11 Underrated Urban Survival Skills You Should Know

More than 80% of the total population in the United States live in major cities and urban areas. With that big of a percentage, you’ll most likely get caught up in crowds, traffic, and pure chaos when disaster strikes.

This part is where urban survival comes into the limelight. The skills needed to survive the concrete jungle are not like your typical bushcraft skills.

You’re gonna need a solid set of skills that’ll keep you alive whatever disaster might come along. Here’s a list of underrated urban survival skills you should know:

Underrated Urban Survival Skills

Lock Picking

You might be hesitant to learn this skill at first because it’s often tagged as malicious activity, but you’ll later realize that lock picking opens more doors for you in survival situations. LITERALLY.

Imagine a lock being the only thing standing between you and vital things like food and medicine. You’d be wishing you did have some lock picking skills. Why? The art of lock picking could save you.

The skill will give you access to secure locations and acquire essential resources while staying safe during emergencies.

It only takes a few seconds or a few minutes to pick a lock, but to learn it is a bit complicated on the first few tries. To start, you have to know the basics. First off, you’ll need two tools: a lock pick and a torque wrench. But we all know a hairpin will do fine as well.

For an in-depth tutorial, check out the video above to find your way around this craft.

Finding Water

In a grid-down situation, water taps will run dry, and you’ll eventually have zero access to clean water. As a general rule of thumb, the average person can only survive three days without water or five days tops.

After that short window, your organs will begin to shut down, especially the brain. Before that happens, it’s only natural for us humans to seek water to avoid our untimely demise.

Now, finding fresh water in urban survival environments presents its challenges, but it’s really all about knowing where to look.

Your house is an excellent place to start. There are quite a few water sources you can find in your home. For example, your toilet tank and water heater.

If the water you find in your house still isn’t enough, you can scout your local area. Look out for nearby lakes, rivers, or streams. Just remember to always purify the water from any of these sources before drinking.

But if these bodies of water fail you, you can try your luck in commercial buildings or residential areas since they have access to water. First, check your chest of survival gear for a water spigot. If you have your hands on one, accessing the external water handles of these structures won’t be a problem.

Bartering and Negotiating

In a survival situation where money is not available, you’ll have to rely on your bartering and negotiating skills. They’re an opportunity for collaborative problem-solving, which can benefit everyone in your urban survival community.

Since many common resources will become scarce when things go south, you’ll most likely run out of essential things you need to survive. If you have extra valuable stuff in your stockpile, trade with folks who can offer back the items or services you want or need.

You’re also gonna need to come up with a great negotiating strategy when bartering. Negotiation requires good social skills and high emotional intelligence since you’ll make all sorts of deals with different people.

As long as both parties are satisfied, it’s a fair trade for everyone.


There’s a high chance you won’t be home when disaster strikes, so you’re left with no choice but to find your way back home or to your bug-out location.

Since everyone is also trying to go home, expect traffic jams on main roads and highways. People are gonna crowd the streets, too, so watch out for that. 

Whether you’re heading to safety by foot or by car, your navigation skills will be put to work. In urban survival, you have to know the ins and outs of every corner in your city to dodge the crowd and traffic. And you must also learn how to read a map in case your GPS fails. One way to start is understanding the features of the map, from the legend, the title, and grid references to the north arrow and the scale.


You’re likely gonna run low on supplies if the situation in your area doesn’t improve. If you want to increase your chances of coming out of a disaster alive, you might have to resort to scavenging. Since law and order might take a while before it’s restored in a prolonged SHTF scenario, make the most of moving around freely without having to think of the police. Find what you can and collect as many resources as you can.

Places like apartment buildings and grocery stores will probably be abandoned and are the best areas to look for food, water, and other necessities. But always watch your back for suspicious people who might pose as threats while you scavenge for supplies.

Blending In

In urban survival where there are too many folks congested in one area, moving around without people staring daggers at you is gonna be hard. If that’s the case, you want to be like the gray man.

Simply go with the flow wherever you are. Blend in with the crowd so you don’t bring any unwanted attention to yourself.

Learning to move about with stealth will save you from marauders and desperate people when you have to go from one place to another. This way, you won’t end up being a sorry target.


Reckless folks are gonna be everywhere post SHTF. While you want to avoid them at all costs, there’s a possibility that you’re gonna run into one of them.

When you do, you have to be prepared to go against these thugs even without your weapons. Some of them might break into your home and steal your supplies, so you have to learn how to pack a punch like a pro.

Learning a few fighting styles is your best shot at keeping your family safe. Just make sure you hone those self-defense skills beforehand.

Situational Awareness

The scenes after a disaster are pretty chaotic. Most people are in panic mode, and it can be quite hard to process the situation. With that said, practicing situational awareness is one way to ensure your survival in an urban environment.

Start by predicting possible scenarios within your environment. You can do this by taking in the information around you and processing potential scenes that can happen.

When you’re sensitive to the things in your area, it’s easier to detect threats before they attack or identify danger before they develop. You just need to focus on your surroundings and trust your instincts.

Staying Fit

Getting out of a dangerous situation can be tough on your body.

Imagine finding yourself in the middle of a major riot in an urban area. You’ll be pinned against walls and pushed against a sea of crowd. If you’re not built strong enough, there’s no way you can escape a riot without serious injuries.

This situation is precisely why you always have to be in your best shape because you’ll never know when things go south. Staying physically fit can be a challenge, but it should be a challenge you’re willing to take if you want to survive.

A good way to start your fitness journey is to get your body moving through cardio exercises. Squeezing in a few hours of walking or running within your day isn’t too bad, yeah?


Communication is vital in the prepping world.

There’s a possibility that you’ll be far from home when disaster strikes, and the first thing you want to do is contact your loved ones. This scenario makes communication an important part in preparing for TEOTWAWKI, which is why preppers must learn how to handle a walkie talkie or radio.

Apart from radio communication, knowing how to communicate with average joes or strangers can be critical for your survival, too.

You encounter different types of people every day. In urban areas, there are lots of them. Chances are you’re gonna meet some difficult folks when SHTF.

Knowing how to deal with them when necessary is essential for urban survival, especially when you need to talk them down from violent situations or read their intentions based on verbal cues. Once you develop a knack for communicating with people, you’ll have no problem handling complex and sometimes dangerous human interactions.

Administering First Aid

Every prepper has a first aid kit in their possession, but not everyone knows how to use the contents inside.

In urban disasters, hospitals will be overrun, and you’ll have to learn how to administer first aid to yourself (if possible) or others. If you have no idea what hemostatic agents are for or how to use chest seals, you might want to consider taking a class in first aid, so your medical supplies don’t go to waste.

Let’s not forget about learning how to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver as well because you’ll never know whose life you’re gonna save one day.

Final Thoughts

At first, you might’ve never considered learning and practicing these skills. But now that we’ve established how important these are to get you through any urban disaster, it only fits that you pick up these underrated survival chops.

Because when you do, the next time a disaster strikes in your city, you’ll be glad you took some days to master these skills.

Do you have other urban survival skills in mind? Let us know in the comments section below.

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