Torch Primer

Recently I was on a night dive and one of the participants was a fairly new diver. (less than 50 dives) As we walked out we were discussing the dive and he made the statement “I’ve got to get a better light”.

I asked him which light he was using and he replied “The $25 one on Amazon”.

There’s your problem. Let’s unpack this shall we?

Too good to be true

Most torches will cost you in excess of $100 USD. Some will cost you way in excess of that. How much you need to spend depends on what type of diving you do. If you are doing underwater photography and looking for a video light or strobe to add to your rig, those are going to be expensive. Even so, you should expect to pay no less than $100 for a general purpose torch.

The Bare Minimum

Here are the bare minimum requirements you should look for when buying your first scuba torch.


Do not buy an incandescent torch. These days they are hard to find but every now and then you run across one. Leave it alone. These tend to be on the lower end of the price spectrum and unsuspecting new dives buy them and regret it immediately.

1,000 Lumens

My dive buddy that night had gotten suckered into buying a 300 lumens torch. Yes, I’ve bought these, yes, I’ve regretted it every time. 300 lumens may be ok for your backup light but not for your primary. For your primary, 1,000 is your minimum.

Rechargeable battery

You want to make sure that your torch has a rechargeable battery. First, it’s better for the environment. Second, many Caribbean islands insist that if you bring a battery onto the island, you have to take it with you when you leave. They don’t have the facilities to properly dispose of them so if you leave them, they get stuffed in a landfill. Using rechargeable batteries solves this problem.

18650 Removable battery

Many scuba torches use a standard 18650 cell as their battery. Others that have a rechargeable have a “sealed” battery. This means that you as the user cannot get to the battery to change it out when it develops a memory. Unless I have specific needs, I always favor lights that use 18650 cells. They are rechargeable many times and when you need to replace them, they are plentiful. Many dive centers and resorts carry them in case you find yourself on a trip and need to replace your battery.

Once you have some experience and you want to upgrade, there are a lot of torches that exceed these minimums. Go find the one that makes you happy and buy that one. If you followed my advice here, then the first one you bought will make an awesome backup.

Until next time, Dive Confidently! 🙂
Cal “Uncle Cal” Evans

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