Humans are capable of extraordinary things. Unfortunately, seeing in the dark just isn’t one of them. Thankfully, our ingenuity and technological prowess have led us to invent night vision, an awesome piece of tech that detects tiny specs of light in the infrared spectrum and amplifies their intensity to become perceivable to the human eye. Plenty of products are out there, so let’s take a look at the best night vision monoculars available.
Buyer’s Guide: How to decide on the right nightvision monocular for you
With so many great affordable monoculars on the market, it’s important to do a little research before settling on a product. The most important thing to consider is purpose. For example, hunters and fishermen have vastly different requirements than night-time navigators and security personnel.
Night vision monoculars come in all different shapes and sizes, each intended for distinct purposes. Hunters or wilderness campers who are already carrying heavy gear usually opt for a lightweight device. On the other hand, night guards and fisherman might prefer a larger and more powerful monocular that can be mounted on a telescope.
The bigger monoculars have powerful lenses which allow the user to peer well into the distance, even in the dead of night. These models are always more expensive, so it’s important to consider whether range is that important in your particular situation.
Most monoculars have some kind of zoom, with magnification being far more effective than digital as it doesn’t result in a loss of resolution. Need to spot stuff from far away? Then be sure to grab a model with a high-level zoom.
Those who intend to use a device for long periods of uninterrupted time will need to consider battery life. Note that some products have replaceable batteries which can easily be swapped out on the go. Also, take into account that advertised battery life applies to new batteries, which tend to degrade over time.
Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Digital Night Vision Monocular
A great all-round option, the Bestguarder includes a variety of useful features at a reasonable price. Above all else, it really shines as a surveillance device thanks to its high-resolution display, quality long range lens, inbuilt SD card capability and both TV and PC video outputs. Sadly, it doesn’t have any cell phone output which would be super useful for home security.
The Bestguarder also works for hunting and other mobile outdoor pursuits, but just be aware that the focus is not ideal for this use. A lack of power focus means the user must adjust the device by hand which occupies valuable seconds during a hunt.
Another drawback is the battery runs out incredibly fast with consistent use. It runs on AA’s, which although they can easily be swapped out, are a pain nonetheless. At a bit over 2 pounds, it’s also significantly bulkier than other gadgets out there so consumers after a more mobile monocular may want to consider looking elsewhere.
Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular
Perfect for the outdoorsmen (or women) on the move, the lightweight Bushnell Equinox is a favorite among hunters, cavers, and nocturnal wildlife spotters. The device comes in three different models, of which the only notable difference is the lens size and weight. The largest lens (6x50mm) is considerably more powerful but weighs and costs almost twice as much as the lowest model (3x50mm), so it’s important to consider these preferences before committing.
Another aspect that makes it a great outdoor companion is its rugged and waterproof design. The Bushnell is ready for pretty much any kind of terrain and weather conditions.
As for the clarity at a distance, it depends heavily on the chosen model. The 3x digital zoom isn’t great for longer distances but will do in a pinch to make out objects around 100 yards away. The more expensive model greatly improves on this but has the aforementioned drawbacks.
Reasonable quality still images can be captured onto an SD and video recorded via video out, though it’s important to note that there are better options out there for security and surveillance such as the above Bestguarder.
Astromania Portable Digital Night Vision Monocular
Budget night vision enthusiasts take note, for the Astromania Portable is among the cheapest devices on our list and is actually surprisingly good. Granted, this little guy is considerably less powerful than the more serious competitors, but that can be forgiven because it’s intended to be an entry-level product for those not inclined to spend up big.
As you would expect, its 2x magnification and 3x digital zoom is vastly inferior to other monoculars, while the absence of a power focus means adjusting must be done by hand. Furthermore, despite its infrared LED illuminator reaching up to 150 yards, clarity is really only strong until around 75 yards, after which animals become akin to unrecognizable blobs.
Indoor imagery is surprisingly crisp, however, and the inbuilt photo and video recording capability do exactly what they’re supposed to do. Best of all, at a petite 11 oz. it’s refreshingly lightweight.
To sum up, for those with only moderately demanding night vision needs, this small and compact little number is pretty hard to go past for the price.
Carson MiniAura Digital Night Vision Monocular (NV-200)
For something even smaller and cheaper than the Portable Digital, Carson’s MiniAura Digital is about as compact and budget-friendly as they come. The device is only a couple of inches and weighs a minuscule 3.2 oz., meaning it literally fits into the palm of your hand. Of course, for such a small piece of tech, there are bound to be some drawbacks.
First and foremost, the MiniAura has no zoom, be it analog or digital, meaning what you see is what you get. Additionally, those after a covert surveillance device should look elsewhere because a flickering red light lets anyone see you at night from a mile away.
Another annoying factor is that the LCD is rather bright which causes poor temporary vision when used in the pitch dark. We found that by holding the device a few inches from the eye reduces this effect. It’s also not waterproof, but its tiny size means it’s easy enough to keep dry in the palm of your hand or a pocket.
Now on to the pros, the biggest being that it is astonishingly effective at a range of up to around 75 yards. External light sources such as streetlights can cause annoying streaks to appear, but in dark open spaces, it allows the user to clearly identify not only people or animals but also what they are up to. Aside from the incredibly low price point, the MiniAura’s biggest advantage is its compact design. Granted, its tiny buttons can be a pain to manage at times, but overall the device is sufficiently user-friendly.
JAYBRAKE FF24063 Firefield Ff24063 4 X 50Mm Night-Vision Monocular
A solid midrange option, the Jaybrake Firefield is particularly popular for its powerful lens that is perfect for scoping out human and animal activity on larger rural lots. For such a relatively low price, its 4x50mm lens is impressive, to say the least.
Infrared Illumination is, of course, included, although the device works surprisingly well without it. In low ambient light, such as a moon full, the Firefield can make out targets up to 400 yards away. Having said that, clarity is highest up to around 200 yards.
It weighs about a pound and has an ergonomic grip and tripod capability, so it’s a good compromise for those who may wish to use it both on the go and at home on the porch.
The only major downside to speak of is there is no photo or video recording capability, so don’t even bother if that is an essential requirement for you.
Night Owl iGEN 20/20 Day/Night Vision Monocular (3x)
Another great midrange monocular, Night Owl’s iGEN model is vastly superior to their previous i2 and i2 models. It also ships for a considerably lower price, meaning Night Owl is now a serious competitor in the market.
A feature we particularly like is their three modes of infrared function. Users can select full power for when there is almost zero natural light, auto adjust to enable its inbuilt sensor to choose the most appropriate infrared setting, or off for when there is enough ambient light to forgo infrared. Most other monoculars don’t include this feature, and it really is nice to have that little bit of extra control.
At 1.2 pounds, it’s not too bulky to take out into the wilderness, while the 2.6 magnification lens provides low distortion and relatively high clarity images at a moderate range, making it suitable for both camping and home security. Also, unlike other devices, the framerate is adjustable between 2-30 fps which is great for those wishing to record moving pictures via the video out.
All in all, it’s a decent all-around option for a midrange price.
Countless other night vision monoculars are available on the market, though the six we’ve covered today represent the best night vision monoculars in terms of value for money and are useful for a variety of different purposes. With this information at hand, we hope you now have the confidence to select the right night vision monocular for you.