Clay’s Guide to Urban Defense: Ep. 6 Escape From NY

Kurt Russell playing the inimitable “Snake Plissken.” (Photo: Screengrab / “Escape from NY” AVCO Embassy Pictures)

I’m calling our last episode in this series, “Escape from NY” because I liked the first movie better, but if you’re an LA fan, that’ll work too.  Pick your poison.  “Call me Snake…”

Clay’s Guide to Urban Defense

Over the last few weeks, we have talked a lot about hardening your defensive position in case of urban unrest. Which I still believe is your best option, provided you didn’t get out in time. It has the highest survivability and is the least risky proposition. Most of the time. But the situation might force your hand, so today we are going to conclude with some tips on how to get out.

This is a bit more scattershot than the previous installments, only because the situations can be so different. Unlike a defensive perimeter, much of the escape is going to depend greatly on your specific environment. So let’s think of this more as a sprinkling of good ideas, rather than a hard and fast rule set.

When it comes to escaping an urban environment that turned into a hornet’s nest, my preferred option is a Blackhawk, preferably piloted by the 160th SOAR. But that probably isn’t an option for you or me anymore. Which leaves us with less stellar options. But the first thing I would do is think outside the box a little bit.

Cars and trucks are probably out. If you have been in a natural disaster evacuation, you know the drill. The same applies to good old-fashioned riots, to a lesser degree, but still not exactly normal traffic. Finally, if the streets aren’t jammed, why aren’t you already gone? While convoy operations can be covered in detail, it is really beyond the scope of this article. The short answer is, get in your car and drive away! The end.

Extra Storage

If it’s in your budget, a self-storage locker is a solid place to store extra supplies and a means of getting out of Dodge.

Outside the box thinking for vehicles does leave some options though. Let us consider the motorcycle/bicycle, ATV, and boat. The obvious first question you should have is, “Where am I keeping this in my 400 square-foot apartment?”

As we have covered earlier, you don’t have the space for all these toys. But you may be within walking distance of a self-storage facility, that you can use as a staging point for bigger hardware. Yes, it could also cover extra stuff for the other chapters, but that is a risk. Every time you leave your bunker, and every time you open your storage locker, you take a massive risk of compromising your cache. Are a roll of razor wire and an extra can of 9mm worth someone noticing your stash and absconding with your emergency escape plan? In my mind, no. Not even close. If I had the financial means and the location, I would build the escape pod and then never touch it again unless I absolutely needed it.

Is a self-storage container in and of itself a risk, a possible waste of precious prepping funds? Of course. You could lose it anyway, via fire or theft, completely unrelated to you blowing it. But it is also an acceptable risk if your budget allows it. When it comes to theft, we should already assume the fence around U-Store-It USA is window dressing. And the minimum wage employees will abandon ship in the first minutes of a crisis. And also, without a police threat, storage lockers rank among the easiest of all obstacles in terms of breaking and entering. But they do have the advantage of hiding in plain sight.

Think of it this way. If you had 5 minutes to grab everything you could carry from either 1) Best Buy 2) Zales Diamonds 3) Cabela’s or drum roll… use extra labor to look behind door number 4) A non-descript storage unit, which may or may not be a 10×12 foot box full of used diapers, what would you choose? Me too. I’m not saying the storage place won’t eventually get looted. But I am saying it likely isn’t on the high-value target list. Which means it can be an option for your escape.

Urban real estate isn’t exactly cheap, but you can cram a lot of help into a spot that is rentable for around $100 a month. For your needs, that may be better spent on ammo and water. But if you are serious about needing to get out of Dodge, this will do the trick. If I was using a storage place to hide my ATV or boat, I would take the extra time to build in a false wall of junk to hide it. Use your imagination, but this is not that much extra work.

You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

City rivers may be the best way out.

Now, for the use. Boats are awesome because most people aren’t going to consider a waterway as an escape avenue. That means less traffic, and fewer eyes watching it. Be honest, how many of you considered the Chicago River as a way out? Your vessel can be anything from kayaks to Zodiacs, with the latter my preferred option. Four to six grown men can carry a zodiac a very long way, once it is inflated. Deflated, it rolls up into a nice compact package that looks more like a gardening accessory than a boat. Season is obviously a factor, water plus November equals not fun. But still, I would take a wetsuit and a kayak and risk freezing to death over my .380 and a walk through a burning downtown Ferguson, i.e. certain death.

