An item should have a story to go along with its discovery. For example, you stumble across something hidden beneath the leave. Clearing off the leaves you discover X.
To gain a companion it is better to have a challenge or quest. For example, you see in the road a wounded creature- what do you do? Approach or Flee?
Gold is a preferred reward because it gives user’s greater flexibility to build up their own characters. For example: There is a broken-down cart blocking your path. If players choose to move the cart there is 1D10 gold coins.