Are you desperate for some night vision? Seeing in the dark is no longer a thing only superheroes and their villain counterparts are capable of. You don’t have to have an arsenal of futuristic gadgets somewhere in your basement & you don’t need a personal world-class scientist to invent new technologies for you. These days, night vision is accessible to everyone who is willing to shell out the cash needed to obtain it.
Night vision goggles grant you the ability to see in the dark without drawing attention to yourself the way using a flashlight would. They’re used in surveillance and security, but also in recent times, night goggles are favored by campers and people who love wildlife spotting.
Do you want to take your work or your favorite sport to the next level with a pair of the best night vision goggles on the market? We’re here to guide you through this tricky process. Keep reading to learn all about night vision goggles & night vision binoculars!
What Are Night Vision Goggles?
If you’re on the market for your first pair of night goggles, you may not have a full idea of what the term even means. In truth, you may be thinking of something straight out of a first-person shooter game, a ghost hunter show, or perhaps a spy movie — a stealthy device with no limitations. While we’re not quite at that level just yet, night goggles have taken great leaps and bounds in the past few decades.
While there are many types of night vision aids, most of them work in a similar way. The main difference lies in their usage and also the way they are worn & used. In general, night-vision goggles and other night vision devices take in invisible light that you cannot see with the naked eye. Then, they amplify it and turn it into visible light. Thanks to this amplification, you can see things that are far too dark for the naked eye to spot.
Goggles, in particular, use two imaging tubes. These allow you to see a wide field of view and give you a lot of peripheral vision in comparison to a monocular device. Keep in mind that night vision goggles may fail if used in complete darkness. They require that both invisible and ambient light are present. Starlight and moonlight are very helpful when using them.
What are night vision goggles used for?
Night vision goggles, along with other tools for use in low light conditions, are great for any and all situations when you can’t carry a torch or a flashlight. They let you see the world around you even if it’s very dark out. Compared to other similar devices, goggles give you the ability to keep your hands free & they grant you a lot of freedom of movement.
Some of the activities people buy a night vision goggle device for are:
- military purposes
However, these are just some of the purposes you might want to buy a pair of these goggles for. In general, they’re a great tool if you find yourself in the dark a lot.
What Are All the Night Vision Devices?
Before we delve deeper into our recommendations, we want to first tell you about the options you have when it comes to night vision aids. Goggles are one thing, but are there any other solutions? Yes, there are, and it’s important to know what suits you best if you want to use night illuminators.
Night vision goggles
Night vision goggles are probably the most common solution when it comes to seeing in the dark. They allow you to see with both eyes and they can be mounted on the head, which leaves both of your hands free. Night goggles feel quite natural compared to some of the other night vision options and they do not impair your eyesight or your movements.
There are two types of night vision goggles: a dual-eye piece that lets you view through a single image tube, and a dual-eye piece that lets you see through dual-image tubes. This is referred to as stereo vision.
Goggles are fantastic for shorter duration navigation as well as observational activities. You can wear them without hassle, and most people find them comfortable to use, even after several hours.
Night vision monoculars
Night vision monoculars are a single-eye unit that lets you see in the dark through one eye only. They offer no magnification. However, they are very lightweight and compact, which makes it easy to wear on your head for hours. Yes, they are head-mounted like goggles, but they don’t offer the same field of view as their dual counterparts do.
There are some benefits to choosing monoculars over goggles. The main virtue of monoculars lies in the fact that your unaided eye continues to see normally. Some degree of peripheral vision is very helpful in the dark. On the other hand, it might be difficult to get used to the difference between the two eyes.
Night vision binoculars
A pair of night vision binoculars is a device that comes with two night-seeing eyepieces & built-in magnification. They are usually not mounted on the head. This is because the magnifying lenses weigh a hefty amount, thus making the device too heavy to wear on your head.
If you need to see in the dark at a longer distance, simple night goggles may not suffice. In those situations, you may opt to use night vision binoculars instead. They are favored by hunters and other wildlife trackers. Of course, they also find their uses in the military. However, if you need to have your hands free, binoculars will not be your first pick.
Night vision scopes
There are two types of night vision scopes. The most popular type is almost the same as a rifle scope, only it’s larger and heavier; it may sometimes be referred to as “weapon sight”. The other, less common type of scope mounts in front of the regular rifle scope. These scopes are called “day/night systems” because they can be removed during daylight and re-attached at nighttime. Unfortunately, day/night systems do not offer the same performance as a dedicated night vision scope does.
These are used in the military or during long-range night hunting. If you feel the call of the wild & you want to hunt some nighttime creatures, you need one of these in addition to your night goggles.
