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Powercap Review:
Hands Free Light Source
For Hikers And Campers

By Diane Spicer

What's a Powercap? A hat with a built in LED light source, so you can do camp chores hands free. #hikingforherreview #powercapreview #handsfreelight #LEDlightsource #tenessentials #hiking #backpacking

This Powercap review takes a close look at how wearing your light source on your head works for hiking and camping.

  • Not a headlamp.

A headlamp built into a ball cap or a beanie style cap!

A few disclosures before we get started:

  • Both Powercaps by Panther Vision were sent to Hiking For Her in exchange for a fair, free review.
  • There is no affiliate relationship between Panther Vision and Hiking For Her.
  • All opinions, comments and photos in this Powercap review belong to Hiking For Her.
  • If you purchase your Powercap through links on this page like this one, Hiking For Her receives a small percentage of your purchase price but you pay nothing extra.

As always, this Hiking For Her review was written for one purpose: to put great hiking gear and trail solutions into your hands.

What's being reviewed

This Powercap review looks at the merits of two styles of wearing a source of light on top of your head:

  • POWERCAP 25/10 Structured Mesh LED Lighted Hat
  • POWERCAP 35/55 Compression Fleece LED Lighted Beanie

If you've ever worn a headlamp that bounced around as you moved, slipped down around your eyebrows, or just felt uncomfortable on your head, you'll want to read this Powercap review.

It might have good news for you as a hiker, backpacker, camper, or someone who has to rummage around in a dark space (under the sink? in the back of the car?) looking for that lost item you have to find quickly.


There are two styles of hands free light sources in this Powercap review, thus two sets of specs.

It's nice to know you have options, right?

And both of these caps are guaranteed and backed by Panther Vision POWERCAP Limited Lifetime Warranty

Note: All specifications are from Panther Vision, and have not been independently verified.

Structured mesh LED hat

Black ball cap style Powercap with green and gray tag on billThe hat arrived with this tag on it. Who wouldn't want the power to see in the dark!?

When you want to illuminate your surroundings without a lantern, flashlight or headlamp, and you don't need warmth or protection from mosquitoes, this lightweight ventilated hat will bestow panther vision upon you.

Thanks to 3 LED settings (high through low), this Powercap is suitable for both close up tasks (like cleaning up camp before you turn in for the night) as well as long distance lighting (investigating the spooky rustling noise in the bushes without leaving your tent).

  • 60% poly/40% cotton with mesh backing
  • Two piece plastic back strap for easy size adjustments
  • Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Maximum LED light output: 48 lumens
  • 2 AAA batteries required (included)
  • Battery life rated up to 43 hours

Beanie style Powercap

Need warmth AND illumination?

Want to protect your ears from hungry mosquitoes while doing camp dishes at dusk?

This soft, comfy beanie style cap is the way to go.

  • 93% poly/7% spandex compressed fleece
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Available in 12 colors
  • 4 LEDs pointed in 2 directions
  • Combined LED output of 48 lumens
  • 4 rechargeable CR2032 batteries required, included
  • Visibility up to 72 feet (22 m)
  • Battery life rated up to 68 hours
  • Hand wash and line dry
Powercap beanie showing LEDs and battery packNavy blue beanie showing you the LED light source and the battery pack which tucks inside the seam

Powercap review
performance notes

Hiking For Her has been on the hiking trail for nearly 5 decades, and fondly recalls the heavy, unreliable flashlights that came along on many backpacking trips.

  • Take "fondly" with a grain of salt.
  • Bulky batteries often failed, lightbulbs burned out, sketchy connections gave an interesting fade in-fade out lighting effect just when you needed it most... ah! the "good" old days on the trail.

Headlamps were an eagerly embraced advancement in technology for backpackers and campers, and Hiking For Her has used her share over the years: at least 5 different brands in various styles.

But a Powercap?

It seemed like an interesting way to avoid wearing a bobbling, wobbly, ill fitting headlamp while reaping the rewards of LED illumination (brightness, longevity, lightweight).

So here's what happened when these Powercaps were taken for a spin by someone who has seen illumination options evolve over time.

Structured Mesh LED Lighted Hat


Okay, let's get this right out into the open.

