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A respirator mask for urban exploring is an essential piece of gear every serious urban explorer should have.
It’s true that you don’t always need to wear one every time you’re exploring an abandoned building. But it doesn’t hurt to have one in your backpack in case you do find yourself needing one.
Considering how light and flexible they are, carrying one in your backpack is a no-brainer.
One of the main reasons we wear a respirator mask when urban exploring is to protect ourselves from dangerous elements commonly found in abandoned buildings.
Things like asbestos, mold, rat droppings, lead, and dust. All of these are a danger to our health.
Urban exploration is by no means a safe hobby.
With an almost endless variety of respirator masks available online, choosing the right one can be a bit confusing. You don’t want to end up picking the wrong one and having it not protect you at all.
You need to make sure you get the proper respirator mask for urban exploring. One that has P100 filters and that can comfortably and securely fit on your face.
If you’re new to urban exploring and are looking to get a respirator mask, there are a couple that I can safely recommend.
All of these respirator masks below have been tried and tested by experienced urban explorers.
3M 6000 Half-Face Respirator Mask
This specific respirator was the very first one I bought when I got started with urbex. I actually still have it to this day but don’t use it as often as I did.
It’s the most popular one amongst the urbex community. You can see pretty much every urbex YouTuber wearing this same respirator.
It’s a relatively inexpensive respirator and has the necessary filter attachment that’s needed for urbex. Which of course are the P100 asbestos-rated filters.
The respirator is incredibly light weighing only 5 ounces. It’s also not that bulky which is a good thing. It can easily fit in your urbex backpack without taking much space or weighing you down one bit.
One of the main reasons I bought this respirator was because it came with a pair of P100 filters already attached. I didn’t have to buy the filters separately. I thought that was quite nice and convenient.
- This respirator Includes 1 pair of P100 asbestos-rated filters
- Is quite comfortable, soft, lightweight, and has easy-to-adjust head straps
- Removable filters that can be easily replaced
- Allows for both filters and cartridges
If you want to keep things simple the 3M 6000 Half-face Respirator Mask is your go-to.
The replacement filters for this respirator are also quite cheap. You can find them here.
3M 7500 Half Facepiece Respirator
An exploring buddy of mine currently uses this respirator mask for urban exploring. He’s been using it for a couple of years now actually.
If I’m being honest, this respirator is not too different from the first respirator in this post.
They’re both half-face masks and both allow for the proper P100 asbestos-rated filters which are needed for urbex. They’re also both made by the same company, 3M, and both are inexpensive.
I suppose one of the main differences is that this mask is made from silicone material. Which is quite soft and comfortable when it creates an air seal around your mouth and nose. Since it’s made of silicone, it’s a lot more durable too.
- Made out of silicone material
- Super comfortable to wear
- Built-in cool-flow valve for easier breathing
- Easily adjustable straps
If you were to end up choosing between the 3M 7500 Respirator and the 3M 6000, the only big difference is the way the mask looks and feels. That choice comes down to preference.
Also, this mask does NOT come with a pair of P100 asbestos-rated filters. You will have to purchase some before using it for urbex.
You can find the filters here.
North 5400 Full-Face Respirator
I’ll admit that full-face respirator masks for urban exploring look pretty badass. You can’t deny it! They make for cool Instagram photos.
Some people call these masks overkill for urban exploration. They are overkill if you personally consider them to be. If you’re specifically looking for a respirator mask that protects both your eyes and mouth, then a full-face mask is perfect for you.
Don’t let people’s comments steer you away from what you want.
Plus let’s be honest, with urban exploring you never really know what you’ll encounter. Perhaps one day you might actually come across certain elements that are harmful to your eyes and your full-face mask will protect you.
This mask is not exactly cheap but that’s because it’s a top-of-the-line mask. If you’re looking for a high-quality respirator mask for urban exploring, the North 5400 is what you want.
- Chin cup to properly position the mask
- Itch and fog-resistant
- Weighs only 2 pounds
- Made of high-quality soft elastomer material
- Comfortable and easy to put on
The North 5400 does NOT come with a pair of P100 asbestos-rated filters. You will need to purchase some before using it for urbex.
You can find the filter cartridges here.
GVS Elipse P100 Half-Face Respirator
I’d like to introduce you to my go-to respirator mask for urban exploring. The GVS Elipse P100.
