As useful as night vision devices such as binoculars and monoculars are, there are times when you need both hands free to operate in the dark. This is where night vision goggles, which typically come with comfortable hands-free headgear come in useful. Unlike other night vision devices, which you might only need to survey your surroundings from a static position, night vision goggles are designed for movement. Because they allow you to navigate in the dark you will also more than likely be looking through them for much longer periods than other devices. Because of these factors, there are a couple of features that you should be on the lookout for when buying these devices.
Our Selection of the 10 Best Night Vision Goggles:
2019 is about to see a boom in night vision technology improving. The army has already started rolling out the all-new ENVG-B which makes use of two tubes and is said to drastically improve the soldiers’ depth perception. What makes this technology even more interesting is the fact that the night vision scope and goggle/binocular are completely interactive wirelessly, allowing soldiers to look at targets around corners while not exposing their full body. We are also seeing a move towards thermal technology being blended with standard night vision technology giving the user the benefits of both technologies.
While this new military night vision technology isn’t readily available to the public – below are goggles that are and that we recommend.
Take a look at our top 10 picks for night vision goggles for an overview of what to look out for. If you see any of these night vision goggles for sale and you can afford the price then we heartily recommend you make the purchase as they are the products that impressed us the most.
Pulsar is a renowned company that has taken night vision to the next level. They are now the global leaders in night vision equipment for outdoors and security purposes. The Pulsar Edge GS Super 1+ 1×20 is a Gen 1+ Night vision goggle set prove this time and time again. They’re the best night vision goggles if you don’t need Gen 2.
What is the Edge GS Super 1+?
The Pulsar GS Super 1+ is a Gen 1 device that focuses on image clarity. Gen 2 and Gen 3 devices do offer better night performance, but that’s not for everyone. Unlike a budget Gen 1 device, you’re getting much-improved clarity, which is always welcome when you’re using night vision goggles. You also get the advantage of getting to enjoy that clarity over an extra-wide field of view and a viewing range of 100 meters. This is a tad more than what regular Gen 1 devices could provide.
Now, it’s not just clarity that you’d expect when you’re paying a bit of a premium. The Edge Super 1+ has an integrated Illuminator that has an adjustable brightness setting. It has surprisingly great battery life and only requires 2 x AAA batteries. You can expect 50 hours worth of viewing when you are not using the IR. The Illuminator is what ultimately lets you see in complete darkness. The Edge GS Super 1+ Is sold with an ergonomic headpiece which allows you to use the goggles hand free. Having night vision goggles that are strapped to your head and offer magnification isn’t ideal. You may think something is closed due to the magnification factor, and you can get confused. Therefore, the Edge GS has a 1x magnification that lets you accurately determine the distance between you, and an object you’re looking at. It is also worth mentioning that the Pulsar GS Super 1+ is equipped with CF- Super Technology which offers increased clarity. Weighing in at just 0.99lb they are also on the lighter side.
A major source of damage to night vision devices is light. Having too much light enter the tubes when night vision is on can easily damage the tubes. The Edge GS has an automatic bright light exposure, which prevents tube burnouts. It will reduce, or stop, any extreme light from coming inside the tubes, and therefore keep them running longer.
Considering night vision goggles are used outdoors and are exposed to the elements, it is great to know what these particular goggles are protected against both rain and dust. At this point, you’d be more than inclined to think that these are just a pair of over-hyped Gen 1 night vision goggles. However, they’re far from that. With all the night vision goggles on sale these days, it’s easy to find a cheaper pair which claims to work just as well. The truth is, these do work as advertised, unlike many of the budget offerings. When purchasing the Pulsar Edge GS you will receive a carrying case, head mount, user manual, cleaning cloth, warranty card as well as a neck strap.
The Pulsar Edge GS comes from a reputable brand which doesn’t work like this. We tried and tested the goggles, and they actually work incredibly well. Everything is as advertised, and better, and you won’t regret buying them, not for a minute! Read our in-depth review here.
Available at: Amazon.com
Night Optics is a US based company that has gained wide recognition as a leader in the production of competitively priced professional quality night vision equipment. Their products are made using state of the art technology and are put through rigorous testing procedures to ensure quality, consistency, and efficiency. The D-2MV Gen 1+ Dual Tube Night Vision Goggles is an embodiment of Night Optics’ principles. At below $1000, it is a high-quality night vision device that provides strength and reliability at a very affordable price.
