If you enjoy camping, hiking and kayaking as well as other countless outdoor activities, you most certainly have been in one of those dark situations where you need to hold a flashlight, but you also need both hands free to set up your tent, tie down your boat, or cook your meal. The Solar Light Cap by The 2C Light Company might just be the perfect hands free solution that you have been looking for.
Each 2C Light Cap has an integrated low profile solar panel set below the surface of the top of the bill and 2 LED’s on the underside of the bill, one on each side. All styles utilize the exact same bill design, lighting system, battery capacity and solar panel. The battery system consists of 3 x 160 mAh NiMH button cell batteries, which are charged solely from the internal amorphous solar panel.
There are several iterations of the Solar Light Caps. Their assortment of styles are designed to suite many climates, purposes and lifestyles. They include models that incorporate: insulated ear flaps for cold weather, fold out sun protection for your neck and ears in hot sunny climates (with a tether clip so it doesn’t blow off in a stiff wind), low profile with large mesh vents for really hot climates, a visor for ultimate ventilation, and even an awesome extreme survival model that sports super high visibility and nearly total protection from the sun and wind.
I was fortunate enough to test the following models of 2C Solar Light Caps: SLC 750 (high visibility orange, long neck & ear sun protection), SLC 550 (black, insulated ear flaps), SLC 410 (blue, ventilation mesh), & SLC 770 (Tan, with short neck/ear sun protection & tether). Each of these performed exceptionally well in nearly all tests. I found each hat to be quite comfortable with easy tightness adjustment for just the right fit. The hats are constructed of either 100% Cotton, Poly-Cotton, or PVC depending on the model. The construction seems to be very sturdy and well done. A couple complaints would be that on the SLC 770, the bungee string grommet hole pulled out of the hats fabric, and the tether started fraying where it attaches to the hat internally. This happened after only a few hours of use (and not rough use at that). A solution would be to reinforce the fabric around the grommet hole and where the tether connects inside the hat. I would have also liked to see the SLC 770 with a version that had ventilation mesh like the SLC 410. Even with its little flaws, the SLC 770 is still my favorite of all the different models.
2C Solar Light Caps have a variety of useful lighting settings to assist in the various situations you may encounter. They consist of high and low brightness levels, high visibility slow/fast flashing, S.O.S Rescue Signal with accurate timing and 10Hz strobe (with auto shutoff after two minutes). The two LED’s project a 15° beam at 25,000 milli-candela each. That may sound like a big number. However, if you run the numbers and convert it to something familiar from other flashlight packages, then you end up with an approximate combined luminous fluxof 2.688lumens total between both LED’s
The results of my water resistance testing were very impressive. I left one of the hats outside during 72 hours of constant hard rain. After all that rain the lights worked without a single problem. I also left one hat outside all day during several fairly hot days. The heat didn’t seem to have any noticeable affect on the performance or longevity of the batteries at all. The hats are rated to operate in temperatures ranging between -4°F to 113°F.
With the batteries fully discharged the hat will need at least 12 hours of unobstructed direct bright sunlight to fully recharge. With a fully charged battery and without the solar panel being exposed to any sunlight the LED’s were kept running for 3.5 hours while on high power. Although after 2 hours the lights did begin to dim quite a bit. Also, the SLC 410 has displayed some minor fluctuations in LED brightness levels even with a full battery.
During my evaluations of these hats, I decided to see what kind of competition was out on the “interwebs” and in a few local stores that carry this kind of stuff. I found quite a few hats that had LED’s built in, but none have a solar panel, nor were they water-resistant at all. I’ve had personal struggles with these hats since it’s a pain to replace the batteries, especially after the LED’s are accidentally left on with brand new batteries. I did find a couple styles of LED hats online that were solar charged. But, they too were not water-resistant at all, they didn’t look well-made, had the manufacturer offered no variety in design or utility, and the solar panels appeared to be glued onto the top of the bill making them stand out like a sore thumb. I have also owned a solar powered LED light that clips on top of your hat. It was, however, quite large-looking while clipped on the bill and wasn’t very water resistant. It is conspicuous in public, so I didn’t wear it on my hat during the day. Thus it’s easy to forget to bring along and it is easy to misplace. I continued to scour the “matrix” for a worthy competitor to the 2C Solar Light Cap determined to find something else that had the same features. After a several hour quest, I came up empty-handed, finally conceding defeat and declaring the 2C Solar Light Cap the unchallenged victor in the class of low profile, waterproof, solar charged, LED light hat.
Rarely do I find a product that has no equal let alone essentially no competition to speak of. The 2C Solar Light Cap is that product. I use them quite frequently and find them to be indefinitely indispensable. They are rugged and reliable, as well as being stylish. I highly recommend them for anyone who likes a good adventure or just wants to shed a little hands free light on things.
- Recharges from the sun
- Very convenient
Provides hands free lighting
- No batteries to replace Very low profile
- Water-resistant electronics
- Very rugged
- Wide variety of styles for different environments
- Different lighting modes: high, low, strobe, & SOS
- Lights shine in your eyes a little bit and into the eyes of anyone you look at, but that’s to be expected
- No red LED setting to preserve your eyes night vision
- LED’s do not have dual high and low beam settings
- Each style of hat design should have a ventilated version as an option or as a built in convertible feature
Developed in New Zealand
Made by a USA company in China using USA technology
Solar Panel Made in USA
Price: $39.90 – $58.00
For more information, visit the following web link: www.solarlightcap.com