Best Night Vision Goggles Reviewed and Rated
Why should your hunting or outdoorsing stop just because the sun went down? Night time can bring out some of the most beautiful parts of nature and can bring out game you won’t be able to see in the daylight. But to do this, you need to find a safe and effective way to ensure your senses aren’t hindered too much in the dark.
This means finding a pair of the best night vision goggles available and ensuring you can see the terrain and creatures around you, as well as your fellow hunters. Hiking or hunting at night can be fun and it can be very rewarding, but it can also be very dangerous, even wearing hunter orange won’t protect you out in the wilderness and miles from any lights.
Our Top 3 Picks
How does the technology work?
Using image enhancement technology, night vision goggles take advantage of the infrared light that is invisible to the naked eye. So night vision goggles take whatever available light is in a room and enhances it so that it is visible to your eye. It is amplification technology that really works when the product is by a good company. This isn’t the only type of technology that is available to night vision goggles, as there is also models that use thermal imaging. Objects that emit heat create an overall vision to the wearer, almost in a way that the old Daredevil comic books would depict his superpower.
So, here are some of the best options out there for you when it comes to night time hunting gear, specifically, some of the best night vision goggles on the market in 2017.
1. Armasight Nyx7-ID
Unlike the others on this list, these have the ability to mount both on the head and via a chin strap. This means they stay on, even in the most rugged of conditions and the vision beam is easy to control with optimum user friendliness and an ergonomic design.
These goggles feature wide angle infrared illuminators for maximum site in all directions. There’s also auto brightness control and an auto-off feature when the light levels reach a certain brightness, to prevent injury to the eye or discomfort.
This is a fully mountable system that runs on a CR123A lithium battery, which is included in the package. It features easy to operate controls, 1x standard magnification with options for more. .25 to infinity range of focus, as well as automated brightness controls. It weights exactly a pound and measures 5.9 x 4.0 x 2.7 inches all around.
This is on the lower end of the expensive side of the spectrum, but these goggles really pack a punch for how cheap they are in comparison. While they may not be army grade, they will certainly get the job done in the most hands free way possible for you. The value here far outreaches the price, which is good news for you.
If you want something on the higher end but not quite Navy Seal class, these are an excellent choice to last you a long time while using them in even some pretty harsh conditions.
- Full mountable
- Battery included
- 60 hour battery life
- Eye pieces can occasionally misalign
2. ATN PVS7-3
These are lightweight but also standard military use, so you’re getting the best of both worlds. They’re combat proven, waterproof, and incredibly durable. While you might not have too many tussles while out trekking at night, you may find you need something incredibly rugged to get you through some of the brush out there, and this is the way to go. These can withstand wind, rain, and snow for any season and climate for hunting.
These aren’t just military grade for the physical build, they also offer military grade vision capabilities. There’s an infrared illuminator with momentary and continuous on switch function. They’re designed for high intensity weather at night to continue to generate excellent vision capability. This is the same style and standard used by the US Army out in the field, so it’ll for sure work for you on any nighttime hunt.
These weight about 3.2 lbs and measure 7 x 7 x 3 inches all around. They feature an internal low battery and IR indicator. It’s equipped with momentary and continuous IR switch and are certified both waterproof and combat tested.
These are in the middle range of the more expensive goggles. And it’s no surprise since they’re the same kind utilized by the US military. The ratio here is great for the value and everything you get with them. They can be utilized in virtually any situation so you can’t go wrong.
If you need something high performance that’ll last you, these are the goggles for you. They can take anything you or the environment can throw at them and do it while they’re pretty easy to use. It might take some getting used to to play with some of the customizable specs, but these are goggles for the long run for sure.
- Military grade
- Easily mountable for hands free use
- 2 year warranty
- Can’t be utilized handheld
One of the great features on these goggles is how they protect the eyes. They offer total coverage over your eyes and secure with an elastic band around the head. This would make them a great option for any teenager or younger hunter going out for the first time at night.
These offer pop out lights that beam a blue light into the dark. This makes the lighting option for sight pretty impressive without you having to rely entirely on the function of the infrared in the dark. It allows you to see up to 25 feet ahead in the dark and graphics on the eye panel glow when lights are on.
They require AAA batteries, which are not included in the initial purchase package. The eye panel is dust-proof, wind-proof, and anti-stamping. A nose pad offers additional comfort while wearing and ergonomic design offers wide vision and complete safety of wear. They’re made out of PC material and certified for any nighttime activity.
