A firefighter’s radio is an essential piece of their equipment and in order to ensure access to it at all times, they must own a good quality radio strap. But how do you go about choosing a radio strap when there are so many options out there? Well, we’ve narrowed it down to a list of 10 for you to get you heading in the right direction.
The 10 best firefighter radio strap choices are:
- Boston leather firefighter’s bundle
- Boston leather bundle three items
- Boston leather firefighter bundle
- Boston leather reflective firefighter’s radio strap
- Boston Leather 6543 Fireman’s Radio Strap 1-1/4″ Wide
- Boston leather bundle two items
- Boston leather fireman’s radio strap
- Boston leather 5425-1 Anti-Sway Strap
- Perfect Fit premium quality radio strap
- Boston leather reflective firefighter’s bundle
Yes, most of our top picks are made by the same company and that’s because they’re the best in the business. So, come and take a look at what to consider when wearing a radio strap, learn how to wear one and then how to choose the right one for you before checking out our reviews of our 10 strap picks!
What to Consider When Wearing a Radio Strap
There are three main concerns when wearing a radio strap:
- Avoiding signal loss
- Avoiding accidental ejection of the radio
- Avoiding melting the microphone on the radio which is the most vulnerable component
Fortunately, you can do this by wearing a radio strap correctly. Let’s take a look at how that’s done.
How to Wear a Radio Strap
Research on wearing a radio at the scene of a fire has been conducted fairly extensively and while there is not a definitive “right way” to wear a radio – there are definitely ways to wear a radio that can impact your ability to use your radio effectively.
Firstly, you shouldn’t ever keep a radio in your turnout coat’s pockets. Motorola found that when a firefighter has the radio in their pocket and they’re crawling somewhere – they lose almost all the signal strength.
Placing a radio in your pocket knocks 30 decibels off the signal strength – that means you take a 3 watt radio and drop the power to about 0.01 watts.
Also, if you keep your radio in your pocket – it’s much more likely to be ejected during the course of the fire. The radio pocket of your coat was found to be highly flawed and it simply isn’t able to retain a two-pound radio effectively when working under emergency conditions.
In a study, they found that nearly 40% of radios were lost in ejection incidents during four shift evolutions!
Finally, there is also a risk of the microphone melting when its kept in your pocket or when it’s on a leather shoulder strap that sits outside of your turnout coat. This is mainly because the microphone is the most sensitive and delicate part of the radio set up. It’s the weakest link as it were.
The Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department says that you should wear your radio on a radio strap which is kept below your turnout coat.
The radio should extend below the bottom rim of the coat and so that the antenna is projected away from your body (to prevent injuries) and away from the body.
This should ensure that the microphone component of the radio is never exposed to temperatures which lead to damage. It is also said to eliminate nearly half of the radio-signal loss that can otherwise be found in these environments.
Finally, it stops the radio from ejecting itself. This is, obviously, something that you’d want to avoid when fighting a fire.
Here is a video from Denver FD in Colorado showing different ways of carrying your radio:
How To Choose A Radio Strap
Many firefighters will elect to have their own radio strap made that is exactly tailored to them. This is quite an expensive process and it means that you need to measure up for the strap.
If you want to go this route – you need to measure the distance from hip to shoulder whilst you wear the gear that you would normally wear under your turnout coat. This is the distance that you need the strap to cover when it’s in use.
Whether you buy a custom strap or a premade one – you’ll need that measurement and most straps will give a few inches of extra room that you can adjust to allow for the most comfortable fit.
The standard width of a strap is 1 ½” but some firefighters prefer 1 ¾” for comfort. This isn’t so important and for your first strap 1 ½” is probably going to be fine. You can always try a different width at another time.
The material for the strap should be leather as it’s hard-wearing, reasonably heat resistant and long-lasting. You wouldn’t want to have to replace your radio strap on a regular basis as they can be quite expensive.
Other than that, buying a firefighter’s leather radio strap is normally about the brand value, any additional value that’s offered in the box, and it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on customer reviews.
Here is a company I recommend for custom leather work.
The 10 Best Firefighter Radio Straps
The vast majority of our firefighter leather radio strap choices are from Boston Leather. This isn’t because of some secret sponsorship arrangement, but because, by far, they’re the “off the shelf” choice of the majority of firefighters.
We think it’s important not so much to follow fashion but rather the wisdom and experience of established firefighters who buy these products and depend on them on a daily basis.
This is our top pick. It’s what I use myself and everything about it screams top quality product. It’s really well-presented when you open up the box – everything is individually wrapped and it’s clearly real leather as you can’t escape that super smell of leather.
It seems to accommodate pretty much every radio that we’ve tried in it – that’s not saying that there’s not a model out there that doesn’t fit, just that we couldn’t find one.
We find that this kit lasts and the fact that it includes an anti-sway strap, the holder, and 2 cord keepers in the box makes it the best total solution for a firefighter’s radio that you can buy off the shelf.
You can find the Boston Leather Firefighter’s Bundle on Amazon here.
