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Pining for a panning kit?
Panting for gold pans?
Lighten up with a little pan humor as a good mood will put you into a prospecting mood.
As I take you through the list of pans you may need, think about if you can carry all your gear from your car miles downstream to a possible placer deposit.
Think about how you are going to store the nuggets or even the gold flecks that you will find.
Before you hit the road, make sure you have the right gear, or you’ll be leaving your tailings behind for someone else to find. Now that’s a good reason to be in pouty, panty mood.
Have a panning party attitude and get gold panning for more gold with less pouting.
Best Gold Panning Kits In 2020
In the great Wild West, if it wasn’t oil you were looking for, it was gold.
We’ve all seen the old Westerns with an old guy crouched over a creek with a pan in hand.
He either made his dreams come true, died after finding it without being able to tell a soul, or was simply never heard from again.
We certainly don’t want to be in the latter categories, and fortunately, we’re not limited to the old-school gold pans of the lawless days of the West.
Nowadays, we have plastic and steel, big and small, and cheap and expensive. So many factors to consider. Back then, they just threw a steel pan into the campfire and called it good enough for gold panning. They were successful too.
Let’s learn a little more about them before we start bringing old traditions back. You may find they’re lighter to carry, just as efficient, and you don’t have to have the color of burnt, black, and rusted steel, unless you want to of course.
Here is your lineup of the good, affordable, brightly colored, and expensive gold panning kits you may want to consider.
Best Gold Panning Kit Reviews
1. Best Overall: Gold Rush Nugget Bucket Review
- As seen on ABC's Shark Tank. Deal made with Robert Herjavec.
The Nugget Bucket may be famous because it was featured on Shark Tank, but prospectors are finding that it should be famous because it works!
✔️ Patented funnel
✔️ High-quality plastic
✔️ Made in the USA
✔️ Recommended by GPAA
Really, for everything you get in the Nugget Bucket, it’s worth the price. It’s only a drawback if you can’t spend this much the first time around. But, with all its advantages, you can see why it’s a brilliant, mini mining system of its own.
The Gold Rush Nugget Bucket is made in the USA and is recommended by the Gold Prospectors Association of America as suitable for all ages. It comes with a ton of accessories where everything fits into the bucket and weighs a total of 7 lbs.
How does it work? A concentrate bowl sits at the bottom of the bucket beneath a patented funnel that collects the slurry that comes through large and small screens. Set the system up, dump in your paydirt and pour in the water. Once this is complete and gravity has done its job, check the filters for any large and small nuggets. Then use the slurry with the gold pan to produce your tailings.
A shovel, sniffer bottle, vial, tweezers, and a magnet are also included with the kit. This design is excellent for beginners and kids and for those who’d rather leave the sluice box at home. If you want a pink gold panning kit, they have that too!
2. Best Gold Panning Kit on a Budget: Sluice Fox 2 Prospecting Mining Kit Review
- 2 Dual Riffle Gold Pans and Snifter Bottle
To spend as little as possible will mean a compromise somewhere. In this case, there may be a couple extra things you’ll need, but you’ll have the must-have essentials provided in the Sluice Fox panning kit.
✔️ 2x pans
✔️ 12” size
❌ Not complete kit
The Sluice Fox 2 Prospecting Mining Kit consists of two 12” gold pans. The dual riffled pans have finer and wider riffles on each side to help keep gold where you need it – in your pan.
Like others in this price range, the pans are made from high impact plastic and are green in color – two distinct features needed for fast gold identification and easy, lightweight use.
The downer is that you’re only getting one sniffer bottle in the buy for collecting gold. You’ll still need gold vials, a sifter/classifier, tweezers, and other essentials you may deem necessary. However, these are things you can likely find around the house.
For an affordable price point, you’re getting what you need most – the pans. With a good 12” size, you’ll still have a good amount of paydirt to pan. With the weight reduction savings, you can justify making it up with snacks and a chair.
3. Garrett Gravity Trap Gold Panning Kit Review
The name says it all – Gravity Trap. Just like how gravity pulls down gold when it’s traveling downstream, the Garret Gold Panning Kit promises to pull down and trap those little nuggets. If you’re lucky, they may not be little at all.
✔️ Complete kit
✔️ Rigid plastic
❌ Larger holes on classifier
The Gravity Trap Kit is an excellent, all-round kit for the novice prospector. Advanced users will find this kit more than doable, but they may add classifiers of their own. They could easily replace the included tweezers and the plastic bottles for glass ones.
But, for the beginner prospector, it has everything they need to get panning. It comes with a 14” gold trap pan, 14” classifier, 10” backpacker pan, gold guzzler (sniffer) bottle, 2x plastic vials, 2-in-1 tweezer and magnifier tool, and a How to Find Gold Field Guide booklet.
