Hat Light

Need a hands-free light, but haven’t found a headlamp that you really like?

That was our situation. I just didn’t like the weight of the headlamps I tried (we bought at least 5 or 6, each time thinking we’d found one we could live with) — they’d always end up slipping just as I really needed the light and really didn’t have a spare hand.

Dave didn’t like them because he’s a ball cap kind of guy, and he couldn’t wear both his ball cap and the headlamp. So he’d clutch a little flashlight in his teeth whenever he needed light but didn’t have a hand to hold it.

Then our grandson Kevin gave Dave a ball cap with a light built in for Father’s Day, literally the day before we were leaving on an extended camping trip several years ago. He thought it’d be just the thing for grandpa’s trip and made a special trip to give it to Dave before we left.

Dave made a big show of putting it in the car, figuring that he’d use it once for a photo op, then it would go in the giveaway box as another idea that just didn’t work in practice.

Surprise! That cap has turned into a real favorite of Dave’s! It has three LED’s and gives off a good light. It works on two button batteries, which is about the only disadvantage: they’re light weight but not cheap. A set lasts him about a year — obviously, this depends on how much you use it.

Dave finds it perfect for grilling after dark, walking along the side deck, checking the anchor snubbers and so on. And there have been several repairs made while using it — Dave finds it easier than trying to deal with me holding a flashlight and trying to just know where he will look next.

And I’ll admit it: I’ve “stolen” it more than once or twice. The light is bright enough that I can read an instruction manual outside after dark while trying to figure out why the “automatic lighter” on the grill wasn’t working (answer: operator error).

The design has changed slightly since Dave’s was made — it now has both a high and low beam — and comes in more colors, but you can get them on Amazon:

Need a hands-free light but just haven't found a headlamp that you like? Here's what we use and it works great!Just a few weeks ago, we saw a variation that a neighbor had: a clip on cap light. His had 5 LEDs for an even brighter light, and also uses two button batteries. The one thing he told us about it (repeated in the Amazon reviews) is that you can’t use it on any cap with much curve to the bill as it won’t fit correctly, will try to fall off and/or will break the clips. The good news is that they’re cheap:

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12 Comments
  • Karen
    Posted at 08 September 2014 Reply

    Hats do not ship to Canada

  • Patti Gay Hartzell
    Posted at 08 September 2014 Reply

    I have one of these. Lowe’s carries them. They are awesome!

  • Peter Craig
    Posted at 08 September 2014 Reply

    They had them at our local Aldi store a few weeks ago for just $5. I bought a heap to keep on board for gifts.

  • Colin Mombourquette
    Posted at 08 September 2014 Reply

    Can never have too many lights or too many types of lights on board

  • Paul
    Posted at 09 September 2014 Reply

    The best of these LED caps with lights have a solar panel on the brim -so it charges during the day and is ready for use at night .

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 09 September 2014 Reply

      Great idea! Hadn’t seen — or even heard of — those.

  • Scott Mittelsteadt
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    How bout neither, unless they come in red , nothing blinds a helmsman more than a foredeck with a headlamp

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 06 May 2016 Reply

      We have other solutions that we use underway . . . this is more at anchor (say, grilling or checking a line after dark) or in dark corners of the engine compartment. But you can make it a red light by using a piece of taillight repair tape over the LEDs.

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 06 May 2016 Reply

    My DH loves his esp when driving dinghy at night or in engine bay. He has 2 hands to do what he needs to do.

  • Kevin K
    Posted at 10 October 2016 Reply

    The Bushnell cap light is fantastic. Super bright but it also has a less offensive red light.
    If you have it on for while, however, it will draw down the battery and dim… 65 lumen is a lot to ask of a AAA.
    My fix was just to pony up for the lithium batteries and that combo works great.
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Bushnell-20035-Bushnell-65-Lumen-Multi-Color-Hat-Light/34349990

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