Humans are naturally diurnal creatures. This means we are active during the day. Vision is our main source of information processing and at night it is severely compromised.
However, like humans tend to do we can fix that. Through technology and machinery we’ve come up with night vision devices. Night vision devices come in all shapes and sizes, there are goggles, monoculars but today we talking specifically about night vision binoculars.
Night vision binoculars gives you the same advantages as any binoculars:
- They extend your vision.
- They allow you to pick up finer details and better observe distant targets.
Night vision binoculars do all that, and they allow you to do it night. Modern night vision binoculars have changed how hunters, police officers, and nature observers view the world.
This article will help you to make specific considerations when purchasing night vision binoculars since there are a lot of models to choose from. They differ in their capabilities and function.
Not matching these features to your intended task may lead you to spend a lot on the wrong pair of binoculars.
The Top Night Vision Binoculars of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for night vision binoculars in 2018:
- Best for the money: Get the ATN NVB5X-2
- Best for hunting: Get the Night Optics Iris 321
- Best cheap NV binoculars: Get the Bushnell 2.5x40mm Lynx
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Product|| || ||
|Resolution||40 - 45 lp/mm||64-72 lp/mm||-|
|FOV||8°||40°||94 [email protected]|
|Range of Focus||10 yard/m to infinity||10 ft to ∞||4–750 ft|
|Diopter Adjustment||-6 to +5||+4 to -4||-|
|Weight||31.2 oz||20 oz||17 oz|
|Dimensions||7.9" x 6" x 3"||4.5" x 4.5" x 2.5"||6.5" x 6.3" x 3"|
|Power Supply||1 x 3V (CR123A)||3v CR123||2 x AAA|
|Battery Life||60 hours||30 hours||20/70 hours|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Best for the Money
ATN is well known for making high-quality optics and accessories. They make a wide variety of night vision optics; and for the money, their gear is some of the top-notch.
The ATN Night Vision Binocular 5x-2, or ATN NVB5X-2, is a powerful pair. It is a Gen 2+ optic that is designed perfectly to fill a hunting, a tactical, or a simple observation role.
- 5 power fixed magnification with a massive objective lens.
- Large single lens that feeds into two individual lenses. This reduces weight, makes the system simpler and more affordable.
- The Gen 2+ intensifier makes the system very clear with minimal noise and excellent clarity, making it possible to have similar detection range to a standard Gen 3 device.
- The recognition range is lower than a Gen 3 unit.
- Comes with a lanyard, a lens tissue, and soft carrying case.
The IR850-B3 helps you to see better during darker nights. It is a powerful illuminator that considerably increases the range of your device. One of the downsides of the single output design is the smaller field of view.
The ATN NVB5X-2 isn’t the fanciest set of binoculars out there. But when you consider the price and its features, they are one of the most affordable and powerful pairs.
- Generation: 2+
- Magnification: 5x
- Resolution: 40 – 45 lp/mm
- Battery Type: 3V CR123A
Best for Hunting
Night Optics Iris 321
Hunting at night can be quite difficult. States that allow hunting at night usually permit the hunting of small game or invasive hog species only.
To hunt these small to medium sized animals, you need a pair of night vision binoculars that are crystal clear. The Iris 321 binocular by Night Optics has the power to spot these animals. It is a Gen 3 optic so you get a long service life and a clear picture.
- Comes with a built-in illuminator that helps in the absence of ambient light
- Has two options for magnification: a 3.6 power and a 1 power for close viewing
- A traditional binocular that has two visual inputs and two optical outputs.
- Gives an accurate stereoscopic view with a wider field of view
Remember that it has two optics, so the high price tag makes sense. Quality night vision technology isn’t cheap, and you get what you pay for when you buy night vision equipment and optics in general.
It has a detection range of 1230 feet and a recognition range of 984 feet, this is on human sized targets of course. But even if you cut that range in half, it’s still impressive.
- Generation: 3
- Magnification: 1x
- Resolution: 64-72 lp/mm
- Battery Type: 3V CR123
Bushnell 2.5x40mm Lynx
The Bushnell 2.5x40mm Lynx night vision binocular is small and straightforward yet it still provides a clear picture. This is a Gen 1 device but comes packaged with an IR illuminator to help during those moonless nights.