The Night Optics D-2MV Gen 1+ Dual Tube Night Vision Goggle is a rugged, lightweight device that weighs only 17 ounces and measures 4.9 x 4.4 x 2.3 inches. Built with maximum comfort in mind, it has an ergonomic design that combines with its lightweight to make a device that can be worn for long periods of time without any risk of strain for the user. The rugged housing is weather resistant, which allows the device to be used even in extreme weather. It comes with a nice headgear that can be easily adjusted to fit on about any shape or size of your head. It also has an adjustable chin strap that secures it firmly to your head without compromising on comfort. The Night Optics D-2MV Gen 1+ Dual Tube Night Vision Goggle also features Night Optics’ patented Wide Exit Pupil design that ensures anyone can use it without having to make inter-pupillary adjustments. The only downside with the D-2MV’s design is that it not have pads for mounting it on to a camera or camcorder.
One of the most unique features of the Night Optics D-2MV Gen 1+ Dual Tube Night Vision Goggle is that it comes equipped with an automatic sensor that protects it against exposure to bright light, thereby giving the unit a long life expectancy. While this is a common feature in advanced devices, it is not something you will find on most generation 1 device. The D-2MV also utilizes the dual tubes system to provide true stereo depth perception. Combined with the 1x magnification, it gives you complete environmental awareness. This means you can use the device even while driving in the dark. However, for moments when you want to hone in on a particular target, you can switch to the optional 3.6x or 7x magnification.
The D-2MV comes with a powerful, built-in IR illuminator, allowing it to be used in environments with absolute darkness. It uses a 26mm F1.2 lens system which works with the Gen 1 intensifier tubes to provide 40 line pairs per millimeter resolution. All glass optics are multicoated to ensure a clean image. The Night Optics D-2MV Gen 1+ Dual Tube Night Vision Goggle has a 40-degree field of view, a detection range of 125 meters and a recognition range of up to 100 meters. The range of focus on this device is an impressive 10 inches to infinity. It comes with a diopter dial with an adjustment range of -4 to +4. The device is powered by a single 3V CR123 battery which can keep it running for up to 40 hours.
Available at: Amazon.com
Our third pick is one for folks that are serious about their nocturnal excursions and want only the best. The Nyx7-ID is not a toy which is made abundantly clear by the rather hefty price tag, but despite the large investment, it is worth it if you know what you are looking for. The high-grade generation 2 image intensifier tubes no doubt chased up the price considerably, but the rest of the goggles specifications are up to standard as well.
The Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ is a lightweight, compact and rugged bi-ocular device that is built with high grade, multi-layered all glass optics and reliable electronics. The device measures 5.9 x 4 x 2.7 inches and measures just 1 pound, which allows it to be worn for long periods without causing neck muscle strain. It comes with a comfortable headgear that allows you to easily flip it up when you don’t need to use it. Apart from being used as a head-mounted device, the Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ can also be used as a handheld or mounted on a helmet. The rugged casing is built to provide the Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ with both water and fog resistance.
The Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ Night Vision Goggles is a Gen 2 device. While many might think that a Gen 2 device lies halfway between Gen 1 and Gen 3 devices in terms of performance, this is not really true. Gen 2 technology is much closer to Gen 3 than it is Gen 1. Actually, buying a Gen 2 night vision device is a very great choice because you get excellent performance at an affordable price. Being a Gen 2 device, the Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ has a resolution of 47 – 54 line pairs/millimeter and has an excellent range of about 200 yards. It offers more refined, brighter and cleaner images. Owing to the excellent performance of the Gen 2+ intensifier tubes, the Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ can also be used for “passive” operation, without the need to turn on the IR illumination, which translates to longer battery life.
Unlike what you might find on Gen 1 devices, the Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ provides a full field of view clarity. With Gen 1 night vision devices, it is not uncommon to find the image showing distortion on the outer one-third of the field of view. The Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ is less likely to experience “blooming”, whereby a light source seems to distort into a halo that covers the whole image. You are also going to get more durability and reliability with this device, with a life expectancy that is up to 3 times longer than you would get with a Gen 1 device.
The Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ has an F1.2 24 mm lens system that provides a wide, 40-degree field of view, coupled with a wide angle inbuilt infrared illuminator. However, you might rarely need to use the illuminator since the device is capable of passive operation. The night vision goggle has a 0.25 m to infinity range of focus. It comes with a standard 1x magnification, though you can take this up by investing in the optional 3x, 5x or 8x magnification lenses. It has a diopter dial with an adjustment rate of -5 to +5.
