I'm sure everyone has heard the saying "you should use the right tool for the right job". Having the right tools to do any job always makes your life a little easier. This applies to metal detecting as well. You always want to be prepared and have the right gear with you whenever you head out to do some detecting.
Just imagine for a second that you are ready to go out detecting. You received permission from a homeowner and are feeling super excited. You arrive at the old homesite and begin detecting. You have your metal detector in one hand and a heavy duty shovel in the other. You've been walking around for 15 minutes dragging along that 7 pound shovel of yours. Your arm is starting to feel a little sore and you only just started detecting. You hear your first good target and begin digging. Your shovel however is so massive in size that you end up with a huge hole. Dirt is spread out everywhere. You spend the next 20 minutes trying to locate the target. You keep moving it around but just can't seem to find it in all that dirt. Feeling more and more discouraged with every turn. As you are sifting through the dirt with your bare hands a discarded piece of broken glass cuts you. Still not ready to give up on the target just yet, you keep searching with just one hand so that you don't wind up with a bunch of dirt in your fresh wound. You finally pull a .22 casing from the dirt. You shove it in a pocket. Your hand is still bleeding and unfortunately for you, you didn't think to pack a 1st aid kit in your car. You don't even have a band-aid handy. So you end up calling it quits after recovering just the one lousy target. You head for home hopeful that you'll be able to return another day. A couple days later you receive a call from the homeowner stating that they are revoking permission due to the remnants of a massive sized hole they discovered in their front yard. The grass completely died in the area you had dug and oh boy is it an eyesore to look at. Feeling frustrated you shove your detector to the back of your closet. The experience wasn't a positive one for anyone involved and it left a bad taste in your mouth.
If you had been equipped with the proper gear I'm sure that the experience would have been much more positive for both you and the homeowner. There are certain essential items that you should always bring along with you when you go out metal detecting. These items help to make the process of searching for and recovering artifacts a lot easier. With the right gear you will also be able to work more efficiently. This blog discusses different equipment that I consider essential as well as some other items I would strongly recommend you carry with you when you are out metal detecting. Your needs might be slightly different depending on where it is you plan to go detecting . For example, if you are detecting on the beach vs. in the woods the digging tool you bring along with you will probably be different.
When going out detecting one of the most important items you need to bring with you is your metal detector. You can't metal detect without it. If you have an extra detector it's always smart to pack that in your vehicle as well. Generally speaking, people often have rather strong opinions regarding the brand of detector they choose to use. Like with anything, every detector on the market seems to have its strengths and weaknesses. You don't need the most expensive metal detector on the market to be successful. A master chef makes the most incredible food as a result of their talent not because he or she is using a stove that costs $10,000. However, you also won't want the cheapest one on the market either. Most importantly the detector you choose to use should fit your needs and feel good in your hands. It should operate in a way that is logical to your mind. Your detector should be something you want to pick up and use every chance you get. If you're new to the hobby or just looking to purchase another detector I would recommend that you contact a local dealer in your area. Most dealers are extremely knowledgeable about the detectors they are selling and will fit you with what works best for you and your needs.
It is also extremely important to have the proper digging tools with you. Shovels come in all different sizes and shapes. You will want a lightweight, high quality shovel that is easy to carry. It should have a small blade that will allow you to efficiently dig small plugs when you are retrieving targets from the ground. You are doing yourself and everyone else in this hobby a huge favor when you invest in proper digging tools. Every digger is responsible for leaving the ground in the same or better condition than it was before they started digging. A large heavy shovel will not only be a pain to carry but it will also prevent you from digging neat, tiny plugs. Large shovels are simply unnecessary and frankly they look quite intimidating to homeowners and other people. They might even prevent you or others from obtaining permission to detect sites as well. When a homeowner sees a large shovel they naturally assume that you will be digging huge holes in their yard and no one usually wants that. It's a sure fire way to get shot down or lose a permission all together. When detecting I use a shovel that I purchased from Predator Tools. I absolutely love it. It's a great digging tool with sharp sides that easily cut through roots. Grave Digger Tools also carry quality shovels. When out detecting, I also carry a handheld lesche digging tool with me as well. It attaches right to my belt and I use it quite often. It's ideal for getting around roots and into tight areas. If detecting on the beach you'll probably want to have a sand scoop as opposed to a shovel.
Headphones in my opinion are a must. I prefer wireless over wired. Headphones allow you to better hear the tones especially very faint signals. They also keep you from disturbing other people with the sound of constant beeping. I don't know if it's true but I have also heard that your batteries last longer when you are using headphones as opposed to not using any.
A pinpointer will make recovering targets much easier. It allows you to hone in on the exact location of a target. With a quality pinpointer you will be able to recover targets much more efficiently. There's been a few times when I have forgotten to pack my pinpointer and I always kick myself for it. Of course it's possible to locate targets without a pinpointer, but it always seems to take longer.
I always wear a pair of gloves when I go out detecting. Detecting without gloves is foolish really. You don't know what's in the hole. A piece of broken glass or a sharp rusty nail could ruin your day. You just don't know what kind of nasty stuff you'll encounter when digging in the dirt. Gloves simply protect your hands. You'll want to find a pair that is both durable and comfortable.
Finds pouches and finds cases come in handy. When out detecting, you will need something to hold all the trash and treasure you find. Finds pouches that attach to a utility belt are quite popular. Another option is a bag with a long strap. Find cases are ideal for storing coins, buttons, and small sized items you find while you are out detecting.
Don't forget to pack extra batteries and or your detector's charging cords. There's nothing worse than having to pack up early and call it a day. If your detector runs out of juice you can just switch out the batteries or give it a quick charge in your vehicle.
Knee pads provide you with extra comfort when kneeling down on the ground to retrieve a target or at least that's what I've been told. I don't use them personally but then again I also don't usually kneel down on the ground either when recovering targets. I tend to squat down instead. You should probably invest in a pair of knee pads if they make you feel more comfortable.
I would also recommend you bring along your cell phone, extra search coils, bug spray, sunscreen, a hat, a flashlight, raincoat, warm jacket, old toothbrush, a first aid kit, and food and water. Now I know that this sounds like a lot. You don't have to carry it all with you but it's valuable to have in your vehicle. The weather is sometimes unpredictable. You never know when you might need a band-aid. Digging around in the dirt sometimes can be hazardous to your skin. It's just always better to be prepared. Happy Hunting!