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I recommend anyone that is into the hobby of nugget hunting and gold prospecting to get a good handheld GPS unit. They are fun and useful tools and they are also an important part of field safety. Most serious gold prospectors at some point move beyond the club claims and start researching placer locations, old lode mines and other records either for making their own claims or just to find a new spot to placer. Oftentimes, the records will direct the researcher to GPS coordinates associated with the record. Of course, following a map can get you close but the coordinates put you right on top to the dig location in many cases. For this purpose, a handheld GPS unit is required.

I chose the Garmin Etrex Legend because of price and features. You can usually get one on the internet for under $150 if you shop around and refurbished units will go for under $120. Basic maps are included but fairly detailed topo maps can be downloaded to the units for an additional cost. The Garmin can hold up to 500 waypoints which can either be pre-loaded from home or marked on the fly while in the field. It's the perfect tool to get you there, get you home and have all your patches and spots marked when you get home.

Handheld Garmin GPS units for under $150 and refurbs for under $120.

Used Garmin Etrex Legends can be had for significantly lower!

I love my Garmin Etrex Legend handheld GPS unit. There are so many things that it can do to assist me in the field. For example, if I am researching a particular area, I can load the coordinates to the mines I am interested in and mark waypoints that will help me reach my destination before I even start the truck. Once there, the Garmin will track my movements and guide me to any spots I wish to go to. I can mark where I parked so I don't get lost. Mark my patches when I find nuggets. Once I return home, I can the upload my new routes and waypoints into my topo program and have a complete log of my journey.


Whatever hand held GPS unit you choose to get for your outdoor activities, make sure that you can input coordinates manually. Some units only enable you to mark your current location and while that is nice for marking the coordinates where nuggets are found, it will do you little or no good if you are trying to find an old mine location or an area that you have scoped out on the map prior to your trip.