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Just because the sun goes down, it doesn't mean you're done for the day.
With outside projects to get done, varmints to hunt, and midnight raids to prepare for (no, not midnight refrigerator raids), you will need night vision.
The dual image intensifier tubes, dual oculars, and high magnification on night vision binoculars can change the way you see the world at night.
It's a wonderful place to explore if you can see in the dark. That's why we have a lineup geared just for you night vision hounds who want the best bang for your buck. Don't forget to look over the tips we hand out, so you don't go buying something without knowing what it means first.
Guess what? All this info is free of charge. You're so very welcome.
Our 12 Top Night Vision Binoculars
|ATN PS15-2||CHECK PRICE|
|AGM FoxBat-5 NL3||CHECK PRICE|
|Night Owl NOB3X||CHECK PRICE|
|ATN Binox 4K 4-16X||CHECK PRICE|
|Solomark Digital Night Vision||CHECK PRICE|
|Nightfox 100V Digital 3X20||CHECK PRICE|
|Carson Mini Aura||CHECK PRICE|
|Sightmark Ghost Hunter 4X50||CHECK PRICE|
|Night Owl NOB5X||CHECK PRICE|
|Bestguarder NV 900||CHECK PRICE|
|Creative XP GlassOwl||CHECK PRICE|
|Barska NVX300||CHECK PRICE|
Be careful scouring the market for very cheap night vision binoculars (NVB) as you might end up with a regular one. Night vision (NV) is expensive technology, so price will be an indicator of quality and whether it's a true night vision binocular.
A trick to see through some false advertising is the term "low light night vision binoculars." These do not offer true night vision tech as they tend to function best in daylight with some acceptable low light vision.
The night vision binoculars in our lineup have true night vision technology distinguished by their passive generation class or active digital systems. Everyone can benefit from seeing in the dark. You might only think that military snipers or cops use 'em, but you'd be wrong.
Night vision is a must-have for varmint hunting at night, scouting before dawn, and quartering up your buck at night. Using night vision while camping, hiking, and watching wildlife in the dark lends to a more enjoyable and safer activity. Night vision for home defense, security, and property surveillance provides peace of mind and enhanced security measures. Should we go on? Meh, we think you get the idea.
But, why choose a binocular over night vision goggles or monoculars? Essentially, you have higher magnification, larger apertures, and dual IITs (Image Intensifier Tube) that can give you greater light amplification, greater detail at longer distances, and longer, more comfortable glassing sessions. But, we'll get into that some more down below.
For now, let's get into the binoculars that are trending hot and the ones have defied time and trend as the most dependable night vision binoculars the consumer market currently offers.
Best Night Vision Binocular Reviews
1. Best Overall: ATN PS15-2 Review
The PS15 series are the only binocular-body NVB ATN offers. The iconic PVS7 and NVG7 models are bioculars. If biocular designs are too weird for you to get around, stick with the PS15.
- Gen 2+
- 1x magnification
- Close focus
- Head mountable
The specs on these binoculars actually qualify it as goggles. What are the benefits? It has 1x magnification, an extremely close focus distance of 0.25 yards, and it comes with a goggle kit assembly. As goggles, it's not entirely fair to pit it against the binoculars in the lineup, but you wanted to know about the best out there, right?
As the only binocular-body NVBs for the brand, it deserves a spot in the lineup even though it's ridiculously priced out of most everyone's budget range. But upper level generation tubes have never been cheap, and on a binocular body, it proves to be even more expensive than bioculars.
So, what does the PS15 have over a biocular? The dual Gen 2+ IITs provide excellent depth perception for night vision binoculars. You can be as mobile as you can be at night time to creep, walk, and run and still see detail needed to avoid the pitfalls of what seems like unpredictable terrain in the dark.
You can also read text, graphics, and maps with this high-quality, 1x power bino. It has 45-54 lp/mm resolution which isn't the best in the industry, but it's a far jump up from the 30-36 lp/mm of Gen 1 tubes.
Additionally, it has a whopping 40 degree FOV. This may be due to its 1x magnification and placement of its optical assemblies. Requiring either a single CR123 battery or AA battery, you can have up to 60 hours of operation for those midnight stake outs.
