Without a good dive torch, what could have been an amazing and unforgettable diving experience will turn into a scary and dangerous one that you’ll want to forget. It’s not enough to have any dive torch; you’ll have to consider how much power (Lumens) it has, how wide the beam angle is, and if you’ll be taking pictures at night. You don’t want your dive light to suddenly die on you, so the battery type is yet another important consideration.
If you plan on diving deep, diving in murky water, or diving at night, you’ll need a night diving light to help you see in low-vis conditions. However, deciding on which one to buy can be difficult if you don’t have any experience. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the lights we use as well as highly recommended torches that others have suggested. Read on to learn more.
Our Top Picks:
Best Dive Light for Night And Murky Water Diving
Light & Motion SOLA Dive 800
- Powerful, compact, and rechargeable - dual beams and multiple power settings (70-280min) create the ultimate travel-friendly dive light
- 800 lumen flood and 500 lumen spot dive light certified to the FL-1 Standard; regulated output so light does not dim
- 60 degree flood and 12 degree spot underwater beam angles; tested in water for accuracy
If you love night diving and taking pictures or filming, then consider getting the Light & Motion SOLA 1200. This is a high-end, space-efficient, technical light that can be used hands-free thanks to the included wrist strap.
What makes this light so good? First, it is incredibly versatile. You can toggle between two modes: an 800 lumen, 60° wide beam setting, as well as a 500 lumen 12° spotlight, with various power levels for each mode. The SOLA also comes in a 1200 lumen version, and even an exceedingly bright 2500 lumen version.
Since you can swap between the flood and spotlight modes, the practical applications of this light are numerous. You can use it for getting the perfect shot with its wide beam, or if you just want to illuminate the area. If the water is murky, switch to the spotlight to pierce through as much of the floating particles as you can.
Furthermore, as we mentioned the SOLA is compact with a weight of only 285g. With the included wrist strap, you don’t even need to use your hands to hold it in place. You’ll barely even notice it’s there since it’s so small and barely causes any drag.
Unfortunately, the SOLA is not without its flaws. With how powerful it is, the battery life leaves much to be desired. With the 800 lumen version, it lasts 70 minutes of continuous use on the highest setting before it needs to be recharged. The 1200 lumen lasts even less, about 30 to 40 minutes or so, and we don’t even want to think how short the battery life is in the 2500 lumen version.
Furthermore, since the battery is built-in and sealed, which prevents leaks from occurring, you cannot take it out to replace it. Once the battery is dead, you will have no choice but to wait for it to fully recharge or keep a spare light around for this particular scenario. We were also not fans of the charging cord system, which we found bulky and takes hours to fully recharge the light.
VOLADOR Diving Flashlight 1000 Lumen
The VOLADOR 1000 lumen diving flashlight provides unbeatable value for what you pay for. It has a concentrated 9° spot beam which is great for shining a fair distance out in murky water. It also comes with low power settings to allow you to conserve battery when the water is relatively clear, with a maximum depth rating of 150 m (500 ft).
However, since it is a spot beam, it’s not ideal as a light source for your underwater camera. The VOLADOR dive torch is powered by an included rechargeable CR 18650 battery and it is superb; customers have used it for over 4 hours continuously before the battery needed to be recharged.
If you’ve never heard of VOLADOR, they are an obscure Chinese company that we were extremely impressed by. With their growing popularity, it seems there are a fair number of snorkelers and divers who like this product as well.
For those who are on a tight budget, don’t mind a narrow spot beam, and want a powerful dive light with great battery life, then the VOLADOR 1000 lumen dive light is a solid choice. Just remember to only use this light underwater, because it relies on the cooling provided by the water to not overheat.
Light & Motion GoBe 1000 Lumen 60° Wide FC
- World's most innovative waterproof flashlight; modular heads and powerful output create ultimate flexibility
- 1000 Lumen flood Certified to the FL-1 standard; 1.5-36 hour runtime
- 60 degree flood underwater beam angle; perfect for lighting large areas and photo/video content
If you are an underwater photographer or videographer looking for a dive light that won’t overexpose all of your shots, then consider getting the Light & Motion GoBe wide beam light. Its beam is void of any hard edges or hotspots, making it an optimal light for shooting pictures and film with.
