Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 9, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
This LED beanie has gotten a lot of use since a knowing Secret Santa gifted it to me at our family Chrismakah celebration, and I think it would make an excellent Father's Day gift for many dads I know. Or maybe you just need to buy one for yourself, in which case the magic words apply: "I need it for the boat"...
The headlamp cap I'm still using when working in Gizmo's dark and cool engine "room" is the $30 L.L. Bean Pathfinder Lighted Beanie. It's light, comfortable, well made, and easy to operate with a simple on/off button hidden in the back left band and two pairs of LEDs angled differently so that adusting the hat position for a particular task is rarely necessary. And while I wouldn't want a cheaply-made copy, the Panther Vision Powercap looks quite similar and has earned good Amazon reviews while only costing $13 to $18, apparently depending on color.
This photo shows the switch and battery module that is normally held securely inside the beanie's band by that black webbing. The four CR2032 Lithium 3v coin cells are fairly inexpensive to replace and last a long time anyway. Bean's claims 68 hours for this cap, while Panther Vision claims 43, which is odd as both specify the LED output at 48 lumens.
48 lumens is not a bright light even in extreme darkness. By contrast, the Energizer Hard Case Headlight below can throw 70 lumens and also has a less bright red mode that can be very helpful around a boat underway. (That headlamp has endured years of abuse, but there seem to be many interesting choices these days, like this Yalumi 140 lumen headlamp with red night vision and beam width options. Hopefully, readers will offer other ideal boat headlamp ideas.)
At any rate, I find the LED beanie quite useful at close ranges while working in many nooks and crannies of the boat, plus its fleece insulation offers a bit of noggin protection. Of course, it's also useful for many other situations, too, and can be worn in public without much embarrassment, unless perhaps you accidentally leave it turned on in a well-lit place, a possibility users should be aware of.
It would take a truly oblivious person to wear a rig like the one below while he dinghied into town to buy a sandwich in the middle of bright summer day, in fact to not even realize that it was on his head and lit until he got back to the boat and walked by a mirror. But it has happened. What's more likely is to wear the beanie during a predawn drive to the airport, use it in the parking garage to avoid walking on ice, and then have the TSA identification checker say in the kindly voice (I seem to hear a lot these days): "Um, sir, do you realize that your hat is lit?"