It gives a solid 2.5 power magnification that makes scout and nature watching possible. The more moon and ambient light the better. But for the price, they are hard to argue with.
- Ruggedized to resist short falls and some limited moisture
- Can serve as a daytime binocular
- Can be mounted to a tripod
- Has a video output option for recording
- The glasses give a very clear and consistent picture which makes tracking animals or people easy.
- Runs off 2 AAA batteries and provides an impressive amount of runtime. It’s an NV device but it drains batteries like it’s cool.
- Compact so it’s comfortable to carry and use for extended periods
- Uses a white and black color palette that is less clear than green but is more comfortable to the eyes.
- Ideal for a beginner who’s just getting into night vision or someone on a limited budget.
The Bushnell 2.5x40mm Lynx is impressive for the cost. If you are on a budget or looking to experiment with night vision, this is an excellent place to start.
- Generation: 1
- Magnification: 2.5x
- Objective Lens: 40mm
- Battery Type: AAA
Important Choosing Considerations
- What is the purpose of your binoculars?
First, identify the task you want to use these binocs for. Hunting, security, recon, nature observation, or just to play with night vision.
If you are hunting in a wide open area, you’ll need more magnification than a brush hunter. If you want to observe nature, you must understand how far away you need to be to do it efficiently and safely. This means checking the recognition and detection ranges.
Once you identify that, ask how dedicated you are with the task.
- Will these optics withstand a drop or fall?
Are they waterproof in anyway? If not, are they useful for hunting or for exploring? Look at the ins and outs of how your binoculars will be used to determine what’s excellent for them.
- How serious are you about night vision binoculars?
If you want an entirely perfect picture, you have to invest in a good quality system. If you are a hardcore night hunter, then you probably want to invest in quality. If you are just a casual user, you can drop some features to save money.
Generation is the biggest deciding factor between price and investment in optics. For a more detailed rundown on the generations, check out the night vision device buying guide. I just want to highlight what generations are suitable for certain tasks.
- Suited for casual observation and beginner’s night vision
- Have a low detection range and a low recognition range
- An affordable gadget that can give you a taste of what night vision is and what it can do
- Suited for more serious tasks which includes hunting, more serious observation, and study of nocturnal animals
- Recognition and detection range are considerably longer
- They are a happy medium of price and clarity
- A good choice for hunters especially those who hunt over longer ranges
- An ideal choice for security professionals who work primarily at night
- Offers one of the clearest image options available
Night vision and magnification do not function exceptionally well together. Night vision binoculars almost never meet the same magnification ranges as standard binoculars.
Typically, past 6 power you’ll begin to notice substantial flaws when it comes to picture clarity with night vision. It’s suggested to stay under 6 power, and keeping closer to 4 power will result in the optimal level of magnification and picture clarity balance.
Weight and Size
Night vision binoculars are already quite large because night vision technology isn’t the smallest tech.
As the magnification goes up, you will notice a sharp increase in size as well. This is necessary to present any semblance of a clear picture. The higher the generation, the smaller you can go and maintain clear picture.
Night vision tech isn’t that heavy until compared to daylight binoculars and magnification differences. A 5 power set of night vision binocs weigh over 30 ounces.
Brands that are small and lightweight should be looked at cautiously since small and light could mean blurry and dim.
Other Necessary Features
The most important feature you should consider is the ability to attach an IR illuminator. Remember night vision binoculars are kind of large so carrying them with hand and trying to use an illuminator can be difficult. So attaching one is convenient and useful.
Still having second thoughts if you really need an IR illuminator? Read our complete overview of it.
Night vision technology is quite fragile so a water and weather resistant outer shell are good to go. Automatic brightness control makes it possible to comfortably observe for extended periods and helps adjust the picture as the cloud cover changes.
There aren’t a lot of features to avoid, the biggest one I can think of is an integrated, rechargeable battery. This sounds nice, but night vision binoculars drain batteries quickly. Waiting for a recharge can take hours so swapping batteries is much simpler.
See the World Differently
Seeing the world through night vision binoculars is an exciting experience. They can provide you with an accessible tool, an interesting toy, or some peace of mind for security. The golden rule with optics: you get what you pay for. Always take note of that.
Other helpful resources:
North American Integrated Technologies Inc. (NAIT) – NV device repair and upgrades.
Recoil – Night hunting tips.