A flashlight is an essential for many firefighters’ kits. Most firefighters want either a helmet flashlight, hand-held flashlight, or a right angle flashlight to secure to their turnout gear.
We’ve provided a selection criteria at the end of this article that outlines the features we looked for in a firefighter flashlight. But we know you probably just want to hear our selection for ourselves. So here it is. Check out our reviews of each below – including pros and cons of each.
The best firefighter flashlights are:
- Streamlight Knucklehead LED Light – (Best Overall)
- Streamlight Survivor LED Light
- Streamlight Vantage 180 X – (Best for Helmets)
- Pelican 3715 Right Angle Fire Flashlight
- Streamlight 44450 Fire Vulcan LED Light
- Nightstick NSP-4650B Helmet-Mounted LED Light
- Nightstick Intrant LED Light
Don’t forget that this is just our personal selection criteria and we are not offering personalized professional advice, so seeking professional advice for your situation and your jurisdiction is a must.
7 Best Firefighter Flashlights Comparison Table
|1.||Streamlight Knucklehead LED Light||Right Angle||Right Angle flashlights can be hung onto turnout gear as they go about their rescue. For this purpose, we like the Streamlight Knucklehead. We’re a big fan of the two-axis articulating head. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|2.||Streamlight Vantage 180 X LED Flashlight||Helmet Mounted||A helmet flashlight can be kept out of the way and always pointing in the direction you’re looking. For this purpose, we like the Streamlight Vantage 180 X. It’s small, subtle, and easy to unclip and operate by hand. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|3.||Streamlight Fire Vulcan 180 LED Light||Handheld||A handheld flashlight is a popular choice and often delivers superior power. We personally consider the Steamlight Fire Vulcan 180 to be the best handheld firefighting flashlight. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|4.||Pelican 3715 Right Angle Fire LED Flashlight||Right Angle||This is a lightweight, thin and powerful right angle flashlight for attaching to turnout gear. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|5.||Streamlight Survivor LED Light||Right Angle||This is the smaller version of the Streamlight Knucklehead and is a little more affordable. It’s strong and durable but has a few less features. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|6.||Nightstick NSP-4650B Helmet-Mounted LED Light||Helmet Mounted||This is an alternative helmet flashlight to the Vantage 180 X. It’s not as versatile as the Vantage 180 X but it’s a good one for securing to the helmet and leaving it there. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
|7.||Nightstick Intrant LED Light||Right Angle||We feel this model is a good alternative to the Streamlight Knucklehead. It has a rotating head on one axis and comes with a recharging dock. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)||
1. Streamlight Knucklehead Work Light with Charger – (Best Overall)
The Streamlight Knucklehead is an impressively strong flashlight whose biggest ‘pro’ above competitors is that the beam’s angle can be controlled through the articulated swivel head. This can be really useful for setting the flashlight on the ground and shining it at your work – which could be good in a medical call out.
This lamp can be attached to turnout gear via a spring-loaded clip, sat on flat surfaces with its sturdy flat base or attached to metal surfaces using the removable rare earth magnet. This can be great because it’s usable as a flood light for lighting up a whole room.
This lamp can be operated in 3 modes – High, low and Midnight. Midnight mode is very dim to allow it to operate for up to 20 days between charges. There’s also the choice to either buy it as a ‘flood’ light or ‘spot’ light, depending on whether you want a wide or narrow beam.
Consumers can also select the charging option that’s right for their needs. It can come with a 12V vehicle fast charger, 120V wall charger, or the 4x AA alkaline batteries model. We personally prefer either the vehicle or wall charger model.
Why this Flashlight:
- Swivel Head to Direct the Beam: The swivel head sets it apart from the competition – it makes using this flashlight so much easier than many competitors.
- Variety of Charging Options: It can be bought with AA batteries, a wall charger or a vehicle charger.
- Attachable to turnout gear: There is a spring-loaded clip for attaching to turnout gear; but we also love that the head can swivel while it’s hanging on turnout gear.
- Mounts on steel: It can be set against a steal beam using the powerful magnet (great for attaching it to cars during vehicle rescues), or stood on a flat surface.
- Easy to operate when wearing gloves: The simple large button operation means it could be operated even when wearing gloves.
Keep in Mind:
- Not the Cheapest: This is one of the best flashlights for firefighters on the market in our opinion, so this comes at a cost.