ATVs may or may not be beneficial, depending on circumstances. They will go places a car can’t, because they’re smaller, obviously. In fact, they will fit through the doors of most larger buildings. After the cars have all been burnt and the dumpster fires have gone cold, an ATV might still get you out. Am I suggesting you have enough of them on hand for your entire crew to vamoose? Well, it would be nice, but not likely. The better option, for most of us, would be to use a single ATV as the mothership for supplies.

Walk It Out

On foot, in general, is going to take some doing. Depending on your region, it may take a very long time to hoof it out. In addition to the weight of a backpack, uncertainty and tactical decision-making are going to slow you down. If you calculate that you could walk 10 miles per night under normal conditions, 3 miles is a better planning number for doing so in a crisis. Given that some cities are larger than others, Houston for example, you might need to walk 40 miles to get out of the crisis area. Even at 10 miles per night, that is 4 days.

In addition to bullets and guns, you are going to need water and food at a minimum. I would salvage water with a filter in almost any environment, but urban it would be the absolute last resort. Not only is it going to be scarce with the water mains off, but what you do find may be nasty in a way nature can’t match. My filter may be rated for transmission fluid and it may not, but I’d rather not find out.

That means a backpack, something you may not be accustom to. While the construction workers and delivery guys laugh, you should consider how not fun it is to walk miles at a time on concrete. If you haven’t tried it, you should before you need to. That is also why I recommend a light load, much lighter than the ammo stash most of us own. As far as backpacks, this isn’t the time to repurpose your kids Hello Kitty special. I strongly recommend CamelBak and Mystery Ranch. They aren’t cheap, but they are durable. And comfortable in a way that is worth every penny.

On my short list of backpacks to purchase: CamelBak and Mystery Ranch.

If you do get mixed up in a gunfight, you are probably going to want some spare magazines close at hand. For that, I recommend a belt kit or a chest rig, with the belt being my favorite. Since you may also need to use recovered weapons on your journey, I recommend a universal setup. Without question, G-Code is the leader on this front. The Scorpion soft kit isn’t cheap, but it covers literally every rifle and pistol possibility, at least on the mag front. This is one I recommend highly.

I prefer a gun belt over a chest rig. From left to right, magazines in Scorpion soft holder. 1911, XDM45, Kriss 45, XDM 9mm, M1A, SR-25, AR-15

For movement, all the same lessons from the woods apply. Don’t bunch up, so that one burst of fire wounds two people. Travel at night, especially in the city. The places you can be shot from are too numerous to count in the daylight. If at all possible, go to ground during the day. In a spot, you aren’t likely to be stumbled upon, like a flooded parking garage. And if you do get cornered by the Antifa Horde, don’t forget the most important thing. You can actually hide behind a wall of lead in the absence of everything else.

Click for links to Camelbak, Mystery Ranch and G-Code Gun Belts.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

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  • James December 30, 2020, 4:30 pm

