This post aims to be a quick guide for you to be able to go on a simple urban exploration journey and don’t to experience that awful sensation of “F•ck, did I forget to bring my flashlight?“. I’ll try to make a check list of all the items you should have with you before hitting the road towards your adventure, and the reason why you need it all of them. If you are looking for our posts about Urban Exploring, you can click here to see them.
Comfortable and resistant shoes
I think this is the most important item of the list. No matter how much obvious this might seem to you but I’ve seen people wearing hills to go on Fotostrasse’s photo meet up.
My choice of shoes would always be something in the Doc. Martens
family. They are comfortable, resistant will protect you from small amounts of water and the most important: most broken pieces of glass will stay away from you feet.
A new pair is definitely not the cheapest choice available but I can guarantee that you’ll use the same boots for over 10 years easily. And choose a boot rather than a normal size shoe to avoid those little annoying stones from getting into your shoes while you walk.
Even if you leaving your home early in the morning, inside abandoned buildings is usually dark. And when I say dark I mean: you will not see the floor and the chances of getting hurt are high, so have a flashlight with you at all times.
Good options in my opinion are:
Remember that in this case, having an extra source of light is advised, so get one of those tiny bike LED lights you can find everywhere for 1 or 2 euros.
Food and water and a plastic bag
Make a drive-thru run to your favorite fast food restaurant or prepare some sandwiches for the journey. Having something to eat will do wonders for your mood, patience and for the whole trip in general. Not only will it make you more relaxed and content, but vanishing your hunger will take care of a major distraction. And don’t go easy on the water, ok? I know that it can be heavy as hell but nobody wants to get dehydrated in the middle of nowhere, right?
The plastic bag is to put your garbage on it, ok? Do not leave your trace behind! Make it nice for the next explorer.
This person will be either your navigator or the responsible for the strategy in this. Bringing a friend is a more safe, less boring and much more fun way of exploring the unknown.
You never know when a raccoon or a hobo will sprint in front of you and an extra set of eyes sure can be useful when we’re talking about trespassing, getting into abandoned buildings or just getting lost in the middle of a forest. Teamwork is awesome!
Smartphones, GPS and maps.
I was going to write “invest in a GPS” but I remembered that we are not in 2008 anymore. Your phone (and a oldschool paper map!) is the key for a safety journey back so please get yourself a good extra battery for it.
You can find a good one that can charge your smartphone up to 5 or 10 times for a very reasonable amount of money these days. Besides they are one of the most useful things to have in your pocket at all times. It saved Felipe‘s life when he was walking to Poland, my life when I was exploring most sites for our fotostrasse’s meet ups and more.
Camera and extra memory cards
More from the Captain Obvious but I need to make this point again and again: Document your findings! Urban exploration can be a very fun and fantastic experience and documenting properly your adventures will keep the memories alive for a long time.
I’m always with my Canon 5D, Felipe is always with his Canon 7D and because we’re both Canon, we share my lenses. Usually I take only my Sigma 24-70 mm and my 50mm. Both lens work like a charm on low light situation and a DSLR is faster than a normal camera, so if you’re in a forbidden place (and most likely you are!) it is crucial that your equipment is fast. You can always take photos with your phone, but I rather have more control of my images. Check it out my photography tips to take your photography to the next level, one tip at a time.
As a person allergic level 10 to ALL moskito/fleas/blablabla bites, I gotta put this one on the list. because I know that I’m not alone here. The worst thing ever is getting home scratching yourself to the point of madness because you when to an abandoned site and nature fed of your blood.
The worst memory of this is from August 2013 in Krampnitz where I counted 67 bites in just 1 of my legs. I could not count the rest all over my body because I was scared enough with this amount in just 25% of my body. Terrible, terrible memories of the weeks that followed those 2 days. The best brand in my opinion is Autan without a doubt.
I’m a pants hater I gotta say, specially if we’re talking about jeans. But if you are not, please choose a thick but comfortable pair of pants before hitting the road. And if you’re like me, a thick leggings like pantyhose + a yoga pants will do the trick. Not as efficient as a good pair of jeans, but it will protect you.
If you’re a girl, you need to pee and get clean properly, right?
Tools in general
Most places we go require a set of tools to either open up a whole in a fence or unlock a occasional door. I’m not saying that you should trespassing (in fact, please avoid) but sometimes you don’t have a choice, right? Let’s leave hypocrisy to our politicians and assume once it for all that we love what we can’t have.
Locked down, hard to get, hidden and protected places have the most amazing scenery because it is dangerous to get in. If the idiots and vandals can’t get in, the chances of finding undestroyed and intact rooms are enormous.
And, the most important tips is to, please, keep it like it was before and intact for the future explorers, ok? Don’t destroy stuff just because you can. This is a stupid move. Fotostrasse always has and always will condemn people who find out about a place and steal, break and f*ck everything up for the rest of us.
*This post is part of a series I’m creating with tips and tricks on lots of activities that Fotostrasse usually do. Hope you all enjoy it.