The night vision goggle comes equipped with automatic brightness control and a Bright Light Cut-Off that protects the device from damage caused by bright light sources. It has digital controls for enhanced ease of use and an automatic shut-off system that powers down the device when it is not in use to preserve the battery. The Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ also has a low battery indicator and an IR indicator, both of which are visible in the user’s field of view. The unit is powered by one CR123A lithium battery, which gives it up to 60 hours of operation when used without IR. While the Armasight Nyx7-ID Gen 2+ doesn’t come cheap, it is a really good investment if you can afford it.
Available at: Amazon.com
The Sightmark Ghost Hunter 1×24 Night Vision Goggle Binocular Kit is a great piece of night vision equipment from Sightmark. Like all other Sightmark products, the Ghost Hunter 1×24 is inspired by the technology normally found in law enforcement and military equipment and designed to adhere to Sightmark’s Triple Duty concept. The Ghost Hunter 1×24 provides hunters, campers, tactical trainers and general outdoor enthusiasts with the perfect solution for great nighttime vision and mobility. The binocular is very versatile and are a great choice for people who are new to night vision. Going at under $500, it also allows you to own tactical night vision gear without breaking the bank. Despite the affordable price, the Sightmark Ghost Hunter 1×24 Night Vision Goggle Binocular Kit packs a great set of features.
Design wise, the Ghost Hunter 1×24 is built to meet the rigorous standards and requirements of the most demanding night vision user. It has a dual tube system that provides a more comfortable viewing experience than you would find on a monocle. The dual tube system also provides a more detailed image and enables depth perception, allowing the binocular to be easily used for walking or driving in the dark. The Ghost Hunter 1×24 measures 5.3 x 4.4 x 2.3 inches and weighs 13.8 ounces. It has a lightweight glass-filled nylon composite molding that provides durability and resilience even when you are on the toughest of missions.
The Ghost Hunter 1×24 is a versatile device that can be used either as a handheld or on a head-mount. It comes with a comfortable, stable and fairly adjustable head mount that allows for easy hands-free operation. The head mount has a nice joint that allows you to easily flip up the binocular when it is not in use. It also has a mounting plate that allows you to attach the binocular to a helmet. Those who are into modding will find this as a nice feature.
The Sightmark Ghost Hunter 1×24 Night Vision Goggle Binocular Kit comes with all glass lenses and a multi-coated optics system. The optics system provides 1x magnification while the dual tube system allows for accurate environmental awareness and depth perception. The Ghost Hunter 1×24 uses a 24mm objective lens combined with generation 1 intensifier tubes. This provides a resolution of 30 line pairs per mm. The night vision binocular has a 30-degree field of view and a close focus range of about 1 foot. It also has a diopter dial that has an adjustment range of -5 to +5.
The Sightmark Ghost Hunter 1×24 Night Vision Goggle Binocular Kit comes with an inbuilt infrared illuminator for the nights when there is total darkness. Being a generation 1 device, you might anticipate using the IR illuminator all the time. However, you will be surprised at how well the intensifier tubes work. You will get by on most nights without switching on the illuminator. This is a great advantage since switching on the illuminator while on a stealth mission would compromise your position. The Ghost Hunter 1×24 has a bright light protection feature and an automatic shutdown feature that switches off the device when not in use to preserve battery life. The binocular is powered by 2 AAA batteries that can keep it running for 72 hours without IR and up to 20 hours with IR.
If you are on the lookout for a night vision binocular that will provide you with a reasonable level of performance without having to spend a fortune, then the Sightmark Ghost Hunter 1×24 Night Vision Goggle Binocular Kit is a great choice.
Available at: Amazon.com
The ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle is a lightweight, 3 generation device that is amazingly comfortable to wear and that has excellent resolution and extreme light sensitivity. As the PSV-7 in its name implies, the device is a piece of military grade equipment. AN/PSV-7 in full, the name is an acronym for Army Navy Personal Vision System (Number 7). This shows that the ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle is a 3rd Generation device and is categorized as version 7of a device that meets military specifications. You can already bet that this is quite an excellent device.