    Hello all, thank you Clay for your extraordinary service to our country. I’m prior service too (U.S.Army ODB 5320/18E/11-B/31-C) as well. I want to add that I do agree with a lot of things Clay has stated here. But I would like to add my own ideas in anyway to help any readers here. “Hiding in plain sight” as Clay mentioned is damn right. Antifa/BLM goons/freaks are instinctively looking for the “Haves”! Remember Rodney King… remember the truck driver who stepped out of his rig only to be introduced to a local brick across the head? He should NEVER have gotten out of his rig! But what’s going on here… The black man’s oppression of enslavement which was facilitated by The East Indian Trading Co. (jew’s) some 150+ yrs ago has become their go to excuse in life. They have come to pass blame onto people who “Have”, as they are the “Have Nots.” Strange that they fall for the MSM (jew’s) lies time and rime again too. That truck resembled possessions and wealth. The driver a old oppressive slaver. That is why he was clunked almost to death. As the saying goes – “I wasn’t there- I didn’t do it” fits. I did not participate in slavery! I am not 15-+ yrs old. The thug mentality is “If I cant take it – I’ll break it”! And that is what we have here. If you live in a urban city – you are going to experience food/gas shortages. Thugs will develop gangs and shut down streets which is what they’re doing in OR. Pay their toll and pass, IF you don’t have a wealthy rig for them to pillage. Gas stations/markets will be the first to be pirated! They will focus their attention on the rich homes upon the hills. Cops will be at home defending their own. We will be on our own. Wearing shitty clothes and having a unkempt appearance is what will save your life. Not totting a rifle. They will smoke you just for your gear! Remember Red Dawn when they went into town. They were unarmed for a reason. Women will need to lay low! Food & Gasoline will be bartered and you will be ripped off. You can smoke some, but that wont work out if you’re planning on staying in town. Mix a little. Use psychology with these bastards. Never show fear!!! Smile route for them a little. If you appear crazy they will leave you alone. This will last approx. 2-3 mos. The leftist MUST introduce a foreign army in that time to fortify the goons/freaks. My $ is on China hitting our beaches. In CA. Marines/Navy will shut down Mex. from crashing the party, with the help of Hell On Wheels and The Big Red One! Nat. Guard troops will then be sweeping them away and restoring order. Concealed carry will be allowed/tolerated for a few more mos. as our Reg. Army will be fighting the invaders. Water will be scarce as will electricity. As I type Antifa/BLM are being taught how to molotov electrical substations to cause panic/fear. Panic and fear is what the MSM has been pumping for almost a yr. now too. Patriots really should be the ones burning down NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc… but they will use the foolish BLM/Antifa to protect their interests – AGAIN! It wont last folks as long as our borders stay strong. Otherwise we could experience a small Nuke from who knows where right here stateside and that wont help morale too much among us Patriots. No – what we need to do RIGHT now is to support Trump in this stolen election at all costs. Then kill this BLM/Antifa movement ASAP! That will go a long way to ensure our safety as a nation, The REPUBLIC for which I stand – One Nation Under God+. Oh & Stocking up on ammo is one of the best bartering chips.

  • Jake November 13, 2020, 11:52 am

    I just came across this article. Clay, I do not like the idea of escaping on the Chicago River. If you have an ocean-going boat and can head onto Lake Michigan, then maybe. Most who don’t live there don’t know that until it hits the city, it is just a foot deep drainage ditch. One might literally walk up it unseen to escape going north if there hasn’t been much rain. Following heavy rain a guy might be able to jet ski north.

  • Ric Fondren November 13, 2020, 11:38 am

    Your ideas have sound ideas but I talk with those that are not as mobile and are high risk to be robbed or worse and I have helped some set up for there move or secure in place. I assure you there are some seniors that are not soft targets and the mode of safety and what they have in knowledge which can be a asset when SHTF. To many of new BUG out kings and queens are over looking a store house of knowledge on how to survive because they did not get old being dumb, might be a smart thing hooking up with a old bigfoot and I don’t mean Darrel.

  • Winston November 13, 2020, 10:30 am

    Too bad the States cannot set restrictions on who moves into them. Everytime I see a NY, CT, MA, IL or CA-tagged vehicle in the lane next to me I yell, ” Don’t move here, we have enough illegal aliens already!”

  • Don from CT October 6, 2020, 2:39 pm

    One thing nobody talks about is physical fitness. 5 years ago I would have had a hard time carrying much weight much distance.

    Now I do hikes in the New Hampshire mountains with a pack intentionally balasted to 40 lbs.

    The ability to carry weight on our back over distance day after day after day is a HUGE advantage.

    Make it part of your routine. Walking your kid to school, put on a weighted pack. Vacuuming the house. Do it in a weighted pack.

    Taking the metro to work, do it with a weighted pack.


  • Steven W Harder October 6, 2020, 6:34 am

    Over all, a pretty good load of advice! I added a few points in the comments, but otherwise people need to take Clay’s advice to heart and pay attention. Sadly, if you’re reading this series now, the episodes covering firearms is no longer viable, as choices are very limited and ammunition in regards to common calibers is even harder to find. Clay should have included an episode covering simple, easy to construct booby traps as well, but hey, he’s covered many of the important things in the series.

    Here’s to hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst!

  • Frank October 2, 2020, 4:32 pm

    Interesting stuff. My only complaint is that it was a little tiresome to read. The “Dawn of the Dead” comment wouldn’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie and I did, yet it still threw me off.

