Top rated night vision goggles – Buying guide & Comparison
If you don’t have any time to waste and you just want to find what the best option that you can buy right now is, the following short paragraph should give you all the information you need. According to our findings, the Sightmark SM14001K is the best because it’s a versatile product that can accommodate many purposes and environments due to its high-quality optics and build. The high-quality IR illuminator will help you navigate even in the darkest environments. You can also use it as a handheld, mount it on your head with the included headgear or attach it to your own gear. The ability to take photos and recording videos that can be then easily shared is also present, as are the numerous safety features that are designed to keep your eyes safe and deliver only the best viewing experience. If the Sightmark SM14001K is unavailable, we recommend the Armasight Spark-G CORE IIT as the second-best alternative.
How to choose the best night vision goggles
Finding the best affordable night vision goggles can be a tricky task especially if you’re short on time and sifting through and analyzing each option is not possible. In order to make things easier for you and allow you to find the best option available for sale, we have compiled this buyer’s guide for you.
In creating this guide, we have looked at night vision goggles reviews as well as specialized articles to see what customers and experts have to say and in order to help you narrow down your searches to the product that meets your requirements.
What generation does your device belong to?
You might think that all optical night vision goggles are born equal but there is one factor that differentiates one product from another and that is the generation that it belongs to. There are currently four generations, and the higher the generation is, the better and more advanced the technology that it uses is.
If you want an affordable option, then you should look for generation 1 or 2 devices as they tend to cost less without sacrificing any of the quality. If on the other hand, you want to get the best of the best, a generation 3 or 4 is a great pick, but you should bear in mind that they can be extremely expensive.
You should know what product you need better than anyone and even a generation 1 device is better than none at all. Generation 2 and over offer a better overall performance with a longer range and a picture quality that is sharper and clearer. As a plus, they also tend to last longer which makes investing in some good night vision goggles something you won’t regret as you’ll be able to use them for a very long time
Optical vs. Digital
One important thing to acknowledge is the difference between optical and digital alternatives. If optical goggles where the go-to option in the past, with the advent of the digital alternative, customers have started to shift their attention to this affordable and full of features option.
Firstly, we should talk about the optical devices. They rely on lenses to capture even the smallest amount of reflected light, and then they enhance it by passing it through intensifier-tubes and materials. This approach relies entirely on optics which can raise the price of a good gadget considerably since manufacturing high-quality glass lenses is a costly and long process.
The advantages of this approach are that it comes with a built-in infrared illuminator that will light up your surroundings and it can be incorporated with other accessories. The downsides compared to the digital version are unfortunately numerous. They include limited user adjustments, sensitivity to bright lights which requires you to protect the lenses during the day and a long warm up and power down period since the materials need to be heated before they can be used.
Digital devices use a technology that is similar to what you would see in your average digital camera which makes them cheaper to produce as they do not rely on sensitive materials. They use light processing electronics and LCDs for you to observe what the sensors are recording. The use of digital computer electronics gives this alternative an advantage seeing as technology improves rapidly and without requiring massive manufacturing costs.
The advantages of going digital are numerous, such as the ability of recording to an external SD card or even in the built-in storage of the product. You can easily adjust settings such as the brightness, contrast and picture quality so that you get precisely the experience you need. The use of power-efficient components also extends the battery life. This option is also lightweight, and because of the lack of fragile components, it is also more durable.
Finding a disadvantage for the digital night vision goggle is close to impossible, but when choosing your product, we recommend you test both devices. While digital is arguably the better options, there’s nothing wrong if you prefer the optical alternative.
How and where do you intend to use the device
Before you choose a product, you need to consider the environment you’re going to use it in, and the purpose for which you actually want to buy them. Once you have considered and agreed on these two factors, it will be easier to find the option that works best for you.
The first thing to consider is the distance. Each model comes with its own limitation, and they can only allow you to view objects up to a certain distance. Make sure that you carefully read the specifications of each device so that you are not left with a purchase that cannot fulfill its intended purpose.
You should know that the greater the magnification is, the worse the image quality that you’re getting will be unless you go for an option that has a high gain level. Gain is the relative level of light you see when looking through the device.
Similarly, the weather is a crucial factor that should be taken into account when you’re making a purchase. If your option is not equipped to handle the climate you intend to use it in, you might end up getting poorer light levels and visibility. If you plan on using it in humid conditions, you should also look for a waterproofness as a feature.
A multi-purpose product
Most people buy their night vision goggles for only one purpose, and while that is perfectly fine, you should be aware that buying the right product can open an entire world of possible new hobbies and activities. Aside from the two most common uses of hunting and home security and surveillance, you can also use your device for night hiking, fishing, and boating.