These are super low cost and the function on them reflects that. They offer very little outside of their light beam function and safety feature, so you won’t be sacrificing much in the way of your wallet but you won’t get very good vision on them.
These are best for younger kids looking at going out on nighttime treks for the first time. Their best feature is their safety capabilities, which makes them a good buy for kids but more serious nighttime hunters might want to considering something a little bit more expensive.
- Full eye protection
- 25 feet of sight
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to use
- Functions more as a wearable flashlight than night vision
Unlike some goggles that come with plenty of settings and ways you can customize your view, these don’t have too much to confuse you. Which is nice. But it also means what you see will generally be what you get. So if you don’t need something super high powered, then the ease of use on these is pretty perfect for you.
Built in Flood Illuminator
It’s one thing to have a clear path of an infrared illuminator, it’s another thing to have flood light options. The flood options allows you to, as you might have guessed, flood the area with infrared illumination. This means you don’t have a blind spot. The entire area in front of you will be visible to you, not just a clear path or a straight line. This not only makes moving easier, but will alert you to anything nearby that could cause danger.
It’s a little heavier at 3.6 lbs and sits at 5.1 x 4.6 x 2.3 inches in all around size and dimensions. It’s powered through two dual eye light intensifier tubes that allow for maximum visibility. It has flip up head gear for easier use and includes the required 1 CR123A battery.
These are a much cheaper pair of goggles than many out there, but they also operate that way. They don’t have too many totally impressive specifications. Some stuff on it doesn’t work as well as others (farsightedness is incredibly clear but anything closer than 5 ft could be blurry), but overall the value is pretty on par for what you’re going to get for this product.
If you’re beginner when it comes to night vision goggles and just need something that will get the job done without confusing you too much, then these are probably a good buy. They’re small, if a little heavier, and don’t have too many settings or adjustments to worry about while in use.
- Easy to use
- Flood light option
- Flip up head gear option
- Battery included
- Focus can be hard to adjust
- Near sight is somewhat blurry
Basically anything you have that you’re taking out into the wild needs to be waterproof to at least a minor extent. Even if there’s no sign of rain, heavy moisture in the air can affect equipment. So it’s pretty nice that these goggles come with a waterproof environmental rating to ensure they won’t give out on you in wet conditions.
This is an ergonomic design and works as comfortably and user-friendly as you could want. The headpiece is mountable and easy to move around. The controls are straightforward and easy to use. It’s also designed for hands free use so you don’t have to toggle with the device too much while trying to get your shot set and ready.
This is equipped with manual gain control and a 3P high-performance thin-filmed auto-gated IIT. It’s got a resolution of 64-72 lp/mm, a magnification of 1x, a focus range of .25mm to infinity, as well as automatic brightness control. Its size measures 162 x 152 x 76 mm and weighs just under 2 lbs.
Night vision goggles are expensive, which means no matter what you get they’re going to be an investment. These particular goggles come with a light of nice features and have a pretty good range of sight. So if you want something that’s going to last you, these will be a pretty good purchase to go with without any buyer’s remorse.
These are an excellent buy for anyone who thinks they’re going to be caught out in some tough and wet conditions at night. They come with a lot of specs so they might not be the best choice for a beginner when it comes to nighttime hunting and use of night vision goggles, but they will certainly last you.
- Rugged design
- Waterproof rating
- Automatic shut off system
- Battery life of up to 40 hours
- Brightness control
- Sit a bit heavy while on
Criteria For Evaluation
We looked at a lot of statistics when deciding on the top ten in this list, and it brought out some really interesting results. Armasight Goggles, ATN and AGM topped the list, yet the rest of the night vision choices weren’t that far away from being the top choices. This is a list that challenges the norm and forces buyers to look at what they really want from their purchase, beyond the usual bells and whistles.
Weight and Comfort
Heavy night vision goggles were forced towards the bottom of the list since prolonged wear can cause soreness. They start out comfortable but wear on your neck a lot faster than the lighter choices. Light night vision goggles are great, but we didn’t just choose the ones with the lowest weight. They had to be comfortable to wear for long periods of time while having a lot of anti-shake measures built in. Being able to move around fast while wearing the goggles is great, so the ones that were the most secure on your head while moving was paired with the lightest. This created the bulk of the list, and showed a bit of favoritism to newer technology that had expanded on older models. There are still some generation 1 models that barely missed the list, but that was based on them either being too heavy or not being secure on your head when moving around a lot.