2. Streamlight Survivor – (Little Brother to the Knucklehead)
Overall this is a high quality flashlight that’s as durable and powerful as we’d like, but it loses some of the additional features like the swivel head of its big brother, the Knucklehead (listed above).
The Streamlight Survivor is a super powerful, super lightweight and super resilient flashlight. Its beam is just about as strong and powerful as the Knucklehead and it still provides the choice of Low, High and Moonlight options for the strength of the beam. The ‘High’ option is good when working with darkness, and the narrow beam makes it a great option for a personal flashlight that is common when searching through smoke.
It can be attached to turnout gear, and it’s advertised as easy to operate with firefighting gloves on with a simple large dome button on top.
Why this Flashlight:
- Affordable: This flashlight is designed as a more affordable alternative to the Knucklehead, which is the next step up in the Streamlight brand.
- Lightweight: This flashlight is about half the weight of its bigger brother, the Streamlight Knucklehead. Partially this lower weight is achieved through loss of some great features.
- Variety of Charging Options: It comes with either AA batteries, wall charger or vehicle charger.
- Attachable to turnout gear: It has a spring-loaded clip for attaching to turnout gear.
- Gloved Hand Operation: There is one large button for cycling through modes, which is usually big enough to be handled while wearing gloves.
Keep in Mind:
- No Swivel Head: We’re huge fans of the swivel head of the Streamlight Knucklehead, which isn’t available on this Streamlight Survivor model.
- No Magnet: It’s not possible cannot magnetically attach this flashlight to beams, while the Knucklehead has this option.
3. Streamlight Vantage 180 X – (Best for Helmets)
The Streamlight Vantage is our personal pick as the best flashlight for firefighters in the helmet-mounted category.
It is much smaller than the other Streamlights on this list, but it still packs a punch. It’s Incredibly lightweight and only 5.3 inches long, meaning it doesn’t add bulk to a kit.
It is also possible to use this as a handheld light and swivel the head 90 degrees to turn it into a right angle turnout gear flashlight. This makes it very durable. However, if we were to choose this one we’d use it exclusively for a helmet mount as we feel the other Streamlight options (above) are best for turnout gear. Nonetheless, it’s still our top pick for a dedicated helmet light.
Why this Flashlight:
- Best for Helmets: It is a nice small but strong and durable headlamp.
- Compact: Just 5.3 inches long.
- Handheld Flashlight: Given its size, it can also comfortably be held it in the palm for use as a handheld flashlight.
- Right Angle Option: The head can be swiveled to turn it into a right angle flashlight. The secondary LED shines down in right-angle mode, which is a design feature to help users see right in front of their feet while walking.
- Gloved Hand Operation: There is one large button for cycling through modes, big enough to be handled while wearing gloves.
Keep in Mind:
- Non-Rechargeable Batteries: It comes with non-rechargeable CR123 batteries. Batteries are provided. Streamlight also notes you can use rechargeable CR123 batteries in this model, but these are sold separately.
- Not the Best for Attaching to Turnout Gear: The turnout gear clip sometimes doesn’t allow a flush fit with the back of the light when in right angle mode, making it sit a little awkwardly on turnout gear at times.
4. Pelican 3715 Right Angle Fire Flashlight
The Pelican 3715 Yellow right angle flashlight is another product designed specifically for attaching to turnout gear. It can be attached either with a hook or clip. However, we find clips aren’t the best for attaching to turnout gear because the weight distribution often leads to the flashlight pointing downward too much.
We also like that it’s thin and simple, making it less likely to snag on anything.
We also like the excellent ‘downcast’ mode that you can cycle to easily (even when wearing gloves). This mode points the beam downward so you don’t blind your team in the middle of a call out – just like turning off the high beam in a truck.
This one’s also designed to be easy to use while wearing gloves with a nice large button on it.
The Pelican 3715 is the older version of the 2nd generation Pelican 3765. The 3765 is rechargeable and comes with a charging station, which we love. It also has a much improved clip for attaching to a coat. The reason we still personally prefer the 3715 is that we can’t justify the much higher price point of the 3765 for the slight improvement.
Why this Flashlight:
- Attachable to Turnout Gear: It can be attached either with the hook or clip.
- Battery Status Indicator: We love this feature. It’s clearly visible right next to the operating switch (and we actually don’t like that some others on this list don’t show the battery status).