If you’re an amateur stargazer, you can also use your new purchase to view the night sky in an entirely new light as stars and the whole Milky Way will light up just for you. Whatever purpose you use your product for, just remember that you can get so much fun if only you’re willing to try some new things.
Types of night vision goggles
With so many options to choose from it is important to know the difference between them as well as the advantages that each device has. What’s great about goggles is that they can feel natural when wearing if you use a night vision goggles mount especially.
The main two types of goggles can be identified by the kind of image tube they use. First, you have the night vision goggles monocular which uses a single image tube to capture images that are then sent to the two-eyepiece. This option tends to be cheaper but is not recommended to use if you plan on getting a device that can help you navigate safely.
The other alternative is the stereo vision goggle which uses dual image tubes as well as a two-eyepiece. This allows each of your eye to get its own slightly different image allowing for a more three-dimensional view that increases your depth perception, which in turn will help improve your navigation.
If you want a device to help you observe every detail and every move, you can consider looking at some night vision goggles with thermal imaging. This alternative is great for hunting and surveillance as it will help you make out even the thinnest movement.
Best night vision for the money
When hunting, fishing or just camping you want to buy the best device that money can buy because it can really help improve your experience and once you’ve tested a good gadget, it will be hard ever to go back. Finding the best device does not necessarily mean spending all your money and going for the most expensive product.
Because the market has a lot of alternatives that you can choose from, settling for a choice that meets your specific needs and that offers great quality and features at a price that seems just right has never been easier than it is now.
If you’re looking for a versatile product that can be used for a great variety of purposes and in numerous environments, the Sightmark SM14001K is certainly the one that you need to buy. The same versatility is also true when it comes to using it. It can be used as a hand-held, head mounted with the help of the included headgear, mounted on a helmet or even on a weapon.
The integration of the adjustable IR illuminator allows you to examine your surroundings even in environments with very little light. You can also take photos or record videos of what you are seeing so that you can then easily share them with your friends and family and let them experience a part of your adventures.
In order to make sure that your eyes are always safe, the Sightmark SM14001K features an automatic shutoff system that turns off the device when exposed to bright light sources.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($4527.99)
Best night vision goggles under $1000
During the past few years due to advancements in the technology of night vision goggles, it has become easier than ever for an average consumer to get their hands on such a device without having to spend a fortune. With each passing year manufacturers produce more and more gadgets that aim to be affordable without sacrificing performance.
By paying less than 1000 dollars, you can now find products that can rival even the premium alternatives of old. Whether you want an optical or digital gadget, you can be sure that you can find one suited to your needs without having to break the bank.
Armasight Spark-G CORE IIT
The compact and lightweight design make the Armasight Spark-G CORE IIT the perfect device to carry around when traveling or when you just want to hunt, fish or just take a quick hike during the night. It can be mounted easily on your head with the help of the flip-up headgear that is included with your purchase, allowing you to operate the device hands-free.
Despite being labeled as a generation 1 device, this option does not use fragile glass tubes, but switches instead to a ceramic compound fused with metal alloys. This design choice is quite similar to what you would find in the production of generation 2 and three image intensifier tubes. This does not only make the product more durable but also helps provide clearer and sharper images.
What’s more, you also get a waterproof body so that you can use it even in extreme weather conditions without fearing that water will get inside and damage the components.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($566.09)
Best military night vision goggles
If you want to get a device that can really make you see the world in an entirely new way, with the help of high-quality optics and a design that is comfortable and lightweight then going for military night vision goggle is the best thing you can do.
These devices are designed to offer the performance you would normally see in high-end military gear. This is the reason why they offer some of the best viewing experience on the market, allowing you to see clearly in almost complete darkness. What’s even better is the fact that anyone can buy and use them.
Are you looking for a compact and lightweight gadget that can provide an excellent viewing experience? If so, the Armasight NSGNYX7P0133DA1 is undoubtedly one of the most impressive devices on the market right now as the compact body is full of features while also being rugged enough to handle use in extreme conditions.
It can be mounted on the head or a helmet, and because you get a flip-up headgear included with your purchase, you will be able to use it hands-free for increased mobility and a more comfortable use. The device uses an ergonomic design that is simple to control, and that does not confuse users with a complicated control scheme.
For more advanced users, you can customize your experience by tweaking the settings until you get the specific image you may want. It can also be used with a camera so that you can record those moments that need to be shared.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($3995)
Best hunting night vision goggles
When hunting during the night or early in the morning, there’s nothing that can help you more than a good night vision goggle. With the help of night vision, you will be able to get the same performance and awareness of your surroundings as you do during the day.
