So, you’re looking for a gift for that rock lover in your life but aren’t sure what to get them. You might be thinking that rock and mineral collecting is just walking around looking for pretty rocks – what could they possibly need to help with that? Or maybe they’ve been actively rockhounding for years and have all the equipment they think they need. As someone who has done a lot of collecting and work in the field, I can tell you that there are quite a few items that the avid rock collector in your life will absolutely appreciate as a gift.
Every one of these gift ideas is something that will enhance the quality of life for a rockhound either in the field or at home. I can virtually guarantee that you’ll find something on this list that they don’t already own, and at a variety of price points to suit your budget. Here are the best 11 unique and practical gifts for rock collectors:
Collecting Belt Pouch
The rock collector in your life will absolutely love having this waterproof leather and canvas collecting pouch found on Amazon. The pouch easily attaches to a belt and folds up into a compact bundle when not in use. When it’s time to start collecting, you can just dump anything you find in there for safekeeping. The bag is durable and large enough for a long day of collecting. The best thing about using a bag like this is that it keeps both of your hands free since you’re not lugging a bucket around. Plus you don’t have to keep going back and forth to where you left your bucket since your pouch is always with you.
This collecting pouch is a practical and attractive gift that any rockhound will be happy to use on their expeditions for years to come. One of the most common problems rock collectors run into in the field is how to easily store all the specimens they find. The solution I most commonly see is a large plastic bucket being lugged out to the location, into which all the ‘keeper’ rocks are thrown. Speaking from experience, this process is cumbersome and can become painful if the bucket gets too heavy.
Rock Hammer Sheath
If the rockhound you’re buying for has been seriously collecting for any length of time, chances are they already have a quality rock hammer (which is why I haven’t included one in this list). If not, then I’d highly recommend getting them this Estwing Rock Pick off of Amazon, which is by far the most popular for geologists. But I’ve seen plenty of rockhounds carrying around their rock hammers in a backpack or just crudely shoved into their belts, which is why this rock hammer sheath (link to Amazon) makes such a great gift.
This sheath fits all of the most popular Estwing rock hammers, so there is a really good chance that it will be perfect for the person you’re buying for. To be sure, try to get a look at their rock hammer and make sure it will work. If you aren’t sure what kind of rock hammer they have you can also go with this more versatile leather hammer holster from Amazon which will hold just about any brand or style of hammer. Your rock lover will appreciate this gift every time they go to easily access their most versatile and commonly used tool.
This one may come as a surprise, but a quality UV flashlight (link to Amazon) can take a rock and mineral collector’s game to the next level. It’s something that many collectors don’t even think about, but using one can be a lot of fun and makes the identification of many minerals exponentially easier in the field. They are even more fun to use when it gets dark outside, so you could be greatly expanding the hours during which your special someone gets to enjoy their favorite hobby.
This handheld Rechargeable UV Flashlight from Amazon is perfect for rockhounds. Without getting too technical, it operates at an ideal wavelength that makes mineral identification fun and easy. Plus, it’s high-intensity, durable, and rechargeable, making it an ideal fit for the field. At only 5.3 ounces, it’s not too large or heavy to be a burden in a backpack, so it can be taken along on every trip without a second thought.
Whether or not this gift is right for you (or the person you’re buying for) will largely depend on the type of rock collecting they do. If they’re the type to go wandering into the mountains to hammer on rocky outcrops then this likely isn’t for them. However, many rock collectors just like to stroll along beaches and riverbeds looking for interesting finds. If that sounds like the rockhound you know then this sand dipper from Amazon is the perfect gift to get them.
A sand dipper makes such a great gift because it’s an extremely practical tool in the field. It allows you to reach into the water to grab rocks without getting your feet wet and saves your back because you’re not bending over dozens of times a day picking up interesting specimens. It’s retractable and lightweight, so you can pack it away in a backpack with ease. It also comes with a walking tip, letting you use it as a walking stick when you’re not using it to scoop up rocks. One of the things I like best about it is that once you get a specimen into the wire basket, you can rinse all of the sand and dirt off before adding it to your collection.
Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals
Believe it or not, even experienced geologists and rock collectors are often stumped when it comes to identifying the specimens they find in the field. It’s fairly common to find something pretty or interesting and decide to add it to your collection without even knowing exactly what it is! That’s where a great resource like the Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals can save the day.
This book will come in handy for most rock and mineral collectors at some point. Most of the book focuses on mineral identification, but includes many rocks as well. It’s small enough to pack into a backpack for ease of reference in the field – I would probably recommend the vinyl cover over the paperback for durability, but that’s up to you. Chances are that this book will be very useful not only for your rockhound’s future finds but some of their old specimens that have stumped them for years.
Handheld GPS Unit
Without a doubt, one of the most useful tools a rock and mineral collector has at their disposal is a quality GPS unit like this handheld Garmin Montana 680t GPS found on Amazon. They can be a little pricey, which is why we often just try to make do with a cell phone or a map and compass. That’s also why they can make for such an amazing gift! A nice handheld GPS unit is something that almost every rockhound wants but few of us actually purchase for ourselves.
