7 Best Firefighter Flashlights (2020)

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A flashlight is an essential for your firefighter kit. You’ll probably want either a helmet flashlight, hand-held flashlight, or a right angle flashlight to secure to your turnout gear. Here’s our top recommendations for the best firefighter flashlight in all three major categories.

Best Right Angle Flashlight for Wearing on the Body

Best Helmet Mounted Flashlight

Best Handheld Flashlight

Streamlight Knucklehead

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You’ll want a Right Angle flashlight if you want to hang it on your turnout gear as you go about your rescue.

For this purpose, we like the Streamlight Knucklehead. We’re a big fan of the two-axis articulating head.

Streamlight Vantage 180 X

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A helmet flashlight is 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.

Streamlight Fire Vulcan 180

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A handheld flashlight is a popular choice and often delivers superior power.

If you’re after the best handheld flashlight, we’d recommend the Steamlight Fire Vulcan 180.

(P.S. Streamlight didn’t pay us to recommend their brand – we just happen to think they’re kicking goals in all three categories).

We’ve provided a buyers guide at the end of this article that outlines the features you’ll want to look for in a firefighter flashlight. But we know you probably just want to hear our selection. So here it is. We’re happy to recommend any of the following seven flashlights as the best flashlights for firefighters. Check out our reviews of each below – including pros and cons of each.

The best firefighter flashlights for your kit are:

  • Streamlight Knucklehead – (Best Overall)
  • Streamlight Survivor LED
  • Streamlight Vantage 180 X – (Best for Helmets)
  • Pelican 3715 Right Angle Fire Flashlight
  • Streamlight 44450 Fire Vulcan
  • Nightstick NSP-4650B Helmet-Mounted
  • Nightstick Intrant

7 Best Firefighter Flashlights

1. Streamlight Knucklehead Work Light with Charger – (Best Overall)

Bottom Line: We can’t rave enough about this one enough – strong, versatile, and can be mounted on just about anything. It’s top quality, but the quality will cost you.

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. We find this can be really useful when you want to set the flashlight on the ground and shine it at your work – which is perfect in a medical call out.

This lamp can be attached to your 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 if you want to use it as a flood light for lighting up a whole room while you do your work.

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. You can also choose to either buy it as a ‘flood’ light or ‘spot’ light, depending on whether you want a wide or narrow beam.

Don’t forget to select the charging option that’s right for your needs. You can get it with a 12V vehicle fast charger, 120V wall charger, or the 4x AA alkaline batteries model We recommend either the vehicle or wall charger model.

Why this Flashlight:

  • Swivel Head to Direct your Beam: The swivel head sets it apart from the competition – it makes using this flashlight so much easier.
  • Variety of Charging Options: Buy it with AA batteries, wall charger or vehicle charger.
  • Attach to your turnout gear: Spring-loaded clip for attaching to your turnout gear; but we also love that you can swivel the head while it’s hanging on your gear.
  • Mount on steel: Set it against a steal beam using the powerful magnet (great for attaching it to cars during vehicle rescues), or stand it on a flat surface.
  • Easy to operate when wearing gloves: The simple large button operation means you can operate it even when wearing your gloves.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not the Cheapest: This is one of the best flashlights for firefighters on the market, so you’ll be paying for its intuitiveness and quality. We think you’ll be happy with it though and no other flashlight will be quite as impressive ever again.

2. Streamlight Survivor – (Little Brother to the Knucklehead)

Bottom Line: Get this one if you feel you can’t fork out the extra money for the Streamlight Knucklehead. It’s strong and durable but has a few less features.

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 you still get the choice of Low, High and Moonlight options for the strength of the beam. The ‘High’ option is clearly the best when working with smoke, and the narrow beam makes it a great option for a personal flashlight that you’ll be using to search through smoke and darkness.

You can attach it to your turnout gear without any trouble, and it’s easy to operate with firefighting gloves on – simply press the 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: Buy it with AA batteries, wall charger or vehicle charger.
  • Attach to your turnout gear: Spring-loaded clip for attaching to your turnout gear.
  • Gloved Hand Operation: One large button for cycling through modes, 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: You cannot magnetically attach this flashlight to beams like you can with the Knucklehead.

3. Streamlight Vantage 180 X – (Best for Helmets)

Bottom Line: Our top pick as the best helmet light for firefighters. It’s got a strong beam, is very durable, and is easy to operate.

The Streamlight Vantage our pick as the best flashlight for firefighters who want a helmet-mounted option.

