LED headlamp beanie, your boat may need one

Ben_w_LL_Bean_LED_Beanie_cPanbo.jpgThis 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”…

LL_Bean_n_Panther_Vision_LED_beanies_cPanbo.jpgThe 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.

LL_Bean_LED_Beanie_inside_detail_cPanbo.jpgThis 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?”


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

8 Responses

  1. Kees says:

    Keeping the light on instantly disqualifies you as a threat to flight safety, I guess. You could even use it to advantage maybe 🙂

  2. Butch Davis says:

    The light on that Panbo hat looks very non-nerdish. I’ll have to try mine with a cap on. It has to be more comfortable than “bareback”.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    So in the interest of research — and having an LED beanie ready both at home and on the boat — I purchased a Panther Vision Powercap, and the LEDs and battery/switch module appears to be exactly the same. Also the tag specifies 68 hours of run time, just like the LL Bean beanie (suggesting that the PowerCap’s Amazon listing is incorrect).
    The way these two beanies are cut and sewn together is different, as seen in the orange cap photo above, but I’m pretty sure they were made in the same factory.

  4. Brian says:

    I have also been happy with the baseball style led cap
    From Home Depot online for under $14. You do have
    To order $45 of stuff to get free shipping tho.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Bob M. sent me a nice photo of him sporting an LED Beanie just gifted to him “on behalf of his two-year-old.” Happy Father’s Day to all.

  6. Herb says:

    According to LLBean, the material is Polyester Fleece with 7 % Spandex. The Amazon cap is 100% polyester and as noted the stitching is a bit different. I like Spandex for my expanding head….so I ordered LLBean. 🙂

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Herb. It seems that Polartec is a general brand name for lots of polyester products:
    The label in the Bean’s beanie says “93% Polyester 7% Spandex” while the one in the Amazon beanie claims “95% Polyester 5% Spandex.”
    They feel pretty similar.

  8. John says:

    My wife went running before dawn this morning and said she started to get nervous when a set of headlights approached her very slowly, until she realized it was a pair of runners, side by side, wearing headlamps. One serious issue to watch out for with LED headlamps is to not blind other crew by looking at them, which is almost impossible to not do if someone talks to you. If we are both wearing headlamps we get a two-fer and blind each other! I keep a collection of various headlamps below the nav station for those inevitable middle of the night repair jobs, searches for lost items, etc.

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