Like noted above, the ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle is a Gen 3B device, which is the current gold standard in night vision technology. This is the same technology being used by the US military and Special Forces. The intensifier tube on the ATN PSV-7 has a B-rated low occurrence blemish rating, which greatly reduces the small black specs you might experience when using Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices. With the ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle, you can expect a long range of about 300+ yards, clean, crisp and bright images, and great low light performance. Gen 3 devices are also more versatile when it comes to pairing them with other accessories and have a life expectancy of over 10,000 hours.
The ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle is a versatile device which can be used either as a head-mounted, helmet-mounted or as a hand-held device. It is fitted with three brow pads for easy head mount attachment. The device has Proshield lens coating, which means that all the glass surfaces on the device are multi-coated. It also has what is known as Total Darkness IR System. This means that the ATN PSV7-3 allows you to use the infrared capabilities regardless of the amount of ambient light that is available, without having to worry about notifying others of your presence. The device is also water resistant, therefore you can use it in inclement weather without worrying that it will get damaged. It weighs about 1.5 pounds and measures 6.3 x 3 x 6 inches.
The ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle has a 40-degree field of view and provides 1x magnification. It comes with an automatic bright light protection system, an IR indicator, automatic brightness control, and a low battery indicator. The IR and battery low indicators are all visible within the user’s field of view. The diopter dial has an adjustment range of -6 to +5, allowing you to fine tune the focus for one eye. The device uses a 35mm F 1:1.2 lens system. At the front of the monocular is an all glass 6 element all infrared sensitive lens system. At the back is an all glass 3 element eyepiece that provides a wide 40-degree field of view.
The ATN PSV7-3 has a resolution of 57-64 line pairs/millimeter and a focus range of 1 foot to infinity. It has a 222 meters recognition range, while the detection range maxes out at 300 meters. The night vision device comes equipped with an inbuilt infrared illuminator that works like a flashlight, allowing a range of up to 50 yards of close viewing. It also comes with digital controls for ease of operation, allowing the user to toggle between the different features at the flick of a switch.
Since it is made to military specifications, the ATN PSV7-3 Night Vision Goggle has an operating temperature range of -40 degrees to 120 degrees (F) and a storage temperature range of -55 to 158 degrees. It is powered by 2 AA batteries, which will keep it running for up to 50 hours.
Available at: Amazon.com
The Yukon – NV 1×24 Night Vision Goggles is made by Yukon, a company that has been at the forefront of advanced optics technology since 1998. Like others from the Yukon repertoire, the NV 1×24 is remarkable owing to its user friendliness and high usability. With its multi-coated optics, rubber armor protection, modern, ergonomic design and the excellent observation ability in total darkness, the Yukon NV 1X24 Goggles is a quality product at an affordable price.
Designed for maximum comfort and ease of use, it features comfortable hands-free headgear and a lightweight design that allows you to move around with maximum comfort, even when using it for extended periods of time. The Yukon is a versatile piece of equipment, perfect for both recon missions and stationary observations. You can use it as a pair of handheld binoculars or mount it on the headgear for convenient, hands-free mobility.
The NV 1×24 is lightweight, coming in at only 1.8 pounds and measuring 6.9 x 4.8 x 2.8 inches. This allows users to wear the device for long periods of time without the risk of neck strains and pains. The device also is fitted with the Eclipse Lens Cover System, which makes use of flip-up covers that can be rolled out of the viewing area or clipped against the body of the binoculars, preventing the issue of lost lens caps and scratched objectives. Anyone that has used the Yukon Tracker series of night vision binoculars will recognize the design and quality that these goggles bring to the table. The goggles are water and fog resistant, which along with the decent battery life make them a good purchase.
These Yukon – NV 1×24 Night Vision Goggles use Gen 1 intensifier tubes for light amplification. In case the user is wearing the goggles in complete darkness, they can switch on the built-in infrared illuminator, which works with the intensifier to allow visibility in total darkness. Unlike most of the illuminators, you will find on other devices, the NV 1×24 uses an illuminator equipped with Yukon’s PULSE system, which provides IR illumination in systematic pulses rather than as a continuous stream. This helps increase viewing range and image quality and helps conserve the battery.
