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Your Guide to the Best Dive Lights for 2021

Recently a friend of mine wanted to go lobster diving…

If you’ve never done it, imagine swimming out in the ocean in the middle of the night trying to find lobsters between crevasses in the rocks. I didn’t have a dive light at the time so my buddy let me borrow his.

Top Dive Lights

It was horrible…

Two scuba divers using an underwater flashlight
It’s always smart to carry a dive light when scuba diving or freediving at night.

The lumens were weak and it made diving tough and a bit scary.

This experience made me realize that underwater flashlights (dive lights) are essential tools for diving and freediving at night…and weak ones are the worst.

If you enjoy diving deep especially when navigating caves or shipwrecks then you need at least a few dive lights for redundancy purposes. If you like spearfishing and want to capture some sweet footage on your GoPro, then it also helps to carry a light for extra illumination. It wouldn’t hurt to also have a GoPro underwater light as well.

Today we are going to go over the best dive lights as well as the best back up lights in case your main light decides to stop working or the battery dies out.

What Is a Dive Light?

A dive light is a powerful waterproof light used by divers for seeing underwater when natural light fails to penetrate to their dive depth.

Scuba diver using a dive light in a cave
Have you ever tried cave diving? Source

Dive lights are not only used by recreational divers. They are also used by rescue divers when trying to find missing persons or vehicles that have been submerged.

Underwater photographers use dive lights to capture pictures and videos of marine life, sunken ships, and other wonders of the deep.

The three key considerations for a dive light include:

  • Waterproof
  • Hold a charge
  • Power of the beam

Waterproof is important to ensure the internal electronics don’t short circuit. Holding a charge is important because it determines the amount of time you can be in the water. Finally, the power of the beam allows you to see a greater distance underwater.

Trust me, diving with a low power beam can be frustrating as it takes mental energy to focus to try and make out what you’re seeing underwater.

Don’t try and use a regular flashlight underwater especially when diving. The water pressure will find its way through improper seals and damage the electronics.

Nothing is worse than being away from shore in the pitch black and your flashlight goes out.

NOTE: Don’t try and vacuum seal a normal flashlight to try and make it waterproof…I’ve tried it and the water will penetrate the pores of the plastic and ruin your flashlight.

What Makes a Good Dive Light?

Dive lights are made by different companies in different shapes, sizes, bulb types, and battery types.

Dive Light Bulbs

LED, Halogen, and HID are the bulb types for most dive lights.

LED Bulbs

LEDs are the most popular type of bulb used by most recreational divers. They are cheap, powerful and last for longer than the housing will stay waterproof.

Scuba diver retrieving his friend's lost flashlight
A friend retrieving his buddy’s dropped the flashlight. Use a wrist strap when possible so this doesn’t happen to you! Source

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen bulbs are some of the oldest bulbs used by divers and are being discontinued by most manufacturers.

A great deal of energy used in a halogen bulb is transferred to heat instead of light. They are good but finicky and some can only turn the light on underwater. This is due to the glass getting heated up prematurely and shattering when it touches the cold water.

HID Bulbs

HID bulbs are expensive. The Xenon gas in the bulb glows when barely stimulated by electricity, they last 5 times longer than halogen bulbs and emit a bright white light. They use a much smaller amount of energy compared to halogen bulbs.

From an efficiency and durability standpoint, we recommend you stick with LED flashlights if possible. 

Lumens and Beam Angle

When picking a flashlight it’s important to know how many lumens you need for your task at hand. Dive lights are rated with a number of lumens of light output. A 500 lumen light will be significantly weaker than a 2,000 lumen light.

Depending on the flashlight, you’ll be able to control the amount of light spread from the bulb. If you light angle it will decrease the distance the light will travel underwater. This could be an issue if the water is murky and you’ll get considerable backscatter similar to when driving through the fog with your high beams on.

For example, a 12-degree beam is about four times the area than a six-degree beam, therefore it will appear to be less bright underwater.

NOTE: Just because a manufacturer says they have a certain amount of lumens don’t make it so. I’ve seen 500-lumen dive lights that outperformed 2000 lumen ones because of the difference in quality by the manufacturers.

Dive Light Batteries

There are three types of batteries that are the most used in dive lights.

Traditional Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are common and easiest to get but tend to have a shorter battery life than lithium.

Lithium Batteries

CR123 lithium batteries perform better than alkaline batteries, however, they are more expensive and harder to get ahold of in some countries.

They are also frowned upon by some European nations and can be difficult to get through customs due to the lithium. A key benefit is that they can be recycled when they are used up instead of thrown away normally.

Rechargeable Batteries

If you dive regularly, then pick up some lithium rechargeables and a charging station. They are the most economical as well as the best choice environmentally.

They require time to charge and do not hold a charge well in storage. Therefore if you need some emergency batteries, have a stash of alkalines handy.

Best Dive Lights for 2021

Best Wrist Dive Light

Light and Motion SOLA Dive 1200 S/F

Light & Motion SOLA Dive 1200 S/F Underwater Light
  • Ultra compact lightweight (285 grams); extremely bright 2...
  • No flooding with factory sealed housing
  • Rechargeable Li-ion battery with run times up to 270 minutes...

This ultra-compact and lightweight LED torch only weighs 285 grams. It has two light modes with three different settings (high, medium, and low.). a 1200 lumen floodlight and a 500-lumen spotlight to help you pinpoint a specific object or animal.

