An Urban Survival Course with Selco: Your Gear and How to Pack It

by | Apr 24, 2018 | Headline News | 35 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Selco at The Organic Prepper

    Editor’s Note: Did you ever wish you could drop everything and fly over to the Balkans to be trained in urban survival by Selco? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pick his brain and have him beside you as you learned to deal with an SHTF scenario? Well, here’s the next best thing. Selco recently finished teaching a hardcore 5-day course in Croatia. With 6 students, they went through high-stress exercises and learned about living through an all-out disaster where danger lurks around every corner. Selco has generously agreed to write a series for us so that we can learn from him. It’s not quite like being there, but it’s the next best thing. ~ Daisy

    What to Pack for a 5-Day Urban Survival Course

    We have just finished our flagship Urban survival course in Croatia.

    For 5 days Toby Cowern and I, as instructors, taught students skills and through the different exercises and scenarios, we stress-tested their knowledge and abilities.

    For me, the most important thing was to give them a piece of the mindset needed for a real SHTF event and to give them a clear starting point from where they can build more skills, knowledge, and competence.

    In some moments it was hard for them, both physically and mentally, but one of the most important points, of course, was to test them in not so perfect conditions.

    The whole course cannot be transferred here for reading, but some highlights can be given in a series of articles, reflecting on the most interesting moments of each day. This time, we will start out with the gear necessary for the class.

    Equipment (items that  you have with you)

    I am a very big fan of carrying items that are multipurpose, and I have adopted over the time the philosophy that “less is more.” In reality,”more skills-less items” is the key to survival. That said, I am aware that we will have many items in our backpack when we talk about urban survival.

    Because there is a big chance the items that you carry are gonna be used when you are in a hurry, in danger, in the dark, or simply when you are very tired, those things need to be organized in a practical way.

    Add to that fact, there is a chance that sometimes you’ll be in a situation to lose (or throw away) your backpack, then it makes more sense to organize it.

    The whole philosophy of having one bag (or backpack) that have “all that you need inside” is kinda wrong if ALL important items are inside.

    It is essential to think about “layers” of equipment.

    Everything that you carry with you must have a clear role in your survival, otherwise, it should not be in your backpack (or on you) so think about the “comfort vs. necessity” philosophy.

    It is very good to have many items, but it is not so cool to go through a tough situation with 50 kg backpack on your back, so choose carefully what you gonna have.

    You should organize it in layers.

    Let’s take the “fire” category, for example. In the first layer you could have small fire starter around your neck, the second layer is lighters or matches in your waist bag or pocket, the third layer is fuel cubes or whatever other fire help you have in your backpack.

    For the food category, you may have power bars in your pocket and then in your backpack, you may have food that is more adequate or “serious”.

    It is easy to follow this logic and organize other equipment in the same way. Sometimes you do not need (or you can not have) 3 layers. Sometimes only 2 layers are possible.

    It is important to understand that you need to have layers so you maximize your chances for success when you lose equipment, for example, while running away from some danger and throwing away your backpack.

    First aid kits

    The best example of what often goes wrong with buying, packaging and carrying items are first aid kits.

    There are many reasons for that. A few are:

    • People buying “pre-made” first aid kits with useless things inside
    • No knowledge of how to use items in first aid kit
    • No knowledge of what is really needed to have in a medical emergency and what not to have

    So as a result, a lot of people have their first aid kit buried deep inside their backpack, or some of them having their first aid kit on a belt but inside they have painkillers, antidiarrheal medicines, a few plasters (band-aids) and nothing more.

    I agree that plasters, antidiarrheal medicines, and painkillers may have a place in your first aid kits but use common sense and think about:

    • what is really important and can make difference in seconds or minute
    • what needs to be available all the time, and in an easy and fast to access way

    Again, think in layers.

    So, of course, you can have antidiarrheal medicines, plasters, painkillers, and hand sanitizers but in your first layer (available immediately) need to be items that can save a life in a matter of minutes, for example, shears, field dressing, bandages, tourniquets, and similar.

    If you got a headache you will not die if you do not take a painkiller in a few minutes, but if you get serious wound it may be different if you do not act fast and have the means to treat it immediately.

    The best way is to package your own kit, based on your circumstances and your needs. But be sure that you know about every item inside, how it works, and try to test it in the best possible way.

    In the photo above, there are two bandages. Each of those bandages was packaged, and for an average man both are just bandages: they look the same and they are supposed to do the same job.

    Actually, the bandage in my right hand can do the job like 3 bandages in the left hand, because of the quality, elasticity, texture, and density. Just test everything or you never know what you have until you really need it, and then it might be wrong.

