Urban prepping: Tips on how to be urban-ready
By Zoey Sky // Sep 20, 2022

Preppers are more likely to bug in than bug out when disaster strikes. But if you're in the city when SHTF, you might need to travel a bit to get to a safe place. Therefore, preparing your bug-out bag (BOB) before SHTF is crucial to your survival. (h/t to TheSurvivalMom.com)

It's useful to have a BOB that suits different scenarios, but don't overlook the importance of having a BOB that you can use in an urban setting.

Basic tips for urban preparedness

The tips below should help you figure out what to do before SHTF in the city:

Rent the cheapest motel room you can find for a month

This might seem excessive, but doing this will help you figure out if you can survive there with only your BOB.

You can buy groceries, but only items and consumable health care products like deodorant, shampoo and soap. You're not allowed to purchase "extras" like can openers, cups, flashlights, pillowcases, razors, silverware or towels.

Prep for proper hygiene and sanitation while at the hotel

Hotel and motel rooms are full of germs and are often not properly cleaned. Surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, TV remotes and your pillows and bedspreads could be dirty.

Before SHTF, make sure you bring the necessary supplies and gear to protect yourself from these situations.

Bring a set of bedding and pillows 

To protect yourself against dirty hotel amenities, make sure your BOB has two pillowcases and two down-filled camping or travel pillows. You can also bring two bedsheets: one to dress over a bed military-style, the other as a top sheet.

Include a metal hand-crank can opener in your BOB

When packing your BOB, make sure you have an easy-to-use metal hand-crank can opener. A P-38 can opener is smaller, but it's much harder to use than a hand-crank can opener.

Bring eating utensils that fit your needs

Before SHTF, experiment with eating utensils. You can keep your BOB light by using several sets of plastic ware from fast food restaurants, or you can opt for a set of sturdier camping-style metal utensils.

Practicing how to use these utensils will allow you to eat comfortably when SHTF, so find a set that works best for your needs. (Related: Urban prepping: 10 Ways to prep in the city.)

What to include in your urban BOB

Here are some important items to include in your urban BOB:

Basic supplies

  • Change of clothes
  • Eye protection goggles
  • Flashlight
  • Food and water
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Multitool
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective headgear
  • Reflective safety vest
  • Respirator and masks
  • Self-defense weapons
  • Toiletry kit

Miscellaneous supplies

  • AA/AAA collapsible battery charger and rechargeable batteries
  • A cooking spatula serving spoon for cooking
  • Hunting/fishing supplies
  • Over-the-door hooks for hanging things
  • A pair of 3:2-prong plug converters so you can plug three-pronged laptops and other devices into a two-prong old-school wall outlet
  • Small six-foot extension cord with three outlets since there are never enough outlets in hotel or motel rooms.
  • Two rolls of quarters for vending machines, washers and dryers in hotels or motels
  • Water treatment/purification gear

If you can carry a bigger and heavier bag, you can bring more items so your BOB can help you survive beyond the standard 72-hour survival bags.

To prep a bag that is indefinite, bring tools that will help you process or treat water. You should also have tools for hunting, fishing and cooking since pre-made meals and snacks will eventually run out.

Make sure you and your BOB blend in wherever you go

Since you're preparing a BOB for urban survival, you need to make sure that your bag blends in while you're traveling using public transportation so police officers won't get suspicious.

Avoid strapping all kinds of gear to the outside of your bag. Get a large enough bag that could fit all your gear inside.

Camouflage, cover and concealment are also essential after SHTF, but you will sometimes need help. Make sure you can get the help you need by bringing a pair of high-visibility roadside safety vests with reflective material that will catch the attention of rescuers or medical teams.

How to keep your urban bug-out bag TSA-friendly

As you pack your bag, you need to know what’s in it and if it stays up to date with current Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules since they change pretty frequently. Some items, like guns and ammo, will need to be packed separately according to the rules.

Other items like fuels will always be banned. There are other prohibited items that most of the traveling public is unaware of, like battery limitations and MREs, since the latter have heater elements/packs. Pre-made alcohol stoves and similar items are also prohibited. Don't bring anything clearly labeled as flammable like heat bottles because they will be confiscated.

If you think you might have to travel in the city when SHTF, you should make sure that your bag is TSA-friendly. Keep your bag below 50 pounds to avoid extra airline fees for overweight baggage if you need to board a flight out of town.

Keeping all your gear inside your bag will also prevent someone from being tempted to steal from you while you're traveling. Get a sturdy bag so it doesn't rip apart while on the airport conveyor belt.

How to keep your BOB light

If you plan on bugging out with your whole family, have an effective plan to reduce the contents of your bug-out bag. One option is to have pre-positioned gear at your retreat location(s) or hidden caches so you can lighten the gear you have to carry.

Have bug-out bags for all family member and enforce a multi-user bag philosophy. You should also have get-home and emergency gear in each car.

Here are some ideas for pre-packed grab-and-go bags:

A camping/tent bag

This heavy bag, which is stored in your bug-out car, should have the following items:

  • Battery-powered fans
  • Candles and matches
  • An inflatable air bed and pump
  • LED camping lanterns
  • Two tents
  • Other items for a large, multi-room, family-oriented tent or site

A camp-kitchen bag

Your camp-kitchen bag should have:

  • Battery-operated and hand-crank coffee grinders and pots
  • Cast iron pots and pans
  • Collapsible water buckets
  • Fire and cooking gear
  • A folding table
  • More LED lanterns
  • Several multi-fuel stoves
  • Solar chargers
  • Solar lights

An elaborate military-style first aid (trauma) backpack

This first aid kit should be brightly colored with a large Red Cross patch.

Pack all first aid kits you think you might need, with extras like surgical tools and kits and extra prescription meds.

Fishing, hunting and trapping bag

This kit should include:

  • 12v spotlights
  • Collapsible fishing rods
  • A couple of cans of tuna fish for bait
  • Filet knives and skinning knives
  • A Henry .22 survival rifle and extra ammo
  • Land/trout lines and treble hooks
  • LED headlamps
  • One dozen leg-hold traps
  • Shotgun and shells
  • Small fresh- and saltwater tackle boxes

Food and water kits

These kits should be pre-packed with at least three weeks' worth of shelf-stable food and supplies for two people. Recheck and resupply your food and water kits annually.

Tool bags

If the bag is too heavy for one person to carry, split it into several bags.

Communications bag

This can include:

  • Backup radios, parts and headsets
  • Battery chargers
  • Extra solar panels
  • Small battery-operated TV and DVD player
  • Battery-operated radio and CD player
  • Your preferred communication device like handheld HAM radios

When SHTF, you need to be prepared to bug out at a friend's house or a hotel in an urban or suburban setting.

Since it is difficult to predict when disaster will strike, you should keep your gear adaptable and have the right mindset for urban and wilderness survival.

Watch the video below to learn about nine important street survival skills.

This video is from the Survival 101 channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Urban survival tips that can help you stay alive when you need to bug out.

Urban survival: 15 Items that you’ll need when SHTF.

Urban prepping 101: How to grow medicinal herbs in an apartment.

Sources include:




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