If you’ve got a Motorola APC 6000XE/8000 then you might want to consider this bundle which is designed specifically for those radios. The case is designed around the Motorola radio functions to allow the best access to the controls, mic, etc.
The radio slides in and out of the case without catching and there’s no need to disconnect anything while you do it.
In addition to the case, you’ll find an anti-sway strap included in the box and a pair of cord keepers which means you’ll be fully prepared for anything.
One of Amazon’s top reviews gets it right when it calls this kit “A must have”.
You can find the Boston Leather Bundle Three Items on Amazon here.
This is another specialist bundle for users of the Motorola HT750 and HT1250 models. The case is really solid and you’ll find that the reflective striping keeps your radio completely visible in almost all circumstances.
It would be nice if there were more size options for the strap. Really big guys are going to struggle to get it to fit and the smaller firefighter may need to make some adjustments to the length of the strap themselves.
It’s not the cheapest option but you can expect this bundle to really last. It’s great value for money and has a ton of positive reviews on Amazon.
You can find the Boston Leather Firefighter Bundle on Amazon here.
This is a 5-foot-long strap only. So, if you’re looking for a case for your radio as well – you’d be better off buying one of the bundles rather than trying to source each component separately. However, if you’ve got a perfectly good case kicking around and you want to add a reflective strap, look no farther.
It’s very easy to find this in most visibility conditions, the reflective quality is very good. The build quality is excellent though we know some users have said that they wish the loops that were included in the box were a little tighter, but this can be adjusted by the user.
One minor issue is that you don’t get any fastening clips in the box and you may need to improvise if you don’t already have some to hand.
You can find the Boston Leather Reflective Firefighter’s Radio Strap on Amazon here.
This is a super solid replacement strap that will keep an existing radio case in place during a fire, no problem at all. As with all of the strap only deals, if you need to buy a case at the same time – we’d recommend buying a bundle rather than trying to buy each item separately, it will save you money.
We’d like to see the loops that are supplied come in a more adjustable variant, it’s a bit awkward when they don’t fit your gear perfectly but we didn’t find that was a deal breaking issue in our tests.
As with all Boston Leather products this is a top quality product and it ought to last for years of service.
You can find the Boston Leather 6543 Fireman’s Radio Strap 1-1/4″ Wide on Amazon here.
This bundle consists of an anti-sway strap and a radio strap. So, if you need a case/holder for your radio – you might want to try a different bundle. If you already have a case though, this is a great way to get these two straps for a bit of a discount.
The strap is an adjustable length strap and will fit most firefighters – though if you’re really tall, you might want to shop around. Sadly, there are no cord keepers in the bundle which seems like a strange omission.
The leather is really heavy duty and we can see this product being perfect for any radio holster.
You can find the Boston Leather Bundle Two Items on Amazon here.
This is a plain black leather strap with no other accompaniments. It’s a great choice to replace a broken or missing strap but you’d be better off buying a bundle if you want any other products with your strap.
We found that as an adjustable strap it fits most firefighters up to about a height of 6’2”/6’3” which is pretty good but if you’re much taller than that – you might want to consider choosing a bigger model.
Users report that they find this strap to be among the most comfortable on the market.
You can find the Boston Leather Fireman’s Radio Strap on Amazon here.
This is just a single anti-sway strap which can act as a replacement for a missing anti-sway strap or as an anti-sway strap to complete a newly purchased kit.
As with all these things – if you need multiple products, buy a bundle, it will save you some of your hard-earned dollars. However, this product with over 100 5-star ratings on Amazons is one of the most dependable from Boston Leather.
If you’re tired of your radio bouncing around uncontrolled, this is the right choice for you.
You can find the Boston Leather 5425-1 Anti-Sway Strap for Radio Strap on Amazon here.
The Perfect Fit product is the only one on our list not from Boston Leather, but please don’t think that this makes it a substandard choice. It’s definitely not. In fact, we love the fact that these products are also American-made and are manufactured in Maine.
The strap fits almost all body lengths and is extremely high quality. We really like the fact they have two mic holders built-in and that it snaps to a radio carrier easily. It’s fairly lightweight too and we’d be happy to use this with our radios.
You can find the Perfect Fit Premium Quality Fire Radio Strap on Amazon here.
You might be thinking “this looks a lot like your first recommendation for a radio strap bundle” and we’d completely agree that it does. In fact, the only real difference is that this version of the bundle includes the reflective strap rather than the black leather version.
It’s absolutely every bit as good as our top pick, which is why it’s also our last pick. You can’t go wrong with this excellent value Boston Leather radio strap bundle.
You can find the Boston Leather Firefighter’s Reflective Strap Bundle on Amazon here.
We hope that you’ve found our guide to the 10 best firefighter radio strap choices useful. Of course, it can easily be summarized as “buy Boston Leather” which is the most reputable brand of radio strap and the one which offers the most choices.
The choice of a radio strap is more important than it might first appear to be and we strongly recommend that you consider how you will wear your radio and then choose the strap that best fits your needs. It’s always better to choose something that accentuates the safest approach to your work.