Evading from a Metropolitan Area: A Focus on Anti-tracking and Disguising Techniques

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by Kyt Lyn Walken

When it comes to urban escape, countless factors actually determine the success or the failure of our evasion.
Moving from an urban location to an off-grid retreat requires a specific mindset paired with highly mastered skills.
As a SHTF scene enfolds, we’d have to deal with a constant flux of people, vehicles, and events. We need to resort to using our knowledge to make our way out in a safe and undetected manner.

The topics related to constant movement, adaptability, operational flexibility, self-reliance, and endurance are the cornerstones of a winning as well as focused mindset. Although the over presence of cutting-edge technology which can detect and record every single movement we may produce, we can still count on the great and solid effectiveness of some ancient skills, like, for example, antitracking and disguising.

The application of antitracking leads you to leave the minimum – or quite zero – the trace of your passage, which could be exactly what you need when you are escaping.

You may need to escape from an urban context for several reasons:
a potentially dangerous situation occurred
a public threat
an individual necessity
a matter of personal – or your family – security
and so on.

This article covers the aspects connected to the individual breakout by applying the above mention skills to move uncharted and to reach a safe place off the grid.

On risk analysis

An escape from a metropolis should always be preceded by an accurate phase of evaluations and planning, specifically if you live in a city. It goes without saying that risk analysis occupies a place of utter importance in your escape program development.

People trust two opposite systems to evaluate every single situation and, consequentially, to take decisions.
by intuition: fast, heavily influenced by previous experiences, emotional, and pretty much automatic.
by analysis: pragmatical, effective, logic.

Risk analysis favors the second one because it can lead to more valuable long–term results.
A detailed individual escape plan should include notes on:
drills to respect in case of emergency evacuation
selection of the ideal routes to take
gear set up and maintenance – don’t forget a detailed, paper map of the city. Navigation devices, in fact, can fail, and/or you may run out of batteries.
halfway shelters where to recover
off-grid shelters
along with the following public note information which you are supposed to be updated:
escape routes (above, under, and throughout)
exfiltration methods
evacuation programs
related to the specific area you are in.

But SHTF can actually catch you up when you are off your place for any reason.
By saying that, you must be able to review a quick and as much accurate as possible risk analysis in your mind every time you cross through a determined scenario (indoor or outdoor), establishing:
the features of each context – exposure, vulnerability, materials, and so on
potential outbreak ways
potential spaces where to hide
presence of any useful objects which could really help you:
to defend yourself
to break down windows and doors
to leave no trace of your transition

and by evaluating the consequences of every single action you are actually able to make your way out and even forecast other people’s actions.

Context analysis

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, when planning and putting into action an urban escape, you must consider three different levels intrinsic to the scenario. Above, on, and under the ground.

Important analysis should be consistent to:
the reliability
of the exposure
of all the surfaces you are stepping on.

Here’s where your Man and Antitracking skills can come in handy.

Above the ground

Making your way out by moving from one roof to another is not just highly risky, but also quite naive. You may be quickly noticed by other people.

Additionally, the solid presence of drones, in fact, can spot you very easily. To move undetected, you need to move near buildings, taking advantage of their shades, or under thick and leafy trees.
Daytime as well as by nighttime.
If drones are equipped with a thermal camera, you can use an emergency blanket made of Mylar to stop the infrared rays. Or you can wear IR-reflecting clothes.

On the ground

Making any transition from one area to another by remaining stuck to the ground is a matter of good sense. The presence of buildings, cars, et cetera, can offer you good visibility by remaining hidden and alert.
As a plus value, the urban soil can turn out to be your best ally when it comes to the necessity to leave no tracks, as we will soon see.

Under the ground

Some cities, like New York, have a thick underground web of tunnels. The problem is to get into there and not to get lost.

Plus, some of these underground galleries can be flooded or host ill-intentioned people and colonies of rats. So be sure before entering a manhole.

By carefully scouting an area, we make intelligence on hostile or friendly elements related to people and the scenario itself. Scouting requires a 540 view, and it obviously includes the study of the substrate we are moving in.

Mantracking and, specifically, urban tracking stand on one fundamental topic: any person who crosses a space will always leave behind a systematic amount of evidence.
This evidence can be both macro both micro.

