Searching for the best night vision goggles and assorted gadgets you can buy right now that will let you see in the dark? We have some illuminating tips and recommendations to help with your purchase decision. Read on for our pick of the best night vision goggles, night vision monoculars and night vision binoculars available right now.
When we were young, our mums told us to eat up all our carrots so we’d see even better in the dark. For those that rebelled and pushed the vegetables to the side of their plate, however, help is at hand. Night vision goggles are no longer the preserve of Batman-like superheroes – you can now buy your own in just a couple of clicks.
Why might you want a pair of night vision goggles? Well, aside from the obvious enhanced security and surveillance uses, these gadgets also open up some new opportunities in wildlife-spotting. Night-vision goggles could help you catch sight of those skittish creatures we live cheek-by-jowl with, but only come out at night.
What kind of night vision devices are there?
Night vision devices, such as those listed below, utilise image enhancement and light amplification technology to enable us to see what we’d otherwise miss. As well as night vision goggles – the kind you strap to your head - our guide also includes night vision binoculars. These make it possible to magnify your subject in the dark, but may be heavier as a result. For those looking for a more compact option, we've also listed our pick of the best lightweight monoculars.
Naturally, if you’re looking for hands-free night vision and a solution that will enable you to observe your subject(s) while on the move yourself, then night vision goggles are king. These, like anything else, will vary in price depending on the number of features and degree of specification on offer, how much wear and tear they’re designed for, and how new the model is.
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 2020.
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.
A slightly more affordable night vision option than most, the Hawke Night-Eye 2000 weds a useful 5x magnification to a 40mm objective lens and offers a 200-metre range. This monocular enables you to capture both stills and up to 10 minutes of video, although both could be improved – footage is of modest VGA resolution, and stills are just five megapixels, which feels almost retrograde.
There's a built-in infrared sensor to enhance the view, which boasts nine levels of brightness. Peace of mind is provided via a two-year warranty and the fact the unit is waterproofed, while, unusually, the device comes supplied with a 8GB microSD card out of the box. For added convenience, the battery is rechargeable via a USB lead.
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.
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.
Though not the cheapest option here, who could resist a pair of night vision binoculars with the words ‘ghost hunter’ in the product name? For prolonged nighttime observation, the Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2x24 binoculars may prove more comfortable than strapping on a pair of goggles. Two AAA batteries, which helpfully come included, will provide up to 72 hours of operating time.
Features include a 2x magnification and 24mm objective lens, plus high-powered infrared illuminator, all wrapped in a durable polymer construction. Usefully, also on board is an automatic shut-off feature that deactivates the unit if it’s exposed to bright light, helping to prolong the binoculars' lifespan and provide years of (ghost-busting?) use.
Kicking off our list are the Yukon 1x24 Night Vision Goggles. One of the more expensive options for night vision is to go hands-free with a pair of head-mounted goggles. These allow for continuous night viewing when the user themselves is in motion. With a design said to minimise fatigue if worn for extended periods, this pair from Yukon should stay in place when running, walking or sharply turning your head.
Naturally the head mount itself offers various adjustments for optimum comfort, as well as viewing in multiple directions. If you want your night goggles to literally become an extension of yourself, leaving you free to concentrate on your subject, then this option with 1x magnification and 24mm objective lens is a top choice.
For when portability is as key as a device’s light-gathering ability, the Yukon NVMT Spartan monocular device aids its users via the combination of a sizeable 50mm objective lens, a useful 4x magnification, plus a built-in IR (infrared) illuminator for viewing in not only low light conditions, but also in complete darkness.
This monocular comes with a rubber coating to repel moisture and dust and offer a firmer grip (although a standard 1/4-inch screw thread for a tripod mount is also provided). Large buttons and controls provide further ease of operation in the dark. The only extra needed is the 3v lithium battery that powers it.
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