A follower on my Instagram recently asked if I could give him some tips on what urbex gear to get. He said that he’s relatively new to urban exploration and wanted to make sure he had the necessary urbex equipment when out exploring.
I sent him a private message with a full list of the urbex gear that I use and I explained why I use these particular items. I thought it would be a good idea to also write a blog post about it.
That way I can not only just help him but also anyone else that may be new to urban exploration and wants to know what urban exploring gear to take when exploring abandoned buildings.
My Urbex Gear
When I started urban exploring I had nothing but a flashlight, a knife, and my cellphone to use in case of an emergency. Over the years my gear for exploring has expanded into so much more than I can carry in my pockets.
I’ve learned that when exploring abandoned buildings it’s better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.
So even though you won’t always need to use the exploring gear that you take, it’s a really good idea to still have it tucked away in your backpack in case the need to use it ever arises.
The urban exploration equipment that I’m listing below isn’t necessarily the only gear you should have. I’m only showing you what I personally like to carry with me when out exploring. I’ll also include links to where you can find each item should you want to get it for yourself.
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I’ll start off with my backpack of choice, which is the Burton Annex 28L Backpack.
There’s honestly nothing special about this particular backpack. I chose it simply because I like the style, look, and material that it is made out of.
It’s spacious enough to hold all my urbex gear but also light enough so it won’t weigh me down. In it, I carry my flashlights, camera, extra batteries, gloves, first aid kit, tape, water, portable charger, and some extra gear.
It’s also made out of polyester which is a relatively durable and tough material. This is perfect for urban exploration because abandoned buildings can be unforgiving.
There are so many things in the places we explore that can damage your backpack. I’ve come across nails sticking out of walls, corroded metal pipes with serrated edges, broken glass, and contaminated water dripping from ceilings. Any of these could easily damage your backpack.
When you’re choosing a backpack for urban exploring, make sure it’s one that’s made out of good quality material. You don’t want to risk losing your gear because of a flimsy backpack. A good quality backpack can also last you for many years.
Also, take into account the feel of the backpack while you’re carrying it. You don’t want to carry a backpack that isn’t comfortable to wear.
The Burton Annex 28L backpack has adjustable shoulder straps which I can reposition to get that perfect fit for me. Which makes carrying the backpack feel comfortable.
I’ve been using this backpack for about 2 years now and can safely recommend it to anyone currently looking for one to hold their urban exploring gear.
Since I started exploring I’ve owned 4 different respirators. My most recent one, and the one that I like the most, is the GVS Elipse P100.
I’ve had it for more than 2 years now and I have no intention of replacing it any time soon.
It’s extremely light, durable, comfortable, and best of all protects against most of the hazardous elements I come across in my explorations.
Those of you who are new to urban exploration probably don’t understand why a respirator mask is needed for urbex. The reason you wear one is so you can filter the air you breathe that’s inside the places you explore.
You don’t always need to wear one but it’s a good idea to still have one. You’re going to one day explore a place that has dangerous elements that will be a hazard to your health. This is where a respirator mask is useful.
If you haven’t already, go read the article I wrote where I explain when you should wear a respirator mask. It should help you understand why a mask is needed for urbex and when exactly you should wear one.
If you’re a serious urban explorer you need to get yourself a respirator mask, no exceptions. It’s a good investment that could literally save your life. Plus it fits perfectly in just about any backpack.
The one that I use is the GVS Elipse Respirator Mask with OV / P100 filters. If you don’t have a mask yet and you’re looking to get one, I highly recommend this one.
A flashlight is a must-have for urban exploration. You can’t explore if you can’t see where you’re walking. Even if you explore during the daytime, there will be certain areas of a building where sunlight does not reach.
My go-to flashlight is the ThruNite TC12-V2. It’s a tactical flashlight with a powerful 1100 lumens output. It’s made from solid stainless steel which is tough as nails. No matter how many times I drop it, it does not break.
In the many years that I’ve been exploring I’ve gone through a couple of different flashlights. I started off with a crappy off-brand dollar store flashlight. Which was pretty much useless.
When I began taking urban exploration more seriously, I upgraded my flashlight to a 450-lumen flashlight from my local hardware store. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t as good as I expected. I wanted a flashlight that was inexpensive, durable, and powerful.
The ThruNiteTC12-V2 was one that I kept seeing lots of urban exploration YouTubers use so I decided to buy it to test it out.
