Survival Saturday: Successful Prepping in an Urban Environment

(The following is a guest post by Dan Sullivan, of Stop by and check out his informative site)

Successful Prepping in an Urban Environment

by Dan F. Sullivan

Urban survival doesn’t get the attention it needs because, quite frankly, not that city dwellers are interested in it. Such a shame, considering that cities are one of the toughest places to survive in. Just look at places such as the Middle East or even at certain European ones such as Calais, home to over 10,000 migrants, where social unrest has become part of daily life.

Now, this isn’t one of those “what to put in your bug out bag” types of articles. We’ll look beyond that, at things that could make it or break it for urban preppers.

#1. Don’t brag about prepping
Ideally, no one should know you’re doing this except the likeminded people who are also prepping. Even they shouldn’t know the details about what you have, how much you have and where you put it. Plus, remember that sheltering others in an apartment is impractical for long periods of time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t help your neighbors, just that your fate is more important.

Keep in mind that, if you have kids, they might spill the beans to other children, who might tell their own parents, teachers and so on. This is not only dangerous when something happens but could they could also be marginalized and made fun of in school.

#2. Careful what you wear
You have to blend in so, if you live in a nice neighborhood and have an office job, don’t rush to start wearing camo. You need to look like everyone else and not stand out at ALL. This means that, for example, you should never wear jewelry, except maybe a tie (if everyone else around you has one).

You might also want to skip the blazer and, instead, wear jeans and a t-shirt, because you risk standing out in the eyes of the rioters.
So long as you stay away from fancy accessories (necklaces, bold colors, tie clips, cufflinks, expensive-looking briefcases etc.), you should be fine.

#3. Get to know your city
Whether you’re trapped in a riot or looking to bug out, you’ll have to rely on your memory to find your way out. The bigger the city, the more ground you have to cover in order to familiarize yourself with every little street.

Explore your city on foot, by car or on your bike, know which streets are one way, know where the dead ends, are and measure which routes are faster. It’ll be fun! In a disaster situation, the main arteries will surely be blocked, so choosing alternative routes is pretty much guaranteed.

get to know alternate routes.

#4. Don’t make your BOB too heavy
In theory, you shouldn’t spend more than a couple of days bugging out, so make sure you don’t add too many things in your urban kit (full list of my urban kit items here). Stick to the essentials and, if you really want to add more stuff, spend some time optimizing your bag to make it smaller, lighter, and capable of fitting more gear.

#5. Don’t trust anyone
Ok, that goes without saying, but it’s worth repeating because, like I said, the head count is high and many will do anything to get your gun, your BOB or your car. If someone says they’re law enforcement, the first thing you should do is ask them to identify themselves.

It’s ok to be weary of people impersonating the police in a WROL (without the rule of law) situation. As for the rest of them, they shouldn’t even get close to you or your family unless you let them.

#6. Avoid tactical gear
Trying to look tacticool in an urban setting can get you in trouble even before something serious happens. You’ll stand out and people won’t hesitate to label you as a “survivalist”, which is very different from a prepper.

I know I’m taking the fun out of prepping, but please stay away from tactical-looking knives, multi-tools, tarps, clothes flashlights and so on. What you need is quality gear at a fair price, gear that won’t fail you when you need it most.

#7. Have several bug out locations
While people living on farms or h the wilderness will most likely bug in, that’s not your case. If the city is compromised, you may or may not be able to head in the direction of your BOL. A collapsed bridge, a military checkpoint or some other reason can make it impossible to get there, unless you’re willing to make a big detour.

When bugging out is plan A, have as many places to evacuate to as possible. A relative in a neighboring state, a piece of land with a cabin that belongs to a friend, even the woods you once went hiking – these are all places that keep you safe, if only for a little while.

#8. Water should be your number 1 priority
You’ll be fine without food for a long period of time, particularly if you have a few snacks in your backpack. What you should worry about is getting and then purifying water. Even if the water looks clean, don’t assume it’s safe to drink.

It’s likely that the water will run out FAST in case of a disaster or collapse, so even if you have a personal water filter, you’ll still have trouble finding more. If you live in a tiny apartment, make it a rule to stock up 3 times more water than food, and to follow that rule as your stockpile grows.


  1. Greg says:

    Hey, could you add the missing link for the items in your urban kit?

  2. Paul A'Barge says:

    This is not really prepping, it is prepping to bug out. Not the same thing.

    Try again. Harder.

  3. In some cities, urban prepping can be as simple as cleverly stocking the pantry. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita zapped New Orleans and Houston, San Antonio was swarmed with refugees–clear out to Kerrville. Turns out our “Fiesta” mentality makes us excellent hosts for thousands of unexpected guests, but bread, milk, eggs, bottled water, and ready-to-eat items were jumping off the grocery store shelves faster than they could be restocked. And this in a major grocer’s central distribution hub! Fortunately, we’re also a Red Cross distribution hub.

    The happy ending was that a lot of un- and under-employed folks from the Gulf Coast got a big Tex-Mex welcome, a hand up, and a job, and decided to stick around.

  4. K says:

    Been said before, nothing new here. Plus some of the “advice” doesn’t make sense. No multitools or flashlights??? This guy must be new to prepping/survivalism.

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Survival Saturday: Successful Prepping in an Urban Environment

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