|PACKING FOR A TRIP TO SUDAN via a holiday flight to Egypt, I was aware that my baggage was going to be very overweight again. I was tempted to haul out the heavy super-Teutonic lamp I had packed and replace it with a lightweight Delrin-made job I had been sent by US manufacturer Dive Rite.
In the event, I took both.
Measuring 20cm long and 4.5cm in diameter, the 300 is almost small enough to fit into a BC pocket, and weighs less than half a kilo.
In fact it comes with a very convenient holster that can be threaded onto a weightbelt, and a lanyard too.
Lamar Hires, Dive Rite’s boss, is a deep-diving tekkie, so there is no surprise that this lamp is rated to 100m. It has a double O-ring seal between head and body to keep the water out.
This product is snappily named the LT6078LED-300 LED Flashlight, but I’ll take the liberty of rechristening it as the Dive Rite 300 LED Torch.
Three separate LED lamps, each with its own reflector behind a common front glass, give a cool light approximating to 6500°K. That’s about the same as shadow areas lit by a vivid blue sky on a ski slope.
The lamps are said to be good for 10,000 hours of continual use. I cannot confirm this, because I needed to get into print this year!
Eight AA batteries installed in a battery-chassis power this lamp for 12 hours at full brightness. However after this period the lamp won’t leave you in the dark. It goes on working for up to 30 hours, its output gradually diminishing.
This means that you can take it for a week’s diving trip and still have enough power left in one set of batteries to signal your position, should you be left behind at the end of the last night dive. Don’t tell me it never happens!
You can use either conventional 1.5V alkaline batteries or 1.2V rechargeables in AA size.
Be careful to insert the battery-chassis the correct way round to make contact with the front shroud assembly. You need to rotate the front shroud to make an electrical contact to switch the lamp on or off.
This has the benefit of simplicity of construction, but I am wary of this method because the lamp may be switched on at depth in its holster without you being aware of it.
It can also make switching off difficult under the extreme pressure of depth.
The holster is effectively transparent, the business end being made of a broad weave material, so if the lamp comes on unexpectedly at least your buddy will notice it.
I was very careful to turn it just enough to switch it off each time, but after a few dives traces of water had penetrated the battery compartment.
That said, I guess it’s best to switch this lamp on at the beginning of a dive and leave it on until you are finished with it. This does mean that, like other similarly switched lamps, it might be less useful as an emergency back-up light.
The advantage of this method of switching is that you can unscrew the two parts completely, as when installing batteries, split the lamp in two and insert an umbilical connection between what becomes a little lamp-head and the separated battery-pack. This can be carried in its holster, threaded onto your belt or other webbing.
Of course, you can also purposely insert the chassis the wrong way round for safe transport.
Judging the brightness of a beam can be misleading. If you are diving with someone who has a similar lamp, your eyes will adjust to accommodate the amount of light present. It’s only when some cruel person swims up behind you in the dark with a powerful brute of a lamp that you might realise how puny your own light is.
The cool colour of this one makes the light available very penetrative. It’s not warm and comforting, and soft corals do not light up such a warm and vibrant red in the dark, but you can really see where you’re going.
In the dark recesses of the engine-room and galley area of the Umbria wreck, the Dive Rite 300 LED proved exceedingly effective. Its beam cut through water filled with tiny rust particles that gave it the consistency of a thin Brown Windsor soup.
I consider this a very functional piece of kit and you will too, once you’ve got over the pain of the purchase price.
COMPARABLE LIGHTS TO CONSIDER:
Kowalski 620 Maxum (Tungsten) £306
Fa&Mi Power LED 4 £235
Metalsub Handlamp XL7.2 LED £349