Urban Survival Gear

Some Must-Have EDC Tools For Those Mean Streets!

By Mark Kakkuri

Wilderness and backcountry survival tactics and gear seem to get most of the attention but lately we’ve seen urban survival getting its fair share of attention too. And rightly so. Thankfully, the gear is mostly the same for each — but there are a few key differences, especially considering whatever difficulty is at hand. Urban survival situations can run the gamut — from a basic inconvenience such as a temporary loss of electricity to a more complex scenario such as an earthquake with a subsequent riot arising from a lack of food and water.

Even if there’s no major disaster occurring, there are urban situations demanding some advance preparation and several items you should keep with you at all times. These 10 tools might simply help you get from point A to point B or help you safely stay put on point C, waiting for things to settle. Read on to see these products.


Multitools have been around for decades and with each new year, the innovations only seem to increase. Once the domain of specialized workers, backcountry or military personnel, multitools have expanded to cover many other types of workers or situations. CRKT’s Bivy (retail $69.99) is intended for those involved in rigging but proves useful for a variety of urban applications. Featuring a one-handed opening, spring-handled pliers as its main tool, Bivy also sports a very handy knife with a 2.9″ Veff-serrated 5Cr15MoV blade, Phillips and flat screwdrivers and a Marlinspike. A few key specs: The tool measures 4.12″ in length (closed), just shy of an inch in width and weighs 7.7 oz. A pocket clip keeps it handy and you can deploy and close the pliers and the blade with one hand.

Cell Phone & Gear

You may not assume any electronics will be functional during an urban disaster situation — and that’s probably a good way to play it — but it’s possible you’ll have some use for your mobile phone, even if some or all of the area communications are eliminated. But if communications are up, you likely want to be powered up and as connected as possible. As such, power outlet plugs and connectors should be kept nearby along with other useful cordage. The key is to keep all these handy in an organizing pouch, ideally one tethered to your shoulder bag or backpack. A Tom Bihn Small Mesh Organizer Pouch (retail $14.99, approx. 5″x7″) with a Tom Bihn Key Strap (retail $5) will take care of a handful of cords and plugs and, most importantly, keep the pouch attached to your bag. Don’t miss or even underestimate the functionality of the tether; difficult situation or not, this is an unbelievably handy feature.

Pistol, Holster & Reload

Ideally, you’re already carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense; an urban survival situation would make this even more important. On the notion it’s always good to have backup gear, you should acquire and carry an extra pistol to be deployed in the event of an emergency. You’ll find a good combination with a pistol like the Honor Defense Honor Guard 9mm (about $450), a Crossbreed Snapslide holster ($50) and spare magazine in a Multi Holsters Elite Quick Ship Magazine Holster ($26.95). It doesn’t have to be this combination; the point here is to have not only a gun but also the means to carry it and reload. A 9mm is a good all-around caliber and an outside the waistband belt slide holster keeps the handgun easily deployable and yet still concealable. The Multi Holsters magazine holster can be worn inside or outside the waistband, attached to your backpack or attached via other means.


You’re going to be carrying a lot of gear, so you might as well have it well-organized in a durable backpack or other bag. Put the gear in the same place in the backpack, in the same way, every time and check all the pockets regularly to make sure it’s all there and ready to go. Consider also how heavy-duty of a bag you need: whether you need padded or plain straps, a chest strap and any means for attaching additional gear externally. A First Tactical Specialist 1-Day Backpack (retail $99.99) is just the ticket here, offering a 12″x18.5″x8″ main compartment, a 9.75″x4.5″x1″ top front catch pocket and a 10.5″x13.5″x2″ admin pocket. The pack’s capacity is 2,200 cubic inches (36 liters) and is made from 1000D water-resistant nylon. YKK zippers and Duraflex hardware round out this robust backpack. Even if you don’t fill it up with gear, the extra space likely will come in handy in a pinch.

