If you are a big fan of hunting, fishing or simply camping in the dark, and have come here, then you are probably looking for that extra bit of kit to make your favorite pastime even better. Night vision binoculars, goggles, and other devices are incredibly useful for these purposes – if you choose wisely.
There are many available on the market and they are not made equal. So if you are looking to be able to spot those hogs, deer or rabbits you are hunting on your property or in some overgrown forest or woodland area, you need a pair suitable for that application. Whereas if you are looking to search out and rescue missing hikers, you need a different pair again. However, if you just want to spot starlings and robins in bright daylight, but with a closer view – there is less that you have to worry about when choosing a model.
In the following post, to help you out, we will look at what we feel are 9 of the best night vision binoculars available, giving an overview of their key features, why we have highlighted them and pros and cons.
To help you further, we have also put together a buying guide and FAQ to help you understand the world of night vision binoculars better.
The Best Night Vision Binoculars
The first pair of binoculars we have decided to highlight is this pair of Aurosports 10×25 Folding binoculars with weak light night vision. Before we go any further with our review though, it is worth noting that this particular model, although stated as being weak light night vision, are not really night vision. For it to be true night vision, a pair of binoculars need to technically be able to see things when it is completely dark. Which these can’t, but, they still get a mention because they are inexpensive and are great for things like birdwatching and watching outdoor sports and concerts.
Another reason for highlighting this pair is the fact that they are less than 30 bucks. What do you get for your money though? You get a relatively lightweight pair of binoculars, that can see perfectly during daylight and in low light at night. Obviously, the idea of a pair of binoculars is to see things from a distance and with this pair you are treated to a large field of vision that makes it easy to focus in on a specific target in glorious detail as far back as 1000 yards.
This particular model would best suit you if you have a tight budget or are not so bothered about having an all singing, all dancing model. Find more great products like this by checking out our hunting binoculars guide.
25mm diameter Objective Lens
Twist-up eye cups type
Right eye and centre focus system
3m close focus
6.9 degree field angle
362ft field of view
Fully multi-coated lens
- Weight12 ounces
Compact and lightweight
Crisp and clear vision
Night vision is not particularly powerful
Not powerful enough for anything other than watching birds or similar
These night-vision goggles from Nightfox might look like something straight out of the 90s but don’t be fooled by the old-school aesthetic. These night-vision goggles are one of the most affordable ways to see what’s happening in the dark without being detected. Whether you’re concerned about the security of your property, you want to try night hunting, or you just want to pretend you’re part of black ops, these goggles are perfect.
In terms of stats, these binoculars aren’t quite as impressive as the more expensive options. However, they still have 3X optical zoom, seven levels of infrared, a viewing range of up to 100 yards, and about six hours battery life on eight AA batteries. They also have a revolutionary widescreen viewing monitor that is comfortable to wear, even if you have glasses on.
Viewing range – 100 yards
3X optical zoom
Seven levels of infrared
Six hours of battery life
Comfortable widescreen viewing monitor
- Weight2.4 pounds
Amazing price for NV technology
Comfortable to wear, even with glasses
Out of date look
Requires AA batteries
Next on our list is a product from a higher end of the price spectrum than the one above. Solomark has made a great gadget in the Night Vision Monocular with Blue-Infrared Illuminator. Not only is it capable of seeing targets in total darkness, but it comes with camera and video recorder functions, meaning you can take photographs and footage. Ideal if you are using them for wildlife spotting or surveillance. With the 7-level adjustable IR LED Illuminator you can view things in the dark of up to 328ft away.
The Solomark Monocular has the option to either use an AV or USB connection to display videos and images on your television or to transfer them onto your computer. Another great feature of this particular night vision monocular is the zoom control that means you can vary the size of the image by a wide range of settings including 1x, 1.3x, 1.6x, 2x. Solomark have also ensured that it can be used in a variety of ways, whether you want to hold it in your hands, mount it on a tripod or link it onto a special harness.
If you are willing to spend a little bit more money on your binoculars than the model above, the Solomark Night Vision Monocular may be just what you need.
Image and video functionality
USB and AV connectivity
Fully-integrated LCD colour screen
- Weight8.8 ounces
Illuminator was great for 100m
Good job for money, Gen 1 unit provides lots of sensitivity when used correctly
Greater starter night vision device
Camera function has been noted as being not very useful
1GB Micro-SD that comes with it is not especially big
Sightmark have been making a name for themselves selling a whole range of hunting and fishing equipment, including night vision goggles like these. Look at that picture and tell us that doesn’t look pretty cool. The head mount is what really grabs your attention, isn’t it? That isn’t the only thing this particular night vision device has going for it though. Although made of plastic it is durable and lightweight and powers up relatively quickly with a built-in IR-illuminator and full 30-degree field of vision.
While it may not be within everyone’s budget, Sightmark SM15070 Ghost Hunter is a serious device for anyone looking to up their night time and dusk hunting game. The dual tube system makes for a more detailed and comfortable viewing experience compared to single tube models.