This device uses a 24 mm lens that provides 36 pair lines/mm resolution and a 30-degree field of view. The night vision device provides 1x magnification and has quite an advanced level of depth perception, making it suitable for walking around or driving in the dark. It also comes with Yukon’s lens protection system, which protects the device from bright light sources and keeps the user protected from various irritations. The NV 1×24 has a diopter dial with a -5 to +5 adjustment range as well as a 150-meter detection range and a 1-meter minimum focus range. It is powered by 1 CR123A battery, which can keep it running for up to 20 hours without IR illumination.
This goggle uses generation 1 technology, but it still manages to offer great image quality and visibility when using ambient light or with the infrared illuminator switched on. What we like most about the Yukon – NV 1X24 goggles is the price as it offers some great features, but keeps the cost reasonable. It doesn’t feature autofocus and the field of view is rather narrow, but when it comes to overall features and value for money the Yukon – NV 1X24 is our top pick.
Available at: Amazon.com
Since it is made to be used in the most tactical of situations, the Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle is rugged and made from the toughest materials currently available on the market, making it extremely durable. In spite of this, it is a lightweight device that won’t strain your neck even after hours of wearing. The rugged housing is also waterproof, protecting the night vision unit against water and extreme weather. It has a unique design that uses two eyepieces but only one objective lens. The eyecups are ergonomic and made of soft rubber to ensure a comfortable fit. The Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle can be used either as a handheld or it can be mounted on the head or on a helmet. The only downside here is that it does not come with a head mount. You have to buy this separately. For the price, they should have included a head mount.
With the Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle, you will get the excellent performance that is expected of Gen 3 night vision devices. This device has a very high resolution that provides clear, clean and bright images at a range of up to 300 yards. The generation 3 intensifier tubes ensure excellent performance even in extremely low light conditions, thus allowing for complete usage without depending on the IR illuminator. However, it is still equipped with a powerful IR illuminator in case you need to use it. The Gen 3 tubes also significantly reduce blooming in areas where you encounter artificial light sources. You can expect over 10,000 hours of reliability and durability with the Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle.
This night vision goggle comes with 26mm F1.2 lens system that provides 1x magnification and a wide 40-degree field of view. The device has a detection range of over 300 yards and a focus range of 0.25m to infinity. Like most Gen 3 devices, the optics on this unit use Proshield coating. It has a diopter that has an adjustment range of -6 to +2. The Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle has an automatic bright light cut-off that protects it against bright sources of light. It also comes with a low battery indicator and an IR indicator that are only visible within the user’s field of view.
If you are looking for a high-performance device and you are willing to spend close to $2000 on a night vision device, the Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle is a great choice.
Available at: Amazon.com
This list would be incomplete without mentioning a product by Night Owl Optics. Though night vision technology was initially pioneered and developed majorly by the military and security companies, Night Owl Optics has also been on the forefront of researching and developing the technology. They are one of the companies that made this technology readily available for use by civilians. They have carved a name for themselves in the industry by manufacturing high-quality yet reasonably priced night vision goggles. The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles is the perfect representation of what the company stands for. The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles is a 26mm, head mounted compact set of binocular goggles.
The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles is designed in a simplistic yet classy military style. The goggles measure 5 x 5 x3 inches and weigh just 14.1 ounces and are housed in a premium, precision machined aluminum casing. This makes them light enough to keep you from straining while wearing the device. Since it is designed for hands-free use, it comes with a sturdy looking head mount with three straps to ensure it remains securely strapped to your head as you navigate in darkness.
The straps are made from a soft but tough canvas that won’t be too rough on your head. The front of the mount that lies against your forehead is fitted with a lightly padded material to ensure it feels comfortable against your head. The headgear is fitted with a hinged quick-release mount which allows you to instantly flip up the goggles from your eyes. It also allows you to detach the goggles and use them as regular, handheld binoculars. The two eyepieces are well designed to fit comfortably around your eyes without causing any strain.
The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles have a wide array of awesome features. Unlike some devices you will find on the market, it does not provide magnification. However, this is by design and not an oversight on the part of Night Owl Optics. The device is designed to provide you with a wide view 1-to1 non-magnified image, allowing it to be used even when you are driving. The enhanced depth perception provided by the 1.4F lenses means that you can tell exactly how far away each object is from you. The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles also have a light sensor and bright light protection circuit. This automatically cuts power when the goggles are exposed to a light source that is potentially damaging, thereby preventing the intensifier tubes from burning out.
