Best Night Vision Binoculars of 2018 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons
Night vision binoculars have so many applications. If one were to set aside the obvious military and law enforcement applications, which require the most advanced and so very expensive night vision gadgets, what would it take to put the label of best night vision binoculars on civilian-grade optical devices?
It’s a combination of various features: field of view, sight quality, brightness, durability, battery life, and so on. At the same time, some people may prefer camera and tripod attachments, simpler user interfaces, and the equally requisite great performance during the day.
At the end of the day, one could say that choosing night vision binoculars is a lot harder than it should be, but that’s only because there are endless designs on the market, many of which look very similar on paper.
Learning to compare the tiny details is important if you want to have the best companion for your outdoor adventures. Check out our top five picks and reviews and see which pair of binoculars applies to your needs.
Night Vision Binocular Reviews
1. Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars
Our first contender, Occer, has an interesting approach to designing their night vision binoculars. The manufacturer focuses less on true night vision capabilities and instead settles on a foldable compact design and decent daytime resolution to provide users with a gadget that they can use 24/7.
Considering the somewhat ridiculously low price tag, these binoculars have a lot to offer. 12x magnification is a lot, especially for the smallish objective lenses.
With the 25 mm objective lens, you can’t expect the brightest image, but at least the field of view is impressive for such a compact camera. You get 273 ft. at 1,000 yards which is comparable to even some of the most highly regarded high-end night vision binoculars.
The case though plastic is heavy duty and strong, with proven water and shock resistance to show for it. The rubber armor contributes to both cases in addition to the solid grip it’s designed to provide, not that it’s always needed seeing how the binoculars come with a strap and a carry pouch too.
What's to like about the Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars
The compact design is obviously the highlight. These binoculars are small and lightweight as well as easy to use. These features make them suitable for users of all ages and a wide variety of outdoor applications like hunting, sightseeing, sports, and more.
What's not to like about the Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars
As far as actual night vision performance, the Occer 12×25 binoculars have little low-light resolution to offer. Combined with the average BAK4 Porro prism array, these binoculars work just fine after dusk but won’t get you very far.
2. Cosbity 12×50 Monocular Telescopes
These binoculars have excellent clarity and brightness, smartphone camera compatibility, and a very durable case. If you’re looking for something efficient in harsh conditions, these binoculars may fit the bill.
Cosbity equipped the binoculars with 12x magnification. The large objective lenses guarantee lots of light gathering, capable of rendering the smallest details. The optics on these 12×50 monocular telescopes are just as suitable for hunting as they are for traveling and sightseeing.
The device also includes a phone clip and a wireless camera shutter remote control. With the help of these accessories, you’re able to digitally capture your adventures and share them with friends or followers. However, using a modern smartphone camera will yield much better results during the daytime.
The night vision image clarity is somewhat average. Given that the binoculars are designed for day and night use, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While not on par with high-end night vision devices, these binoculars certainly hold their own in civilian applications and offer great value for the money due to their versatility.
What's to like about the Cosbity 12×50 Monocular Telescopes
The accessories for camera control and maintenance are the highlights of this product. Although the gadget is well-built, it falls on the extra perks to give it an edge over the competition.
What's not to like about the Cosbity 12×50 Monocular Telescopes
Considering the price tag and all the included accessories, it’s too bad that a tripod isn’t also part of the deal. It would’ve been a massive improvement for this night vision binocular kit as it could’ve been the most used attachment for a good number of users.
3. Nightfox 100V Infrared Mono/Binocular 3×20
Unlike most night vision gadgets available to civilians, the Nightfox 100V is one of the few designed specifically for nighttime efficiency.
The Nightfox 100V only enlarges an image three times. It can further enhance the image digitally with a 2x digital zoom, although this comes at a loss of resolution. The 100V doesn’t have the largest objective lenses either.
The 20 mm objective lenses don’t gather a tremendous amount of light which means that the gadget is quite limited in range. The maximum level of image quality is achieved when sighting at a distance of around 110 yards at night. That doesn’t mean that you can’t see up to at least 200 yards; it just means that distinguishing certain shapes and contours will be difficult.
The device runs on eight AA batteries, rated at six hours of normal usage. That should be more than enough for one hunting trip. The eyepieces aren’t high-end but they are comfortable enough even if you wear glasses.
What's to like about the Nightfox 100V Infrared Mono/Binocular 3×20
In terms of image quality, Nightfox 100V really brings it. Up to 110 yards and perhaps even further, the detail you can make out in the sight is very impressive. The fact that the device can also be paired with a night scope to increase the range makes it a very useful hunting night vision gadget.
