width=100%
LIGHT Ikelite PCm
Im a really bad person. I admit it. If a piece of kit comes into my hands that I really like, I occasionally hold on to it for a bit longer than is strictly necessary. Years ago, I was sent the little but extremely effective Ikelite PC and PCa underwater torches to try, and I am ashamed to say that I held on to them for so long that eventually I lent them to a friend who never returned them to me.
     They were, in effect, a victim of their own success.
     If you really need a light under water, theres a good chance that you will need a back-up in case of failure of the main light.
     A back-up should be unobtrusive when you dont need it, but effective when you do. It needs to be conveniently stowed away until the moment you need it.
     The great thing about the smaller PCa was that, although it fitted in the palm of the hand, its six AA batteries were able to provide a light that was probably as effective as that of any back-up light then available.
     The other advantage was that we all use AA batteries in lots of other kit, such as cameras and flashguns, which makes battery purchase or the business of recharging AA-size ni-mh cells simple.
     That was then. Now all sorts of options are available, including little lamps with single or clustered high-intensity LEDs that will fit in a pocket just as well as the Ikelites.
     They cost a lot more, but whats money when youre talking about your first love - diving equipment
     Trouble is, were not all flush with cash. Ikelite has looked at the challenge and simply reworked the original idea in a smaller, more compact, format.
     Its Ikelite PCm looks very similar to its longer siblings but uses only four AA batteries, which makes it that much smaller. As a result it is only 11cm long, so should fit in any BC pocket. Like the PCa, its a little marvel.
     Beside the fact that it produces a tight but brilliant beam, the Ikelite PCm is likely to last a long time. Like the test PC and PCa, which are both still in active service, the PCm is unlikely to suffer from flooding.
     Thats because it is not sealed with an O-ring which has a surface screwed down on it, with the consequent risk of distorting or damaging it.
     After inserting the batteries, you simply use hand pressure to close the two main parts together, squeezing the O-ring in the process, but in a very even-handed way. You close a clamping-ring to secure it shut.
     Another good feature is its on/off switch. Many lights in this category rely on switching by tightening the front part down onto the battery section, bearing down on that sealing O-ring. This has the advantage that there are no through-body connections to leak, and is fine if you turn your lamp on before entering the water.
     However, a back-up light spends most of its time turned off, waiting in the wings. To turn such a lamp off means backing off the pressure on the sealing O-ring, and only too often a back-up light is found to be flooded just when you wished it wasnt. The PCm has a proper switch.
     Taking the bulb out to replace it when the time comes is also a satisfying procedure. The bulb-holder snaps apart and reveals an unusually thoughtful construction.
     Back in 1998, when I wrote about the PCa, I said that it was the best torch I have found for the specific need of a back-up light, but I added the rider that I was always waiting for someone to show me something better. The Ikelite PCm is it.
The Ikelite PCm back-up light costs £27 (including batteries).
  • Oceanic SW 01404 891819, www.oceanicuk.com


  • Divernet
    width=100%
    + Brilliant little lamp


    width=100%
    - You could be tempted to use it as a  main light