The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles come equipped with close-up focusing which allows you to clearly see enhanced images of objects from close range. The goggles are also equipped with dual high-quality 1st Gen image intensifier tubes and come with an inbuilt columnated infrared illuminator. This makes the goggles suitable for use even in total darkness and allows for clear target recognition in whatever environment you may find yourself in. The device is also equipped with a photodetector system that allows it to detect ambient light.
These night vision goggles have a resolution of 35 lp/mm on the center and a 400nm to 900nm spectral sensitivity. They are fitted with a diopter dial with an adjustment range of -4 to +4. The diopter dial allows you to minutely adjust the relation between the two barrels to compensate for the differences perceived by your own two eyes. This results in a sharp, well-defined image. The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles have an intraocular distance of 2.5 feet and provide a 30-degree angular field of view. The goggles are powered by two 1.5 V type N batteries that can keep the device powered for between 40 to 80 hours, depending on how much the infrared is being used. The device has an auto power-down function to help conserve the batteries when it is not in use.
Available at: Amazon.com
One of the most unique features of the Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle is that its image intensifier tubes are built around CORE technology. CORE, which stands for Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine, is an advanced Gen 1 intensifier tube technology, or, as Amarsight puts it, a cross between 1st Gen and 2nd Gen. Unlike Generation 1 intensifier tubes which are traditionally made using glass – which is quite fragile and has relatively low resolution – the Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle’s intensifier tubes are made out of ceramic compounds fused with metal alloys. This is the same technology used in Gen 2 and Gen 3 intensifier tubes. However, the Spark doesn’t have some of the higher end technical 2nd Gen features such as a microplate channel, therefore it does not fit in the 2nd Gen category.
The elements used in CORE intensifier tubes are durable and allow for tight component stacking. This results in durable, vibration-resistant tubes that can take a beating while still remaining fully functional. CORE technology does an effective job of eliminating edge distortion, increasing photocathode sensitivity to over 400µA/lm and doubling resolution, giving the Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle a 70 line pair/millimeter resolution. This provides a high-quality image and allows the Spark to compete with some Gen 2 and Gen 3 equipment. The CORE tubes also come in a robust packaging that provides protection to the fragile protrusions usually found in Gen 1 tubes. This allows for a streamlined design, resulting in a night vision device that is compact, lightweight and very reliable.
The Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle is very well designed, with the look and feel of military equipment that lacks in most Gen 1 units. It weighs 14 ounces and measures 6.3 x 1.9 x 3.2 inches. In spite of the somewhat large size, it feels like a professional piece of equipment. It’s good to note that while it is large compared to a Gen 2 device, it is quite compact when you compare it to a Gen 1 device. It comes with a sturdy focus knob and a large eyepiece that easily fits around the eye. The eyecup is fitted with rubber, making it even more comfortable on your eye.
The Spark comes with only three controls – a focus dial on the eyepiece and PVS-14 style objective and power knobs. The power knob has three modes – on, off and illuminator on. A smaller LED notifies the user whatever mode is currently active, glowing green to show it is on and red to show the illuminator is on. Most importantly, the Spark is built to provide adequate protection to internal components. It has a rugged, durable polymer housing that effectively protects the internal components from extreme temperatures, humidity, water, rain, and mechanical damage.
The Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle uses a F/1.7, 35 mm lens. It provides a 35-degree field of view and has a 0.25 m to infinity focus range. The diopter dial allows an adjustment range of -5 to +5. The Spark comes with a low powered, inbuilt infrared illuminator that works perfectly for up to 20 feet outdoors. The IR illuminator has a much longer range indoors. If you need long-range performance, it has rails where it is possible to attach a more powerful IR illuminator. The spark has 1 to 1 magnification, with the option of cranking it up to 3x. You will find that 1 to 1 magnification is good when you need to walk around or drive in the dark while wearing the monocular. However, you should be careful when using the Spark for driving. Unlike some higher-end units, it does not have bright light protection, therefore headlights from other cards or spotlights could damage the device.
The Armasight Spark-G Night Vision Goggle is powered by a single CR123 battery, which can keep it going for up to 40 hours. The Spark also has multi-purpose capabilities. Apart from using it with the head mount, you can also mount it on a camera, a weapon or a daylight scope. You can also use it as a hand-held monocular.
