Best Night Vision Binoculars Reviewed – Top Choices for Tactical, Surveillance, Targeting & Navigation Purposes
- Robert Stevens
My interest in binoculars developed when I was a kid. In earlier days, I used to spend a lot of time in nature with my friends. My love for hiking and wildlife observing took an adventurous turn since the day we started camping. Options were many, but we didn't want to make compromises, the need for a good pair of night vision binoculars (NVB) became obvious.
My first pair was gifted by one of my friends. It was very exciting to explore nature when it was “dark”, there's always something new everywhere you look at. There would be creatures you can see through the night vision glasses which you can never see in sunlight. And that changed my life in a certain way. It allowed me to discover the places and aspects of nature I never even knew existed. Night scopes are useful for hiking, camping, and hunting. In addition, you can use them in your crazy outing in the wild for hunting and fishing at night too.
In this comprehensive review by the Ranger Expert team, we'll explain the most important features of good binoculars while presenting you with the top night vision binos available on the present market.
What You Will Get Here
- Best Night Vision Binoculars Comparison Chart (Updated 2020)
- Why You Should Trust Us
- How Did We Pick These Binos?
- Our Top 10 Best Night Vision Binoculars List
- Top of the List: Bestguarder Digital Night Vision Binoculars
- Budget Buy: SOLOMARK Night Vision Binoculars
- Great for Hunting: Sightmark SM15071 Ghost Hunter
- Advanced Choice: Bushnell LYNX Gen 1 HD Digital Night Vision Scope
- Great for Wildlife Observation: ATN BinoX-HD Smart Day & Night Binocular
- A List of 5 Other Products We Reviewed
- Other Tested Products
- Honorable Mentions
- Common Types of NVD’s
- How to Get the Most Out of Your NVB?
- Things to Avoid
- Why Use Night Vision Binoculars?
- How Do Night Vision Binoculars Work?
- Generations of the Night Vision Technology
- Things to Look for in Night Vision Binoculars
Best Night Vision Binoculars Comparison Chart (Updated 2020)
Bestguarder Digital Night Vision BinocularsRead Full Review
SOLOMARK Night Vision BinocularsRead Full Review
Sightmark SM15071 Ghost HunterRead Full Review
Bushnell LYNX Gen 1 HD Digital Night Vision ScopeRead Full Review
ATN BinoX-HD Smart Day & Night BinocularRead Full Review
SOLOMARK Digital Night Vision BinocularsRead Full Review
Bestguarder Night Vision BinocularsRead Full Review
Bestguarder NV-900Read Full Review
Night Owl Pro Nexgen Night VisionRead Full Review
Night Owl NOXB-5 Explorer Pro 5X Night Vision BinocularsRead Full Review
Why You Should Trust Us
At the Ranger Expert, we are a team of adventurers. Our passion for archery and wild outings united us to form a platform for all Toxophiles and adventurers around the world to accumulate and disperse knowledge of the latest gear handpicked from thousands of sources. So, this website is for sharing our understandings and suggestions on various types of gear related to archery, hunting, wild outings, and outdoor sports activities. Our intensive research method and extensive field testings allow us to gain hands-on experience from the products that we review.
Furthermore, we are connected with a network of industry experts on sporting and optical gears. Our findings are solely for our readers who are desperately looking for a reliable buying guide. Our buyer's guide is highly objective filled with technical details of the products we finalize. So, there's no chance of making a mistake for our readers when making a purchase. To keep up with the insatiable appetite of our readers, we never compromise on introducing the variety but in a minimalist way.
While our objective research fetches you the top-of-the-line gear you are looking for, we are busy perfecting our skill on how to help you win at life.
How Did We Pick These Binos?
Our research-based top-rated bino-hunting race initiated with an extensive online search to find out the 25 most popular pairs available for sale on the market. It took around 20 hours of relentless sifting through thousands of online articles, blogs, reviews, and magazines to make the first selections.
The Ranger Expert team took each of the listed binos for field-testing. Since the testing units out-numbered the team members, we had to employ a group of volunteers for the hands-on experience with all of them. We spent around three weeks to test the units and gathered useful data for our final selection process. We carefully categorized the items based on their features, designs, technical excellence, capacity, reliability, and performance under different lighting conditions.
Having made our final-10 list we had to re-evaluate their credibility by seeking opinions of industry experts and professionals. The entire process promises an objective and unbiased result as we carefully designed our research to avoid errors. Hopefully, our hard work will be paid off if our readers can benefit from our recommendation.
