To ensure you have the best chances of survival, a good survival kit should be tailored to your specific surroundings.
With this reasoning in mind, the idea of the urban bug out bag was created, for those living in urban areas who would face a unique set of circumstances in a disaster scenario than those in rural or outback places.
In most of these situations, it would be ideal to get out in the woods and try to survive off the land, but it’s not always going to be possible.
Therefore, you need an urban bug out bag that’s full of the right stuff that will help you survive in a city setting, and this looks quite different to most kits you find online.
What should you have in an urban bug out bag?
An urban survival kit will need unique items like durable clothing, self-defense tools, ways to protect yourself from rubble, debris, and pollutants, as well as tools like crowbars and bolt-cutters that can come in handy for accessibility.
You’ll still need to ensure you have the basics of food, water, shelter, and medical supplies, but they’ll look very different to a standard bug out bag.
If you’re in the process of putting together an urban survival kit, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do it right.
With the unique urban setting and a need to be ready for anything, this bug out bag will have an answer to any possible problem and give you peace of mind that you can handle what the city throws at you.
Food is an essential supply for any bug out bag, urban or not.
When you’re trying to survive in this type of setting, you won’t have the added bonus of being able to forage for seeds and fruit or hunting and fishing, so everything needs to be packed in your bag and ready for action.
There are some benefits to being in an urban setting, especially if you have access to local stores or abandoned food supplies in supermarkets and the like, but this should only be seen as a bonus and not your main plan. For a 72-hour bug out bag we recommend:
- Dehydrated or pouch food (enough for 3 days for each person in your group)
- Small camping stove
- Can opener
- Mess kit with basic supplies for eating and preparing food
Water And Filtration Systems
The most important part of any survival kit is water, and whether you plan on filtering water from somewhere else or bringing along your own supplies, you won’t get far without it.
In an urban setting, you’ll still need the basics like filtration systems and enough water for each person in your party, but without local rivers and lakes, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your supply.
There are some handy items you can use to get access to clean or running water in an urban environment that would be otherwise useless in a standard bug out bag.
A hydrant wrench can remove the caps of fire hydrants for water and a Sillcock water valve key is capable of turning on outdoor water faucets or spigots.
Having both of these ready to go and learning how to use them will make you highly favored in a disaster scenario.
- Bottled water
- Water purification 2 step system (to suit toxic water supplies)
- Hydrant wrench
- Sillcock water valve key
Self Defense Tools
When you’re out in the wilderness trying to survive, your biggest threat comes from wild animals.
When you’re in a city or urban environment, there are more sinister enemies you have to look out for, like gangs that might have formed and are looting or inciting violence, and lone wolf types who are trying to steal supplies and harm others.
Whatever route you go with for your method of self-defense, make sure it’s stored safely and you know how to operate it.
The easiest option, especially for those without firearm experience, is to carry a can of pepper spray and learn how to use it.
If you’re someone who knows how to safely operate a firearm and can do so within the law, this might feel more comfortable for your survival kit.
Urban Pollutants And Risks
One of the biggest differences between an urban bug out bag and one made for the wildernesses are the risks that might be present within a city setting.
All one has to do is look at the aftermath of a national emergency or bombing to see just how dangerous it can be in an urban area.
In a disaster scenario, buildings could be collapsing, there could be electrical wires exposed, broken glass on the ground and flying through the air, and pollutants like dust, smoke, and toxic materials everywhere.
Even if the threat isn’t felt immediately, it’s possible to be exposed to things like asbestos in this situation, which can lead to serious health effects in the years to come.
To protect from all of these potential threats, your urban bug out bag should have:
- Heavy-duty gloves
- Respirator mask (N95)
- Safety glasses or goggles
One of the cool things about trying to survive in an urban setting is there’s already so much man-made stuff there for you to take advantage of.
Depending on the type of disaster and how easy it is for you to reach buildings and the like, it can be handy to have some tools ready to use.
Imagine you’re in a city without anyone around, and you need to access doors, windows, locked cabinets, and even abandoned vehicles.
You’ll need a few simple pieces of equipment that can get rid of these accessibility options and enable you to work quickly and without drawing attention to yourself.
- Bolt cutters
- Ripping bar
- Multitool or knife
Shelter And Warmth
One of the biggest benefits that the city offers the survivalists is that there’s no shortage of shelter that’s already been built.
You likely don’t need to have a tent, and pitching one in the middle of a city area is probably a dangerous idea anyway.
Head towards an abandoned building that has nothing of value for a looter to take, and you’ll be the safest here.
For an urban bug out bag, you’ll need the accessibility options we mentioned earlier that’ll help you get into buildings and other closed-off areas, and more.
Pack a space blanket for extreme temperatures and a survival lighter and other methods for creating a flame.
Although firewood might be hard to come by in this situation, there might be old furniture and paper that you’ll be able to burn.
Being trapped in an urban area in an emergency is good in terms of communication since you’re likely in an area where there’s good service for your phone.
You’ll also possibly have access to electricity if you can find a safe building, which means charging things up is easier.
However, it’s more likely your group will split up as you search for food and help, so personal communication is important.
In your bug out bag, pack at least two 2-way radios with batteries so you can stay in touch with your group.
Choose radios that are NOAA approved so you’ll be transmitted state-led disaster updates as they come in.
Bring along a pen or permanent market for leaving notes for others, which can be done on walls or pieces of furniture.
If you’re in an unfortunate disaster situation, there’s a good chance that things aren’t going well around you.
You’re probably already existing with a heightened possibility of injury, and when you add into that the fact you’re in an urban setting, this becomes even more real.
The standard first aid kit you have in a bug out bag is a good place to start, but you’ll want to think of other risks that the city can pose.
The likelihood of getting wounded is higher because of the rubble and fire that might be around, so make sure you’ve got antiseptic salve and cream for treating burns.
Another risk of being in an urban area that might have a nuclear facility is exposure to radiation, and this should be considered even if you live further out of civilization.
For an urban bug out bag, you should pack potassium iodide tablets that are useful in treating radiation exposure and can dramatically lessen the effects.
A bug out bag is a personal choice and everyone’s is going to look different.
From this list, there might be some things you’d rather pack that make you feel safe in an urban disaster, and some you’d feel comfortable leaving out.
Here are some options for additional items that would do well in this type of survival kit:
- Change of clothing for each person
- Hygiene kit (toothbrush, soap, feminine pads, etc.)
- A small amount of cash
- Identification documents
An urban bug out bag is a must-have for anyone that lives in these types of areas, and if you’ve looked through countless typical survival kits that were made for the woods, you’d already know how poorly they’d help you perform in a disaster scenario.
We’ve answered some commonly asked questions about bug out bags to give you more insight into why you must choose one that suits your surroundings.
What Are the Five Survival Skills?
To ensure you use your bug out bag correctly and give yourself the best chance of success in a disaster scenario, there are five survival skills to learn.
What Size Should a Bug Out Bag Be?
A good bug out bag should be a 40 – 55 liter backpack but will vary depending on how many people it’s aiding.
To calculate the best weight for a bug out bag, you should only have one that weighs 10% of your body weight.
This ensures it won’t drag you down but there’ll still be enough room for all of the essentials.