It’s honestly been one of the best investments I’ve made into my urbex career. I’ve had this same flashlight for a couple of years and it’s as bright and powerful as the very first day that I bought it.
One feature about it that I like the most is its rechargeable battery. Before I head out to explore, I charge the flashlight which ensures I have a fully powered battery. That way I don’t need to worry about the battery running out.
If you’re looking for a solid flashlight as part of your urbex kit that will last you many years and that has enough light output to brighten any dark place, I recommend the ThruNite TC12-V2 Flashlight.
My backup flashlight is the Coast PS-600. This is the flashlight I had before I upgraded to the ThruNite TC12-V2.
I carry two flashlights with me when I’m out exploring so I can have an extra one in case my main flashlight fails.
Even though my backup flashlight is not as powerful as my main one, I’m okay with that since it is meant to be used temporarily.
If you’re putting together your own urbex gear kit make sure you get two flashlights. One as your main and one as a backup.
Although I don’t always use it, I like to carry this Foxelli MX20 Headlamp in my backpack. It comes in handy when I want to free up my hands but still need a flashlight to illuminate my path. I just strap it around my head and turn it on when I need it.
The redlight functionality of this headlamp is also quite useful when exploring at night. Since it’s less visible from a distance, anyone outside the building looking in has less of a chance to spot me.
This headlamp has a 120 lumens output. This honestly isn’t much, but it’s good enough to illuminate 150+ feet in front of you.
If you explore at night time, you can really benefit from having a headlamp. I’ve used this one for some time and can safely recommend it.
First Aid Kit
Similar to the headlamp, the first aid kit is something I don’t use too often. But I still like to keep it in my backpack when I’m out exploring.
Some people say it’s not really needed. I rarely see other urban explorers talk about carrying a first aid kit. But I think it’s something that can be really useful should you ever need to use it.
Think of all the possible ways you, or your friends, could get hurt when out exploring. The possibilities are truly endless.
From accidentally running your hands across sharp broken glass (which happened to me!) to scraping your skin on rough surfaces, to even stepping on an exposed nail sticking out of the ground.
Being able to cover up a wound or stop it from bleeding can literally be life-saving. You don’t have to be Dr.House to be able to use it. It’s a simple kit with all the necessary medical equipment that takes very little space in your backpack.
If you don’t already have some sort of med-kit, consider getting the Sumpri Mini First Aid Kit. With how inexpensive and small it is, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have it tucked away inside your backpack. A good first aid kit is a good addition to everyone’s urban exploration gear.
Sabre Red Pepper Gel
I like to carry some sort of self-defense weapon when I’m out exploring.
I’ve talked about this before and I’m sure you already know this. Abandoned buildings are dangerous. They attract not just us urban explorers, but also squatters, homeless people, loiters, runaways, etc.
Thankfully to this day, I’ve not been in a situation where I’ve had to defend myself against an attacker. But I have had some close calls. I’ve been in a couple of situations where I’ve felt unsafe in a building I’m exploring.
That’s why I like to keep some sort of self-defense weapon with me. The Sabre Red Pepper Gel is my weapon of choice. It’s light and small yet powerful enough to stop a person dead in their tracks.
I keep it clipped to my backpack for easy access. Having something to protect yourself with when you’re exploring can help you feel safe. Which in turn makes your explorations a lot less stressful since you don’t have to worry about your personal safety all the time.
If you’re looking for a self-defense weapon to add to your exploring gear, I highly recommend the Sabre Red Pepper Gel.
I always carry my digital camera with me when I’m out exploring. It has become a staple item of my urbex gear.
Some of the places I’ve explored are simply too beautiful to not share with the world. Having a camera to take photos of the places I’ve explored is something I like to do.
I’m by no means a professional photographer but I think I can take a decent photo if I do say so myself.
I personally use the Canon G9 X Mark ll. It’s a solid little point-and-shoot camera that takes crystal clear photos and is easy to use. Best of all it’s small enough to fit in my pocket. It also weighs very little which is a nice plus.
The reason I prefer to take photos with a digital camera over my cellphone is so I can preserve the battery on my phone.
Taking photos and videos on my cellphone drains the battery pretty quickly. Which is something I don’t like since I want to have my phone fully charged in case I need to use it for an emergency.
