The best night vision goggles can open up a whole new nocturnal world. Many can also capture images and videos, giving you the opportunity to record your night-time explorations and adventures.
But night vision goggles are not the only option for seeing in the dark. Actually, there are really three types of device you can use for night-time viewing. They all do much the same thing, but vary in their physical design.
• Night vision goggles are wearable, hands-free devices that use image enhancement and light amplification to see in the dark.
• Night-vision binoculars are a combination of analog and digital viewing, with an optical lens and a digital LCD that allows you to see what the night-vision technology sees.
• Night-vision monoculars are a lighter alternative to night vision binoculars.
Security and surveillance is just one aspect of this kind of technology. Night vision goggles are also perfect for wildlife watching, especially species that are primarily nocturnal. If wildlife is your thing, we also have a guide to the best trail cameras.
The best night vision goggles, binoculars and monoculars in 2022
With its lightweight construction, albite slightly bulky size the NightFox Corsac is reasonably priced at $149.99 / £149.99 / AU $251 its ability to record Full HD footage both in night vision mode and daytime color is extremely useful. For the price and the functions available the NighFox Corsac are very capable digital night vision binoculars that will deliver good results to around 150 metres, with the image being slightly soft at 180m, yet you will still be able to make out sheep, deer, rabbits and other forms of wildlife.]
Read more: NightFox Corsac review
For the price and the functions available, the NightFox Cub is a very capable digital night vision monocular that will deliver good results to around 100 metres, with the image becoming slightly fuzz at 150 metres, but you will still able to make out deer and other forms of wildlife. It must be noted at this price point you are not getting the highest recording rates or formats available, but enough to show to your friends and family. For the price you are getting a great bit of kit that will serve you well in your observations.
Read more: NightFox Cub review
With a night-time range of 300m, the Rexing B1 binoculars are great for spotting nocturnal wildlife at a distance. The optical system is built around a 24mm f/1.2 objective lens to ensure good light transmission and strong image capture. These binoculars can also capture 1280x960 video and 1MP stills, saving them to a microSD card up to 32GB in size, though this isn't included. The Rexing B1 can be mounted onto a tripod via a standard screw thread, which is handy if you want to set the binoculars recording and move away so that your presence doesn't alarm shy subjects. Thanks to the IP56 water-resistance, the binoculars will be just fine even if it starts to rain.
This video-based set of night vision goggles uses a CCD sensor to capture the field of view and output 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 rather than a color image, but there is an output socket so that the video can be 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, and it's 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.
This pair of night vision goggles is designed to be used with the supplied head mount, and they do not provide any additional magnification – they are simply for seeing in the dark. This does mean it is possible to walk with them without difficulty. They use their own 840nm infrared LEDs as an illumination source and a built-in digital camera to create the image, giving a quoted maximum range of 70m (76 yards). The Nightfox uses ra echargeable battery giving you between 90 minutes and three hours of operation, depending which of 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.
The Equinox Z2 monocular from optical specialist 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 full HD 1080p resolution, which is respectable for its class. Overall, this monocular is a comprehensive choice, if a little weightier than lower-specified alternatives.
• See also Best light-light cameras
The Solomark Night Vision binoculars are a little more expensive but you get an infrared illuminator that enables viewing at a range of up to 400 metres, plus a good sized 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, though, which does add to the weight.
• See also Best binocular harness
SiOnyx makes 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 can record 720P color videos when you are out after dark. Designed primarily for marine use, it is fully water-protected and the maker 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.
• See also: Best marine binoculars
How we test night vision goggles, binoculars and monoculars
We test night vision equipment within the field, on moving subjects and landmarks for our buying guides and look for a night vision device that combines magnification, good construction and image clarity, which can be used and withstand a day's bird watching or wildlife spotting. Budget is also an indicator and within this guide you will find spotting scopes to suit everyone's budget.
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