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In a previous article, I talked about the many dangers of urbex. One specific danger that I mentioned was coming across malicious people while inside abandoned buildings.
This is something that happens to urban explorers all the time. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it might one day.
Abandoned buildings attract so many different kinds of people. From squatters to the homeless, to junkies and scrappers, these and many more different people can all be inside the abandoned buildings you explore.
When you come across them, you don’t know how they will react. Some will turn away and simply ignore you. Others will not.
Go to any urbex forum and you’ll find several stories of urban explorers being followed, assaulted, and even attacked while inside abandoned buildings.
What if something like that were to happen to you.
How would you protect yourself?
Do you have something to protect yourself with?
In the past, I’ve advocated for urban explorers to NOT take any weapons with them when they begin exploring.
But I now think that’s the wrong advice to give. Urban exploration is a dangerous hobby after all.
So many things can go wrong. Being attacked is one of them. Having something to defend yourself with is the right thing to do.
If you don’t already have some sort of self-defense weapon to take with you when urban exploring, below I’ll list 5 items that other urban explorers, and myself, use and recommend.
Sabre Red Pepper Gel
I’m willing to bet you have probably heard of pepper spray. You have at the very least seen it being used in movies or tv shows.
Pepper spray is great and all, but there are two main issues with it.
1) Is that you can’t really be accurate when spraying it.
2) There’s the possibility of it blowing back in your face.
Pepper gel is similar to pepper spray, but it is like its more attractive cousin. With Pepper Gel you don’t have to worry about those two problems that I mentioned.
Since it comes in gel form, and not liquid, you can be really accurate when shooting it and not have to worry about the possibility of it blowing back in your face.
I personally carry pepper gel with me as I mentioned in my urbex gear post. I’ve had it for a couple of years now.
I’ve only used it twice, which was just for target practice in case I needed to actually use it to defend myself.
Simply carrying it around with me when I’m out exploring makes me feel a whole lot safer. I know this pepper gel could easily debilitate an attacker in a matter of seconds.
Which can give me enough time to GTFO of the place and run to safety.
This pepper gel has an 18-foot range which means you don’t have to get too close to someone before you can use it.
It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and incredibly powerful when used correctly.
I honestly think the Sabre Red Pepper Gel is by far the best self-defense weapon for any urban explorer.
MoneyClip w/ Hidden Knife
Another self-defense item that I carry with me is this nifty little money clip with a built-in hidden knife.
Yes, the size of the blade is small, but it’s more than good enough to save your ass in a risky situation.
The knife itself is actually made from titanium steel and is incredibly sharp. The knife is also very easy Ito deploy.
A quick click of a button and it unlocks the knife from the money clip. Put your middle finger through the round handle and make a fist with the knife sticking outwards.
The sheer sight of the blade sticking out of your hand like freaking wolverine will deter a possible attacker from even getting close to you.
What I like most about it is that the knife itself is incredibly well hidden.
This allows you to stay safe and potentially out of trouble should you be caught carrying it.
Since the blade isn’t visible without you having to press a button, someone looking through your urbex bag would not notice the blade.
Aside from it being a great self-defense weapon, it’s also useful to have a knife when urban exploring since it might come in handy in several different situations.
The Gerber GDC MoneyClip w/ Built-In Hidden Knife is a decent self-defense weapon that any urban explorer can use to defend themselves.
Flashlight With Hidden Stun Gun
A great self-defense weapon that a friend of mine carries with him is this Taser Strikelight Flashlight that doubles as a stun gun.
He’s had it for about a year now and it’s a neat little self-defense item that anyone can get.
What I like most about it is that its first function is that of a flashlight. Something every urban explorer should have.
But it also has a hidden feature that isn’t noticeable if you didn’t know it was there. That feature is the stun gun capability.
A stun gun is one of the most popular self-defense items in the world. The main reason being is that it’s incredibly effective at stopping an attacker.
You don’t even have to actually use it on someone to scare them away. The stun gun arc, which is the electricity that’s audible and visible on the taser, is enough to scare anyone away.
