Lighting the way with a dive torch

A dive torch can be an integral part of your diving experience. If you're diving at night or in an environment with very little natural light (night diving, cave diving, or any type of penetration diving), a dive torch is required. You need a torch to maintain your visibility underwater as well as signal others when you or another diver is in need of help. But, there are many types of dive torches. Some are better than others. In this article, you'll learn the reasons why you should have a dive torch, tips for buying one and how to care for your torch.

Why you need a dive torch

As mentioned, if you're going to be diving in environments without the benefit of natural light, a dive torch will be critical to how rewarding your dive is as well as your overall safety. When night diving, your visibility underwater approaches zero, even in your immediate surroundings. A dive torch can illuminate your environment, allowing you to enjoy the spectacles around you. Also, you can use your torch to let others know your position.

Second, even on dives during the day, a dive torch can be useful. You'll often want to investigate areas where the sunlight doesn't reach. For example, crevices, small caves and large natural overhangs can provide unique sights. Because the light from above often can't reach these places, a dive torch can be helpful in seeing these marvels more easily. Also, when you're diving in dark areas, it may be difficult to see your depth gauge and dive computer. A dive torch can illuminate both so you can monitor your progress and the time you have left before having to return to the surface.

Tips for buying a dive torch

First, you'll need two lights: a primary and a backup. Dive torches are typically reliable. But, you don't want to be surprised by finding yourself in a dark environment underwater when your torch malfunctions (or the battery runs out). It's easy to become disoriented in a dark environment. A backup light can be critical to your safety. Second, the dive torches available today are much different than those from a few years ago. They offer special components and circuitry that can stretch the life of your battery on long dives. Try to buy a dive torch with a lithium battery. They're more expensive than the traditional alkaline battery-powered torches, but they'll last longer and need to be replaced less frequently. Finally, your torch doesn't need to be that powerful. Remember, most marine life is accustomed to the darkness. A bright torch can cause them to flee.

Caring for your dive torch

Treat your dive torch as you would any piece of your scuba diving equipment. After each dive, take it apart and inspect it for debris that may have accumulated. The debris can impact how well the torch functions on future dives, so clean it out. Also, before going underwater, make sure your batteries have plenty of juice. If you think the batteries are going dry, replace them. Test your torch to make sure the switch is working properly and you've replaced the batteries in the right position. While submerged, try to avoid banging your dive torch on the ocean floor or against objects you're near. That can damage your light and cause it to malfunction.

Remember that your dive torch can be just as important as your air tanks.