Our Top 10 Best Night Vision Binoculars List
After narrowing down the choices, we decided to categorize our top picks according to the type they belong to. In this way, you can easily find a product that will suit your needs. Make sure you also thoroughly analyze the previous paragraph, where we explained in detail which factors need to be considered. Hopefully, our hardwork will deliver the answer to your query: What are the best night vision binoculars?
We chose the Digital Night Vision Binoculars by Bestguarder as the top of our list for many reasons. Its versatility comes on top as hunters, wildlife explorers, fisherman, surveillance professionals, and just about any other outdoorsmen can use it.
In addition, it’s ideal for touristic purposes, such as exploring caves and a very dark environment. It is good for nighttime navigation and scouting.
Let’s get the product’s features in details. This 1.68-pound heavy device comes with an integrated infra-red camera, an 850NM IR illuminator, a 31-mm lens, and multiple filters that provide great clarity. Magnification can be obtained up to 7 times with a 2x digital zoom feature.
Also, many users appreciate built-in camcorder featuring 5 MP camera with the video equals 640p.
Moreover, a wide LCD dynamic screen allows comfortable viewing featuring resolutions up to 320 x 240 pixels. It is a 2-inch screen that can be converted to a 4-inch screen.
This device has a 1300-feet, i.e. almost 400 M night vision range. In addition, it can be used both at night and during the day. It has an SD card slot too. It is operated by 8 AA rechargeable batteries.
This device has the IPX4 water-resistance class. It cannot be used underwater. It is weather-resistant, as it can operate in temperatures ranging from –30 to 55 degrees Centigrade. The storage temperature range is even better. You can safely store it at any temperature from –40 to 70 degrees Centigrade.
Finally, we liked the fact that this binocular is tripod mountable. This is a very convenient feature, especially for stable, continuous shooting. The package includes a neck strap, cleaning cloth, TV and USB cable, a User Manual, and a pouch to safely store your device.
- 1300-feet vision range
- 2/4-inch LCD
- 320×240 resolution
- 5 MP photo
- 640p video
- 31 mm lens
- 2x digital zoom
- 7x magnification
The versatility of this device launched it to the very top of the list. Hunters value its target definition clarity and image brightness. In addition, as it can be used as the night vision surveillance camera, this model is among the best-sold binoculars in the market.
We loved its dynamic LCD and excellent resolution, both when it comes to photos and videos. If you are a hunter, cave explorer, or want a night vision device for your scouting, camping, or security reasons, this is the right product.
The Night Vision Hunting Binoculars by Solomark is the most affordable yet quality model on the market. However, don’t let this “affordable” tag trick you. These binoculars are not cheap when it comes to quality.
The model is equipped with an excellent lens quality, providing very good clarity. It has the same specifications as the first model we showed you. 31 mm objective aperture, 850 NM IR illuminator, 400 meters of sight range, 7x magnification, LCD screen, and 2x digital zoom.
The peculiarity of this model is the integrated CMOS sensor. In addition, the optics is multi-covered. Therefore, the results are very good. Decreased glare and very good light transmission are its strongest assets.
The model supports taking photos and videos. It has an SD card slot. You can connect it to your TV or computer.
In addition, this device supports the daytime color mode. It is operated with 8 AA batteries. It is somewhat heavier than the first model we talked about. It weighs 2.2 pounds. However, it is compact and easy to use.
Now, let’s see if Solomark provided any accessories for the buyers. You will get a USB and an AV cable, as well as a 4 GB TF card. Also, you get it all packed in a soft case for safe storage of your device.
- 31 mm objective aperture
- 850 NM IR illuminator
- 7x magnification
- 2x digital zoom
- 400 m sight range
- 4 GB TF included
- 2-pound weight
- 9-degree aperture.
After a thorough analysis, we can say that night vision binos by Solomark creates a good value for the money. Despite being cheap, this device is equipped with CMOS sensor and a digital zoom along with high-quality optics offering good value for the money. It would be a decent choice for hunting, surveillance, watching sports, wildlife and bird watching, as well as other outdoor activities at night.
The SM15071 Ghost Hunter is a Night Vision, 2 x 24 model by Sightmark that surprised us with its performance on close observation and image resolution. It is handy, lightweight, and compact making it our recommended choice for hunting.