- Downcast LED: We like the downcast LED option, which points the beam down so you’re not blinding the rest of your crew. Simply cycle through the modes to reach the Downcast mode before stopping for a debrief with your team.
- Gloved Hand Operation: There’s one large button for cycling through modes, big enough to be handled while wearing gloves.
- Super Lightweight: It comes in at an impressively light 0.68 pounds.
Keep in Mind:
- Non-Rechargeable: Runs on 4x AA alkaline batteries.
- Non-Adjustable Head: We prefer the Knucklehead because the head can swivel for ease of use.
5. Streamlight Fire Vulcan 180 – (Most Powerful)
Power! This one is powerful. Really powerful. 1200 lumens sort of powerful.
This is the second generation in the Vulcan model and it’s a huge step up. This is now probably the most powerful dedicated firefighter flashlight on the market today.
The remarkable thing is that they managed to increase its intensity and battery life.
To keep up the battery life with the higher power, they had to make the battery larger. So, there is a small tradeoff in weight. It’s not the lightest flashlight in the world, but it’s not all that heavy either.
Plus, it can be worn on a shoulder strap, making the weight issue much less of a concern.
It comes with a battery dock so it can be mounted and left to recharge when not in use.
The ability to move through the features of the light is also much easier than its previous version. They’ve taken into account the need to cycle between high and low settings while using gloves. Now it’s as simple as a click of the button.
This one also has an articulated swivel so the lights can be turned in the direction of the subject (Just like the Streamlight Knucklehead reviewed earlier). The light can be set on the ground and the head can be swiveled to point it at the subject while at work.
Why this Flashlight:
- Extremely Powerful Beams: It’s actually three separate beams of targeted narrow LED light. It’s incredibly strong.
- Use as Floodlight: It can be placed on the ground and swiveled.
- Battery Dock: Buyers can choose between a 12V DC dock for the car or 120V AC dock for a wall mount.
- Easy to Handle with Gloves: It’s a lot easier to toggle through the modes while wearing gloves with the upgraded version.
- Easy to Carry: Despite its weight, it has a good handle and shoulder strap to make it easy to carry around.
Keep in Mind:
- Hand Held Only: It is operated in the hands (or on the floor), but it can’t be hung on turnout gear.
- Heavy: We don’t mind, but it is one of the heavier flashlights out there. They needed to make it heavy to get the power and long life.
- The Price: As it’s top of the range, it’s also more expensive.
6. Nightstick NSP-4650B Helmet-Mounted
This is a great dedicated helmet light – and in fact we’ve looked at this one before in our review of the top gifts for firefighters. The only reason we placed it below the Vantage 180 X for the best flashlight for firefighters helmets is that it doesn’t double-up as a versatile hand-held and right-angle light. Its design is focused on helmet use in the main.
But that gives it a few advantages, too. It seems to lock really sturdily to the helmet, for example.
It’s specifically designed to be attached to the underside of the helmet, with a secondary light that points down at the feet so users can see both long-distance and also exactly where they’re walking.
It operates with replaceable CR123 Lithium cell batteries – which annoys us as we feel people should really be moving toward internal rechargeable batteries in this day and age.
The other big worry we have about this one is that it’s quite bulky on the underside of the helmet. When placing your helmet on the ground, the helmet’s actually balancing on the light rather than sitting flat. It can make the flashlight curl inwards at times, which can get annoying when you want to put the helmet back on.
Why this Flashlight:
- Dedicated Helmet Light: It’s designed specifically for the helmet – so you can hypothetically attach it to your helmet and leave it there forever (or, until you need to replace the battery!)
- 45 Degree Downlight to see where you’re Going: We love the downlight that makes it easy to see where you’re walking.
- Adjustable Light Settings: Set it to higher and lower light settings with the press of a button.
Keep in Mind:
- Non-rechargeable Batteries: It’s operated by two CR123 batteries. This is comparable to the other major helmet light on the market, the Vantage 180 X.
- Bulky Under Helmet: It may get in the way when you try to lay your helmet down after taking it off.
7. Nightstick Intrant
The nightstick intrant is a nice alternative to the Streamlight Knucklehead. It’s got an articulating head, but only on one axis.
We like the clip and hook at the back – both of which appear pretty solid and easy to use. The hook is placed at a good location which minimizes sag so the light points forward rather than down.
