Ultimate Guide to Rock Hounding Shovels

  • Time to read: 7 min.

Rockhounding is a fun and exciting activity that can keep you busy for hours. Whether you’re looking for rocks to add to your collection or use in your landscaping, having an excellent rock-hounding shovel makes all the difference.

What Is The Ideal Size Of A Rock Hounding Shovel?

You’ll want to choose a comfortable shovel for you; however, the shovel needs to be the right size for the rocks you’re looking to explore. A small shovel might be all you need if you’re starting, but if you’re looking for larger rocks, you’ll need a big enough shovel to handle them.

What Type of Shovel Is Best For Rock Hounding?

There are many different types of shovels on the market, but not all are ideal for rock hounding. For example, a garden shovel might be too small and flimsy to withstand the rigors of rock hunting. Instead, look for a shovel designed explicitly for rock hounding or prospecting. These shovels are built to last and can handle the challenging terrain required to find rocks.

Look for a shovel with a wide, flat blade, as this will make it easier to sift through dirt and sand. For durability, choose a shovel made from high-quality steel or aluminum. In addition, a shovel with a comfortable, ergonomic handle will help you avoid fatigue when digging for rocks.

Shovels that fold are suitable for easy storage but may not be as durable. Foldable shovels can be as simple as a shovel head that folds down to a multitool, much like a swiss army knife. A foldable shovel not only can be used when rock hounding it can also be placed in your vehicle for emergencies or used when hiking and camping.

Then you have what is known as a mini shovel. A mini shovel is what it says; it is a shovel that is smaller in size. These shovels are suitable for light digging jobs. In contrast, a round pointed shovel is ideal for softer soil exploration.

The serrated edge shovel can help you cut through roots and tough soil. You can purchase a serrated shovel, or you may also find a serrated edge on a folding shovel. Many hounders use a serrated garden trowel for fine intricate work around the gem.

Folding shovels are a speciality within themselves and our guide Best Survival Shovels will help you to navigate the best folding shovel for your needs.

Is An Adze Better Than A Shovel For Rock-Hounding?

Rock hounds often ask if an adze is better than a shovel; the answer is an adze is not really better than a shovel, but it can break up the ground quicker.

An adze is a tool with a curved blade, and you can use an adze for rock-hounding, but it is not as effective as a shovel. An adze will allow you to dig deeper and loosen the soil more effectively; however, a shovel is the better choice if you plan on doing serious rock-hounding.

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What Are The Best Brands Of Rock Hounding Shovels?

There are a few different brands that make tools specifically for rock hounding. Some of the most popular brands include Garrett, Lesche, and Estwing. Each of these brands offers a variety you can choose but no matter what brand of shovel you select, get a durable one and up for the task.

The Best Kind Of Metal In A Rock Hounding Shovel

The kind of metal used in its construction is essential for shovels. For rock hounding shovels, you want a shovel made of durable steel.

Shovels made of aluminum might be lighter, but they’re not as tough as those made of steel. When dealing with rocks, you need a shovel that can stand up to the task, so steel is better than aluminum. So when you’re shopping for rock hounding shovels, be sure to choose one made of durable steel.

The type of handle you get on your shovel is also an aspect to consider when buying your shovel. For rock hounding, you want a shovel with a D-handle.

The D-handle provides a more comfortable grip and gives you more leverage when digging. It’s the ideal choice for anyone who plans to do a lot of rock hunting. A D handle is available for most lengths of shovels.

What Is The Ideal Size Of A Rock Hounding Shovel?

The distance to the location you will be digging will determine shovel size, as you need to carry the shovel to that spot. So if you are hiking a long distance, a collapsible shovel might be best, so it doesn’t weigh you down, but if you have a vehicle close by, then a regular shovel will do just fine.

Plastic Or Metal Shovel For Rock Hounding?

Plastic vs. a metal shovel will depend on the terrain you are rock hounding. In sandy soil, the plastic shovel may suffice. However, a metal shovel is your best bet to cover all the bases, whether sandy, clay, rocky or wet substrate.

No matter the terrain the shovel you choose needs to be comfortable for you, and the right size for the rocks you are looking for is the goal. Click to learn more information on Plastic Vs Metal Shovels

15 Rock Hounding Tips

Now that you have the perfect shovel, it’s time to start rock hunting! Here are a few tips and techniques to help you get started:

  • When rock hunting, be sure to bring along a brush and water. These will come in handy for cleaning your rocks once you’ve found them. The water will also clear the area you are digging in for you to find the perfect angle to get out your gem.
  • Use the back of the shovel to push the dirt back once you have removed the rock.
  • To avoid damaging your rocks, be careful when digging them out. First, loosen the soil around the rock, then gently lift it out of the ground.
  • Bring along a bucket or bag to store your rocks in as you find them.
  • Wear gloves when digging for rocks to avoid getting cuts or scrapes and drying out your hands.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and respect private property rights. Do not dig on someone else’s land without their permission.
  • When driving to a rock-hounding spot, be sure to park in a safe location and obey all traffic laws.
  • Carry your shovel on your pack when you go on a hike so that you readily have the tools you need available when you find your prize.
  • Research and plan your rock-hunting trips to educate yourself on the terrain, equipment needed, and what you will find and where.
  • Bring a map of the area to help you navigate your way around.
  • Pack a lunch and plenty of water to stay hydrated during your trip.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are appropriate for the terrain. Wearing layers will allow you to stay warm or cool as the sun comes out.
  • Be sure to tell someone else where you’re going before heading out on your trip and when you will be back.
  • When digging, debris falls or flies, so bring eye protection and a first aid kit.
  • Wear an orange vest if you will be rock hunting in an area where there is hunting so that you are visible.
  • If you are using a multi-folding shovel, utilize all aspects of the shovel to help you, e.g., the pick and the angle of the shovel head.

The importance of a good shovel for rock-hounding cannot be understated. You’ll be ready to tackle any rock-hunting adventure with the right shovel. With these factors in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best shovels for rock hounding.


Best Overall Shovel

This shovel is perfect for anyone who wants an all-purpose tool for rock hunting, gardening, and more. The blade is made from high-quality steel and is ideal for dirt and sand.


Best Budget Shovel

This serrated shovel is an excellent option for anyone on a budget. The blade is made from high-quality steel and is ideal for penetrating dirt and sand. The handle is ergonomically designed for comfort.


Best Splurge Shovel

This shovel is perfect for anyone who wants the best of the best. The blade is made from high-quality steel and easily pentrates compacted soil, roots, rocks, sand. The handle is also made from steel and is rubberized for comfort.

This shovel weighs 12 lbs., which is heavier than a standard sharp shooter which weighs around 3 lbs. So carrying in long distances or using for an extended time does require strength.

Tips To Care For Your Rock-hounding Shovel

  • Store your shovel in a dry place to prevent the shovel from rusting.
  • Clean your shovel after each use removing any dirt or debris that could cause the shovel to break down over time.
  • Sharpen your shovel regularly, and it will always be ready to use.
  • Inspect your shovel before each use to ensure that no cracks or damage could cause the shovel to break during use.

Final Thoughts

No matter what type of shovel you choose, rock hunting is a fun and rewarding hobby. You’re sure to find some fantastic rocks and minerals with patience and perseverance.

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