The peculiarity of this model is that we cannot strictly place it to Gen 2 or Gen 3. It is a unique product, with a 30-degree angular field of view, with bright light protection, and an excellent individual focusing system.
Moreover, these binoculars have an integrated infra-red LED illuminator, 2x magnification, and 24-mm lenses.
Like the earlier SM15070 model this one is perfect for prolonged observation at night. Their durable construction will definitely serve you a lifetime. Sightmark provides a lifetime housing warranty and a 3-year warranty for the optics.
It can be easily mounted to a tripod. It comes in a safety bag suitable for different kinds of environments.
- 24-mm objective lenses
- 2x magnification
- 36 line/mm resolution
- 30-degree angular view
- 150-meter distance range
- 3-year warranty for the optics
- ¼-inch tripod socket
This pair is one of the best night vision binoculars for hunting and wildlife observation purposes. It flaunts a lightweight, compact, and handy design, making it suitable for prolonged observation.
Its integrated IR illuminators guarantee excellent visibility even in a very dark environment. However, we especially suggest this model for hunters and hope they can make a better use of its hunt-friendly features.
Bushnell's LYNX Gen 1 2.5 x 40 mm Night Vision model is an advanced device particularly designed for wildlife observation and surveillance.
The model is capable of 2.5 x magnification with its 40-mm glass objectives that are AR- coated. This model has a 5.4-degree angular field of view. It has the 1st generation intensifier tube.
We liked the housing, comfortable and ergonomic design, and the secure-grip contours. It weighs 1.8 pounds. It is a rather small device, measuring 0,4 x 0,4 x 0,4 inches.
Most importantly, our experts were very satisfied with the image quality. The glare is reduced and the image clarity is very good. The zoom and close-ups are especially good. The device has a 36 lp/mm sensor resolution and a 4-inch min. viewing distance.
It has the individual focusing system, as well as +/- 4 diopter adjustment. The focus is also very good.
A good viewing range, which equals to 750 feet, is suitable for night navigation, observation of wildlife, and surveillance.
This model from Bushnell is equipped with the tripod-mounting add-ons. It is operated by 2 AAA batteries. Last but not least, it is a weather-resistant night vision device.
- 750 feet viewing range
- +/- 4 diopter adjustment
- 4-inch minimum viewing distance
- 36 lp/mm sensor resolution
- 2,5 x magnification
- 40-mm objectives
- 8-pound total weight
- 0,4 x 0,4 x 0,4 dimensions
This model is very good for those users who enjoy all-night outdoor activities, such as wildlife observation. In addition, it is very useful for surveillance. Its strongest asset is a lightweight, but sturdy and durable housing. In addition, it is compact and handy It has very good image clarity features and quality optics. Finally, we would say that this is an advanced model of Generation 1 and totally worth spending money on.
BinoX-HD 4-16x/65 mm Smart Day and Night Binoculars by ATN should be your choice if you are keen on wildlife observation. The greatest advantage of this model is the fact that it guarantees HD results both at night and during the day.
Furthermore, the shots can be taken in color! Also, the resolution of the images is excellent. This is why passionate wildlife observers cannot give up on this model. Finally, let’s talk about taking photos and recording videos. You will enjoy the 1080p video quality and HQ photos which you may not get with a night vision monocular.
Another peculiarity of this night vision device is the built-in automatic range finder. This will save your precious time and significantly improve your experience, especially if you are a beginner. This smart feature allows equipment-free target locating. It is reinforced with the distance calculator as well.
However, that’s not all. This state-of-the-art model has other high-tech features too. It has a 3-dimensional gyroscope. It keeps the image steady. In addition, you don’t have to worry about blurry images anymore. The gyroscope has it under control.
Moreover, ATN surprised us with an e-compass feature. It will help you magnify the target zone without compromising on the field of view control.
This is a model with high connectivity features. It can be connected to a TV, smartphone, computer, or Wi-Fi. In addition, it comes with an SD-card slot and a USB cable.
- 4-16 x magnification
- 90 lp/mm resolution
- 65-mm aperture
- 1080p HD video quality
- 8-pound total weight
- 9 x 7 x 6 inches
- 3-dimensional gyroscope
- 10-30 mm eye relief
We were amazed at the capabilities of this beautiful device during our testing session. We concluded that wildlife explorers can make some good use of this model for its cutting edge features including the 3D gyroscope and the e-compass, which we loved. In addition, this model is good for both day and night atmospheres so the users can pick it for any time they want. Our experience with this device made sense of why its rating is high and why it is popular among the experts.
