Well-resolved Raman spectra of gypsum, anglesite and baryte were detected using a portable Raman instrument (Ahura First Defender XL) in the laboratory and outdoor under atmospheric conditions. Spectra were obtained using a 785-nm excitation. The portable spectrometers display generally lower spectral resolution compared with the laboratory confocal instrument but permit the fast, unambiguous detection of minerals under field conditions. Portable Raman instruments can be advocated as excellent tools for field geological, environmental as well as exobiological applications. A miniaturized Raman instrument will be included in the Pasteur analytical package of the ESA ExoMars mission and interesting research applications can now be proposed for in situ field planetary studies. Additionally, portable Raman instruments represent an ideal tool for demonstrating possible applications of Raman spectroscopic techniques outdoor. In geosciences this approach represents a new field which could completely change classical field work. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.