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A Gold Prospector’s Basic Arsenal – Our Guide

Think of a metal detector or dowsing rod and your mind immediately sprints back to the Gold Rush era. While the modern-day hunt for gold may seem limited to miners and the like, hundreds of prospectors still enjoy the activity of relic hunting. Whether for a sense of adventure, outdoor experience, or big payout, every contemporary prospector needs a basic arsenal of equipment. And no—you won’t need to arm yourself with state-of-the-art tools. In fact, most of these pieces are relatively inexpensive!

The Gold Pan

A basic yet effective piece of equipment, the gold pan is useful for both beginners and veterans alike. This tool is used to trap gold during agitation and easily remove it once the process is over. The most popular gold pans are made with high-impact plastic, whereas some prospectors prefer to use one made of heavy-duty metals.

The Sluice Box

A supplement to the gold pan, the non-motorised sluice box can speed up the process of harvesting gold by catching heavier materials in its riffles while letting the natural flow of water wash lighter materials away. After a few hours, users can remove concentrates from the bottom of the sluice box, hopefully panning down to gold.

The Shovel

What most new prospectors are usually startled to find is that not every shovel will serve the same purpose effectively. Unlike regular garden shovels, a prospector’s shovel is thinner and longer and equipped with serrated edges used for cutting through hard-packed soils and stones.

The Pick

As gold is often mixed in with other concentrates, a pick can take apart dry soil as hard as concrete. An obvious time-saver, the pick comes in different sizes and is best for digging.

The Classifier

A round screen that sits on top of a gold pan, the classifier separates heavier rocks from soil. This soil falls through the screen and into the pan, revealing any gold flakes that have been captured. That being said, don’t ignore large rocks—they could be gold nuggets! Remember, the majority of time spent prospecting gold is sifting through dirt, so the classifier is a tool that can greatly reduce your time doing so.

The Gold Map

If you’re new to prospecting, knowing where to begin can be a tricky process. With an updated map, you can take note of where gold has been found previously and whether or not this area has already been depleted of its resources. You don’t want to waste a ton of time prospecting in an area you didn’t know was already claimed.

Gold Prospecting Knowledge

In gold prospecting, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. The first step towards successful prospecting is knowing where to look and taking note of public areas open to recreational mining. Then, you’ll need to know the behaviour of streams and rivers and how best to sift gold out of the area. Gold prospecting then was nothing like gold prospecting today—streams flow higher, landscapes have changed, and tools have become much more complex.


More expensive equipment won’t guarantee that your gold prospecting efforts are a success. In fact, most open mining lands won’t permit motorised equipment, so you’re always better off going back to basics.

At Prospectors Patch, we equip novice and advanced prospectors with all the equipment they need—from gold metal detectors to harnesses and other accessories in Perth. Ready to get prospecting? Take a look at our how-to guides!