Hiking For Her is not a fan of this style of cap, for two reasons:

  • I must have an oddly shaped head, because they never fit right.
  • The hair from my ponytail or braid always gets caught in the adjustable straps at the back.

But for you, dear hiker, I wore the hat into the darkest night so I could report my findings.

Black cotton and mesh ball cap Powercap showing battery pack in seamThe LEDS are tucked into the underside of the cap's brim. The 2 batteries tuck into the seam near the left ear.

Good things to report:

  • Three easy-touch settings for the LEDs made it easy to adjust the amount of light I needed. 
  • The battery pack, tethered to the seam of the hat, makes it impossible to lose the batteries when they're clipped securely into their plastic holder.
  • I didn't notice the weight of the batteries on one side of the hat, over my left ear inside the seam.
  • Rechargeable batteries make this hat a long term investment.
Black ball cap style Powercap showing battery pack in seam and LED light source in brim of hatSuper bright light at the touch of one finger beneath the brim!

There's more to love about this cap:

  • Intensely bright light is directed wherever you look, making chores inside a tent or at a picnic table easy.
  • The soft sweatband running from one ear to the other wicks sweat away from eyebrows and forehead and feels comfy against your skin.
  • The breathable mesh provides ventilation for warm weather outdoor adventures.

A few things to consider
for the hiking trail

If you're looking for the smallest footprint possible in your backpack, the brim of this hat doesn't collapse.

  • Seems like a small thing, but it might matter to you as you allocate space inside your backpack compartments.

The mesh will allow sunlight to reach the crown of your head, so if you're worried about burning from UV rays, this hat offers less protection than a more structured ball cap.

Don't stare deeply into your trail buddy's eyes (human or canine) while wearing this illuminated cap.

  • If it's Big Foot, have at it. You'll have enough time to snap a picture before S/He blindly stumbles away.

Compression Fleece
LED Lighted Beanie performance

Navy blue Powercap beanie with two illuminated LED light sourcesA soft touch on the rounded black button between the two LED light sources is how you control your light.

Having admitted my bias against the first style of cap, let me be just as honest here: I heart beanies.

In fact, I have at least 3 of them for each of the 4 seasons of hiking. (Don't judge.)

So when this navy blue beanie showed up, it was love at first sight.

Then I turned on the LEDs.


Warm ears, and beams of light shooting off my forehead. I may never take it off again ;)

Navy blue beanie style Powercap showing battery pack and batteries in seamFour round batteries are tucked into a black plastic case in the seam of the beanie. Here, you see the black lid on the left and 3 of the 4 batteries.

The batteries pop out easily when you remove the plastic door of the case.

I didn't notice the weight of the battery case at the back of the beanie.

And for anyone who hikes with long hair, get this:

The beanie is roomy enough to accommodate a low ponytail, or a braid or two clipped to the top of your head in windy or wet weather.

  • One size fits most!

Trail tip: For winter hiking and camping, wear a fleece headband under the beanie for extra ear coverage and a closer fit.

The fabric is super lightweight, soft, and seems like it won't pill or pull.

I can see myself wearing this beanie during the day as well, just flipping up the hat seam so the LEDs are tucked away until needed.

P.S. They have a lovely red and black plaid fleece beanie for winter hiking. I think my hiking beanie collection just expanded!

The Panther Vision

The founder of this company started out in his garage laboratory, messing around with lighting solutions for outdoor folks like us, many years ago.

Over time, this Illinois company has grown to offer products for everyone who needs illumination around the house, camp, or trail.

  • Think home repairs, dog walking, running, snow shoveling on short winter days, sewing, reading when your partner wants to sleep...

Powercap review conclusions

Hikers and backpackers love multi-functional gear. 

Our motto:

  • If you're going to carry it, it should perform at least two tasks for you.

A Powercap illuminates your space and leaves your hands free for hiking tasks and camp chores while providing the benefits of a head covering.

  • That's three great reasons for a Powercap on your gear list!

More Powercap styles
to choose from

There are other illuminating options from Panther Vision beyond this Powercap review:

  • visors
  • structured cotton caps
  • winter fleece caps with ear flaps
  • solar powered microfiber hats for hot summer trails

Check out your options!

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Powercap Hands Free Light Review