    If somebody told you, for example. that you need to have scissors (or shears) in your first aid kit (and he is right) then be sure to test quality of that item because you may find out that in the prepackaged kit you have something that can not do the job needed even for a sewing kit, not to mention working with heavy fabric to treat a wound.

    A small difference like having paper medical tape or heavy-duty tape can mean a lot if you are doing something important like treating a wound in a rain-soaked environment.


    Over time I have started to believe that word “tactical” has become one of the worst enemies in common sense prepping/survival today.

    We have tactical caps, tactical boots, pants, stickers, and whatnot.

    People start to believe that by buying an item that is “tactical” (or manufacturer states it is) they are solving huge problems in their survival.

    In reality, a lot of the items that are “tactical” are actually produced to look nice and cool, but have many flaws that are not so tactical.

    For example, if you have tactical camo urban survival jackets that make you stick out so bad in an urban setting, there is nothing tactical about that.

    Or there are survival tactical pants that have cool pockets for your stuff and look really cool. But when you walk they produce a hissing sound (because of the fabric) that on a calm night and “tactical” situation can be heard 100 meters away.

    Or urban survival tactical bags and pouches with cool fluorescent emblems on it that makes you shine so cool in the dark, but also make you visible when you maybe don’t want to be seen.

    Being seen and heard from a distance makes sense in some survival situations, but in others, it is completely undesirable and dangerous. Choose your clothes based on that, not based on how “tactical” they are, or how cool they look.

    Stay tuned.

    Be sure to watch for the next articles in which Selco “takes us with him” on his Urban Survival Course. Learn more about his online courses and his physical courses.

    About the Author

    Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world. Read more of Selco’s articles here: And take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge and advice by signing up for the outstanding and unrivaled online course. More details here:


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      1. I highly recommend people go to Selco’s site,, and take his courses. I already have and don’t regret it for a minute. IMHO Selco is the BEST teacher any prepper/survivalist can have. Selco has ALREADY lived through SHTF and knows what he’s talking about, so why not learn from someone who’s already been there and done that?

        • did you go to Serbia or is this an internet course?

          • Always selling something eh Daisy? Best advice I can give, is move out of the war zone or high density populated areas. or be stupid and stay and play real life survival. Wars usually start over time like a few years. Know the signs of things getting really FUGLY. Been at my Remains te Rural Secure BOL for more than 3 years. Dopes stay in the city and play survival like Selco. Just saying. If you still live in the City. You deserve what you get. Move away from people and you will be just fine. “Other people” are 85% of the threats out there. Take a cue, move away from people.

            • Had to get off the subscriber list because everyday was an advertisement…

              You could also just fly to venezuela or Somalia and get the real deal then come back and sell your experience.

              • Hog Jowl Homestead, or you could just make it all up and easily fool lots of supposed preppers to make some money from them ? How many of these supposed experts are real or have any actual experience in any real life and death situations or anything else for that matter ?

                As always the most important part of actually being prepared for any event is NOT the stuff or bandages or how to carry it or anything of that nature. That is always just fluff to suck in the gullible and all of that kind of junk has been discussed ad nauseum for years. That is all the easy and obvious stuff and simply common sense based info. The real issues are always your fitness, health, mindset, skills and capabilties to think on your feet and adapt to whatever.

                Consider this simple tidbit. If you listen to all of these so-called experts could you even carry all the stuff they talk about ? Each one is supposed to be critical and there are many such advertisement/articles that have been published in the last decade and more. Or would you be far better off to simply get your own shit together and have confidence in your skills and physical capabilities and mindset ? Many Americans have some foolish idea you can purchase preparedness with lots of “stuff” or by listening to a supposed expert who has likely never actually been in any real life and death events many times as they claim. And then you have the Daisy’s and Jack Spirko’s who put out some good homesteading stuff, but I doubt excellent biscuits or fake permaculture certificates are going to save or help anybody ? But it may give them some income and more hits for their marketing to the greater fools who live in the fantasy created.

                There is a far better way to live and THINK !

            • If I could find a job to replace my city income. Guy at the gas station at my rural place asked if I needed a job, paid almost $10 an hour.

              Some folks don’t have enough money to move out of the city or buy a second home, so your advice is a bit shortsighted.

            • Youblow: Not everyone can just up and drop everything and leave the city – it just does not work that way and is not practical and feasible.

        • i agree 100%, braveheart. i’ve been following selco for many years, and he ALWAYS has something to say that i hadn’t thought about. thank you daisy for using selco to educate the “dumb masses”. sure would be nice if some of these naysayers on the comments section here would just go away to a “better” website to post their crap. selco is the real deal….