Much smaller and lighter in weight than bioculars, it's 4.7" long and weighs 1.5 lbs. This makes it one of the best options for long-viewing sessions needed for hunting at night and professional use by security personnel.
2. Best Gen 2 Binoculars: AGM Foxbat-5 NL3 Review
- Super fast, multi-coated, all-glass optics; Dual eye viewing system for long viewing sessions
- Detachable long-range infrared illuminator, Rugged and versatile design, Water and fog resistance
The price for Gen 2 night vision may seem like a leap from Gen 1 and that's because it is. Not only is price significantly higher, quality is too.
- Gen 2+
- 5x magnification
- Detachable IR
- Battery options
AGM is a brand-new manufacturer of sporting optics, and their products include night vision binoculars. As a babe to the market, we're giving them their 15 minutes of fame right here to help promote the American-based brand to showcase what they have to offer.
For our top pick for Gen 2 binoculars, we've chosen the Foxbat-5 NL3. It's a biocular by design and has its own set of benefits to aid in your night time stalking adventures. This Foxbat has 5x magnification, a huge 108 mm aperture, and multi-coated, all-glass optics. The potential for incredible light transmission and amplification is all there.
With its powerful and large configuration, it's a long-ranging binocular that will help you see great detail at night. Usually seen on night vision binocular is a built-in IR, but this Foxbat won't always need it due to its high-quality, Gen 2+ "Level 3" IIT tube. But, when you find yourself needing IR light, it comes with a detachable Sioux 850 nm long-range IR illuminator. Obviously, because of its large size of 10.3" (L) and 2.9 lb weight, you'll want to mount it to a tripod for extra-long glassing sessions. Not a big deal. You either want big and powerful, or you're going home empty-handed and unsatisfied.
The Foxbat has all the usual fixings you want to see on a serious night vision binocular, namely, Bright Light Cut-off, Automatic Brightness Control, and long-lasting operating times. Powered with 1x CR123A battery, you can expect up to 60 hours of glassing. Powered with 1x AA battery, it's limited to 30 hours - of course, IR use will affect how fast you run out of juice.
We like everything about the Foxbat - even its price tag. We will go so far as to say it's good enough for law enforcement, hunting, and professional surveillance use. For upper level Gen 2 tech, you're getting the very best for less than $3000. Support the new guy, they deserve it!
3. Best Gen 1 Binoculars: Night Owl NOB3X Review
- Generation 1 technology; central focusing; integrated infrared all-glass optics
- Field of View: 70 feet at a distance of 200 feet
Are you looking for low power, lightweight, and high resolution in one of the best true night vision binoculars? The Night Owl NOB3X may end your search today.
- Gen 1
- Adjustable IPD
- Manual focus
- Not waterproof
The NOBX5 has a wider FOV than its sibling, the NOBX5. The angular FOV of 19.7 degrees or 70 ft at 200 yards is great for an night vision device and comes in second to the Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2x24 with its 25 degree FOV. For this reason and more, it's our favorite first generation night vision binocular.
The Night Owl has Gen 1 IITs, low power of 3x, 42 mm objective lenses, and 35 lp/mm resolution. With the 3x power and high resolution for Gen 1, you can see clearer and brighter images without sight picture distortion that occurs with higher magnification binos. With a manual focus found near the objective lens, you can clean up the picture for better image quality at a minimum of 6.6 feet.
A nice touch to the binoculars is its adjustable IPD that will fit most eye widths of its users to collimate the picture to one, complete image. It's also lighter in weight at 30.6 oz and smaller at 6.7 x 5.8 x 2.5" in size compared to the NOB5X.
Powered with 1x 3V 123 lithium battery, it can last up to 80 hours without use of the IR and up to 40 hours with the IR. But, there’s no word on its tough exterior being waterproof. Many cheap Gen 1 devices lack fog and waterproofness, so we assume the Night Owl does, too.
The NOB3X may not be the serious option for the secret agent, but it is an affordable option for the night time stalker on a budget.
4. Best Digital: ATN Binox 4K 4-16X Review
Priced on the higher end for night vision digital tech, the Binox 4K sets the standard for all digital devices. Is it worth pulling the trigger on?
