Night vision goggles were once reserved for military use. Today, night vision technology is available to the average consumer. Whether you’re camping at night, hunting in the predawn duskiness, playing airsoft at midnight, or need them for night time security, night vision goggles give you the ability to view what the naked eye can’t perceive.
Finding the best night vision goggles to fit your budget and your needs will be much easier if you refer to our handy guide. Here, you’ll find out what to pay attention to as you shop and we’ll provide you with detailed reviews of our three favorite pairs of goggles in the Review section.
Top 10 Night Vision Goggles Table
What to Look for in Night Vision Goggles
Don’t purchase a set of night vision goggles without looking at this information first.
Each night vision device has different capabilities, and to adequately compare different sets of night vision goggles and determine which will best suit your needs, you will need to understand the basics of how night vision goggles work.
Night vision goggles use light that is already available. They do this in one of two ways.
- Thermal Devices. Thermal devices read the light that is directly given off by an object in the form of heat. To put it in very basic terms, these devices see temperature. This group of night vision devices can see very minute temperature differences and interpret the differences in colored images. They are very precise, but are often well outside of the typical consumer’s budget.
- Enhancement Devices. Enhancement devices utilize light reflected from a source other than the object you are observing. They gather any available light, whether it is moonlight, starlight, or other ambient light, and then multiply it.
This category is where you will find most night vision equipment marketed for the public consumer. It has a wide range of options, some cheap, some very expensive. Within this category, you’ll find two subcategories.
- Optical Devices. These night vision devices rely on lenses to collect tiny amounts of reflected light and then enhance that light in an intensifier tube filled with light sensitive material. Optical devices tend to be incredibly expensive. They also tend to be bulky and heavy.
- Digital Devices. Relying on light processing electronics and LCDs, these night vision devices tend to be the most affordable options due to the lower cost of manufacturing the modern electronic components. They also tend to be conveniently lightweight and offer sharp images.
Understanding Generation Terminology
Quite often night vision goggles are categorized by “generation.” Each generation is defined by specific technology. To help you differentiate night vision devices and better choose which will suit your specific needs, here is a basic breakdown of the different generation categories.
- Generation Zero. Developed in the 1950s, this type of night vision device relies on an infrared light to illuminate the viewed image.
- Generation One. The devices which employ this technology, developed during the Vietnam Era, are often referred to as “starlight scopes.” These bulky systems utilize a series of connected image intensifier tubes.
- Generation Two. Developed in the 1970s, these devices use a microchannel plate that eliminates the need for connected tubes, improving the bulky size of the devices and the image quality.
- Generation Three. The development of the gallium arsenide photocathode and the ion-barrier film on the microchannel plate characterizes this generation’s technology. Basically, these developments facilitate clear images at longer distances and under darker conditions. This generation of night vision devices tends to be rather expensive.
Top 3 Best Night Vision Goggles Reviews
Bushnell is known for delivering high quality optics, and their LYNX Generation 1 Night Vision Binocular is no exception. With Bushnell you always get 100 percent quality and durability. This product has a sleek design and features a built-in infrared illuminator for for viewing up to 90 yards in pitch black conditions.
This device is weather resistant and operates conveniently on two simple AAA batteries. Lightweight and comfortable to use even for prolonged periods of time, this night viewing device is perfect for law enforcement and wildlife enthusiasts. With its extra-long viewing range and wide field of view you’ll never be left in the dark again.
The durable rubberized body helps protect the delicate internal mechanisms from bumps and drops. With this high level of quality and durability, you’re sure to agree these are the best night vision goggles you’ll find on the market today.
One of the best features of these night vision goggles is the built-in sensor that protects against bright light exposure. They are also lightweight, easy to focus, and have excellent depth perception facilitated by their dual tube design. They are durable and well-constructed, and the battery has an extra-long life. These goggles aren’t at all bulky, and you’ll be pleased with the clear image.
These are perfect for hunters sneaking into the woods before dawn or for the die-hard airsoft gunner.
Are they expensive? Yes, but they are still far less inexpensive that numbers 5 and 7 in our table!
If you’re in the mid-price range, then these are worth the purchase.
Armasight has developed CORE (Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine) technology to help reduce image edge distortion. It also makes the internal mechanisms of this night vision device less fragile, so it endures hard use well. It will still function after being dropped or bumped around.
It is compact and light and can be worn on your head for hands-free viewing. It has simple, easy-to-understand controls, can be adjusted for use with your camera, and it is waterproof. If you are looking for a clear image with rugged dependability, look no further than the Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle.