Last Updated on November 18, 2020
To be able to see at night can be a definite advantage, especially if you are hunting, observing wildlife, or involved with search and rescue. Night vision was developed in the 1930s by the Germans as a way to survey the enemy. The U.S. developed its own form of night vision during World War II.
Current technology has advanced significantly, offering superb vision at greater distances. The early models were called Generation 1, and some of that technology is still around today in more budget-friendly versions.
In this article, we review the best night vision monoculars and showcase their pros/cons. Considerations when buying night vision are discussed in the buyer’s section. Let’s get started with our favorite 10.
|Best Overall||Bestguarder Monocular||
|Best Value||Astromania Monocular||
|Night Owl iGEN Monocular||
This night vision monocular is a great choice for your night excursions for wildlife observations or scouting, since it will illuminate the animal up to 1,150 feet away. We found it be to be user-friendly, with the buttons clearly marked and easy to operate.
The digital zoom works well in complete darkness, and we like the option of taking a photo or recording a video. Also, videos have sound, and photos/videos can be date- and time-stamped. There are three adjustable brightness levels, so if it’s not quite full darkness, you can still get a good view. We also like the ability to toggle the IR for daytime use.
On the downside, it uses up the battery charge in a short amount of time, and there is no auto-focus. But the unit is durable and water-resistant, and the images are clear with the night vision. You can also use it with a tripod, and it comes with a one-year warranty.
The Astromania is the best night vision monocular for the money. We liked its compact size and that it was lightweight. It has a 2x digital zoom and magnification of 3x, with a viewing distance of up to 328 feet. We feel that it works great for nighttime navigation, allowing you to see clearly where we are going.
You can also take photos and record videos with this device, though the images aren’t as sharp as others. They work best for close-up viewing — the farther you zoom, the less clear the image appears.
It can be mounted on a tripod and comes with a 4G micro SD card, mini USB cable, AV cable, neck strap, and a carrying case. There is a one-year warranty on this monocular.
This night vision monocular is more expensive but has enhanced infrared sensitivity, offering a greater clarity of the images you are viewing. One nice feature is that the IR intensity will automatically adjust to provide the correct amount of infrared needed to produce the best illumination.
It has a programmable time-out feature where you set a time for it to automatically turn off. The view angle is 12 degrees and the magnification is 2.6x. It illuminates objects well from a 300-foot distance, and there are four image color options: black and white, green, amber, and red.
There is an option for photo or video recording to an external device, and the images are good quality. On the downside, the batteries don’t last as long as expected, and the unit overall isn’t as user-friendly as the Bestguarder and Astromania. Our top two choices offered just as many features at a more affordable price, which is why this is sitting in the third spot.
It can be mounted to a tripod and does come with a limited manufacturer’s warranty.
This monocular offers clear images in dim conditions without the IR illuminator on. The photos and video taken with this are clear and offer details up to 328 feet. The IR illumination can be varied by seven levels, which helps with getting the correct brightness to an image. It will zoom up to 2x, and the battery life is good, averaging around five hours.
It is compact and lightweight, with rubber grips that are nice when wearing gloves on those cold evenings. On the downside, the farther you zoom, the less clarity will show on the image, so this works well for closer objects. Plus, the viewing angle is a bit small, and there is no date or timestamp.
It does come with an SD card, cables, neck strap, and a soft carrying case, and there is a limited two-year warranty.
For a truly compact version, the Carson is a good choice. It weighs 3.4 ounces and fits in the palm of your hand — we carried it easily in a back pocket. It has a large angle of view at 19 degrees and will allow you to see an object up to 82 feet away in total darkness.
The images were clear and crisp, and the intensity was easily adjusted with the push of a button. It is user-friendly with simple, no-fuss features. On the downside, you do not have video or photo options, but the battery life is long. This would be a great option for backpackers and hunters wanting to keep their pack weight down.
It comes with a soft carrying pouch (with wrist strap) and a one-year limited warranty.
This one is reminiscent of a hand-held video recorder, and it does record videos and take photos. The quality of the images is fair, especially with less zoom. This night vision device has 5x optical magnification and 8x digital zoom with a 40mm objective lens.
The observation range is good at 656 feet, and the scope can be used during daylight hours. You can date and time stamp your photo or video, which is a nice feature to help recall certain captured moments.
We like the large storage 8G TG card that is included, as well as the USB and AV out sockets. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery is a great feature, and you can easily attach a tripod. It comes with many accessories to get you started on your outings. Unfortunately, the user’s manual does
not provide a large amount of detail, and the buttons are difficult to push since they are flush with the device.
The Firefield is fully weather-resistant and operates by amplifying existing light, so it does not require any artificial light source to produce an image. We like how it is compact and easy to use and how you can see at a distance of 100 yards with its 5×50 lens.
This night vision device doesn’t offer many features, but it does come with a carrying case and a lens cloth. It is ideal for general observation when scouting or for search and surveillance. It runs for a good amount of time on its two AA batteries. On the downside, it has a narrow field of view, and images at 100 yards are somewhat blurry.
It does come with a great three-year warranty.
This has a unique feature that some may find beneficial. You can mount it to certain weapons, which hunters may find convenient. It is a compact and lightweight device that offers 2x magnification, which is designed to assist with accurate depth perception.
The battery life with IR is up to 20 hours, and without the IR, you can get 72 hours of operating time. It is easy to use and comes with a nylon carrying case and lens cloth. You can even attach it to a head mount for hands-free operation.
On the downside, the focus rings are sensitive to touch, making it easy to over-adjust, and requires extra time to familiarize yourself with them. It also doesn’t seem as well-made or as high quality as the previous monoculars on our list.
This monocular night vision scope offers 5-8x digital zoom and magnification and works in a low light situation with the infrared illuminator. It has the ability to take photos and videos, but we found that the buttons on the top of the device are difficult to press.
You can get a clear view up to 50 yards, and it works better when there is no moonlight. It comes with a rechargeable battery that has a mediocre runtime. It is easy to use, but we found the light on the display to be overly bright.
It comes with an AV video cable, USB cable, external power adapter, cleaning cloth, batteries, and storage pouch. There is a one-year warranty on this product.
The Optiscope will allow you to see up to 328 feet with a 3x magnification. You can take photos and videos with this device, and it comes with a 4 GB mini SD card. We found that once you zoom over 50 yards, the images are blurry, though the IR illuminator worked well in total darkness.
On the downside, the focus ring is difficult to adjust and did not appear to be very durable or high-quality. We found this night vision monocular more suited for viewing images up close, such as in your backyard or at a campsite. Plus, it does not work well during the day due to its poor optics.
The battery life is good, and the unit overall is easy to use. It has a built-in tripod mount with an AV cable and a one-year limited guarantee at an affordable price.
There may be different reasons for wanting a night vision device, so in this section, we will discuss things you should consider when choosing a pair of monoculars. Let’s start with the advantages and disadvantages of the monocular so you know what to expect when buying one.
Recording function: This feature will allow you to record certain sights and save them for viewing later. Some may even offer sound with the recording.
Head-mounted: Some models will come with a head mount (or have the capability to add one). This is convenient for hands-free operation when you are hunting or hiking. Others will come with the option to be mounted on your weapon.
Power source: This may be regular or rechargeable batteries, with the latter saving you money in the long run. Usually, rechargeable batteries have a longer runtime. Regular batteries are nice because you can easily replace them without having to wait for them to recharge.
Accessories: Most will come with at least a protective case, but some will come with other accessories, especially if they have more features and options.
Toggleable IR: This allows you to adjust the IR capability, allowing you to use it during the day as a normal digital monocular.
Tripod Capability: You may like the option to attach your night vision to a tripod, which will give you hands-free operation while being able to do other things.
Rubber-coated construction: If they offer rubber-coated grips, this will help you hold the unit better, especially when wearing gloves or if you have damp hands.
Water-resistant: This is a good feature to have if you will be exploring in areas that receive a great deal of rain or humidity or if you like to be out during winter.
Environment: Consider where you will be using the night vision and how far of a distance you typically want to view objects. Think about what the weather will be like when you use these, as some are more efficient in different environments.
Gain: This refers to the level of light you will see when looking through the device. The higher the magnification, the more light you will see.
Image quality: The better the quality of the image, the more detail you will see. But higher image quality is related to higher cost for the device. Monoculars will usually be smaller and more affordable compared to other night vision devices.
IR Illuminator: Similar to how a flashlight works, it provides light to produce an image. Some models will produce an image with moon and starlight, but you will have many shadows.
Resolution: This is the ability of the device to distinguish between objects and is measured in line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm). The resolution is helpful when the night vision model offers photo and video capability.
Field of view: It can be expressed as an angle or as the width of feet. Basically, this relates to the width of the area you can see, so if you are looking for something in motion, a wider field of view would be desirable. A greater magnification will have a smaller field of view.
Cost: This is a consideration that will have a different outcome depending on your budget. The monoculars on our list have prices from the low to high range. Generally, the more options it offers, the more expensive it will be.
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Having a good set of night vision monoculars will extend your vision and allow you to see better and observe different objects at night. Whether as a hobby or for sport, our reviews list of the top 10 will help you find the right pair.
Our number-one pick is the Bestguarder, offering a great field of view and magnetization to spot any animal from afar. Our best value is the Astromania with its light compact body and many features, all at an affordable price. The Night Owl is our premium choice; even though it is more expensive, it offers extra features that may be advantageous.
Hopefully, our reviews list and buyer’s guide will assist you in finding the perfect night vision technology.
Note: we’ve also written a guide on regular monoculars that you can find here.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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