Reviews

LAST UPDATED:  November 21, 2019

Best Night Vision Monoculars: Improve Your Vision in the Dark

Enjoy exploring the night with these night vision monoculars

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBC The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook

The Review Team

  • Product Network

    20 Products

  • Clock

    12 Hours

  • Reviews

    11 Reviews

How We Decided

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

PUBLISHED ON November 21, 2019

Not everyone likes to settle in for the night, especially when nature’s nocturnal activities are at their peak. You can be a part of that wonder with the help of a night vision monocular. It can be used for hunting, camping, wildlife observation, or simply for security. Below are some of the best monoculars for seeing objects in the dark.

Best Overall
Night Owl iGEN Night Vision Monocular
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

A highly sensitive monocular that uses advanced technology to illuminate objects even when the night is very dark.

Pros
Pros

It has a flat and curvy design that’s easy to hold. Produces clear images both day and night. Features a non-reflective matte finish. Feels comfortable on the eye. It can’t be damaged with bright light exposure. Programmable auto-shutoff feature.

Cons
Cons

More expensive than most monoculars. May drain the batteries after only four hours. It only has a 350-foot field of view.

Best Overall
Night Owl iGEN Night Vision Monocular
Best Value
Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

An affordable monocular with great image quality, viewing range, and resolution that’s great for beginners.

Pros
Pros

It has a great viewing distance of 650 feet. Weather and damage proof housing. Offers five times magnification. Compact, lightweight,  and easy to use. Has a built-in power saver. Produces images with no bright spots.

Cons
Cons

The clarity of the images depends on the intensity of the night lights. The IR light can be spotted by animals.

Best Value
Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular
Honorable Mention
Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Monocular
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

A digital night vision monocular with video recording and image capturing capability.

Pros
Pros

Features a rugged water-resistant housing. It has a large 750 feet viewing distance. It offers great clarity and contrast. Can support up to 32 GB SD cards. Can record videos with sound. Produces high-quality color images at day time. It can be mounted on a tripod stand.

Cons
Cons

Heavier than most monoculars. The power switch is too close to the other buttons.

Honorable Mention
Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Monocular

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Benefits of Night Vision Monocular 

  •  Improved vision. The reason behind getting a quality night vision monocular is improving your night vision. A quality monocular uses the IR light to magnify and bring images closer to you so that you can get a clear view.
  • Optical clarity. A night vision monocular has an edge-to-edge display resolution that boosts the optical clarity of items in night vision. You can be sure to get fine details of objects when using a night vision monocular because of their optimum illumination.
  •  Multipurpose function. Most night vision monoculars are multifunctional. You can use them for hiking, camping, nature watching, hunting, scouting, and security.
  • Versatility. One unique feature of a night vision monocular is its ability to work both at night and during the day. You can use the monocular objective lenses to focus on distant objects and get a clear view at all times.

Types of Night Vision Monoculars 

Generation 1

The Gen 1 night vision monoculars were developed in the early 1960s and are the most popular in the modern market. They have low magnification and lens resolution index. Also, they come at a price range of less than $200. They are perfect for low light viewing and thereby ideal for night hunting and nature watching. These monoculars can cover a maximum range of 75 yards and have a life expectancy of 1,500 hours.

Generation 2

These are night vision monoculars that feature the famous MCP plates. They give the best image view along the lens edges. Other unique features of this category of night vision monoculars include better optics, improved resolution, and reliability. Most Gen 2 monoculars are costly because of their improved lens magnification and resolution that makes them stand out in the market. This generation of binoculars covers 200 yards and has a life expectancy of 5,000 hours.

Generation 3

The Gen 3 vision monoculars come with better resolutions than Gen 2. They have photocathode made of gallium arsenide. This ensures improved magnification and lens resolution. With this set of monoculars, you can view objects 300 yards away. Also, they come with a life expectancy of 10,000 hours. The monoculars consume a lot of power compared to previous generations and are a bit expensive because of their upgraded features.

Generation 4

This is the most expensive set of night vision monoculars. Those in the military prefer these monoculars to other types in the market because of their advanced features. Due to their high price, Gen 4 monoculars are not common among those shopping for hunting and scouting monoculars.

Top Brands 

Night Owl Optics

Night Owl Optics is an American-based company that has been producing high-quality night vision devices such as monoculars, security cameras, and binoculars. Based in El Paso, Texas, it has been in operation for many decades. One unique product includes the Night Owl iGEN Night Vision Monocular. Most of its products are registered under the trademark of iGEN.

