Dallas Ft. Worth - Washington D.C. - Seattle - New Orleans
Flashlights are an absolute essential to an investigation, and you should always have more than one on your person. Batteries die, bulbs break, and someone always forgets to bring theirs. In the first pic above, I show a red Mini-Maglite and a Brinkmann Legend along with a black ballistic nylon holster. Maglites are renowned for their quality, durability and relatively cheap price. (Under $10 anywhere for the AA or AAA models. Plus it has a holder for a spare bulb in the tailcap)
However, I really like the Brinkmann (available from Brookstone for about $15) because the switch is a click on/off at the bottom, which means that I can operate it one handed instead of two to twist the head of the Maglite. The switch locks to prevent accidental battery drain.
The Princeton Tec Pulsar II is one of the latest in powerful LED keychain lights. Available for $15 at REI, it is astonishingly bright for it's size, plus it has an on/off lock so you don't have to keep squeezing it. I got this one in red for improved night vision and I put it on a lanyard around my neck. The benefit being that I ALWAYS have a working light close at hand that I won't misplace and when it hangs down, it illuminates the floor at my feet so I can see my way in the dark without tripping.
A new gadget which has appeared on the market is a lighted pen which will illuminate the paper while you are writing. How cool is that? The problem is that they are a little hard to find in regular stores. The three models I have found so far are the Neoglow for $5 (Model GP119), the Quasar Glow for $7 and a model sold by The Sharper Image. (#SR258 for $12.95)
The Quasar Glow is one of the nicest of the group with a handsome look, comfortable grip, extra batteries and ink refills.
The Neoglow is very bright and you can detach the top half for use as an emergency flashlight. The only thing I don't care for is the silly flower/frog pattern around the outside and it feels a little cheaper. No extra batteries or ink.
The Sharper Image model is nice and easy to obtain from a chain with a good reputation, but it is the most expensive and isn't as bright as the others. Still, it looks good in the box and hence makes a great gift for your ghost hunter friends.
Here are the links below, but I can't guarantee any of the companies service online. (I was fortunate enough to buy them in stores)
http://www.quasarpen.com/index.jsp (QUASAR GLOW)
http://www.thewritersedge.com/powerglo.plain.cfm (POWER GLO)
There have been reports of mysterious equipment/electrical failures when investigating paranormal phenomena, and I like to be prepared. I keep two Cyalume glowsticks on me in case something drains my batteries. Not saying that chemical energy can't be affected, but I'm damn sure going to put it to the test.
Speaking of batteries, here is sampling of what you can get nowadays. I used to be partial to Energizers, as you can probably tell and I've heard the new E2 Titanium technology is worth getting. But some research on the web has shown that most people have had better luck with Duracells, and since they are consistently cheaper than Energizers, I would advise going that route as you get more batteries for your money. I've also heard the Duracell Ultras are very good and can outlast a competing Energizer by several times. Here is a link to a battery spec comparison chart if you care:
The photo lithiums are expensive, but if you want to make sure something is going to work when you need it, they do have a lot of juice.
Rechargeables come in a few flavors. The old style is the nickel cadmium (NiCad), which is okay for non-critical low drain applications. (not flashlights) The newer batteries use nickel metal hydrides (NiMh) which are strong and longer lasting while more resistant to the "memory effect", but lithium ion is stronger still, though expensive and reserved for use in high drain/frequent recharge equipment like digital cameras and camcorders.
The "memory effect", BTW, used to be serious issue with older NiCad batteries where if you recharged a battery before it was fully drained, it would tend to take a set and consequently have a reduced charge capacity. Newer batteries, especially NiMh, have nearly eliminated this problem.
At any rate, rechargeables for the traditional sizes like AA and 9V are not going to hold a charge nearly as well as conventional or lithium batteries. In my opinion for Mission Critical equipment that must work consistently at a moment's notice, it pays off to use regular or lithium cells to make sure you don't miss the Ghost Shot of the Century. Also, it is a real good idea to double check battery voltages of ALL equipment before setting off on a hunt, if you run into a mysterious battery drain situation, you want to know for sure what the voltages where before going on site. It can help with verifying a haunting if the voltages are written down before hand and after a "blackout" has occurred.
It's not a bad idea to buy a cheap digital voltmeter from Radio Shack ($20 for a Model # 22-810) to measure battery voltage before you set off. Mine is a more expensive Fluke knock-off, but I've had good results with Radio Shack meters in general, though I feel they are getting cheaper and less durable than in the old days. (true of a lot of electronics goods these days, especially VCR's) I've owned several over the past twenty years and virtually every one of them crapped out eventually, though the older ones took several years to do so. Solid state electronics should hold up better than this, but meters tend to get heavy abuse with vibration, dropping, temperature changes, etc. If you have the money, get a quality meter like Fluke with a long guarantee.
Here is a sample technician's toolkit by Platt to keep some of your goodies in. I can't praise ballistic nylon in tactical black enough. Looks cool and lasts forever.