Buyers that have a lot of equipment to carry will appreciate night vision goggles that aren’t a one note affair. Little things like being able to flip them up have it rest on your head is preferable, and one of the little touches that is neglected by some of the better brands in the industry. In this list we favored little features like this, as it works better for the wearer than having to take the goggles completely off when they’re not in use. This is a natural move when you have on night vision goggles, and should be the standard. That doesn’t mean that the ones that don’t provide this feature are obsolete, but it does mean that they are further down the list than they should be. Lacking basic comfort features is what put a lot of the better choices on the list at the bottom half, even when their included technology was superior. Having the best night vision goggles in the world doesn’t mean anything if it is a pain to carry them around and use properly.
Thermal VS Light Gathering
It was impossible to get away from the pros and cons list of thermal vs light gathering night vision goggles when compiling this list. We instead focused on the light gathering versions since they are consumer friendly, and have a much higher residential sell rate than thermal. Thermal is considered more of a professional product, and in some cases are not allowed to use in places where regular night vision is fully allowable. That cut down the list by a lot, and allowed products with the best infrared light gathering technologies to be placed high on the list. Night vision goggles of any generation on the list are judged by how well they gather light. The more light they gather, the clearer the image will be on your end. Think of it as the most important technological advanced in night vision when moving from one generation to the next. There are significant changes in the way night vision works in each generation, with majors improvements being made with each iteration. A bonus point to leaving off thermal night vision is that the prices dropped a lot, automatically balancing out the price tiers that some of the products were grouped in. There is less of a disparity from the lowest to the highest, and it shows when you compare the #1 product to the #10 product on the list.
Durability & Safety
As optical wear, there are the usual dangers of damaging it while in use. That is where the included straps come into play, as the product needs to be secure and not move while your head is in full motion. There is also less chance of damaging the goggles if they flip up on your head when not in use. Night vision models that have to be taken completely off when, not in use are in danger of unintended damage by the user or a third party. Their durability is heavily dependent on how secure the straps are to your head while moving. On the list, comfort knocked a couple of products down a peg, even if they had good strap in protection. Being secure shouldn’t come at the cost of comfort, and that is reflected on the list multiple times with some choices. Also, safety measures have been built into night vision goggles since generation one that protects your eyes if a bright light shines. There are some urban legends around that claim a bright light can damage the goggles along with your eyes, which is simply not true. The technology is advanced enough to where it shuts down when the light reaches a certain level, so at most there will be discomfort, but not enough to damage your eyes. And that same bright light won’t degrade the performance of your night vision goggles.
Earlier Models VS New generation Models
Generation was where a lot of our choices clashed, and where most of the research took place. It is why the #4 product on the list is a generation 1 product and not at the bottom. Even with the technological leaps that have been made with each generation, there are still benefits in the earlier models that can’t be found in newer ones. And the technology didn’t magically go defunct just because they improved on the light gathering technique of the original. Later models that came out using generation 1 technology work on the consumer level because they have the comfort of the newer night vision goggles without the higher price. And in some cases the older models are better built and have a longer life expectancy with wear and tear. Now when moving over to generation 2 and 3, they will win hands down when it comes to clarity. There are also better safety features built in, with comfort being a priority of some of the top companies. With these comfort features in place, night vision goggles can be worn as comfortably as a baseball cap.
Ease of Use
The last bit of choices that made up our list was how ease the controls could be used while wearing the goggles. There are times where you will need to adjust magnification and brightness in a matter of seconds, and messing with the controls should be second nature. Button placement was important, and played a solid role in how the top three products were ordered. Night vision goggles that had confusing controls were left off of the list unless they provided a competent manual out of the box. It should only take a few uses of the night vision goggles before you are wary of the features that are the most useful. And if the button placement was a bit off, it could really mess with the experience of using it in the dark.
What’s a good price for night vision goggles?
Because of the massive technology leap from one generation to the next, night vision goggles tend to have a sharp jump in price when a newer model is released. Knowing the age of the technology you’re purchasing can help in finding out about what is considered a worthwhile price. This will keep you from paying a higher premium for older technology. In all cases, most night vision goggles of any worth will cost some money, although there are some that remain easy on the wallet. As long as it meets your needed specifications and fits a price that is kind with the generation it is in, then consider it a good deal.