There’s lots to like about the GoBe light. First is how compact it is. It can fit in the palm of your hand, yet it can output 1000 lumens on its highest setting. Despite the small size, its battery has a capacity greater than the popular CR18650 lithium battery used in many dive lights.
Furthermore, the GoBe has a modular design where you can swap out the light head with other options, such as the GoBe 800 or GoBe 500 spot head, turning it into a spotlight, though you cannot make this switch underwater.
It also has a sealed and integrated battery compartment that reduces the likelihood of water flooding in, but also prevents you from replacing the battery. The GoBe has a rechargeable battery which can be recharged via the included USB cable. We appreciate how compact the charger is, much like the light itself, which makes it easier to bring with you while traveling.
Aside from being able to swap out the heads, the GoBe dive light also has adjustable power levels. We recommend toggling it, because at the highest power setting, it will only last 90 minutes which is not that long in our opinion. If you leave it on its lowest setting most of the time, which you probably will since 1000 lumen is very bright, the battery will last much longer.
Lastly, you can use the Light & Motion GoBe out of the water thanks to its cooling vents. That is yet another advantage of its changeable heads. For example, you could use this light for diving, but then swap out the head and use this light as a bicycle headlight out of the water, or some other purpose. As you can see, from underwater photography to regular diving to even land activities, the Light & Motion GoBe is versatile enough for nearly any task.
ORCATORCH D550 1000 Lumens Dive Light
- Super bright: equipped with high quality Imported LED, the maximum output is 1000 lumens.
- Bonus wrist strap: this scuba diving torch comes with wrist strap which fix the D550 dive light to the back of your hand, lets you diving freely...
- Light and portable: this scuba diving light is a small and light weight tail magnetic switch diving light, it's very easy to operate underwater, and...
The OrcaTorch D550 is yet another solid option for a 1000 lumen dive light, with a reputation for its durability. It comes with a rechargeable CR18650 lithium-ion battery and an accompanying charging port and cable.
This battery has a respectable runtime of 2 hours of continuous use on the highest brightness setting, or approximately 6 hours on the lowest setting. This should be more than enough time for most dives. The battery takes around 7 hours to fully recharge, and you can also bring a spare battery just in case.
You can toggle the light output from high (1000 lumens), low (367 lumens), and strobe (1000 lumens). It’s really easy to toggle between these modes thanks to the magnetic on/off switch located at the tail that is fairly large so it’s easy to press even with thick gloves on.
Next, the OrcaTorch D550 has a waterproof rating of IPX-8 which is 150 m (500 ft) underwater. The D550 is a very durable dive torch with a body made from hard-anodized aluminum for extra scratch, impact, and corrosion-resistance. Apparently, it’s even a little bit fire-resistant, though we hope you are never in a situation where that would be relevant.
Despite how heavy duty the SOLA is, it’s still compact and lightweight enough for travel with a weight of only 183g without the batteries. Its dimensions are 144mm in length with a 25.4mm diameter handle. When you hold it in your hand, you can tell it’s pleasantly sturdy yet lightweight.
Comparing the OrcaTorch D550 to similar models, it’s a bit pricier than them. However, its durable construction, 50,000 hour life-span, and great after-sale care makes it easier to justify a higher price-point.
Underwater Kinetics Mini-Q40 MK2 250 Lumens
- 250 lumens / 5 hour run time
- Push button rear switch
- Mask strap included for hands free use
The Mini-Q40 MK2 is a compact but powerful dive light. It truly needs to be lightweight and compact because this dive light is designed to attach to your dive mask! If it were too heavy, then it would compromise the dive mask’s skirt seal and cause water to flood in. The Mini-Q40 MK2 may be small, but it’s powerful.
