Diving beneath the waves is possibly one of the most exciting and rewarding activities around, but if you want to be safe and make the most of your dives, you’ll need a dive light. This type of light allows you to experience the best of the magical underwater world, be it rich, unique sights and creatures or exploring inside cracks and crevices in full color. When shopping for the best dive light, you will be spoilt for choice given the advancement in technology that resulted in a number of new features and types of dive lights. But we’ve scoured this space, and bring you the low-down on the five best diving light brands and a light from each that you should make part of your scuba diving arsenal.
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Our Top Choice
Ikelite Gamma II LED Dive Light
Ikelite, established in 1962, is an all-American premier manufacturer of underwater photography lighting and accessories.
Robust 350-lumen intensity through a 10° beam. Available in 5 different colors. 400 feet of water resistance. 10-hour runtime. 2 CR123 battery-powered.
10 hours of runtime may be inadequate for some activities such as overnight fishing.
LED/10 hours burn time
5.6” x 1.4”, 4 ounces
2 CR123 batteries/350lm
Aircraft-grade aluminum/5 colors
Underwater Kinetics C4 eLED Dive Light
Underwater Kinetics has, for the past 4 decades, lived by a single mission—to engineer products with forward-thinking technology and nothing less.
1000 lumens on high and 450 on low mode. Rechargeable NiMH battery lasts 10 years. Runtime is 1.1 hours on high and 4 hours on low. Corrosion-resistant.
A bit on the heavy side at just under 2 pounds.
LED/1.1hrs or 4hrs burn time
6.8” x 5.6” x 3.2”,30.3 ounces
NiMH battery/1000lm or 450lm
Composite body/2 colors
Light and Motion Sola Dive Dive Light
Light & Motion bills itself as the Czar of lumens, and designs and manufactures a diverse range of lights for several different activities including biking and diving.
Two beams and several power settings. Flood lighting at 1200lm and a spot dive light at 500lm (60 degrees and 12 degrees). 3 color choices. Compact.
On the expensive side due to features.
Cree LED/70 to 440mins burn time
2.1” x 2.1” x 4”, 8.8 ounces
Rechargeable/1200lm or 500lm
ScubaPro NOVALIGHT Dive Light
ScubaPro first took center stage in the early 1960s with a wide range of innovations that are still used today, including regulators and submarines.
Depth rating of 1000 feet. Fitted with a Cree LED for 700 to 800 lumens. Rugged gun metal aluminum body. Sealed with 2 O-rings for superior water security.
3 C-cell batteries aren’t included in the package.
Cree Xml U2 LED/10 hrs burn time
1.5” x 1.5” x 8.2”, 11.3 ounces
3 C-cell batteries/720lm
Gun-metal aluminum body
Princeton Tec LED Dive Light
Princeton Tec has come a long way since it started coming up with new technologies in 1975, and today offers the best of lighting solutions.
260 lumens of brightness. 14 hours of burn time. Powered by 4 AA batteries. Water-resistant up to 330 feet. 5 different colors available.
A sleeve to load the batteries would make it even easier to use.
Dive lights have come a long way from what they where 5 or 10 years ago, owing mostly to the modern advancements in lighting and battery technology. Before you set out to buy the best dive light, it’s important to determine how you plan to use it, whether for daytime dives to view panoramic seascapes or during nighttime dives to look under caverns or rocks and unravel the trove. Now that you’ve read our dive light buying guide, and know exactly what features you’re looking for to bring on your adventure, let’s get right to our top five dive light options!
Our Top Choice
The Ikelite Gamma II LED Dive Light offers a really bright 350-lumen beam through a 10-degree beam angle, and is good for up to 400 feet. However, if you’d like an underwater light that offers a little less intensity, with the same beam angle and 10-hour runtime, check out the Ikelite Gamma LED Dive Light.
Ikelite Gamma II LED Dive Light - Available in 5 Colors
Tucked away in the best of the Midwest—Indianapolis, Indiana—Ikelite is a leading all-American designer and manufacturer of a wide range of innovative underwater photography and lighting supplies. The company sets itself apart from the competition by bringing to the table technologies and products that are indispensable. It started off by pioneering an underwater light integrated with a sealed beam bulb, and today has evolved to digital dive logs, diving compasses, strobe lights, and digital exposure meters.
The Ikelite Gamma II LED Dive Light is fitted with the latest LEDs, resulting in 60 percent brighter lights, and in terms of numbers that’s an astounding 350-lumen intensity via a 10-degree beam. It can be purchased in a choice of 5 different colors—pink, black, purple, red, and silver—and is crafted with aircraft-grade aluminum and mated with an ergonomic slip-proof contour grip. Further, it is corrosion-proof and offers water-resistance for up to an impressive 400 feet thanks to its dual O-ring seal and military-class anodizing.
Powered by two CR123 batteries, it offers however much lighting you need for up to 10 hours, with the flick of a button. Weighing in at a nifty 4 ounces and measuring 5.6 x 1.4 inches, the Gamma II LED Dive Light is backed by a wealth of expertise, so you can be assured that it won’t disappoint (as long as you treat it well).
