In a world where technology continues to amaze us with its innovations, night vision monoculars have emerged as essential tools for various activities. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a hunter, a wildlife observer, or a security professional, having the ability to see clearly in the dark can be a game-changer.
In this article, we’ll explore the 5 best night vision monoculars available in the market today, helping you make an informed decision for your specific needs.
Understanding Night Vision
Before diving into our top picks, let’s first understand how night vision technology works. Night vision devices amplify existing light, including infrared, to provide enhanced visibility in low-light or pitch-dark conditions. These devices use image intensifier tubes to capture and amplify ambient light, making it possible for the human eye to perceive objects in the dark.
The Top 5 Night Vision Monoculars
Bushnell Equinox Z -The Best Overall Night Vision
When it comes to hunting, tactical, or wildlife needs there isn’t a product that Bushnell doesn’t make. Bushnell is synonymous with all things outdoor optics so it’s no surprise that their Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular is our top-rated pick for this year.
This Monocular boasts a myriad of features such as 6x magnification zoom, 1-3 digital, zoom, and the option of daytime or nighttime use, all through their 50mm multicoated glass objective lens.
We love this model because it is equipped with video recording capabilities, that can easily write to a Micro SD card (which is sold separately) so you can capture everything you’re seeing for viewing from the comfort of the indoors.
The digital aspect of this monocular may scare some people away, but it is easy to set up and use. Typically, the outdoors and electronics don’t mix very well, but Bushnell made sure to construct this monocular out of rugged material. The silicone exterior provides excellent surface grip so you can leave it on the console of your vehicle and it won’t slide around.
Keeping with the same ruggedness theme, another reason to love this monocular is the fact the unit itself is completely water resistant so you can rest assured no water will ruin the lens or the digital components inside the monocular.
The specs claim that the viewing distance is 500 ft., and we as well as other consumers claim that it is closer to 300 ft. but we think variables such as light pollution and the amount of cloud cover play a lot into those specs.
The Bushnell Equinox Z is also tripod mountable which makes it an excellent choice for photographers.
The Equinox Z uses an infrared-sensitive CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor and a micro LCD screen to provide awesome night vision capabilities. This is better than some brands that use a conventional intensifier tube.
One feature that we feel Bushnell needs to play up more is this monocular ability to charge via a micro USB cable. This is an awesome choice if you would like to leave it in a stationary position during the night without the worry of burning through batteries.
Overall this is the best pick out on the market right now. It scored the highest overall marks in all the categories we tested and if you’re trying to decide between monoculars, we feel that this is the one to beat.
Firefield 5×50 Nightfall 2 Night Vision Monocular – Huge Monocular Lens
Firefield is a growing name in outdoor optics and for good reason, they’re made of very high-quality materials and designed ergonomically with the end user in mind. Firefield’s motto is simple, “Victory” and you should consider it a victory if you get the chance to use this monocular.
There is nothing about this monocular that isn’t rugged. You’ll notice right off the bat that the Firefield Nightfall Monocular boasts one of the biggest, if not the biggest, objective lenses in the market making it the ideal monocular for so many different nighttime applications.
It also features a heavy-duty rubberized exterior shell that a lot of monocular manufacturers and other outdoor device companies have switched to. What we love is that the unit is fully weatherproof, and Firefield goes on to call it “outdoorsproof.”
Don’t mistake all the ruggedness of the Firefield Nightfall 2 Night Vision Monocular as bulkiness, however. The monocular is made with zero waste in mind, and the weight, or lack thereof, will surprise you. The unit fits very comfortably in your hands and can easily fit into the front pocket of a jacket, or adhered to a lanyard around your neck.
While this monocular is tripod mountable, it does not feature a video or digital playback of any kind limiting anything you capture to simply memory.
The field of view is somewhat lacking on this device, as with most monocular manufacturers’ claims, just doesn’t seem to match real-world applications. That being said, if you do not need to see over 200 feet, you won’t find anything wrong with this device.
