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When SHTF in the city, I bet your last thought would be best shoes for walking on concrete. Why walk at all? Isn’t it better to just bunker in and wait it out, pretending you don’t exist?

Sure, bugging in is the official recommendation for many urban disaster scenarios. Most notably, civil unrest, disease outbreak or economic collapse. In such situations, many people will be out there on the streets, trying to force their way into institutions or even supermarkets. Since there’s only so much resources, everyone will be fighting for them.

Let’s hope you are among those smart souls that refuse to surrender to the sweet and treacherous normalcy bias. So, you stockpiled enough supplies and are thoroughly prepared.

Good for you, but what if the disaster lasts longer than your stock? You’ll have to leave home and start scavenging. Day or night, winter or summer, wind or rain, you may have to spend hours outside. Urban survival shoes won’t be your first thought – and understandably so. That’s why you should think about them now, before the hour strikes. Believe it or not, they have the power to make or break your escape.

Do You Really Need Urban Survival Shoes? 

SHTF scenarios that force you to leave the urban scenery and seek refuge in wilderness may even sound comforting to some of us. Especially those who are sick and tired of urban uncertainties and the city’s smoldering potential for chaos. Compared to that, things like trying to build a primitive fire sound appealing in their primeval charm.

But let’s be realistic here. Urban disasters are so much more likely to occur – at least once in each of our lifetimes. And by that, I don’t necessarily mean large-scale disasters such as nuclear or global terrorist attacks.

Even a local event such as region-wide riot or a mild-ish earthquake could turn your life into a nightmare. Such an occurrence may be temporary, but it has a huge destructive potential, opening up Pandora’s box of violence, looting, thuggery, shortages, breakdown of communication or infrastructure…

After all, we’ve been through such a scenario not long ago. The recent pandemic creeped in on us either unnoticed or underestimated – as it usually happens. So much so that, when the outbreak happened, people started fighting to the last roll of toilet paper. Can you imagine the level of catastrophe if bread had been in shortage?

The first typical phase is people getting at each other’s throats in the waiting lines. The second, lootings. Then, scavenging for food leftovers and urban foraging. The problem is, many people wouldn’t live to see this third phase.

The Importance of Survival Footwear

But even that may not be enough of a good reason to splurge on an often expensive pair of shoes.

The most important reason lies in the fact that it’s often necessary to either get home as safely as possible if you’re outside, or leave the urban area and bug out. And more often than not, you’ll have to do it on foot.

Using a bug out vehicle sounds absolutely logical, but remember that everyone else will think the same. It translates to traffic jams throughout the town, and blocked roads and pathways outside the urban zone. 

So, you and your family may be in for long hours of walking on concrete or asphalt before you get outside the danger zone.

Blisters, corns and calluses may not sound like the worst thing that can happen. But they can slow you down significantly. Paired with dirty water squelching through your shoes, they may even cause nasty infections.

best shoes for walking on concrete

What to Know Before You Look for Best Shoes for Walking on Concrete

You won’t have to buy more than a single pair of survival shoes. If they are waterproof, they can be your all-season choice of footwear – that is, if you don’t happen to live in a tropical region. In case of any urban disaster, flip-flops wouldn’t be an option anyway.

There’s more good news on that account. While prepping for urban survival, you have to allow for the possibility of bugging out to the wilderness. But that doesn’t mean you need another pair of shoes or boots! Most of these are actually a mix of hikers, tactical and industrial-grade shoes that will perform well in nature as well as the city.

So, here’s a checklist to keep in mind when you’re shopping for urban survival shoes:

  • It’s best to look for waterproof footwear. And rain and snow won’t be your greatest – or even wettest – adversaries. They sound like paradise when compared to some of the safest escape routes – such as sewers. You don’t want that to end up on your feet!
  • Durability goes without saying. You should be looking for shoes that can really take the beating. Sometimes quite literally! Puncture-resistant soles and steel-toe protection are a plus. In all likelihood, there will be shattered glass everywhere.
  • They should look as plain as possible. In urban survival situations, you’ll want to convert into what preppers call “a gray man”. Again, take this in its literal meaning, and try to get rid of any element that draws attention to itself. Wear inconspicuous colors and shabby clothes. The last thing you want is a pair of fancy-looking shoes that scream affluence.
  • They can be shoes, sneakers or boots – as long as they’re comfortable for hiking and running. Tactical boots may sound like the most logical choice. However, it doesn’t have to be a rule. There’s no such thing as specially designated best shoes for walking on concrete. As a rule of thumb, speed and agility are your priorities, so you should wear whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure to also break them in before it comes to the actual survival scenario. 
  • Slip resistant is a must! All those yucky surfaces you’ll have to cross, and often at night, will often be slippery. You mustn’t let that stop you. 


1. Nike Manoadome Hi Top Shoes

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It’s hard to believe that these lightweight shoes can actually be heavy-duty in action, but it’s true. Don’t let their stylishness drive you off – they are great performers used by workers as well as security people. They’ll allow you to spend whole days on your feet without feeling the slightest strain.