The Underwater Kinetics Sunlight C4 eLED (L2) Dive Light offers a class-leading 1000 lumens of intensity when engaged on high mode and 450 lumens on low mode, and offers water resistance of up to 500 feet. Well, if you don’t feel the need for superior illumination, but still plan to dive in the middle of the ocean, the Underwater Kinetics C4 eLED Diving Light is an ideal choice.
Underwater Kinetics Sunlight C4 eLED (L2) Dive Light - Available in 2 Colors
Conceived in 1971, Underwater Kinetics is the name you can trust when it comes to long-lasting products that showcase forward-thinking technology and design. This is the same company that gave you the high-powered, small flashlight, and its products today still boast rugged durability and superior performance. Products from the Underwater Kinetics stable are engineered to last a lifetime, and as an example, some of its lights recovered from the ocean floor years later still work like brand new.
The Underwater Kinetics Sunlight C4 eLED Dive Light is a few notches above its bestselling predecessor, and brings to the table several great improvements starting with 1000-lumen intensity. It can be ordered in a choice of two colors—black and yellow—and features a dual power mode that allows you to switch between 1000 lumens on high and 450 lumens on low. This feature also allows you to use the dive light for 1.1 hours and 4 hours, respectively.
Speaking of battery life, the C4 eLED takes home the gold with its airline-safe NiMH battery that is good for roughly 10 years with proper care. When it comes to the exterior, it is a winning combination of a corrosion-resistant, tough composite body mated with a rubber bezel to protect against impact—and it offers a comfortable pistol grip to complete the ensemble. Its single, high-power 6-watt LED is backed by lumen booster technology that improves its efficiency by keeping heat away from the bulb, making the C4 eLED a great choice for up to 500 feet of diving pleasure.
The Light and Motion Sola Dive 1200 S/F Dive Light with Dual Beams is powered by a rechargeable battery, and renders a 1200-lumen flood light and 500-lumen dive spot light. If you’d like the same dual beam design albeit with a little less intensity, the Light and Motion Sola Dive Light 800 might be a better option.
Light and Motion Sola Dive 1200 S/F Dive Light with Dual Beams – Available in 3 Colors
If you’re looking for superior-quality illumination—and possibly for any activity you’d like to pursue— the Light & Motion portfolio is a great place to start. All products are designed and manufactured in the USA (most according to FL-1 standards) and include lights for several activities such as biking, climbing, and diving.
The Light & Motion Sola Dive Dive Light can be ordered in a choice of three different colors—black, blue, and white—each fitted with dual beams controlled by a myriad of power settings. Fairly lightweight at just 10 ounces, backed by a 2-year guarantee, and good to take with you up to 330 feet deep, it doubles down as a 1200-lumen flood light and 500-lumen dive spot light to project 60-degree and 12-degree beam angles, respectively.
The Sola Dive 1200 S/F Dive Light takes roughly 2.5 hours to fully recharge, after which it will perform for 70 minutes on high mode, 140 minutes on medium mode, or 280 minutes on low mode, all indicated by a colored status LED. With regards to its design, this light showcases a factory-sealed system that’s FL-1-certified and modular, making it compatible with a plethora of mounting options including T-handle, pistol grip, and Kirby Morgan helmet mount.
The ScubaPro NOVALIGHT 720 Wide Dive Light offers an ultra-wide 80-degree beam and features a 50% mode that lets you increase burn time. If you’d like a dive light with the same rugged body and water resistance, but with 700-lumen intensity, the ScubaPro Nova Dive Light 700R is worth exploring.
ScubaPro NOVALIGHT 720 Wide Dive Light with 2 Modes
Conceived in the early 1960s, ScubaPro, an alliance of the Johnson Outdoors Inc. company, is a premier name when it comes to a broad range of diving gear such as recompression chambers, regulators, and submarines. Today, the company employs more than 400 people across 17 locations, and has a footprint in over 13 countries and 4 continents. Johnson Outdoors, its parent company, is synonymous with innovative, class-leading products and has a myriad of brands under its belt including Marine Electronics, Watercraft, and Diving & Outdoor Equipment.
The ScubaPro NOVALIGHT 720 Wide Dive Light offers class-leading illumination owing to its CREE XML U2 LED that emits a super-bright, 80-degree beam for both daylight and underwater diving adventures. What sets it apart from the rest of the lights in its segment is its rugged, robust gun-metal aluminum body, which is appointed with a diamond-design knurling on the handle to improve grip and two O-ring seals for twist on and off activation. Further, the head of the NOVALIGHT 720 is protected against knocks and bumps with shockproof rubber, which also serves as a non-slip surface.
Measuring 8.3 inches long and powered by 3 C-cell batteries, the NOVALIGHT 720 is engineered to provide up to an impressive 10 hours of burn time, and you can further accelerate battery life by switching to 50-percent power mode. If you need an expansive beam to illuminate large sections of the underwater field with 720-lumen intensity for up to a whopping 1000 feet deep, there’s perhaps no better choice than the ScubaPro NOVALIGHT 720 Wide Dive Light.