Available at: Amazon.com
The Armasight Vega packs a punch despite having such a pocket-friendly price. The device has rugged fiberglass reinforced composite housing that makes it completely tough and weatherproof. With this housing, durability is also not an issue and the goggles function well in wet or foggy weather conditions. It comes with a fully adjustable headgear that gives you complete control over your hands-free experience. Not only can the goggles be flipped up very easily, but the design allows you to actually choose which eye you want to use for viewing. The device is very compact and quite lightweight, which in conjunction with the adjustable headgear makes it comfortable to wear. It weighs a mere 0.54 pounds, qualifying one of the lightest night vision goggles you will find on the market.
Apart from the head mount assembly, the Vega also comes with a dedicated rail that allows it to easily be attached to a tripod. It is fitted with a lens cap that provides adequate protection for its optics system. However, it’s good to note that the Vega does not come with an automatic bright light protection system, which means that exposing it a bright light source might end up damaging the optics. It might also temporarily blind you if suddenly exposed to a bright light source.
Unlike what you might expect with a Gen 1 device, the Armashight Vega’s night vision capabilities do not rely solely on amplification of ambient light. The Vega comes with an infrared illuminator, which earns the device the Gen 1+ tag in its name. However, the illuminator emits a red dot when active, which might not be very suitable for activities that require ultimate stealth.
The Armasight Vega Night Vision Goggle uses multilayered heavy glass optics with a 26 mm lens and a 35 mm F/1.7 lens system that provides a 40-degree field of view. The Vega provides good image clarity with x1 magnification. It has a resolution of 30 – 40 line pairs/millimeter. It provides 20 mm eye relief and has a 0.2m to infinity range of focus. It has a diopter dial that has an adjustment rate of -4 to +4. The Vega also comes with digital controls which make its operation quite user-friendly. The night vision device is also equipped with a low battery indicator and an IR indicator, both of which can be seen within the user’s field of view.
The Armasight Vega Night Vision Goggle Gen 1+ is powered by a single CR123 3V lithium battery, which can keep the device running for up to 58 hours when used with the IR illuminator switched off. Switching on the IR illuminator lowers the battery life to about 12 hours, which isn’t bad either since it means it can last the whole night. The Vega has an operating temperature range of -30 to +45 degrees Celsius and a storage temperature range of -40 to +50 degrees Celsius.
All in all, the Armasight Vega is a great set of night vision goggles that epitomizes efficiency and affordability. In fact, about the only thing that we can fault about the Vega is that there is a minor fisheye effect around the peripheral of the viewing area, but this is relatively minor and to be expected. There simply isn’t a more affordable set of night vision goggles on the market that features as much as the Armasight Vega Night Vision Goggle Gen1+.
Available at: Amazon.com
Night vision goggles are typically used for navigation and short-range observation, so they typically do not feature the magnification levels that you would find on a binocular or monocular. Trying to walk around in the dark with magnified vision is generally not a good idea and would do more harm than good. Some night vision goggles, however, do allow you to use magnification attachments if the need for long-range surveillance of the area is required so if this is something you need, be sure to check if the product you are interested in supports this feature.
Night vision goggles can be used without the headgear, but that would defeat the purpose of the product, so make sure that the device you are interested in is comfortable. There is nothing worse than ill-fitting headgear or headgear that is difficult to adjust out in the dark. Find out whether the night vision goggles that you are interested in is comfortable, durable and easy to operate before breaking out your wallet and making the purchase.
You should also keep in mind that not all night vision goggles are created equally and for the cheaper models you will more than likely have to deal with Generation 1 technology. While this does not automatically make them bad, it does mean you won’t have to visual clarity you would get from generation 2 or higher tech. The trade-off is of course price, so unless money is not an issue you are better off buying the best device within your budget instead of overspending.
With the wide variety of night vision goggles available on the market, choosing the right one for your needs can turn into a challenging activity. The devices come with different sets of features at different prices. If you are not knowledgeable about the important features, you might get carried away by marketing hype and end up with a device that doesn’t meet your needs.
The difference between Gen 1 and Gen 3 night vision:
Night vision goggles use image intensifier tubes to amplify ambient light, enabling you to see in the dark. The more advanced the technology on a particular device, the more reliable the device is. Currently, there are four generations of intensifier tube technology, which are:
- Gen 1: This technology dates back to the ‘60s and was first used in the Vietnam War. Being the earliest form of night vision technology, Gen 1 devices are the least costly devices on the market. Though they can be used without IR illumination, Gen 1 devices need some moonlight to function. In a completely dark night, their performance drops down considerably. They usually have a resolution of 28 – 38 line pairs per millimeter and a range of up to 80m. They also tend to have some distortion around the edge of the image. However, they have a number of practical applications and are quite popular due to their affordability. They are not recommended for tactical applications.