In addition to being fully weather resistant, the Nightfall 2 boasts fog resistance in its specs and surprisingly lives up to that. Fog is somewhat of a nebulous term, but we feel that it does a great job of filtering out light pollution of all kinds. This makes it great for people who live in a more urban landscape and not out in the country.
Overall this is an excellent pick for a monocular with night vision capabilities. If you don’t require video playback and are looking for simply a straightforward night vision monocular, we highly recommend you check out the Nightfall 2 by Fairfield.
Solomark Night Vision Monocular – Most High Tech Night Vision Monocular
Solomark is a name not a lot of people have heard but one that is becoming synonymous with quality optics. Solomark has its hand in a handful of different optic categories from rifle scopes, telescopes, and even microscopes, and has created a very quality product with plenty of new digital features that outrank monoculars that are twice as expensive.
The Solomark Night Vision Monocular made our top 3 monocular podium because of its ability to observe a target in complete darkness making it ideal for all types of outdoor activities, such as exploring caves to trekking through the woods. The monocular has multi-coated glass objectives, high sensitivity sensors, and an IR illuminator, all tying back to an integrated color LCD screen (rare to have that for this price range).
Like the other models above, the exterior of the unit is made from a rubber composite making it difficult to end up in a place it shouldn’t. But even if it were to drop in a not-so-ideal location, you’re not going to damage the components that are heavily protected.
What we love about this unit is it’s probably the most technologically advanced monocular out there for under $500. With this unit, you can take pictures and record videos as you view them making it an ideal nighttime camera replacement. Another thing that separates this monocular from others is its ability to connect to a video output device such as a computer monitor, or a TV for instant video playback.; No unplugging the tiny card and loading it into a reader just to share what you found out in the woods with your family.
With All the tech in this device, it’s no surprise that it lacks in the battery life category. The unit only has around a 5-hour lifespan making it less than ideal for long outings outdoors, but this can be fixed with the purchase of rechargeable batteries.
The Solomark almost feels (and looks) like a small set of binoculars, but much easier to hang on to. The unit is wider than it is long, which makes it the ideal candidate if you’re looking for a monocular that you can fit into the back pocket of your jeans.
Overall we feel you’re not going to be disappointed if you go with the Night Vision Monocular from Solomark. For most people reading this, its capabilities are all you’ll need, and the technology onboard makes it easy to transition to.
Bushnell Night Vision_Equinox Z2 Monocular
Experience unparalleled clarity and versatility with our cutting-edge night vision monocular featuring 6x magnification and a 50-millimeter objective lens. With this powerful built-in IR illuminator, you can effortlessly spot targets over 1,000 feet away, whether it’s day or night.
But that’s not all – we’ve taken convenience to the next level. Stream live video directly to your mobile device, putting the action right in the palm of your hand. Take full control of your viewing experience by adjusting zoom, video recording, image capture, and IR brightness – all from your mobile device.
Capture stunning 1080p high-quality videos, even in the darkest of environments. This monocular comes complete with everything you need, including the monocular itself, a convenient carry case, and easy-to-follow instructions. Elevate your nocturnal adventures and experience the world like never before with this exceptional night vision monocular.
AGM PVS-14 3AW1 Night Vision Monocular
The AGM PVS-14 Night Vision Monocular is a robust, lightweight, and versatile night vision device with a proven track record in combat situations. Originally developed for the United States Military to enhance nighttime operations, this monocular is now employed worldwide in some of the most challenging environments.
The PVS-14 can be used as a handheld device or easily mounted on the provided head harness. Additionally, with the right accessories, it can be attached to combat helmets, adding night vision capabilities to daytime optical sights. This monocular adheres to stringent 810G Military standards, exemplifying top-notch quality in both form and function.
Weighing in at under 12.4 ounces (0.32 kilograms), the PVS-14 boasts a comprehensive feature set. It includes manual gain control for customized performance, an automatic bright light shut-off feature to safeguard its high-quality photocathode tube, and a built-in Infrared (IR) illuminator for enhanced visibility.
