So you’re looking for scuba diving equipment, amongst all the brands, specifications and price points its very easy to get lost. After ten years of diving, and five years of being a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, I decided why not share some of my insights over my diving career, to help divers to pick their ideal gear. I am not going to be talking the most technical points, however, the aspects of scuba diving equipment that matters in the end : ease of use and durability. Today, we are tackling the best torches to buy.
Why Buy A Torch
If you are an avid, or beginner diver, purchasing a dive torch is high up on the list of priorities. While it does not rank above mask, snorkel, fins, booties, dive computer and debatably wetsuit, a torch is firmly fighting for seventh place. Having a torch helps you shed some light on the sometimes gloomy underwater world. Whether you are trying out your first night dive and require a hand held light device to help you find your way around, are diving to depths where all colours disappear or simply want to shine a light into a crevasse or crack in the rock to try find it’s inhabitants. A torch will make any dive fuller with colour. Check out the other gear I use.
Diving at night is one of the most exhilarating, terrifying and beautiful experiences out there. A whole different cast of sea creatures wake up and scuttle around their ocean homes. My first ever night dive was when I was 13 years old, on Prodive Cairn’s liveaboard aboard the Great Barrier Reef, and I jumped into the ocean with as many as 20 sharks. I was terrified. I clung onto my torch, the shining beacon of light and security into an overwhelmingly black atmosphere.
As you know, due to the properties of light, as it enters the water the lower energy colours are refracted and reflected, and by 10m of depth we lose the ability to see the colour red. If however, you take down a torch and shine it on the fish, coral, boulders or yourself a rainbow of colours will jump out. This also leads into needing a torch for photography, to at least try and give the under water world the justice it deserves. I am however, not an expert in underwater photography, and will learn and write about this topic another day.
The last, and probably the most frequent use of a torch is to shine light into cracks in rocks and see if you can find lobsters, shrimp, octopus or timid eels hiding. While scuba diving on a reef, we see just a fraction of the life hidden away, as majority of marine life are expert camouflages.
What to look for in a torch
The key things you will probably look for in a torch include
- Ease of Use
- Battery Type
- Turn On Button
First you want to decide on your budget. Scuba Diving equipment is not cheap in general, however with torches you can spend as little as $60 and as much as several thousands. It is a good idea to therefore put a cap on your spending limit. I usually go for torches under $100, as I would hate to lose, break or have a more expensive piece of equipment stolen.
“the SI unit of luminous flux, equal to the amount of light emitted per second in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform source of one candela.”
Lumens are a measure of the torch’s brightness. Torches can have ranging lumens from 400-2000, and are comparable to a light bulb to a flood light underwater. You want to be looking at relatively decent lumen(ige) without turning the whole underwater world into day time. That kind of ruins the magic. I would aim somewhere around the 600-1000 lumen mark. Bright enough to see around, dim enough to remember you are in the ocean at night.
Ease of Use
Now in this category, I want you to consider how to want to light up your dive. Do you want the torch attached to your hand? Able to carry it in your hand? Have an external battery? Put it in your pocket? What is the use of this torch, and practically, what would be the best shape for it to have. I always opt for small, handheld old school torches. They are small enough to attach to a hand strap, put in a pocket yet can be comfortably held in the hand.
The battery type does a lot for the quality and durability of the torch, but you need to consider your environmental factors as well. If you are in an isolated location, maybe rechargeable standard batteries are the best option. More personalise lithium batteries specifically designed for the torch might be great to use, however a nightmare to replace. I have found that having AAA or AA are simply the easiest to find as replacements, no matter where you are in the world.
Turn On Button
Now this might seem as random, however, on the day to day use, this is the MOST important decision you are going to make. How are you going to turn on your torch?
Is it a rotation switch? Which can potentially be flooded if an unexperienced diver fiddles around with it underwater.
Traditional push down button? Which is very easily turned on. So easily it might be accidentally pressed when your torch is out of the water and drain the batteries, or worse, overheat.
Magnetic Glide Switch? Which requires some manoeuvring to turn on, however can get stuck with frequent use in salt water. (Despite careful washing)
As an example, I wanted to use the four different types of torches we have at the dive shop here at Laka Lodge, along with the Orcatorch which was sent to be to test and review.
(Discontinued, but similar torches are available such as )
Price – $90 USD
Lumens – 3W mono led
Ease of Use – Hand sized, light made out of anodized aluminium.
Battery Type – 3 type AAA alkaline batteries
Turn On Button – Rotational Head Switch
Price – unknown
Lumens – 1000
Ease of Use – Hand sized, light made out of anodized aluminium
Battery Type – Specific lithium battery
Turn On Button – Rotational Head Switch
Price – $109 USD
Lumens – 450
Easy of Use – Hand sized, light made out of anodized aluminium
Battery Type – 3 AAA batteries
Turn On Button – Magnetic Switch
Price – $259 USD
Lumens – 780
Ease of Use – 166g heavy, solid battery. Not pocket or wrist strap friendly.
Battery Type – 4 Type C batteries
Turn On Button – Magnetic switch
Hope you enjoyed this little review, and let me know what your favourite torch is! Leave me a comment down below about what you look for in a diving torch.