Super mega-list of things for a gold prospecting camping trip.
I’ve read a bunch of articles and listicles on what to bring when you go camping. In the end, I decided to just overpack, and then see what we actually used and trim it down from there. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’ll give you reasons for every single item.
I’m breaking it down into these basic categories:
- Home on the Range
- Extras and Lighting
Since this was a gold prospecting trip, basic prospecting gear is necessary. Also, there were a lot of large rocks in the creek bed, which put additional conditions in play.
Mechanix FastFit Gloves
Low cost and sturdy build make them a good pair of gloves to use protect your hands, whether you’re shoveling or just need to be able to handle brush, rocks, or stick your hand in a hole that you aren’t sure is filled with spiders or not. Eww. Spiders.
Use it to move some boulders, crack open a rock, or as a handhold when climbing up or down a steep hill of loose dirt. Use it to help level out some ground for your tent, or sweep away large rocks. Every miner needs a pickaxe.
A D-handle shovel worked best for us, because it’s a little more compact but you can still get good leverage with a stable grip on the back. It probably does a decent job as a last resort weapon against a hungry bear. I also do not warrant that statement, or imply that you should do it, because the bear will probably just get irritated and eat your shovel, too.
This is what you shovel your dirt into, carry water in, etc. Bonus- you can pack a bunch of your camping gear into them for transport. I recommend getting lids for your buckets for that purpose, or in case you want to transport home any concentrated material to finish processing in the comfort of your garage or kitchen.
14" Gold Pans
If you don’t have a pan, you’re not going to find gold terribly easy. There’s lots of mining gear out there, and miners are gearheads, but the classic gold pan works reliably and with some practice, you can get really fast with it. I prefer green because you can see both the gold and the black sand pretty easy in it. All you really need is a big wide circle at the bottom of the pan, and some riffles on the front. There’s a lot of fancy shit out there, but the K.I.S.S. policy works best here. Plus, they’re cheap. If you couldn’t tell yet, I tend to be cheap where possible.
Prospector’s Scoop (or a plastic trowel)
A lean, green, spooning machine. It won’t cuddle up with you at night unless you love it THAT much, but it’ll do a great job of shoveling a pan full of material from your bucket to your pan so you can get the gold. A plastic trowel will work as well.
Some people prefer glass, but glass can break when you drop it, especially on rough terrain, and then all the gold you worked for is gone. Plastic works just fine. I prefer snap caps to screw-top lids, because you can magically trap and grind a small flake of gold in a screw-top lid. Anyway, this is where you put your gold when it’s extracted from the sand and gravel.
Very different from, say, a snuff film. The snuffer bottle is quite possibly the single greatest invention in the history of gold prospecting. It’s simple and it works. Basically, it’s a squeeze bottle, but some genius stuffed a straw in it, so that when you turn it upside down, your gold is trapped BELOW the bottom of the straw, and when you suck up the material, it deposits itself into your bottle and you don’t lose a thing. It’s magic. I might actually love a good snuffer bottle more than fried chicken.
Legend has it that humans who don’t eat or drink will live very short lives. Calories are important for energy, water is important for life. Stay hydrated and energetic. Here’s what we actually used on our trip.
There’s plenty of options out there for water bottles, but it’s tough to be a GI-style canteen. You don’t have to buy the genuine article; cheap replicas are on Amazon from reputable manufacturers for as low as $8. They hold a quart of water, and hidden inside the pouch, cupping under the canteen, is an aluminum cup with folding handles. You can even heat it over a fire if you wanted to. There’s a lot of versatility packed into a small space.
Ohuhu Portable Wood Stove
It’s cheap. It collapses into itself. It’s easy to assemble. It uses just dry ground scraps to burn. I really love this little camp stove. I don’t have to remember a propane or butane tank, all I need is some tinder, some broken twigs that I can snap in half (while wearing my gloves), and something to start a fire with. Speaking of fire….
UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit
If there’s anything I hate more than striking a match and having the wind blow it out right away, I haven’t found it yet. These matches are the shit. You can light them underwater if you want to. They resist a strong breeze, wind, heck, I haven’t tested them in a hurricane but they’ll probably light. These will save you from getting annoyed and just lighting the entire matchbook on fire out of frustration.
UCO Sweetfire Fire Starter
The only thing better than lighting a fire is making sure it keeps going. Sure, you can blow or fan or use a pocket bellows, but sometimes it’s just easier to throw something into the fire that burns for several minutes to get things going.
Titanium Cutlery Set
There’s no shortage of inexpensive titanium cutlery options out there. It’s got a knife for cutting things (You’ll never use that, just ditch it.) It has a fork for forking things (keep that, you’ll wanna fork things). It has a spoon for spooning things. (I’m 50/50 on this. I drink my soup straight from a cup, because I’m badder than Samuel L. Jackson).