If you are looking, therefore, for a moderately priced night vision device that allows you to use it hands-free, especially for hunting, you could probably do worse than purchasing this model. Love this product? Check out our compact binoculars for hiking review for our top picks.
Built-in high-powered IR-illuminator
Easy to use head mount
Gen-1 Night Vision
1/4 inch tripod or weapon mount socket
Durable, ergonomic and lightweight design
- Weight3 pounds
Stable, comfortable and adjustable head mount that can work with a helmet
Good quality considering it uses older technology
In moonlight you don’t need to use the IR-illuminator
Some customers have complained about the focus being problematic to use
The older technology may not give everyone the higher quality experience they want
We have chosen to feature another Solomark model in our list, and with good reason too. This particular night vision binoculars allows you to see up to 1300ft in total darkness, thanks to the 850mm IR-illuminator powered by a 3W IR LED. Like many models available, it features a multi-coated optic that reduces the glare and increases the level of light transmission to give the best quality it possible can.
Solomark Night Vision Hunting Binoculars can take photographs and video footage that can be easily stored on a 4GB micro-SD card, which can be expanded to 32GB. With a 31mm objective aperture and 2x zoom, these night vision binoculars are high performing and perfect for a full range of applications such as surveillance, watching sports events or concerts, birdwatching, fishing hunting and all things outdoors. If you are hunting and need to take great photos of the game, make sure you check out our list of top trail cameras.
3W IR LED 850mm IR Illuminator
1300ft viewable distance during full darkness
AV and USB connectivity
2x Digital Zoom
31mm Objective Aperture
Soft carrying case
- Weight2.2 pounds
Solid and robust, but lightweight design
Does what it says on the tin
Higher performance spec than other products at similar prices
There are not many reviews of this, so there are not many downsides noted. As with any night vision device, make sure it will give you the performance you need for your desired application
Touted as having a more ergonomic and easy to grip design, this Firefield Nightfall is perfect for anyone looking for a comfortable and versatile night time viewing experience. It features the power-conserving PULSE IR illuminator and has one of the biggest objective lenses out there. A Gen 1 monocular has a completely weather-resistant coating and is built to be robust and durable.
Despite it looking like a beast, it is incredibly lightweight and compact and perfect for observing wildlife, surveillance, search and rescue and hunting at night or in low light environments. It is considerably cheaper than a lot of other models, but, for what it gives you in performance and features, may make it worth investing in.
PULSE IR illuminator
1:1.4 Relative Aperture
Large objective lens
- Weight1 pounds
Relatively low price
Sturdy and robust, but lightweight construction
Large objective lens
Not bad for the price, but more like a beginner’s item…could even be considered a toy
Viewing field could be better
Next on our list is this pair of Occer 12×25 compact binoculars, which reportedly have low light night vision. However, it is worth noting that there seems to be some confusion with whether this pair has any night vision or not. Some customers say it does, some say it doesn’t. Officially, it works well in low light, but won’t do much in full darkness.
Some customers have also commented about the size not being suitable for adults and better for children. Ultimately, you get what you pay for – if you are expecting to pay under 30 bucks for a night vision device, you can’t possibly expect it to be particularly powerful. With over 98 customer reviews and an average score of 4.7 out of 5, it is hard to argue with its popularity.
However, if you want serious night vision goggles or binoculars, look elsewhere.
15mm eye lens
25mm diameter lens
Neck strap hooks
- Weight13.9 ounces
Fun item, but not particular good for serious hunting or surveillance in total darkness
Larger eyepieces for glasses wearers
As the price suggests, this is not a particularly powerful device and therefore not suitable for anything other than spotting wildlife in daylight or low light
This pair of night vision goggles is currently one of the best-sellers on Amazon. Made by a company called Creative XP, this pair of binoculars is truly versatile with just about every feature you could want. Firstly, they can be used in any light condition – they work as 7X optical zoom binoculars in the day and 850NM night vision goggles when the sun goes in. In terms of night vision capability, they’re just one step away from professional standard goggles – you’ll easily be able to see a detailed picture around you in total darkness.
One of the big selling points is that the Creative XP Digital Night Vision Binoculars are capable of capturing images and video as well. It saves anything you capture directly to a 32GB memory card and you can view it on the 4” TFT screen. There aren’t many other night vision binoculars in this price range with advanced features like this. These digital camera binoculars are also much tougher than they look. They have a rubber and plastic casing to protect it against damage. Plus, with its IPX4, which means it can resist splashes of water from any direction. So, when you’re deep into the wilderness in the pitch black, you don’t have to panic when it starts to rain.
Impressive infrared illumination
Ability to take capture still and moving images
Requires AA batteries
Black controls are difficult to read in low light
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of night vision goggles, GTHUNDER has got you covered. As far as we can tell, they sell mainly on Amazon and make their products in China, which is why they can offer a product like this at an impressively low price. The question is – how does it perform against the more expensive night vision goggles on this list? The answer – pretty damn well. Of course, you’re not going to get the same performance from these as you would from a $1000+ product, but they’re good enough for most applications.