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 your kit.

You can also use this as a handheld light or swivel the head 90 degrees to turn it into a right angle turnout gear flashlight. However, if we were to keep 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: If you take it off your helmet, you can comfortably hold it in your palm for use as a handheld flashlight.
  • Right Angle Option: Swivel the head to turn it into a right angle flashlight. The secondary LED shines down in right-angle mode so you can see right in front of your feet while walking.
  • Gloved Hand Operation: One large button for cycling through modes, big enough to be handled while wearing gloves.

Keep in Mind:

  • Non-Rechargeable Batteries: Comes with non-rechargeable CR123 batteries. Batteries are provided. Streamlight also notes you can use rechargeable CR123 batteries if you choose.
  • Not the Best for Attaching to your Turnout Gear: We found that the turnout gear clip isn’t flush with the back of the light when int right angle mode, making it sit a little awkwardly on your turnout gear at times.

4. Pelican 3715 Right Angle Fire Flashlight

Bottom Line: A lightweight, thin and powerful right angle flashlight for attaching to your turnout gear.

The Pelican 3715 Yellow right angle flashlight is another good option for attaching to your turnout gear. You can attach it 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 your truck.

This one’s also really 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 your gear. The reason we still recommend the 3715 is that we can’t justify the much higher price point of the 3765 for minimal improvement.

Why this Flashlight:

  • Attach to Turnout Gear: You can attach it 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 can’t stand that others on this list don’t show the battery status for you).
  • 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: 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)

Bottom Line: Get this one of you want the most powerful and durable flashlight on the market today – specially made for firefighters.

Power! That’s why you’d get this one – it’s 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 post 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, you can wear it on a shoulder strap, making the weight issue much less of a concern.

It comes with a battery dock for you to mount the flashlight and let it 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 you can turn the lights in the direction of your subject (Just like the Streamlight Knucklehead reviewed earlier). Set the light on the ground and swivel the head to point it at your subject while you work.

Why this Flashlight:

  • Extremely Powerful Beams: It’s actually three separate beams of targeted narrow light. It’s incredibly strong.
  • Use as Floodlight: You can place it on the ground and swivel
  • Battery Dock: 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: You’ll operate this in your hand (or on the floor), but you can’t hang it on your turnout gear.
  • Heavy: I 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, expect it to set you back a fair bit of money.

6. Nightstick NSP-4650B Helmet-Mounted

Bottom Line: This is an alternative helmet flashlight you could consider. It’s not as versatile as the Vantage 180 X but it’s a good one if you’re going to secure it to your helmet and leave it there.

This is a great dedicated helmet light – and in fact we’ve recommended this 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. It’s 100% just for your helmet.

But that gives it a few advantages, too. It locks really sturdily to your helmet.

It’s specifically designed to be attached to the underside of the helmet, with a secondary light that points down at your feet so you can see both long-distance and also exactly where you’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 complaint we have about this one is that it’s quite bulky on the underside of your helmet. When you place your helmet on the ground, the helmet’s actually balancing on the light rather than sitting flat. It can make the light curl 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 your helmet – so you can 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: You’ll find it gets in the way when you try to lay your helmet down after taking it off.

7. Nightstick Intrant

Bottom Line: A good alternative to the Streamlight Knucklehead. Has a rotating head on one axis and comes with a recharging dock.

The nightstick intrant is a nice alternative to the Streamlight Knucklehead of you want a simpler design. It’s got an articulating head, but only on one axis.

We like the clip and hook at the back – both of which are 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 you. 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 your feet for wider field of view.

We also appreciated that this flashlight is quite lightweight, and with the swivel head, can be quickly turned into a handheld flashlight that fits comfortably in your palm.

In terms of operation, it’s got the standard easy-to-click button for use with gloves so you can toggle through light modes without any drama.

Overall, it’s a good no fuss light for wearing on your turnout gear and we’re happy to include it in our best-of list here.

Why this Flashlight:

  • Attach to Turnout Gear: You can attach it 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: One large button for cycling through modes, 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.

Buyers Guide: What to Look for in a Firefighter Flashlight

Gear Mountable

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. Look for the Lumens – you’ll probably want one with a high Lumens rating.

In terms of shape, go for a thin beam LED light. You 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 recommend sticking 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.

Final Thoughts

The best firefighter flashlights have strong beams and are very resistant to abuse – including dust, water and heat. You’ll also probably want 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.

We hope this review has been helpful!

– Chris & Rosie