Finding The Best Night Vision Binoculars – Tested & Reviewed!
Have you ever tried using binoculars at night? Chances are that you didn’t exactly rave about the experience, especially when you were just using your regular affordable binoculars.
Those things may even offer a somewhat dark image during the day, so you can imagine how it performs at night. But all that changes when you have the best night vision binoculars in your hands (or on your head).
Why would you want to get one anyway? For some, it’s necessary because they’re used for military or law-enforcement purposes. Some may like to play paintball games at night, and binoculars that offer night vision really does help.
It may also be invaluable for security when you live in a farm at night and your dogs start barking like mad in the middle of the night. With night vision binocs, you’re able to see if there are foxes and coyotes lurking around, or you may even find criminals trespassing on your land.
Others may use it a lot for night time hunting, or even for fishing. In some cases, you can use these for hiking or camping at night, and it’s also great on a boat when it’s dark.
Just make sure you’re old enough to buy one, as these are mostly sold to adults. In fact, you may want to check whether it’s legal for you to buy a pair in your state or region. If everything’s on the up and up, here are a few good suggestions for the best binoculars with night vision capability:
Table of Contents
- Best Night Vision Binoculars - Comparisons
- Reviews of 5 Best Night Vision Binoculars
- Final Verdict
Best Night Vision Binoculars - Comparisons
Reviews of 5 Best Night Vision Binoculars
This is a great starter night vision binocs for newbies. It’s a Gen-1 unit, which means its underlying technology was introduced way back in the 1960s.
Yet of course it still offers modern day tech so it’s not like you’re buying an antique.
This gives you 5x magnification, and the built-in infrared illuminator works well in complete darkness. It uses a single 3-volt Type-123 lithium battery, which you need to buy separately.
- It’s built for adults, yet it’s reasonably compact and lightweight. It only measures 8 inches long and 5.8 inches wide. It also only weighs 38.8 ounces. It’s small and light enough that you can bring it with you on night time trips.
- You can see quite a distance away. You may see things for up to 200 yards or so, and you may even discern details to about 100 yards.
- It really does offer a nice bright and clear image. That’s what you get when you have IR, excellent image-intensifier tubes, and huge 50mm objective lenses. The image is enough for you to recognize what you’re seeing, whether it’s a man or an animal in the dark sniffing around your premises.
- The minimum focal distance is 3.6 feet. This means that it can work for your home security when you’re upstairs sleeping and you hear a noise downstairs. You can see what’s going on downstairs without turning on the lights.
- The battery life is quite good at about 40 to 80 hours. That’s depending on how much you use the infrared.
- It’s also very comfortable to use. The rubberized finish is soft to the touch. Even the neck strap is padded, so there’s no excuse for you not to use the neck strap.
- In case you do accidentally drop it, it’s not the end of the world. The thermoplastic housings for the lens are resistant to impact.
- Newbies will have to have a lot of patience with this, because you have to learn to focus it properly. At the same time, you can’t expect the focus to give you the same crisp image you get with regular binoculars in the daytime.
- The battery isn’t part of the purchase. Yes this is a common practice, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
You’d expect Bushnell to come out with their own version of night vision binoculars, since they’ve been in the optics business for more than 65 years.
To keep the price affordable, this one also uses Gen 1 technology.
But it’s still a Bushnell, and so you can expect exceptional quality since they tend to test their products exhaustively before they release it.
- This offers you the chance to see items quite a distance away. The viewing range can reach up to 750 feet.
- This comes with a built in infrared illumination, and so with it you can see in complete darkness
- It’s powered just by a couple of AAA batteries. While these batteries are also not part of the purchase (you have to buy them separately), at least they’re not hard to find. You’ll also get anywhere from 20 to 70 hours of use.
- You can also just turn off the IR and use this with just the available ambient light. The results are actually nice and impressive, when you have street lights going or a full moon to work with.
- It’s also very compact and light. It’s only 6.5 inches long and 6.3 inches wide, and the weight is about 17 ounces.
