Best Night Vision Binoculars: Extend Your Vision In Darkness
Get quick and reliable views in total darkness with these top-quality night vision binoculars.
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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON July 22, 2021
Whether you’re an avid hunter who likes to be out before the break of dawn, an AT thru hiker, tracking BigFoot, or taking part in tactical training maneuvers, having a reliable set of night vision binoculars can really come in handy when you’re trying to assess your surroundings in low light or dark conditions. It also helps that they’re super cool. Remember pretending as kids that you were a superhero with some high tech equipment and impressive powers?
This is one of those times that adulting can be really fun. Now you can actually own a wicked pair of night vision binoculars, instead of just pretending. So, if you’re in the market for a tried and true set of night vision binoculars, we’ve got you covered. Our buying guide and detailed product reviews will help you weed through the surprisingly large selection and ensure that you pick out the perfect pair to suit your needs.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Portable bag, dust cover, and cleaning cloth come in handy for storage and maintenance.
- Able to withstand light water exposure.
- Night vision only works in low-light conditions
- Can only see up to 362 feet
- Turn wheel can feel tight, making it harder to focus in during opportune moments
These functional and versatile binoculars allow you to see optimally in either day or nighttime lighting. When set in “Total Darkness Mode,” you can see an impressive 100 yards away at night.
- Feature a super smooth all digital zoom capability of 4-16x
- Can take video or still photos that can be uploaded to your computer for later viewing
- Requires three CR123 batteries, which are sold separately and are not rechargeable
- Bulkier than some models
- A little pricey
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
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.
Bestguarder brand is a part of the larger company Shenzhen Siyuan Digital Technology Co., Ltd., which was founded in 2005. It specializes in infrared and night vision scopes, binoculars, game cameras, and hunting alarms. Some of its top products include the Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Digital Night Vision Monocular and the Bestguarder NV-900 4.5X40mm Digital Night Vision Binocular with Time Lapse.
ATN is a California-based company that was founded in 1995. Today it is an industry-leading manufacturer and developer of 4K resolution digital smart optics, as well as smart thermal imaging optics for hardcore nighttime operations. The ATN BinoX Smart HD 4-16X Day/Night Binoculars are perfect for serious hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, military, and law enforcement.
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 and 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 2021
- 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.
- Be sure to read online user reviews regarding quality and any issues prior to choosing your night vision binoculars. These can quickly help you narrow your choices.
Q: How do night vision binoculars work?
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?
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?
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.
When it comes to a reliable, user-friendly, rugged pair of night vision binoculars that is offered at a decent price point, our top pick is the Bestguarder NV900 Night Vision Binoculars 4.5-22.5×40. They feature a substantial viewing screen, high-resolution images, and the capability to illuminate objects from up to 1,300 feet away.
For one that costs less and still gets the job done, pick up the Aurosports 10x25.