For night divers, a reliable underwater torch (or flashlight) is one of the most important things you can have. An underwater torch not only reveals your surroundings, it also helps communicate with one other divers, charge your dive computer, depth gauge, or other instruments.
Underwater torches are practical tools for daytime diving as well. A flashlight will illuminate dark or gloomy spaces like an overhead rock or cave. If you are into wildlife observation or underwater photography, pointing the beam of your torch will bring out the true color of an organism. At first, many marine organisms like corals and sponges look dull. But when you highlight it with the beam of your torch, you’ll be surprised to see how colors glow.
The Best Underwater Torches: At a Glance
- Light and Motion SOLA Dive Light 1200
- Underwater Kinetics SL3 eLED Dive Light
- Big Blue AL1200NP LED Light
- Underwater Kinetics C4 eLED Dive Light
- Princeton Tec Genesis 1000 Scuba Diving Light
- Kraken Sports NR 900 Zoom Dive Light
- Tovatec T1000 Video Light
- Light and Motion GoBe 1000
- SeaLife Sea Dragon Mini 900 Power Kit
- Dive Rite HP50 Expedition Canister Light
The Best Underwater Torches: In Depth
One of the coolest features of this underwater torch is its flexibility in being handheld and hands free. This is made possible by its ballistic fabric hands-free strap where you can choose to set it on the left or right hand.
Weighing only 10 ounces (283.5 grams) with a dimension of 4 x 2.1 x 2.1 inches (10.16 x 56.33 x 5.33 centimeters) and a depth rating of 330 feet (100 meters), this torch uses a powerful LED bulb that is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It is highly versatile as it is both a spot and flood light. When set to flood light mode, it produces 1,200 lumens of brightness on a 60° wide beam. When set to spot light mode, it has a 500 lumen rating spread on a 12° deep penetrating beam. Aside from the spot and flood mode, it has 3 different intensity modes where a high mode provides a 70 minute continuous light, 140 minutes for mid mode and 280 minutes for low mode.
Measuring only 7.9 x 2 x 2 inches (20 x 5 x 5 centimeters), the Underwater Kinetics SL3 is ideal as a backup or secondary light. But being small and compact doesn’t mean that it is a low-performing torch. In fact, it is rated to produce 425 lumens of brightness courtesy from its high intensity white LED lamp. Surrounding the valve is a total internal reflection (TIR) reflector which provides a bright center spot and a low peripheral light.
This torch is powered by 3 disposable alkaline c-size batteries that have a total burn time of up to 5 hours. Its switch mechanism uses a simple on/off twisting bezel head that is sealed by 2 o-rings. It has a depth rating of 500 feet (150 meters).
The Big Blue AL1200NP LED Light is a bestseller that has been noted for its rugged construction courtesy from its anodized aluminum housing. It has a rechargeable lithium ion battery that powers its LED bulbs that can produce up to 1200 lumens and a maximum burning time of 20 hours.
This torch is ideal as a primary light for recreational divers and a backup light for advanced and technical divers. Its switch has 4 level modes. Level 1 gives out 120 lumens, level 2 at 300 lumens, level 3 at 600 lumens and 1,200 lumens at level 4. With its small and compact size measuring only 5.5 x 1.3 inches, this torch is ideal also for cave and wreck diving and is rated to go down to 330 feet (100 meters).
If you are looking for a traditional large hand-held torch with a pistol grip, consider the Underwater Kinetics C4 eLED dive light. This USA-made torch measures 6.8 x 5.6 x 3.2 inches and is powered by 4-pieces C-cell alkaline batteries.
Its improved eLED bulb gives out 1,000 lumens and is divided into 2 beam sections. The center spot beam is rated at 900 lumens while the surrounding outer flood beam is at 100 lumens. It also has a patented lumen booster that improves LED efficiency by pulling heat away from the LEDs. This underwater torch has 2 modes: high mode which gives out 1,000 lumens at a burning rate of 1.25 hours and low mode at 450 lumens at a burning rate of up to 4 hours. This torch has one of the greatest depth ratings where it can function up to 500 feet (152 meters).
This torch is known for its versatility when it comes to power requirement. It can either be powered with its built in rechargeable lithium-Ion 18650 battery or a disposable CR 123 battery. Regardless of what battery you choose, its MaxBright LED bulb gives out 1,000 lumens with a burning time of up to 8 hours. It can easily light up dark spaces like underwater caves and wrecks.
This slim torch has a metal casing that has a double o-ring seal and has a depth rating of 330 feet (100 meters). Its power button has 3 modes: high, low and SOS. It even has a built-in power indicator that tells you the time left before the battery is drained and needs to be recharged.
If you are looking for a torch that has an adjustable beam focus, consider the Kraken Sports NR 900 Zoom dive light. By twisting the head bezel, you can adjust the beam angle focus from 10 to 45°.
This torch uses an LED bulb that is powered by a rechargeable 18650 lithium ion battery and gives out 900 lumens of brightness with a maximum burning time of 70 minutes. It has a multiple mode switch where you can select from 100% brightness, 50% brightness, 25% brightness, SOS and strobe mode. This torch has a depth rating of 100 meters (330 feet).
