Scuba diving underwater torches and dive lights are vital, especially when deep diving or cave diving. Dive lights are also useful for day dives, providing critical light when exploring cracks, crevices and providing colour. Or maybe you like doing night dives to see the different marine critters that come out at night and what they all get up to. But how do you ensure you're making the right dive torch choice? That's what this guide to Buying a Dive Light is for!
A commonly-held belief during prior generations and monarchies, is have an heir and a spare. The sentiment is also true with many pieces of scuba gear, including dive lights.
The deeper you descend while diving, the more the water filters out the sun's light. Eventually, the sun's beams can no longer permeate the water, leaving you in the dark — unless you're a prepared diver. You may also need a light to peek into crevasses along a wall that is teaming with countless samples of sea life or to read your every important non-illuminated compass, air gauge, or depth gauge.
Dive lights can also be used as a signaling device between buddies. Perhaps you just found an amazing starfish and your dive buddy is looking at some kelp. You can use your dive light to catch your buddy's attention so he/she doesn't miss out on your underwater find.
If you are looking for a primary dive light, a broad beam is probably what you're looking for. Wide beams cover more area, allowing you to maintain a wider field of lighted vision. Your primary light will allow you to view the sea life that surrounds you, as well as your non-illuminated gauges and compass (if applicable).
If you are looking for a backup dive light, selecting a light with a narrow beam might be ideal for you. This allows you to use your light to illuminate cracks and crevices in walls, wrecks, reefs, and rock formations. Backup lights tend to be smaller than primary lights, allowing them to stay out of the diver's way until they're needed.
Before deciding which dive light to purchase, take your diving habits into consideration. Are you a deep diver (more than 30 metres), or do you stay in the recreational diving range (0 to 30 metres)?
If you choose a dive light that is not depth rated for your desired dive depth, you may find yourself in a very bad situation. Lights that are taken to depths that are greater than their approved rating face leaks, breakage, and other malfunctions.
There are a wide variety of dive light styles. If your in the market for a primary light and dive in cold water, then a meatier style will most likely fit your needs. If you dive in tropical water or are interested in a backup light, then a smaller, less powerful light will do. There are also lights that you can affix to your tank, allowing your dive buddy to easily spot you while underwater, even in murky water.
If you plan on using your dive light for spotting items and sea life that are tucked away in crevasses or to light your way through a cave or wreck, then you definitely want a steady beam of light. If a light offers a broad beam of light, it will aid you with general vision while underwater. If a light offers a narrow beam, it will offer a brighter light than a broad beam and will help you see into cracks and the nooks and crannies that are frequently found at depth.
Strobe lights are generally used for underwater safety. They help you identify where your dive buddy is located, even when the visibility underwater is less than ideal. Many dive strobes can be attached to your tank, either around it or at the stem. Some modern LED based scuba diving lights have multiple modes, including an SOS or strobe mode.
When it comes to batteries for your dive light, there isn't a wrong choice. The light manufacturers decide if their lamps use alkaline, NiCad, Li-ion etc., so you really don't have to worry about that decision. The main thing about batteries is keeping an extra set in a waterproof container in your dive bag. Also, test your light prior to entering the water to make sure the batteries are in proper working order.
If you're concerned about waste, then using rechargeable batteries will ease your ecological conscious. The two downfalls to rechargeable batteries are they are more expensive than disposables, and they slowly diminish in quality after each charge. Therefore, as they age, the longevity of the charge will shorten. Disposable batteries are less expensive than rechargeable batteries, but they always fresh when taken out of their packaging. They do, however, carry an ecological downside because they are not biodegradable.
Our picks of the best value for money dive torches available are:
Our best selling dive light. We think this makes a great primary dive torch for all recreational divers. It lights up cray holes during the day and the world at night! And if the diver already has a dive torch, it also makes for an absolutely brilliant backup dive torch. Technical and cave divers also love this torch as a backup dive light.
Tovatec Fusion 1050 LED Video / Dive Light - 1050LM
RRP: $189, Our Price: $179, You Save $10 (5%).
The 1050 lumen beam is plenty powerful enough, and the sliding zoom head lets you adjust it to any width from 100-degrees to 12-degrees. The magnetic switch couldn't be simpler, and it fits in anything but a very small BC pocket.
Atorch TC07 Pocket Dive Light - 1600LM
RRP: $199, Our Price: $179, You Save $20 (10%).
An LED diving torch that outputs 1600 lumens of light. It features a novel magnetic dimmer switch that's totally intuitive and offers the widest possible range of power settings. Operation is simplicity itself — slide it forward for on, and the more you slide it, the brighter it gets. It has a rechargeable battery with a micro USB charging system.
Light & Motion Sola Dive 2500 Spot/Flood Light
Our Price: $799
Most powerful rechargeable Sola underwater dive light, featuring 2000 lumens in a 60 degree flood beam with a 600 lumen 12 degree spot beam. Waterproof to 90 metres. This dive light has the sort of design and build quality that reminds us of the space program.
For more options, please see Lights / Torches.
Batteries and Chargers
Keep at least one set of spare batteries in your dive bag (within a waterproof container) at all times. You never know when your batteries will decide to go on strike. Also, make sure you know which type of batteries your light uses.
Lanyards and Retractors
Keeping your scuba light on a leash will keep it from becoming treasure for a future diver to recover. There are a variety of lanyard styles; most clip to your BCD and tether to your light by attaching to the wrist lanyard or an anchor point.
IST Proline Quick Release Coil Lanyard with Plastic Carabiner
RRP: $33, Our Price: $26, You Save $7 (21%).
First you attach your dive torch to the stainless steel split ring. Then you clip the plastic clip to one of your D-rings, or similar attachment point. When you want to extend the dive light away from you, simply unlock the plastic retainer so that the smart coil can be extended.
IST Proline Large Retractor - Plastic Snap
RRP: $39, Our Price: $33, You Save $6 (15%).
This retractor will keep your dive torch comfortably mounted within reach and ready to use when needed without the worry of it being lost or floating away. The simple plastic snap with secure gate and 360° swivel quickly and safely attaches the retractor to standard D-Rings on your BCD.
For more options, please see Lanyards and Retractors.