Gas chemical monitoring for next-generation robotics applications such as fire fighting, explosive gas detection, ubiquitous urban monitoring, and mine safety require high performance, reliable sensors. In this work, we discuss the performance requirements of fixed-location, mobile vehicle, and personal sensor nodes for outdoor air quality sensing. We characterize and compare the performance of a miniature commercial electrochemical and a metal oxide gas sensor and discuss their suitability for environmental monitoring applications. Metal oxide sensors are highly cross-sensitive to factors that affect chemical adsorption (e.g., air speed, pressure) and require careful enclosure design or compensation methods. In contrast, electrochemical sensors are less susceptible to environmental variations, have very low power consumption, and are well matched for mobile air quality monitoring.