    This subject requires an entire book and I gather you could get into many more details and delve deeper into the why, where and how of defense, bugging out, bugging in, vehicle, weapon, and gear choices, appropriate clothing, group sizes, etc. It’s hard to cover so many points in one article, but it would be interesting to do so.

    One point to note is that often times in movies, the most savvy people become expert urban survivalist sneaking through buildings like ninjas or rats and exploiting every resource available and looking in all the right places for what they need. I imagine that in some scenarios or places there might be congregations of people just sitting around or bumbling back and forth like the most pathetic and desperate homeless often do. The best one could hope for is to relocate to a place that many have abandoned in favor of areas where they have shops or a source of water or something about the spot that attracts most people.

    And as is usually the case, changes occur and people will become more or less compliant, lazy, determined, desperate, violent, or hopeful making the situation more or less dangerous and favorable to one’s safety and survival.

  • someolboy September 30, 2020, 12:39 pm

    ” A country boy can survive…”

  • Tobias September 23, 2018, 10:35 pm

    This was entertaining to read, but some of the things seem kinda outlandish. An ammo belt that hold 6 types of ammo? I can think of more useful things I would put on my belt, like water, knife, flashlight, zipties, etc. and spending 100 a month to store a 4 wheeler in New York City? That’s funny. And a false wall? Come on Devil Dog, if you were that worried, why the hell would you live in NYC, or the inner city for that matter? I would rather spend that money on hidden staches and vehicles located outside of the city. I think a loud ass 4 wheeler will get you shot faster then anything. But I think traveling carefully, slowly at dark would be safer. Fun article, but honestly, I think if you live in nyc you are prob screwed no matter what.

    • Kevin May 12, 2019, 2:06 pm

      Did you read the articles? The example of the belt was to show its versatility. It is adaptable and can carry just about any size mag YOU may have. Not for carrying around 7 different magazines at a time. The article is for IF YOU ALREADY LIVE THERE. The author lives in bumville Idaho or somewhere. Read the damned article in context and use your brain a bit.

      • Terry J Reeder November 13, 2020, 2:32 pm

        YES!!! LOL…

        Some folks can’t help being nitpickers like grammar nazis, they just can’t help it.

        I read all Clay’s stuff and find a lot of it perfect for my plan which is to stay right here but then I do live in the deep east Texas woods.

        I’m too old to walk out and sure as hell ain’t leaving my stash.

        Somebody asked why Clay don’t add a bit about Boobie traps. Think for a second. Joe Dokes and his buddy Hogan the goat decide to follow Clay’s advice and blow their asses away. Who gets sued? The world is full of books on “How To” Military field manuals are pretty good. About a hundred years ago I bought the Anarchists cookbook which is full of ideas. Think for yourself in a case like this.

        I wrote a book called “Beware Sleeping Dragons” Available on Amazon as Kindle or print. It had far too many “ideas” and I thought long about putting them in it. In the end, I said FK it and did it anyway. Yes, I just shamelessly panhandled my book and while I’m not the best writer around I do have close to 60 years thinking about this shit. I also love Unintended Consequences but it’s hard to find and costs a lot.

        Clay keep doing what you do so well and ignore the Fudds and Ronnie Recons at the Mall.

        TJ Reeder
        Writer/Story teller/ Author

        Amazon Kindle

    • Constitutionalist June 12, 2020, 1:08 pm

      He wrote this article in 2018 and has a bit more experience than you do OBVIOUSLY TOBIAS! In light of Seattle and all the major cities, does his advice still sound so crazy? Wake up and buy ammo TOBY! I live in a small town outside a small city in MS, but it’s a neighborhood that has suddenly had a string of mostly vehicle, but also home break-ins. People do a lot of things you wouldn’t expect when they think they can get away with it or law and order has broken down! Our politicians have abandoned us and DO NOT count on a November election! EVERYONE: GO READ DAVE HODGES COMMON SENSE SHOW POSTS! HIS FATHER WAS MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AND HE HAD SOURCES IN EVERY GOV’T AGENCY! YOU BETTER START PLANNING FOR WORST CASE SCENARIO! THIS IS END GAME SCENARIO PLAYING OUT PEOPLE! IF YOU HAVE A FAMILY FARM IN THE COUNTRY (or know someone who does, start stocking it immediately) AND BE READY TO BUG OUT AT A MOMENTS NOTICE! CHINA AND THE UN ARE MAKING PLANS FOR THIS COUNTRY RIGHT NOW!