This compact dive light can emit 250 lumens for a continuous 5-hours of use, which should be plenty of time for your dive. The beam is highly focused and penetrative which makes it optimal for murky water. Activating this light is as easy as pressing the push switch which is large enough to easily press even with thick diving gloves on.
Powering this dive light are four standard AA batteries. Its necessarily small size makes it an incredible option for travel or long trips abroad. The Mini-Q40 MK2 weighs only 170g and measures 7.5 in in length, so packing it should be a breeze.
Light & Motion Sidekick Duo
- Brightest, most compact light for GoPro Hero cameras
- 600 Lumen flood and 400 Lumen spot beam Certified to the FL-1 standard
- Innovative dual beam modes with multiple power settings, 1-6 hour runtime
If you are diving with a GoPro camera, then you should definitely consider using it with the Light & Motion Sidekick Duo dive light. It comes with two lighting modes: a 600 lumen 90° floodlight, and a 400 lumen 23° spotlight for you to do your photography or videography work. Weighing in at only 123 g, the light itself is smaller than a GoPro, but it can emit an impressive 600 lumens.
The buttons on the Sidekick Duo are very easy to learn and simple to operate once you’re used to the controls. This light comes with an adapter that lets it mount to any GoPro Hero model. You can also attach it to a Dive Arm Kit which you can think of as a flexible arm mount or an extra pair of hands. Durability is not an issue since the Sidekick Duo has a robust aluminum design with a factory grade lithium ion battery that is long-lasting.
A downside of the Sidekick Duo is its one hour battery life when using its floodlight. You can extend it a bit longer if you toggle between the floodlight and spotlight, but if you’re filming, then you pretty much want to keep it on the floodlight. Essentially, this light is good for one dive. Recharging it takes up to 270 minutes.
With that said, there are few dive lights that are this compact and simultaneously this powerful. The Mini-Q40 MK2 reviewed above, for example, sacrifices brightness (250 lumens) for a significantly long battery life (5 hours). If you prefer a much brighter solution that doesn’t last as long, the Sidekick Duo is a better choice as a camera light. You can also attach snap-on filters to alter the light color and diffuse the light.
Sea Dragon 2500
- POWERFUL LED LIGHT - 2500 lumen LED light using the latest COB LED array technology (maintains 2500 lumens throughout burn time at full power), 120...
- THREE BRIGHTNESS LEVELS - Easily adjust between three brightness levels – Full power (100%), half power (50%), and quarter power (25%); 60-minute...
- EASY OPERATION - One button operation – Long push (1 sec) to power light on/off; short push cycles through 100% → 50% → 25% → 100%; constant...
Out of all of the night dive lights we’ve reviewed in this article, the Sea Dragon 2500 is by far the most powerful. The 2500 in its name refers to its lumen output at a wide 120° angle. This bright light will evenly illuminate the subject with no hot spots. Once you turn it in, night will turn into day. With a dive light this powerful, you might be thinking it doesn’t last very long.
The Sea Dragon can last a continuous 60 minutes at its highest brightness setting, after which the low power indicators will blink and the Sea Dragon will automatically switch to low power mode. Funnily enough, the “low” power mode still outputs 1200 lumens for another two hours, which is very impressive.
Furthermore, the Sea Dragon 2500 is intuitive to use. It features a push-button switch, three battery level indicators, three power levels to adjust from (100%, 50%, and 25%), as well as a strobe and SOS flash mode. It has a depth rating of 60 m (200 ft), with a waterproof battery compartment so even if the O-rings fail the battery is isolated and the flashlight will not be ruined.
Thanks to its anodized aluminum light head, the heat that the Sea Dragon 2500 generates is dispersed efficiently. The body is made with fiber-reinforced polycarbonate, meaning it can take a few hits like a champ. Unfortunately, this heavy-duty model is quite expensive due to its durable construction and impressive light output.
Are dive lights only useful at night?