GSI 32oz Kettle
This may come as a surprise to you, but what you do with this is boil water. It holds a full 32oz canteen worth of water, and then you put it over a fire. After a while, it boils, due to thermodynamics. You can use this boiled water for interesting things like making a cup of tea, coffee, or preparing freeze-dried food. You can also boil water to make it safe(r) to drink. Fun fact, water boils at about 212 degrees farenheit, give or take depending on elevation.
Stanley Classic Flask
Okay, this one isn’t entirely necessary unless you think it’s necessary to have 8 ounces of peach tea moonshine for your trip. I personally find that very necessary, so I used this quite a bit, or at least until it was empty. It’s pretty tough, and it’s available in a number of vintage shitty colors. Best of all it holds your liquor, even when you can’t.
Fill these with water. 1 gallon per person, per day. I like to double that just in case. Water is life. Plus you can wash things with it.
Believe it or not, this is some handy shit. You can use it to siphon water from your jug into a container, or use it as a makeshift hose to clean something. It’s good to have a couple of feet of this lying around.
Home on the Range
Here’s some stuff for you to make yourself a little home away from home. From lighting to shelter, seating to sleeping- you don’t want to just curl up under a tree and pray you don’t get eaten by wild animals, right?
This is where you can put your butt. It keeps you from having to sit on the ground, cross-legged like some kind of uncivilized, free-range hippie. (Please note, I’m pretty sure my dad was a free-range hippie at one point. No judgement)
Goal Zero Venture 70 Charger
Yes, there’s plenty of batteries on the market. There’s cheaper ones, as well. I got this as part of a package, and used it primarily for running some LED lights. Speaking of lights….
Goal Zero Light-a-Life Mini Quad
I have a shameful secret to admit. I love lights. I don’t know why, I just do. My parents told me that my first word wasn’t mom or dad, but “lights!”, when on a car trip to see christmas lights when I was a baby. This set of lights is AWESOME. You can string them up in your tent, they have a high and a low light function, come with colored shades if you’re inviting Skrillex to DJ in your tent, and run off of the above-mentioned charger. They’re plenty bright and pack away nicely. Did I mention I love lights?
FUGOO Tough Bluetooth Speaker
If Skrillex won’t DJ in your tent, you can use this. It’s rugged, water resistant, and I honestly just use the AUX cable to save battery life, though it’s got plenty of that. Grab your phone, blast some tunes at a respectable level that won’t irritate wildlife and persuade them to end your life.
MALOUF Z-Shredded Gel-Infused Memory Foam Travel Pillow
The name is a mouthful, it’s advertised as a travel pillow, but it works great for camping because it’s small, firm yet soft, and condenses nicely in a pack once compressed.
This is kind of a personal preference thing. If I have an air mattress, I’ll just use blanketing of some kind. I really like military surplus army poncho liners. They’re thin, and they’re surprisingly warm. When I’m real cold I just double up. If it’s going to get near 30/40F at night, I’ll bring a blanket to go with it.
Triwonder Burly Tent Stakes
If the name doesn’t conjure images of lumberjacks carrying huge metal objects over their shoulders, holding one in your hand will. They’re big, heavy, and pointy. They work great in ground that’s got a lot of subsurface rock, and they don’t bend like little sissy wimpy tent stakes when you whack them with a mallet. Bonus- you can just step them into the ground with your bootheel if you forgot the hammer.
AIVANT 42000mAh 200w max with 4 USB, 2 110v AC battery
Okay, maybe the only thing I like better than lights is batteries. Seriously. I have a problem with batteries, and I’d likely bring about 80 million batteries to go camping, but this one is enough. Like, really enough. It’s got 4 USB ports, it’s got 2 110v AC outlets. It’s great, and it isn’t as big as you’d think. Originally, I was going to use a 12v air pump to inflate the air mattresses, as I did get ones with boston valves as well as self-inflating, but this let me pump up both air mattresses using the built-in pump, and charge two iPhones overnight, as well as a couple of other items, and didn’t even go below 75% battery. I believe this battery could solve the global energy crisis. It’s pricier at around $200, but well, well worth it. Speaking of air mattresses…
Etekcity Twin-sized Air Mattress 18” with built-in pump
Yes, it’s taller than most air mattresses you’d use for camping. It has both a boston valve for manual inflation, and a built-in pump. It supports up to 500lbs, which is great, because I’m a fat guy and those wimpy 200lbs mattresses just won’t do. It was comfortable to sleep on, and deflated minimally overnight. We opted for at-home style mattresses because of the tent we were using….
Vango Capri 500XL
This isn’t so much a tent as it is a portable cabin. Since this was going to be a “work camp” for us, we wanted the ability to hide indoors at dawn and dusk from the insects, and continue working (processing concentrates, etc). The tent is about 10'x20'. Yes. 10 feet by 20 feet. You could theoretically park a car in it. I’m 6 feet tall and had no issue standing up without banging my head on anything. It uses Airbeam technology, similar to what some of the newer field deployable structures the military uses, sets up easy, has rings all over the place to hang things like lights, fans, etc. It features “clearview” windows, which are pretty cool. The sleeping area in the back has extra material to keep it darker, making dusk seem like night. You could easily put two queen-sized mattresses side by side in the back, or you can put up a divider and split it into two separate rooms.