  • ArvadaDude September 21, 2018, 9:28 pm

    I agree with you Clay on many points….except the tactical belt. I think wearing that would attract attention from many different sources. You would look cool doing it, but still 🙂

  • SuppressiveFireXpert September 21, 2018, 12:15 pm

    As far as where to bug out, last place you probably want to go is a “secure” government camp. First thing they do is disarm you. Maybe stash your arms carefully, do a recon, then go in for information and food but don’t plan on staying unless you need medical assistance. However, every diseased and dying person is going to be there and a government camp might be the best place to catch your death of something nasty. As far as why you would want to leave your 400 Sq. Ft. city apartment? Unless things turn around quickly, cities of any size will turn into festering puss pots of disease and the stench of mass death in hot weather will gag a maggot. Even being in the country downwind of a mass death event will be intolerable, so keep prevailing winds in mind when you bug out. While an ATV or motorcycle are good options if you have gas, a hybrid or city bicycle with a little trailer is cheap, quiet, easy to maintain, maneuverable and will allow you to easily cover 20-40 miles a day, even if you’re out of shape. Easily carry 20 lbs. on the bike and 50 lbs. on the trailer. If you’re in decent shape and have the right bike and trailer, you can double that load. I see used hybrid bikes for sale all the time on CraigsList and a bike for each of your family members makes it a viable, cost effective solution because Ernest Borgnine isn’t showing up to give you and your family a ride out of town.

  • Mike September 21, 2018, 11:22 am

    Really good stuff – enjoyed it immensely and learned more than a few things too.
    Thanks Clay

  • Charles September 21, 2018, 11:09 am

    Never been an urban dweller other than a town of approx 225 when a kid. As others have pointed out where are you going to go? I live at the end of the road in nowhere. If I see “armed strangers” after the breakdown of civilization as it is now….knowing I have limited resources they are probably going to try to take… I am probably going to do the shoot first ask questions later move. I haven’t followed this but I hope you have a location already picked out and ready to get to. Going to be a very scary world out there.

  • richard sharpe September 21, 2018, 10:26 am

    for further information see 13 hours at benghazi

  • JOHN LAKEY September 21, 2018, 10:06 am

    Thank you for the series. However I don’t understand where you would go to. Most of the folks in the country have only a limited amount of food and water. So they wouldn’t welcome me from the city coming to see them. I believe my best option would be to probably stay in the city and literally eat whatever I could. This would be the end of civilization in the city. I’m not sure when people would become civilized again

    • KN September 21, 2018, 6:42 pm

      I think you’re missing the whole point. It’s not about making it to the country side and hoping people will let you in. It’s about getting the hell out of a place that will get exponentially worse very quickly. You honestly think that staying in the city would be safer? You obviously haven’t done the math. How many people are in the city?…a shit load. How quickly do you think “literally everything you could eat” will run out? You gunna hunt deer and squirrels in the city?

  • Tenbones September 21, 2018, 9:38 am

    I really enjoyed these 6 episodes, you brought up a lot of excellent points that makes one stop and think. One point that I wish had been covered more thoroughly and that is the question of “Bugging Out.” Bugging out to where?! Unless the government has set up some secure sites to go to or you have relatives you can escape to, you have nowhere to go. Don’t expect to be welcomed with open arms if you decide to head for the country because everywhere you go you will be trespassing on someone’s property and many of those people will not be happy to see you.

    We best hope it never ‘hits the fan’ because it will be a lose, lose for everyone!

    • KN September 21, 2018, 6:50 pm

      That’s what national forests, BLM land and national/state parks are for. The point is to get to a safer place. If you think the city is safer than the “unwelcoming” countryside then you need to wake up and learn about human nature.

    • Constitutionalist June 12, 2020, 1:17 pm


  • wemoodydc September 21, 2018, 8:20 am

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, Clay. I can’t wait to see your next deep cut!

  • Jackpine September 21, 2018, 7:03 am

    Stellar series, thank you.

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