Geological hammers. We see them as the poster tool for paleontologists and geologists alike and for good reason. They're an essential piece of equipment.
But what is the best geological hammer to buy? Well, I'll show you in this post, exploring various types of hammer for different uses across all budgets, so let's begin...
Budget-friendly geological hammers
Purse strings are tight for all of us right now, plus many who are reading this may just be starting out in paleontology and want to dip their toes in with a smaller investment. However, it certainly doesn't mean you have to compromise on the bare essential standards.
Upper Midland Geology set
This one has gone on my list simply for its amazing value. Ok, it is the same price of some of the more expensive geological hammer options on the list, but for that price you get a rock pick hammer made from sturdy stainless steel with a comfy handle. Plus, a small, medium and large rock chisel for when you can't quite un-wedge something and the pick just won't do.
On top of that, the set includes a small hand lens with a light (you don't see many of those around) for observing small details in the field and a handy canvas bag to keep it all in. Of course, this set is one for beginners, with the geological hammer being lightweight and the tools being basic, but for this price you really can't go wrong for what you get for your money!
Efficere is a brand that has made a name for itself as a general tool business for affordable prices, so they don't necessarily specialise in geological equipment. However, one thing you may find a lot when shopping around is the same kind of geological hammer, which is called a 'masonry hammer' or 'brick hammer'. Obviously, these are meant for trades people working with bricks, but can you use a brick hammer as a rock hammer? Well, trust me, they are the exact same tool. Bricks are, after all, just manufactured cuboidal rocks and this thing can break them just as well! Weighing 22oz, this geology hammer is made completely from steel, except the anti-slip rubber handle.
The balance and shock absorption is good enough for the price, however, this is probably one for those who are starting out in paleontology or aren't out for as long/often. The hammer isn't necessarily built with the weight/length ratio and shock absorption to stop your arms from tiring out after using it all day, every day for a whole week. But again, if you are a beginner or not out as often, the price is a snatch for a mid-long term geology tool.
Geological Exploration geology hammers are ones you'll likely see the most of on Amazon at this price range, from a variety of suppliers. Made from a stainless steel alloy, this one-piece steel hammer comes complete a decent weight/length ratio, with good enough impact for minimal effort at 31oz. The handle is anti-slip and shock absorbent, but I wouldn't say it was the best on this entire list, since longer periods of daily use will take its toll. Again, for short, hobbyist periods, it is comfortable and effective enough to be happy with the purchase.
On top of that, Geological Exploration provides an extremely wide variety of geological hammers for similar prices, from picks to masonry flat-heads to mallets, the choice is yours!
Draper is another trade tool company you may have heard of. This particular hammer is another one that comes under the 'bricklayer's hammer' title, but functionally is just the same. This particular geological hammer is made from vanadium steel and lacquered for rust resistance.
The options are somewhat limited, being primarily a trade brand, but these babies are built for the trade, so are made to last. It has a vinyl grip which, while it may take some getting used to, has shock absorption that will protect you from the worst of the aches. I can assure you though, this thing definitely won't fall out of you hand.
Now we move onto the mid-range geological hammers in terms of price. These are the general standard for anyone in between a regular hobbyist to a professional geologist or paleontologist who is looking for their long-term geology hammer for a reasonable price.
A Peerless Shovel
A Peerless Shovel rock pick is the first item on our mid-range list. This geological hammer is one made with geology in mind. The versatility does stretch to other types of work, but this is a hammer for cracking rocks all day long. The weight/length ratio is great and the grip is extraordinarily comfortable and forms around the hand nicely.
It has anti-slip and anti-shock materials within the rubber, reducing shock by 70%. I can't personally quantify shock absorption percentages in my head in use, but it can definitely be felt. The only downside for this geological hammer is that the pick end could do with being a little bit longer for better leverage, but overall this is a great long-term hammer.
On top of that, A Peerless Shovel has a wide array of kit options available on Amazon with quality tools at a reasonable price.
Ox Tools is, in my opinion, another great stop for not only geological hammers, but other tools that come in handy for any particularly tricky fossil finds, such as chisels, steel mallets and crow bars. This particular hammer offers a flat chisel end with a decent enough length for prying and chipping off smaller bits, while the flat end is big and powerful enough to knock sizable chunks off without much effort on your part. The handle is, again, very comfortable, though its shock absorption is ever-so-slightly less than the previous model. The one-piece steel construction won't fail you for a long time either, as it is anti-rust and well-balanced.
