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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 the respirator masks below have been tried and tested by experienced urban explorers.
7 Best Respirator Masks For Urban Exploring
Your choices at a glance:
- 3M 600 Half-Face
- 3M 7500 Half-Face
- GVS Elipse Half-Face
- North 7700 Half-Face
- Drager X-Plore 3500 Half-Face
- Trend Stealth P3R Half-Face
- Lincoln Electric XLR Half-Face
3M 6000 Half-Face
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 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. If you want to keep things simple the 3M 6000 Half-face Respirator Mask is your go-to.
3M 7500 Half-Face
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.
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. That choice comes down to preference.
GVS Elipse Half-Face
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 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
- Full protection against nanoparticles
- Soft, light, and resistant
North 7700 Half-Face
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.
Drager X-plore 3500 Half-Face
This lightweight but durable half-face mask will protect you against many harmful elements you may come across when exploring abandoned buildings. The Drager X-plore 3500 is more commonly used by our exploring friends across the pond over in Europe.
This face mask is starting to gain popularity in the US urbex community. It’s easy to see why. These masks are durable, hypoallergenic, lightweight, and robust. The maks features a dropdown harness that allows you to release the mask without taking it off. They also include P-100 filters perfect for protecting against asbestos.
Trend STEALTH P3R Half-Face
Trend is considered an industry leader and a big name within the respirator masks community. These masks are also commonly used by many urban explorers. The main difference between this mask and other half-face masks is how the filters are fitted.
They are neatly compacted on the sides of the mask so as not to obstruct your view. It features comfortable straps and a single facepiece that won’t cause discomfort when wearing. This mask’s soft material doesn’t contain silicone or latex. The unique mask design will have you looking like Bane from Batman.
Lincoln Electric XLR Half-Face
If you’re safety-conscious and want to make sure you get the best respirator for urbex you can’t go wrong with the Lincoln electric XLR. It’s made of soft thermoplastic rubber that contours to your unique facial structure for a proper fit.
Similar to the Drager, the Lincoln Electric also features a halo cradle with adjustable straps for comfortable and smooth wear. The front-facing side of the carries 4 small high reflective visors as an extra security feature. A pair of P100 filters are also included with the mask.
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.
When Should You Wear A Respirator Mask?
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!
I was getting asked this question a lot through email so I decided to write a separate article that goes more in-depth on this topic. In it, I answer when to wear a respirator mask when urban exploring. I also give examples of what to look out for and what to avoid when exploring.
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 mask 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.
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 8-10 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.