Urban survival situations pose many unique challenges that aren’t present in a wilderness setting. Because of this, there are some special pieces of urban survival gear that everyone should own.
Pieces of urban survival gear that everyone should own are:
- Sillcock Key
- Full-Size Multitool
- Linesman Pliers
- Pry Bar
- Siphon Pump
- Water Purification Bottle
- Dust Mask and Goggles
- Battery Bank
While some of these would be useful in both an urban or wilderness setting, they are especially important if you are in a populated area.
Criteria for Urban Survival Gear
Just to let you know what you can expect from this article, I want to give you some criteria for my selections before we get started. The items I selected should fit easily inside of your EDC bag. You can also keep them in a supplemental kit that you can add to your EDC bag if needed. Supplemental kits can be kept in your car or office.
I avoided adding very large items since they’ll slow you down and make you stand out. The less you look like a prepper or survivalist the better. You should look as much like any other commuter as possible. In general, the urban survival gear that I selected for this list doesn’t require a lot of specialized training or skills. They are fairly intuitive and easy to use.
Also, these are the items that I think I would find the most useful for my situation. I spend most of my time in a mid-size city, so if you live in a major metropolitan area, your list may vary slightly. Also, to keep the article a little more manageable, I’m leaving out obvious EDC items like firearms and flashlights.
The first piece of urban survival gear that everyone should own is a sillcock key. These are small tools that operate water spigots on the outside of commercial buildings.
Unlike the spigots on your home, many of those used on commercial buildings have the handle removed to prevent unauthorized use. You may be able to use pliers on some, however, many are tamper resistant.
Sillcock keys are a solution to this problem and may be needed in an urban survival scenario. Even if water utilities are no longer running, there may still be some water in the pipes. You can find sillcock keys at your local hardware store or by clicking here.
Related: How Do Preppers Store Water?
The next piece of urban survival gear everyone should own is a full-size multitool. This is meant to serve as a compliment to your normal EDC knife.
I like to carry knives as part of a system. A dedicated folder (ZT-0350) fits in the small key pocket on my jeans and a large Swiss Army Knife (Swisschamp) rides in my front right pocket. I keep a full-size multitool (Swisstool X) in my EDC bag.
This system allows me to have most of what I would need on my body but have a beefier backup with pliers nearby. If I’m traveling or know I will be spending time in the woods, I add a fixed blade knife such as a BK-2 to my kit. This will either be in my EDC bag or in my vehicle.
I like the Swisstool X because of its comfort and its similarities to a Swiss Army Knife. I’ve been carrying Swiss Army Knives since I was a kid, so I’m very comfortable using their specific tool designs. Of course, Leatherman makes good multitools as well. Multitools excel at allowing you to loosen or tighten fasteners without breaking the tip off of your EDC knife.
In addition to a multitool, it’s also a good idea to keep an adjustable wrench in your EDC pack. Having one will allow you to remove nuts and bolts easier than a multitool.
Related: Swisstool Review
Linesman pliers are another piece of urban survival gear that everyone should own. These work well for cutting through barbed wire or chain link fencing. While some multitools are capable of cutting these materials, it can be pretty difficult.
Linesman pliers are longer, giving you more leverage as you are cutting. They also have a larger cutting area which also helps. If you want something larger, you can always keep a good set of bolt cutters in your car. However, anything large enough to cut through heavy-duty padlocks will be too large to fit in a pack.
If you want a good set of linesman pliers, I recommend staying with brands such as Klein, Milwaukee, Knipex, or Channellock. They are designed for professional use and will hold up much better than bargain brand tools. You can find a good set of linesman pliers by clicking here.
If you’re a smaller-framed individual or have a weak grip, you may want to purchase a set of 8-inch mini bolt cutters. They’ll give you more leverage, but may not be able to open as wide as a pair of linesman pliers. They will be heavier and bulkier as well.
The next urban survival tool that everyone should own is a pry bar. Although there are many “pry bars” out there, I’m referring to the flat versions such as the Stanley Wonderbar or Estwing Handy Bar. Crowbars are usually shaped like a “J” and frequently have a hexagonal shape.
