You want to explore the paranormal world but don’t know how to start. Do you need all that fancy and expensive stuff, or are there more budget-friendly options? The truth is that for most ghost hunting, it is best to start with the basics.
When you are new to ghost hunting, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all products, gadgets, and techniques available on the market.
Using the classic tools for paranormal investigations, you learn to fetch evidence that is not reliant on technology alone. You will build an understanding of ghost hunting and how to approach the supernatural without the need to break the bank.
The Society for Psychical Research recommends a non-electronic approach to ghost hunting. In the book “Guidance Notes for Investigators of Spontaneous Cases,” a notebook, wristwatch, camera, audio recorder, and flashlight are recommended.
Never feel the need to use fancy gadgets to impress others. You are not there to make an impression on the living but on the dead.
You are ready to amp up your game after learning the basic techniques. By then, you know what evidence you are collecting, and you see the big picture of the investigation. It is easy to get caught up looking at screens and listening to audio records for hours while the manifestation stands before you. Yes, that has happened!
What you need to investigate the paranormal
While you don’t need any gadgets or tools to experience the paranormal, they are essential to try to capture evidence of your experiences. It might seem silly, but it is something to reflect on. What do you want to achieve with your ghost hunting? Is it the experience? You don’t have to go all in and purchase expensive tools.
The same applies if you are new to paranormal investigations. It would help if you learned the basics before moving on to more complex tools and technologies. There are so many pitfalls when it comes to technology. You need to understand what it measures to make sense of the findings.
#1: Your senses
According to Zak Bagans in his book “Ghost-hunting for Dummies,” the essential tool you got are your senses (affiliate link – Amazon). With experience, you will learn that the senses are more accurate than any tool available on the market. Added fine-tuned intuition; you will become a ghost-hunting machine yourself. I promise, just trust yourself and your abilities!
I tend to follow my senses and verify my experiences with the help of tools and tech. Of course, you will never be able to capture everything – but it is fascinating how often you are right.
Many start by relying heavily on tech and tools. Try to do it the other way around. Relying on yourself is key to becoming a great investigator. This way, you will not be too occupied with your screen to notice the apparition just walking by.
#2: Common sense, self-evaluation, and an open mind
Common sense is one of the most powerful gadgets in your paranormal investigator’s toolkit. It is easy to seek only the answers you want. Be sure to evaluate your findings and be ruthless to yourself and your findings. Does your ego and will create this evidence, or is it truly there?
Be open to receiving the evidence you get, not the one you want. This mindset will give you a strong foundation moving forward.
Never hurry an investigation. Let it take the time it takes. Never force evidence because you are getting frustrated.
#3: Notebook and pen
According to Zak Bagans, a notebook and a pen are necessary for any ghost hunter. The notebook is used for gathering information during interviews, on-site during the investigation, and to make overviews and diagrams. If you see an apparition, make a sketch as soon as possible. It is hard to recall details later – experiences tend to dissolve quickly. Your gadgets might not have captured the ghost – this is your only record of the event and how it unfolded.
There is endless use for notebooks. You can also use a tablet, but I think they interrupt my night vision too much. It is better with a flashlight and an old-fashioned notebook in my opinion.
#4: Sketch pad and drawing pencils
A larger-sized sketch pad is an excellent addition to the notebook as you can draw maps of the location. You don’t have to carry it with you; leave it at your command and tech center.
#5: Extra batteries
Paranormal activity tends to drain batteries like nothing else. You should not be surprised if your newly charged tech suddenly malfunctions. This is an excellent sign that something is about to manifest. Store your extra batteries in your command and tech center. It is not a fun experience if you find that your backup batteries are drained too.
#6: Measuring tape
A measuring tape is helpful for more than measuring distances for your maps and drawings. They can be beneficial in capturing the movements of objects as well. Say you place an item with the ruler or measuring tape on the table (remember to secure it with tape or alike), and you recognize that the thing has moved. If you had a camera or video recorder capturing the movement, you could quickly see how significant the action was.
If you like, you can also use flour; read more about this later in the article.
A flashlight is a must in any paranormal investigation or ghost hunt. You often conduct your search during nighttime. Sites are often quite dangerous to walk about as well. It is not uncommon for investigators to trip and fall. Always be careful, and watch your step!
You can also use flashlamps activated by turning the handle as ghost-detecting tools. Ask the ghosts to turn them off and on on command. A button can be too tricky for a spirit change.
An analog or digital camera is perfect for capturing apparitions or anomalies. Use a flash or not; you must try what works best for you. A flash from a camera can sometimes result in optical illusions that can be misrepresented as light orbs. If you want to learn more about optical illusions, light orbs, and phenomena, I have written an article on the subject. You find it below.
What ghost orbs are: Paranormal light phenomenon
Use a digital camera to document the site itself. It can be tough to recall details later on. Take pictures from different angles.
#9: Camera and tripod
A camera is a great tool to document the site and capture spooky events. You can place it on a tripod to eliminate disturbances from micro-movements. You can, of course, use it handheld as well. You have to try what you prefer.