A List of 5 Other Products We Reviewed
This model of the night vision binoculars by Solomark has a 7x magnification, 2x digital zoom, and 31-mm objectives. It is a digital night vision device with a video recorder, perfect for use in a completely dark environment. It is specially designed for hunting, wildlife observation, rescue activities, camping, and boating/fishing.
The device guarantees excellent clarity. It is suitable both for day and night vision. It has a built-in 850 NM IR illuminator that makes up for the lack of natural moonlight.
640x480 pixel photos and 30FPS videos are the output results of this advanced night vision device. You can follow your captures on a comfortable, large, 320x240 resolution, TFT LCD screen. It measures 4 inches.
The vision range equals 400 meters (1300 feet). It supports a 4-32 GB SD card. It has a built-in USB port, so you can easily connect it to your PC. The device comes with a 4 GB SD card.
We liked the adjustable eyepiece and a rich package. It includes a USB cable, an AV cable, a special cleaning cloth, a comfortable neck strap, User’s Manual, and a storage pouch.
It weighs 3.02 pounds and measures 7.4 x 4.8 x 1.9 inches. The device is operated with eight pieces of AA batteries. They are not included in the package.
Now, let’s see the full list of specs of this excellent night vision device.
- 02 pounds (total weight)
- 850 NM IR illuminator
- 1300 feet vision range
- 7x magnification
- 2x digital zoom
- 31-mm objectives
- 30 FPS Video recording
- 640 x 480-pixel resolution photo taking
This is a smart choice for completely dark environments. You will have clear images in high resolution both at night and during the day.
This model is usually chosen by users who require excellent clarity and resolution, and who need both photo-taking and video recording feature.
In addition, rescue teams around the world benefit from this high-tech night vision binocular.
Here is another amazing product from Bestguarder. We simply love this brand due to their high-quality materials and excellent optics.
The 4.5-22.5×40 HD Digital Infrared Hunting binoculars are good for photo-taking and video recording. This wide-screen model has a sturdy housing. Its ergonomically-shaped exterior will provide a secure, non-slip grip and hours of comfortable handling. In addition, the model comes with a wrist strap for extra safety.
It has a maximum magnification of 4,5x and a 5x digital zoom. The model has 40-mm objectives. Users are very satisfied with the 12-degree view angle.
This device has a viewing range expected from this class of binoculars. It equals 1300 feet, i.e. approximately 400 meters.
When we tested this model, we were surprised by the brightness and image quality even in full dark. You can take images in the following resolutions: 2592x1944, 1600x1200, or 640x480. In addition, we loved the automatic, unattended shooting mode! It is very convenient and useful, especially for surveillance and all-night wildlife observers.
This is not a lightweight binocular. It is operated with eight pieces of AA batteries. It can be mounted to a tripod. It supports a 32 GB TF card, which is highly recommended as an excellent accessory for this model.
Its state-of-the-art features include the time-lapse function and a wide, dynamic, 640 x 480 resolution screen. In addition, it has a very good IR spotlight.
Finally, this is a very good choice for surveillance too. It has an integrated, IR surveillance camera. You can easily connect it to your TV.
We also liked the package with the accessories. This device comes with a lens cap, a wrist and neck strap, and a cleaning cloth, all packed in a storage/carrying pouch and supported with a User’s Manual. Let’s not forget the USB and TV cable which are also included.
- 6 pounds total weight
- 1 x 6.1 x 2.6-inch dimensions
- 400-meter viewing range
- 640×480 dynamic screen
- 4,5x magnification
- 5x digital zoom
- 40-mm objectives
- 12-degree view angle
This model by Bestguarder is suitable for surveillance, hunting, and other outdoor activities. Its strongest assets are high-tech solutions, such as the time-lapse function and the unattended shooting timer.
It comes in a rich package with lots of accessories. The design is adjusted for extra safety considerations, including a non-slip grip and wrist straps.
The NV-900 Digital Night Vision Binocular is very well-equipped with multiple useful features. First of all, its peculiarity is the time lapse function we all love so much. It really opens the doors to creativity and amazing shoots.
Furthermore, this device takes HD images in 2592x1994 resolution. You can take 1280x720 video plus sound. The level of detail is stunning for a night vision device.