The Princeton Tec AMP League LED Dive Light offers 260-lumen intensity and 14 hours of burn time, powered by its included 4 AA batteries. If you’d like a much brighter light and more burn time, the Princeton Tec Sector 5 LED Dive Light may be the perfect choice for you.
Princeton Tec AMP League LED Dive Light - Available in 5 Colors
Established in 1975, Princeton Tec has been a reputed name in the lighting space ever since its inception. The company has literally done it all—tackled large mountains, talked with athletes, and even brought itself to the ocean’s floor in an effort to bring products to the table that showcase the latest technologies and designs. The company’s vast portfolio includes scuba diving gear, outdoor products, and a wide range of tactical gear.
The Princeton Tec AMP League LED Dive Light offers a powerful 260-lumen beam, and won’t let you down underwater up to 330 feet and for up to 14 hours. Powered by 4 AA batteries (included), its sculpted shape along with its light weight of just 7.2 ounces makes it easy to hold. This device can be ordered in a choice of five colors, namely neon yellow, blue, black, pink, and white.
The underwater world is full of life and color, but you need the right lighting to experience it the way it’s meant to be. The deeper you go, the less color you’ll see, where over half of reds disappear in just 3 feet and half of the yellow by 9 feet, and you will see blue-grey or quite possibly nothing if you’re diving deeper than that (or at night).
After you acquaint yourself with the basics of dive safety, you should consider other equipment you may need to have a safe and enjoyable dive experience, such as a snorkeling mask, dive watch, or dive computer to avoid decompression sickness. Next, you should consider the light technology that suits your needs, where most dive lights are fitted with LED bulbs, giving you the best of both worlds—durability and remarkable lamp life. Further, pay attention to the size of the respective dive light, because if you’re going out spear fishing, it makes sense to carry a compact dive light that can be released easily when you need both hands, rather than a big bright underwater torch.
Diving lights are available from several different brands and with a myriad of different features, hence prices will vary as such. Further, the depth or water-resistance of an underwater torch could also spike up the price, where the greater the number, the deeper you can take it for a plunge—and the more you’ll likely have to pay. We recommend only spending money on what you’ll need.
For example, if you’re just going for a leisure dive in the pool, buying a dive light with 100-foot water resistance won’t do you any good. However, if you’re just getting your feet wet with this activity and can see yourself pursuing it in Florida in the near future, it makes perfect sense to buy a dive light that provides top-notch water resistance to avoid making another investment a few months down the line.
There are manufacturers who make dive lights exclusively for nighttime use that can be fitted on your head or mask strap, and will therefore cost a few $$$ extra. Apart from the price of the underwater torch, it’s a good idea to invest in a few goodies such as extra batteries and a spare lanyard.
The best dive light for your endeavors greatly depends on what time of day you will most likely be taking the plunge. For example, nighttime diving will present different illumination issues than daytime diving, requiring a more powerful dive light. For daytime diving, basic diving-worthy illumination should do the trick, offering you just enough light to peer in holes, ledges, and the like.
That said, here are a few aspects to consider when buying the best underwater torch:
Brightness – measured in lumens (lm), this factor is divided between high and low intensity, where most dive lights are (or should be) above 200lm
Beam Angle – this is the amount of area the respective light covers, also known as beam width
Battery Type – most common options are disposable and rechargeable
Bulb Type – most underwater torches are fitted with one of three common bulb types— LED (light emitting diode), HID (high-intensity discharge), or Xenon (incandescent)
Burn Time – this is the amount of time the light will last for, where some manufacturers offer the chance to switch between low and high modes to preserve battery life
Water Resistance – also referred to as depth rating, this is how deep you can take the light underwater
Size and Weight – small, compact dive lights are great for daytime dives, while you may need to up the game a little if diving at night
Construction and Design
The bulb of the dive light is where all the magic happens, where Xenon bulbs tend to be the least expensive, but have a shorter battery life and don’t provide the same brightness as LED or HID bulbs. On a brighter note, they do render warmer colors rather than bluish colors, which work great for underwater photography and videography. LED and HID lamps provide top-notch brightness and energy efficiency, and are also more robust and durable than most other forms of lighting.
When it comes to beam angle, you will be better off with a wider beam for shooting underwater video and capturing images, or for diving at night for maximum visibility. Small beams provide a somewhat bright spotlight, which is useful when diving in murky water and to see further down passages or into wrecks.
Performance and Ease of Use
Traditional alkaline battery-powered dive torches generally render a low level of performance and reduced battery life; on the other hand, CR123 lithium batteries offer class-leading performance, and although a bit expensive, are well-worth every penny. Rechargeable dive lights are the best choice if you’re a frequent diver for two reasons: you won’t have to switch batteries often and they’re great for the environment. Further, some dive lights offer the ability to switch between different modes of power in an effort to preserve battery life or increase burn time.
The exterior of underwater lights can be made of several different materials, with the most robust being aluminum and other types of metal, and all sealed to withstand water pressure for a less stressful diving experience. Underwater torches are easy to maintain given that most of them are watertight, and the most you need to do is give them a good rinse after each dive to keep them looking fresh and new!
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