You can’t hear it too often. Gold mining equipment has to be tough and durable, because you are usually too far out to simply run to the store if something breaks or needs replacing.
However, the one piece of basic gold mining equipment that prospectors often over look is education. Gold mining is simply too much work not to be prepared. There’s a lot of good information on line, but we also recommend the book section at Black Cat Mining.
Most basic gold mining equipment, pans, picks, shovels, and other gear for outdoor expeditions changed almost none from the earliest days of the California gold rush until the last decade or so.
However, since about 1980 there have been several advancements in basic mining equipment that are really significant. Some of this like underwater metal detectors and suction dredges were developed specifically for gold mining, but some of the gear that can really make you more productive and more comfortable is general outdoor equipment.
We recommend Uncle Sam’s Army-Navy Outfitters for general outdoor gear, because they sell high quality, often hard to find outdoor gear at amazing prices, and they offer great customer service. A lot of their gear is made to military specs and that is the sort of toughness that can come in handy for a prospector.
Gold mining, at least in most of the United States, has traditionally been a brutally cold business. Remember, miners often stand in ice cold mountain streams for hours on end. Except for the summer, when going barefoot is more fun, you need a good pair of rubber boots, but if you are trying in the fall and spring a good pair of insulated socks are necessity.
If you are going to try to run your dredge until the stream freezes, you probably should consider a pair of heated sock from Uncle Sams. Heated socks are almost the only way to keep your feet warm all day in a freezing stream, because most rubber boots are not insulated. Thermal underwear are another good idea in the winter, but remember you can’t afford to get dressed so heavily that you can’t move easily.
In the summer clothing is a much simpler proposition. Outside of Canada or Alaska you probably don’t need rubber boots and electric socks, but you might want to buy a good pair of river sandals or water shoes, so you don’t cut your feet on the jagged rocks.
Gold Mining Tools:
Basic mining tools are pretty much the same as basic landscaping tools, but they need to be extremely well built and easy to pack into remote locations. Look for picks and shovels with fiberglass or steel handles. Maybe you never get fired up enough to break the handle of a shovel doing yard work, but we you hit a hot spot with a lot of color it is easy to get carried away.
Depending on just where you are going you may not need much camping gear, but in many areas you will need a full range of camping gear. You can probably find everything you need at Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Surplus Storeat prices you just can’t.