AGM’s PVS-14 also offers a range of optional accessories, ensuring its adaptability to a wide variety of operational needs.
Night Vision Monocular Buying Guide
The choices for Night Vision Monoculars can be somewhat overwhelming. Pixel Rate What? Infrared Who? Even choosing the final 3 out of the top-rated monoculars was difficult because there are so many ways to select the best one for your needs.
Below are the criteria we used in determining the top 3 rated monoculars available on the market this year. If you didn’t like what you saw above, use this guide to help you make the decision to choose the best night vision-enabled monocular for your outdoor needs.
Like anything else, the monocular is only going to be as good as the environment you’re in so please take the time to understand where you’ll mainly be using your tool to make sure you choose one that you can use for many years to come.
Who Needs a Monocular with Night Vision Capabilities?
What outdoorsman doesn’t need a monocular is the real question. In all seriousness, if you spend any time outdoors at night, whether it be hunting, hiking, backpacking, or rock climbing, it is money well spent to leverage the night vision features available today.
For avid nighttime hunters, it may be a better idea to combine the night vision technology of a monocular with that of their rifle scope and buy a night vision-enabled rifle scope, but if you’re spending time out in the wilderness, it doesn’t make sense to lug a rifle around just to see what is out there.
Monoculars with night vision are excellent choices for campers and hikers to keep in their bags to keep their bearings at night. If you don’t want to be surprised by what is lurking out there, a night vision monocular is just the thing you need.
Size & Weight
This used to be more of a problem as monoculars used to be bigger and bulkier, but modern night vision monoculars are as compact as you’d expect any piece of technology to be. If you’re primarily going to be using this for long hiking and camping trips, then it may be a good idea to splurge on cutting a few ounces. However, just for normal everyday use, most monoculars will be able to fit into your back pocket.
When shopping for a night vision monocular an important thing to consider is how you’re going to power all the bells and whistles of your new device. A lot of manufacturers boast a huge selection of options and features on their monoculars, but forget that these are used out in the wilderness, most of the time well away from a dedicated power source.
This will all depend on how you’re going to use it but you’ll get more overall use out of the monocular if it’s lithium battery powered, or you make the extra rechargeable battery purchase.
It goes without saying that your monocular needs to be rated to handle the outdoors, because where else are you going to use it? Luckily most companies that manufacture the best monoculars have weatherproofing standards, but there are still varying degrees of weatherproofing.
This will mostly depend on where you’re planning on using your unit, but if you’re in a much damper environment or going to be trekking across mountain lakes and streams, it is a good idea to spend the extra on a monocular that boasts full waterproof capabilities. The last thing you need on your hiking trip is to hinder your ability to see at night.
As technology continues to get faster and faster, the components continue to get smaller and smaller making it easier to digitally enhance products that normally wouldn’t be, and a monocular is no exception to the rule. You can find monoculars with all sorts of capabilities, and you’ll notice it as soon as you look at the price tag.
Luckily the past few years we’ve seen monoculars start to have audio and video recording options standard, and some even where you can replay the video right on the unit itself.
If watching back what you’ve seen through the day, say looking at a deer feeder at night, then buying a monocular with video playback may be a great option for you, and one that shouldn’t break the bank.
Depending on what activity you’re doing at night, this is arguably one of the most important features of your monocular. When choosing a night, vision-enabled monocular you want to be able to zoom in enough while staying a safe distance away, this is especially true when looking for animals.
Many monoculars on the market advertise between 2-8x zoom capabilities, but this can be somewhat deceiving. What you want to look for is whether the picture quality stays clear as you zoom further in. Because let’s face it, what’s the point of zooming in if you can’t see what you’re looking at anyway?