Portable Cleaning Kit

Carrying a primary or backup handgun means cleaning will be needed — whether you’re shooting the guns or not. Otis Technology’s Tactical Cleaning Kit (retail $59.99) is the size of an overgrown hockey puck but unzips to reveal a universal cleaning kit that can handle .22/.223, .270, .30/.308/.30-06/.30-30, .38/9mm, .45-cal and 12-ga. The kit includes bronze bore brushes, cotton patches, Memory-Flex cable (8″, 30″ and 34″), obstruction removers, chamber flag, half an ounce of Bio-CLP and an instruction manual. Be sure to clean your gun after prolonged exposure to dust and dirt or if the gun gets wet or immersed. Also, check the gun’s lubrication after a series of dry, hot days as oil can evaporate over time.

Folding Knife

Carrying a folding knife is a given, regardless of whether the city is melting down or things are normal. Just make sure your folding knife is high-quality, robust and useful for a variety of cutting tasks. Grayman’s Dua folder sports a 0.165″ CPM 20CV steel blade, heat-treated to 59RC and flat ground. Measuring 3.25″ x 1.25″, the blade is just right for light duty cutting where you need a bit of leverage. Opposite blade is a titanium handle with G10 (shown, in brown) or carbon fiber covering one side. Open, the knife measures 7.5″ overall. Folded, it’s 4.25″, carries tip-up only and deploys in a snap (literally) using a thumb stud on either side of the blade. Easy to grip and offering a ton of purchase for safe manipulation, the Dua feels very strong in hand. The Grayman retails for $295, sports a humble look and will outlast you.

Fixed-Blade Knife

Nothing’s more basic to survival gear than a knife, but I’m going to recommend more than one. In fact, we’ve got three on this list. In addition to the folder, a full tang, fixed-blade knife ought to be in your kit. In the backcountry, a larger fixed-blade knife might be more appropriate, but in an urban scenario, smaller is better. So a boot knife like this Bear Cutlery Boot Knife (Model 789, retail $79.99) meets a variety of needs. Measuring 7.88″ long, it sports a 3.25″ double-edged blade made from 1095 carbon steel. Weighing 4.8 oz., its G10 handle offers a lot of purchase and an easy draw from the Kydex sheath. A useful clip allows classic boot carry but it’ll probably find a better carry location inside the waistband.

Neck Knife

The third knife in this bunch is primarily a hide-away, self-defense tool. Known as the La Griffe (“claw”), this knife is made by Emerson and retails for $110.95. When carried on your person around your neck, it hangs from a plastic sheath, offering the short but strong handle and exposing the blade for action with just a firm tug to the south. La Griffe measures 4.9″ overall and sports a 1.75″ 154 CM blade. Fashioned from a single piece of metal, the hardness measures 57-59RC but weighs only 1.5 oz. Put your index finger through the main hole and you get a lot of leverage for cutting tasks. In a difficult situation, you might lose all your other gear but you’ll have this knife as a last-ditch survival tool.

Self-Defense Light

A normal pocket flashlight becomes a self-defense light when it shines exceptionally bright and can be used as a strike weapon, and is impact and chemical resistant and waterproof. Nightstick’s TAC300 fits the bill here, offering a CREE LED that will last 50,000 hours. With two CR123 batteries on board (included!) the TAC300 is rated at 180 lumens over 190 meters. This light keeps it simple: Press the tail cap for a temporary flash, click it for steady. One focused beam lights up everything nearby. Use it to signal others, blind an attacker or show the way. A removable pocket clip keeps it handy — I recommend you keep the pocket clip on — and the non-slip grip keeps it in hand. Best of all, you can find this light for around $30 to $40 at various
online retailers.

Tactical Pen

This piece of gear literally travels with me every day. It’s just a pen. But the Benchmade 1100 Series Tactical Pen gets the “tactical” label because it’s made from machined aluminum and sports an attention-getting tip that’ll put the hurt on an attacker. Sure, other metal pens can serve a similar purpose but a true tactical pen will be able to handle the stress of an aggravated situation. Other features worth noting: The pressure fit cap stays on via an O-ring, it writes with a Fisher Space Pen cartridge and it is a Benchmade. Measuring 5.33″ in length and only a half-inch wide, the 1100 Series tactical pen weighs 1.3 oz. and retails for $130.

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