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Best Night Vision Binoculars 2022

A bird is silhouetted in front of the moon
(Image credit: Douglas Henrique)

There is a problem with the human visual system, and this problem kicks in right about sunset. Being unable to see in the dark means we are often blundering about at the whim of flashlights, street lighting, and the moon phases.

There is a solution, however, in the form of night-vision binoculars. Night vision equipment uses sensors similar to digital cameras to collect light and amplify it. This information (light) is then displayed as a small display on a screen in front of your eyes, similar to a viewfinder on a mirrorless camera. Many augment this with an infra-red illuminator, which projects a light we can’t see, then gathers its reflected returns and shifts them into something our eyes can make sense of. 

There are a great many options available across many internet selling sites. Unfortunately, many of these are either low-quality, leaking light into the human visual range - ruining your natural night vision or quickly discontinued. This makes it near impossible to replace or repair if they go wrong.

Lots of devices labeled as night vision binoculars are not binoculars at all. They typically have two lenses at the front, one of which is for the camera and one for the infrared illuminator. In other words, a night vision monocular is basically the same as many 'binoculars', just with a smaller display for a single eye. Keep reading to find our pick of the best night vision binoculars, monoculars, and goggles at every price point. And if seeing in the dark is less important for your needs, then check our guide to the best binoculars overall instead.

Best night vision binoculars overall

Dorr Night Owl NOB5X

(Image credit: Dorr)

Dorr Night Owl NOB5X

With twin photomultiplier tubes and twin eyepieces, this Gen 1 instrument is one of the few available this is an actual binocular

Specifications

Sensor: 2x PMT
IR Range: 100m
Display: 2x PMT
Battery: 1x CR123A
Battery life: 80 hours
Magnification: 5x
Memory card: n/a
Weight: 1100g
Warranty: two years

Reasons to buy

+
Actual binoculars 
+
Excellent battery life 
+
Great optical quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
No recording function 
-
Quite heavy 

With one photomultiplier per eye, the NOB5X is actually a pair of binoculars rather than a monocular. This makes their night vision bright and clear, with close focus down to just two metres. 

The conventional binocular layout is immediately familiar to anyone who’s ever used a pair, with a central focus wheel and adjustable eyepieces. Their 5x magnification is a little higher than many other offerings, but the 50mm objective lenses gather enough light while the sun’s still up, and an IR illuminator kicks in when it’s dark to illuminate objects 100m or so away (although curiously the manufacturer makes no specific claim for this). 

Though heavy and rather expensive, these are hard to beat for a great night-vision image. One downside is that they don't offer the chance to record video.

Best budget night vision binoculars

Wulf Full HD night vision binoculars

(Image credit: Wulf)

Wulf Full HD NV Binoculars

One of the best entry-level night vision devices packs a lot of punch for the price

Specifications

Sensor: 1920x1080
IR Range: 300m
Display: 640x360 TFT LCD
Battery: 8x AA
Battery life: 10 hours (no IR)
Magnification: 3.6x optical, 3x digital
Memory card: up to 128gb (64gb included)
Weight: 650g + batteries
Warranty: three years

Reasons to buy

+
High resolution sensor 
+
Great value 

Reasons to avoid

-
Low resolution display 
-
Not rechargeable 

Despite its unusual design, which looks like something from an '80s sci-fi movie, it has a level of performance and features that rival big-name products costing far more. 

During the day, you'll get full-color images on the TFT screen, with an IR illuminator providing a black-and-white view after dark of objects within 300m. Using the illuminator naturally takes its toll on battery life, and the unit takes eight AA-size cells, which will provide around ten hours of use. Luckily, you can attach external USB power to the included power bank holder.

While the screen is more low-res than we'd like it to be, any video captured will be at full HD resolution. A 64GB micro SD card is included, along with a rugged carrying case. UK users should note that a three-pin plug isn't included, and you'll need an adapter.