It has a 4.5 x magnification and 5x digital zoom. This is one of the high performing devices when it comes to image clarity, zoom, and stability of image, in this class.
It has a 4-inch LCD screen. The vision range equals 400 meters. The objective aperture is 40 mm.
We love the fact that it is equipped with the CMOS sensor. This additionally increases the image quality. It also has the intensifier tube.
You will love the preset time video and image taking function. It also has an integrated IR LED illuminator which makes it perfect even for the very dark environment.
The device can operate with 8 AA batteries. Also, you can rely on a power bank. However, these accessories are not included.
Finally, we like its ergonomic design and no-slip features. It comes with a strap for extra secure holding. The design is further reinforced with a rough surface.
It is suitable for users around the world, as it has a menu which supports 9 languages! Furthermore, you can rely on its date and time notification bar. It has very good connectivity features. You can transfer the photos and videos to your TV or PC. It is also tripod-mountable.
- 400-meter vision range
- 4,5 x magnification
- 5x digital zoom
- 40-mm objective aperture
- 4-inch LCD screen
- 2592×1994 resolution photos
- 1280×720 video quality
- 32GB memory card included
This is a good model for users who want to have it all: a completely dark environment vision, video recording, and HD photo shooting. The device is equipped with high-tech features
It has a very sturdy and handy design. The grip is strong, secure, and the materials are durable
This model by Night Owl Optics belongs to the 1st Generation and has a 200 ft view range. It is designed for precision with two intensifier tubes adding extra control. Therefore, it is suitable for hunting and other sports and recreational outdoor activities at night time.
It has a built-in IR illuminator. As a result, the output is very clear and bright. It works in complete darkness as well. All lenses are high-quality products with 50-mm aperture. They are impact-resistant and have thermoplastic housings.
It has a 5x magnification and minimum focus range of 6.6 feet. The interocular distance measures 2.27 to 2.95 inches.
It has an adjustable and central focusing mechanism. The resolution is 35 lp/mm. Battery life varies from 40 to 80 hours. This heavily depends on the usage of the IR illuminator.
It has a 400 to 900 nm spectral sensitivity. The device weighs 2.42 pounds. It measures 5.8 x 7.8 x 2.9 inches. It comes with a comfortable neck-strap.
- 8 x 7.8 x 2.9-inch dimensions
- 2,42 pounds total weight
- 5x magnification
- 6 feet focus range
- 50-mm objective aperture
- 200 feet view range
- 40-80 hours of battery lifetime
- 90-lumen flashlight included
We highly recommend this model for short-distance hunting activities. It works well in terms of precision and control over short distances.
Users and experts point out that it has very good clarity and brightness. In addition, it is affordable and convenient.
This model by Night Owl provides a 575 foot range view. It equals 175 meters. Therefore, this model is classified as the mid-range when it comes to the view.
It has a very good magnification – 5x. It also has a built-in IR illuminator which is a very good substitute for lack of moonlight. You will get good brightness and clarity of images even in a very dark environment.
The steel stringer component is a peculiarity of this model. This integrated system provides extra control and precision.
During our testing time, we noticed that this model has an option of extended use of the infrared illuminator on low battery. We were surprised with this useful feature.
The device is operated by one 123 Li battery. It is not added to the package. The model measures 8 x 10.5 x 5.5 inches. It is somewhat heavier than other models we showed you here. It weighs 3,4 pounds. However, it is comfortable for use.
- 3,4 pounds of total weight
- 8 x 10.5 x 5.5-inch dimensions
- 5x magnification
- 575-feet view range
- 50-mm lens diameter
- +4/-4 diopter adjustment
- 15-degree angular view
- 40-80 hrs. of the battery
The greatest value of this model by Night Owl is a perfect vision in the complete dark. It has a really powerful IR illumination system.
Its second greatest asset is the precision-enhancing, steel-stringer system. It enables full control.
The optics are also high-quality and coated with metal oxides. This provides a clear and crisp image. In addition, this model is suitable for hunters.