Plus a digital camera takes better photos overall. Yes, a cell phone camera is still quite good. But you can’t control things like shutter or aperture like you can on a digital camera. All of which make your photos appear so much better.
Some people don’t like to use a digital camera to take photos when out exploring simply because the process of having to hook up your camera to a computer to transfer photos is quite tedious. With the Canon G9 X Mark ll, I don’t have that problem.
This camera has a neat little feature that allows me to share images straight from the camera to my cellphone so I can easily share them on social media.
If you’re currently looking to get yourself a digital camera for urban exploration, the Canon G9 X Mark ll is one that I highly recommend.
Although I don’t use them as often as I should, a pair of hand gloves are a staple item of my urbex gear.
They’re something I carry with me to use in case I want to protect my hands. They’ve actually come in handy a number of times when I’ve come across surfaces that I didn’t want to touch with my bare hands.
Things like exposed wires, broken glass, wet or dirty surfaces, etc. are all things I’ve come across in abandoned buildings.
I use the FreeToo Tactical Gloves which are gloves meant to be used for outdoor activities. They’re heavy-duty gloves and feel comfortable when I’m wearing them. Which is important for me.
I don’t like to wear gloves that feel too bulky or uncomfortable. The FreeToo Tactical Gloves are ones I’ve had for a couple of years now and they’re just as strong as when I got them.
If you don’t have a pair of gloves yet, the FreeToo Tactical Gloves are the ones I recommend you add to your urban exploration gear!
I don’t know about you but I personally don’t like to carry my wallet with me when I’m out exploring. I have credit cards, photos, cash, business cards, documents, etc.. in it that if I were to lose would suck badly.
Even though I don’t carry my wallet when I’m exploring, I still take my ID and some cash with me. Why do I do that you ask?
I take my ID in case I was to be caught by the police. One of the first things they’ll ask you is if you have a form of identification on you. Saying you don’t will just make you look suspicious and can worsen your chances of getting out of trouble.
If you have your ID on you, the cops will run it through their computer and see that you’re not a wanted criminal. He’ll hopefully just ask you to leave the building and not come back.
I also carry some cash on me to give to any homeless people I encounter. That’s just something I personally like to do. I see it not just as a way to help people I come across, but also as a sort of peace offering.
It’s a way of showing them that my friends and I aren’t a danger to him/her and we’re just here to explore the building.
I carry both my ID and cash on this nifty little money clip. Also, the clip has a neat little built-in hidden blade. Which I can use as a last resort self-defense item. I got this as a gift from a friend not too long ago and the blade has actually been useful at times.
TheGerber GDC Money Clip is an optional item. Not at all needed for urban exploration but something I personally like to carry.
Snack / Water
A water bottle and a snack is something I carry with me on pretty much all my explorations. It’s something I recommend all urban explorers do.
You never know how long you’re going to be inside a location exploring. I once went to a place that took more than 4 hours to fully explore. It took so long because I was with a friend who was filming a video for his Youtube channel.
We were taking pictures and setting up different shots to fully record the beauty of the place we were in. Time flies when you’re inside an abandoned building. You may think it’ll take you 30 minutes to fully explore a location but it could end up taking you twice as long.
That’s why I like to take a water bottle and a snack in case I get hungry or thirsty. Which I usually do.
There’s also this thing my friends and I like to do every time we’re exploring. We stop walking around and find a cool spot in the building to take a break.
It’s turned into a bit of a ritual for us and is something we do at most places we explore. We just sit down, drink some water, eat a snack, and enjoy the view from the place we’re in. It’s quite therapeutic in a way.
Some of the places I’ve explored have had stuff like asbestos, mold, or lead in them. It’s the reason I wear a respirator mask in the first place.
But did you know that these things can cling to your clothes, shoes, and gear? I bet you didn’t know that.
Asbestos is one such element that can stick to your gear. You can unknowingly carry it home with you where you can expose your friends, family, or pets to it.
The reason I carry wet wipes is so I can clean my urban exploration equipment when I’m done using it. If I had to use my respirator then there is a possibility that asbestos can be stuck to it and I can unknowingly carry it home.
This item is completely optional for most urban explorers but it’s something I personally like to carry with me so I can make sure to clean my gear when I’m done using it.
It’s just a personal safety precaution that I like to take. Not everyone does it but I think it’s useful.