Inside a city, due to the tough nature of urban soils (asphalt, concrete, tar.. ), every detail counts when you are tracking another human being.
Even the smallest details like any discharged material (cigarette butts, food remains), any lost item, body fluids, mostly dog and cats droppings, and/or any sticky material or liquid you can step on (for example, paint on pedestrian zebra lines) can turn into precious indicators of passage.

Besides that, some areas of soft soil like clay, sand, and wet ground can capture the details of the inner design of a shoe (so-called “Pattern” in Tracking). They are called Track Traps in Mantracking terminology.
You can easily run across them in the:
sides of roads
public-private parks & gardens (where you can see also dew and spider webs)
flowerbeds and flowered spaces
slopes to drainage
dirt covered spaces
private access to properties
parking lots (where you can find oil)

But also fresh asphalt, concrete, and tar can happen to be the ideal surface for making them Urban Track Traps.

In this way, you have several good chances to detect footprints and to understand if anyone passed in the area before you or took advantage of a shelter you may want to break in.

Aging tracks is surely one of the toughest tasks to accomplish due to the massive contamination of the soil.
Nonetheless, if Mantracking is applied with accuracy and consistency, even the futile detail can be relevant in understanding if we are going in a safe direction.

Mantracking in urban scenario

By developing a Tracker’s mindset you will be able to nourish not only a sound situational awareness, but will provide you the possibility to create and flourish a mental database connected to the places we see, their structural features, and possible exit points.

Furthermore, Mantracking can be successfully paired with profiling people.
This happens to be useful to forecast their intentions and to understand if we can rely on them.

A Tracker is always moved by persistence, acuteness, effectiveness, the ability to gather critical data, and cleverness. Having such a mindset is sure to remarkably aid in an urban escape.

Gaining the mind of a Tracker will take your time and perseverance.

How to move undetected from an urban area to a suburban area

The massive presence of hard soils can serve as the perfect way to make our tracks disappear by confusing them with others’ footprints and tire tread evidence.

Bear in mind to never walk on humid or wet substrates. Do not get into ponds, not even accidentally. Otherwise, for a few minutes, your footprints will be pretty visible.

Stay at large from parks and gardens. If you cannot avoid it, stepping on others’ footprints is a good option to resort to. Be careful to clean the sole of your shoes in case you picked up any greasy material like mud, dog feces, chewing gum, etc. Do not leave any evidence of your passage relating to discharged materials.
Wearing shoes with an undefined pattern, like moccasins, or changing shoes could be top-notch.

Pay extra attention to the position of security cameras. Stay away from ATMs and hyper-controlled buildings.
Place payments only using cash.

Applying all the rules related to being a Gray Man while doing antitracking will turn you into a remote individual to identify, follow and catch.

Tools at your disposal


Disguising techniques, as taught by noticeable FBI agents during workshops, conferences, and videos, can surely help you to turn yourself into a totally different individual by changing:
physical features of the whole body of yours
facial features
altering your age
altering your way of moving
altering your gestures
altering your way of walk

Mastering these techniques obviously requires time and the ideal tools (and makeup). Nonetheless, sometimes a cap, a pair of eyes/sunglasses, and any additional tool you may encounter on your way (even searching into the trash) can be the optimal solution to pursue your goal.


Keeping inside your gear some socks to wear over your footwear and shoe covers can help you to move like a ghost, smoothly and fluidly.

In your absence, you can take advantage of some plastic and rubber and create a pair of Antitracking shoes by yourself, using some paracord you have inside your gear.

Combine creativity with common sense and you will be successful in your breakout.


Evasion techniques in an urban scenario can be successfully achieved by the application of the Mantracking, Antitracking, and Disguising techniques if combined with scouting, profiling, and by the solid and effective employment of common sense.

Staying stuck to these topics will enable you to not rush on the less safe routes, and to carefully select an improvised shelter you may want to resort to before making your way off grid.

About the author

Kyt Lyn Walken is Official Representative and Instructor for Hull’s Tracking School (Virginia) and Antipoaching Certified Ranger for Conservation Rangers Operations Worldwide Inc. (Colorado).

She’s a long time Prepper and Survivalist and she wrote several articles and essays on this topic.           


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Evading from a Metropolitan Area A Focus on Anti-tracking and Disguising Techniques

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