The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit & Gear

Bug Out Bag Builder Gray Man

The Ultimate Urban Survival Kit & Gear

If you live in an urban or suburban area you would face different types of situations during a disaster then those who live in the countryside.

Yet nearly every emergency kit you'll read about online looks like it's designed to help you live in the woods. If you are looking for something like that, then check out our Woodsman Outdoor Survival Kit.

Even the Bug Out Bags that are supposed to be designed for "city dwellers" completely miss the point.

You can't carry around huge knives in most cities. You'll go to jail.

You gonna bug out to Central Park and live there in a tent there? Good luck with that.

Is a Lifestraw gonna purify a puddle of water on Broadway? Nope.

We've developed a kit specifically designed to help those who live in cities, large towns, or dense suburbs. We call it the Gray Man Bag.

It's the only kit you'll find online that will actually have the tools in it you will need, and isn't filled with the stuff you don't if you live in the city or a heavy suburban area.



The first and most important step: make sure you have prepared a WUSH Bag, and that it is small enough to integrate into this larger long-term kit.

If you haven't done this yet, go read this article then come back here.

BTW If you buy anything from the links we provide on this page we might get a small percentage of the sale. For more info click here.

The Best City Bug Out Bag

This kit was built from the ground up to focus on the needs of people who live in cities, and help them deal with the harsh realities they would face during a large scale disaster event which would force them to have to evacuate.

We will walk you through each item of the kit here, why it's been included, and how to use it.

There will be some things you will need to add to this to round it out, we'll discuss those at the end.

Lets start with the pack itself:

5.11 COVRT18 Backpack

First thing you want to make sure of is that your emergency kit doesn't draw a lot of attention to you. There will be tons of eyes out there, some of them desperate. Keeping your gear low key is a very smart idea and could save your life.

We've chosen the COVRT18 Backpack as the best for this type of build for a few reasons. We've had ours for years and have really put it through it's paces, so we know it will function as it should, and hold up under stress, see our full 5.11 COVRT18 Review.

The COVRT18 doesn't look like a tactical backpack, but it offers many of the features of one that we consider necessary for an emergency kit.

  • It is made of 500D nylon. This makes it very durable without adding too much weight.
  • There are a few secret pockets not immediately noticeable to a casual observer. These are for conceal carry, which may or may not be an option for you depending where you live.
  • It has a smart pocket layout. Easy to keep organized and find your stuff.
  • Interior MOLLE and hydration bladder hose pass thru.


Our other favorite is the Maxpedition Entity 27. A little bit smaller but built like a tank and very low-key.


Alternate concealed packs to consider: Vertx Gamut Overland

Environmental Protection

Your first and most important consideration during a city evacuation is protecting yourself and your family from either the event itself or the others around you experiencing it.

Water, food, all that stuff is important but will be of secondary concern if the event is sudden and unexpected, ie. Godzilla deciding to Wrestlemania on your time share.

First and foremost you need to escape alive.


Collapsing buildings and throw massive amounts of toxic dust into the surrounding area making breathing next to impossible.

Protect Ya Neck*

Falling debris, smoke, dust, fire, darkness: all of these are your enemies. Some basic protective gear should be included in every emergency kit.


3M P100 Particulate Respirator

There is likely to be all kinds of crap in the air if there is a fire or collapsed buildings or what have you. These masks will filter out a lot of bad stuff. They won't protect you from smoke or chemical attack so keep your expectations correct, but they are a must have item.

To read more about Respirators and Gas Masks, read this article.



Pyramex Ridgeline Cap Style Hard Hat

Typical Price: $27

You're in a city, right? All kinds of things are above you at all times and stuff is just waiting to fall on your unexpecting head. You need noggin protection the same way construction people do. This one is low-key and doesn't scream "helmet." You could also go with a bike, skateboard, or even motorcycle helmet. Anything to protect your head.



3M Chemical Splash/Impact Goggles

Typical Price: $20

Your eyes are prone to getting bits of debris in them, which could cause serious damage. Protect them at all costs, you'll need them at some point, right?



Pyramex Gloves

Typical Price: $25

When things are dicey you'll need to protect your hands. You might need to do some demo work with your FUBAR (below) or grab hold of sharp things. Don't be one of the helpless wounded. Get a pair of heavy-duty gloves, not those cheapo ones for gardening (although they are better than nothing if that's all you have access to.)




Typical Price: $15

After you put on your mask and goggles, wrap your head, neck and face with a shemagh. This will add an extra layer of protection. Put the helmet on top. If that makes the helmet loose than just wrap it around your neck and face.