But, there’s also a dedicated downlight for lighting up the ground in front of the user. The two lights are intuitively designed so that the forward-facing light has a tight beam for long-distance while the downward light floods the area and the feet for wider field of view.
We also appreciated that this flashlight is quite lightweight, and with the swivel head, it can be quickly turned into a handheld flashlight that should fit comfortably in the palm.
In terms of operation, it’s got the standard easy-to-click button for use with gloves so it should be toggled through light modes without much drama.
Overall, we feel that it’s a good no fuss light for wearing on turnout gear.
Why this Flashlight:
- Attach to Turnout Gear: It can be attached either with the hook or clip.
- Articulating Head: Great for when you’re crawling but still want light point forward.
- Recharging Dock: We like that it comes with a recharging dock rather than non-reusable batteries. There’s actually the option of non-reusable batteries for a reduced price – you can check that option out here.
- Gloved Hand Operation: There’s one large button for cycling through modes, which should be big enough to be handled while wearing gloves.
Keep in Mind:
- Single Axis Swivel Head: The head only swivels on one axis, whereas the Knucklehead rotates on two axes.
What we Look for in a Firefighter Flashlight
Most firefighters want a flashlight that they can mount on their gear so they can use their hands to fight fires, operate rescue knives, etc. The two main options are to wear it on your chest – attached by a hook or spring-loaded clip or on your helmet.
If you get one for wearing on your chest, it’ll need to be a right angle flashlight. These ones are really useful because you can also quickly unclip them and use them as handheld flashlights.
We like right angle flashlights that have articulated heads. This means you can swivel the head of the flashlight so it can point in any direction you prefer. This added versatility can come in very useful.
The other option is a helmet flashlight. Worn above or below the brim of your helmet, these ones can be great because they’re always pointing in the direction you are facing. Something we like to see in a helmet flashlight is a downward facing flood light so you can see in your peripheral vision where you’re walking. If you want one with a downward facing flood light, you’ll need to mount it below the brim of the helmet.
We also like to see a helmet flashlight that can be quickly unclipped from the helmet and used as a regular handheld flashlight.
Gloved Hand Operation
You want to be able to change the settings of your flashlight while you’re still wearing your gloves. This means no small or fiddly buttons or switches. It’s a good idea to look at the buttons on the flashlight you’re about to buy to see if they’re nice and big for ease of use while wearing gloves. We think both Pelican and Streamlight have done a great job in their range of firefighter flashlights to cater for this requirement.
Our personal preference is for a rechargeable flashlight. We’ve noticed most firefighter flashlights have a rechargeable and non-rechargeable option. You’d expect to fork out more money for the rechargeable option and docking bay, but it also saves a lot of hassle and expectation that the battery will run low sooner or later. If you’ve got a rechargeable one, just chuck it back in the charging dock at the end of your shift and you’re all good for next time you’ll need it.
Beam Power and Shape
In general, hand-held flashlights are available with the most power and helmet flashlights tend to have the least power. We look for the Lumens – we always want one with a high Lumens rating.
In terms of shape, we go for a thin beam LED light. We want a nice powerful focused beam to cut through smoke and other debris floating in the air.
We’re fans of flashlights that have a secondary beam that points to the floor. This secondary beam should be a wider beam for flooding your peripheries with light. This can help alert you to trip hazards as you move through your zone.
Water, Heat and Shock Resistance
We’d personally stick with a dedicated firefighter flashlight that’s actually designed for heavy duty use. Personally, we’re fans of the Streamlight brand for these purposes (you can probably tell!). They’re designed with firefighters in mind and are usually water, heat and fall resistant.
The best firefighter flashlights have strong beams and are very resistant to abuse – including dust, water and heat. Most people also get one that comes with its own recharging dock. Depending on your preferences, you’ll either want a helmet mounted, chest mounted or handheld flashlight. We tend to favor Streamlight for its build quality and features throughout its product range, but that’s our opinion for our circumstances only.
And with that we’ll leave off where we began – this article has shared our opinions for our circumstances only, and is based on our online research and does not constitute advice, professional or otherwise. Your circumstances or experiences will differ from ours. Make sure you do your own research, consult a professional, and due diligence and adhere to the rules laid out in our terms and conditions and disclaimer.
We hope this review has been helpful!