This light does not flood with its factory sealed housing it is rated up to 100 yards.

This light rechargeable Li-Ion battery runs up to 270 minutes in its lowest setting.

It has 60 degrees of even floodlight to fill your entire field of vision with pure illumination.

This light is a good main light as it lasts well over the amount of time you will normally be underwater.

Best Backup Dive Light

Audeamus Rechargeable Waterproof LED Dive Light 1200 Lumens

This light is a 1200 lumen torch with high, medium, low, and S.O.S. settings.

It is rated up to 100 meters with a double O-ring sealed body.

Its rechargeable Samsung 18650 battery lasts up to 90 min on its lowest setting, therefore, it is a good secondary light.

It is a spotlight, so it only got an 8 degree angle.

The body has a battery meter that reads high, mid, low and S.O.S.

Best Fixed Strength Dive Light

Orcatorch D520 Diving Flashlight 1000 Lumens 

ORCATORCH D520 Scuba Dive Light 1000 Lumens Waterproof Diving Torch Submarine Diving Safety Lights Underwater Diving Flashlight
  • Super bright: this scuba dive light is equipped with CREE...
  • Rotary switch: the dive light uses professional mechanically...
  • Power source: this dive torch is compatible with one 18650...
  • This light’s max output is 1000 lumens. It is a one setting torch.
  • This light runs on 1 18650 battery, 2 16340 batteries, or 2 CR123A batteries.
  • Its max runtime can reach up to 120 minutes with one 18650 battery.
  • This light is rated up to 150 meters with three mechanical o-rings.

This light has an easy to operate the mechanical rotary switch to turn this light on. With this, it takes most all chances of mechanical issues due to buttons or switches.

It is most indefinitely one of the best choices for a main or backup light. This light is good for many uses from a simple flashlight to one of the best diving torches money can buy.

Best 2000 Lumen Underwater Flashlight

Orcatorch D800 2100 Lumens Diving Main Light with 3 CREE LED

ORCATORCH D800 2100 Lumens Diving Main Light with 3 CREE LED, Powered by 2 26650 Batteries, Tail Rotary Switch, 150M Underwater, for Technical Diving, Wreck Diving, Cave Diving, Fishing
  • Ultra-bright: Utilize 3 CREE LED, the maximum output can be...
  • Long runtime: Powered by two 26650 li-ion batteries, its...
  • Rotary switch: It has mechanically tail rotary switch, which...

This light uses 3 CREE LEDs to produce an amazing 2100 lumen output.

This light uses two 26650 Li-ion batteries and its runtime can reach up to 200 minutes which makes it one of the best main dive lights available.

This light uses a mechanical rotary tail switch to engage the light. Which in turn means you can turn it on before you enter the water and turn it off when you get out of the water.

Best Underwater Flashlight

Underwater Kinetics C8 eLED (L2) Dive Light

Underwater Kinetics C8 eLED (L2) Dive Light, Black
  • Alkaline performance - 900 lumens on high, 400 lumens on low
  • Run time: 5.8 hrs on high / 20 hrs on low
  • Unique optical design unites two high intensity LEDs into...

This light puts out 900 lumens on high and 400 on low (using c cell batteries) and 1200 lumens when using the rechargeable pack.

This light runs an astounding 5.8 hours on high and 20 hours on low due to a rechargeable battery pack or by using c cell alkaline batteries.

It uses a unique optical design to train two high intensity LED lights into each other to make a very intense light.

There is a very user-friendly switch to go between low and high power to extend battery life.

This light is rated up to 500 feet as well this light only weighs 39 ounces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the brightest dive light?

A: The brightest dive light is the Orcatorch D8000

Q: Who makes the best underwater flashlight?

A: The company that makes the best underwater flashlight is Underwater Kinetics. Their flashlight model C8 reigns king over all of the other underwater flashlights.

Q: What is the best scuba light?

A: The best scuba light is the Underwater Kinetics C8.

Q: What is the best dive light for the money?

A: The Orcatorch D520 is the best dive light for the money.

Q: What is the best primary dive light?

A: The Underwater Kinetics c8 is the best Primary Dive light.

Insider Advice

The best option for a dive light covers these areas:

  1. Energy efficiency – your batteries will last 25%-50% longer than your average dive time.
  2. Common batteries – find lights that use standard (rechargeable) AA, C, or D so you can pick some up at the store when in a bind.
  3. LED – they are bright and efficient.
  4. Adjustable strength – Find one that allows you to adjust the beam angle so you can narrow or widen your light depending on the conditions.

When it comes to dive lights battery life, ease of access, brightness, and depth are the main factors when choosing the best diving light. The Underwater Kinetics C8 eLED (L2) dive light is the winner of this roundup.

This light balances a 500 feet depth with up to 20 hours of usable time. This means no matter what you decide to do with this light it can and will take the wear and tear from repeated use.

This light takes c-cell alkaline batteries as well as a rechargeable pack can be acquired for this dive torch. As well as when you are thinking user-friendly what is easier than a high/off/low switch that is waterproof. You do not have to worry about it leaking water when getting turned off and on.

This light is one of my go-to lights and I use it for everything! Whether I am driving or just simply walking the dog in the local park at night. This light works and keeps working no matter the conditions.

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Johnny Harvill

Sushmita Lo

Jon Stenstrom

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