Things to Consider When Buying the Best Night Vision Goggles
There are a few things you need to be aware of before we send you on the journey to buying your best night vision goggles. Let’s go over them quickly so that you can get started.
Night vision goggles come in several generations that determine their usage, price, and performance.
- Generation 1: The cheapest night goggles, ideal for casual observers, and learning to use night vision. They grant you a general overview of the area without giving too much detail. You cannot use these to drive, shoot, or perform any precise tasks. Their max range is around 75 yards & their light amplification maxes out at 900 times.
- Generation 2: These gen 2 goggles offer the lowest generation optics that can be used for tasks such as hunting, shooting, or safe driving. They’re a massive step-up from Gen 1. They amplify light up to 30,000 times, they offer lower distortion, and they don’t always require an IR Illuminator. They work at a range of up to 200 yards.
- Generation 3: This is where things begin to get serious. At a decent range, you will be able to see and recognize buildings and people with ease. Gen 3 is what is currently used by the military in combat, but you can also use them for observation, surveillance, hunting, driving, shooting, and more. They allow you to make out objects up to 300 yards.
- Generation 4: These gen 4 night vision goggles are the best of the best the market has to offer. They provide the best NV technology out there with the longest possible range. Your vision is clear when you use these, even in daylight conditions. There are no better goggles, but hear our word of warning: these are very, very expensive.
Weight and size
Since night vision goggles are mounted on a helmet or a head-worn system, both weight and size are major considerations. You should aim for goggles that weigh under two pounds. Anything heavier and your neck is bound to get tired.
As far as size goes, a large mount is uncomfortable to wear and may prevent you from using a firearm. If you can’t avoid buying a sizable pair, choose a high-rise optic head mount.
Typically only found in Generation 3 night goggle tubes, auto-gating improves the image displayed during dynamic lighting conditions. This applies to light conditions such as muzzle flashes, sudden white light, oncoming traffic, flashlights, and more. Auto-gating also assists in the transition between low-light into a typical night light.
Manual gain adjustment
Manual gain adjustment allows you to change how bright the image is when it’s displayed. This helps a lot if you’re outside in changing lighting conditions, such as going from a pitch-black night with 0% illumination to natural light from the moon and the stars and a higher percentage of illumination.
This is an important consideration if you expect to use your goggles for hours at a time. On nighttime hunts, you don’t want to risk running out of battery and being left in the dark. Depending on your intended use, make sure to pick goggles with high battery life.
Which Night Vision Goggles Are Best?
We’ve talked about all the things you need to be aware of when you shop, so let us now talk about the night vision goggles and night vision binoculars in question. Which night vision goggles work best for you? Check out the best models below & get the pair you love the most!
Nightfox Swift Digital Night Vision Goggle
- ROAM THE NIGHT: Join the digital night vision revolution with the Nightfox Swift, bringing you a 70m viewing range at night.
- HEAD MOUNT INCLUDED: The Swift's 1x magnification & 2x digital zoom mean you'll stay orientated while head-mounting.
If you want the best bang for your buck, then this pair of goggles is the best option for you. Nightfox Swift provides you with a digital night vision that is remarkably good at this price point.
What can you expect from these Generation 1 goggles? First of all, around a 75-yard viewing range. The best part is that Nightfox also comes with 1x magnification. This is fantastic, because higher magnification may be difficult to walk around with, whereas these still bring the image closer without confusing you.
The goggles come with a head mount included. This ensures that you’ll be able to wear them while camping, exploring, hunting, and more. They’re easy to set up and control with settings located on the widescreen viewing monitor. You can optimize screen brightness, infrared level, and adjust to an external IR flashlight with IR Level Zero.
Overall, these are the best night vision goggles on the market & they’re surprisingly affordable!
Coolife Night Vision Binoculars
If you don’t insist on having a pair of goggles, why not try out a high-quality binocular option? These binoculars present a wonderful alternative to night vision goggles while still being easy enough to use. They’re an amazing pick for hunters who tend to go stalking prey at night.
For one, they have an astoundingly long range of 984 feet. This is combined with a built-in 3W infrared LED 850nm illuminator. Such a top-notch illuminator will allow you to see at a long distance even in complete darkness.
Coolife also offers a built-in 2.31″ TFT screen with 4x digital zoom. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to see things clearly even from afar. Add to that the CMOS sensor that helps these binoculars achieve the clearest possible view thanks to their high performance, and you’ve got yourself an outstanding pair of night vision goggles/binoculars.
Creative XP Digital Night Vision Binoculars for Complete Darkness
- SEE IN TOTAL DARKNESS - Unlike other night vision binoculars that can't give you high-quality visibility without ambient light, our goggles feature an infrared illuminator for full pitch-black vision.