A night vision device is also more subtle than a flashlight that will scare all the surrounding prey, leaving you with a low chance of catching anything. Night vision does not produce light that will be visible to the animals nearby allowing you to remain hidden until you are ready to strike the killing blow.
The ATN NVGONVG730 is a Generation 3 optical night vision, and it clearly shows in the quality of both the body as well as that of the optics that it uses.
It’s the perfect device to be used when hunting because it will give you an extra edge in spotting even the slightest movements as well as offering you a wide and clear view of your surroundings.
This option can be used as a handheld device or mounted on your head or your helmet. Using it will feel comfortable because of the compact and lightweight design. For a hands-free use, you get a flip-up headgear to attach the product to.
The high-resolution image intensifier, auto brightness, and the built-in wide-angle IR illuminator will turn the night into day with sharp details and a clear view of your surroundings. This will help you spot your prey in no time, leaving the rest up to you.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($3139.9)
Best night vision head mount
While most devices can be hand-held when hunting, fishing, or even hiking, having one of your hands or even both occupied with holding the device can be a problem. It can hinder your movements and even make you miss your target or trip and fall on the ground. When you want to navigate or be able to use your hands, investing in a quality head mount can be a lifesaver.
This product allows you to mount your night vision goggles on your head. This will let you use your hands for other activities while also improving your navigation. As a plus, they are also extremely comfortable to wear.
Night Optics Mil-Spec A3144268
If you’re looking for a product to help ease the burden of having to hand-carry your night vision goggles, the Night Optics Mil-Spec A3144268 is a head mount that is compatible with most devices available for sale today. It’s highly adjustable which means that it will be able to fit your head in a comfortable, easy, and secure way.
Speaking of comfort, you’ll get a lot with this product due to how it uses materials that are easy on your skin and that let it breathe. It also features a chin support and brow pads that will add further stability allowing you to move your head in any conceivable angle without having to fear that your mount is going to fall.
The quality materials will also guarantee that you’ll be able to use this product for a very long time without having to worry that it will break or that the straps will get loose. Assembling is also easy especially as the product comes with detailed and user-friendly instructions.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($47.94)
Frequently asked questions about night vision goggles
How do night vision goggles work?
Understanding how night vision goggles work is very simple, even though the actual process is a lot more complicated and it involves a lot of science and names of complicated and hard to pronounce components. We’ve all learned that light is made of photons, even during the night there are a lot of photons around even if not enough to allow us to see clearly.
What a night vision device does is collect these photons and then transform each photon into lots of bright electrons. Since there are now more photons than those that have initially entered the device, you will be able to get a brighter version of the original scene.
Who invented night vision goggles?
As is the case with many technological breakthroughs, it was during World War II that a night vision device was first used. It was the Hungarian physicist, Kálmán Tihanyi that first invented the infrared-sensitive camera in 1929. It took ten more years for these devices to be used on a wider scale by Germany in 1939.
At first, night vision goggles were mainly high-end military equipment to be used in surprise attacks and surveillance. Only in the last few decades did they start to be used by the general population due to the advancements in technology that made them more affordable.
How much do night vision goggles cost?
It depends. You can definitely get a good device to use when camping, fishing or hunting by paying as little as 200 dollars. If you want a good product that can offer a great viewing experience you can spend anywhere from two to five thousands and even more if you really want the best of the best.
The good thing is that you can now find digital devices that offer performance similar to high-end optical goggles at a fraction of that price. With each passing year, the prices are bound to get lower and lower. Right now, depending on your needs, it is easier than ever to find an affordable option.
Are night vision goggles legal?
They certainly are, at least in the United States. You can buy and even sell these devices without having to fear any legal repercussions. You can also use it to your heart’s content as there are very few circumstances where you are forbidden from using a night vision goggle.
The one area in which there are strict regulations on the use of night vision devices is when hunting. Each state has its own laws, and it is important that you read them carefully to know what you can and can’t do with your favorite device.
Do night vision goggles work in complete darkness?
It all depends on what you think of as complete darkness. If you’re thinking of using them in an area that does not have any kind of artificial lighting, you can still get your product to work and get a better and brighter view of your surroundings.
For a night vision gadget to work, you are still going to need photons, and even in the darkest night, there is still quite a lot of light that you can’t see but that your product can use to produce a clear picture of the area around you. So yes, your goggles can definitely work even in what your eyes might believe to be complete darkness.