The gear that you carry with you while you are out detecting is a very important consideration. Metal detecting for gold can be hard work, and having the right gear with you can help make it more enjoyable as well as productive. On the other hand, you want to consider what all you are carrying with you, so that you are traveling as light as possible.
Efficiency is the name of the game; you want to carry everything you need to have a safe and productive day out in the field, while not overloading yourself with unnecessary “stuff.”
You should absolutely carry some extra batteries with you. Batteries can be fickle, and you never know when one will run out of energy or stop working completely. The last thing you want to do is hike all the way back to your vehicle just for a simple battery. Carry enough to easily get you through a day of detecting.
Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions that you are in. I always recommend long sleeved shirts and pants that will protect you from the sun and the elements. A good hat that covers your face and neck from the sun is always a good idea. Also carry a small fold-up emergency poncho with you, just in case you happen to get caught up in a rain storm. I also like to carry a trash bag that I can throw over my detector as well, to protect the electronics from the rain if an unexpected rainstorm hits.
A good quality pair of non-metallic boots is really nice to have. If you are using a VLF detector you don’t necessarily need them, but they are still nice to prevent false signals. If you are using a PI detector with a medium/large coil, then they are almost a must-have, since your detector will hear the small metal parts on standard pair of boots. There are quite a few different models to choose from, but the best ones are the good ones made for the military. The ones I wear are made by a company called Bates. They will endure several seasons of hard use.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray
This is really a no-brainer. Summertime in the goldfields is hot and dusty. Make sure you’re protected with sunscreen. The same goes for bug spray. It’s hard to concentrate on metal detecting when mosquitoes are munching on you.
Food and Water
Another no-brainer is that you need plenty of food and water to get through the day. It is also smart to carry a little extra just in case you get in a tough spot and have to spend a longer day away from camp then you expected. The best food to carry is small, high energy items like energy bars, nuts, jerky, etc. Make sure you have LOTS of water.
Unfortunately water is very heavy, but it is the most important thing to have. If you are in an area that has flowing streams, you might be able to carry less water and use a water purifier instead to replenish your supply throughout the day.
Of course you need a good way to carry all of your gear with you throughout the day, so a good backpack is necessary. The ideal backpack is up to personal preference; just make sure that it is big enough to carry everything you need.
Assuming you are going to be some distance away from your vehicle, you definitely want some way to keep track of your location. Most people today seem to prefer a GPS unit. A simple paper map will also work just fine, assuming you have an understanding of how to read it.
There are also new apps that can be used that will allow you to use your smartphone like a GPS, even if you are outside of cell coverage. The one I use is called GAIA GPS, it gives you access to quality 1:24,000 scale maps right on your phone.