- VIEWING SCREEN - These binoculars for hunting and security feature a 4" TFT screen with a 2x digital zoom, allowing you to view crystal-clear photos and videos in an instant.
We’re back to binoculars once again. A popular choice for any lover of the night, these CREATIVE XP binoculars are more expensive than Coolife. However, the extra bucks you’ll spend will come back to you tenfold in a pure top-notch performance.
Oftentimes when it comes to night vision gear, you will find that out of two factors — clear vision & night vision, you simply cannot have both. However, Creative XP proves all the naysayers wrong by delivering on both accounts. These binoculars allow you to see clearly in 100% darkness. They feature a no-glow infrared illuminator that doesn’t rely on starlight or the moon to light your way.
This device has a large 4″ viewing screen (converted from 2″ TFT by a convex lens) and a fantastic field of view. You can use them to see from up to 1300 feet away, which at this price point is almost unmatchable. They also let you zoom in up to 7x. All of these features make them an outstanding pick for a present, be it for yourself or for a loved one.
Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular
- Hand held and head mountable operation. Integrated IR illuminator. Automatic shutoff when exposed to bright light. Lightweight and compact
- 4x magnification for accurate depth perception.
There will be times when you will want to maintain your regular vision through one eye while still utilizing the benefits of night vision with the other eye. If you don’t want to give up on your peripheral vision & you want to maintain full awareness of your surroundings, a monocular might just be the option for you.
This excellent & high-quality Sightmark Ghost Hunter monocular can be used in handheld mode or in head mountable operation mode. It comes with an integrated IR illuminator. It’s lightweight and ergonomic, making it easy to carry around, store, and most importantly, use.
Sightmark Ghost Hunter night vision goggle can be mounted on a weapon, so it’s great for hunters. The battery life is pretty amazing — up to 72 hours without the IR illuminator activated and 20 hours with IR. Considering how cheap it is, it’s a great alternative to night vision goggles that offers a solid field of view & great performance.
SHANNISS Night Vision Goggle 8mm Binocular for Hunting
- Night Vision which enable you to observe target in complete darkness. Ideal for a wide variety of uses such as surveillance, nighttime hunting wildlife observation and exploring caves.
- With multi-coated glass objectives, high sensitivity sensor, integrated LCD-Screen and IR LED illuminator. You can view in the dark up to 328ft/100m, get the brightness you want.
Are you torn between night vision goggles and binoculars? You don’t really have to make that difficult decision anymore, because SHANNISS has managed to combine them. This product can be used in handheld mode or mounted on your head & used as regular goggles.
These night-vision goggles work by relying on their a high-sensitivity sensor & an IR LED illuminator that operates at a viewing distance of up to 328 ft/100 m in total darkness. The design in this night vision device is ergonomic & user-friendly, making these the best option for a beginner.
The battery life in this model is good enough — up to 6 hours. This means that they will last you throughout the night without any problems.
GTHUNDER Digital Night Vision Goggle
- HD Night Vision Goggles used in complete darkness—This Owl Night Vision Binoculars is equipped with infrared illuminator, which allows you to view animals or other objects for hours without external...
- Don’t let your adventure be blocked by the dark night: GTHUNDER designed this efficient and useful digital night vision binoculars for you. Imagine how cool it is to capture HD photos & videos...
GTHUNDER presents you with a fantastic night vision binocular option that comes equipped with an infrared illuminator. This ensures that if you buy these, you’ll be able to see your surroundings & wildlife without any external light whatsoever.
One of the best things about this device is that you get it with a built-in 32GB memory card. Thanks to that feature, you’ll be able to capture HD photos & videos of your adventures and then transfer them to a computer later.
The goggles/binoculars are sturdy and built to be used even by beginners. They’re straightforward, and yet very powerful, allowing you to track targets at up to 986 feet away. With a respectable field of view, a good enough battery life, and strong magnification, these are a great gen 1 option for most users.
E.T Dragon PVS-14 Digital Night Vision Goggle IR
- Clear imaging, day and night, color images in the daytime, black and white images in the night;
- The longest observation distance at night is more than 150 meters.
This handy monocular can be mounted on your helmet or carried in the hand. It’s lightweight & compact despite the long list of features that it packs underneath the handy exterior.
It comes with a built-in infrared illuminator that grants you a visual range of up to 400-600 feet (100-180 meters) as long as there is some natural light from the stars and the moon. You can also use it during the day if you turn off the infrared setting.
It’s powered by AA batteries, and while it doesn’t have the best battery life, it’s good enough as long as you pack some extras. However, it excels at providing a wide range of view and ensuring that you can see everything you need.
