LAST UPDATED: November 21, 2019
Best Night Vision Binoculars: Extend Your Vision In Darkness
Work and play late by seeing through the darkness with these night vision binoculars
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON November 21, 2019
When the sun goes down, the light goes with it, making hobbies such as hunting, hiking, and watching wildlife harder to do. Night vision binoculars can extend your favorite activities late into the after-hours or add fun by helping you spot animals under the cover of darkness. To find the best pair of night vision binoculars suited to your needs, we've put together a list of some of the best ones available.
These infrared binoculars can be set to automatically record images or videos at a preset time. It has a large 4-inch screen and can take clear shots with a resolution of 2,592 by 1,944 pixels.
It allows the user to adjust the lighting to match the environment. Can illuminate up to 1,300 feet at night. Displays GPS latitude and longitude on the image.
It doesn’t come with batteries. Relatively expensive. You need a tripod stand to take clear long-distance shots.
A small and practical pair that offers minimalist low-light night vision perfect for watching an evening concert from afar. The 10x magnification is great for seeing objects much closer.
Has a green film that improves brightness and clarity. The portable bag, dust cover, and cleaning cloth come in handy for storage and maintenance. Able to withstand light water exposure.
The night vision only works in low-light conditions. Can only see up to 362 feet. The turn wheel can feel tight, making it harder to focus during opportune moments.
These binoculars utilize infrared lighting to improve night vision for up to 1,300 feet. It displays images in their highest clarity and allows for up to 7x magnification.
Can be used to take pictures and record videos. Outstanding optical clarity with reduced glare. Multi-colored lens lets in a lot of light for optimal nighttime visibility.
Batteries sold separately. May constantly default to video mode when activated. The flap on the battery compartment breaks easily.
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Benefits of Night Vision Binoculars
- Better visibility in the dark. The biggest benefit of using night vision binoculars is that you can see clearly at night or in ambient light. Everything you see with night vision binoculars is improved by way of infrared or thermal imaging technology.
- Better accuracy. Night vision binoculars allow you to see at a distance and better identify targets with better clarity, especially if you perform outdoor activities at night or during dusk or dawn.
- Improved safety. Night vision binoculars are essential for night owls that enjoy outdoor activities after dark. Being able to clearly see where you’re walking, or any potential dangers along the path is important for everyone’s safety.
Types of Night Vision Binoculars
Generation 1 night vision binoculars were the first generation that was released to consumers and are considered suitable for consistent use. These models are usually the most affordable and common type of night vision binoculars and are best for wildlife observation. While Gen 1 devices offer a decent image at closer ranges, they tend to be limited by lower resolutions and a limited overall visual range of around 75 yards.
Generation 2 night vision binoculars are some of the more popular options because they are very functional. The clarity is markedly better than Gen 1, making them great for professional use. There’s also the inclusion of a microchannel plate that creates a clearer and brighter image along with better visual ranges around 200 yards.
Generation 3 night vision binoculars are considered tactical or military-grade as these are the type used by the U.S. military’s combat armed forces. Gen 3 binoculars provide a better picture, perform better in low light, and feature better battery life. Additionally, these models are the best picks for long-range viewing at distances around 300 yards.
Generation 4 night vision binoculars are the ultimate option and are typically reserved for very serious users. While they are the most expensive on the market, they also provide the clearest picture. The Gen 4 category outperforms all of the other generations in low-light scenarios.
Aurosports is a popular outdoor gear brand that prioritizes its product offerings within the hunting and camping categories. The majority of its gear focuses on night vision binoculars similar to our Best Value, the Aurosports 10x25, as well as other popular items like this night vision monocular telescope.
Nightfox is part of the company Laserware, a Bristol, United Kingdom-based firm. It prides itself in making innovative products that are modestly priced. The Nightfox division exclusively creates night vision technology, and every product it sells is backed by an 18-month warranty. One excellent example is our Best Overall choice, the Nightfox 100V.
Sightmark is based in Texas and is another brand that exclusively focuses on outdoor optical gear. In particular, it creates tactical, hunting, and shooting vision gear. While its products include our Honorable Mention choice, the Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2x24, this brand also focuses on riflescopes and laser sights.
Night Vision Binoculars Pricing
- Up to $500: Budget shoppers can find a quality pair of basic night vision binoculars that are made for the casual observer in this price range.
- $500 to $1,000: More serious outdoor enthusiasts should focus on this price range. These binoculars are better suited for low light activity.
- $1,000 and up: In this premium price range, you’ll find Gen 3 and Gen 4 models that are designed for tactical-level activities.
Image quality is the single most important factor to consider when shopping for night vision binoculars. Consider why you’re buying this device. If you’re performing tactical missions or hunting for elusive prey, then you want sharp, clear images. For the best results, look for models with very high resolution.
Infra-red illuminators are important for shoppers that plan to use these binoculars in low or ambient light. They use the light from the invisible portion of the light spectrum and use it for light amplification of your surroundings. Always confirm that the binoculars you’re planning to buy are designed to work in ambient and low light, as these factors can impact how well your night vision binoculars perform.
Magnification Power & Field of View (FOV)
These two features refer to the “zoom-in” feature and the width of the visible area. Regardless of your activity, if you need to see objects at great distances, you need a pair of night vision binoculars that feature higher magnification powers to help you clearly see objects that are far away. Field of view refers to the total viewing range in front of you when looking through the binoculars. But keep in mind that as you intensify the magnification, the field of view will shrink.
