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Night vision gives you the ability to literally see in the dark. It’s extremely cool for anyone to experience, not to mention useful for security, camping, even watching wildlife. The best night vision goggles take any ambient light available and multiply it thousands of times, lighting up the darkness for your eyes only. If you’re shopping for your own, there are a few key things to consider.
Buying Guide: What Are the Best Night Vision Goggles?
Night vision goggles can get endlessly expensive when you get into the high-end military-grade gear, but for this roundup, we’re focusing on hobbyist-level models for beginners and casual users. Here’s what to know before buying:
Vision: Mono, dual, or pano – that is the question. Pano, however, is pretty easy to eliminate right off, since it’s expensive and uncommon in use by regular amateurs. Dual, or binocular, night vision is more practical, but still going to be pricey, while a mono is going to be more within reach price-wise. Typically a mono and dual will both give you about a 40º field of view (FOV). There are positives and negatives to both though: A dual setup is way less confusing for your vision to make sense of, since both eyes are receiving the same type of image. With a mono, only one eye will be seeing night vision, which can take some getting used to.
Range: Up to 300 feet is at the lower end, with some stretching up into the multi-1,000-foot range or even more with their powerful optical and magnification zoom capabilities. For calculating how far a target is, accurate depth perception is going to be a feature you’ll want to look into, and having varying intensity modes gives you greater options to see your goals.
Weight: When carrying these on your side, a tripod, or in a camping bag, weight may not matter as much. But when they’ll be mounted on your head or helmet, they can start to feel heavy fast. Everyone’s different, but try to keep it light, often under a pound, or your neck and shoulders will be sore the next day.
Power: If you’re trying to stay away from constantly replacing batteries, go for one with a rechargeable. But if you’ll be far from a power source for multiple days at a time, that’s where a battery-powered pair is handy to have.
Extras: Night vision goggles nowadays have some seriously neat features to go along with it, like recording photos and videos, and being able to share them to other devices. If you’ll be primarily using these outdoors all the time, goggles with a large LCD screen can be a quick and easy way to instantly show what you’ve recorded to friends. For outdoor expeditions that’ll be through the daytime too, get the most from your purchase by grabbing a pair that can also act as regular binoculars when the sun’s out. A helmet mount, neck strap, and carrying case are nice to have too.
1. Creative XP Night Vision Binoculars
Nine infrared levels let you see in darkness here, with a smooth focus and clear picture on the 3.5-inch LCD screen. Photo and video are in full HD, and everything records directly to an SD card. And a rechargeable battery means never having to constantly replace AAs, while the 40x zoom makes it easy to zero in on a target.
2. DSoon Night Vision and Day Binoculars
This Dsoon set works well for those interested in trying out a taste of night vision first before diving into a more expensive set. They still provide vision in complete darkness, with an 850 NM IR illuminator and seven adjustable gear settings that let you see almost 1,000 feet.
You can easily review footage recorded in 30FPS, and transfer them via USB to other devices. When the sun comes up, don’t put these away yet, as they still function as regular binoculars too.
3. GThunder Night Vision Goggles
GThunder’s goggles are ideal for snapping HD photos and taking video in complete darkness, and storing it to the included memory card. The unit itself is durable for outdoor usage, coated in rubber and totally waterproof. Plus a digital zoom lets you see a focal point from about 1,000 feet away.
4. ATN OTS LT Thermal Viewer
The only monocular of the bunch, this one comes with low power usage, meaning you can be out for extended excursions and not worry about a dead battery. It’s nicely lightweight, and still has a decently wide (25mm) viewing scope that delivers an 1280×960 HD display in “white hot” or “black hot” – no more green.