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The best night vision goggles and binoculars in 2021: see in the dark!

best night vision goggles - Nightfox Swift
(Image credit: Nightfox)

The best night vision goggles aren't just for the obvious uses of security and surveillance – they can also open up whole new opportunities for nocturnal wildlife-watching. Night-vision goggles could help you catch sight of those skittish creatures we live cheek-by-jowl with, but only come out at night. 

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. 

But which night vision goggles are the best to get? We have some illuminating tips and recommendations to help with your purchase decision. 

What kind of night vision devices are there?

Night vision devices like those below utilise image enhancement and light amplification technology to enable us to see in the dark. 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. 

Our guide doesn't just list night vision goggles that you strap to your head, though, but night vision binoculars too. Night vision binoculars make it possible to magnify your subject in the dark, but may be heavier to carry around and use, so for those looking for a more compact option, we've also listed our pick of the best lightweight night-vision monoculars.

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 and binoculars

Night vision goggles

(Image credit: Nightfox)

1. Nightfox Swift Night Vision Goggles

The best night vision goggles

Specifications
Magnification: 1x
Objective lens size: -
Angle of view: 10 degrees
Eye relief: -
Weight: 0.74lb / 335g
Dimensions: 5.51 x 6.3 x 2.6” / 140x165x66mm
Reasons to buy
+Hands-free solution +‘Moves’ when you do
Reasons to avoid
-Maybe uncomfortable for prolonged use

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.

(Image credit: Nyte Vu)

2. Nyte Vu NV60 night vision goggles

The best night vision goggles

Specifications
Magnification: 1x
Objective lens size: -
Angle of view: 22 degrees
Eye relief: -
Weight: 12 oz / 340 g
Dimensions: 6.25 x 3.25 x 2.5" (16 x 8 x 6 cm)
Reasons to buy
+Hands-free solution +Can be worn whilst walking+Flip-up optics+Video output
Reasons to avoid
-No magnification

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.  

Night vision binoculars

(Image credit: Solomark)

3. Solomark Night Vision Binocular

The best night vision binoculars on a budget

Specifications
Magnification: 7x
Objective lens size: 31mm
Range: 1300ft/400 metres
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: Not given
Dimensions: Not given
Reasons to buy
+Familiar product type+Shoots video too
Reasons to avoid
-Requires 8x AA batteries-Video is ‘merely’ HD quality

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.

• See also Best binocular harness

(Image credit: Sightmark)

4. Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2x24 Night Vision Binocular

They're not the cheapest, but these are the best night vision binoculars available

Specifications
Magnification: 2x
Objective lens size: 24mm
Range: 120 metres
Field of view at 100m: 44 metres
Eye relief: 12mm
Weight: 635g
Dimensions: 136x113x60mm
Reasons to buy
+Built-in IR illuminator+More comfortable than goggles
Reasons to avoid
-Magnification not the strongest-You may not actually see ghosts

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.

Night vision monoculars

(Image credit: Bushnell)

5. Bushnell Equinox Z2 6x50 Night Vision Monocular

The best night vision monocular for tracking big game

Specifications
Magnification: 6x
Objective lens size: 50mm
Range: 305 metres
Angle of view: 15 degrees
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 765g
Dimensions: 191x98x64mm
Reasons to buy
+Magnified subjects over 1000ft away+Built-in IR illuminator
Reasons to avoid
-IR light can sap the battery quickly-Batteries not included-Handling could be more comfortable

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.

• See also Best light-light cameras

(Image credit: Hawke)

6. Hawke Nite-Eye 2000 5x40 Night Vision Monocular

The best budget monocular for recording stills and video

Specifications
Magnification: 5x
Objective lens size: 40mm
Range: 200 metres
Field of view at 100m: 8.7m/26.2ft
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 320g
Dimensions: 77x160x71mm
Reasons to buy
+9 levels of brightness via built in IR illuminator+Lightweight+8GB microSD card provided
Reasons to avoid
-Video and stills capture could be better

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.

(Image credit: SiOnyx)

7. SiOnyx Aurora Sport

An action camera that sees in color even in the dark

Specifications
Magnification: -
Objective lens size: 16mm
Range: 150 metres
Field of view at 100m: -
Eye relief: -
Weight: 274g
Dimensions: 7.3 x 4 x 4 inches
Reasons to buy
+Records color videos at 720P at up to 60fps+Waterproof+Ideal for boating
Reasons to avoid
-Video quality limited to 720P-Maximum two hour usage between charges

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.

(Image credit: Yukon)

8. Yukon NVMT Spartan 4x50 Night Vision Monocular

This monocular is the best option for viewing nocturnal wildlife

Specifications
Magnification: 4x
Objective lens size: 50mm
Field of view at 1000m: 15
Closest focusing: 1 metre
Angle of view: 15 degrees
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 600g
Dimensions: 191x87x60mm
Reasons to buy
+Well-made+High specification+Large 50mm objective lens
Reasons to avoid
-Simple to use-Rubberised exterior adds bulk-Battery required is an extra

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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