There’s a lot of choices when it comes to dive torches but before being dazzled consider what you will use it for and how often you are likely to use it. If you only ever dive on holiday in tropical locations perhaps making one or two night dives then hiring a torch at your destination might be the best option.
Mantas at night © Tchami
Another point to consider, before you invest mega bucks, are that torches are one of those pieces of equipment that flood, get dropped, or go missing. Don’t over invest, only spend what you would be willing to lose; you don’t want to be tempted to risk life and limb retrieving it.
- Bulb or LED
Bulb torches are mostly outdated now and LED light sources are the norm. LEDs are far more efficient offering greater burn times for less power. As LEDs don’t have the fragile filament of a bulb, they do offer greater reliability too.
A narrow beam is best for pointing and ‘cutting through’ poor visibility whereas a wider beam will bounce back much like car headlights in fog. For night diving in good visibility, a wider beam will illuminate a greater part of the reef offering a better experience. Some torches provide the option of changing the beam.
If you are looking to add some colour to your GoPro footage, then you should opt for a wide constant beam that delivers uniform light without hotspots.
As an environmentally friendly diver, you should be using rechargeable batteries or a battery pack that can be recharged. If you are using them often, this does lower running costs too, but of course, you do need to be able to charge them.
On some torches you have a handle, some you grip around the barrel, and some mount to your wrist with a cable running to the power source attached to your tank. The latter is popular in technical diving as it leaves your hands free and typically has a longer burn time. Regardless you need to be sure that how you hold it is comfortable.
Torches can be turned on and off, on some you can adjust the level of brightness and the beam size. Make sure these switches are easy to operate and if you are going to be wearing gloves make sure you check out how easy they are to operate with them on. Some models switch on and off by twisting the barrel; this is the same way that you would open the torch to change the batteries so you can easily inadvertently flood your torch.
Brightness is measured in lumens and if you’re buying a torch then clearly the brighter, the better however it is a good idea to be able to adjust the output.