If you’re going scuba diving at night, or plan on doing cave diving or wreck diving, it’s pretty self-explanatory why a dive light is mandatory. However, some divers don’t realize that dive lights are extremely versatile and can be used even during the day. As such, it doesn’t matter what type of diving you’re doing, you probably need a dive light.
On many dives, particularly around wrecks and reefs, there is a veritable amount of aquatic life hiding in little nooks and crannies that you wouldn’t be able to see without a dive torch. These creatures are shy and will hide in their holes as soon as you approach, so this is your only way of seeing some of them.
A dive light is also important for communication purposes. You can use it to direct your buddy’s attention to something specific without needing to utter a single world. You can also communicate danger, emergency, or acknowledgements quickly.
Furthermore, as you might remember from your Open Water Diver courses, water absorbs colors. The first thing you’ll notice is that red seems to have disappeared from the color spectrum. By the time you’re 30 m (100 ft) underwater, everything looks bluish-green. However, when you shine your dive light on coral or fish, since the light source is close by, less light is absorbed and you can see colors more accurately.
Seeing the true beauty of the underwater world will greatly improve your diving experience. It’s also necessary if you plan on doing any underwater photography or videography. Camera lenses require a generous amount of light to be able to capture shots, and you can’t rely on the sun to give you an abundance of natural light like you normally would.
How bright should a dive light be (in lumens)?
How bright a dive light is can be determined from its lumen value. The higher the number, the brighter the light is. However, brighter is not always better depending on the kind of diving you’re doing. For example, it’s possible to scare off fish, blind your dive buddy, or overexpose your camera making for a saturated shot. You also have to factor in the beam angle of your light.
For example, a torch with a narrow beam can have a lower lumen value yet still be sufficient for lighting up a highly focused area. For a narrow beam light (8-12°), a minimum of 300 lumens is recommended, but you should preferably aim for 500 lumens or more.
Dive torches with a wider beam light (40-100°) will illuminate a wider area with less intensity. We recommend getting a wide beam light that can output 500 lumens at a minimum, with an output of 1000 lumens or brighter being the ideal number.
Since wide beam lights can get so bright, there will often be settings to decrease the brightness for when you’re too close to the reef. Often, you will find that you should leave it at a lower setting to also conserve battery life. Brighter lights tend to be more expensive, bulkier, and heavier than lights with lower lumens, making traveling with them more difficult.
Lastly, keep in mind that underwater diving lights are designed to be used underwater. As in, they literally rely on water to cool down otherwise they will overheat when used in the air, so you should only be using them underwater.
What beam angle to get?
Night diving lights come in various shapes, sizes, and very importantly, beam angles (measured in degrees). A spotlight has a narrow beam, typically within the 8-20° range, that outputs a concentrated beam of light which is perfect for use in murky water. It is not so good at illuminating your surroundings as much.
Conversely, a wide beam light or floodlight angle is within the 40-100° range, takes more power to use, and is designed to illuminate your surroundings. It will not be as effective at shining through murky water. How do you decide which one to get?
Want the perfect underwater shot? Wide beam is the way.
If you plan on taking pictures of your night dive, this is a major consideration for what kind of dive light you get. A dive light with a narrow beam is easily too bright where the light is concentrated, and can produce uneven rings of light.
You can easily experience this phenomenon yourself by trying to take a picture in a dark room with a flashlight as your only light source. You’ll notice the photo you take will have a very bright white spot that obscures the details. You would have to awkwardly shine the light next to the object of focus for any usable picture. If you point the light directly on the object of focus, it will be extremely overexposed and washed out looking. This is why narrow lights are a terrible choice for photography and videography.
Photographers and videographers, look to wide beam lights if you want your footage to be uniformly illuminated and clear. You’ll have to find a light that doesn’t produce any rings or hot spots. For general wide angle shots, a 60° angle is pretty nice. If you are shooting panoramic shots using a GoPro style camera, you may need over 100° to illuminate the surrounding environment with no dark areas. The kind of shots you’ll make will have the foreground brightly lit up with no hot spots, and the background will not be as bright but still visible.