Pry bars are lighter than crowbars and will be easier to use if you are trying to pry something that is tightly fitting. Crowbars, on the other hand, are better at smashing and can withstand heavier prying. The design that you choose will largely come down to personal preference. However, crowbars are usually heavier while pry bars are sharper and may cut a hole in your pack.
The main uses of a pry bar are gaining additional leverage, breaking things, and defense. Many people think of them primarily as forced entry tools. However, they are just as useful if you need a rescue tool to save yourself or someone else from a damaged or collapsed car or structure.
The next piece of urban survival gear that you should own is a good pair of gloves. Actually, you should have several pairs of gloves, but you should always keep some nearby if you live or work in an urban environment.
If you’re in an urban environment when disaster strikes, it’s very likely that you may need to climb over or move sharp metal or glass. You may also encounter hot objects that could burn you as well. A good pair of leather gloves can protect you from these hazards.
Leather can stand up to heat better than a lot of the synthetic fabrics that many gloves are made of. They are also pretty tough and can stand up to wear and abrasion well.
The next piece of urban survival gear that every prepper should own is a siphon pump. These can be used to procure water from crevices as well as to scavenge fuel during a prolonged disaster.
When using a siphon pump, don’t use the same one for both water and fuel. Also, make sure to run any water that you procure through a filter that’s effective against chemicals. These aren’t designed to be food safe, so they may have lubricants inside of them. The materials they’re made of probably aren’t food-safe either. Having a filter that can remove chemicals can remove any potential contaminants.
Most of the siphon pumps that I’ve seen look virtually identical to one another, so I’m not sure if one is any better than another. The one I picked up at Harbor Freight has done a pretty good job and was pretty inexpensive.
Water Purification Bottle
If you are in an urban environment, you need a different kind of water filter than what you would use in the wilderness. Many water filters, such as the Sawyer Mini, can only remove sediment, bacteria, and protozoa. This is fine for wilderness survival, however, if you are in a populated area, you may need to remove chemicals and viruses as well.
For this, you’ll need a water purifier that can remove bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. This will help protect you if your water source has been contaminated by human waste or chemical runoff. The three main choices for a portable water purifier are Grayl, Berkey Sport, and Seychelle.
I chose the Grayl Geopress because, out of the bottles that I saw, Grayl was the most transparent regarding the kinds of contaminants that their products can remove. To use it, fill the outer cup with water and press the inner cup down inside of it. Water will go through the filter into the clean water bottle.
A tourniquet is another item that can help you survive in an urban environment. They help stop bleeding from large wounds on extremities like arms and legs and are becoming essential due to the frequency of shootings.
A ratcheting tourniquet is easier to use when injured or under stress than other types of tourniquets. To use it, slide it over the injured limb between the wound and the heart. Then, tighten the strap as much as you can by hand. Finally, use the ratchet to tighten it more until the bleeding stops.
Dust mask and Eye Protection
A dust mask and eye protection are very important in an urban survival situation. They can help protect your eyes and lungs from debris that would be present if buildings or other structures were damaged.
You may want to consider asking your optometrist to write you a prescription for some safety glasses. These will be easier to use than glasses with goggles over them, especially if you need to move a lot.
For breathing protection, I like N95 masks because they are easy to stash in a bag or at your office. However, it is also a good idea to keep a half-face respirator or gas mask at home in case you need them.
Related: Do Preppers Need Gas Masks?
The next piece of urban survival gear that you should own is a battery bank. These are most commonly used to charge cell phones, which can help you stay in contact with loved ones.
Being able to keep your phone up and running will also enable you to communicate with authorities or other people who could help you if needed. It would also allow people to reach you if they need your help.
Smartphones are valuable tools if you need help identifying loved ones. Showing someone a picture of a family member you are searching for is much better than trying to give them a verbal description. They can also hold reference materials in apps or downloadable PDFs.
A battery bank can also recharge other USB devices, such as flashlights. I have this one by Anker that I’ve been using for nearly a year now.