- Gen 2: This technology presents a lot of improvement from Gen 1 technology in terms of size, image clarity and overall performance. Most Gen 2 devices are compact, lightweight and extremely portable. The major technical difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2 is the use of the Micro Channel Plate (MCP). They are fairly efficient even in low light conditions and have a very significant reduction in image distortion. They are more expensive than Gen 1 devices. They are also sufficient for use in tactical operations. Currently, they are mostly used by law enforcement and non-combat troops.
- Gen 3: Currently, Gen 3 tubes are the gold standard in night vision technology. They are the best night vision devices on the market today, though they have hefty price tags. Owing to their excellent performance, they are the devices the US military and Special Forces are currently using. Gen 3 devices provide a number of advantages, including the best resolutions, longest ranges of 300+ yards, high levels of reliability and durability and the most effective low light performance. They also have the longest life expectancy – over 10,000 hours.
- Gen 4: This night vision technology is still in its early stages and is a bit hard to come across in the civilian market. The main difference between Gen 4 technology and Gen 3 technology is that with Gen 4 optics, the protective coating on the MCP was removed, thereby increasing the performance and image clarity by 20 percent. Since they do not have the protective coating, Gen 4 devices are sometimes referred to as filmless. However, removing the protective coating did not come without its challenges. Since this coating was actually protecting something, removing it led to a decrease in the life expectancy of the tubes. As a result of this, they have not been officially accepted by the military since they are incapable of achieving the 10,000+ hours life expectancy required by the military. Gen 4 devices are extremely expensive and will cost upwards of $5000.
This is closely associated with the resolution of a night vision device, which is measured in line pairs per millimeter. Clarity refers to the ability of the night vision device to distinguish between objects that are close together. Clarity is very important for most practical applications and more so for tactical applications. As the military saying goes, pulling the trigger is none of your business if you can’t positively ID your target. Generally, the rule of the thumb for clarity is the higher the resolution, the higher the clarity of the night vision goggles. It’s good to note that with some devices – especially Gen 1 devices – the resolution at the center of the image and the edges might vary.
When dealing with night vision technology, the most important factor when it comes to the range is the recognition range. Along with detection range and poor detection range won’t be of much help. Unfortunately, night vision technology has not gotten to the same point as rifle scope technology. Riflescopes have ranges of 1000+ yards. However, the most you will get with night vision devices currently is 300+ yards, which you will get with Gen 3 devices. It’s also important to note that the range depends on the amount of ambient light available. This is why you will see many manufacturers giving different ranges for quarter moons, full moons, starlight and overcast nights.
This refers to how comfortable it is to use a night vision device and is determined by three factors – weight, size and ease of operation. These three factors are very important when choosing the right night vision device. If a device is not comfortable to use and cannot be easily operated, it is not going to be of much use. When choosing your device, consider how you intend to use it. If you intend to wear it on your face while moving around, go for a lighter model that won’t strain your neck. A heavier model can be used if most viewing will be done from a static position. It’s also important to note that devices with higher magnification tend to be bigger and heavier.
Generally, night vision goggles are expensive, with most having $1000+ price tags. If you are going to spend such an amount of money, you definitely want something that will serve you for a long time. Additionally, optic devices are generally very fragile. Before buying a particular model, make sure you know how durable it is and what its limits are. For instance, do not buy a device that’s not waterproof if you intend to use it in rainy weather.
IR illuminators shine infrared on a device’s field of view, making the image brighter and clearer. Before paying for a night vision unit, find out whether it has an in-built IR illuminator or if it is possible to attach one. Most night vision goggles need some amount of ambient light to work. If you buy a device that does not have an IR illuminator, you might find yourself with a not-so-useful device if you go out on a pitch black night.
In all honesty, having any night vision equipment added to your kit will be beneficial. Choosing the right one is entirely up to you, based on your needs of course. All that we can confidently say is that it always pays off to pay more when it comes to night vision gear. If you can find and afford Gen 3 night vision gear – we say go for it! If you are an amateur hunter that does a little bit of hunter here and there – You might want to consider a better quality night visions scope or monocular to start off with. Happy hunting!