Just as monoculars come in all shapes and sizes, it should be no surprise that the lenses on monoculars vary as well. Out of the units we reviewed we found that the lens on the monocular correlates highly with overall image quality.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, obviously the more light you let into your eye the further and more clear you can see. Now this isn’t a hard and fast rule because there are other variables such as the shape and depth of the overall lens, but as a good rule of thumb, pick a monocular with the biggest lens you can find.
Care and Maintenance
If you’re going to spend the money on the monocular you’re obviously going to want to take great care of it. It should go without saying, that because you’re going to be using your monocular outdoors the chances of things going wrong are just going to be higher.
Most night vision-enabled monoculars, especially the ones we ranked as our top 5, are rated for handling the worst of what nature can throw at it, but at the end of the day the digital components are still electronics, and we know how good electronics mix with the outdoors.
What we recommend doing is about after every time you replace or need to recharge the monocular batteries, is take the time to clean all the connections of the unit with rubbing alcohol. So, for every micro SD and micro USB slot and depending on what your user manual says, take a microfiber cloth to the outside lens. If using a microfiber cloth isn’t recommended, then taking compressed air to the lens and connections is the next best option.
Types of Night Vision Technologies
There are generally two types of ways that night vision works. And this is not just for monoculars, but any rifle scope, goggles, or camera system. The way you can see it night is either through image enhancement, or thermal imaging.
Image Enhancement works just as the name implies, enhancing the available light. The monoculars outfitted with this technology capture the full spectrum of available light, even the light our puny human eyes can’t see, and intensify it to the point where there is enough light for us to see at night.
Thermal Imaging works similarly to Image Enhancement by capturing a wide spectrum of light. Where it differs is that it captures the infrared light spectrum from objects that emit heat and helps our eyes define objects based on the amount of heat they emit.
Wrapping it Up
Picking the right night vision monocular can be somewhat of a hard decision, especially because the technology is so similar across many manufacturers. The best monocular will be sized well to fit in your pocket, have an excellent battery life, robust zoom capabilities, can capture what you’re seeing for playback, and most importantly have an incredible picture at all magnification levels.
All three of the top-rated night vision monoculars we pick are excellent choices for enhancing your nighttime vision, and are built rugged enough to handle even the most avid outdoorsman. The Best Monocular with Night Vision on the Market is the Bushnell Equinox Z.
On a Budget? Here is the Best Night Vision Monocular Under $100
Like our top-rated night vision monoculars, but don’t want to spend that much? No problem, if you’re looking for the best monocular under $100 the Waterproof Night Vision 16×52 from Discoball is the way to go. It features adjustable zoom and a waterproof telescoping lens. It’s not the best night vision, but if you’re looking to spend under $100 bucks, this is the night vision monocular for you.
Why You Need a Night Vision Monocular
Night vision monoculars offer a wide range of benefits, including enhanced safety, better navigation in the dark, and the ability to observe wildlife without disturbing them. Whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, having one of these top-notch monoculars can significantly improve your nocturnal experiences.
In conclusion, night vision monoculars have evolved into sophisticated devices that provide unparalleled visibility in low-light conditions. Our list of the 5 best night vision monoculars covers a variety of options to suit different needs and budgets. Invest in one of these devices, and you’ll be able to explore the mysteries of the night with clarity and precision.
How far can I see with a night vision monocular?
The range depends on the specific monocular, but many can provide clear visibility up to several hundred feet in optimal conditions.
Are night vision monoculars legal to use?
Yes, night vision monoculars are legal to use for personal and professional purposes. However, there may be restrictions on exporting them to certain countries.
Do all-night vision monoculars require an infrared illuminator?
No, not all monoculars require an infrared illuminator. Some models have built-in infrared capabilities, while others may benefit from external illuminators in extremely dark conditions.
Can I use night vision monoculars for stargazing?
While night vision monoculars are primarily designed for terrestrial use, some enthusiasts have used them for basic stargazing. However, specialized astronomical telescopes are better suited for this purpose.
How do I maintain and clean my night vision monocular?
To maintain your monocular, keep it in a protective case when not in use, clean the lens with a microfiber cloth, and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or moisture.