Other Tested Products
- 1Bushnell 260500 Nightvision, 2x40 Equinox Z Digital Binoculars
- 2Bushnell 260501 Nightvision, 4x50 Equinox Z Digital Binoculars
- 3Bestguarder NV-800 7X31mm Digital Night Vision Binocular
- 4Armasight Dark Strider Gen 1+ Night Vision Binocular
- 5Sightmark SM15071 Ghost Hunter Night Vision,
- 6X-Vision Night Vision Binoculars
- 7Bestguarder HD Digital Night Vision Binocular
- 8Tengchang 10X50 Night Vision Binoculars with Rangefinder
- 9Armasight N-15 Ghost Compact Dual Tube Night Vision Goggle
- 10Nightfox 100V Widescreen Digital Night Vision Infrared Binocular
- 11Pulsar Edge GS Super 1 Night Vision Goggle
- 12Night Owl Night Vision NOB5X
- 13Night Owl Tactical NOBG1
As we do not want our readers to miss out on the renowned brands and their popular models outside our list, here are a few more names worth mentioning: FLIR, Steiner, Weilinchn (popular for their Russian NVB models), BelOMO (popular model- NV/G-10M Passive), Spy Gear, Firefield, ESSLNB, Academy, Jakks Pacific (Popular model- Spy Net Ultravision), EyeClops, Nikon, Occer (Popular model- Occer12x25Compact), Aurosports, Canon, Olympus, BARSKA (Popular model- NVX200), Tasco, Baigish, NERF, Twin Stars, Vizzion, Spynet, Vivitar, Cassini, SAKURA, and Zennox.
Common Types of NVD’s
In opur night vision binoculars reviews, we focused on the night vision binoculars. However, there are many different types of night vision devices. Here are the most common types:
As you could learn from this article, binoculars are high-tech devices that enable both magnification and night vision. They are versatile devices good for professional and personal use. They are used for recreation, safety, and surveillance. Personal use is usually related to hunting and navigation on different types of terrains.
Monoculars, as their name itself implies, is used to observe the target – interest area with one eye. They have a single opening. Their competitive difference is size, weight, and compactness.
Goggles are useful for hands-free night vision experience. They don’t offer magnification. They are mostly used for night-time fun, such as paintball, or hunting without the need for magnification.
Night vision cameras are high-tech devices that shoot videos or take photos at night. They are good both for surveillance and filming wildlife.
WPT stands for White Phosphor Technology. The Gen WPT are high-performance night vision devices good for a range of activities, such as weapon firing, vehicle maintenance, as well as other military and industrial purposes. They are usually equipped with the total darkness technology and can be mounted to weapons and vehicles.
Night vision eyeglasses found its purpose in driving at foggy weather and at night. They reduce glare and increase on-road safety.
How to Get the Most Out of Your NVB?
As the night vision binoculars are rather expensive devices, you definitely want to keep on reading. We are bringing you some important tips on how to get the most out of your NVB. In addition, here are some tips on the care and maintenance of the device.
- Always clean your device with a soft cloth
- Remember that the lenses are very sensitive. Use professional cleaning tools for the lens
- Adjust the eyepieces prior to adjusting the focus. This will ensure high-quality image resolution
- Activate the IR illuminators in areas with poor light conditions
- Remove the batteries from the binoculars if you will not use them for three days or more
Things to Avoid
Here are some don’ts when it comes to using night vision binoculars. Regardless of the price of your device, all binoculars are more or less prone to damage if you don’t use them correctly. Avoid the following:
- Don’t point the device directly to a bright source of light. This includes both natural and artificial light sources. This can damage your eyes and the lens of the binoculars.
- Don’t use the binoculars during the day as some elements in them are heat sensitive if not designed for day use. We also recommend getting a protective goggle.
- Don’t expose your device to a lot of humidity. Even if you have a water-tight model, protecting it from moisture is always a good idea.
Why Use Night Vision Binoculars?
Night vision binoculars or spotting scopes are devices used to improve our vision in the dark. They have the magnification option as well.
These devices offer versatile applications, such as:
- Hidden object detection
- Wildlife Observation
- Law enforcement
To sum it up, night binoculars can be used in any activity at night, especially in nature. These include stargazing, nature viewing, sky watching, hunting, fishing, or camping and hiking. If you are hunting at night, having the night vision binocular is a must. It will help you not only see the target but clearly identifies it (or its features). Similarly, using this device during your camping can even save your life in case of danger.
Accordingly, there are many different models on the market. This is why it is very important to learn more about the parts of binoculars, types, and application. In this way, you can pick the very best model for your individual needs.
How Do Night Vision Binoculars Work?
