The idea of the best night vision goggles may conjure up mental images of special operations teams or Army type games, but these handy devices have a whole bunch of uses. Night-time surveillance and security of the home or work premises, wildlife spotting or even when you are camping and need to make a quick visit to the toilet facilities in the middle of the night.
More than anything, night vision goggles are extremely fun to use and are far more accessible and affordable than ever. One thing to note about night vision goggles is that although they look binocular like, they generally don’t magnify the image. This is relatively speaking, compared to regular binoculars and their previous exclusive nature. Thus, let’s have a closer look at what is currently available on the market.
1. XINHUANG HD Goggles (Overall Winner)
The XINHUANG HD goggles may make you look like an extraterrestrial when they are fully fitted, but they strike a good balance between quality and price. Featuring 1x magnification, an aperture of 24mm, and a resolution of 36 LP/mm. The field of view is 30 degrees, with nice additions such as Diopter adjustment and a good viewing distance of 80m.
The head straps are reasonably comfortable with plenty of adjustment and the additional chinstrap adds to the extra level of support. Add to the package antiglare protection, next-generation infrared transmitter and ISET image sharpness enhancement technology, provides these goggles with a lot of functionality for the price.
For those wanting a night vision goggle solution which is above basic, then there’s the option of the Armasight NYX-7 IDi. A bi-ocular system that incorporates monocular and bi-ocular workings into one unit.
The two separate eye cups connect to one central viewing unit, reducing weight and increasing optical quality. A 54 lp/mm resolution provides good image definition and a 60-hour battery life, provides plenty of usage time. Magnification is 1x as standard but does have the option of 3x and 5x, with a field of view of 40 degrees and weighing in at one pound. This unit is a good balance between quality and cost.
If you want the best in night vision goggles and money is no object, then the SYH Binocular goggles could be the option. You’re not going to get much change from $8000, but it ticks every box for night-time viewing. This unit can be hand-held or mounted, with infrared brightness adjustable and intelligent ambient light detectors. An auto function can also detect levels of brightness and automatically shut the device down when needed.
Lenses can be fitted to increase the magnification up to eight times, which also means they can also be mounted on a tripod. A healthy resolution of 72 lp/mm is achievable, with a viewing distance of 240m and an angle of view of 40 degrees. Expensive, but also very capable.
Although binocular-like in design, the Armasight Dark Strider Gen 1 is cost-effective enough to be added to the list. You could strap these things to your head, but the design warrants more handholding. Although the binocular types are more cost-effective, they also mean they need to be handheld, which isn’t the greatest solution if you are carrying equipment.
The rubberized body design provides plenty of weatherproofing, while other features have been incorporated such as rubberized lens caps and simple buttons for operation. Range of view is also limited, which means they are only useful for up to 25m. A good option as a cheap solution, but not as effective as dedicated goggles.
The Yukon NV Goggles come from a company with plenty of back history from making gun optics. Which means they are rather expensive, but do have a high level of quality. Like many of the other units on this list, they are quite bulky, but they have standout features such as multicoated optics and are relatively lightweight. These provide a clear view of the world with a 1x magnification, 24mm aperture and comfortable head strap adjustment.
There’s also the Eclipse Lens Cover System and the intensifier tube for better light amplification. There’s also the infrared illuminator, which delivers images in total darkness. This unit has one of the most rounded feature sets.
Comparatively priced to the rest of the list, the Pulsar Edge Night Vision Goggles have a comfortable head strap and reasonable quality imaging. The unit comes with its own carry case with an effective ambient light and IR light system. Comfortable to wear for long periods of time, with an adjustable mount for the binocular type styling.
The unit is also lightweight coming in at 907g and also benefits from the integrated chin strap.
7. Night Owl Optics NOBG1 (Budget Winner)
The Night Owl Optics NOBG1 goggles are the most affordable option on the list. Basic in features, but still do the job effectively. The head straps are adjustable and although not the comfiest out there, they do keep the unit in place. The two lenses provide a 30-degree field of view, which can provide a grainy looking image at times, but perfectly acceptable for night-time viewing with a resolution of 30 lp/mm.
There is no detection range or recognition and objects on the edge of the frame can sometimes look a little distorted. Magnification is one-to-one and on the plus side, there is a bright light cut-off system and the battery life is a reasonable 40 to 80 hours.
Choosing the Best Night Vision Goggles
Although the price of night vision goggles has reduced in recent years, they are generally more specialist than binocular type solutions. There are pros and cons to each, but wearing goggles simply frees up your hands to do other tasks, no matter how quick you are on the draw with binoculars.
With more ergonomic head strap designs, goggle versions feel comfortable and are generally the easiest to use. However, if you’re simply after the most cost-effective options, then binoculars versions can provide a lot for the money. But, this all depends on the application.
If the intended uses is for night-time hunting, then goggles are the way to go. They may be a touch more expensive, but nothing beats being hands-free.