Firefield 

Firefield is a technology company founded in 2009. It is based in Mansfield, Texas. For many years, it has been producing quality night vision products, including binoculars, optical accessories, and other night vision products. Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular and Firefield Nightfall 5x50 Night Vision Monocular are two of its best-selling products on the market.

Bushnell 

Bushnell is a famous company that offers quality optical products. Its products include rifle scopes, monoculars, binoculars, and spotting scopes. The company is based in Overland Parks, Kansas and has been in operation for many years. Some of its best-selling products include the Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular and the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular.

Sightmark 

Sightmark is a company established in early 2007 with a vision to meet the increasing demand for optical products in the shooting market. The company is based in Mansfield, Texas. It has offices in both America and Europe and prides in providing night vision devices for firearms and other night vision accessories. Some of its products include the Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular and the 5x60 Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular.

Best Night Vision Monoculars Pricing 

  • Below $200. In this price range, you can expect night vision monoculars within the first generation. These monoculars have a low life expectancy, about 3x magnification, and low light resolution. Most of them are suitable for short-range night viewing. 
  • Between $200- $300. This is the price range for most 2nd Generation night vision monoculars. These monoculars come with great magnification and lens resolution. They have a longer life expectancy and last longer than cheaper models. If you are looking for a monocular that can focus on items within 200 yards, then go for those in this price range.
  • Above $300. Most high-quality night vision monoculars are found within this price range. The monoculars come with excellent magnification power, enhanced night vision scope, and high-end lens resolution. With these monoculars at your disposal, you are sure to get a close focus on objects even in total darkness. These monoculars have the best material casing that is weather-resistant and durable. They are usually lightweight, which makes them highly portable.

Key Features 

Size and Weight

The weight of a night vision monocular is in pounds or ounces. A high-quality monocular should be lightweight, ergonomic, and compact. You can easily move around with a lightweight monocular. Also, it becomes easy to store the device if it has a compact design. The smallest monocular can be the size of your finger and could weigh about eight ounces.

Eyecups

Not all monoculars on the market will come with an eyecup feature. In fact, most smaller monoculars do not come with eyecups. If you need this feature on your monocular, then you should go for a larger monocular. Eyecups are essential for ensuring comfort and relief when viewing objects. To get maximum eye relief, you can go for a monocular with a larger field of view per distance covered and a great eye relief of about 15-20 mm.

Optical Quality 

Optical quality is a significant factor to consider when buying a high-quality monocular. Monoculars come with different optical specifications that you should look out for when shopping. The lens diameter, type of prism, and the magnification power of the eyepiece lens are essential attributes of the monocular that you must watch out for.

Magnification Index 

Magnification power is something you must check when buying a high-quality monocular. A high-end monocular will have a magnification power of between 10x and 12x, while cheaper monoculars have a low magnification power of between 5x and 8x. Note that monoculars with a low magnification power have a higher field of view and are best for low vision.

Other Considerations 

  • Waterproof. If you are going to be using your night vision monocular in a rainy region, then you should shop for a monocular with a waterproof casing. Check on the monocular specifications by the manufacturer to find out if it is waterproof. Also, the lens used on the monocular should not fog easily in cold weather.
  • Field of View. The field of view on the monoculars should be wide enough for an improved view. Go for night vision monoculars with at least 100 yards of a field of view as this gives you a detailed focus on distant objects.
  • Brightness. The night vision monocular should have an adjustable feature that allows you to adjust screen brightness to get finer images when viewing. Chose a monocular that will provide the illumination you need whenever it magnifies images. Monoculars differ on the rate of magnification power and brightness level.
  • Night vision. Since you are going to use your monoculars for night vision, you should go for those that are suitable for this type of viewing. All generations of night vision monoculars give clear vision at night. However, Generation 3 monoculars are the best because of their high magnification power. 
  •  Life expectancy. Night vision monoculars don’t last forever. Generation 1 monoculars have the lowest life expectancy, while Generation 4 ones have the highest. Therefore, if you have the bucks, consider shopping for a Generation 3 or Generation 4 monocular. 

Best Night Vision Monoculars Reviews and Recommendations 2020

Best Overall

The Night Owl Monocular is a high-tech night vision monocular with a great magnification power. It is different from most first-generation monoculars with its excellent lens resolution and magnification. The device comes with the signature iGEN technology that makes it unique from most of the monoculars within its range. Also, the manufacturer has made this monocular stand out from the rest with its unique light amplification feature that ranges from 18x to 1345x. You can be sure of clear and brighter images when viewing distant objects with this device. 


The Night Owl iGEN 20/20 night vision viewer comes with a three-mode IR intelligence for improved vision. It has an improved infrared sensor and a smart infrared mode that enables you to adjust the device to a higher intensity and view. Compared to other Generation 1 monoculars, the Night Owl iGEN 20/20 provides clearer images.


What may prevent you from purchasing this device is the price. It is more expensive compared to other night vision monoculars within its range. The monocular has a high life expectancy, but the battery life is something you need to watch out for before purchasing.

Best Overall
Night Owl iGEN Night Vision Monocular

The Night Owl Monocular is a high-tech night vision monocular with a great magnification power. It is different from most first-generation monoculars with its excellent lens resolution and magnification. The device comes with the signature iGEN technology that makes it unique from most of the monoculars within its range. Also, the manufacturer has made this monocular stand out from the rest with its unique light amplification feature that ranges from 18x to 1345x. You can be sure of clear and brighter images when viewing distant objects with this device. 


The Night Owl iGEN 20/20 night vision viewer comes with a three-mode IR intelligence for improved vision. It has an improved infrared sensor and a smart infrared mode that enables you to adjust the device to a higher intensity and view. Compared to other Generation 1 monoculars, the Night Owl iGEN 20/20 provides clearer images.


What may prevent you from purchasing this device is the price. It is more expensive compared to other night vision monoculars within its range. The monocular has a high life expectancy, but the battery life is something you need to watch out for before purchasing.

Best Value

If you are a beginner, you should look no further than the Firefield Nightfall monocular. This night vision monocular has an excellent 5x magnification that you need to get a bright and clear view at night. It comes with a high-power infrared illumination that boosts the focus on distant objects. The image quality on this monocular is impressive, as you get all the details you need from every view. 


The Firefield Nightfall monocular powers up quickly to kickstart your night viewing. It comes with a long-lasting battery, so you can use it for night hiking and camping. Also, it comes with a large objective lens, which gives you a greater field of view. With this monocular at your disposal, you get to view all distant objects closer and spot even the hidden details that most of the Generation 1 monoculars cannot give.


Like all monoculars you will find on the market, the Firefield Nightfall has significant shortfalls that range from its resolution to price. It is not easy to get precise or magnified images on this monocular if the intensity of the nightlight is low. Also, when you use this monocular for night hunting, some animals can spot the infrared light and stay away. 

Best Value
Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular

If you are a beginner, you should look no further than the Firefield Nightfall monocular. This night vision monocular has an excellent 5x magnification that you need to get a bright and clear view at night. It comes with a high-power infrared illumination that boosts the focus on distant objects. The image quality on this monocular is impressive, as you get all the details you need from every view. 


The Firefield Nightfall monocular powers up quickly to kickstart your night viewing. It comes with a long-lasting battery, so you can use it for night hiking and camping. Also, it comes with a large objective lens, which gives you a greater field of view. With this monocular at your disposal, you get to view all distant objects closer and spot even the hidden details that most of the Generation 1 monoculars cannot give.


Like all monoculars you will find on the market, the Firefield Nightfall has significant shortfalls that range from its resolution to price. It is not easy to get precise or magnified images on this monocular if the intensity of the nightlight is low. Also, when you use this monocular for night hunting, some animals can spot the infrared light and stay away. 

Honorable Mention

Bushnell is famous for its quality optical products and accessories. All the essential features that you need are included in this high-end monocular. It comes with a 4x magnification power and a 40 mm objective lens for full focus and view. The manufacturer has included the IR illumination on the monocular. The feature enables it to cover a range of 750 feet. You can rely on this monocular for viewing and zooming objects that are far away from you at night.


One advantage of using this monocular is its ability to focus on distant objects and still give clear images. It comes with a multi-coated glass that does not fog easily, even in humid weather. Also, with this monocular, you can store as many images and videos as you want. The device comes with a 32 GB Micro SD card that you can use to store videos and pictures for future reference. It has a water-resistant housing that makes it convenient for use in harsh weather. You can use this monocular day or night. 


The major setback with this device is its weight. It weighs 1.38 pounds, which means you’ll have some extra weight when you move around with it. Also, since the power button is positioned close to other buttons on the monocular, you may accidentally press it and interrupt your viewing.

Honorable Mention
Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Monocular

Bushnell is famous for its quality optical products and accessories. All the essential features that you need are included in this high-end monocular. It comes with a 4x magnification power and a 40 mm objective lens for full focus and view. The manufacturer has included the IR illumination on the monocular. The feature enables it to cover a range of 750 feet. You can rely on this monocular for viewing and zooming objects that are far away from you at night.


One advantage of using this monocular is its ability to focus on distant objects and still give clear images. It comes with a multi-coated glass that does not fog easily, even in humid weather. Also, with this monocular, you can store as many images and videos as you want. The device comes with a 32 GB Micro SD card that you can use to store videos and pictures for future reference. It has a water-resistant housing that makes it convenient for use in harsh weather. You can use this monocular day or night. 


The major setback with this device is its weight. It weighs 1.38 pounds, which means you’ll have some extra weight when you move around with it. Also, since the power button is positioned close to other buttons on the monocular, you may accidentally press it and interrupt your viewing.

Most Portable

The Carson MiniAura Digital Night Vision Monocular (NV-200) displays images in black and white and has three modes: digital, low infrared, and high infrared. The device weighs just 3.4 ounces, is 2.6 by 2.2 by 2.2 inches, and runs on three AAA batteries. A simple button adjusts the intensity, and it features a 19-degree angle of view and an 82-foot range.


Users report that they can see people and animals clearly with good detail in complete darkness. Another advantage is that it's small enough to carry in your pocket. It's also very user friendly without any complicated menus to navigate. Overall, it feels very solid and is very effective in relation to its price. The manufacturer also provides a one-year limited warranty in case it has any defects.


One downside is that it's not weather resistant. In addition, if you have large fingers it can be a little difficult to operate the controls.There have also been some complaints that the IR illuminators on the front are a little bright.

Most Portable
Carson MiniAura Digital Night Vision Monocular (NV-200)

The Carson MiniAura Digital Night Vision Monocular (NV-200) displays images in black and white and has three modes: digital, low infrared, and high infrared. The device weighs just 3.4 ounces, is 2.6 by 2.2 by 2.2 inches, and runs on three AAA batteries. A simple button adjusts the intensity, and it features a 19-degree angle of view and an 82-foot range.


Users report that they can see people and animals clearly with good detail in complete darkness. Another advantage is that it's small enough to carry in your pocket. It's also very user friendly without any complicated menus to navigate. Overall, it feels very solid and is very effective in relation to its price. The manufacturer also provides a one-year limited warranty in case it has any defects.


One downside is that it's not weather resistant. In addition, if you have large fingers it can be a little difficult to operate the controls.There have also been some complaints that the IR illuminators on the front are a little bright.

Most User Friendly

The Generation 1 Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular has two operating modes: passive mode without IR illumination and active mode with IR illumination. It's a hand-held monocular but is also designed with a 1/4-inch tripod socket and can be mounted on other accessories, including firearms. It features multi-coated optics, 4x magnification, and an integrated IR illuminator.


The Ghost Hunter automatically turns off when it's exposed to bright light. It has a 72-hour operating time without IR activated and a 20-hour battery life with IR on. Two AA batteries are required. The device powers up quickly and produces high-quality images. While lightweight, it is durable and built to last. It’s small enough to comfortably hold and easy to operate. It also comes with a nylon carrying case and lens cloth. Overall, it's a very good device for the price.


One downside is that it's easy to knock the monocular out of focus because the eyepiece focusing barrels don't have much resistance. The picture quality is also a little grainy, but that's to be expected from a Generation 1 device.

Most User Friendly
Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular

The Generation 1 Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular has two operating modes: passive mode without IR illumination and active mode with IR illumination. It's a hand-held monocular but is also designed with a 1/4-inch tripod socket and can be mounted on other accessories, including firearms. It features multi-coated optics, 4x magnification, and an integrated IR illuminator.


The Ghost Hunter automatically turns off when it's exposed to bright light. It has a 72-hour operating time without IR activated and a 20-hour battery life with IR on. Two AA batteries are required. The device powers up quickly and produces high-quality images. While lightweight, it is durable and built to last. It’s small enough to comfortably hold and easy to operate. It also comes with a nylon carrying case and lens cloth. Overall, it's a very good device for the price.


One downside is that it's easy to knock the monocular out of focus because the eyepiece focusing barrels don't have much resistance. The picture quality is also a little grainy, but that's to be expected from a Generation 1 device.

Honorable Mention

The SiOnyx Aurora Sport Night Vision Monocular is a sleek, compact tool built for the adventurer. It's a high-grade device designed with IR sensors for improved clarity and vision. The infrared technology makes it best for night fishing, hunting, and exploring the outdoors.


