UrbEx Kit: The Ten Essentials

The ‘Ten Essentials” is a list of essential items assembled by mountaineering, outdoor and scouting organizations for safe outdoor travel and emergency preparedness. Over the years, individual fields of adventuring, exploration and outdoor sports have adapted this list to suit their needs.

There are a number of basic items that everyone should have in their kit (first aid, water, insulation, navigation) but how those items are defined depends on the individual activity. I do not include brands because I feel that everyone is more than capable of researching for themselves and figuring out what works for them. Think of it as part of the adventure. My only recommendation is that you purchase gently used gear that is of better quality rather than new, lower-quality gear, if you are on a budget. It will serve you better in the long-run.

Original Ten Essentials for Survival

Navigation: Map, compass, GPS (note:GPS requires battery power)

Sun Protection: Sunblock, sunglasses

Insulation: Clothing, rain gear

Light: Flashlight, headlamp, clip light

First Aid: A kit with any supplies for individual conditions (glucose supplements, medications, etc.)

Fire: Waterproof matches, fire starter, lighter

Repair Kit and Tools: leatherman tool, utility knife, etc.

Nutrition: Protein bars, trail mix, etc.

Hydration: Water or sports drinks

Emergency Shelter: Tent, bivvy bag, tarp shelter, etc.

(Note: Signaling has been removed from the updated Ten Essentials list, but I feel it is an important item to have in an emergency. Signaling items could include a whistle, mirror, flare or air horn.)

UrbEx Ten Essentials + 1

Navigation: Map of the area, compass, GPS (note:GPS requires battery power)

Sun Protection: Sunblock (use SPF 50 or higher and reapply every 2 hours), sunglasses with UV lenses.

Insulation: Clothing (This will depend on the area you are exploring and could include waders, waterproof boots, a thick jacket, gloves, a helmet or construction cap, etc. Always wear long pants, long sleeves and close-toed shoes.

Light: Flashlight, headlamp, clip light (I prefer a headlamp or clip light, but always have a couple back up light sources and batteries)

First Aid Kit: There is no substitution and no exception for a first aid kit. Take it. Chances are you will need it. Also, make sure you are up-to-date on your tetanus vaccine…really.

Respirator: If you are exploring buildings or drainage areas, there is no substitution or exception for a respirator. Manyolder buildings have asbestos, which regular dust masks will not filter. Asbestos will make you sick and can give you cancer. Also, mold spores and certain types of algae that live in damp areas and can make you ill as well. Plus, you get the added benefit of taking that selfie that looks as though you have found your way into a game of Fallout.

Note: Do NOT skimp on quality when it comes to respirators and filers. Half-face respirators are fairly inexpensive as are the filters. Get the best you can for your budget!

Repair Kit and Tools: Please don’t take a crowbar or anything that will make it appear as though you are doing something illegal…unless you plan to do something illegal. Then, be prepared to deal with the consequences of that choice. I prefer to take a simple leatherman tool or small utility knife. Also, some rope.

Nutrition: Protein bars or granola bars are portable and compact. I have my favorite brands, but I would encourage you to find what suits you best. You can also take along dried fruits and jerky.

Hydration: Water is hands down you best option to start. Sports drinks are good as a back up because they contain electrolytes, salt and dextrose, which your body needs when dehydrated. However, if you are not engaging in rigorous activity where you will be sweating heavily, I do not recommend drinking them as the salt and sugar are simply excess. Also, don’t carry caffeinated beverages as caffeine is a diuretic and is counterproductive…Chances are, you will not be able to readily access a bathroom either.

Camera: Any camera will do, but something compact and possibly waterproof is preferred. There are some good compact mirrorless cameras out there for those willing to Google. Also, I recommend a carrying strap…and extra batteries, as always.

Signaling: This is my bonus (but not optional) essential item. I am not sure why signaling devices were removed from the original Ten Essentials list, but they are vital for any UrbEx endeavor. Getting lost or trapped in an area is always a risk to keep in mind. I would recommend a good whistle as they are loud and compact.

This kit list is in no way comprehensive. Feel free to add to it and take whatever you think you will need that you can easily carry. Always consider what kind of UrbEx you will be doing when customizing this list. In addition, you might need to jump, climb, crouch or crawl, so take that into consideration when packing items. You will also need a good bag or backpack to secure everything in, and possibly a rain cover for your bag.

Happy UrbExing!

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