- The viewing range starts at just 4 feet, so you can use this to get around inside your house without turning on the lights.
- The field of view is also very wide, as you get 94 feet across when looking at objects 100 yards away.
- You can even use this when there’s a bit of a drizzle coming down. It’s actually weather-resistant.
- Overall, it’s quite durable and solidly built and it can last for a very long while.
- You can also use this with a mount.
- The 2.5x magnification doesn’t really sound like much, does it? Of course, you don’t really need too much magnification in the dark since you won’t get to see a lot of detail anyway. But higher magnification would have been nice.
- You can’t use these during the day. It’s purely for night vision.
- Again, you need to practice with the focus if you’re new to night vision binoculars. You have to learn to adjust the eyepieces and the objective lenses.
Armasight is one of the most famous brands in the night vision and thermal imaging industry.
Based in San Francisco California, they offer high quality items that may sometimes come with price tags of up to $12,000.
Of course, they do offer binoculars with prices that are a lot more accessible, and one of them is this great Dark Strider. This is a 5x80 pair of binoculars, and its built-in IR illuminator comes with flood lens. It’s powered by a single CR-123 Lithium 3V battery.
- Let’s start with how its size makes it eminently useful for field operations. It’s less than 9 inches long and less than 6 inches wide. It looks very much like a regular pair of binoculars.
- This offers 5x magnification, which emphasizes the fact that it’s a pair of binoculars and not just purely for night vision. The multicoated optics really offers nice quality imagery.
- You know how other night vision binoculars are somewhat difficult to use because you have to fiddle with several dials and controls? That doesn’t apply to the Dark Strider. That’s because it comes with simple control buttons, and the focusing is only for the eyepiece. This means you don’t have to fiddle endlessly to get the clearest image possible.
- The focusing range is from 10 meters to “infinity”. The truth is that it does offer a great range.
- Its casing is rubberized, so that it’s protected when you happen to drop it on the ground.
- It can be mounted on a tripod.
- The battery can last up to 12 hours with the IR activated. When it’s turned off, you get 58 hours for your battery. You’ll know when it’s time to change batteries because there’s a low battery indicator.
- The weight comes in at a seemingly reasonable 3 pounds. It doesn’t sound bad, until you have to hold it up for extended periods of time. There’s a reason why many compact binoculars weigh just 17 ounces or so. With 3 pounds, that’s actually 48 ounces.
- You can’t really use it for daytime. It’s strictly for when the sun goes down.
Do you sometimes wish that you have a pair of night vision binoculars, and somehow you can get it to work with your smartphone?
It sounds like a pipe dream, when you can take images and videos of the things you see in the dark.
But it’s not really a hypothetical product anymore. With the WG-80 from Bestguarder, you actually do have that capability.
- This has a powerful IR illuminator that can let you see up to 980 feet away even in total darkness.
- You can also use this in the daytime, as long as you remember to turn the IR off. This uses 50mm objective lens, so that you can use it at night without the IR as long as you have sufficient ambient lighting.
- This offers 4x magnification, which does make a nice change from just 2.5x.
- You can take pictures with this, with a quality of up to 2592 by 1944 pixels. The digital zoom allows you up to 5x zoom. The time lapse function is available for preset times, and you can even have a date/time and GPS ID stamp on the images you produce.
- You can also take a video with this. You can go up to a quality of 1280 by 720 pixels. Your videos can even come with sound.
- There’s a micro SD slot here that can accommodate micro SD TF cards for up to 32 GB.
- With this slot and a micro USB cable, you can even connect it to your PC. You can connect it to a TV as well so that you have a security camera that can see in the dark.
- You can set it up so that you don’t have to hold it, as there is a built-in tripod mount.
- It does come with a bit of water resistance (IPX4). This means it can take a bit of splashing. If it rains, you still have 5 minutes before you need to take it under cover.
- Again ether’s no included battery. You’ll need 4 AA batteries.
