A Guide to the Best Night Vision Goggles (Including the Cheapest)
Night vision goggles for some seem like something out of a science fiction movie. Reserved for the super-tech elite and military, the thought of owning your own night vision goggles seems out of reach. However, as technology has improved, prices have come down allowing the average Joe to have their very own set of night vision goggles for their next hunting trip or just for fun around the house.
Actually purchasing night vision goggles can be tremendously confusing and quite honestly a challenge. About five years ago, we began exploring the industry a little bit closer and it took quite some time before we really understood the lingo and different features of night vision devices. When it comes down to it, understanding how night vision works is actually quite simple.
Anything emitting heat DIRECTLY gives off light which is picked up by night vision goggles.
There are some important factors to consider when you are looking to purchase NVG (Night Vision Gear). As mentioned, the technology can be extremely complicated but there is no sense in getting tied up in a bunch of tech lingo. Here is what you need to consider when purchasing the best night vision goggles for you:
The technology used in NVG is extremely costly which is why you want comprehensive reviews on the best equipment available. At the same time, you want to be mindful of your budget as the range in price is vast. There is a lot to choose from and it is important to be mindful of what exactly you need. While high-end products are of extreme quality and can be great value, your needs will more than likely be met with a lower end option.
When it comes down to it, if a device is not easy to use or comfortable to wear, you won’t use it as much as you may want to. Firstly, consider what you will be doing with your NVG as that will ultimately determine your purchase. Will you be in a static position with your NVG? Than perhaps a larger device will be perfectly adequate. Are you required to be mobile? Then considering a smaller option will be very important. No matter what, always ensure the controls on the device are extremely functional and easy to use as you have to remember that you will be using it- in the dark!
Batteries: Maintaining power on your night vision device is obviously extremely important as well. There is nothing more frustrating than being out in the field and losing power when you need your night vision most. Obviously all NVG for civilian use are powered by readily available batteries which are usually either alkaline or lithium. Replacing these batteries can sometimes be expensive which is why I always recommend picking up rechargeable batteries when possible.
As NVG is typically quite technical, the pieces can also be very fragile if used incorrectly. We review products which are made with the highest quality to ensure that you receive products that don’t just perform, but also last. Ensure you are buying your NVG from a brand with a long reputation of quality and be sure to read-first hand reviews before making your purchase (We’ll help you with that).
Taking into consideration the above, you’ll also want to consider the following when selecting the right NVG which is specific for you. Obviously, a lot of the decisions you will have to make are directly related to how you will be using your equipment. Below are three of the main functions of NVG that you should consider closely.
This is the ability to distinguish the shape of objects and the ability to make out details on objects rather just there outlines. The higher the resolution, the easier it will be to see finer details on what you are looking at. An example of resolution is HD TV which is shown in a higher resolution than standard definition TV. Obviously an HD TV will provide a higher resolution which provides a clear image. Generally, this is measured as line pairs per millimetre (lp/mm).
It is important to not get tricked when it comes to magnification. If a lens give a high magnification, it does not always correspond with a better or more detailed picture. Increased magnification will actually reduce the amount of light that the lens can capture so that more tube gain will be necessary to give an acceptably bright picture under very dark conditions. Gain is the level to which the image intensifier will amplify the existing ambient light. The more gain generally the stronger the image.
There are a variety of different brands which stand out from the rest. With any product which is technical, choosing an off-brand name can often cause disappointment upon purchase. Often times, the quality of the parts is much lower and you will find that the devices will ‘bur n -out,’ after any extended period of time. Below are products which have been both reviewed first hand and by hundreds of other who have purchased the product and had much experience with them.
Best Night Vision Monocular
One of the more rugged and versatile options on the market, this Gen-1 device is one of the top reviewed night vision monocular’s on the market today. With night vision goggles, there are three generations of technology with obviously Gen-1 being the earliest technology. It’s nearly impossible to find Gen-3 devices as they are generally restricted for military use. As a Gen-1 device, this particular model is quite advanced and reliable.
A fantastic device for the outdoorsman, the Armasight Spark can be used as a hand held, camera adaptable, head/helmet mounted or even weapon mounted. No matter your needs, this particular piece of technology should be able to give you a head start. The built-in illuminator allows you to see clearly in even total darkness and maximized the ability of the user to operate under a wide range of light low light conditions.
In our testing we were extremely impressed with just how clear the images were. For a rather inexpensive device, the focus was good despite a slight fish-eye around the outer portion of the view finder. The construction quality is fantastic and it comes with a two-year limited warranty as well. All in all, it’s an extremely sound device which is a fantastic option for the outdoorsman.
One of the best value night vision monocular options, this particular model from Night Owl can be yours for under $200. The Night Owl Optics is a fantastic device for the typical outdoorsman but probably isn’t recommended for someone who is looking for a high-end night vision device. This is a device featuring a Gen-1 image intensifier so the technology is a little bit older than other options but it still completely relevant.
The Night Owl seems to be built quite well and although it is an affordable option, the 3-ring lens body is both attractive and robust which means it ideally won’t let you down in the field. The price however shows when it comes to the vision. Although the illumination is pretty good, the actual vision is a bit lackluster and the focus is fairly limited while the edges are quite fuzzy.
This model does not ship with batteries which means you should probably pick up a couple cr123 batteries before it arrives so you can test it out right away. It does ship with a black heavy duty nylon belt carry case and the belt loop will fit up to a 2inch belt. All in all, this a good device for the money but you can’t expect high end results for a device this affordable.
Best Night Vision Binoculars
The Armasight Gen-2 night vision goggles are some of the best on the market currently. Naturally, these aren’t the cheapest night vision goggles on the market but they do offer fantastic value.Controlled by the US Department of Defence, these are the real deal for anyone looking for a serious set of night vision goggles. Head or helmet mountable for hands free usage, you’ll feel like you’re part of the USMC wearing this bad boy.
Built with high grade optics and simple, reliable electronics, the Armasight provides bright andclear night vision images in even the harshest of night vision conditions. Offering a resolution of 47-54 lp/mm images come back extremely clear though the lens providing unparallel vision when compared to other options. In our testing, we were extremely impressed with the range of vision with this particular set of goggles and were extremely impressed with the how big of an improvement the Gen-2 technology is over the Gen-1 technology.
No matter the situation you are in, the Armasight Nyx7 should be the best night vision goggles available to you. It is comfortable wear, has fantastic battery life and will work in all conditions. It is also waterproof which is great for those rainy nights.
Night Owl Pro Nexgen Night Vision Binocular (California Only)
If your looking for great value night vision binocular’s, look no further that the Night Owl Pro. A fraction of the cost of the Armasight Nyx7, the Night Owl option will provide you with everything the average camper, hunter or explorer needs. Offering a field of view of 53 feet at a distance of 200 feet, you’ll be able to monitor a large space in the darkness of night.
However, at this time, the Night Owl Pro, is limited to customers in the state of California due to several state laws pertaining to equipment such as this. If you are however lucky enough to live in the Sunshine state, this is my recommendation for the best night vision binoculars. Unless you have a source in the military, these are as good as any on the market.
For those looking for a great alternative to the Night Owl Pro binocular because you live outside the state of California, I recommend the Bushnell Lynx Gen 1 Binoculars. Offering about half the magnification power of the Night Owl, it operate on 2 AAA batteries and will provide you with everything you need for your night vision needs.
They are listed as offering up to 750 feet but from our hand-on testing, it’s more like 500 feet which is probably more then you’ll ever need. This particular model feature built-in infrared technology which of course lends itself for the best night viewing experience.
With a rubberized exterior and non-slip grip casing the Busnell Lynx is built to last.