Most versatile NV binoculars

Luna Optics LN-G3-B50

(Image credit: Luna Optics)

Luna Optics LN-G3-B50

A little more expensive than entry-level kit, but offers power to compete with much pricier devices

Specifications

Sensor: 3.6 megapixels CMOS
IR Range: 600m
Display: 2x Amoled 1280x720
Battery: 4xCR123A or USB-C
Battery life: 4.5 hours
Magnification: 6-36x
Memory card: up to 128GB (8GB supplied)
Weight: 980g
Warranty: two years

Reasons to buy

+
High resolution imaging 
+
Twin Amoled displays 
+
Wifi enabled 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof 
-
Records at lowest magnification only 

Another curious-looking pair of night-vision binoculars, Luna Optics’ entry on this list offers a pair of high-quality Amoled displays, giving a standard binocular-like feel. There's also a laser rangefinder, and high-resolution imaging. It captures 16.1 megapixel still images and QHD (also known as 2k) resolution video at 30 frames per second, or 1080p at up to 60fps. 

A color filter is included that changes the daylight color balance to something more natural, while the night-time display can be cycled through black and white, bright green, or amber. The IR illuminator should be good for subjects up to 600m away, while the laser rangefinder reaches up to 700m. 

The viewing options on offer are decent too, with a digital zoom that goes all the way to 36x (though will only record at up to 6x), the ability to stream over Wi-Fi, connect storage over USB, or save to a memory card. You also get a strap, case, and all the cables you could need.

Best for slow-motion video recording

ATN Binox 4K

(Image credit: ATN)

ATN Binox 4K

A great option if you're looking to record video in regular or slow-mo

Specifications

Sensor: 8.57 megapixels
IR Range: 1000m
Display: 2x 1280x720
Battery: Rechargeable lithium ion
Battery life: 15 hours (with extended life kit)
Magnification: 4-16x
Memory card: up to 64GB
Weight: 1120g
Warranty: two years

Reasons to buy

+
120fps recording 
+
Long battery life 
+
Smart connection to other devices 

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite heavy 
-
Night vision grainy beyond 100 yards

If you’re looking to shoot high-speed video after dark or in challenging weather conditions, these weather-resistant ATN Binox 4K might be what you need. With the ability to record at up to 120fps, you can create slow-motion effects when you play it back. 

They can also share real-time rangefinder information with other people via mobile devices, meaning laser tags can be sent out to help a team move into a position ready to observe or photograph wildlife.

You can share video too, recording at 1080p and streaming at 720p with an IR illuminator that boasts a range of 1km. It has ultra-low power consumption with an internal battery that can run for up to 15+ hours and which charges with USB-C.

Best monocular for long range detection

Zeiss DTI 3/35

(Image credit: Zeiss)

Zeiss DTI 3/35

Able to detect heat sources at up to 1200m, and able to operate for up to ten hours between charges, this compact passive thermal camera is in for the long run

Specifications

Sensor: 384 x 288
IR Range: 1200m
Display: 1280 x 960 LCOS
Battery: Li-ion rechargeable
Battery life: 10 hours
Magnification: 2.5x optical 4x digital
Memory card: none
Weight: 420g
Warranty: two years

Reasons to buy

+
Detection up  to 1200m 
+
Left or right handed operation 
+
Hot tracking function 

Reasons to avoid

-
No memory card slot 
-
Premium price 

Whether you think of this as a thermal imaging camera or a monocular is up to you, but the distinction makes little difference in use. With only one lens and eyepiece, it’s not a pair of binoculars, but the quality of the optics and the clever additional built-in functions make all the difference. It has a fast refresh rate of 50Hz for flicker-free images and offers a picture-in-picture feature that makes it easier to keep a moving subject centered in the field of view. 

Four color modes for night-vision mean you can flick from classic white to an inverted dark image, place red over heat signatures, or display differences in temperature as a rainbow gradient. The ability to place brackets around heat sources is also handy, allowing you to quickly identify the hottest object in the frame.

A variant model, the DTI3/25, has a lower magnification but a wider field of view and is a better choice for use in heavily wooded areas.