          • BCD, most web sites are not any answer at all and simply more internet marketing in every event an matter. It is easy to distinguish who gets results and who is simply marketing more crap. The only answers are results, always ! Not talk or more echo chamber BS and email marketing junk. Nothing new at all. Just look at how easily people are fooled in many matters like the Mueller sham and supposed health care here in USA ? It is all illusions created to control you or sell you some worthless crap or repeating the endless parroted junk ad nauseum. All that matters are results! Anybody can make up shit or repeat shit. The issue is to actually think for yourself, not what you are spoon fed by some marketer of junk or bad ideas and fake laws !

      2. I’m a firm believer in quality. I would rather send more money on a well made item than save a few dollars and have it break or fall apart. In the long run I find it more economical. I tend to be more responsible with an item that is expensive. I test buy from companies which advertise as made in England, Germany, or Japan. Sometimes the product is from an English company, but made in China. Once I know they’re the real deal I’ll invest in the bigger items or buy in bulk. Buyer be ware.

        I agree with Selco about having good well made scissors.

        Items for hygiene can double as medical. A good razor might be needed to shave the head of someone with a head wound, tweezers for removing broken glass or wood, cuticle or nose hair scissors for bandages, and for trimming long head hair before shaving the area.

        Heavy duty shears are better, and there are several sizes to consider, as well as weight. The more options you have the better. I choose the best quality money can buy within the budget. A good pair of scissors can be an heirloom piece to pass down.




        • I haven’t done this yet, because this is the first year I opted for a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) with my employer, because of how jacked up Obamacare made health insurance. You can do this with Health Savings Accounts (HSA) too. At the end of the year if you have any money left over you will loose it, if you don’t spend it. (Some plans may allow HSA to roll over, I’m not sure) Anyhow there is FSA and HSA store out there. Amazon has one too. These are items that you can buy anytime without paying a penalty or income tax on. There are first aid kits including the Adventure Medical Kits of varying costs. (Don’t know the quality of the items inside though.) If I have money left over, which I’m pretty sure I will, I’m going to purchase one and see what is what. I already have an IFAC and CLS bag.

      3. B, you can use a knife sharpener to keep those scissors sharp. Sharp scissors are just as important as a sharp knife. As long as you keep a good sharp edge on whatever cutlery you have you’ll be just fine.

        • You need Medical Trama Scissors that can cut away heavy clothing so you can access a wound area. You can buy like 6 pairs of serated trama scissors for like $10 online. To sharpen regular strait edge scissors you need a special tool for that exact edge. Fail to have the right sharpening tool, you just screw up the scissors, to be useless. #1 Rule: Dont be a dope.

        • speakin’ of quality…..and scissors, cutco makes the best.

      4. Clothing:

        Best pack a couple change of underwear because if you are caught in an urban environment when SHTF, then you will probably crap your pants.

        • Better yet don’t wear underwear.

      5. I have developed my own first aid kit. I have three kids from young to teenager. The best use for my kit is for cuts, burns and road rash scraps. 2% spray lidocain is the best. Keeps the kids from freaking out when they get scratch.

      6. Your First Aid Kit needs to be a Trauma Kit. Lots of clean absorbing banages and cling wrap, and lots of medical tape to keep the banadges on to stop the bleeding. Apply direct pressure to wounds. Know your medical ABC’s Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

        If you cling to your city dwelling and posessions like Selco did, it will be your death sentence. Get out of the Cities Now. And if you flee for tge Country witout a plan as a refugee and try to squat on someone elses land, be prepared to be shot. All Trespassers die in my area. So you need to buy your rural property today so you have a place to go.

        Dep BH should take the Selco course for dopes, who cling to the cities.

        • YouBlow: Well man you should go and teach your own course, seems you are the true expert….of what I don’t know, maybe talking $hit possibly…King $hit on turd island comes to mind.

      7. Many years ago (damn, I start a lot of posts with those words!) I had a small accident while crossing a barbed-wire fence. I fell and tore the fleshy ball off the end of a finger. I looked back and there it hung on a rusty barb. Bleeding heavily, I collected the piece of meat and jammed it back in place. The company first aid kit was useless but I ripped a handkerchief into strips and used a roll of vinyl electrical tape to hold the “bandage” in place. The tape was quite elastic and controlled the bleeding until I got to a medical facility. The doctor commented that electrical tape was nearly as sterile as the surgical tape he used and was far superior for use in a pressure bandage.

        Interestingly enough, my partner – a young college student, spent his time during all this by puking in the weeds.

