It is easy to be of the misconception that paranormal investigating is a very expensive hobby. Weekly all the television shows show investigative teams out in the field with some of the best high tech ghost hunting gadgets there are. That’s great if you are one of the lucky paranormal investigators that have won the lottery or found some ways to financial independence. For the rest of us, owning things like thermal imaging cameras and IR monitors are the things we would love to add to our ghost hunting arsenal… well, someday. For the novice that would just like to go out and see what it is like, or a beginner that has just started with a paranormal team, there are a few items that you certainly should have and should be able to afford.
1. Notepad and Pen – I cannot stress enough the importance of taking notes during a paranormal investigation. Ideally, I think that established paranormal groups should establish a regular form that is passed out to all team members to complete during an investigation. The wealth of information forgotten and lost forever during the heat of the actual investigative process is staggering. Although you think you will remember the events of the evening, chances are when the time comes to discuss the paranormal evidence and the overall feel for the investigation, much of the night’s events will be lost. When paranormal investigators record their baseline readings and general impressions on the night of the actual paranormal investigation, the team leader can review each of the group observations and make some determinations. The paranormal team leader can determine if there are points or experiences that are similar, for example, a feeling of unease or a sound that maybe reported by more than one investigative team. Your observation and the accurate recording of the night is the most important evidence of the experience.
2. Compass – I remember the first time I used a compass on a paranormal investigation. I was working with a team from Michigan that was a bit more high tech than most teams. Although they giggled at the simplistic idea behind the use of the compass, by the end of the evening’s investigation, they vowed to add a compass to their equipment stash. One of the most obvious and valuable uses of a compass is to give you a sense of direction in an unfamiliar area. Whether you are conducting a paranormal investigation indoors or outdoors, the compass will help you find your way back to the base area, and help you accurately record what direction you were going when you experienced something unusual. The compass can be useful as a tool to debunk something that could be construed as unusual. The second benefit is that a compass can be used as a very valuable tool to correlate and substantiate an EMF reading. If EMF happens because of a magnetized item, or some sort of electrical component the compass will be effected. If, however, you have cleared a room of those variables and a compass reading that was once correct starts to deviate from the previous results, it is time to start checking other instruments. It is not unusual to have a paranormal experience that momentarily sets off a compass reading and a K2 meter, only to return to normal a short time later. This is a strong indication that something that may be paranormal might have occurred.
3. Temperature Gauge – I am a firm believer that every paranormal investigator should take base line readings several times during the investigation. It is one thing to think that you feel a cold spot, it is another thing to be able to have solid data documenting a temperature change. I would recommend purchasing an ambient thermometer. Many paranormal investigators use the more expensive laser thermometers. This really is not a good idea because that type of thermometer is recording the surface temperature of a particular item and not the air temperature. This can vary the accuracy of the results depending on what and wear the laser is pointed to. In comparison an ambient gauge will tell you differences in temperatures in the air for a limited range in front of the gauge. The cost is not expensive, but it can be difficult to locate a gauge of this type.
4. Digital Recorder – Almost every paranormal investigator will invest in some form of a digital recorder. There are as many types of recorders on the market as there are types of paranormal experience. While I do not personally feel that one form of a recorder is necessarily better than another, I am sure some investigative teams may disagree. I do think that you should look for a recorder that allows you to upload your files via a USB port directly to your computer. Whether you are interested in conducting EVP sessions or just would like to record the evening’s events for posterity a digital recorder or two is worth the investment.
5. Disposable Camera – Eventually paranormal investigators will start to save to buy high end equipment like night vision cameras and IR cameras. One the majority of investigations I have attended, these investigators will set the cameras up in static positions and feed the results directly to a laptop or computer. This is a great idea if you have the equipment and the expertise to run this sort of set up. In an investigation anything can happen, and it may not happen in the area you have the cameras pointed to. For this reason, I like to always have a disposable camera that you can take out and shot several pictures in succession. There is advantages to having this type of camera, it is low cost, there is seldom film issues (and when there are it affects the whole roll). Disposable cameras are not as prone to picking up dust orbs like digital cameras are. The downside is you cannot see what you captured till you take the film in to be developed. This can be expensive. My tip is to request a CD of the pictures and than only get developed the pictures that appear to have something interesting.
This completes my list of what I feel is the most important low tech beginning paranormal gear for the novice or experienced ghost hunter alike. Now that you know what you need happy hunting!