Essential Urban Survival Gear: 17 Must-Have Items for Emergencies

Aerial view of Moscow at night

Prepare for urban emergencies with our 17-piece urban survival gear checklist.

From disaster kits to bug-out bags, this guide equips you for urban disasters where access to necessities may be limited.

1. Disaster Kit

Young man packing the bag with documents, water,food, first aid kit and other items needed to survive

A disaster kit is a collection of essential items that you will need during an emergency.

It should include enough supplies to last at least three days. Some of the items that should be included in your disaster kit are:

  • Water bottles or water purification tablets
  • Non-perishable food items
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Medications and prescriptions
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Important documents (ID, passport, insurance, etc.)
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Emergency contact information

2. Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag (BOB) is a portable kit that contains essential items for survival.

It should be light enough to carry on your back and contain enough supplies to last at least three days.

Some of the items that should be included in your bug out bag are:

  • Water bottles or water purification tablets
  • Non-perishable food items
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Multi-tool
  • Rope and carabiner
  • Compass and map
  • Fire starter
  • Emergency shelter (tent or emergency blanket)
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Communication devices (radio or cell phone)
  • Self-defense items

3. First Aid Kit

First-Aid kit is an important part of safety in emergancy situations

A first aid kit is an essential item for emergency preparedness. It should contain basic medical supplies to treat minor injuries and illnesses.

Some of the items that should be included in your first aid kit are:

  • Bandages and gauze
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Tweezers and scissors
  • Pain relievers
  • Allergy medication
  • Thermometer
  • Disposable gloves
  • Sanitary wipes
  • Eye drops

Our pick for the best first aid kit is the First Aid Only 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit.

4. Water Filtration

4 Pack Water Filter Straw - Water Purifying Device - Portable Personal Water Filtration Survival - for Emergency Kits Outdoor Activities and Hiking - Water Filter Camping Travel Survival Backpacking

Access to clean drinking water is essential during an emergency.

A water filtration system can provide safe drinking water even if the water supply is contaminated. Some of the options for water filtration include:

5. Shelter

Emergency shelter is essential if you need to evacuate your home or if you are stranded outdoors. Some of the options for emergency shelter include:

  • Tents
  • Emergency blankets
  • Emergency bivvies
  • Tarps

6. Fire Starter

Male hand starts fire with magnesium fire steel, fire striker

Starting a fire can be essential for warmth, cooking, and signaling for help.

Having a reliable fire starter in your emergency gear is crucial. Some of the options for fire starters include:

  • Waterproof matches
  • Firestarter sticks
  • Lighters
  • Ferrocerium rods

7. Multi-Tool

A Swiss Army style of mulitool knife and equipment for the great outdoors.

A multi-tool is a versatile piece of equipment that can be used for various tasks during an emergency. Some of the features to look for in a multi-tool include:

  • Pliers
  • Knife blade
  • Saw
  • Screwdrivers
  • Can opener
  • Scissors

8. Flashlight and Batteries

flaslight with batteries over white background

Having a reliable source of light during an emergency is essential, especially in urban areas where power outages may occur.

Some of the options for flashlights include:

  • LED flashlights
  • Headlamps
  • Hand-crank flashlights
  • Solar-powered flashlights

Don’t forget to pack extra batteries for your flashlight, as well as any other battery-operated devices you may have.

9. Communication Devices

Hand holding two way radio

It’s crucial to stay connected with family members and emergency services during a disaster. Some of the options for communication devices include:

  • Cell phones
  • Two-way radios
  • Emergency whistles

10. Navigation Tools

Close up, Hand holding a compass in front of the ocean. Travel, concepts

Knowing your way around an urban area during an emergency is essential, especially if you need to evacuate.

Some of the options for navigation tools include:

  • Compass
  • City maps
  • GPS devices
  • Smartphone apps

11. Self-Defense Items

FIGHTSENSE Self-Defense Kit W/Pepper Spray & Mini Stun Gun for Men & Women,25 Burst,12 Foot Range,1.60 µC Painful Charge,LED Flashlight,Safety Switch (Pink)

In an emergency, personal safety is a top priority. Having self-defense items in your survival gear can provide added protection.

Some of the options for self-defense items include:

12. Food Storage

Survival set of nonperishable foods in carton box

Having non-perishable food items in your emergency gear is essential for survival.

Some of the options for food storage include:

  • Canned goods
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Energy bars
  • Freeze-dried meals

13. Hygiene Products

Soap Bar And Liquid. Shampoo, Shower Gel. Towels. Spa Kit

Maintaining personal hygiene during an emergency is important to prevent illness and infection.

Some of the items that should be included in your hygiene products are:

  • Soap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Toilet paper

14. Clothing and Footwear

Having extra clothing and footwear in your emergency gear is essential for comfort, warmth, and protection from the elements.

Some of the items that should be included are:

  • Extra socks
  • Undergarments
  • Warm layers (fleece or down jackets)
  • Rain gear
  • Sturdy shoes or boots

15. Backpack

Military backpack. flag of ukraine on the background. close-up

A durable, comfortable backpack is essential for carrying all of your emergency gear.

Look for a backpack with multiple compartments, padded shoulder straps, and a hip belt for added support.

16. Sleeping Bag and Tent

View from the tourist tent on the mountains, meadow, herbs, flowers, early in the morning when the sun rises. Camping equipment including a sleeping bag and pillow. Tourist tent.Turistic background

If you need to shelter outdoors during an emergency, having a sleeping bag and tent can provide warmth and protection from the elements.

Choose a lightweight, compact option that is easy to carry in your backpack.

17. Rope and Carabiner

Nylon Braided Rope & Carabiner 3/8 Inch x 50 Feet 220 lbs Pound – Cleat Tensioner Rigging Device Tie Down Strap Anchor

A sturdy rope and carabiner can be useful in various emergency situations, such as securing items, creating a makeshift shelter, or even climbing.

Look for a rope with a high tensile strength and durable carabiners

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.