Snugpak Patrol Poncho

Typical Price: $48

Getting wet during an emergency is not just uncomfortable but could turn dangerous if you are exposed to cold as well. Umbrellas are great but the tie up your hands. Keep yourself and your pack dry with a good and durable poncho, not a flimsy one. 


Extra Stuff / Addons


iEvac Certified Smoke Hood/Fire Mask

Typical Price: $190

Evacuating a building fire could be very difficult, especially if you are on a high floor. This hood also protects against toxic gases such as carbon monoxide (the number one cause of death and injury in a fire), smoke, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur dioxide, tear gas and more.



If you spend time in high rises, fire evacuation should be something you think about. Make a plan and have a backup.

You could always add a Pandemic Protection kit if such things worry you. Not a bad idea if you live in a crowded area. 


Add a full blown CBRN Gas Mask to the list if you want to, but they can be expensive. The Avon C50 masks use the 40mm NATO filters, which are easier to come by and are compatible with other masks. The C50 show up on eBay for under $300 from time to time. Make a saved search for them and keep an eye out.

You can pickup new or lightly used Avon M50 masks from eBay for around $200 with all the accessories. They use proprietary filters but are high end masks you can trust your life on. Not a bad option if you want the best but need to save a couple of bucks.

To read more about Respirators and Gas Masks, read this article.

See and Be Seen


A power outage in the city can be terrifying. Especially if it is large scale with an unprepared populace using their cellphones as flashlights.

It probably won't be a bad idea to be highly visible during certain types of events. Especially when you need assistance.

Streamlight Siege X Rechargeable Lantern

Typical Price: $39.95

A perfect lamp/light combo for a bug out bag. The Siege X is a 2-in-1 lantern/flashlight combo which provides 360° of lantern light and a directional flashlight. Battery level indicator. IPX7 waterproof to 1m submersion - 2m impact resistance. High for brightest light: 325 lumens; runs 4. 5 hours. Diameter: 2. 12" - Height: 4. 35" - Weight: 6. 8 oz. with batteries.



Hi-Viz Saftey Vest

Typical Price: $7

If you can't see so great then it stands to reason other folks can't see either. Stand out to those who might offer help with a super-bright reflective vest. Also good for keeping tabs on family members, try to get all of the same type. Yes, you will look like a Disney tour group but who cares, be safe.




Typical Price: $15

Not just for raves, lightsticks can give you enough light to see by, and also to be seen. A good, cheap, always available backup option.


Gettin' the Hell Outta There

This might not be for everybody, but it is certainly something to think about: The Stanley FUBAR Tool can do a lot of things for you.


Stanley FUBAR Forceable Entry Tool 18"

Typical Price: $90

It slices, it dices, it can:

  • Bust through walls, doors, windows
  • Turn off gas lines so nothing blows up
  • Open fire hydrants (not for fun kids)
  • Pry open stuff you want open
  • Hammer things that need hammering
  • It doesn't "look" like a weapon but you could...
  • Clobber someone (zombies?) to smithereens

It is heavy, but not impossibly so. Just heavy enough to do the job.

You could easily carry it all day if you had to. Don't worry, the adrenaline will help. There is a carabiner hole in the handle so you can attach a strap to it if you really wanted to.

The other thing we like is that it could pass as a tool, which it is really, but could suddenly be menacing if need be. We are not condoning anything other than self defense, which could very well be necessary in a world gone bad scenario. Put the odds in your favor.



Shomer-Tec Impact Kerambit

Typical Price: $15

In many cities carrying self-defense weapons is a big-time no-no. Your best course of action is to avoid confrontation at all costs. However there are some options available to you. This plastic Kerambit can protect your hands should you need to strike someone.


Survival Gear

Although you won't be bugging out to the wilderness somewhere, some classic survival items are still a good idea to have with you.


ESEE Basic Survival Pocket Kit

Typical Price: $90

Carry an entire survival kit in a tiny package. It contains tools for survival as well as tools to help the user escape and evade hostile forces. Kit Includes: PSKT Pocket Container, Pencil, Mini Pry bar, Survival Saw Blade w/ Handle, Original SAS Wire Saw, Folding Razor Blade, Button Compass, Rescue Whistle, Can Opener, Signal Mirror w/ Aiming Screen Fire Starting Flint, Tinder Tabs, Water Treatment Tablets, Fresnel Lens Magnifier / Fire Starter, Utility Wire, MilSpec Cord, AlokSak, Personal Survival Fishing Kit, Disposable Handcuff Key, Mini First Aid Kit.

