Portland Walking Tours

Top Seven Ghost-hunting Tools

October 27th, 2010

Going ghost-hunting this Halloween weekend? If so, you’ll want to make sure you bring the right gear. While it’s possible to spot spirits from the Great Beyond without gear, your odds of finding something interesting increase if you’ve got the right stuff.

7. Flashlight ($5-$10)

This is a basic, not so much for finding spirits but for finding your way around in the dark, spooky places that tend to gain reputations as haunted sites.

6. Camera ($50-$5,000)

The ability to record visual phenomena too ephemeral for the eye to see will bring your ghost-hunting experience to a new level. You don’t need anything fancy like infra-red (unless you’re going pro) – your typical consumer-grade camera (preferably with flash) will work just fine. A good cell phone camera will even work in a pinch.

Why cameras? Our eyes and brains are notoriously unreliable, hampered by our biases. But a camera records what’s there – and not what isn’t. Even better, cameras make it easy to share what you’ve seen with friends and family, further extending your fun experience.

5. Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) recorders ($80-$500)

Ghost hunters love EVP because it provides “proof” of their discoveries later to skeptics. Basically EVP’s are fancy, mobile digital sound recorders. The big problem with EVP’s is interference from background noise, particularly in a city. The more you spend, the better they are at ignoring background noise.

4. Electronic Temperature recorder ($50-200)

Essentially ETR’s are highly sensitive environmental thermometers that can help you find “hot spots” and “cold spots”, indicators of a ghostly presence. Gun-style ETR’s allow you to aim the probe at remote targets to detect hot and cold spots without the risk of personal proximity. Recommended for those who hate goosebumps.

3. A good book ($10-20)

Few tools are as essential as knowledge, and local paranormal researchers such as Jefferson Davis and Chuck Palahniuk have documented, summarized, and organized gobs of research on the many haunted sites in the Portland metro area. Arm yourself with knowledge before venturing forth and you’ll have a much enhanced experience.

2. Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) detectors ($40-$200)

Of the hand-held gadgets, the EMF is the most fun and the most reliable. EMF’s detect changes in electrical or magnetic field intensity against background ambient charges that occur via bleed-over from electrical devices and cables. Your best bet is to get one with a ruggedized case in case it gets dropped – almost a certainty if you’re juggling multiple devices in dark, unfamiliar, spooky places.

1. An open, skeptical mind (FREE)

Half the battle in ghost-hunting is believing that it’s even possible to find a lurking spirit. The other half is reining in the impulse to assume every flickering shadow is a spirit from the Great Beyond. Keeping your mind open to possibilities but aware of alternative explanations is key to an authentic and enjoyable ghost-hunting experience.

A $19 Alternative

As you can see, getting equipped can get spendy.  If you want to promenade with poltergeists but don’t want to sell all your possessions to do it, consider a simpler option:  a $19 “Beyond Bizarre” walking tour. We’ll provide the EMFs, the background research, and a few flashlights – you bring the camera and the curiosity.