10 Best Flashlights and Headlamps for Pilots

Flashlights for pilots

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    In this post, I’ll share some of the best flashlights for pilots.

    A good quality flashlight is a flight bag essential. But you don’t want just any cheap light. You want a quality light you can depend on when you need it.

    Once you start flying at night you’ll need a nice light for your preflight inspection and for reading any charts in the cockpit.

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    This list of flashlights and headlamps are some of our top pics for quality lights you can pack in your flight bag.

    What to Look for in a Flashlight or Headlamp

    When searching for the perfect flashlight there’s a few things you’ll want to consider.

    You’ll want a flashlight or headlamp that has a few different light level options as well as a red or green color option. This will help you preserve night vision in the cockpit.

    Be sure to look into the function of the light, as well. Some lights require you to go through the bright white light options before getting to the red option. Unfortunately, it can a bit of a challenge to find good flashlights with this well thought out design but many headlamps do have this function.

    You may also want a flashlight that uses conventional batteries (AA or AAA) so you don’t have to remember to keep them charged. However, if you’ll already be carrying a spare battery to charge other items, it may not be a big deal.

    If you’re going to go with a headlamp you’ll want one that’s comfortable to wear on those long flights.

    NITECORE Flashlight

    This is our top pick for a basic flashlight that should work for any pilot.

    This is a very bright, very compact, and affordable flashlight. It comes with 5 separate brightness settings, a red mode, and a number of special features such as strobe, SOS, and beacon.

    Plus it uses AA batteries so with a few extras in your bag you’ll be good for a long time.

    We also like the inclusion of the SOS and beacon features. These are the kinds of things that you aren’t likely to use often, but which could someday be extremely useful – even life-saving! The five brightness settings are also welcome.

    The package includes a number of additional features too, such as a lanyard, spare parts, keychain light, and holster.

    NITECORE MT20A 360 Lumens 2x AA White/Red LED Flashlight Penlight with a Keychain Light

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    11/03/2022 01:51 pm GMT

    Streamlight Stinger Flashlight

    Especially at larger and busier airports, you will want to write down everything you are told. Directions can get long and complicated at times, so the less transmissions it takes to get instructions to you, the better for ATC and for you.

    This flashlight has a lot going for it, but with one main flaw.

    First the good. The Stinger is an extremely well-made, compact, and powerful light that will stand the test of time and prove a joy to use. The beam has three brightness settings which are really useful for your preflight inspection of the plane. And the resilience of the light is second-to-none.

    Unfortunately, though, the flashlight does not include a red or green option, meaning that it won’t be as effective for providing a low level of light that won’t ruin your night vision. There is a solution to this, however (see below).

    It’s also a shame that the battery is rechargeable. While there will be some people who like this feature, for many others it can mean another thing to remember before a night flight.

    Streamlight 75710 Stinger C4 LED Rechargeable Flashlight with Nimh Battery without Charger, Black - 425 Lumens

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    11/02/2022 09:47 pm GMT

    Searching for a good flight bag?

    Discover a bag that meets all your needs. Check out our ranking of some of the best flight bags available (You might also want to see our top recommended aviation headsets as well).

    Streamlight Flip Lens for Stinger Flashlight

    If you loved everything about the Stinger but need that red or green functionality, then there is always the option to add colors using these lenses.

    This is a neat solution, but you’ll have to buy the lenses separately and then store them with the light.

    Streamlight 75115 Flip Lens for Stinger, PolyStinger, Stinger XT, Stinger LED, Stinger DS LED and TL-3

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    11/03/2022 06:42 am GMT

    Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight

    This tactical pack should provide everything that the average pilot needs in a flashlight, all in a single package.

    Specifically, you’ll receive a light with a powerful LED beam. This is a small, compact, and very well-made tool, anodized against corrosion.

    The tactical pack includes colored lenses, a pocket clip, and an anti-roll device. Again, this is not as convenient as being able to switch between colors with the press of a button. But it’s a great pack and a particularly well-made and durable tool.