What's not to like about the Nightfox 100V Infrared Mono/Binocular 3×20
The welcome screen is very bright. The fact that you can’t adjust the brightness of the screen at all means that any time you open or operate the device at night, you might get a shocking welcome.
4. Aiqiying 12×42 Low Night Vision Binoculars
Another strong contender is this model from Aiqiying. These binoculars combine night vision technology with a tried-and-true binocular design to deliver a well-balanced performance at any time of the day.
The gadget is on the heavy side but that’s mostly because of the full-size objective lenses and extra durable body. These binoculars offer good protection against shocks, water, and fog. They also feature a built-in dust cover for the lenses and quality silica gel coatings.
The device is compatible with most smartphone cameras on the market and they also feature a tripod mount. Unfortunately, the attachments aren’t included.
Aiqiying uses the standard BAK4 Porro prisms. Don’t sneeze if you’re a roof prism person, as the Aiqiying’s affordable Porro prism array actually renders a decent image quality. While capable at low light, these are not true night vision binoculars so they won’t work in total darkness unless you supply an infrared torch or a similar night vision light source.
At the end of the day, these binoculars offer a field of view of 330 ft. at 1,000 yards which is pretty good at this price point. The multicoated optics are reliable and let through a lot of light.
What's to like about the Aiqiying 12×42 Low Night Vision Binoculars
These binoculars may not have amazing night vision technology but their durability is almost too good to be true. Aiqiying uses multiple protective layers, filters, and coatings to protect the device from falls, heavy rain, and dust. The tubes are expertly filled with inert gas for fog proofing.
What's not to like about the Aiqiying 12×42 Low Night Vision Binoculars
At this price point, it’s hard to imagine better night vision image quality. This is why the main drawback of these binoculars is not the image quality but actually the lack of attachments. There are many alternatives on the market that are similarly priced and also include a camera clip, remote control, tripod stand, etc.
5. Apeman 10×50 HD Binoculars
Last but not least on this list, Apeman also makes a run for the best night vision binoculars title. The company’s contender is a pair of 10×50 binoculars with wide field of view and impeccable image quality capable of helping you capture amazing nature shots or recordings.
Obviously, the full-size 50 mm objective lenses give these binoculars a big advantage over most in their price range. The field of view of 367 ft. at 1000 yards is perhaps the widest you could hope for from binoculars that also have night vision capabilities.
The case is very durable and resistant to shock thanks to its rubber armor, which also enhances the grip. The water resistance is also above average though it won’t protect the binoculars from heavy rain or prolonged use in high-humidity conditions.
Although the tripod is not included, these Apeman binoculars can be easily mounted on a tripod while also supporting a smartphone camera attachment on the right lens.
As far as applications go, the Apeman 10×50 model works well in low light conditions and even better during the day.
What's to like about the Apeman 10×50 HD Binoculars
The combination of a bright and clear sight and a compact design makes these binoculars highly versatile and popular. Of course, the low price point also helps to make it sought after by nature watchers, sports fans, and amateur hunters.
What's not to like about the Apeman 10×50 HD Binoculars
Without enough natural light, you will need an infrared torch to maximize the nighttime performance of these binoculars. That’s because they have no built-in infrared light source or high-end nighttime filters.
When deciding between night vision binoculars, there’s no factor more important than the technology generation; said generations of night vision technology are designated Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, and Gen 3+.
Gen 1 devices are the oldest and most rudimentary, and therefore the least expensive. At the same time, they’re not known for being too efficient. Gen 3 and 3+ devices are now available on the consumer market (though they cost an arm and a leg), as military personnel and special units of law enforcement have added various tweaks to the technology for their own use.
The main differences between the generations are noticeable in regard to image quality, night vision performance, extended battery life, and improved durability.
The magnification is the first number seen in any binocular description: 8x, 7x, 10x, etc. It’s determined by the focal length ratio of the objective lenses to the eyepiece lenses.
But, what does it really mean? The magnification value indicates how many times the image is enlarged when seen through the binoculars. In essence, the magnification signifies how many times an object appears closer to you when sighted in the binoculars. So, a deer that’s 1,000 yards away from you will appear to be 100 yards away when seen through a pair of 10x binoculars.
Magnification is not the only important feature when it comes to rendering detail. The resolution, or sharpness, is just as if not more important. This is essentially the ability of the binoculars to paint a highly detailed image of small objects.
While the exact values are not always offered by the manufacturers, bigger objective lenses can gather more light and therefore the image will be brighter. A pair of super bright binoculars can work well at dawn and dusk even without night vision technology.