BOBLOV Digital Night Vision Monocular 5×8 Optics Scope
- 【200Yards Night Vision Distance in Complete Dark】 The night vision scope coupled with Infrared illuminator allows up to 150yards viewing distance in the fully dark, offers clear black and white...
- 【Comes with Battery and 32G Memory Included】The operating time for night vision device normally is 1-1.5H under the auxiliary illuminator opening; 2-2.5H when the auxiliary illuminator is off....
BOBLOV delivers a great & cheap camo monocular that was designed for hunters and wildlife observers. It allows you to see everything at up to 150 yards away, even if you’re surrounded by complete darkness. If you’ve got moonlight to help light your way, you can expect visibility at up to 250 yards away.
This monocular comes with 16GB of memory stored. You can record movies or take pictures in night vision and then easily transfer them to a PC. It’s also equipped with 5x optical zoom as well as up to 8x digital zoom, so you can truly record from afar.
The built-in 1.5″ TFT screen is on the smaller side, but it’s sufficient for a monocular device. You can adjust the brightness of this LCD screen easily so as not to scare your prey away.
Hike Crew Digital Night Vision Binocular
- POWERFUL PERSPECTIVE, BOTH DAY AND NIGHT | High Quality Digital Night Vision Monocular Provides Optical Magnification & Infrared Illumination for Beginner & Advanced Explorers & Sportsmen | Enjoy...
- EXCEPTIONAL CLARITY & VIEWING DISTANCE | Gain a Crystal Clear Picture Up to 400M During Daytime & 100M at Nighttime with 7-Level Infrared Brightness, 2X Digital Zoom, Manual Focus Wheel & Adjustable...
It’s possible to get great night vision equipment at a reasonable price, and these binoculars are the perfect proof. They offer a whopping 7 levels of brightness & work great even in 100% darkness.
These binoculars provide you with crystal clear, grain and smudge-free view at up to 400 meters away in daylight and 100 meters away at nighttime. You can also utilize the included 2x digital zoom to look closely when needed. This being a night vision binocular makes that easier – you get plenty of eye relief from the magnification when only using it with one eye.
The battery provides up to 9 hours of battery life on six AA batteries. This makes these binoculars ideal for camping & trips when you may not be able to use a charger.
Don’t feel ready to make your decision just yet? No worries — we’re here to answer your remaining doubts. Below, we will cover the most commonly asked questions about night vision goggles.
What does the military use for night vision?
These days, the U.S. troops wear large goggles that enable them to see in the dark. These goggles utilize infrared sensors in order to pick up on heat sources. This paints an image of a person’s surroundings based on the warmth that they radiate.
The military usually uses Gen 3 or Gen 4 goggles, which are the best, but also the most expensive on the market. Their pricing is often so steep that it’s unattainable to the general public.
Can civilians buy night vision?
Yes, civilians can buy night vision goggles just like the military can. These goggles find many uses in activities completely unrelated to warfare and such operations. You can buy a pair for hunting, wildlife observation, or simple exploration. The only downside is the price that may be too high for the general public. Fortunately, Gen 1, gen 2, and gen 3 goggles are still priced reasonably.
What are the best cheap night vision goggles?
If you don’t need the best of the best in night vision technology, you can definitely get by with a cheaper pair of goggles. We tried to pick the most cost-effective devices when we composed our list of recommendations above.
Assuming the price is the main factor of choice, definitely check out the Nightfox Swift Digital Night Vision Goggles. These goggles are highly affordable while still being good enough for most activities.
Night vision goggles open up a whole new world in terms of night-time exploration. It doesn’t matter if you pick a cheaper pair that gives you a basic view of your surroundings, or you go with something expensive that comes straight out of a spy movie. You’re sure to find a lot of uses for these goggles.
Make sure to think carefully as you pick which pair to get. Night goggles aren’t cheap, but no matter the price point, they’re likely one of the best & most reasonable expenses for someone who is often out at night & in the wild!
- 1 What Are Night Vision Goggles?
- 2 What Are All the Night Vision Devices?
- 3 Things to Consider When Buying the Best Night Vision Goggles
- 4 Which Night Vision Goggles Are Best?
- 4.1 Nightfox Swift Digital Night Vision Goggle
- 4.2 Coolife Night Vision Binoculars
- 4.3 Creative XP Digital Night Vision Binoculars for Complete Darkness
- 4.4 Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular
- 4.5 SHANNISS Night Vision Goggle 8mm Binocular for Hunting
- 4.6 GTHUNDER Digital Night Vision Goggle
- 4.7 E.T Dragon PVS-14 Digital Night Vision Goggle IR
- 4.8 BOBLOV Digital Night Vision Monocular 5×8 Optics Scope
- 4.9 Hike Crew Digital Night Vision Binocular
- 5 FAQ
- 6 Conclusion