If you know the hot spot, it might be beneficial to put the camera on a tripod and point it toward the area of interest.
Professional investigators have an army of cameras, but this is often not possible when you are a beginner.
Using a mobile phone as a camera works well in many cases. You don’t need to purchase expensive gear in the beginning stages of your journey. Be sure to put it on flight mode, though, as it might otherwise interfere with other devices.
There are a ton of different options when it comes to cameras. What you prefer comes with a skillset, experience, budget, and knowledge. Some swear by analog cameras for capturing spirits. As you notice, there are no set rules on what to use – you have to try different options and find your preference.
#10 Video camera
A video recorder is a beneficial tool for ghost hunting and paranormal investigations. Don’t think you need an army of video cameras or fancy super-expensive DSLRs to capture ghostly evidence. Many great videos have been recorded with a mobile phone or home security cameras.
You can often use the tripod for your camera and video camera. This works fine to capture ghostly activity.
Video cameras also capture sound, making them great for getting an overview of an event. With still photos, much information is left to the imagination.
#11: Walkietalke or two-way radios
A walkie-talkie or a two-way radio is great for keeping in contact with your team on location. If you don’t (yet) have a team of friends or professionals you can use your mobile phones to keep in contact.
Remember not to talk too much on the radio, as it can make you miss out on capturing evidence. Use clicks for easy communication within the team. One click for paranormal activity, two for rendezvous as the tech and command center.
#12: Toolkit and first-aid box
Always bring a smaller toolkit and a first-aid kit. When researching at night, it is easy to trip and fall. Brusies and bumps are common. Not to mention nasty bug bites.
Tech seems to fail during paranormal activity; it is always good to have a screwdriver at hand (I promise). It is not uncommon for tech to have hatches that need to be opened with a screwdriver.
Yes, flour is a great addition to any ghost hunting toolkit! Seal off areas using a thin layer of fine grind flour. You will instantly know if anyone has entered an area as it will leave foot marks in the flour. If you, for example, are investigating a specific room and have left a camera and trigger objects on the table. Seal off the doorway, you will know if anyone has entered the room tampering with your objects.
You can also use flour on the floor of paranormal hotspots. You will be amazed at what interesting evidence can be captured! Anything that has touched a surface will be seen. The spirit doesn’t need to use that much energy to leave a mark in the flour.
Remember to clean up the space when your investigation is finished. Never leave a messy scene to the site’s owners.
A compass is a great tool for capturing energetic field anomalies. According to Troy Taylor, there is no scientific proof that a compass captures ghosts, but this is the case with all electronics used in ghost hunting.
Hold the compass in your hand during your sweep of the site. Hold the compass in front of you at all times. The needle should point in the direction of the north. The compass will spin when you encounter a ghost (or another kind of energetic anomaly). Exciting, right?
#15: Dowsing rods
Dowsing rods are a great tool to locate energetic anomalies. Hold the L-shaped rods in your hand and follow the direction that they indicate. The dowsing rods point towards an energetic field. Then the rods cross; you might have found your ghost!
As with all tools that reveal energetic fields, it is great to have an overview of electrical wiring. That is another cause of making your investigations at night. You can shut off all electronics that might interfere with tools and gadgets.
You can also use a pendulum for dowsing. I have written an article on the subject if you want to learn more.
Find lost objects with pendulum dowsing: The ultimate guide
#16: Mobile phone
A smartphone is a must-have for ghost hunters and new paranormal investigators. You can capture video, audio, and everything in between. Some smartphones can measure temperature and vibrations as well. Remember not to rely too heavily on the mobile phone, though. Always use common sense.
Some apps work like ghost boxes. I would not take them too seriously. We have no idea what we are capturing with the help of ghost boxes. But it can be a fun addition; I can admit that.
Binoculars are great for checking out the parameters and spotting apparitions and manifestations from afar. It is also a great tool when you are making a sweep of the location itself. It is hard to grasp some areas, especially outdoor locations.
Learn the equipment before using them
It is easy to get lost in technology and rely too heavily on them. It is good to remember that there are no “ghost hunting tools,” just tools to capture different phenomena. Always understand what a gadget measures and how it works. This help to understand the evidence captured on site.
It is like taking a brand new camera on a wedding photography gig without testing it first. You would never do that! Imagine the horror when you come home and realize no photo was taken. I would not want to face the bride and groom with that information. You get my point.
According to Troy Taylor in his book Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook, the best evidence is always your common sense and experience (affiliate link – Amazon). Never use technology alone to collect evidence. As we don’t know what ghosts are, we can’t build gadgets to capture them (yet).
Technology is used to secure evidence we think is connected to ghostly activities, but in reality, we don’t know for sure what we are truly capturing. We might focus too much on the gadgets and too little on what is happening on the site. Later, years from now, we discover that the apparatus used did not even capture the energy of ghosts. That is a huge waste of time and effort.
Paranormal activity is supernatural, and we have no formula for what is or if it even exists. It is always best to fully understand what the apparatus captures, its strengths, and its weaknesses. Always include this information with any evidence captured with the gadget for future reference.