IT WAS A LONG TIME ago that the chaps from Bricket Wood BSAC invited me to go for a dive on the wreck of the Kyarra. As I was about to slip over the side of their RIB, my designated buddy asked me why I was taking a torch with me, and suggested that I wouldn’t need it.
Foolishly, I took his advice. There followed a dive with a very frightened diver tightly gripping hold of my arm while we traversed the wreck by the light of a puny back-up torch I happened always to carry in my BC pocket.
A back-up can be very useful.
Cut forward 20 years, and I found myself navigating alone inside the wrecks of Truk Lagoon. I expected the modelling lights of my underwater flashguns to provide adequate
light to see by, but they did not. I had to use a back-up lamp with a very narrow beam to find my way around. You can miss a lot that way.
“Did you see that amazingly giant wrench under the poop deck of the Fujikawa Maru” someone asked. I hadn’t but on examination of my pictures, there it was, standing more than 2m tall. The next time I went to Truk, I can assure you that I had appropriate lighting with me.

The Design
Kowalski made its name with big lamps that outshone all rivals. This one comes from the same stable but is very different.
The little Kowalski Pico stows away very neatly. It’s a parallel-sided cylinder, milled to give something to grip and about 13cm long, so takes up little space.
It runs on three triple-A batteries with a burntime of up to 18 hours, depending on
the type you use.
The only problem I foresee with that is that you’ll lose track of how much power you’ve used long before the batteries finally fail you.
The Pico is switched on by screwing the spring-loaded rear part down onto the battery chassis. There are two O-rings in series to keep the water at bay, but there is always the possibility that it will come on un-noticed in your pocket due to the pressure of depth, even if the spring-loading goes a long way to preventing this.
At the same time, you don’t want to unscrew it too far, because of the danger of flooding it.
I lent it to that same TA colonel for a couple of dives, and as it survived the underwater activities of a Rupert, I guess flooding is less likely than with some other lamps that use
this system for switching.

In The Water
The Kowalski Pico puts out nearly 500 lumens, which is bright enough, and that light is delivered in a very narrow cone. This means it’s good in poor visibility or as a back-up lamp.
But don’t try to find your way around the cavernous interiors of wrecks with it. You’ll miss things like the big wrench.

Hollis LED3, £72
Lenser Frogman, £51
Aquatec Aquastar, £72
Intova Mini LED, £49

BURNTIME Up to 18 hours
OUTPUT 490 lumens
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