- Actually, you’ll need to stock up on batteries because the camera and video function here can really eat a lot of the power. Even without turning on the IR, you only get 9 hours of use. With the IR activated, that’s cut down to 3 to 5 hours.
- Also, you need to buy the micro SD card as it won’t work without it. The screen will just flash the “no card” message continuously.
What if your life depends on your night vision goggles? If that’s’ the case, money should be no object so you better have several thousand bucks ready.
That’s because you’re not dealing with Gen 1 or 2 devices here. Now you need to get the Gen 4, because they’re the latest and the best. Among these Gen 4 devices, perhaps the most bang for the buck comes from the ATN PS15-4 GEN 4.
This is a serious piece of hardware and it doesn’t really offer any magnification whatsoever. Its sole purpose is to help you see in the dark, and this turns night into day. If you’re in the military, law enforcement, park and wildlife rescue, or providing serious security for important people and places, you may want to include this in your budget.
- You can use this as a regular pair of binoculars, or you can use it with headgear so your hands are free.
- Nothing, and we mean nothing, will beat the quality of the image you get with the built-in infrared here. It’s just like you’re seeing in the day, though of course everything seems green. This can work in total darkness with no problem whatsoever.
- For the IR, the illumination can reach up to 100 yards. It’s like a flashlight, remember, so that you can see very clearly from 40 to 60 yards.
- The viewing range without the IR depends on many conditions, depending on the ambient light. In normal conditions, at about 75 to 100 yards you can look at a person and you can tell if it’s a man or a woman. At this distance you can also tell the difference between a dog and a deer. After all, if you’re using this for hunting you don’t want to shoot dogs!
- If there’s a half moon out at night and you’re in an open field, you’ll be able to see a house or a barn from 500 yards out.
- It comes with all the high tech features you’d expect. These include direct controls and automatic controls, IR and low battery indicators in your field of view, bright light cutoff, and automatic shutoff system.
- Many night vision binoculars offer field of view angles of just 15 degrees, and some just offer 7 degrees. Here you get a spectacularly wide 40 degrees.
- Despite all these high tech features, this only needs a single 3-volt CR123A type or a 1.5V AA battery. The battery can last anywhere from 40 to 60 hours.
- The overall design is geared towards real field use, and that’s evident in the size and weight. It’s only 4.7 inches long and 4.5 inches wide. As for the weight, it’s just 1.54 pounds. It’s also extremely water-resistant, and it’s essentially waterproof. You just don’t want to use it for too long in underwater operations.
- This is extremely expensive. Its price can get you a decent secondhand car. So you’ll probably need your company to sign off of this. On the other hand, if you can afford it then it’s excellent. Also, if your life depends on it then you need to save up for it—your life is more important than a few thousand bucks.
As you can tell when you glance at the prices for these things, none of them are what you might call dirt-cheap. They cost a few hundreds of dollars at the very least, while the truly sophisticated equipment can go for a few thousand bucks.
At the same time, you’ll also need to temper your expectations. They’re good for you to recognize that there’s a coyote in your farm. It’s not for bird watching for owls and seeing lush colors of the feathers.
These won’t give you the same experience as what you get in the day, especially when you’re using the more affordable models. In fact, they may not even offer much use during the day as well.
Still, these things can be darn useful. When you’re worried about your farm animals then it’s nice to have one of these to see if there’s a coyote sniffing around your fences.
You can also have one of these in hand when you’re worried about security. If for some reason the lights go out, you’re not completely powerless.
Many local sheriff and rescue departments need these things, as it can get a bit hairy when they work at night. Deputies can use this to find suspects trying to hide in the dark. Rescue teams can use these to find lost campers, who could have prevented their predicament had they had one of these things in the first place.
You just need to make sure that you get the quality that you really need for your specific circumstances. It’s one thing to buy an affordable model simply because you’re curious and you just want to try it out.
It’s another thing completely when lives are at stake—at this point, you better have the budget to get the really best night vision binoculars for yourself.