I use the Allegro 1001 Wet Wipes. They’re made for cleaning respirator masks but can also be used on pretty much any other exploring gear you have.
Mosquito Repellant Spray
I’ve been carrying mosquito repellent for about 3 years now. It’s a staple item of my urban exploration gear. The reason I started using mosquito repellent was because of a bad experience I once had.
This happened some years ago. A couple of friends and I went to check out an abandoned hotel located in south Texas. It was spring at the time and the texas heat was almost unbearable.
While we were inside exploring the last thing on our minds was mosquitos. But that’s exactly what we came across that day. The hotel we were exploring had some serious roof damage and water had gotten into the building when it rained.
Pools of water had formed inside the building floors and attracted so many damn mosquitos. This is something we didn’t know about when we made our way inside.
While we were in the hotel exploring, these tiny monsters feasted on us like starving wolves. We ran out of the hotel after about 15 mins of not being able to take the bites anymore. Everyone in the group got bitten by so many mosquitos. We were all red and itchy all over.
It was a terrible experience. Since that day I’ve been carrying mosquito repellent spray in case I need to use it. Depending on where you live, mosquito repellent spray is something I recommend you carry with you.
I use Natrapel Mosquito Repellant Spray. I’ve found it to be the best one and it’s quite inexpensive.
Red Scotch Tape
It might seem odd to some of you but I personally like to take a roll of scotch tape with me when I’m out exploring. No, I don’t use it for kinky purposes!
It’s actually really useful to have so you can mark where you’ve been inside a huge location. Some of the places I’ve explored have been so big it’s super easy to get lost in them.
If you explore underground buildings, drains, or sewers, you can quickly lose your sense of direction and not know where you came in from. Using tape to mark an ‘X’ so you know where you’ve been can be really useful in helping you find your way out.
I use red scotch tape because it’s bright which makes it visible from a distance. Especially if you shine a flashlight on it.
P.S.A. – If you decide to use tape to mark your locations. Remove it when you leave. Don’t leave the tape where you set it.
Remember the saying “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints”. Respect the place you’re exploring and don’t leave any trash behind!
I use the 3M Scotch Vinyl Red Tape. It’s inexpensive and takes no space in my backpack.
Before I bought my digital camera, I would often use my cell phone to take photos and videos of the places I explored. This would, of course, drain the battery on my phone pretty quickly.
Which is why I started carrying with me a portable charger. It comes in handy if your cell phone is low on battery and you need to charge it on the go.
It’s especially useful when you’re exploring locations that are far away from a place where you can charge your phone.
When you’re exploring you should always make sure to have some battery on your cellphone in case you need to use it for an emergency. Accidents can happen at any time when urban exploring.
Having a portable charger as part of your urbex gear is a good idea. The one that I use, which is the Attom Tech Mini Portable Charger, is so small it takes up little to no space at all in my backpack. It’s not something everyone needs but it’s something I recommend you have as part of your urban exploring gear for those long exploration trips.
This is another item that is not at all need for urban exploration but I personally like to keep in my backpack.
I got a couple from a friend who’s really into emergency preparedness. I’ve only used them for taking cool photos and videos.
But they’re actually quite useful to have. If you explore in far-out locations and run into an emergency these could come in handy.
I doubt I’ll ever need them for emergency purposes but I still like to keep a couple in my backpack. These are the Cyalume Snaplight Sticks.
I take a handful of fully charged spare batteries with me wherever I go.
I’ll keep them in a plastic bag so they’re not loose and difficult to get to should I ever need them.
I take a fully charged backup battery for my main flashlight. 4 double A batteries for my backup flashlight. And a backup battery for my camera.
Consider purchasing extra batteries yourself for your gear that uses them. It would suck if the batteries in your flashlight or camera were to fail while you’re exploring.
Having some replacement batteries can come in handy.
It may seem like I take too much gear for some of you. But I personally like to be ready for anything I may encounter in my explorations.
Like I stated at the beginning of the post, it’s better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.
Urban exploration is a dangerous hobby. Being ready and carrying the right urbex gear is crucial.
If you occasionally explore abandoned places then you probably don’t want to have all the gear I listed above. But if you’re a serious urban explorer, having at least half of the exploring gear I listed is something you should do.
I’d like to hear from you. What are the things you like to carry with you during your explorations? What’s inside your urbex kit? Leave a comment below!