Review: XTAR D26 (1 x XM-L U3 | 1 x 18/26-650)


Reviewer’s Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

This light was provided by XTAR for review

The XTAR D26 ‘Whale’ is XTAR’s latest diving torch and their first to use a 26650 sized battery. This is one of the best dive lights on the market today. Smaller than most back-up lights so you can bring it on every dive. Brighter than many primary dive lights!

I am writing this review from the perspective of an active scuba diver and will focus on aspects that address the D26’s suitability for diving.

Battery: 1* 26650 (OR 18650 w/sleeve)
Working Voltage: 2.75-4.2V
Switch: Magnetic push button with lock function
Modes: 4 mode: High-Turbo-Medium-Low (No memory)
LED Type: XM-L U3 (as claimed)
Lens: Glass with anti-reflective coating
Size: Φ46.0mm(Head dia)x Φ33.0mm(Body dia)x 155.0mm(length)
Net Weight : 227g(Excluded batteries)
Reflector: 51.1mm wide (49.1mm inside) x 40.1mm deep (to LED)

26650 compatible
Nice feeling push button magnetic switch
Twist locking feature to prevent accidential turn on
Very useful model (no strobe or SOS)
Excellent waterproofing - double o-rings
LED indicator tells when charging is required
Solid build quality
Nice size in the hand
Thick glass lens & aluminum reflector
Excellent heatsinking
Well focused beam, mostly a thrower
Well centered emitter
Can be modified into a video light by removing the reflector

Standard tripod screw hole is not useful for diving
Fragile LED wires connected to driver
Wrist lanyard is low quality
Could have more spill light around central hotspot
Replacement o-ring contained extra ‘flashing’ material - possible quality issue?
UPDATE: Difficulty pressing the switch (in/out of water). Unscrew the ring around the switch and remove the o-ring on the push button. This should fix the problem if this affects you. (My torch worked perfectly - did not have this issue)

The D26 comes as part of a kit with charger and a single 26650 battery or stand-alone. The kit comes with a cool carry case, wall plug and car charger and an XTAR 26650 battery. Either option comes with two spare o-rings, a wrist lanyard, instructions and a battery spacer tube for 18650 battery compatibility. One of my extra o-rings contained extra flashing material which could cause a leak if not removed before use. This may indicate the use of lower quality o-rings, common for Chinese dive lights. Also, I found the wrist lanyard to be poor quality. The rubber grip material is too long and should be made out of silicone tubing. This didn’t bother me too much as I immediately zip tied a snap clip to the base of the D26 and binned the wrist lanyard.

This is XTAR’s first diving light compatible with a 26650 battery. 18650 cells can also be used with the included spacer tube. The torch is two pieces: a head and tail. Two well lubricated o-rings at the base of the tail threads seal the two halves.

XTAR’s previous diving torches lacked a locking mechanism which prevented them from accidentally turning on. The D26 has a mechanical twist lock that prevents the button from being pressed when in the locked position. Rotating the button is easy even with gloves on. The power indicator tells you when the battery is charged (green), low (red) or almost dead (blinking red).

The tripod screw is the D26’s worst feature. I applaud XTAR for thinking about a modular attachment system, but the single tripod screw is the wrong way to implement it. First, the screw and flat base adds bulk to the torch’s profile and makes it slightly uncomfortable to hold in the hand. Secondly, the single screw thread will not prevent the torch from rotating once connected to a mount. Finally, XTAR doesn’t make any mounts compatible with the torch.

The D26 is not a useful photo or video light and should not be marketed as one. Out of the box the torch’s hot spot is way to bright to be used as a focus light. The hot spot will appear in every photo. The reflector can be removed making it into a suitable video light, however the field of coverage is quite narrow and unsuitable for wide angle action cameras, like a gopro without adding something to diffuse the light.

The modes are excellent, well suited to diving. You turn on the torch with a single button press. The default mode is high ~600 lumen. A second press brings you to turbo mode ~1000 lumen. Third press is medium ~200 lumen. Fourth press is low ~60 lumen. A fifth press brings you back to high. Holding the switch down for two seconds will turn the torch off. There is no mode memory. All modes other than turbo utilise PWM and a slight whine is audible.

So… What’s it like to dive with the D26? Have a look!

The lens is sealed by a screw down compression ring. There are sealing o-rings above and below the glass lens. The lens thickness is suitable for the rated maximum depth of 100 meters. I personally tested the torch to a depth of 50 meters without issue.

Looking into the light head with the lens, reflector and LED removed. The LED is in direct contact (via thermal paste) with the torch head allowing for excellent thermal dissipation.

View from the bottom of the head. The white plastic disc pops off and reveals the bottom of the driver board. The driver is held in place with two screws.

Bottom of the driver board once removed from the torch.

The driver board has two levels. The bottom level is the brains and the top level contains the magnetic hall effect sensor and the tri-colour LED. The LED is soldered directly to two pads on the top board. A through hole design would allow for a more secure connection and prevent the wires from breaking off as a result of overheating or poor solder joints. (Something for XTAR to consider in their future designs)

Buy this torch. It’s awesome, wicked bright. You’ll love it.

Nice review .

Thanks for sharing .


Thanks! I’ve been searching around for a review of the D26. Great diver’s perspective review! :slight_smile:

Hi everyone. There have been reports of switch actuation problems whilst the light is underwater. I hope that it is not common.

They have switch actuation problems out of the water as well. Sometimes you need to mash down hard on the button a few times to get it to work.

I’ve heard of one or two people mention switch problems but have not had a problem myself. If you unscrew the ring around the switch and remove it you’ll notice a small o-ring around the push button. Removing this o-ring (not necessary) completely fixes the issue. XTAR is also aware of this.


Hi Flashpilot & David! Thanks for the feedback.

Perhaps my diving acquaintances might like this D26 flashlight. This light got a nice exterior.

I just received this light and using a Keeppower 5200mAh protected 26650 it flickers every second in high and medium modes. Any ideas anyone?

Does it do the same with another battery? Try a reliable 18650 and see if it does the same. If it doesn’t flicker the problem is likely the protection circuitry in the battery.

Yep you’re right, a Blazar 18650 works fine.

Which charger do they supply with this light?

Looks like the SP2

I can’t work out why my protected KP 26650 5200mAh causes it to flicker every second in high and medium modes!!! If it has something to do with the protection circuit, shouldn’t it be also tripping the circuit in turbo when it’s pulling the most current? (Or maybe turbo is direct drive) My Panasonic Blazar 18650 (protected) doesn’t flicker at all.

Worked it out.

The light only flickers on a fresh battery, but not with 18650’s!
My KP 5200mah protected battery only flickers in high and medium modes UNTIL a certain voltage is reached it seems! I ran it on high for about 10-15 mins and the flicker vanished in that time!
Saying that though, stick a protected 4.20v Blazar 18650 in it and no flickering at all. :hat:

The XTAR D26 now is updated to CREE XM-L2 U3 LED, and the D26 kit will come with SP1 singal-bay charger.

It has only ever come with the U3

I have this torch two days now.The problem is that when it is closed it have energy leak (energy consumption )I have a 18650 Panasonic batteries.After one day the battery is empty,with no use!I put a brand new battery and i have the same problem. So i take my amber metre and do some measures.I saw that when the light was closed (turn off) there was a leak of 40 mah.Can some one help me with my problen?

It’s faulty, mine doesn’t do that.

And i bought it from china (ebay) i prefer to buy new than pay the same money to send it there…