In addition to magnification, you want to have the freedom to manually focus the image. This customization is critical to give you the best image clarity for your specific needs. Look for night vision binoculars that feature either a central focusing wheel that controls both barrels simultaneously or diopter rings that allow you to independently adjust each barrel.
This feature will be directly dependent upon how and where you plan to use your night vision binoculars. However, keep in mind from our list of the types of night vision binoculars category above that some binocular generations are more limited in their detection range than others.
- Legal Restrictions: While this might sound odd, some state law enforcement agencies limit the use of select night vision instruments, including binoculars. So, before you buy a pair of night vision binoculars, check for any state restrictions. For instance, in California, there are certain military-grade night vision binoculars and monoculars that you cannot buy as a civilian.
- Intended Purpose: Always consider the activities in which you’ll be using a night vision binocular to find the model that’s most appropriate for your needs. Some people may want a night vision binocular for viewing wildlife while others may need one for nighttime hunting.
- Weather-Resistant: If you plan to use night vision binoculars primarily outside, finding a model with a waterproof or water-resistant rating is important. These models will be more durable and will last longer so you won’t need to replace them as often.
Best Night Vision Binoculars Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Nighttime hunting and fishing become easy with these digital binoculars with a large 4-inch screen for comfortable viewing. It can take clear pictures and has a recording function for taking videos, which are backed in the 3GB memory card that comes with the binoculars. You can pre-set it to start recording at a certain time in case you don’t want your presence to affect the animal's natural behavior.
In full darkness, you can count on its infrared light to illuminate objects 1,300 feet away. What’s more, the infrared brightness level can be manually adjusted to reduce glare for better shooting. You can also turn the infrared off to get the best daytime color. For better image clarity, the unit allows for 5x digital zoom and 4.5x optical magnification. It runs on eight AA alkaline, lithium, or Ni-MH batteries.
Unfortunately, these binoculars are relatively expensive in comparison to other gadgets in its class. On top of that, the batteries are sold separately. Also, you may have to purchase a tripod stand to get clear images of objects beyond 200 feet.
Budget doesn’t have to be a dirty word. We think you’ll like our Best Value selection, the Aurosports 10 x 25 Folding High Powered Compact Night Vision Binoculars, because of their small price tag. These practical yet compact binoculars are perfect for the minimalist outdoor enthusiast to use in low-light nights for casual observing like bird watching. Plus, the 10x magnification helps you to see items at a distance in better clarity.
You’ll like that these night vision binoculars feature a green film to improve brightness and clarity outdoors. We also like that this model comes with a portable bag, dust cover, and cleaning cloth to keep your binoculars protected when not in use and to keep them clean. But best of all, we like that these are rated for light water exposure.
However, we did find a few issues with these night vision binoculars. First, the night vision is only rated for use in low-light scenarios, so ambient light settings can be an issue. Also, the maximum viewing distance is 362 feet. And finally, adjusting the center wheel can be difficult.
If you are looking for one set of binoculars that does it all, then the Solomark could be the ones for you. Not only does it have impressive image clarity, but it can also take day or night infrared pictures and videos that you can use for future reference. Conveniently, the package comes with an AV and USB cable that you can use to upload the image to a computer. In addition, it features built-in 3W infrared LED technology to illuminate images at a distance of 1,300 feet, and you can switch off the infrared at daytime to get color images.
At first glance, you will notice that it has a multi-color lens. This helps to increase light transmission while reducing glare for better night vision. You can zoom the images and increase the nighttime image magnification to seven times the original size without distorting the quality. In addition, its storage capacity is expandable up to 32 GB and it runs on eight AA batteries.
However, you may find it a bit frustrating that it may constantly default to video mode when activated, especially when you need to take a quick shot. Also, the batteries are sold separately, and the flap on the battery compartment may break when you drop the binoculars.
- The image quality of night vision devices ranks across six generations. The most affordable versions, generation 1 and 1+, work best in close range. The higher the generation, the more night vision binoculars tend to cost.
- Know what your needs are for night vision binoculars. Some offer rugged protection ideal for hunting. Others have higher magnification for home defense. If you just want a pair to observe wildlife activity at night, they tend to run the cheapest.
- Read the manual before operating your night vision binoculars. It will not only teach you how to use the device properly but can also provide important safety measures.
Q: How do night vision binoculars work?
A: When a dim light enters the lens, it goes through a photocathode, which converts light particles into electrons. From there, the electrons accelerate and hit a phosphor screen that turns into an image you can see.
Q: What does an IR illuminator do?
A: An infrared illuminator device comes in handy when you’re in complete darkness. It emits an infrared light on objects that are hard to see, which in turn reflects back into the binocular's lenses. IR illuminators are available on many, but not all, night vision binoculars.
Q: Can I use night vision binoculars during the day?
A: You can use many digital night vision binoculars during the daytime. Non-digital versions often have intensifier tubes that can become damaged when exposed to bright lights. It’s always a good idea to consult the manual to avoid any damage to you or the binoculars.
If you want a solid all-around pair, you can’t go wrong with the Bestguarder NV-900 Night Vision Binoculars.
For one that costs less and still gets the job done, pick up the Aurosports 10x25.