As night vision binoculars are different from the regular types of these devices, they have different modes of operation. There are three types of imaging technologies used for night visioning; Digital Night Vision technology, Thermal technology, and Starlight technology. The Starlight and Digital night vision technologies work in the similar light magnification processes. They use photocathodes which are basically electrodes with a negative charge. They are responsible for converting infrared and dim light into protons to electrodes. Then, the electrodes are amplified. Next, the phosphor screen produces light flashes. This is how a picture that is much clearer and brighter is made.
On the other hand, the Thermal imaging (also known as infrared) technology uses the heat sensing mechanism. It senses the level of heat in the viewing object and depending on the degree of heat it changes the color of the output image.
Generations of the Night Vision Technology
Currently, experts can differentiate between 6 different generations of night vision binoculars. Each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages.
You probably already assume that the night vision binoculars price varies from generation to generation. That’s correct. The first two generations offer the most affordable, but also the simplest models.
Similarly, the latest two generations have some amazing, state-of-the-art models, but you will have to invest a significant amount of money.
The 2 generations in the middle are average in general in terms of price and quality. However, keep an eye on these 2 generations. Why? Some of the greatest positive surprises arise from generation 2 and 2+. In addition, they tend to be affordable! Let’s see what each generation has to offer in detail.
1. Generation 1
Devices from this generation are good only for close ranges. The maximum range is usually only about 75 yards. They are affordable and easy to find. Their life expectancy is not so brilliant either. It usually equals 1,500 hours. Similarly, the field of view is small. Light amplification varies from as low as 120 to 900 times. Sensitivity varies from 120 to 280 micro-A/lumen.
On the other hand, they do have the infra-red illuminator. You should choose a model from Generation 1 if you need a night vision binocular for recreational wildlife observation.
2. Generation 1+
Light amplification is usually 1,000 times. These models have a fiber optic plate. This is why the image resolution is better than that of generation 1. Sight range is also significantly improved. It usually equals 200 yards. Sensitivity equals 300 micro-A/lumen. It is somewhat more expensive than Generation 1. It also has a better life expectancy than models from Gen 1.
3. Generation 2
First, significant improvements came with Generation 2. A special electron amplifier was first introduced. In addition, these models don’t require the infra-red illuminators. Their sensitivity increased to 320 micro-A/lumen. Lifetime reached the amazing 5,000 hours, which is extreme in comparison with Generation 1.
In addition, models from Generation 2 are used by surveillance and military teams as they are great for prolonged observation tasks. The amplification of these military grade models varies from 20,000 to 30,000 times. This is the greatest improvement when compared to the 1,000 times light amplification maximum in models of Generation 1.
Nonetheless, the price of these models significantly increased as well.
4. Generation 2+
A significant increase in sensitivity and automatic controls are the greatest assets and peculiarities of this generation. Sensitivity reached 600 microamperes/lumen, which is almost double the value of Gen 2. Furthermore, the automatic controls enable a brighter image.
Also, these models have flash protection and anti-distortion system. Maximum light amplification is 25,000 times. Life expectancy did not change much.
5. Generation 3
If you are looking for the “gold standard”, stick to the Gen 3. These are the finest type of binoculars packing night vision features. A 300-yard sight range, very long battery lifetime, and excellent life expectancy make these models perfect for military purposes and special forces.
The devices have the microchannel plate and gallium-arsenide photocathode. These are expensive devices.
6. Generation 4
Gen 4 is well-known among the special-purpose users who need high power night vision scopes. These binoculars can operate in both very dark conditions and during the day. They provide extremely sharp images.
However, these devices are hard to find and very expensive.
Things to Look for in Night Vision Binoculars
There is no single allrounder model of night vision binoculars. It all depends on your needs. You must specify how, where, and how often you want to use the device. This will narrow down the choices.
Here are some features that can help you differentiate between night vision binos for hunting, camping, recreational or professional use.
1. Intended Use
As implied above, the intended use is one of the eliminatory factors when buying NVBs. Why? The answer is very logical. Some models are suitable for a foggy environment, some are made for covering long range targets. Others are perfect for rainy weather. Also, this type is a must if you will use it on a boat or a ship.
Advanced models have waterproof lenses, etc. Similarly, super-demanding tasks and environments require a shock-resistant model. Finally, if you will use the device for identifying small objects, you should look for a model with superb magnification.