FOV (Field of View)
The field of view is usually rated in one of two ways. It’s either presented in an angular value, as in how many degrees you can see, or in a how much width is visible at a particular distance, i.e. 307 ft. at 1,000 yards. The latter or the linear field of view is the most common advertised value. The angular field of view is mostly reserved for larger equipment such as telescopes.
As you can imagine, the FOV is inversely proportional to the magnification. To a lesser extent, it also depends on the gadget’s specific optical design and lens alignment.
True night vision binoculars require a power source, such as batteries. There are models that use regular batteries but there are also those that use built-in rechargeable batteries. The latter choice tends to drive up the price a bit.
If you’re afraid of running out of batteries, bring extra or invest in a power bank (and look for night vision binoculars that support USB charging).
Night vision binoculars aren’t always heavier than regular binoculars. That’s because most of the affordable night vision binoculars feature a plastic body. The size of the objective lenses affects the size and weight of the binoculars, but true night vision binoculars have smaller objective lenses (as the technology doesn’t allow you to see too far away).
The optics themselves won’t be noticeable. But the power source certainly is. With some night vision binoculars being powered by as many as 8 or 10 batteries, the weight piles up. High-end night vision binoculars are never lighter than one pound.
Night Vision Binoculars FAQ
What are night vision binoculars?
Night vision binoculars are optical night vision devices (NVD). They serve the same purpose as regular binoculars, which is to enlarge small objects and render them in high detail. The main difference is that NVDs don’t have the same magnification potential.
They can be either active, if they have an infrared illuminator or torch, or passive, when they rely only on natural ambient light. The latter won’t work in total darkness but they are generally easier to find and cheaper.
Can night vision binoculars be used in daylight?
Ever seen a movie where soldiers use flashbangs or even flashlights to blind night vision goggled enemies? That happens in real life too. That blinding flash depicted on screen is pretty much what would happen if you turn on your night vision equipment during the daytime.
Not only will you potentially hurt your eyes but the light intensity is so high that the sensor on the light intensifier may be permanently damaged. True night vision binoculars aren’t designed to be used in daylight.
Even those high-tech models that have additional protection for the sensor won’t let you see anything during the day. They just have better resistance against intense light.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some binoculars which can be used during the day and the night, given sufficient ambient light. However, those types of binoculars, while advertised as night vision devices, aren’t usually the go-to choice for any hunters or birdwatchers who know their stuff.
How far can night vision binoculars see?
The range of night vision binoculars is highly variable. Not only does the quality change from one make and model to another, but it also drastically changes depending on the technology generation.
A Gen 3 device may let you see objects from 300 yards away. But you may not be able to distinguish between people and trees or even the gender. You may have to get as close as 150 yards to notice important details.
It’s also important to understand that in order to get more magnification on night vision binoculars, manufacturers have to make sacrifices. Compromises are made on the field of view, weight, and so on.
How much are night vision binoculars?
It all depends on what exactly you are looking for. Night vision binoculars come in different shapes, sizes, generations, and build. High-end binoculars, such as those used by the military can set one back tens of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, those are rarely available for purchase by civilians.
Entry-level night vision binoculars are generally affordable enough for just about everyone. If you’re not looking for high performance, they may cost way less than a Benjamin. However, when night vision binoculars are very cheap, it means that they are not active and won’t work in total darkness. On top of that, they may not even be able to sight objects clearly from more than 30 to 50 yards away.
The price of night vision binoculars, or any other type of night vision gadget, is generally proportional to the quality of the product. Although the economy of scale and brand premium may come into play, if you spend more on night vision binoculars you’re almost always guaranteed superior results.
How to repair night vision binoculars
Repairing night vision binoculars isn’t a task you should undertake on your own. Because there are different types of night vision binoculars available for civilians, you can’t rely on a standard repair technique.
Depending on what filters and lens coatings, you may need different tools and replacement parts. It’s not always as simple as adding more gel coatings to the objective lenses. Sometimes it may be as simple as replacing the prism, but taking apart any pair of binoculars is no small task.
It’s best to make full use of your warranty if you’re still covered. If not, take your binoculars to a specialist. More often than not, the replacement parts and labor cost will add up to be more than buying a brand new pair. In consumer-driven economies, people replace more than repair things, so why not?
After all is said and done, the features that define the best night vision binoculars will differ depending on your personal needs. However, if you are looking for pure nighttime performance, the Nightfox 100V is one of the few binoculars that hit it out of the park.
The gadget has built-in infrared lighting, optical and digital magnification, comfortable eye relief, and a durable case made to survive harsh weather conditions. It does require lots of power – count them, 8 AA batteries arranged in parallel to give 4-amp hours of juice – but that’s a very good and reassuring thing, as it means that the Nightfox uses true night vision technology.