As you can tell from the photo, it’s a half-face mask with double P100 cartridge filters. This mask has been my personal favorite for some years now. I don’t leave the house without it!
I’ve found it to be the most comfortable respirator mask I’ve ever worn. I don’t know if it’s because of the shape or size of my head or what, but this respirator mask feels like it was made specifically for me.
It’s pretty lightweight which means I carry it in my urbex backpack even when I know I don’t need to use it. It takes up no space and is quite flexible which means it can fit anywhere I need it to.
I’ve had this respirator for a couple of years and I’ve only had to replace the filter cartridges on it twice.
I have bought this respirator mask three times. Not because it breaks or anything. But because I’ve given it away as a gift to my exploring friends.
Unlike with the 3M 6000 respirator, I can breathe easier with this one. Also, even though the filter cartridges are bigger than the pancake filters, they don’t block much of your field of view. There’s very little difference between the two in that regard.
- Provides strong filtration with proper P100 filters
- Extremely lightweight (Only weighs 1lbs!)
- Made from medical-grade material
- Easy to adjust the headband
- Protection against nanoparticles
- Soft, light, and resistant
The GVS Elipse P100 respirator comes with a free pair of P100 asbestos-rated filters. Which means they’re ready to be used for urbex straight out of the box.
The filters last a good amount of time before you need to replace them. When the time comes, you can find the replacement filters here.
North 7700 Half-face Respirator
I don’t remember exactly who it was but I recall some urbex YouTuber wearing this respirator mask. He was doing a “What’s in my urbex backpack” type video and he was talking about this specific respirator mask.
I’ve personally never used it but from what I can tell, the mask looks really good. I’ve seen a couple of people on UER recommend this exact respirator.
It’s made out of silicone, which a lot of people seem to like.
I suppose it’s because silicone can easily create a comfortable seal around your face when the mask is on. It doesn’t tightly hug your face and feel uncomfortable like some plastic masks do.
There’s honestly not much difference between this mask and the ones I’ve listed above. They all allow for the proper filter attachment, which is the P100 asbestos-rated filters.
- Soft non-allergenic silicone for a comfortable fit
- Low profile to not block the field of view
- No breathing resistance to reduce fatigue
The North 7700 does NOT come with a free pair of P100 asbestos-rated filters. You will need to buy them separately before using the mask for urbex.
You can find the filters here.
3M 6800 Full-face Respirator Mask
If you’re a really safety-conscious person and want to make sure you get the absolute best respirator that will protect you from any airborne chemicals or particulates, a full-face mask is what you want.
I personally don’t like these full-face masks because I wear glasses and don’t want to feel uncomfortable while exploring.
Although I’ve heard that this specific respirator is quite comfortable and has enough space for glasses. I just don’t want to dish out the money for this kind of respirator personally. The half-face mask is perfect for me.
There’s also this problem with full-face masks narrowing down your field of view. Yes, they’re a lot safer than a half-mask since they also protect your eyes. But your eyes are least likely to be at risk of asbestos. At least as far as I know.
If you want to keep both your eyes and lungs safe from any possible airborne chemicals or particulates, the 3M Full-Face 6800 Respirator Mask is for you.
- It’s comfortable when used for long periods of time
- Weighs only 2 pounds
- Provides a wide field of view
- Scratch and fog-resistant
- Allows for both P100 filters and cartridges
I’ve seen a handful of urbex YouTubers wear full-face respirators. Most usually go for half-face ones but there definitely are some urbex people that like and regularly use the full-face ones.
The 3M 6800 Respirator is a really good respirator mask to get if you want a full-face one.
This specific one does NOT include a free pair of P100 asbestos-rated filters so you will need to purchase some before using it for urbex.
You can find them here.
How To Choose The Best Respirator For You.
When choosing a respirator mask for urban exploring the only real difference between all of them is simply the way they look and feel.
All the masks in this post allow for the proper P100 asbestos-rated filters. Which is the most important requirement a respirator mask should have for urban exploring.
Not only are the P100 filters good for protecting from asbestos, but they also protect from mold, dust, and other nasty elements.
It doesn’t matter which respirator mask you choose from this post, they all protect urban explorers from dangers commonly found in abandoned buildings.
