What Is an Urban Survival Kit? – Critical Tools to Have

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Many people assume that you only need survival gear if you are spending time in the wilderness; however, the truth is disaster situations can occur just as unexpectedly in urban environments.

This is why assembling your own urban survival kit is so important. Ideally, you will never need to use your urban survival kit, but if you do, you will be happy you made one.

To help you create your urban survival kit, we will go over some of the most critical pieces of equipment you should stock in yours. Use this list to build your kit, and you will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are prepared for the worst!

What Is an Urban Survival Kit?

Urban Survival Kit

An urban survival kit is a collection of tools and supplies you can quickly grab during any emergency situation. It will contain everything you need to navigate dangerous and unexpected situations.

As mentioned above, emergencies can happen just as suddenly in urban environments as in the wild. Natural disasters, like earthquakes or hurricanes, can devastate city dwellers, as can other types of emergencies, like terrorist attacks, hostile invasions, and violent riots. 

If a situation presents itself where you need to escape quickly and travel lightly, a well-stocked urban survival kit will have everything you need to make a safe and rapid exit.

The Top Tools You Should Have in Your Urban Survival Kit

Now that you understand what an urban survival kit is, we can get into some of the most critical pieces of equipment your kit should contain. Remember, these are just the basics; you can add additional items that fit your unique needs and preferences once you have stocked the basics.

1. Folding Knife

A sharp and lockable folding knife is an incredibly useful piece of equipment for any type of survival kit, not just an urban survival kit. You can use these versatile tools for everything from personal protection to cutting cord and medical sutures.

To find the best knife for your pack, consider reading our guide to the Best Survival Knives for 2022.

2. Flashlight and Headlamp

While we are used to urban environments being almost fully illuminated at night, the power can be cut instantly in disaster situations. Without a source of light, things can get complicated very fast. Not only is it difficult to navigate around an urban environment in the dark, but you will also struggle with even the most basic tasks once the sun sets.

A reliable, lightweight flashlight is a necessary tool in any urban survival kit, as is a LED headlamp. Headlamps help you navigate and work completely hands-free, which is also incredibly useful.

3. First Aid Kit

While it is an unpleasant thought, injuries often accompany disasters. People get hurt as disaster situations occur, and post-disaster urban environments can also be covered in broken glass, exposed nails, sharp rebar, and countless tripping hazards.

By stocking a basic first aid kit, you can handle basic injuries to yourself and others. The first aid kit you keep in your urban survival kit does not have to be complex or bulky. Even carrying bandages, antibiotic creams, sanitizer sprays, a tourniquet, and over-the-counter pain medications will put you ahead of most people.

Read through the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Life-Saving First Aid Kit Basics for more information about the items in a first aid kit.

4. Multi-Tool

A multi-tool can be an incredibly valuable piece of equipment in a survival situation. You can use it for countless practical purposes. The best multi-tools can replace a heavy toolbox with a compact, lightweight, all-in-one tool. Whether you need to open canned food, or pull a shard of glass from a wound, with a multi-tool, you are prepared for anything.

Read our guide to the Best Multi-Tools for 2022 to find the perfect option for your urban survival kit.

5. Basic Self Defense Equipment

When disasters occur in major population centers, violence tends to follow. Ideally, you will not need to use any self-defense equipment, but it is better to have it and not need it than not to have it.

What you can purchase will depend on the laws and regulations where you live. While some people will store a handgun they are trained to use in their emergency survival kit, others will carry a small bottle of pepper spray or a stun gun.

You can also read our Best Self Defense Keychain Set Review List for various small, low-profile self-defense items.

6. Map of Your City and the Surrounding Area

City Map with Streets and Points of Interest

You do not want to depend on your smartphone for directions in an emergency situation. The battery can die, and you may not have a signal. It may seem old-fashioned, but a basic map of the city and the surrounding area can help you navigate your way to safety. You do not want to be walking in the wrong direction when time is in short supply.

7. Duct Tape

Duct tape is incredibly versatile and can help you in countless emergencies. It can quickly strap wounds, build shelter, and so much more. Fortunately, it is also extremely light and affordable, so there is no reason not to toss a roll in your urban survival kit.

8. Emergency Radio

An emergency radio, preferably with a hand crank, can allow you to tune in for updates. You do not want to be in the dark during an emergency. Radio updates could inform you about the ongoing situation, where you should head for safety, or if it is better to stay where you are.

9. Lighter and Waterproof Matches

The ability to make a fire quickly can be critical in a survival situation, even when they occur in an urban environment. A fire can be a lifesaver during cold winters, but it can also help cook food and boil water if electric and gas-powered ovens are not working.

Other Items to Include in Your Urban Survival Kit

Post-apocalyptic Urban Landscape

While the items mentioned above are all essential, you should try to include plenty of other things when making your urban survival kit. The following are worth taking into consideration:

  • Paracord
  • Compass 
  • Compact rain poncho
  • Pen and paper
  • Lock picking kit
  • Power bank for recharging phones
  • Emergency blanket 
  • Water filtration devices or water treatment tabs
  • Warm gloves and socks
  • Safety goggles and a respirator 
  • Cash 
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Lightweight, non-perishable food (energy bars, trail mix, dehydrated meals)
  • Essential sanitation items (toothbrush, toilet paper, sanitary wipes)

For More Information

In addition to having the right urban survival gear, you can help by coming up with an emergency plan you and your family can follow. 

Check out www.Ready.gov for a wealth of helpful survival and emergency preparedness guides. They cover everything from evacuation tips to supply checklists. Their Emergency Response Plan Guide is an outstanding resource that everyone should read.


You can also read our guide to Stockpiling Food for Disaster Situations, which covers everything from the best survival foods to what you should think about when preparing food for emergencies.

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