Here’s a little tip though, applicable to these and all other light-colored shoes you may be considering. If possible, choose a black or any other dark pair, for the reason we mentioned above. But even if they aren’t available in your size, don’t despair. Some unhappy customers report the khaki ones being a true “magnet for dirt”. The dirtier they get, the better for you!

2. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boots

best shoes for walking on concrete

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These boots combine the four essential prerequisites of urban survival: comfort, sturdiness, resistance to water, and not very noticeable looks. Plus, they have a traction rubber sole, which is crucial for walking on slippery surfaces.

Another great feature is that they will be equally gentle on your feet in urban or backcountry environments. Whether you’re groveling through piles of mud or climbing across wet train wagons, you’ll be as safe as possible.

3. ORISTACO Steel Toe Boots

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Apart from the must-have features I outlined above, these shoes have another feature that I immensely appreciate: steel toe. Obviously, it’s great for construction works. But it will also work wonders in terms of protection against anything that would hurt your toes. For example, in an earthquake scenario, where you may be forced to hurdle your way through blocks of concrete.

Another safety layer is the puncture-proof kevlar midsole. Even if you tread nails, nothing bad should happen. They are also very warm – which can actually prove an obstacle if you’re in a hot area.

4. Skechers Men’s Pilot Utility Boots

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These boots feature an additional ankle support. Which is paramount in rough, broken terrains, where a twisted ankle is the last thing you need. A great thing is that you can wear and tear them long before SHTF, and they’ll still be alive and kicking when it happens.

If you expect lightweight shoes, these will surely be a disappointment though. On the brighter side, they are good for training your calf muscles and get them ready for high exertion during the disaster. If the sturdy construction goes hard on your soles, an extra pair of insoles will fix that issue.

5. Salomon Men’s Quest Hiking Boots

best shoes for urban survival

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Sure, these are not the most unnoticeable pair of boots you’ll ever wear. But other than that, they meet most of our standards, providing what’s probably the best traction from all the models on our list.

They will do well on all terrains, but will excel on the roughest ones due to the so-called 4D advanced chassis with dynamic cushioning. The shoe both snugs and guides the foot, preventing any kind of dislocation

Unlike most other models from this list, this one also has antimicrobial protection. To put it in plain English, it means your feet won’t smell like a dead cat after ten hours of walking. Much more importantly, they will be less likely to breed nasty fungi and bacteria.

6. Timberland Waterproof Boots

best shoes for walking on concrete

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In spite of its construction style, on the whole these Timberland boots are a very versatile choice. Sure, you can wear them at a working site or in the field. Or even in some of your outdoor hiking treks. But it’s also surprisingly comfortable and will withstand much wear and tear. The elements won’t hurt them either, however harsh the rain or snow.

I don’t know if it’s fair to count the hefty price tag towards the cons. After all, dashing out a couple hundred bucks for such rugged footwear sounds pretty fair to me. The pretty penny also factors in the fact that you won’t have to buy another pair for at least five years. And that’s if you wear the heck out of them!

7. Vasque Men’s Skywalk Waterproof Hiking Boots

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The Vasque brand has gained trust and reputation primarily for their hiking footwear. This particular model will do miracles both in urban and wilderness survival situations. The abrasion resistant mesh will allow your feet to breathe, while the rubber sole will prevent any slipping that would have occured on your way to safety.

Plus, you’ll get a 1-year warranty with these. Vasque vouches for their product’s quality. But I can tell you, from personal experience, that they will last well over one year. I bought a pair about ten years ago and they are still going strong.

8. Merrell Men’s Waterproof Hiking Boots

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These don’t exactly have a steel-toe cap, but they do have a rubber protection. Better than none! They require almost no breaking in and will be comfortable from day one.

The only con is that some customers report that theirs were not waterproof. (It’s not a rule though – others swear they are just as described.)

I hate how often that happens even with the most reputable brands. So, you might want to test them right out of the box and return if they don’t stand up to the task. Make sure to also spray them before soaking. It’s a simple hack that may just do the trick.

9. Under Armour Men’s Jungle Rat Tactical Boots

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These are called “Jungle Rat”, but they are really an all-purpose, all-terrain boots. They are made of textile, leather and rubber. Nevertheless, they are water-repellent (not entirely waterproof, mind you!) while still allowing for breathability. The Storm technology repels water, plus there are drainage vents to help get rid of extra moisture.

In spite of these water-repelling techniques, your feet will get soaked in heavy rain. That’s why these boots are best for very warm areas, where they will dry out on their own, and very fast. They are the most breathable and featherweight option on this list.

Final Word

Before I wrap it up, you may wonder why there are no women’s shoes or boots listed here.

It’s not that men’s shoes are better suited to survival situations. Women’s can be just as ragged and durable.

The real reason is of economical nature. Looks don’t matter in disaster scenarios, and women can wear men’s shoes, while vice versa doesn’t work simply due to size.