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What to Take Rock Hounding


Rock hounding experience (our own and tips and hints from colleagues, customers, and friends) has led us to compile the following list of things you won't want to be without.

  1. FIRST AID KIT. We hope the reason for this one is obvious. A friend and fellow rock hound says "Rock hounding is like hockey; it's not fun until you see blood." We won't go that far, but we often get scrapes and bug bites.
  2. SPARE TIRE & TOOLS TO CHANGE A FLAT. Rocks wreak havoc on soft rubber tires. We don't even want to go into the story of the day we were out in the desert with our flat, our spare and no lug wrench.
  3. GAS. Make sure you have enough gas to make the trip into the desert and back out. It's a good idea to take an extra can full.
  4. WATER. There is no potable (drinkable) water in the desert! Take lots.
  5. TOILET PAPER. More uses than you think; the standard "paper work" and to wrap specimens. Make sure you take enough for both.
  6. GARBAGE BAGS. Also dual purpose. The obvious choice for this item is hauling your trash out. They also make great wrap for specimens.
  7. HAND LENS. A small, high quality magnifier, also known as a loupe. You will want to look at ALL the crystals you find, large and small, and you won't see the small ones without a hand lens.
  8. IDENTIFICATION GUIDE. There are many guides from the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals and Simon & Schuster's Guide to Rocks and Minerals.
  9. MAPS & GUIDE BOOKS. Not only will you want to know how to get where you are going, you will want to know how to get home again. There are currently several guide books on Utah. All have their pros and cons. We haven't found a guide book yet that didn't contain its fair share of wrong directions. Most people end up with and use all the books to find great rocks, minerals & gold.
  10. NOTEBOOK & PENCIL. Your specimens are much more valuable if you know where they came from. And you may want to go back and get more from a specific location. If you do not keep track of this information you won't have a way to return. Write down the location and draw a picture of the area or draw your own map.
  11. ROCK HAMMER & SHEATH. No, a nail hammer is not good enough. Rock hammers are a solid piece of steel. Therefore, the head cannot be broken. Not only are they safer, but they will last you years of rock hounding. That is, they will last you for years if you carry them in a sheath. We consider Utah's deserts to be a large rock hammer exchange. We've left a few and collected a few. Now we carry them in a sheath so we don't set them down and lose them. Painting them construction orange helps to locate misplaced tools.
  12. CHISELS. In addition to your rock hammer, you'll want other tools. Chisels help remove rock or crystals with a little more precision. We recommend Estwing brand tools. They are also the best!
  13. SAFETY GOGGLES. Eye protection is a serious concern when you are breaking rock. If you want to enjoy your specimens after you collect them, wear goggles or safety glasses.
  14. GARDEN TROWEL. Very useful for small digging.
  15. ROUND POINT SHOVEL & HOE. These tools are very handy especially for digging especially at geode beds.
  16. SPECIMEN CONTAINERS. We've used all the following; cardboard boxes, milk creates, wooden creates, 5 gallon buckets, canvas sacks, egg cartons, Tupperware dishes, cookie tins, film containers.
  17. A BUDDY. We do not recommend rock hounding alone. Use the buddy system and two cars.
  18. FOOD & SNACKS & MEDICATION. Besides your meals, take along plenty of snacks. It's better to have too much than not enough. Never leave for a collecting trip without medication you may need!
  19. HAT & SUNSCREEN. You will get a sunburn without these.
  20. CAMPING GEAR. When rock hounding, nine times out of ten you will not be near any facilities. Be a good scout and go prepared with some basic camping supplies.
  21. PATIENCE, COMMON SENSE, & COURTESY. We've noticed that the most successful rock hounds are those who patiently keep looking around until they find something really great. Always use common sense when in the field. Never trespass. Respect others and their property.