History of ghost hunting tools
People have been wanting to talk to the dead for likely as long as we have had the concept of death. I’m sure tribal shamans were sitting around fires saying prayers to their ancestors, looking for advice on where to go hunting next, thousands of years before the advent of any technology.
For the most part, spiritualism and attempting to talk to the dead didn’t evolve much until very recently. Divination tools usually consisted of card reading, throwing bones, reading animal entrails, or just having a good medium. But then came along the technological revolution.
The first real jumps in ghost hunting tools were the invention of the camera. The idea that we could capture what some people see, or even capture what we can see fascinated people.
Unfortunately, the rise of photography and photographing the dead was taking place during the age of spiritualism and as such was subject to a lot of fakery. There were, and still are, plenty of people wanting to make money by providing results, even if they have to make them up.
The advent of the EVP
For me at least, ghost hunting and ghost hunting tools really didn’t start coming of age until the electronic age, particularly in the realm of EVPs. As ghost hunting tools go, these are as effective as they are controversial.
While EVPs or electronic voice phenomenon really didn’t hit their stride until the invention of magnetic tape there were some early attempts to communicate via sound devices.
The most notable is the attempt by none other than Thomas Edison to create what was dubbed the Spirit Phone by his detractors. Widely thought to just be a joke, there is evidence to show that Edison did indeed attempt to communicate with spirits via their influencing of vibrations.
The modern era of EVPs
In the late 50s and 60s, big advances in the studies of EVPs came Attila von Szalay in America and Konstantin Raudive of Latvia. Both worked to actually study electronic voice phenomenon
using tape recordings. Of note is that they did experiments where they tried to rule out interference and influences other than spirits, by putting the microphones in soundproof boxes, Faraday cages and so on.
Konstantin actually went on to write a book on the subject titled Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead. As a note, it is not in print, but that link will take you to the Internet Archive that you can read and download for free.
Ghost hunting tools go 20th century
Things moved along slowly in the realm of ghost hunting and ghost hunting tools, with people looking for new ways to implement audio recorders and photography into their investigations. Experiments were made and some new techniques were discovered until the media gave the subject a shot in the arm in a most unlikely way. The movie Ghost Busters.
Dropping on the scene in 1984, Ghost Busters introduced the idea that we could use technology to interact with spirits, and I mean all sorts of technology. People’s imaginations exploded with ideas.
Many of the devices stayed quietly in the paranormal circles until the show Ghost Hunters exploded on the scenes. Shows like it and Ghost Adventures have shown a new light on the use of EVPs, electric field detectors, and a whole host of video and photographic techniques to try and capture evidence of and communicate with the dead.
Now you can buy ghost hunting kits with EVP recorders, K2 meters, and instruction books. In all fairness, these won’t make you an expert, but they do give you something to work with when you are wandering around spooky places.
If you needing instructions on ghost hunting, you can even pick up a copy of Ghost Hunting for Dummies with Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventure fame.
Don’t go ghost hunting without these
In all things, success is often achieved by having the right tools. This holds as true for ghost hunting tools as anything else.
You want to go out and do some ghost hunting, but what to take with you? There are lots of very cool, and often expensive tools/toys out there chasing spirits, but what are the essential ghost hunting tools that you need? In this post, we will be covering the 4 essential ghost hunting tools you will likely need to buy, as well as some you probably already have.
I consider flashlights an absolute requirement in your ghost hunting kit. My suggestion is to get at least two of as high of quality as you can afford. The reason being is that is your one for finding your way out of basements, abandoned buildings, and the like. Personally, I am a fan of LED models as they run far longer on batteries than older models. As for using them for the Flashlight Experiment for communicating with spirits, there is a lot of debate over the accuracy of that but it may be something you want to read up on.
I’m a fan of overkill so I would always want at least one flashlight that has an output over 100 lumens (and preferably more) in case you need to light everything up and bug out. Nothing is worse than trying to navigate with a light that is too small. I’d consider the Maglight XL200 to fit into this class. It isn’t so big as to be cumbersome but will kick out enough light that you can navigate.
One other tool you may want to consider is an inexpensive red light flashlight. Turning on a white light flashlight will blow out your night vision for a while, but using a red light to navigate more familiar surroundings will keep your low light vision intact.
EVPs are a staple of ghost hunting so having at least one digital recorder in your bag of ghost hunting tools is a must for me. At last check, the Ghost Adventures crew is using the Olympus VN-3100PC. Not a cheap solution, but there are plenty of other options. For me the essentials are that they have good recording capabilities and can download to your computer.
I’m a fan of overkill and having tools that can handle all the things I may want it to do so I have an H4N portable recorder that I use for all my recording needs. One thing I like it for is recording the output from my spirit box so I can review it later.
EMF detectors are essential to ghost hunting. It seems that there is good evidence that those moving balls of energy are spirits of some sort, and the easiest way to detect them is an EMF detector. There is a wide variety of EMF detectors on the market from very simple ones with just a couple of lights to ones with very accurate gauges. Which one you go with depends on your budget and how fancy you need to get. I’m a fan of the classic K2 EMF Meter. It isn’t horribly expensive, but not overly simple either.
One tip is to sweep your area before your ghost hunt, looking for electromagnetic sources. This isn’t a problem in abandoned buildings with no electricity, but in occupied buildings, there are many sources of electrical disturbances that you need to watch for. If you don’t you will likely get lots of false readings!
The Spirit Box is the one dedicated ghost hunting tool on this list and I consider it along with the EMF detector to be must have’s. There is a small learning curve in using Spirit Boxes, but I think they are worth it. If you are in an area with an activity entity, it is your best bet for getting really good evidence. Here is a link on using a spirit box that has some great advice.
If you are just starting out, the SB7 Spirit Box is more than sufficient for your ghost hunts. If you have the money to burn and want to spend more time fidgeting with it, you may consider going for the SB11 however. Both though do the same thing, give spirits a conduit for getting messages through to you.
One thing to bear in mind, at least with the SB7, the built in speaker is really wimpy, so be sure to get some sort of external speaker and consider recording it as well.
Special cameras for ghost hunting
When I originally wrote this article, I hadn’t included special cameras in the list because for most people they were prohibitively expensive. Now, most of these are not high-end cameras or video recorders.
That being said, you can now get off the shelf, full spectrum video recorder on Amazon for about $200.
Of course, professional-level full spectrum cameras are still a serious investment. You are looking at anywhere between $400 and $2000 for a DSLR body (I prefer the Canon EOS series) and then you will need it modified to shoot full spectrum by a camera shop.
If you are curious, check out GhostStop’s selection of full-spectrum and IR cameras and lights.
Other Ghost Hunting Tools
These four ghost hunting tools are of course the minimum you will want to have. There are a few other things that you probably consider having when you get started and of course leave out those common-sense items required for any adventure outing. Some of these include a first aid kit, notepad, and clothing appropriate for overnighting in your location. Toilet paper, never forget toilet paper!