$90Knife Center


My Medic MyFak First Aid Kit

Typical Price: $120

One of our favorite first aid kits of all time. Really well put together and a very well made product. Save time and money, get the right kit the first time. Two versions available, Basic and Premium. Go for the Premium, it's worth the upgrade.

Read our full MyMedic MyFax review here.

$120My Medic$120Amazon


UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case

Typical Price: $16

Being able to start a fire is elemental. You might need to do so for one reason or another. Having matches that will work while wet or in the wind is great to have.



Live Fire Gear FireCord with a Fire Starting Strand

Typical Price: $20

Cordage is always useful and a must have item, whether it's hanging tarps or making a clothesline. Add a little extra functionality to your cordage by getting paracord with a fire starting strand built-in. You likely won't need to be making fires, but it's such a fundamental item it doesn't hurt to have this ability.


Carrying Water


Sawyer Products S3 Purifier

Typical Price: $60

Although water tends to be plentiful in urban environments from the ubiquitous plumbing systems, and commercially available sources, it doesn't hurt to carry a filter as a backup should you find yourself having to resort to less than ideal sources. For the ultimate in purification, get a Berkey System, but for something that is light and portable the S3 is a great solution. It purifies water of viruses, heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, bacteria, and protozoa in just 10 seconds. No other filters offer that level of protection.



Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir, 3-Liter

Typical Price: $40

Before you run out of the house, or when you have access to clean water, keep this 3-liter bladder filled. It gives you a day or twos worth of water that you can drink on the run. When not it use it weighs almost nothing and packs small.



Your normal food routine could face some serious disruptions during a widespread emergency event. You'll need backup food with you to keep your energy level up. You should carry ready to eat foods rather than those that require preparation, that way you can eat on the move if need be. Also access to fire/heat to boil water to reconstitute freeze-dried foods could be difficult or time-consuming.

We'll make a few suggestions below, but think about what works best for you and your dietary needs and tastes. Head to the supermarket and see what you can find. There are ready to eat tuna packets that are a good option, look for other items like that.


Meals Ready To Eat (MRE's)

Typical Price: $20

The military solution to eating on the run are called MRE's. They have their pros and cons but at the end of the day they are better than being hungry. Many different options to choose from. Not a bad option when you have the time to sit and eat



Clif Energy Bars

Typical Price: $20

Really tasty, stores for a long time, easy to eat while moving. These are our favorites. Lots of calories and protein.



Instant Coffee Packets

Typical Price: $10

Don't dismiss having instant hot beverages with you. If you are a coffee drinker you will be thankful to have your spirits lifted with a warm cup of joe. Just don't forget to carry some sugar packets and non-dairy creamer if that's how you take it.



Vargo Titanium Spoon/Fork/Knife Set

Typical Price: $25

It doesn't hurt to have these as backups. Tools to feed yourself are important. Titanium is super lightweight and durable.



TOAKS Titanium 550ml Pot / Cup

Typical Price: $30

If you do have the chance to heat up some water, or someone offers you some food or a drink, having your own cut / pot might make your day or better, keep you fed.


Get Some Sleep


With luck you'll have a well stocked shelter to rest in after your ordeals, but if you don't you really don't want to sleep on the floor somewhere with nothing at all to make you more comfortable. These items might make a brutal situation a little more bearable.


NDuR Emergency Survival Blanket

Typical Price: $10

Packs extremely small and light, this emergency blanket will be a thankful addition to your kit if you are stuck outside in the cold. Great protection for under $5.



SnugPak Basecamp Ops Air Pillow

Typical Price: $18

Pillows help you sleep, right? Then bring a small one with you!



Conair Eye Mask & Earplug Set

Typical Price: $5

Say you are stuck in a shelter, surrounded by strangers who are all on different sleep schedules. Maybe some of them snore. Maybe you have to sleep during the day. Give yourself a chance to actually relax with earplugs and a mask.


Staying Human


Sea To Summit Trek and Travel Pocket Soap

Typical Price: $8

Don't smell like that homeless guy that just walked past you in the bathroom at the Port Authority. Keep yourself cleaned up and your moral will be much better (so will the morale of those around you as well!)



SnugPak Head to Toe Travel Towel

Typical Price: $24

With luck hot showers are available to you. Even if they aren't, toiletries might be tough to come by. Do you want to have to share a towel with a stranger? Um, no thanks. Then bring your own.


*Shout-out to the Wu.

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