Thursday, December 5, 2013

Run all night! Panther Vision POWERCAP and Safety Bug Review and Giveaway!

Panther Vision POWERCAP
Yes... it's that time of year again.  Those early morning runs seem to get darker and longer!  Frankly, my favorite time to run is pre-dawn..  especially on the trail.  If I don't get out there early, I find it hard to get going later in the day..   

So... if you are like me and run a lot in the dark, there are two important factors...  to see and be seen! I've experimented with a variety of lighting options on the trail, and today's review is of some great gear put out by Panther Vision.  So, check out the reviews and stay tuned to score some gear as well :-)

Panther Vision offers a variety of products to help with seeing in the dark.  For this review, I tested the POWERCAP 3-panel running hat and the Safety Bug.  

This is the 5 panel mesh running cap (which I am giving away), but it has the same lighting system as the one I tested.  The hat includes 4 LED bulbs mounted below the bill. 2 lights are a wide angle beams pointed down towards your feet, and the other 2 are narrow beams pointed ahead.  The hats are spec'd at 48 lumens and up to 72 feet of lighting ahead of you. They are powered by 4 CR2032 lithium batteries in a small compartment in the head band.  The web site specs say up to 68 hours of illumination, but I noted that the packaging on the hat states 30 hours. 

3-panel hat with Safety Bug accessory

I've run about 8-10 hours in this hat, and the lighting is pretty decent.  On most of the single-track around here, you don't need much light at all (especially with snow on the ground), so the POWERCAP worked well. I found it less useful on the roads or other places where there is enough other light sources to help with visibility. The wide/narrow dual lighting system works well... I could see a decent distance in front of me, and could also easily glance down at my Garmin and see it well in the darkest trails.  Also, the wide angle lights help seeing whatever it is you are about to run over. 

My only issues with the POWERCAP are the sizing and the versatility.  I have a big head, so I had to wear this at the max sizing, but it is still a little tighter than I like. The battery holder takes up some of the room, however it was not uncomfortable in that area.. I just need a little bigger hat.  From a versatility standpoint, the POWERCAP lacks the ability to easily point your lights where you want them.  Any illumination is dictated by where you look.  This is the same as with a headlamp.  I like the ability of handheld lights so that I can point in multiple directions on the trail.  Finally, you do have to replace batteries.  Now, the specs say anywhere form 30-68 hours, which is pretty good.  What I think will happen is that the lights will just continue to dim.  The new cap I got (which I plan to give away to one of you) has fresh batteries.. I compared it to the test cap which has 8-10 hours use.  It is noticeably dimmer... but still very functional.  Below is a quick video I made kind of showing the difference.  The black hat is the test hat, and the white is the new one. 

Sorry for the lame video... just using my iPod touch and playing around with a free editing app :-)   Anyway, gives you an idea of the difference after 10 hours of use in the brightness as well as a look at the Safety Bug. Also, the difference in brightness is not quite as extreme as the video shows.. I realize I didn't have both hats at the same angle.. ah well.

The Safety Bug is a nifty little visibility accessory.  With just a twist it strobes crazily in bright red, and according to the specs is visible for 1/2 mile.  While it won't help illuminate your run, it provides a little more visibility when running on the roads etc, or when you want to scare the bejeezus out of any predators on the trail I guess..   

The Safety Bug comes with a few ways to attach it to yourself.  A magnet that can be used to secure it to thin fabric, a stick pin/magnet to attach it to a hat or thicker material, and an adhesive disk to attach a base to a helmet or other smoother/flat surface.  

While these optional mounts are handy, they all rely on the small magnet to hold the light to whatever you attach it to.  To me, it seems like the magnet should be stronger...    just using the magnet between fabric, the connection was tenuous at best.  The stick pin worked fairly well on the back of the POWERCAP, and it stayed on while running, however a gentle bump to the light and it would pop off.  So I would pay attention to where you attach it and make sure you don't lose it!  Of course, if you look behind and see something like Saturday Night Fever behind you, odds are it fell off.    Other than that, it's a great safety feature and could also double as a signal light in an emergency. 

So.. there you go.  The POWERCAP retails for $29.95 and the Safety Bug is $9.99 on the Panther Vision site HERE.   I think the cap is a great alternative to a headlamp since it is integrated and easy to grab on the way out the door. Granted, you will need to replace batteries and remove them to wash the hat, but CR2032's run about $.35 to $.50 each on Amazon... you just have to get over the angst of non-rechargeable batteries and the environment :-) .  If you have any questions or feedback, just leave me a comment below!

And of course, I'm happy to be able to give away one POWERCAP and Safety Bug to one of you!  You know the drill... enter via the Rafflecopter dealy below.  Contest is open to the U.S. and Canada and I'll randomly select one winner after the contest closes at 10PM MST, Tuesday January 10th, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy trails!



  1. I never used to run in the dark, it's not safe in my neighborhood. But since I joined a trail running club, and started meeting them on the weekends at 6 AM, the dark is now part of the deal. I use a cheap headlamp I bought at Home Depot for 5 bucks, but a cap would be a great improvement!

  2. Looks like a better option than the tradtional headlamp!

  3. all my runs start in the dark, because i usually try to complete them before everyone else's day begins!

  4. sometimes in the morning, but definitely in the evening!

  5. I usually run in the dark of the morning when it's a dark run.

  6. I run at 4am, this would be very handy.

  7. I'd like to run in the evenings, but don't have any sort of light, so this would be great!

  8. Running in the early morning is what I prefer!

  9. I run in the early morning so a headlight would be helpful.

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