They’ve got a viewing range of around 1000 feet, an 850NM illuminator, 3X optical zoom, and a 3-inch large viewing screen. They’re also capable of capturing HD images and videos, which are automatically saved to a 32GB memory card (included). On top of that, they have an impressive run time of around 17 hours using six AA batteries. We’d recommend buying some rechargeable AA batteries to save yourself money.
Viewing range – 1000 feet
3X optical zoom & 4X digital zoom
Captures HD images and video
32GB memory card included
3” viewing screen
- Weight2.1 pounds
Affordable pair of night vision goggles
Impressive list of features
Captures your experience
Solid battery life
Requires AA batteries
Black controls are difficult to read in low light
Night Vision Binoculars Buying Guide & FAQs
Types Of Night Vision Devices
As you have probably noticed, if you have gone down the rabbit's hole in search of the best night vision device for you, that there are a variety of types. You will also notice terms like Gen 2 and Gen 4 etc. used. Let's look at these briefly.
Scopes - Scopes are night vision devices with one eye piece, often referred to as monocular. They are generally handheld or fitted on top of a weapon.
Goggles - Goggles have two eye pieces and are known by another name...but what could that be? We'll leave you to figure that out. Depending on a model they either come with stereo or single lens.
Cameras - Night vision cameras produce footage and photographs that can then be played on a computer or via a television.
Gen 2+ - Generation 2 night vision is mostly used in professional ways or by law enforcement - more or less because of the high ticket price.
Gen 3 - Generation 3 night vision is capable of achieving a sharper and brighter image thanks to gallium arsenide being added to the photo-cathode tube. This form of night vision provides standard to amazing performance in low light.
Gen WPT - WPT stands for White Phosphor Technology is used to give you a more natural black and white image.
Gen 4 - Generation 4 night vision devices show how much of an overhaul things have had. By taking away the ion barrier and what is known as gating, helps to demonstrate incredible increases in terms of resolution and target detection ranges.
Infrared Light - Near, Mid, Thermal Infrared
Without getting too science-y, it's easier to explain a little more about night vision and in particular infrared light, by talking about some basics. So don't yawn, trust us, it will help it make better sense. A light wave energy level is connected to its wavelength. The general rule is the shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy. In terms of visible light, red has the least energy, while violet has the most. Beside the visible light spectrum sits the infrared spectrum.
Infrared light can actually mean three different things:
Near-infrared - This form of infrared light is the closest to visible light and has wavelengths of 0.7 to 1.3 microns, or 7 billionths of a meter to 1,300 billionths.
Mid-Infrared - This has 1.3 to 3 micron wavelengths.
Both mid and near are used in various devices, including, that's right, remote controls.
Thermal - This takes up the largest amount of the infrared spectrum and can have wavelengths measuring anything from 3 to more than 30 microns.
The important difference between near and mid infrared and thermal-infrared is that is emitted BY an object instead of being reflected off it.
Night Vision Binoculars FAQ
Q: How Do NVGs Work?
A: You've seen the soldiers and hunters looking cool, perhaps you've even owned a pair or two in your lifetime. But have you ever stopped to think about exactly how night vision goggles/binoculars and other similar products actually work?
Basically, all night vision devices comprise of some crucial components:
- Objective lens
- Power supply
- Image intensifier (Photo-cathode tube)
A night vision device, like a pair of binoculars for instance, takes in ambient light (that is infra-red, moonlight or starlight) into the front lens. This light, which consists of many photons, passes through a photo-cathode tube that converts the photons into electrons.
Through a chemical and electrical process, the electrons are amplified and are shot against a special phosphorus screen that converts the electrons into visible light again that is seen through the eyepiece. The image you see is a clear and crisp, but slightly green-coloured amplified version of whatever you were witnessing with your night vision binoculars.
Q: How Far Can You See With Night Vision Goggles?
A: While we know that anything other than a specific distance in answer to this question is going to frustrate you, there is no standard distance. The distance you can see things in with a night vision device, such as goggles, depends on a number of different variables. The bigger the target, animal or object is, the easier it will be to see. Recognition range comes into play when you are interested in seeing details; while detection range is being able to see something, to be sure it’s there.
Lighting also plays into it, as the more ambient like there is, the better and greater distances you will be able to see.
Q: How Durable Are Night Vision Goggles?
A: Again, this is another question that could be answered with 'How long is a piece of string'. It goes without saying though that because of the intricate designs and complicated set-up underneath the covering, that any drops are going to cause it damage. However, if you look after a pair, following the manufacturer's guide for maintenance and care, they are likely to last you longer.
Q: What Can Night Vision Goggles Be Used For?
A: Although the original application for night vision was in the military to help them track and locate positions of enemy targets in the dark, there are a variety of different applications night vision goggles have now.
For instance, night vision goggles are regularly used in:
- Detecting hidden objects
- Wildlife observation, such as bird watching etc.
- Law enforcement