PANTHER VISION POWERCAP 2.0 FLEECE LED
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
INITIAL REPORT - November 18, 2019
LONG TERM REPORT - March 25, 2020
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year-round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Panther Vision
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer's Website: www.panthervision.com
Listed Weight: 2 oz (57 g)
Measured Weight: 2 oz (57 g) without batteries, 3 oz (80 g) with batteries
Materials: 97% Polyester, 3% Spandex
Lamp: 3 mode LED with 15, 30 or 75 lumen output
Light Visibility: 6, 9 and 14 m (20, 30 and 46 ft)
Battery Type: 2 AAA (included and replaceable)
Battery Life: 12.5, 5.5 and 3.5 hours
Size Available: One size fits most
Colors Available: Too many to list
Color Tested: Black
Other Details / Features
- Water Resistant
- Optimum Light Field (puts light where you look)
- Comfortable and Convenient
Limited Lifetime Warranty - If product ever fails because of a defect in material or workmanship, just send it in and a new one will be returned free of charge.
The POWERCAP arrived in a plastic bag with a display hang tag attached to it. The tag provides lamp, battery, warranty and company information. After reading it over I quickly removed it to check out the hat. It is soft to the touch and stretchy the way most polyester fabric is. Most hats this style don't really have a front or back but the POWERCAP doubles a headlamp. Thus the lamp would suggest the front of the hat. There is a POWERCAP logo sewn on the left side and the battery pack can be felt in the back of the hat.
Looking inside the hat I found a tag with battery replacement and safety information as well as materials and washing instructions (more on this in the next section). At the back of the hat there is a small pocket where the batteries can be accessed. From the battery pack there's small wires that travel through this pocket to the front of the hat to feed the lamp.
The lamp housing sticks out from the front of the hat rather seamlessly. It measures about 1.25 in (3 cm) wide by 2 in (5 cm) tall. The lamp itself is much smaller, about 0.5 in (1.2 cm). A small round button above the lamp that is easy to feel and find when wearing the hat turns the lamp on and off. Pushing the button once turns on the brightest 75 lumen light, a second push lowers it to the second power, a third push to the lowest setting and a fourth push turns off the lamp.
The hat is mostly comfortable, fits nicely and feels like it should be rather warm. The light is easy to operate and very bright. I say mostly comfortable because I can feel the battery pack on the back of my head when wearing the hat. This is not painful or annoying just noticeable. I guess a positive to this is the warmth from my head might protect the battery from the cold and prolong its life. When pulled down all the way onto my head the battery lands at the base of my skull, top of my neck. The hat itself is well made and assembled. All the stitching is straight, even and well secured with no loose ends.
I think this is a cool idea integrating a headlamp into a hat. It's one less thing to dig out of my pack. A quick reach and push of a button turns on light when needed. The POWERCAP feels like a warm hat with a bright light.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Back to the tag inside the hat, there's a two step pictogram showing how to replace the batteries. The pack holding the batteries is small, compact and as easy to use as the instructions show. Pull two tabs apart at the top (wire end) of the pack and the batteries slip right out. Sliding the batteries back in and clipping the tabs back into place the pack can be slipped back into the pocket in the back of the pack.
On the other side of the tag is warning for proper disposal of batteries and keeping out of reach of children. There is also washing instructions which are as follows;
- Before washing, remove batteries
- Hand wash warm, separately
- No bleach
- Line dry
- Do not dry clean
- Do not iron
TRYING IT OUT
I went on a 30 minute walk around my neighborhood on a 25 F (-4 C) night. My head and ears were warm and cozy for the duration. The area illuminated is very comfortable for walking. I can even see things in my peripheral vision without turning my head and the lamp to the side. I used the various strength lights at different points. The brightest light really light things up and I could even read signs at a fair distance. I could image using this light to really feel secure by lighting up my surroundings or search for something dropped on the ground. I felt comfortable walking with the light at the lowest setting. This level allowed me to still differentiate shapes and patterns outside the focus of the lamps light.
The POWERCAP carried out its dual purpose function of warmth and light quite well on this short walk. My head and ears stayed warm. I could see every step I took along the way. The lamp remained securely in place shining wherever I looked without any shake or bounce to the light.