- Day/night use
- Laser rangefinder
- Ultra HD sensor
- BIX tech
- Live stream
For all your digital and night vision needs, you won't find anything better than the Binox 4K. It has HD optics, can be used in both day and night light, and it's smart - maybe too smart for its own good. It's so smart that it has every digital feature you can think of that includes WiFi, Bluetooth, and a 3D Accelerometer; 3D Gyroscope, 3D Magnetometer, and E Barometer; E-Compass, Live Streaming, and lastly, a Smart Rangefinder.
With all the bells and whistles, you better figure out how to use this before you hit the hunt tonight. The rangefinder can range from 5-1000 yards with +/-1 yard precision. With video 1080P recording, a 4-64GB micro SD card, and Dual Stream Video, you can snap, record, and share live on-screen with your buddies in the field or those waiting at home.
No wonder the Binox is a beast at 9.4" long and 2.5 lbs - it's a camera, laser rangefinder, and night vision binocular in one package. But, what is the BIX (Ballistic Information Exchange) technology? The binoculars are compatible with ATN's Smart HD devices that includes their rifle scopes to exchange vital information needed to holdover and hit bull's-eye. Even if you don't have an ATN Smart scope, you can use it with your traditional glass scope by using their Laser Ballistics App. Geez, talk about being versatile!
With its dual CORE technology and Ultra HD sensor image quality is unbeatable in the digital night vision device market. With true color fidelity in daylight and 600 lp/mm resolution and 1280 x 720 x 2 display resolution for nighttime use, you'll have sharp clarity and brightness no matter the time of day.
Is the Binox worth the higher price tag for digital night vision gear? Definitely. . . Duh.
5. Best Under $300: Solomark Digital Night Vision Review
- Built in 3W Infrared LED, 850nm Infrared Illuminator allows viewing up to 1300 ft/400m viewing distance in full darkness; Day or night use(with IR off for daytime color);...
- Outstanding optical clarity, high performance digital night vision binocular, clearly see up to 7X magnification in the darkness, 2x Digital Zoom and a 31mm Objective...
Solomark debuts with their digital night vision device, and like so many other popular models like it, it's a winner with the cost-conscious buyer.
- 4" screen
- 640 x 480 resolution
- FMC optics
- No batteries included
As seen with digital devices of this caliber, the 8x AA batteries required to power it are not included. Additionally, the Solomark comes with a 4GB TF card instead of a 32GB micro SD card that its competitors are now including in the buy.
But, it has the same 2" screen converted to 4" of a display with its convex lens assembly. You will have color detail during daytime use and black/white detail for night vision. It has optical magnification of 7x and 2x digital zoom. Make sure to keep the IR-filter cap over on the left objective lens during daylight use to protect night vision components. Simply remove the cap when you're ready to stalk in the night.
Like comparable models in the market, it boasts of 1300 ft (400 m) detection ranges. It could be this good with perfect conditions and with the built-in 850 nm IR illuminator on max, but realistic expectations will be about 100 yards at night.
With FMC optics, 640 x 480 pixel resolution for photo and video recording, and 31 mm apertures, the Solomark can provide better than decent clarity and resolution.
It comes with the 4GB card, soft carry case, shoulder strap, AV cable, and a USB cable. It can be mounted to a tripod for extra steady use. Recommended for amateur, casual, and recreational use, it's not one intended for looking at the skies. For cheap night vision technology on a budget, the Solomark is another digital option that you can play around with in the dark.
6. Best Under $200: Nightfox 100V Digital 3X20 Review
- Revolutionary widescreen viewing monitor - comfortable viewing with both eyes, even useable with glasses
- Viewing range of up to and over 110 yards at night, 3x fixed magnification with a 2x digital zoom button (6x magnification total)
For under $200, you can have night vision. No, it's not true generation night vision technology as it's digital technology at its core. Still, to see what's prowling and lurking in the dark, besides you, a cheap pair of digital glasses is the way to go.
- Widescreen display
- Focus wheel
- Tripod mountable
- No photo or video recording
For a digital binocular, it's almost strange that it doesn't include photo or video recording features, but we suppose that's what helps to shave the costs down to under 200 bucks.