Best entry level device

Nightfox 100V

(Image credit: Nightfox)

Nightfox 100V

Just about as cheap as you can find, and with limited performance, try these to see if the night vision thing is for you

Specifications

Sensor: 640 x 480 CMOS
IR Range: 100m
Display: 320 x 240 TFT
Battery: 8x AA
Battery life: 6 hours
Magnification: 3x optical 2x digital
Memory card: n/a
Weight: 790g inc batteries
Warranty: 18 months

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive 
+
Easy to use 

Reasons to avoid

-
No recording function 
-
Not rechargeable 

Definitely not designed with the pro in mind, the Nightfox 100V are low-resolution, heavy, have limited range, manual focussing and don’t have a recording function. They will, however, enable you to see in the dark for up to six hours at a time. There's a lack of sophistication about them, perhaps, but we can’t deny that they work.

With 100m of IR illumination broken into seven different levels, allowing you to turn down the brightness to save the power of the eight AA batteries, there's 6x magnification too. This, however, is broken into 3x optical and 2x digital, meaning you’ll lose quality with max magnification. Still, they’re a good, affordable introduction to the world of night vision.

Best low-tech way to see at night

Orion 2x54

(Image credit: Orion)

Orion 2x54

These low power conventional binoculars will supercharge your eyes without fancy electronics, just the power of glass

Specifications

Magnification: 2x
Objective lens diameter: 54mm
Weight: 450g
Warranty: One year

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight 
+
Easy to use 

Reasons to avoid

-
Individual eyepiece focus 
-
Pricey for binoculars 

Here is something a little different. Swapping light amplifiers and electronic wizardry for good old-fashioned physics. Binoculars work by gathering light over a larger area than the human eye can manage, then magnifying the result. This means a pair with larger objective lenses will show a brighter image than a pair with smaller objectives. What would happen if you took reasonably large 54mm objectives, and applied a magnification of just 2x? 

These are what happens. They allow things to be seen in places that would otherwise be in darkness because they collect light over 40 times larger than a dilated human pupil. They are intended mainly for astronomy, you've never seen the Milky Way until you've seen it with something like this. They also perform well at simply amplifying the visibility of objects in the night sky. 

With no batteries and no IR illuminators, they’re dependent on there being at least some light available, but the low-tech approach brings its own rewards.

Best head mountable

Bresser NightVision Binocular 1x

(Image credit: Bresser)

Bresser NightVision Binocular 1x

For comfort and ease of use, this head-mountable device is a good pick

Specifications

Sensor: CMOS color
IR Range: 70m
Battery: rechargeable
Battery life: 8 hours
Magnification: 2x digital
Memory card: n/a
Weight: 335g

Reasons to buy

+
Head mount included 
+
Light weight 
+
Rechargeable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited performance 
-
A bit gimmicky 

This head-mountable unit looks like it could be a prop from a TV show about special forces soldiers. Instead, it’s a handy device from Bresser, a well-known astronomy brand, and is purely for use when moving around in the dark opposed to providing magnification. It doesn't offer magnification beyond a 2x digital zoom.

The IR illuminator should be good for seeing subjects up to 70m away, and the unit comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to eight hours. It can also be powered by an external power pack via USB.

If you need the ability to record, there's a similar model from the same manufacturer for a little more money, it isn't head-mounted like this one but does have a record function.

Conclusion

Modern night vision equipment can be affordable, powerful, and versatile, but not necessarily all three together. It's always worth shopping around to find the best deals and equipment to suit your desired purpose, but if you're thinking of buying a discontinued item (and there are many of these right now) to save a few dollars, you take on the risk of not being able to troubleshoot or repair in the future.

Not all kit is available in all territories, and it's even more important to note that not all kit is legal to own in all countries. Laws vary from country to country, and in the USA even state by state. This is understandable considering the potential for nefarious purposes of night vision binoculars. If ever in doubt check with a local retailer or club, who should be able to advise you.

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Russ Swan is a UK-based freelance science writer and author with a love of all things related to space and aviation. He built his own 100mm refractor telescope from some bits found in a military surplus store, and once had lunch with Neil Armstrong. His popular science book The Physics Behind… explains not just how the universe works, but why. He tweets (occasionally)!