The POWERCAP is a neat way of overcoming two challenges, cold and darkness in one combined product. The hat is well made, warm with an easy to use and bright light. I like the fit and simplicity of design as well as function. I am eager to see how the POWERCAP performs during the transition from dusk to dark and in forested environment.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Quarry Hill - Lebanon, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation: 10 mi (16 km) from 600 to 1100 ft (180 to 335 m)
Pack Weight: 10 lb (4.5 kg)
Temperature and Conditions: 15 F (-9 C) with light snow
Velvet Rocks - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation: 10 mi (16 km) from 525 to 1300 ft (160 to 400 m)
Pack Weight: 15 lb (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions: 5 F (-15 C) with light winds
Storrs Pond - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation: 6 mi (10 km) from 525 to 400 ft (160 to 120 m)
Pack weight: 15 lb (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions: 10 F (-12 C) and snowing with boot deep accumulation
Moose Mountain - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation: 12 mi (19 km) from 1350 to 2300 ft (410 to 700 m)
Pack weight: 25 lb (11 kg)
Temperature and Conditions: 25 to 10 F (-4 to -12 C) windy with light snow throughout
Smarts Mountain - Lyme, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation: 8.2 mi (13 km) from 1110 to 3240 ft (338 to 988 m)
Pack Weight: 25 lbs (11 kg)
Temperature and Conditions: 20 to 5 F (-7 to -15 C) calm and clear
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Throughout the series the POWERCAP has kept my head warm in all conditions. The fit and comfort work very well for my head. The low profile also makes it compatible with wearing a hooded jacket. Pulling a hood on and off is easy thanks to the low profile and smooth fabric. I would add or remove a hood when it was snowing or the wind gusting.
The convenience of always having a light at the ready is very nice. It eliminates the need to remove my pack and dig into it to find a lamp. I find turning it on and off easy with bare hands or thin gloves. I find it more difficult and sometimes not possible to activate the switch with midweight gloves. This would not be problem during warm weather use. However, in cold weather conditions this is a minor negative.
The illumination provided at the two brightest settings allows me to safely move around camp and hike on trail at night. The beam of the light is directed at the area a few steps ahead as well as my peripheral vision. The beam does not extend very far down the trail. This is somewhat discomforting not being able to see very far ahead or deep into my surroundings. The light is best when the focus is where my next few steps will land. When using the light in this manner I never tripped or stumbled on unseen objects.
Where I felt the lamp worked best was in and around camp. It was very good for seeing into my pack, for cooking and eating, making way from "kitchen", "bathroom" and tent. Inside my tent the lamp made locating items and reading both my book and maps easy at all power levels. Here I like that the light is focused down only to where I am looking and not spreading out to my surroundings. No need to light up all the woods just so I can see my dinner bowl.
When camping out I sleep with a winter hat on all but the warmest nights. I also keep a headlamp within arm's reach when sleeping. The POWERCAP made these two separate things conveniently one. The light being in place and ready at the push of a button was great for middle of the night or early morning activities. However, if the hat wasn't worn very low on my head or didn't stay there I felt the battery pack on the back of my head. This happened a few times and was a disruption to my sleep. Another trouble I had with the battery pack was it becoming disengaged. If pressure was applied to the butt end while inside its storage pocket the batteries were released. This was particularly problematic if it occurred while it was dark and I needed the lamp to see. Reseating the batteries and securing the pack by feel only was a slow and delicate process. My backup lamp was positioned nearby the second time this occurred.
I really like the built in headlamp on the warm winter hat. It makes the transition from day to night two steps easier for me. I don't have to worry about stowing and unstowing my lamp between uses. And my "nightlight" is that much more accessible while sleeping. A few things could potentially improve the POWERCAP for me. First a beam of light that is not as wide but projects a farther distance. A battery housing that does not accidentally disengage. Lastly a relocation of the battery housing maybe to the top of the hat would be nice.
Overall the Panther Vision POWERCAP has worked quite well for me. It's always been warm and comfortable. It provides sufficient light to travel a hiking trail and negotiate camp. A few minor tweaks noted in the previous section would make the POWERCAP a go to lamp / winter hat. I regularly carry a primary and back up lamp. This holds true for hats during my winter hiking as well, just in case my primary becomes wet. I think my future use of the POWERCAP will be mixed between primary lamp and/or hat and secondary in camp lamp.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long-Term Report. It has been very fun to experiment with new gear and adjusting my backpacking routines. I would like to thank Panther Vision and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to participate in this test series.
Read more reviews of Panther Vision gear
Read more gear reviews by Michael Pearl