LAMP Gilan Traveller Plus HID
It seems a long time since I used a Dutch-made Gilan light during a series of deep dives on the Bianca C in Grenada. I liked it a lot, but it proved too expensive to appeal to British divers and the importer reluctantly abandoned his plans.
     Gilan is a small manufacturer staffed primarily by keen divers, so it was not going to go away. With the changing economic climate and current trading conditions enabled by the EU, Gilan has decided to offer its products again, this time direct, to British divers.
     The Gilan Traveller Plus HID gives you nearly everything you could want in a lamp. It is beautifully crafted in aluminium and offers the best of everything.
     It uses HID technology to produce an exceedingly bright light that penetrates further through warm-light-absorbing water than conventional tungsten bulbs. Though using only 12.5 watts, it gives the equivalent light to 35W of tungsten-halogen. It burns at 6000°K, a lot nearer in colour to daylight than the 3200ÃK of a conventional bulb.
     It has a charge-at-any-time, memory-free, ni-mh battery in a 46cm battery canister that attaches easily to your tank. It is simply clamped under the BC camband and connected to the lamp by a fixed umbilical cable with good reinforced protectors at each end. This adds about 0.5kg of in-water weight to your rig.
     Burntime is said to be nearly three hours, which should suit even a rebreather diver intent on getting the most use out of his scrubber unit! Charging is by means of an intelligent any-voltage charger unit and it takes five hours to replenish a fully discharged unit.
     The charger unit may be intelligent but often we divers are not. HID lamps need to be turned on, left to warm up to full brightness, and then kept turned on. They should not be switched on and off.
     If you should turn the Traveller Plus HID off and on again without pause, the switch knows to wait for the 5 seconds or so that will save wear on the expensive end of the lamp. It is a magnetic device worked by rotating a simple collar.
     Divers dont want to stumble around in the dark before or after a dive, either, but you can use this lamp safely in air as well as under the water.
     The Traveller Plus HID may weigh in at only 3.5kg, but what happens if you are overweighted for your journey and have to leave something behind Or if you used the unit during the day on, for example, a liveaboard, and never got round to charging it for a night dive The designer has thought of that, too.
     Disconnect the lamp from its umbilical and screw in a blank end-piece instead. Its on a long screw thread and protected by double O-rings. You can then use the lamp as a simple torch with eight AA-size ni-mh batteries in the chassis provided for the job. This enables you to charge the batteries while youre using the larger battery canister.
     You get only 75 minutes burntime per charge in this case, but I have never done a longer night dive than that!
     You also need to connect the charger via the O-rings. Disconnect the lamp-head and plug the charger in its place. If you are concerned about build-up of gases during charging you can also unscrew one end of the battery canister. There seemed to be space for a longer battery pack than the one provided, but I guess a 2 hour 45 minute burntime is enough.
     The lamp is sexily shaped to sit comfortably in the hand and is slightly negatively buoyant (by about 300gm).
     The cone of light it gives out is quite tight if a little patchy, but has a wide peripheral halo. I liked this because it didnt turn a night dive into a day dive, yet I could detect interesting animals that had not yet been woken by the hot part of its beam. I did note that it flickered occasionally.
     The switching collar was easy to operate and never in danger of being turned off accidentally, though there is no protection to avoid unwanted switching-on during transit. I disconnected the battery pack instead.
     Of course, the normal set-up proved far too patchy to use as a video light, but Gilan has even thought of that, and can provide a diffused front end that does the job admirably.
     Criticisms When used as a simple torch, the end of the unit is provided with a perfect place to attach a lanyard. When used with the umbilical, the flimsy clip provided for this purpose seems to be an afterthought.
     Also, some other good underwater lamp manufacturers have concluded that we divers cant be trusted to keep O-rings clean and re-grease them properly, so they provide for recharging without breaking into the unit. This lamp requires you to be slightly more intelligent than normal à only you can decide whether you are!
     You can buy the Traveller Plus HID direct from the Netherlands by going to the Gilan website, or by e-mail. It costs £425 with umbilical battery pack, AA battery chassis and ni-mh batteries, hand-torch converter and charger. The company will throw in an extra AA battery chassis, diffuser front-end and plastic carrying case during its introductory period.
  • Gilan 0031 113 670431, www.gilan.nl, e-mail: info@gilan.nl

  • Divernet
    + Lightweight
    + High performance
    + Well-finished

    - Breaks open O-ring seal to recharge
    - That lanyard clip!