    Maglite XL50 LED 3-Cell AAA Flashlight Tactical Pack

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    11/02/2022 08:45 pm GMT

    One Mode Red LED Flashlight

    If you want a dedicated red light flashlight this is the perfect light for you.

    This small, well-made flashlight has a satisfying ergonomic grip, and is made from a durable anodized aerospace aluminum. It takes a single AA battery or a 14500 battery. The latter will make the light brighter but will also get fairly warm during extended use.

    The torch is also nice and compact at 4” and only weighs 2.1 ounces: perfect for throwing into a flight bag.

    This is a great option to just keep in your plane cabin all the time for night use.

    High Power One Mode Red LED Flashlight

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    11/03/2022 09:25 am GMT

    LUMENSHOOTER Multi-Color Flashlight

    The Lumenshooter places its multiple colors front and center, and each of these is vivid and useful.

    The flashlight also comes with some useful additional features, such as a memory function. This means that if you’re on a color for three seconds, the torch will remain on that color when you turn it back on. No rotating between colors. If you’re using this primarily for reading charts in the cockpit, then that’s a perfect feature.

    Otherwise, this is another very nicely made flashlight and one that is once again resilient, compact, and ergonomic to use.

    LUMENSHOOTER Multi-Color Tactical Flashlight: Green, Red, Blue, White

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    11/03/2022 06:57 am GMT

    Notice Title

    Looking for more gear every pilot needs? Check out our list of the best gifts for pilots.

    Article continues below.

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    Best Headlamps

    Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp

    Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp

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    11/03/2022 02:21 pm GMT

    The Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp is an excellent option for any pilot. One of the best features of this headlamp (and missing on many others) is two separate buttons for the red and white light. This makes it easy to turn on the red light without having to flash through the white light.

    Another great feature that’s often missing on other headlamps is two brightness settings for the red light. This can make a big difference while in the cockpit.

    The only downside to this light is it doesn’t feel like a quality headlamp like some of the other options.

    Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp

    The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp comes with a red night vision, dimming options, strobe lighting feature, and the ability to turn on and off without needing to cycle through the white modes. In short, that’s everything you could need for a headlamp like this.

    It’s powered by AAA batteries and offers basic water resistance so you don’t need to worry about it getting wet in the rain.

    One complaint we have with this headlamp however is its somewhat confusing function. It has a bit of a learning curve to get used to switching between white and red light.

    Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp

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    11/03/2022 11:02 am GMT

    BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen Rechargeable Head Light

    The BioLite headlamp features a smart, low-profile design that is comfortable to use. The device is rechargeable via USB which may not be preferred by all pilots. The headlamp also comes with a variety of different modes, including white + dim, red + dim, white strobe, and red strobe.

    A great feature is the option to tilt the front panel downward. This can help you to angle it down to read checklists or charts in the cockpit, while also avoiding ruining your night vision.

    A single charge will offer you 40 hours on low, or 3 hours on the highest setting white light. The whole thing weighs only 50 grams (which is extremely light). One small downside is there’s no water resistance.

    If you’d like a higher output option the BioLite 330 lumen headlamp is another great option.

    BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light

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    11/03/2022 02:42 pm GMT

    Nitecore NU25 Headlamp

    Finally, we have one last headlamp, the Nitecore NU25. This high output headlamp includes a 13 lumen red light for reading charts in the cockpit.

    This incredibly lightweight headlamp will be comfortable to wear for those long night flights. It also includes a high CRI 20 lumen light that renders colors better and makes it easier to read.

    This headlamp uses a rechargeable battery so you’ll want to take that into account when deciding if this is the headlamp for you.

    Nitecore NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output - White, Red, High CRI - Rechargeable Headlamp

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    11/03/2022 04:56 am GMT

    Overall, the Flight Outfitters is our favorite headlamp on the list but any of these will work well for a pilot.

    By Liz Brassaw

    Liz Brassaw is the Chief Pilot and Chief Flight Operations Officer for Thrust Flight. She is a CFI, CFII and MEI with over 2,500 hours of flight instruction given. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences. She’s passionate about flying and enjoys instilling that love in the instructors on her team and the new students she trains.

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