In previous posts, I’ve talked about the importance of carrying 2 flashlights for urban exploring. One as your main and the other as a backup.
This Taser Strikelight Flashlight w/ a Hidden Stun Gun can double as your self-defense weapon and your backup flashlight.
It’s a 2-for-1 item that’s incredibly useful.
ParaClaw Survival Watch w/ Hidden Knife
Are you starting to notice a pattern here?
3 out of the 4 items that I’ve listed have a hidden feature that allows you to defend yourself with.
The reason why I prefer these items that have a hidden knife, stun, etc.. is that they’re difficult to spot.
If a police officer were to look through your backpack, there’s less of a chance they’ll see the knife or stun gun because it is hidden.
I say police officers because they are the only ones allowed to search through your stuff. No security guard or property owner who caught you can search you. Just FYI.
If you like wearing a wristwatch, then you probably won’t mind using this ParaClaw Survival Watch.
It’s a sleek-looking watch that’s is safe for outdoor use, water-resistant, and quite durable.
Of course, the best feature on it is the hidden 1.5” blade that can be easily drawn with the press of a button.
To the uninformed, this ParaClaw Survival Watch is simply another wristwatch. But only you know the hidden feature it has.
The nifty little knife can save your ass on more than one occasion. Which makes it a perfect self-defense weapon for urban exploration.
Should You Carry A Weapon When Urban Exploring?
The general consensus among the urbex community is to NOT take any weapons with you while you’re exploring.
But in the 8+ years that I’ve been exploring, I personally haven’t met a single urban explorer that doesn’t take some sort of weapon with them when they’re going into an abandoned building.
From small hidden knives to pepper spray, and even a gun (I don’t recommend this!), these are all self-defense items that I’ve seen other explorers carry with them.
The reason that some people in the urbex community say you shouldn’t carry a weapon when urban exploring is because you could get into serious trouble if you are caught.
Which is true.
I’m by no means denying that or leading you to believe otherwise.
Remember that the hobby we do isn’t always exactly legal.
Being caught trespassing and carrying some sort of weapon could get you into serious trouble. Even if the weapon you have it meant to be used for self-defense.
Every state has different laws regarding carrying some sort of self-defense weapon.
Before you consider taking a weapon with you when urban exploring, take some time to really think if that’s a risk you’re willing to take.
I personally take the risk of carrying a weapon with me when I go out exploring. So do so many other urban explorers.
I would rather explain to the police why I’m carrying a weapon with me than risk not having something to protect myself with in case I were attacked.
If You DON’T Carry A Weapon, Know This
If you decide to not carrying a weapon, that’s fine. It’s your own choice and you’ve decided you don’t want to risk being caught with a weapon.
You of course still want to protect yourself even if you don’t carry a weapon.
What you can do instead is take a very good look at the other urban exploration gear you carry. Some of it might have a dual purpose.
If you’re a photographer, for example, a tripod can be a very useful item to defend yourself with.
If you carry a flashlight like the Maglite which is known to be bulky, heavy, and tough, it can be also used as a self-defense item.
Some flashlights also have a strobe light function. Which can visually impair an attacker and give you enough time to run to safety.
Of course, a strobe light flashlight is most useful at night, but if it’s a high powered flashlight with over 3k lumens, it might still work during the day.
What you can also do when you’re inside an abandoned building, is look around and see if you find a piece of metal, wood, or anything that you can realistically use to defend yourself with.
There’s always a 2×4 laying around somewhere. Pick it up and carry it with you when you’re exploring.
Urban exploration is by no means a safe hobby. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it again.
Your safety should always be your number one priority when urban exploring.
If you’re going to take part in this hobby, know that there is a possibility of you coming across dangerous people.
Having something to defend yourself with is ideal but it carries a major risk. The chances of you being attacked are slim but it can happen.
Take some time to think if it’s worth it for you to run the risk of carrying a weapon when urban exploring.
I’d like to hear from you, do you already carry some sort of weapon with you when exploring?
What do you carry? What do you recommend to other people? Let me know in the comments!