        My PFAK always has a roll of electrical tape in it now.

        • Superglue worked for me. Don’t leave home without some Guerilla tape/electrical tape around your knife sheath.

        • i been carrying electrical tape for many years. also a wad of toilet paper, or napkins…..many uses for both. do you know how to put on a tourniquet with ONE HAND? a few years ago i was across the street introducing myself to the new neighbors dog, and he bit my finger, to where i needed about 8 stitches. for a moment it was a helpless feeling as the blood poured out, unless i kept pressure on it. it pointed out the fact that things can turn to sh t in a big hurry, and it’s hard to drive yourself to the emergency room with no hands. fortunately my son was nearby, and with no hands i dialed his # and got a ride to get fixed. i COULD have done the tape thing, but i would have lost a lot more blood….imagine if the shtf, and no doctors left. i have sutures now, just in case.

          • i carry a moraknive around my neck, always. i never carried a knife until i got that one a year ago, but i use the damn thing every day now. i ride a bike 15 miles a day, and it’s my security blanket in case i’m attacked….here’s a list of first aid supplies that mite be important someday.

            First aid book
            Prescription medications (keep copies for records)
            Cold/flu medicines
            Blood clotting quickclot(doctors HATE this stuff….it’s hard to clean up)
            Sterile gauze
            Dressing bandages
            Dressing rolls
            Medical tape
            Bandages of all sizes
            Alcohol wipes
            Hydrogen peroxide
            Eye flushing solution
            Anesthetic solution
            Hypodermic needles (for the antiseptic solution)
            Electrolyte tablets
            Cold Packs
            Antibiotic ointment
            Skin irritation creams
            Suture needles/string
            List of medical contact phone numbers
            Medical history file (if needed)

            • forgot the tourniquet, also know how to make a stretcher with blanket and poles, or a couple of shirts on poles. you can learn a LOT about first aid by reading the boy scouts manual, or “where there is no doctor”, or the red cross first aid manual. also have a nurse’s drug book and antibiotics of several kind. get involved with your local CERT team, and they will train you for free. get a lifesaving coarse if you can find one.

      8. Thanks for the article as I didn’t see it on his blog.

        I believe Selco is also an EMT, so he uses what he writes about. Would be good if there is a list of items in his pack. I noticed Quikclot, and what appears to be two versatile Mora knifes which have a very sharp Scandinavian grind and are very cheap for the quality.

        Perhaps, single edged razors or scalpels, nasal cannulas or tubing for throat blockage, skin clamps or various forceps, ie. Adson, tweezers, latex gloves and eye guards, rubber tourniquets would be nice if there is room. On another level, silver alginate dressings, suture kits (takes practice) …

        Has anyone identified what is in the photos?

        Btw, reading Selco’s blog he may be Serbian-Bosnian while the class is in Croatia. (Croatia is north of Bosna while Serbia is south of both.) From reading, the Siege of Sarajevo developed quickly in a few days. It’s dicey deciding to stay or go. There’s pros and cons. In the 1991-1995 War(s) there were the additional factors of outside influences, or as Roger Waters formerly of the group ‘Pink Floyd’ roughly said, “What would have been a bar fight had gasoline thrown on it.”. No matter how prepared you believe you may be, you’re still going to have to adapt to the situation. Supplies, then Skills and most important Belief in something.

      9. I once heard some ‘dominant’ prepper, being called a bull elephant, by the poorer guys.

        In real life, there is no realistic backstory, on why the predatory beast (rawr) is loaded up with goodies and toys, short of being a cronyist or state actor.

        You could be learning how to make new things and how to improvise, rather than just using up what is left of your failed country.

      10. The man makes an excellent point. What are you without your bag of stuff? Your most important prep and weapon is in between your ears. On a long ago recon with the Rangers (not a Ranger, just got tagged as an RTO), I was told I could not fire my personal weapon without permission. A good thing too. We were in Cambodia during the ’70 invasion, and a corporal and I were on lookout duty, far from help, and only 6 men total present. Here comes NVA regulars down the trail. Corporal told me to take my hand off the rifle I had. We woke the rest of the patrol after we counted ten NVA walk by. Total of 75. Being silent, as much as possible is a great prep. Listen to what Selco says, he’s the rea McCoy. All the gear in the world is nothing without training and knowledge. The only thing I could add,(and he will probably mention this later) is to have a total mission in your head, with alternate plans, move quick, move silent, and don’t get sidetracked in your mission. Move very slow if there are bad guys around.