In fact, if you really want to get into night photography or videography, you’ll need to use flashes or strobes attached to your camera on long arms so they are a distance away from the lens. You may also need more than one wide angle light, but this is beyond the scope of this article. Check out our guide on how to take pictures while snorkeling to learn more.
Want to see farther? Go with a spot beam.
The downside of a wide beam light is if the water is murky or there are many particles floating by, then the light will reflect off of the particles, making it difficult to see far. So if you’re not using a camera, a light with a narrow spot beam is ideal for cutting through murky water so that you can see further.
Wide beam lights make people feel more comfortable because it illuminates their surroundings. With that said, both wide beam and spot beam lights are useful depending on the situation. Some dive lights can do both with both wide and focused beams that you can toggle between.
These hybrid lights can be used for both camerawork and for illuminating the area when the water is clear. When the water is filled with particles, you can switch to a narrow down spot beam to allow you to see farther in low-vis situations.
Size and weight
Whether you are a scuba diver or snorkeler, you always want to keep the size and weight of your gear to as low as possible. If your gear is more compact, it’s much easier to pack for travel and carry with you on land or underwater. Less bulk also means less water resistance while swimming which is crucial.
Sometimes it’s impossible to have a compact dive light if you need a dive light with very high lumens output. You also need to factor in how long the battery will last in such a powerful light. Ideally, it can shine for at least two hours before the battery dies.
Depth rating: Plenty of flashlights are waterproof, but that doesn’t mean they are rated for scuba diving. Make sure you get an actual dive light, not a waterproof flashlight. Even with a dive light, make sure that its maximum rated depth is comfortably beyond the depth you plan on diving to.
Bulb type: Most dive lights now use energy efficient bright LED bulbs. These lights last longer, run cooler, and are more reliable overall. We would not use flashlights that still use Tungsten or Halogen bulbs anymore.
Get a wrist lanyard: Dive lights are negatively buoyant which means they’ll sink to the depths unless they are attached to your wrist or clipped somewhere. Most lights come with a wrist lanyard, however you may need to get your own wrist strap.
Battery type: Figure out what type of batteries a dive light runs on before you purchase it. Some run on commonly available batteries like C, AA, or AAA. The optimal battery type is rechargeable lithium because they reduce battery waste and produce the most power for its weight.
Battery life: Determine how long a dive light lasts on maximum brightness and lowest brightness to get an idea of its battery life range. A small but bright dive light may not even last one hour at full power from a full charge. That’s way too short. Look for a light that can last 2 to 4 hours on a single charge at a minimum. You can conserve battery life at the surface by using a regular flashlight, and only using the dive light underwater.
Backup lights: You absolutely need a compact dive light as a backup in case your primary dive light dies. Depending on where you are, if you do not have a backup light, it can literally lead to a fatal outcome, so you need a backup dive light. Once your primary dive light dies, take out your backup light and end your dive right away.
How to use your night dive light properly
Turn on your dive light prior to entering the water and make sure to protect it before you take a giant stride or dive backwards from the boat. Once you are in the water, check that the light is still active before you descend.
During the dive, try not to aim the light directly at other divers or at the aquatic life. This can hurt people’s eyes and scare away animals. Instead, shine the center of the beam next to what you want to look at; the dim part of the light will be sufficient to illuminate it.
In shallow water during clear nights, it is often possible to experiece the natural bioluminescence of plankton. To appreciate this, you must occasionally cover your night dive light so that your eyes can adjust to the ambient light. After a while, you’ll be able to enjoy this natural phenomenon. Do not turn your dive light on and off in quick succession; it can damage the light, so cover it up instead.
You can use your dive light to draw alert your buddy of an emergency or a point of interest. Shine your light where your dive buddy is pointing their light to get their attention. Chances are that’s where they’re looking, so they should quickly spot your light. Drawing a slow circle with your light indicates you are okay. If you move your light beam quickly back and forth, this indicates an emergency. After performing this signal, aim the light where you want them to look so they can see the source of the emergency.
Last update on 2023-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API