The Mares strobe beam LED torch has a dual function. It can be used as a torch for providing light during a night dive or during low visibility diving or it can be used a strobe to provide a falshing light for signalling. It could also be used at a party as a strobe, but probably better to buy a glitterball first.
I use this item mostly as a strobe light. The high frequency flashing is useful for attracting the attention of other divers underwater as it is hard to make loud noises when the sound doesn't travel very well.
The strobe is positioned on the rear of the torch where a lanyard is attached for securing to yourself underwater.
The battery compartment is accessed by unscrewing the rear of the torch which has the strobe on it. It takes 3 AA sized batteries to powerthe LED (Light emitting diode) which according to the manufacturer provides 24hours of light. I've used it on a years worth of diving and not replaced the batterys, but saying that I don't use it much as I have an alternative main torch.
To turn the torch on a simple twist mechanism is used around the head of torch, at the torch end, to switch between three positions (strobe, torch and standby)
As a torch the beam isn't particularly large and doesn't disperse very widely. It seems like a fairly powerful beam but I prefer a larger wider angle achieved with a larger torch.
Used as a strobe the flashes are fast, bright and easy to direct. The strobe pulses at 50 pulses per minute which is an effective rate, more than this can be a bit 'blinding to other divers'. I have used it several times to get the attention of others and it works far better than alternative methods such as hitting your tank (hitting your tank makes a fairly loud noise but it is hard to work out which direction the sound comes from underwater)
Its around 20cm long with a diameter of about 6cm which means it fits in a pocket easily, but is large enough that it is not hard to use when wearing gloves or with cold fingers.
The strobe would also be useful for attarcting attention above the surface in storm or night conditions, I haven't tested it and would doubt it would be perfect, but it would be better than nothing.
As with all Mares gear this is well made. The pastic is good quality and stands up to a fair amount of abuse. I've had mine about a year and it a bit scratched due to not looking after it too well, but it rugged and chunky enough that this hasn;t affected the operation of the switch or reliability of the torch.
The lanyard is good quality and simple to fix onto your dive jacket so that you avoid dropping it. As I don't use this as my main torch I keep it in a pocket when diving. I think the string of the lanyard may degrade in seawater but haven't seen any sign of this yet.
The torch sells for about £33. The torch part isn;t great but for the strobe I think this is very reasonable as a dive torch often costs around £80. It's a very good back up torch and the strobe is useful so I consider it wort the price.
4 stars because the torch part could be improved.
Mares Strobe Beam. Compact 2-in-1 Strobe and LED Torch Unit. Super-effi cient LED Back-up Torch. 24 hours of lighting power. 3 AA batteries.