The Nightfox has fixed 3x optical magnification with 2x magnification digital zoom for a total of 6x magnification for long-distance viewing. With the built-in IR illuminator, you can see in total darkness, and you can adjust the IR intensity with 7 settings. The detection range is stated at 110 yards, but many users have said they have easily reached out to 300 yards depending on where they are, i.e. desert plains, woods, or in light-polluted cities.
It has a widescreen display and you can adjust the focus with the itty-bitty center focus wheel on the underside of the body by the objective lens. It might be narrow and small, nevertheless, you'll appreciate that it even has this feature.
You can also mount it to a tripod which is nifty. Viewing time may be cut short since it operates with 8x AA batteries for only 6 hours. It's digital, so it's going to eat up juice power faster than true night vision tubes.
The Nightfox is an entry-level, digital night vision binocular, and it's priced as such. But, what surprises us is the 18-month warranty on the binos. For a budget optic, it's impressive it even comes with a warranty. If you're looking to spend as little as possible for the most simplistic night vision gadget without the doodads of sub-par features, the Nightfox is your best pick.
7. Best Under $100: Carson Mini Aura Review
Okay, so we cheated. The MiniAura aren’t binoculars as it’s a night vision monocular. Just so you know, there aren’t any reliable NV binos in the market for $100 if you want something better than a kid’s toy that doesn’t have a green flashlight attached to it. But, for under 100 bucks, you can land digital NV in a compact, handheld monocular that is far above a kid’s toy.
- Black/white image display
- Battery choice
- Not water-resistant
The MiniAura is incredibly small and lightweight. The idea is to keep this itty-bitty thing in your pocket for when you need it. It weighs 1.9 oz and is 2.5” x 2.2” x 1.0” in size. See? Itty-bitty. What else is tiny is its 1x magnification. You may see this as a pro and con at the same time, but there are advantages to having 1x power. Namely, one benefit is a larger FOV and the MiniAura has a 19-degree angle of view that provides up to 82 feet of sight in pitch black.
The Carson monocular has digital technology, so it’s a dual-use optic for both day and night viewing. Instead of the typical green night vision display that many are accustomed to, it has a black and white display that may be easier on the eyes.
You don’t have to scour the stores or spend a fortune on CR123 batteries to get out the door. The MiniAura powers up with traditional 3x AAA batteries. Easy does it, right? However, they’re not included, so you’ll have to buy your first set.
Unfortunately, with the lower price comes compromise. You can’t get what you don’t pay for, and the downside to the MiniAura is that it does not have any water-resistant properties. No rain, no puddles, and no splashes – period. Keep this thing nice and dry in your pocket.
Obviously, this isn’t your hunting NV bino, but it is a handy tool to see who’s out and about in the neighborhood when they should be tucked in bed. Kinda like what you should be doing, right?
8. Best for Hunting: Sightmark Ghost Hunter 4X50 Review
This Ghost Hunter has 4x magnification and huge 50 mm objective lenses. Designed to amplify light at a higher transmission rate than smaller aperture binoculars, it has more value to the night hunter who is looking to tread the woods like a ghost - unseen.
- Gen 1
- 50 mm apertures
- Battery type
- Front & rear focus
As mentioned in our Ghost Hunter 2x24 review, the 4x50 model shares the same front and rear focusing system. It can be a little confusing to beginners new to these types of night vision devices, but they're easy to focus and provide the clarity and sharpness you need to hunt in the night.
You first focus the eyepiece focusing on a target about 30 m away, and then you focus the objective lenses. Refocus the eyepiece again if needed.
Like its smaller sibling, it has all the great features we like to see in Gen 1 tech: 36 lp/mm resolution, cheap battery types (2x AAA), and long-lasting battery life of 20-72 hours; a built-in 805 nm IR illuminator, light weight of 25 oz, and an IPX3 rating for water-resistance.
It also has a Bright Light Cut-off feature that will instantly power down the device when exposed to bright lights that could damage the tubes. Fortunately, the tubes are covered with Sightmark's 3-year warranty with a lifetime warranty on the housing.