      11. Some good info, some bad. Look, see, hear all. Then pick and choose. Don’t waste time arguing. Invest that time moving on to other resources. Time is our most valuable asset. If you want three options ask one person what they think. Option one will be good, option two will be bad. Option three will be what you decide to make of it all.

      12. I just got back from a 4 day outing in the Oregon wilderness on the J Day River with clients from Europe. We packed in one massive amount of gear and 2K rounds of ammo. A brand new Alexander 338 LAPUA, my new 18″heavy barrel AR , a CZ 58, an AK , a PSL and a Mosin. Also 8 pistols to include a Kimber and several Berretta top of the line pistols and others. We got the 338 dialed in and zeroed at 400 yards and made excellent groups at 1800 yards. Got my new AR 18″ heavy barrel and optic dialed in to a 2″ pattern with 20 rounds at rapid fire @ 300 yards. As always the most important ingredient of the 4 days was physical ability and mindset. It was a near perfect outing and very incredible conversations with people who appreciate their liberties far more than most Americans because they fled communism and socialism !

        Many here are more or less clueless and live in a fantasy world. This article is complete utter nonsense and more or less worthless !

        • By the way I would highly recommend putting an 18″ heavy barrel on any AR and a solid A2 stock as well. I built this one from scratch and not a complete AR fan particularly and not at all of M4 style adjustable stocks. And I have fired many hundreds of thousands of rounds thru various ARs given me for free by our government ! It is NOT a bull barrel, just a heavy barrel and with the solid stock is balanced far better and much more accurate than any M4 type 16″ wimpy barrel rifle. And it ate up steel cased ammo like a vacuum as part of the testing on this outing ! Also the optic(6X44 illuminated made specifically for 3 gun) greatly improved accuracy and range even though I always tell people not to be 100% dependent on any optic and learn to use your iron sites very well as the basics. I built this rifle for 3 gun as an experiment and just for the fun of some simple competition and very happy so far with the results. Also built an AR 16″ heavy barrel in 7.62X39 and it fed perfectly as well on this outing. We had a lot to choose from and make excellent comparisons.

      13. Those of you criticizing Selco, be grateful that someone is sharing valuable information about urban survival. Obviously not everyone can move out of the city at a moment’s notice, or have a place in the woods, or maybe the logistics make it impossible. If you can afford to get a place in the country now, great, but if not when the SHTF you’ll be stuck in a dire situation in the city. I see so many preppers with their fancy and expensive backpacks chock-full of gear, most or all of it shiny new, never used. Preppers that have never practiced lighting a fire with a ferro rod in their own backyard, or preparing a simple MRE, or boiled water in their field stoves, or cooked an actual meal out of scratch. Learn to blend in, not to stick out. Practice survival skills, learn first aid and to properly use a tourniquet, learn as much as you can about real survival, and learn what you can from Selco’s advice and others who offer their experience, it may save your ass someday.

      14. Johnny Black, I seriously doubt Selco or Daisy or any of the so-called experts including the supposed special forces types could last 30 minutes with me in any physical event or outings I put on and those are very selective about who is allowed. I do NOT waste any time at all on people who are NOT of a true learning mindset. My purpose is NOT to defeat people physically. But to show them their own boundaries and limits so they can focus on strengthening them ! As well as excellent gear and firearms training. The gear thing is always about minimums necessary, not maximums with all the absurd bells and whistles sold today to greater fools ! You cannot purchase the correct mindset and physical attributes, you have to build it and create it yourself. There is no other way. All I do is help guide people to their own “Inner Powers” in serious honesty with zero illusions or BS ! Most of what is out there is BS, extremely redundant and nothing more than internet marketing. All part of the created supposed prepper echo chamber ! Nothing new at all.

        • yer not one of them……blowhards that i’ve heard about, are you? because you SOUND like one.

          • BCD if you are replying to me it is clear by my photos and site you are clueless. I have living proof of what I say and live it all far more than anyone you know or any of the supposed prepper sites even come close to. I actually do what I say in spades and have experienced for many years. The proof is always there for any to observe who still have any brain cells intact. And it is always ongoing in development. I will be 70 in a few days and have the body, fitness,stamina and endurance of a fit 25 year old and have taken many military people out on training/hiking outings who cannot keep up. And my experiences are well past most by light years in many matters. As always results are all that matter, not talk or marketing junk methods !

            The simple truth is most supposed pepper types rely on talk, not results and that is their biggest mistake and falacy as well as fantasy ! I only rely on and teach results, nothing else ever ! The easy part is that all of it is all about how you THINK ! And that is always the problem because most people are NOT thinking very well, if at all in many matters. That is precisely why this country is so screwed up on many levels !

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