For a compact torch that has a wide angle beam, then the Tovatec T1000 is at the top of the line. Using a CREE LED bulb that is powered by a rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion battery, this torch gives out 1,000 lumens of brightness and a burning time of up to 3.5 hours.
This compact dive light which measures only 5.8 x 1.1 inch (14.7 x 2.8 centimeters) and weighs 4 ounces (113.4 grams) is ideal for underwater photography and videography. This is brought to you by its 120 degree angle beam that captures and illuminates the subject you intend to shoot. The unit is rated to be functional of up to 100 meters (330 feet) deep. The only downside that you should note with this torch is that it takes a while to charge its battery, typically running from 4 to 5 hours.
If you are an active traveller and require a torch that is effective both on land and underwater without any issues of bulb heating or burn up, the Light and Motion GoBe 1000 is one of the best underwater flashlights for you. This compact torch uses a high-level CREE LED that is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery with fast charging capabilities.
This underwater torch has an innovative design especially on the switch where you can select on different modes that is geared towards power conservation. If you choose the high mode, it gives out 1,000 lumens of brightness with a burning time of 1.5 hours. For Medium mode, it gives out 500 lumens of brightness with a burning time of 3 hours and low mode at 250 lumens for 12 hours. For non-diving related activities, you can set the torch to camping mode where it gives out 125 lumens with a burning time of up to 24 hours.
If you are looking for a compact underwater torch that delivers a solid 900 lumens of straight narrow beam, take a look at the SeaLife Sea Dragon Mini 900. Encased in a corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum tube, this torch uses a CREE XM-L2 T6 LED bulb with a life expectancy of 30,000 operating hours and has a brightness rating of 900 lumens.
This underwater flashlight has a 5 light mode switch. At full power mode, the burning time of the rechargeable lithium ion battery is at 2 hours and 8 hours for the quarter power mode. The unit is sealed up using double o-ring and is rated to go down to 100 meters (330 feet) deep. In case you forget to recharge the battery or at an area with no electricity, you can power up the unit using 2-pieces CR123 batteries which gives you a burning time of up to 4 hours.
If you are looking for a torch with a high lumen rating that makes dark spaces light-up like daylight, then you can consider the Dive Rite HP50 Expedition Light. This is a canister-type of torch where the battery is separated on a canister and the lamp head is connected through a sealed wire.
This torch uses a CREE XLamp XHP50.2 LED bulb that is powered by a rechargeable 100 watt-hour lithium-ion battery. It has a 4 mode switch. High mode gives out a brightness of 3,500 lumens with a burning time of 5 hours, medium mode for 10 hours, low mode at 100 hours and strobe mode for 50 hours. The battery canister is usually attached at the side of the tank and the headlamp has a handheld grip for easy handling. The total weight of this lighting system is 4.1 pounds (1.87 kilograms) and has a depth rating of 152 meters (500 feet).
Check price: LeisurePro
Things to Consider When Buying an Underwater Torch
Scuba divers cannot use any kind of torch–it has to be an underwater torch in particular. Flashlights made for scuba diving are sealed and water resistant. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best underwater torch for your next scuba dive:
All underwater torches have a depth rating. The general rule is the deeper the depth rating, the better. But it doesn’t mean that you’re going to that depth. Do not select torches that have a depth rating lower than the maximum depth limit set for recreational scuba diving which is 40 meters (130 feet). But again, you’re not going that deep. The reason for selecting a higher depth rating is guaranteed functionality and you are at ease that your torch will not be flooded due to increasing depth pressure.
Battery: Disposable or Rechargeable
Underwater torches are either powered by disposable or rechargeable batteries. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. The great thing with underwater torches powered by rechargeable batteries is that you don’t need to bring spare batteries and you simply pack the underwater torch itself. However, when the battery is drained, you need to charge it using electricity and this may not be an option if you are exploring far flung destinations or exploring the world via liveaboard, where power is often limited.
For underwater flashlights powered by disposable batteries, it is great for diving in remote areas with no electricity. Make sure to bring spare batteries and make it a habit not to use half-spent batteries as it can easily get drained when used continuously.
Bulb Type and Lumens
The bulbs used in underwater torches vary, ranging from the traditional incandescent bulbs to the latest LED (light emitting diode) and HID (High intensity discharge). Incandescent bulbs are used in old model torches and they are easily replaced since they are cheap and have a short lifespan. On the other hand, LEDs and HIDs (which can be expensive) are securely mounted on the unit and replacing them may require servicing.
Regardless of what bulb you choose, we highly suggest you consider the lumens which is the measurement of brightness. The general rule is the higher the lumens, the brighter your light is. For the same bulb wattage, incandescent bulbs produce less lumens than LEDs and HIDs. But you have to remember that as you go up the bulb wattage level (not the lumens), it burns more power thus consuming more energy in your battery. A rule of thumb is that 1,000 lumens will be enough for the average night dive.