But, what sets this Ghost Hunter apart from all other models is its higher magnification of 4x and huge apertures of 50 mm. It has a good FOV of 15 degrees or 78 ft at 100 yards, and a great detection range of almost 200 yards. For Gen 1 tech, this is great news, and you know you can always test out for further detection range with a bright moon out or with a more powerful IR.
For a wider FOV, its 2x24 counterpart has the better stats, but for more magnification and longer distances to stay hidden from those coyotes, the 4x50 will be your star performer.
9. Best for Wildlife Viewing: Night Owl NOBX-5 Review
- 5x magnification, 700 field of view, 575 range of view
- Built-in infared illuminators for viewing in complete darkness
These are highest power of night vision binoculars Night Owl has in production. With 5x magnification paired with Gen 1 IITs, the Night Owl will have you hooting all night long.
- Gen 1
- 5x power
- Adjustable IPD
- 50 mm apertures
- Manual focus
The NOBX-5 has true first Generation tubes in each barrel. With large 50 mm apertures, and multi-element fluoride glass coatings, you can expect great light amplification and detail with 35 lp/mm resolution. The industry standard for resolution on Gen 1 devices is around 30 lp/mm.
Getting the best sight picture is easily done with an adjustable IPD range - this feature isn't always on night vision binoculars and goggles, so that's a plus. It also allows for manual focusing of the target and distance so you can fine-tune your sight picture for the best image.
However, the angular 15 degree FOV or linear 53 ft at 200 yards is decent for a Gen 1. It's not the best for binoculars at around 20 degrees, but it's better than anything below 10, and believe us, there are some of those out there. For watching wildlife in the dark from a safe distance, the FOV is generous for an night vision device.
But, with the large objective lenses, you can expect they tack on some extra weight. Weighing in at 38.8 oz and 7.8 x 5.8 x 2.9" in size, it's no lightweight binocular. At least that's all binocular and not battery weight, too. It only takes 1x 123 lithium battery to provide anywhere between 40-80 hours of continuous use depending on how much you will use the IR illuminator.
Night vision device snobs will always say get Generation 3 or better, but for those on a budget looking for night vision for casual use, Gen 1 will fit the bill.
10. Best with Camera: Bestguarder NV-900 Review
- HIGH QUAILTY IMAGE & VIDEO AND RESOLUTION WITH 4” GLASS VIEWING SCREEN**: Built In 2 inch TFT screen, convert to 4 inch large viewing screen by the convex lens,...
- UPDATED VERSION AND POWERFUL NIGHT VISION WITH OUTSTANDING OPTICAL CLARITY**: High power built-in 850NM 3W no-glow infrared illumination for up to 1300ft/400m viewing...
If you were a fan of the popular NV-800, then you'll love the new and improved version, the NV-900 model. What are the differences? We're glad you asked.
- 4" screen
- Time lapse
- Constant focus adjustments
What are the upgrades from the popular NV-800? Screen resolution was improved to 640 x 840 pixels on the 4" screen. Its video and photo resolution were upgraded, optical and digital zoom increased, and an included memory card now has 32G of storage.
New features include a redesigned ergonomic build with an easy-grip design. It also has a Time Lapse, Multi-Shoot, GPS ID stamp feature, and more. A built-in 850 nm 3W LED allows 4 illumination levels, but it will drain battery life from 14 to 10 hours. However, users have reported much lower operating times. It's a good thing then that you can power this with a 5-6V power bank for extra time since carrying around 8x AA batteries at a time may prove to be expensive and bothersome.
With the poundage of all those batteries, this is no lightweight unit at 32 ounces (2 pounds). Thanks to the included neck strap, you don't have to tote this thing by hand the entire night. Now that you've heard the good, what's the bad and the ugly?
Between the IR adjustments and the magnification changes, you'll need to refocus the binos every time to get the best image. There's also no rail for attachment of an additional IR or flashlight. While there are 8 buttons to move through the various settings, it's been said they're difficult to differentiate and you must leave your sight picture to use them.
Bestguarder also boasts that the NV-900 is capable of detection ranges up to 400 meters with the use of the IR in complete darkness. However, users have said it's good to about 100-300 meters. For the price and the tech, the lower ranges are much more realistic.