Are there any health dangers to using night vision?
In the military there are some small cases where wearing night vision for extended periods of time will cause minor neck problems related to soreness. This is more related to the heaviness of the goggles rather than the technology and can be remedied by staying away from heavy models, most notably the ones in earlier generations. When weight isn’t an issue, there are minor things that aren’t related to night vision, like eyesight issues. Users that have trouble seeing in low light will find that night vision goggles without proper magnification will produce blurry images in the dark.
What’s the best way to protect the goggles?
As a product that depends heavily on the optical quality it outputs, protecting the glass is a must. The lens are just as vulnerable as any other product with glass, so you should always protect the weak points when not in use. Most manufacturers will include covers for the lens, so keeping it away from danger won’t be a big issue. For battery powered units, avoid excessive heat and humidity while they are in operation. And when you plan on storing them for long periods of time, if the batteries are removable, take them out and set them to the side until you’re ready to use them again.
Are there major differences in night goggle generations?
This is where the arguments start with night vision goggles, as there are a lot of diehard fans that prefer the older generation more than the newer models. Likewise, there are old and new adopters that consider generation 1 and 2 night vision to be unusable, outdated and lacking in quality. Whatever your preference is, the cost rises with each generation, so your choice with a generation may be based on budget rather than newer features. It’s a mixed bag depending on the model, since some newer models have really improved on the technology in ways that make it worth the extra price hike.
Can you see far with night vision?
Yes you can, although there is an argument that a night vision monocular have a slight edge over night vision goggles when it comes to distance. The key here is that night vision goggles are not made for distance magnification, and often it is included as a bonus feature. Depending on them for distance will leave a lot of users disappointed, since it is a bigger priority to have models that have perfected the night vision technology. There are also certain limitations in the light gathering technology that would make magnification inferior by default, meaning that even if a high magnification was possible the clarity wouldn’t be crisp.
Are there major features to look for with night vision?
Find out whether you’re interested in thermal or image intensifier technology when it comes to night vision goggles. The former detects heat while the latter is a light gathering technology that enhances invisible light. They both have their pros and cons, and how you use it will determine the usefulness. Also decide what your budget will be so you can decide what generation you’re interested in. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but knowing the generation you’re most likely to buy will get rid of a lot of choices that will confuse your needs and wants. And the last thing to check is battery life, and if the included batteries are rechargeable.
Is durability a concern?
A lot of safety features are built in from the start since it has to stay attached to your head. You want it tight, yet not too tight to where it is uncomfortable. Following the included instructions can help out a lot in this situation when you think it is secure. You might be missing an important step in securing your night vision goggles, and it takes only one good drop to cause problems with the internal components. Night vision goggles are durable for what they are, and are no more vulnerable than binoculars or cameras.
What’s so great about generation 3 night vision?
Starting with generation 2, night vision technology took a big leap. The light amplification technology was improved and allowed you to see a lot more than generation 1 devices. Now with the leap to 3, that same technology has been improved and is the best available product on the market. While the leap from gen 2 to 3 is considerable, it is not the absolute jump that gen 1 to 3 is. The newest night vision generation is worth the extra money if you have it, and is a purchase that you won’t regret. And if things are a bit too expensive, generation 2 is still the standard for many that are looking for night vision technology.
How does thermal compare to night vision?
Thermal powered night vision goggles use heat to detect objects, and is a much more advanced technology when compared to regular light amplifying night vision. That doesn’t make it better, and in this instance it will come down to preference of the user. Even when you use light amplifying technology, it is still using light in order to send images back to your eyes. It just so happens you can’t see that light without the goggles. Where thermal powered goggles have the advantage is that they can see in complete darkness since they detect heat, and not light. So when there is no light at all, not even infrared, the better choice to see in the dark would be thermal technology. On the consumer level there aren’t a lot of situations where thermal night vision would be a priority over light amplification, but it still has its purposes. The two technologies have gone head to head for years and produced some really good choices as a result of the competition.
Is night vision useful for hunting?
It is 100% useful if you can use it, which isn’t always possible. There are rules and regulations per state and country about the use of night vision while hunting. Laws and regulations change often, so it’s always a good idea to check the current status being hunting. States like Alabama views it as unlawful to use night vision while hunting while places like Alaska has no restrictions as long as it is within specified months and time limits. Other states like South Dakota allow it but only for specific animals, so the law can be trouble if you don’t keep up to date with the current changes.