The classifier also fits onto a 5-gallon bucket for those who are wondering and who may be doing a little extra refining for concentrating gold. However, the holes are said to be about 7/16”, so they’re on the larger side.
The pans, minus the classifier, have a 90-degree riffled design to keep gold in your pan while you’re sloshing out the gravel. It’s easy to use, you could probably use a sluice pan too, but as-is, it’s affordable and super appropriate for the job.
4. Minelab Pro-Gold Gold Panning Kit Review
- Includes: 2 Pans, Classifier, Bag, Magnet, Magnifier, Suction Bottle, Pipette, & Vials
It’s nice to see a change from the green with the Minelab Premium Gold Panning Kit. Tested by experts in gold territories of Australia and the USA, the Minelab kit proves its grit.
✔️ High-contrast blue
✔️ Dual riffled pans
✔️ Compact nested design
✔️ Carry bag & accessories
✔️ Lightweight polypropylene
❌ Bag could be a little larger
Minelab – a brand for serious hobbyists and professionals. The same can be said about their accessories that includes their gold panning kits.
The PRO-GOLD kit consists of a 15” dual-riffle with a flat wall pan, 10” single riffle pan, hex-mesh classifier with two handles, and a convertible carry bag with drawstrings that can be used as a backpack. The smaller accessories include an iron magnet, 2-in-1 3x and 5x magnifier, sniffer bottle, pipette, and micro-gold storage vials.
It’s a complete kit that gets you panning immediately with the expert-grade quality expected from the brand. The polypropylene is UV-resistant and the pans float. You won’t be losing your gold or your gear any time soon.
5. SE Prospector’s Choice Gold Panning Kit Review
- Glass vials: 1-3/4” length (5.9 mL), 2-3/16” (8.8 mL)
It’s been tried and tested and the SE Gold Panning Kit comes in to be a hit seller. Why? Price, quality, and value.
✔️ Patented mesh sifter
✔️ 2x pans
❌ Poor quality in small accessories
Right off the bat, the two gold pans and the classifier are absolutely worth the price. While it does come with an included sniffer bottle, vials, and tweezers, they likely won’t hold up to the use you’ll be putting them through. Buy some inexpensive replacements if needed.
Back to the pans – you have a 10” size and 14” size with both in green. Easy gold identification, plastic construction for durability, and dual riffling to catch and trap gold. I must point out that there is a small flat wall too for those who find they need it to better separate or remove minerals and gold.
The classifier has a patented ½” mesh design, does its job well, and fits onto a 5-gallon bucket. Even though it’s made in China, buyers have been pleased with the rigid plastic and high-quality performance. It’s not unheard of to hear of users loading up rocks in their classifier and it holds up just fine. Sounds like a hardcore test run where the SE panning kit passed with flying colors.
6. StanSport Mining Kit Review
- Includes 10.5" gold pan, 14" gold pan, 2 gold vials (1 oz. and 1/2 oz.), precision tweezers with magnifier
Every kit is a little unique in its own way, and the StanSport Mining Kit shows how different it is with its included accessories.
✔️ Tools included
✔️ For novices
This Mining Kit is an affordable way to get everything in one package. You have a 14” and 10.5” black plastic pans and a 3/8” mesh classifier to get started with. A sniffer bottle, magnifier with tweezers, and two different sized vials are included.
But, there are two other items that are not always seen in a starter gold panning kit – the hand trowel and the pick. You must be aware that the Deluxe + Pick package will have the pick included in the buy.
The caveat to gaining all this gear for the price is the entry-level quality. It’s good for families, kids, and true novices. You’ll learn the ropes required for panning, but you’ll find the build quality to be basic.
However, to get started when you have nothing to start with, the StanSport Mining Kit will provide the way.
7. Estwing 16” Steel Gold Pan Review
It’s harder and harder to find steel gold pans as plastic has taken over the market for its anti-corrosion and lightweight benefits. Still, for the enthusiasts looking for that gold-rush authenticity, you may have found your pan here.
✔️ 16 gauge
✔️ 16” size
✔️ Lanyard hole
✔️ Wall creasing
You tell me if you think 28 ounces is light or heavy? It is just one item, so it may be lightweight by itself, but when you’re toting all your other gear, you may find the almost 2 lb pan to be on the heavy side. Never mind the weight, it’s steel, and it’s what you want.
The pan has a large 16” diameter – great for panning larger loads for more experienced handlers. It has a hole in the edge for attaching a lanyard for hooking to a backpack for easy transportation. The pan also features wall creasing that simulates the effect of riffled walls in a plastic pan.