All in all, the NV-900 is a good device. Used properly and within its capabilities, you'll be snapping pics and recording videos of late-night deeds all night long.
11. Best Day & Night Vision Binoculars: Creative XP GlassOwl Review
- Clearly See in 100% Darkness - While other night vision spy gear can't offer high-quality photos & videos without ambient light, drain your batteries within minutes or...
- Don't Let Night Stop Your Adventure - If you love spotting wildlife during the night, hunt coyotes & feral hogs, monitor your cattle, or just keep a watch out for...
There's nothing like a "sold out" sticker that proves popularity status, and the GlassOwl binoculars have done it once but are available and out in production once again. With having just been released to the market, you might want to hop on these quickly - like, right now.
- 4" screen
- FMC optics
- Lifetime warranty
- Batteries not included
The main feature of the GlassOwl binoculars is its digital features. As such, it can be used both in day and night conditions. It has 3.5-7x optical magnification and 2x digital zoom. With it, you can see your targets in up-close detail on the 4" display.
It promises 1300 ft (433 yards) of a detection range, but it's likely this is with use of the built-in 850 nm IR illuminator and with clear night skies. With 31 mm objective lens, FMC (Fully Multi-Coated) optics, manual focus, and 10-30 mm eye relief, the digital binoculars are at the top of their field.
With its included 32GB micro SD memory card, you can take pictures and video recordings with audio without giving away your position. Thanks to the No Glow IR Illuminator, you can see more while remaining hidden.
The unit will be on the heavy side because of its build and its many batteries it must be powered with. You will need to purchase 8x AA batteries to power this thing, and the bad news is, they're not included.
The good news is, the cheap night vision binoculars are covered with a lifetime warranty. Unlike warranties that only cover components and sensors for a limited time period, such as 2 years, this set is covered for life.
12. Barska NVX300
The NVX300 digital binoculars are from a budget-friendly manufacturer that is well-known within the optics world of brands. It may be under 300 bucks, and it may be underestimated, but if you want the best day and night vision in one package from one bino for heck of a deal, Barska steps in to give it to you.
- Day or night viewing
- 7x power/2x digital zoom
- Wide FOV
- Recording feature
- Micro-SD card sold separately
- 1-year warranty
Previous Barska NVX models just didn’t cut the mustard, so Barska came back with more power, lighter weight, and less batteries required to operate it. This resulted in the NVX300 being newly released to the market.
Weight has been shaved down from 22 ounces to only 15.2 ounces, and where the NVX200 model takes 8x AA batteries to operate, the NVX300 only requires 4x AA to get juiced up.
It’s a digital binocular, so it’s safe to use it during the day as you would for nighttime hobbies. It has 7x magnification, up to 2x digital zoom, and a 20 mm aperture. This provides the user with approximately 100 yards of a field of view at 1000 yards. Not too shabby when you’re peering around in pitch black darkness, right?
As a digital bino, you can take pics and record to your heart’s content. Transfer them to your computer and share your hunt with the rest of the online world. You will have to purchase an SD card separately though.
Built to be tripod compatible, weather-resistant, and easy to use, the Barska model is an affordable day and night optic that provides the solution to your budget and dual-use needs.
What to Look for in Night Vision Binoculars
When shopping for a night vision binocular, you'll need to know about the features that sets them apart from daytime and lowlight binoculars. We'll lay them out for you here.
But, we need to mention a couple things first. We deliberately looked for affordable options that one would realistically spend on a pair of night vision binoculars, so most of our lineup consists of night vision binoculars under $1000. For higher-end models with high-ticket prices from brands such as ATN, Pulsar, and Armasight/FLIR, check out our Night Vision Goggles lineup and guide. We did you a favor by providing as many options as possible by not listing duplicate models here.
Right-ee-o, let's get to it.
Night Vision Binoculars VS Night Vision Goggles
Goggles and binoculars are terms that are used interchangeably, but there are pivotal features that sets them apart.
