Peel back the darkness with the best night vision goggles. Great for wildlife watching and nocturnal exploration, these powerful devices can reveal a whole new world that's practically invisible to the human eye. Many can also capture images and videos, giving you the opportunity to turn your night-time explorations into image-making sessions.
No matter how many carrots you eat, your naked eye will still be no match for the best night-vision goggles. However, the technology is quite broad, and there are really three types of device we're dealing with here: night-vision goggles, night-vision binoculars and night-vision monoculars. Though different in physical format, all three do much the same thing, so we've included all three here.
What are the differences? Read on for a quick primer on what you need to know about night-vision devices.
What kind of night vision devices are there?
Night vision goggles are wearable, hands-free devices that use image enhancement and light amplification to see in the dark. They allow you to keep an eye on your subject while also being on the move yourself, and they tend to vary in price depending on how extensive their features are.
The same holds true of night-vision binoculars. These tend to be something of a combination of analogue and digital devices, with an optical lens and a digital LCD that allows you to see what the night-vision technology sees. Binoculars at higher prices will tend to offer greater vision range, and additional features like video or still image recording to an SD slot.
These binoculars do tend to be a little heavy, so for those wanting to travel light, we've also included a few of the best night-vision monoculars. These are pretty much what they sound like – a single eyepiece (mono) rather than two (bino). They don't provide as much magnification, and tend to have a narrower field of view, but they are cheaper and lighter than binoculars.
With the above in mind and without further ado, let’s examine the best night vision goggles and night vision binoculars and monoculars you can buy in 2021.
The best night vision goggles, binoculars and monoculars
Night vision goggles
This pair of night vision goggles are designed to be used with the supplies head mount – and thanks to the fact that there is a 1x magnification, it is possible to walk with them without difficulty. This uses a built-in digital camera to create the image with 840nm infrared LEDs for illumination – giving a quoted maximum range of 70m (76 yards). The Nightfox uses rechargeable battery giving you between 90 minutes and three hours of operation, depending which of the brightness you set the seven LED brightness settings you opt for. The resolution from the 320x240-pixel screen is not especially high – and the 10° angle of view is a touch narrow - but for the price these goggles provide a great entry to those who want to observe wildlife after dark, or other special ops assignments.
This is a video-based set of night vision goggles, that use a CCD sensor - outputting the video feed to an LCD screen in the eyewear. The screen is decidedly low-resolution with a 800 x 225 pixel array – and what you see is monochrome – but there is an output socket so the video can captured using a suitable external video recorder. The system promises to let you see up to 200 feet in total darkness – and up to 1000 feet in moonlight. It is powered by a 12V rechargeable battery.
The Nyte Vu NV60 night vision goggles are still available in the US, but can be trickier to get hold of in other territories like the UK and Europe. If you're interested, it can be worth keeping an eye on eBay and other reselling sites.
Night vision binoculars
The Solomark Night Vision binoculars offer a decent level of specification for the price. Included here is an infrared illuminator that enables viewing up to 400 metres, plus a sufficiently large 4-inch viewscreen. The other key features are 7x magnification and a 31mm objective lens size, along with a 1/3-inch CMOS sensor. Unusually, a 4GB microSD card is provided as part of the package. You can capture video in HD quality 1280x720 pixels at 30fps, and the binoculars come with an AV cable plus USB cable for hooking up to a TV or PC. You'll need eight regular AA batteries for power.
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With a night-time range of 300m, the Rexing B1 binoculars are great for spotting nocturnal wildlife at a distance. The high-quality optical system, built around a 24mm f/1.2 objective lens, ensures good light transmission and a strong image captured, which is handy as the binoculars can also capture 1280x960 video and 1MP stills, saving them to a microSD card up to 32GB in size (which you'll need to provide). It can be mounted onto a tripod via a standard screw thread, which is handy if you want to set the binoculars recording and leave them in order to tempt a shy subject. Thanks to the IP56 water-resistance, the binoculars will be just fine even if it starts to rain.
This pair of night-vision binoculars from Nightfox impresses promise about 150m of vision at night. This may not be as much as the other binoculars on this list, but the the Nightfox 110R is also cheaper than all of them, so makes for a solid budget choice. It provides 7x magnification, and can record video to an SD card if you insert one, at a resolution 1280x960. The LCD screen is even lower resolution, only 320x240, so you'll probably have to get your videos onto a computer before you can suss out whether they're worth anything or not.
Night vision monoculars
The Equinox Z2 monocular from optical specialists Bushnell offers a magnification factor that, at 6x, is bigger than most of its ilk, coupled with an effective light gathering tool in a 50mm lens. This Wi-Fi enabled option shows its mettle by enabling users to livestream footage straight to a mobile device, and even control the zoom video, image capture and IR brightness directly.
A built-in IR illuminator enables users to view long-range subjects comfortably during the day or night, while video capture is of the full HD 1080P variety, which is respectable for its class. Overall this monocular is a comprehensive choice, if a little weightier than lower-specified alternatives.
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SiOnyx make a range of night vision monocular devices – but the handheld Aurora Sport is the most affordable of the range. It has its own 1-inch CMOS sensor, which means it can record 720P color videos when you are out after dark. Design primarily for marine use, it is fully water-protected and claims it can be submerged to 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. It is offers a 3x digital zoom, and is designed to be able to pick out a man-sized target at 150m in near moonless starlight.
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