I know, I know, another trade tool company. But, at the end of the day, Stanley has made a name for itself and shown it's here to stay and, like I said, bricks are rocks!
This particular model from Stanley has a great balance and weight/length ratio, so striking away at those rocks is easy. The handle, while not the most comfortable on this list (it won't bite you, it's still pretty comfy) has particularly good shock absorption, especially for this price range. On top of that, the cutting edge is fairly good, meaning scoring a surface can make knocking it off a lot easier.
Finally we have, in my opinion, the best geological hammers for those who have saved up or money is simply no object. Here there is no limit, so these options really offer the best of the best in terms of comfort, durability and ease of use.
Our first investment option is from Picard. This particular model is made from a one-piece special alloy steel that will not only last a lifetime, but is incredibly light for what it is. On top of that, how gorgeous does that leather handle look?...oooh...
Don't worry, though, they didn't compromise for form over function. That leather handle still won't leave your hand and, while it's not quite as shock absorbent as thick rubber, you'll still be able to use it without feeling like your wrist is about to vibrate off.
Here is another left-field choice in terms of brands. Ianrol sells a strange selection of bits from geological hammers to judge's gavels and feather dusters. Despite its lack of a specific niche, the company has clearly done its homework on what makes a good hammer. The cheaper options are made from a hard-wearing alloy steel, with an anti-shock handle that seems to have been literally moulded around a human hand, along with a perfect ratio in terms of length and balance.
The more expensive option seen below has furthered the anti-slip and anti-shock features and comes with a handy little sheath to protect the already tempered steel when you're not using it (or if you're keeping stuff in the same bag, it stops the hammer from damaging them).
Again, this is an investment piece that can pay in dividends if you're a regular fossil hunter.
SilverGeo is a brand from the UKGE group who are, in short, guys who have made geology their business for 25 years now. Their many conglomerate websites are worth a check for many things such as the best places for fossil finds and meet-ups, magazines and buying fossils.
But I digress, we're here talking about geological hammers! On their store, Earthlines, you'll find this beauty. Crafted from a special chrome vanadium steel, the metal is an incredibly hard-wearing material built by professionals who really do understand how much reliability is needed in the field for long periods. The handle is crafted from anti-slip vinyl and is very thick to the point where you can barely feel each strike (you may have to double check you didn't miss!). It's comfortable, reliable, good looking and, personally, is one of my picks for choosing a 'forever hammer'.
You can also purchase in two different weights, either 16oz or 20oz.
This is another brand supplied by Earthlines, so you know it can be trusted. VISA British hammers do things a little bit differently. They do the run-of-the-mill steel geological hammers, but also make rock hammers with heads made to create lighter weight without sacrificing strength and power. These also do things a little differently with the handle and shaft. Made of fibreglass, they are just as strong but with the added benefit of helping the anti-shock rubber to absorb more blows by concentrating all of the power on the head.
If a more classic appearance is what you're looking for in a geological hammer, you can check out their hickory wood hammers that are slightly cheaper, have more weight options and have even better longevity since you can replace the handles.
Name a better, more well-known brand for geological hammers...I'll wait!
I am of the belief that the Americans are the best at two things: breakfast and geological hammers. These bad boys have all the usual features I've mentioned before, with an ergonomic, anti-slip, anti-shock nylon vinyl handle and a one-piece steel alloy, top grade head. Trades people swear by them, but they are known as the go-to for geologists and paleontologists alike since 1923, as they seem virtually indestructible.
Put it this way, I have a literal ton of geological field tools, two of which include Estwing rock picks and I'm still considering another one. Do I need yet another one? In the technical sense, no. But, Estwing are celebrating their 100th year anniversary by releasing this:
...I've been looking at this for five hours now.
Certain picks have been made using leather handles, giving them 10 times more comfort and longevity (since leather has a much nicer patina than vinyl). However, this special edition has a black neck and a frickin' dinosaur on its handle! Estwing ain't no fools, they know what we use them for.
Until next time!
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