from 4/$1 to $1/unit in stores, and even found them being freely distributed.

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