The pan is made in the USA and it comes with an oil protectant that’s supposed to provide rust-resistant benefits. Many don’t like it and end up removing it to treat the pan themselves. In the old days, prospectors blackened it in a campfire. These days, we use a propane stove or oven.
What to Look for in a Gold Panning Kit
If you buy a kit specifically for gold panning, you really can’t go wrong. There’s not much to picking the right one, but here are some things to know before you buy.
Start with a Kit
Gold pans and all the individual components are available separately, but this is only necessary if you’re putting together a custom kit based on your expertise and how you will be panning.
For most people, especially beginners, a ready-to-go kit is the best buy. They each come with a few different accessories depending on your needs and can range in price from $15 to well over $100.
Try to choose a kit that matches your skill level. Buying a professional gold panning kit is not only expensive but it may be challenging to use if you’re a beginner. Most of the time, a beginner’s kit will work fine and will last plenty long enough to be passed onto someone else when you have outgrown it.
Choose Your Color
Most gold panning kits will be black, green, and blue in color. They’re easier to see gold flecks against black sand, rocks, debris, through murky water, and against the pan itself. That’s the whole idea behind these colored pans – high contrast and visibility.
Plastic VS Metal
Technically speaking, it really doesn’t matter what material you choose. What does matter is how convenient you want your pan to be and if you want to use a magnet.
High impact plastic is all the rage. It’s durable, lightweight, rust-resistant, and is easier to use a magnet with to separate the black sand from gold flecks and dust.
Metal, both copper and steel, are more traditional materials that have proven themselves as timeless tools for the gold panning trade. However, steel is heavier, it rusts, and you need to take that extra step in seasoning it. Copper is more expensive and is rarely used in amateur detecting.
Design & Size
Gold panning kits will likely come with different sized pans with 10” in diameter being a standard size for beginners. Many prospectors will find that 14” pans work appropriately for gold panning, but they can also come in large sizes of 17” and as small as 8”.
The larger size means processing more gravel in any given panning session or a day, but it’s also more tiresome to use and transport. Smaller pans process less gravel but are easier to use and transport.
When it comes to pan design, the most common is the drop bottom. They’re deep and allow for trapping and processing gold faster and easier. Other shapes may have the same advantage, but since there are many different shapes and designs, it’s a matter of user preference.
What is the Best Place to Pan for Gold?
If you know of some gold bearing places, you’ll want to look for black sands, where flowing water meets an obstruction, the inside curves of a river, or any obvious area where water slows down and gravity allows gold to settle like sandbars, around boulders, logs and debris, and below waterfalls.
These are some placer deposit markers to be aware of and where to dip your pan.
If you’re looking for specific locations in the United States, here are some popular sites that you can research further.
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Pile’s Creek, Colorado
- Feather River, California
- American River, California
Always do your research on the area not just for improving success rates, but to be aware of the legalities of gold claim laws.
How do You Use a Gold Panning Kit?
- Use your gold pan, or better yet, a small shovel to scoop a good portion of riverbed into your pan. Shake and swirl to help sift gold dust, flakes, and nuggets to the bottom of the pan while all other types of debris come to the surface.
- On a very forgiving angle, allow the current to remove the first layer of debris away. Continue this process being conservative to ensure you’re not losing gold.
- Once you have what looks to be sand left in your pan, retrieve your tailings. This is the process where you shift the water to one side of the pan while you tap, tap, tap the other side. Gold will move to the side of the pan that’s being tapped while sand will move in the direction of the water. This naturally separates the two materials so that you can collect the gold and transfer it to a vial.
- Tweezers or a sniffer bottle will work. If you’re especially efficient, you’ll be able to adequately separate black sand with a magnet or a special screen to then pour the gold into a vial.
What Color Gold Pan is Best?
Green is a the most common color, but black and blue are also effective colors that allows for high contrast when panning gold.
There are other colors such as red, yellow, and even hot pink. Not sure what to say about those colors, but if you can easily see gold while sporting a pink pan, more power to you.
Have you got the Fever?
The gold rush fever? You should by now as it’s contagious. Just reading about the many gold pans in the market should have you hot and bothered and ready to get out.
Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work out the first time. It’s takes practice and a good hand to handle a good pan. Bit of a tongue twister there, eh? Try saying that 10 times fast.
If you’re hunting for gold and you want to make the most of your prospecting efforts, you’ll need a pan to get it done. Don’t forget a small stool or chair for comfort. You’ll last longer out on the banks if your tush agrees with the long hours ahead.
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Last update on 2020-10-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API