If you end up finding a respirator mask that’s not listed in this post, simply make sure that the mask allows for the use of P100 filters. As long as you can attach these filters to the mask, you’re safe.
You’ll also want to make sure that the respirator mask you get is the right size for you. Respirators are no good if they don’t fit.
Respirators come in small/medium/large. Choose the one that you know will fit you right. You want to create an air-tight seal around your nose and mouth.
For men with beards, some respirators might not create a full seal around their nose and mouth due to the facial hair getting in the way. Before you use your respirator mask, make sure it can tightly secure around your face.
You don’t want any small gaps left. Otherwise, this leaves room for particulates to enter thru.
If you find your respirator mask isn’t making an air-tight seal around your face because of your beard/mustache, you might have to trim it down or fully shave.
Word of advice if you decide to go for a full-face mask over a half-face one.
Tread carefully when wearing a full-face mask.
By that I mean watch where you’re walking when you’re inside an abandoned building exploring. A full-face mask will limit your field of view. You’re prone to falling down because you can’t fully see around you.
Remember that you’re inside a possibly dangerous area.
You could end up walking on an unstable floor and not see it because of the limited visibility. Walk slowly and watch where you step when you have the mask on.
When Should You Wear A Respirator Mask?
My rule of thumb is that If I’m going to explore an abandoned building built before the 1980s, I wear a respirator mask.
Why? Because buildings built before the 1980s have a higher chance of containing asbestos. I’d rather not run the risk of being exposed to asbestos or other harmful elements.
Also if while I’m exploring I spot any sign of mold, pigeon/rodent shit, rotting wood, lead, dust clouds, or high humidity, I instantly put on my respirator mask. All of those things I just mentioned are just as hazardous to your health as asbestos.
If you think you’re in an area where you should wear a mask, then wear a mask!
Seriously, pay no attention to anyone who tells you to not wear one. You can usually tell if an area is contaminated by looking around. If your breathing starts feeling off or labored, pull your mask out of your backpack and put it on. Better to have a slightly sweaty face than respiratory failure in 20 years.
If you don’t think wearing a mask is needed, or that you’ll look edgy while wearing one. Read this post by a UER member which nearly died because of not wearing a respirator and being exposed to harmful elements in abandoned buildings.
Your health and safety should be your number 1 priority when urban exploring.
Wear a mask. No regrets later.
What Filters Are Needed For Urbex?
Always make sure that when buying filters for your respirator mask they are P100 certified.
Filters are given a NIOSH rating based on two factors: their effectiveness against oil-based hazards, and their efficiency. The ratings consist of a letter followed by a number.
The highest-rated filter available is the P100.
Most new urban explorer seems to think that a simple respirator is all they need for urban exploration. They didn’t know the mask needed filters. Well, they do.
And they need a specific type of filter so you can’t just go buy anyone filter you like.
When buying filters for a respirator mask for urbex, always make sure they are labeled P100.
How Often Should You Replace The Filters?
Personally, I replace mine after every 3 uses.
Since not all filters are the same, I can’t give you a specific answer on when you should replace yours. When you purchase your filters, they should come with an enclosed manual. That should tell how many uses you can get out of your filters before they need replacing.
You have to remember that filters for respirator masks are used to clean the air before it’s breathed. They have a limited lifespan. So don’t forget to replace the filters after they’ve run their course.
If you don’t replace the filters it’ll be as if you don’t even have the respirator mask on at all. It won’t protect you from anything.
One way you can tell if the filters need replacing is if you notice your breathing starts to get hot and heavy. If you feel like you’re struggling to breathe when the respirator mask is on, maybe it’s time for a new pair of filters.
Can I Wear A Dust Mask Instead Of A Respirator Mask?
No. Absolutely not.
Don’t confuse a dust mask for a respirator mask. A dust mask will do nothing if you’re exposed to asbestos/mold or any other harmful elements when urban exploring.
Don’t bother with dust masks as they are next to useless compared to an actual respirator.
Get a proper respirator with P100 filters instead.
If you’re serious about urban exploring then you need to get yourself a respirator mask. The chances of you coming across harmful elements commonly found in abandoned buildings are quite high.
With how inexpensive respirator masks are, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t have one.
You won’t need to wear it every time you explore an abandoned building. But it’s a good idea to keep it with you when exploring. Just toss it in your backpack and pull it out when you need it.