Goggle features include:
- 1x magnification
- 20-30 mm apertures
- Included goggle kits/head mount assembly
- Binoculars, bioculars, and monoculars
While goggles may include a variety of different type of head-mountable night vision optics, binoculars offer more versatility in their design that includes:
- Higher magnification
- Longer range
- Multiple aperture sizes, generally much larger
- Dual tubes
- Greater depth perception
It gets repeated over and over again that night vision is expensive. Many will tout that anything below Generation 3 is a waste of money, however, Gen 3 is considered the standard for law enforcement and military use. The prices for these optics are upwards of $4000. That's not always a practical budget for hunters, nighttime wildlife observers, and hiking/camping outdoorsmen.
If you have a budget of around $3000, you can find Gen 2 night vision binoculars that should be good enough for professional use and hunting at night. The increased performance and quality in Gen 2 tubes versus Gen 1 is significant. But, again, it's not always a reality to have a few grand in the pocket to spend on night vision.
The goal of our lineup is to provide you with the most affordable binoculars that are worth their salt. Most are under $1000 and are either Gen 1 tubes or digital.
Night Vision Generations
True night vision generations include Generation 1, Generation 2, and Generation 3. You will see Gen 4 night vision binoculars in the market, but it's a manufacturer's term, and not an official industry classification. Upper level Gen 3 and Gen 4 generally means the IIT (Image Intensifier Tube) has either a thin ion barrier film or an un-filmed design which tends to be featured on auto-gated, pinnacle, and manual gain models.
Other night vision systems include WPT (White Phosphor Technology), CORE (Ceramic Optimized Ruggedized Engine) that can be applied to any generation class. Digital binoculars are active systems as they don't require ambient light to work. These are cheaper, dual-use (both day and night) binoculars that usually have a photo and video recording functions. The latest models can live stream via connection to smart devices.
You won't see high-powered 10x night vision binoculars in the market. The brightness, clarity, and quality needed to see with such high power just isn't there. Most will be in the range of 2-5x magnification. Digital night vision binoculars may offer 2x zoom and attachable oculars may be available to increase the fixed optical magnification, but the higher in power you go, image quality will suffer.
Field of View
Night optics have a significantly narrower FOV versus daytime binoculars. This is the measured distance of a target scene that you can see through the eyepieces at 100 yards. The angular degree is the universal measurement of FOV.
Now, many night vision goggles have a wide FOV of 40 degrees while magnified optics such as binoculars are severely restricted. Anything upwards of 20 degrees is considered very wide, but we usually see 15 degree FOVs as the average. Digital night vision devices have an even narrower FOV usually always below 10 degrees.
The average weight will be around 1.5-2 lbs with the lightest models coming in around 15 oz and the heaviest topping the scales at 2.5-3 lbs. The advertised weight is usually with the batteries installed, but if it seems to light to be true, assume a heavier weight with the batteries in the device.
The average length is around 7". 4-5" lengths are generally more compact binoculars with shorter focal lengths, and longer ones of 8-10" may generally have larger apertures.
The type of battery and quantity needed to power the device plays a major part. Generally, a digital night vision binocular will take 4-8x AA batteries, and remember that this will quickly tack on weight. True night vision devices may only require 1X CR123 or 1x AA battery. Many models allow for rechargeable batteries and power banks to be used.
On generation night vision binoculars, the industry standard for battery life is 20-60 hours. IR illuminator use will draw more power to operate and is usually associated with the low-end of advertised battery life.
A digital binocular will have significantly shorter battery life that ranges anywhere between 2-10 hours and understandably so with all its digital features.
Most binoculars will come with additional accessories designed to protect, store, carry, and clean your device. A lens cloth, soft carry case, and neck strap, and lens caps are almost always included. However, batteries are one of those things that you may or may not get. The general rule is, if it's digital, you'll likely have to buy the many batteries needed separately. True night vision devices that only require a single battery will probably come with one, but it's always better to supply it with a new, fresh one anyway.
Great Night Vision Binoculars!
So there you have it, all the information about everything there is to know about night vision and buying the best binoculars for you.
If you don’t heed our advice, you'll likely have buyer's remorse and will learn the hard way that you can't buy night vision binoculars on a whim - it's an expensive lesson to learn.
Be smart and look to our FAQs on night vision to see if we can answer any more questions you may have. We also provide more details about night vision generations so you know exactly what you're buying.
Yes, all this information comes to you free of charge - you're so very welcome!