One of the best features is its ability to connect to a smartphone: using an app, you can remotely see what the monocular sees even when you're nowhere near it. Another great aspect is that the monocular is water-resistant at a depth of up to three feet for 30 minutes.


However, the price is much higher when compared to other monoculars on the market. It can also get a bit fuzzy if used in an area with low light or street lights. Another downside is that the buttons are tiny and can be difficult to press, especially if you have larger hands.

Honorable Mention
SiOnyx Aurora Sport Night Vision Monocular

The SiOnyx Aurora Sport Night Vision Monocular is a sleek, compact tool built for the adventurer. It's a high-grade device designed with IR sensors for improved clarity and vision. The infrared technology makes it best for night fishing, hunting, and exploring the outdoors.


One of the best features is its ability to connect to a smartphone: using an app, you can remotely see what the monocular sees even when you're nowhere near it. Another great aspect is that the monocular is water-resistant at a depth of up to three feet for 30 minutes.


However, the price is much higher when compared to other monoculars on the market. It can also get a bit fuzzy if used in an area with low light or street lights. Another downside is that the buttons are tiny and can be difficult to press, especially if you have larger hands.

Honorable Mention

The Solomark Night Vision Monocular has a futuristic design to it. It doubles as a sort of trail camera and can capture video and photos of nocturnal wildlife. However, a great thing about the device is its integrated LCD screen, and IR LED illuminator. This allows you to adjust the brightness, so you get a clearer view.


The monocular has a viewing distance of up to 328 feet and is reasonably priced for a higher-quality tool. It also runs off of AA batteries, so you don’t have to worry about recharging it or buying larger, more expensive batteries. Plus, it offers four levels of zoom control, can be mounted on a tripod, and features seven levels of IR.


There have been some complaints about how grainy the screen can be—while it isn’t terrible, it is more dated looking than higher resolution and premium monoculars. The viewfinder is also on the smaller side.

Honorable Mention
Solomark Night Vision Monocular

The Solomark Night Vision Monocular has a futuristic design to it. It doubles as a sort of trail camera and can capture video and photos of nocturnal wildlife. However, a great thing about the device is its integrated LCD screen, and IR LED illuminator. This allows you to adjust the brightness, so you get a clearer view.


The monocular has a viewing distance of up to 328 feet and is reasonably priced for a higher-quality tool. It also runs off of AA batteries, so you don’t have to worry about recharging it or buying larger, more expensive batteries. Plus, it offers four levels of zoom control, can be mounted on a tripod, and features seven levels of IR.


There have been some complaints about how grainy the screen can be—while it isn’t terrible, it is more dated looking than higher resolution and premium monoculars. The viewfinder is also on the smaller side.

Tips

  • Study the conditions of the area in which you will be camping or hunting before settling on a monocular. You need to know the temperatures and vegetation of the area because conditions like rain and tall bushes can hinder your viewing. 
  • Take care not to drop your monocular even if it has a damage-resistant housing. The lens is sensitive to scratches or scrapes, which can affect the image quality. 
  • Stay safe and don't draw too much attention to yourself during nighttime hiking or any other activity you will be engaging in. Maintain situational awareness to prevent animal attacks or tripping over and injuring yourself. 
  • Use a lint-free cloth and an alcohol-based solution to clean the lens. It will enhance the image quality. Also, avoid touching the device with dirty hands. The dirt may lodge in the corner of the lense and make a blind spot. Always wear gloves to keep it clean. 

FAQs

Q: Does a night vision monocular show clear images during the daytime?

A: It depends on the model, but most units on the market give clear night images and color day images. The viewing capabilities at daytime and low light conditions are almost infinite, and the viewing distance is reduced at nighttime when using infrared technology. 

Q: Can a night vision monocular see through the fog?

A: Some monoculars with advanced technology can see images in light fog, rain, and snow conditions. However, the viewing distance may be greatly reduced by the atmospheric conditions. The clarity of the images is also greatly reduced in heavy fog. 

Q: What’s the difference between night vision and thermal imaging?

A: A night vision monocular typically uses infrared light and another light source (moon and stars) to produce an image. Modern versions have an IR illuminator that’s like a flashlight and helps produce more detailed images at night. Thermal imagers detect radiation or heat. They produce an image based on the radiation the animal gives off without any lighting necessary. 

Final Thoughts

Our top pick is the Night Owl iGEN Night Vision Monocular. You can use it for both day and night viewing and expect high-quality images with no distortion. 

If you are on a tight budget, consider the Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular. It has good image resolution and provides a comfortable grip.