2. Weight & size
Size and weight, as well as compactness, are very important in all cases. However, they have a crucial impact on your performance if you want to move while using the device. A pair of well-built, compact binoculars will be a better choice.
3. Construction & Design
Construction and design directly affect the weight and size of the device. Consequently, it affects your performance, maneuvering capabilities, and comfort level.
In general, a good binocular should be ergonomic and compact. Overall, users state that the M-shaped bridge is the most comfortable one.
When it comes to construction, it should be durable and sturdy. First of all, the binocular components of a binocular are very sensitive. At the same time, we tend to use them in not so friendly conditions. Risk of damage is very high. This is why you must pick high-quality materials.
Look for tags such as scratch-resistant and shock-absorbent. Also, look for multi-coated lens label when buying your nighttime vision binoculars.
4. Water & Fog Resistance
These two features are especially important for environments related to water. Look for the so-called “O-rings”. These are special, water-tight seals.
Similarly, if you will use your device in an environment with a temperature that changes, definitely go for a model with the anti-fog feature.
5. Image Quality
Image quality is important for all kinds of uses. It is especially relevant for security, military, surveillance, and hunting purposes. Look for a model with very high resolution.
6. IR Illuminators
Infra-red illuminators “upgrade” your eyes and vision. They literally turn the invisible spectrum to the visible one. This enables you to see even in a completely dark environment.
7. Magnification Power & FOV
These are the “zoom-in” feature and the width of the visible area. They are among the most important features.
When buying your binoculars for night vision, pay attention to the focus. It heavily affects the image quality.
9. Detection range
We can’t say that a shorter or longer detection range is better or worse. Simply, you must specify your intended use. Short distances or long distances require a drastically different detection range. But, don't get concerned. There're high-end rangefinder binoculars with added heat-detection thermal imaging technology, together these will serve for long-distance clearer detections in the dark.
The higher the gain, the better the image quality. Look for a model with multicoated lens. In addition, make sure to choose a device with a wide diameter.
11. Recording Function
This is a cool feature you might want to experience. If you deal with filmography, this is a must.
12. Power Source
You can choose between three options: regular batteries (changeable), re-chargeable integrated batteries, or the combination of these two types. The rechargeable option is more affordable.
However, we don’t recommend the exclusively re-chargeable integrated battery type, as it might let you down if you don’t plan your use in advance.
Resolution dictates the sharpness and clarity of the image. You must know that cheap NVBs won't provide a razor-sharp resolution if you might expect. You will have to invest in this segment.
14. Lens Quality
Multi-coated lenses are a better choice when it comes to lens quality.
15. Eye Relief
This dimension denotes the distance between the eyepiece and your eye at which you see the whole view field. 11 mm-eye relief is considered the minimum for comfort, including users with glasses.
Ergonomic design is always highly appreciated. This is especially true if you want to use the device for many hours continuously. However, night vision binoculars that are affordable usually don’t have such a design because of budget cut.
The price depends on the quality of the device, in general. In addition, it is closely related to the resolution and type of lenses. The price significantly varies from generation to generation.
Different manufacturers provide different types of warranties. Some offer a year or two of unlimited warranty, while others provide a lifetime limited warranty.
The housing usually comes with a lifetime warranty, while the tube and sensitive parts come with a 1, 2, or 3-year warranty.
Getting a rich package when buying your binoculars is also very important. Usually, users look for the neck and wrap straps, lens covers, USB and AV cables, as well as some extras. Those may include batteries, storage pouch, and a cleaning cloth.
We especially appreciate models with tripod-mounting add-ons. This is important for wildlife observers, surveillance, as well as military usage. Some Russian vintage models can be head-mounted with special head mounts, but these are rare.
Finally, we chose the Digital Night Vision Binoculars for Hunting by Bestguarder as the top of the list. This high-quality device was versatile, produces excellent output offering a fantastic value for its price.
On the other hand, the Night Vision Hunting Binoculars by Solomark was a great choice for those on a budget. It was not only affordable but also surprisingly advanced when it came to image quality and convenience.
Those were only two models out of ten we chose as top of our final list. Don’t forget that there are many other good models on the market that deserve your attention. However, only you can answer the question: “Which one is the best?” Your perfect model should suit your needs and requirements.
We hope we provided a detailed, analytical, and comprehensive guide to choose the right one for yourself. Good luck on finding the night vision device that will help you in your surveillance tasks, allow you to enjoy hunting, observe wildlife, or improve your military skills.