It’s got a built-in awning, the only part of the tent that uses a pole. My only gripe about the tent is how many stakes you have. You have stakes for the tent, then stakes for the guylines. But considering the size, it makes sense. Anyway. This is basically a portable 1 bedroom house.
Drymate Camping Tent Carpet Mat
There’s not much to say here. It’s basically a foam-backed outdoor carpet for your tent. If you’re on a rocky surface, it’s great because it helps soften out the bumpy ground. It also helps insulate, which means warmer nighttime sleeping conditions. It comes with a roll strap. It’s a nice touch. I’m all about nice touches.
Tailgaterz Gameday Buffet
It’s supposed to be for the SportsBall, where people drink copious amounts of beer, but it also makes an excellent portable nightstand to plop between your air mattresses. You can put a portable fan on the shelf in the middle to keep you cool, and stuff your phone in the side pocket to charge. Or you can just use it to store beer.
Some Kind Of Folding Camp Table
It’s a good way to have a table to eat at, a place to do work and process concentrates, or somewhere you can chill and play cards until the bugs settle down a bit and you can go to work. There’s a billion different kinds out there, one for every man, woman and child on the planet. Buy cheap.
Wakeman 10L portable wash basin
Well look, if you don’t know what to use this for based on the name and the picture, I really don’t think camping is for you. Really.
OPOLAR F201 rechargeable portable mini USB fan
You should definitely get some kind of larger tent fan to help circulate air on hot days, but for personal cooling or at night, if you need the feel of a gentle breeze, this thing is HOLY SHIT AMAZING. It’s really small, but VERY powerful. It uses an 18650 rechargeable lithium ion battery, which can be charged in the unit itself via USB. It lasts a long time, too. I was shocked at how strong this little bastard was.
Use this to hammer in your tent stakes. If you hit yourself in the thumb like a moron, it’ll only hurt for a little while, whereas hitting yourself in the thumb with a regular hammer could end your weekend before it starts.
This is the section where I’ll cover what items we bought to help us throw things away, shit in the woods, clean things, and protect ourselves from insects. I’m pretty sure that’s clear.
Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent
There are going to be mosquitoes. Mosquitoes suck. I have really no idea what use they provide to the world other than irritating people and making people sick. Anyway, YMMV with this one. I don’t think I had a single mosquito bite the entire trip, but my travel buddy was eaten alive like a side of beef dipped into the piranha-infested portion of the Amazon river.
It’s also great for keeping your skin moisturized, because you’re going to dry up a little in the mountains.
Expedition Research ruggedized dry bag
We used one of these to stuff our trash into, because when rolled up, it’s airtight and prevents odors from escaping. We didn’t want to be eaten alive by bears. We also put it about 30ft from the tent, so if it disappeared in the morning, we’d know that we almost died in a violent, wildlife-like manner.
Sea to Summit wilderness wash
Odor-proof Garbage Bags
Uh, not much to say here. They sell different kinds, stuff your trash in it, then stuff in that dry bag mentioned previously. Save yourself from being eaten by bears.
Never, ever forget the toilet paper.
They hold a bunch of liquid, and are useful.
What about other stuff? Well, there’s some odds and ends that are real nice to have/you should probably have.
InnoGear 5000 Lumen Bright Headlight
Did I mention I love lights? Okay, I prefer headlamps to flashlights when camping. You keep your hands free, which is great when you’re trying to shit in the woods at night, and generally speaking, you’re less likely to misplace it. This thing is bright. Like, I’m sure people could see me peeing in the woods from 38 miles away with this thing on. It’s actually kind of ludicrous. Also, fits over a hat/hard hat/etc.
Gerber Gator bolo machete
You might be wondering, why a machete? I’ll answer that for you: Poison oak. Seriously. When you’re trying to walk down a trail to say, the creek on your claim, you’ll want to cut that shit out of the way.
Rope is always handy.
This makes the rope more useful. If you have one, you should have the other.
Ka-Bar or bowie knife
A big-ass camping knife comes in handy. You can use it to cut meat. You can use it to cut rope. You can use it to cut bears (not recommended). If you’re super emo, you can use it to cut yourself, but I recommend that you seek the assistance of a psychiatric healthcare professional instead- every life is precious, and someone loves you. Uh, anyway. Strap this to your belt, and you’ll always have a good tool.
It’s just a damn handy thing to have. It’s like a swiss-army knife, except it comes with good pliers built in. You’ll find a reason to have pliers at some point, trust me.
There’s probably a few things I missed here, but as far as I can remember, this is what we actually used during our trip. Everything else was untouched, and so I didn’t really mention it. Food-wise, it’s personal preference, so I’ll leave that part up to you. Keep in mind that this is for a stationary work camp, not for a solo backpacker who needs to travel light. I’d put it more akin to car-camping than anything else. Anyway, here’s a shot of our stuff in the field. Have fun!