Whether you need some tactical equipment for a night shooting competition, gear for hunting, or you just want to feel like you’re part of SEAL Team Six, night vision goggles are an incredibly valuable piece of gear to have in your arsenal. Here’s what you should know about night vision goggles before you make a move to purchase:
- How night vision goggles work
- What generation 1-4 means
- Monocular vs binoculars
- How much night vision goggles cost
Night vision goggles amplify light that is basically invisible to the naked eye. Light goes into image intensifying tubes that make the light visible to our eyes. Night vision goggles do need some light to function properly. Moon and star light will help your image look brighter.
Generation to Generation
As you explore night vision goggles, you’ll notice different generations of goggles. This refers to the technology used in the model. In a nutshell, the higher the number, the better night vision image quality you are going to get. Here’s a quick breakdown on what to expect from each:
- Entry level
- Low resolution
- Short battery life
- Least expensive
- Good for hunting, shooting
- Roughly 200 yard range
- Distortion control
- Medium battery life
- Roughly 300 yard range
- Long battery life
- Military grade
- Tactical military grade
- Sharp image detail
- Daylight will not damage tubes
- Most expensive
Finding Night Vision Goggles That Are Right For You
Don’t think that two is better than one. Monoculars are lightweight and easier to stow away when not in use. And it can be a good thing to leave an eye open to receive natural night light. But binoculars are often more comfortable. Which style of goggle you pick really comes down to personal preference and how much you’re willing to spend.
Speaking of spending, night vision goggles are not cheap. They range anywhere from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, we left the ones out that Zero Dark Thirty rocks, but expect to spend a bit of coin if you want extremely high-quality goggles.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, check out our recommendations for the eight best night vision goggles available below:
1. Superior Tactical PVS-7
For military grade night vision capabilities, the Superior Tactical PVS-7 is a prime choice. It’s lightweight and waterproof and works well under extreme weather conditions. It doesn’t come with headgear, but can attach to it. It sports about a 50-hour battery life, and has a low battery indicator when it comes time to charge. If it’s good enough for the military, it’ll more than likely fulfill your needs.
2. AGM PVS-7 3NL1 Gen 3+ Level 3 Autogated Night Vision Goggle
Modeled on the NV system used by our US Armed Forces, these all-weather resistant, crystal clear night vision goggles brighten up darkened spots with no problem. Lightness control is adjusted automatically, so the ability to use in various conditions of brightness is more than possible. The overall lightweight construction makes it easy to use and clip on your favorite helmet all while being able to handle the most extreme of situations.
3. ATN Nightvision PS15-3P
Providing a clear night vision image and a wide field of view, the binocular style Nightvision PS15-3P are worth the splurge. When you’re out scoping the scene at night, you’re backed up by a lengthy 60 hours of battery life. And the built-in illuminator helps you see images clearly at close range. They are an expensive headset, but worth it for the extra performance.
4. Armsight Nyx7 Pro Gen 3
The rugged design can take a beating and still perform at an optimum level. The Armsight Nyx7 Pro is waterproof, lightweight and ergonomic. It’s powered by either a CR123A or AA battery (it includes an adapter), so battery life depends on use. And to get a clear look at close range objects at night, the infrared illuminators enhance your night vision capabilities.
5. Avangard Optics NVG1Pro 1×26 Night Vision Binocular
With a headset for hands-free use, this is a comfortable and easy-to-use pair of night vision goggles. And the goggles easily snap off from the headset to use them as a pair of night vision binoculars. There are two light-protected 1st gen tubes that convert infrared scenery to visible images so you can see clearly. For super cloudy or extra dark nights the binocular itself has built-in infrared illuminator for shedding even more infrared light on whatever it is you need to see while using it.
6. ATN BinoX 4K Smart Day/Night Binoculars
More than just night vision goggles, the ATN BinoX 4K Binoculars have plenty of tricks up their sleeve. For starters, a built-in laser range finder helps you determine the exact distance of your target. And IR illuminators help bring clarity to otherwise unclear objects at close range. Plus you can even record 4K video using the binoculars and using the Laser Ballistics app. These are impressive for a sub $1,000 price tag.
7. GTHunder Night Vision Goggles
Great for camping, birdwatching and casual outdoor use, the GTHunder Night Vision Goggles are an inexpensive way to get night-vision capabilities to go along with your outdoor equipment. The goggles can take pictures, video, playback video and can even export photos and video using the USB SD output. You get about six hours of battery life when video recording and 17 hours of regular use. Not a bad investment at only $260.
8. Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular
This night vision monocular is lightweight and portable. It provides 5x magnification so you can see objects far off in the distance. The infrared illuminator helps you to see clearly what lurks in the night. It weighs less than a pound so adding it to your camping bag is no biggie. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable ways to get night vision capabilities.
9. Solomark Night Vision Monocular
For an inexpensive way to be able to view wildlife in the dark, and also take photos and record, this night vision monocular is a solid choice. You can see objects in the dark up to 328 ft away. It also features several different levels of IR illumination to get the brightness you need during the night. Keep in mind, it can only mount to a tripod (no headgear) and it does take a four AA batteries to power, which is not ideal.
10. Night Owl Optics NOB3X 3×42 1st Generation Night Vision Binocular
If you’re looking for something a decently affordable price (when it comes to top-quality night vision goggles, that is) you should consider this 1st gen night vision binocular. It has a water-resistant exterior and a rubber top so it won’t slip when it’s a little damp from rain or snow. The optical system combines full glass lenses, a stellar 3x magnification, and a decently wide angular field of view. Night vision comes at ease with 3-dimensional depth perception.