A nice GPS unit like this makes planning a trip much easier, enabling us to mark coordinates ahead of time and plan routes to access areas of interest. Rock and mineral collecting often takes us into areas with spotty or no cell phone coverage, so the satellite coverage can be a literal lifesaver. It comes packed with preloaded maps, tells you your elevation, and keeps track of where you’ve been. What I like about the Garmin Montana 680t GPS, in particular, is that it also has a camera function, so when you find a nice specimen you can take a photo of it and the GPS unit will automatically record the location it was taken. This way you’ll never be wondering where exactly a particular specimen came from – you’ll have a digital record of everything you’ve found and where.
Chisel with Hand Guard
A nice chisel is a perfect complement to a rock hammer but few of the amateur geologists I know actually own one, making it a perfect gift opportunity. A purpose-made chisel with a hand guard (link to Amazon) is a great tool for any field geologist because it makes breaking apart large rocks much easier than it would be by just pounding them with a rock hammer. It also allows for more precise cuts and doesn’t damage the pick on your rock hammer.
What sets this chisel apart to make it perfect for rock collectors is the hand guard. It would be pretty awful to hit your hand with a rock hammer while you’re in the middle of nowhere, so this high level of protection makes the chisel both practical and safe. Plus, it’s only a foot long so it’s not too large or to bring with you into the field. As an added bonus, it’s bright orange so if you have to set it down somewhere it’s harder to lose. If you go this route for your gift you may also want to consider some quality eye protection (link to Amazon) to fend off all the flying shards of rock.
Mohs Hardness Scale Testing Kit
This Mohs Hardness Scale Testing Kit found on Amazon is definitely more of a luxury item for rock and mineral collectors, but one that they’d surely love to have. If you’re not familiar with mineral identification, the hardness of a mineral is one of the primary attributes we look at to help figure out what something is. Usually, we end up trying to scratch our minerals with things like steel or our fingernails to gauge what its hardness is. This kit provides easy-to-use tools for every number along the Mohs hardness scale.
This kit makes for a perfect gift because it’s very complete and comes in a nice, compact case. I could bring it with me into the field or leave it on my desk at home and it would be at home in either place. Some other similar kits don’t come with as many tips and aren’t as complete. This kit will provide a good hardness test for any rock or mineral your rock collector is likely to run across during their hobby. I’m sure they will appreciate not having to scour their house or backpack looking for a suitable material with which to test that specimen they are wondering about.
Rock Tumbling Grit Refills
Most rock collectors have, at one point or another, acquired a rock tumbler to polish some of their specimens (which is why I haven’t included a rock tumbler in this list). If the rockhound you’re buying for doesn’t have one already I’m sure they would appreciate the National Geographic Pro Rock Tumbler (link to Amazon) which is what I personally use and recommend. However, it’s pretty common for rock tumblers to wind up collecting dust – not because they aren’t fun to use but because you run out of rock tumbling grit and polish. This stuff is a little pricey when buying it for yourself, but is absolutely necessary for the rock tumbling process.
It should be noted that the polish that comes with the Nat Geo Tumbler I linked above is notoriously poor quality, so if you do purchase that tumbler I would highly recommend also buying some proper polish. This rock tumbling grit and polish (link to Amazon) is of the highest quality and will keep your rock enthusiast’s tumbler running for many, many months. Quality polished rocks are a sight to behold for just about anyone but are especially rewarding for rock collectors who find their own specimens.
Tip: Check out my article on how to get great rock tumbling results every time!
Waterproof Field Notebook & Pouch
It may come as a surprise to some, but taking good notes is an important part of the rock and mineral collecting process for many rockhounds. A good waterproof field notebook (link to Amazon) specifically designed for this sort of work makes life a lot easier, especially if the weather turns bad. A normal notebook just won’t due long-term. They get soggy, smear, tear, and are too cumbersome to carry around. I first learned about these waterproof field books in my Structural Geology class and have used them in the field ever since.
What I really like about the Rite-In-The-Rain Field Notebook is that you can get it with a handy belt pouch that will hold the notebook and your pencils. It’s a pain to have to go digging in your backpack every time you need to write something down or check your notes, and the notebooks (while relatively small) are often too big for pants pockets. The belt pouch is a really attractive addition to that will set this gift apart.
Osprey Hiking Backpack
The Osprey Stratos 24 Hiking Backpack (link to Amazon) is one piece of equipment that I can’t recommend enough. If the rock collector you’re buying for has an old backpack or uses one that isn’t specifically designed for hiking then this is the one item on my list I would suggest as a gift the most. It’s the perfect size for a day hike and can comfortably hold all of my equipment without being bulky. It sits away from your back so you don’t get too sweaty, and rides so easily on my hips and shoulders that I can carry it all day without issue.
This backpack comes equipped with all sorts of features like a waterproof fly and storage for a 3L water reservoir (link to Amazon). Honestly, I love everything about this backpack and wrote all about it here in my recommended gear section. Having used it for rockhounding trips, my geology field camp, and even hiking up Mout Kilimanjaro, I can safely say that anyone you buy this backpack for will love you for it. It has lasted me over 10 years so far and is the foundation of my rockhounding and hiking kit.