Placer mining hasn’t changed that much since the time of the 49ers. Sure, you drive close to some of the many good spots to look for placer gold but you will still have to walk into the river and carry your equipment with you, so it needs to be light and easily portable. Here are some examples of modern miners using over the counter gear you can pack in and back along with all the gold you find. Notice how the two guys with the long tom are taking their ore from somewhere on the hillside above the river. Here they’re working a dry digging and have to carry the ore to the water.
In the next video the lone miner with the sluice is working a wet digging. He is taking his ore straight from the stream.