Over 80% off all the US live in or near urban areas. Escape to the woods for survival sounds exciting, but in reality, it’s not feasible for the majority. But if you spend any time reading prepper or survivalist blogs and sites, you’ll see the standard advice to flee the cities in the event of a major collapse. This makes perfect sense to many, why not remove yourself from large population of people who could be a potential threat? Go run to that 10 acres of land you have out in the mountains or match up with family or friends in a remote location.
These are all great survival plans, if you have that second property or if you have family living in a fairly remote or rural location. But what if you don’t have that luxury? I sure don’t have a second property setup for a survival location. I don’t live right in the middle of downtown, but I do live close enough to the city. I can easily see this being an issue in a post collapse situation. So I have to work with what I have available to me in regards to planning a coherent survival strategy. One has to accept reality and work within their means vs living in a fantasy world of elaborate bug out locations, $50k bug out vehicles, bunkers and the like.
Urban Survival – The Setup
It’s a post collapse situation where an enemy force occupies my city. These forces are able to provide the bare bones basics such as water and electricity, but there are random blackouts, the lights rarely work and the water is generally unsanitary. The occupiers don’t do much to provide law and order since they are too distracted fighting various militias that are attempting to drive them out of the urban center. The situation is dangerous and every day there is the potential that stray shells or gunfire could hit my house. If you don’t get killed by indirect fire, the next threat is the random attacks by local gangs and people looking for essentials such as food, water, shelter, gold, jewelry and anything else of value.
Before the collapse, I made a point to start scouting out wooded areas in and around my house. Which brings us to our first part of this series, concealment and shelter in an urban area.
Camo & Concealment
The first consideration is movement in my area, back and forth between wooded areas and the streets without drawing attention. I knew I wanted to wear clothes that were compatible for street wear and in woods. It was easy enough to choose a pair of OD green pants, a t-shirt and a khaki pullover. Add a pair of trail shoes and I have nondescript outfit that works for the street and to a certain extent the woods. However I want ability to switch to full camo once I reach my site.
That’s where a good smock, gloves and a bandanna come into play. I stow these items away in my pack and once I get into my wooded area, I camo up. The idea is to add a camo pattern as the main layer over my pullover and then use the gloves and bandanna to cover exposed skin. I’m not concerned with matching camo patterns, I’m more interested in a pattern that will match the season and by mixing patterns I can further breakup my outline. In an urban wooded area, I want to stay as concealed as much possible. I may have caches or shelter in those areas and being seen comprises the entire area.
That covers the first requirement – camo & concealment. Now let’s talk about a scouting a viable location and setting up shelter.
Site Recon & Shelter Buildup
Even though my house is still my primary shelter, I want a backup if my house is destroyed by indirect fire, attacked by looters or other threats. This means creation of a semi-permanent dwelling in my wooded area of choice. This location is within reasonable distance of my house by foot or bike. It has multiple exit and entry points and provides both water and high ground.
Once I’ve selected the area and done a site recon, it’s time to build a shelter. I want to find a spot that has the most cover year round. I’m looking for kudzu, vines, and thick brush that will always be there, no matter the season. Once I locate this area, I basically try to burrow into the cover, making a hide that blends in with the terrain features.
Of course I have to clear out some of the area in order to make the shelter. BUT I keep this to a bare minimum, so the natural undergrowth can fill in the dead space around the shelter over time. When I’m done with the shelter, I make sure to dispose of left over materials and cover my tracks.
Urban survival is skill I believe we all need to cultivate and grow, even if it’s not as exciting as playing Rambo in the woods. However, you have to create a realistic survival strategy, not one based in fantasy. Another consideration we’ll cover is your urban survival kit. How does it change from what you carry in the field, how does it stay the same? Check out this Instructable to get a head start on the basics for an urban survival kit.
Stay tuned for the next write up, we’ll talk about how to make a low signature entry and exit from your site. There’s will be more variables at play so it should be an interesting training exercise.