PointOptics is reader supported. We earn an affiliate commission if you buy through our links . Learn More.
Night vision monoculars are relatively new and versatile, with applications across various sporting activities, hunting, and general fun! With several uses for these devices, from spotting animals in the backcountry to stargazing to having fun with the kids, you will surely find some enjoyment with their use!
However, there is more to consider than when purchasing a simple optic or range finder. Depending upon what device you purchase, several different technologies could be at play. “Night vision” is not just one technology. There are many ways to go about enhancing vision in low-light environments.
Best Overall Night Vision Monocular
The SiOnyx Aurora Pro NVG is our top pick based on the balance between performance, features, and affordability. While they’re not the cheapest monocular, they are also far from the most expensive. For their price, the Aurora Pro NVG offers good quality performance even on the lowest-lit nights. It also offers good-quality video recording, a step from many alternatives that still cater to 480p video capture.
Our Other Recommendations
Best Night Vision Monocular Under $200
The best digital night vision monocular for the money is the ESSLNB 5X40 Night Vision Monocular. Sporting the exact technical specifications as others on this list, albeit with a much lower price point, there is no need to spend more if all you need is what this device offers. This is the best night vision monocular under $200 and cannot be recommended enough for the budget-conscious user.
Best Night Vision Monocular for Hunting
Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 might just be a hunter’s new best friend! Long draw distances, impressive optical and digital zoom, along with a run-time that approaches 100 hours make this a night vision device that has no equal when it comes to hunting applications. The device does not allow for video or still capture, but those functions are not necessary when spotting and looking for deer or elk!
Best Night Vision Monocular with a Camera
Included in the box is everything you will need to get started with video capture, transfer, and sharing. The CREATIVE XP was built with video functionality in mind from the very beginning. Take advantage of the 32GB SD card, card reader, and transfer cables to save your videos for later or stream to a TV to show your friends.
Overview of Night Vision Monoculars
Traditional light enhancement technology (think of the classic green hue you see in the movies) has four distinct “generations” used today. 1st generation is the most commonly available globally and primarily what is available on the consumer market. Everything from generations 2-4 is used by law enforcement and in military applications.
A second type of night vision is consumer-grade technology that utilizes digital infrared capabilities. Without going into all the boring details surrounding ion barriers, microchannel plates, gallium arsenide, and photocathodes, I will boil it down like this. Traditional night vision takes the available light and enhances what is available through chemical processes.
On the other hand, digital night vision converts the incoming signal into a digital format, which is then presented in a visible form to the human eye. This is why traditional NV is green and digital NV is in grayscale. You will find a few generational technologies and digital IR on this list.
Our Selection of the Best Night Vision Monoculars
Here are our picks of the best night vision monoculars on the market. We’ve considered pricing, performance, and reliability for these selections.
1. SiOnyx Aurora PRO NVG
|Magnification: 3x (Digital)||Lens: 16mm f/1.4, f2.0, f5.6|
|Waterproof: IP67||Battery Type: Rechargeable lithium-ion|
|Battery Life: Unspecified||Field of View: 16mm wide-angle|
|Range: 150m+-||NV Technology: Digital infrared full color|
The SiOnyx Aurora Pro NVG uses modern night vision technology to bring a full-color night vision experience that can detect human-sized objects from as far as 150m. Because this is a digital night vision monocular, the image is generated with a sensor. In this case, it uses proprietary technology from SiOnyx to achieve high-quality results.
Magnification & Image
The magnification of the Aurora Pro NVG is a modest 3x digital zoom, but even with the lack of additional reach, the clarity can compensate. Compared with similar night vision monoculars, you’ll find that the Aurora Pro NVG can keep up with or exceed the performance of monoculars with higher magnification.
A full-color night vision scope can produce a range of colors in an image, though it should be noted that this doesn’t mean you’ll get the same color detail at night through the monocular as you would with the naked eye during daylight.
With a sub-1MLX sensitivity, the Aurora Pro can provide a solution for even moonless nights. One should be aware, though, that the quality of the image does degrade in lower ambient light.
Body & Housing
While we don’t know the exact composition of materials used for the Aurora Pro’s body, they are fairly high quality. We often see night vision monoculars on the consumer market that feel thin and weak and can break anytime. That’s not the case with the Aurora Pro. In addition to how it feels in hand, the Aurora Pro offers rugged, waterproof protection, with an IP67 weather resistance rating that will protect it from both water and dust.
The controls are intuitive and easy to move between, another feature sometimes lacking in similar products. This makes it great for security purposes where you may need to quickly adjust your settings or have adrenaline flowing through you and affecting your coordination.
The Aurora Pro NVG can record video at 720p resolution with a framerate of 30 FPS. But what sets this night vision monocular apart is the adaption of modern streaming technology to let you stream directly to your mobile device.
Overall, the SiOnyx Aurora PRO NVG is an impressive night-vision monocular that offers users a new level of clarity and visibility in low-light conditions. The modern sensor and intuitive user interface are ideal for military, security, or hunting.
720p video recording
Performs well in low light at night
IP67 water and dust resistance
Clarity is not professional-grade
2. Superior Tactical Elbit YH PVS-14 (Gen 3)
|Magnification: 1x Optical, 3-5x Digital||Lens: 26mm|
|Waterproof: Yes||Battery Type: Unspecified|
|Battery Life: Unspecified||Field of View: Unspecified|
|Range: Unspecified||NV Technology: White Phosphor (Gen 3)|
The Superior Tactical PVS-14 doesn’t come cheap, but you must invest if you’re looking for performance on night vision monoculars. While most night vision monoculars on the market sacrifice quality for consumerism, the PVS-14 doesn’t cut corners. Instead of focusing on fancy features, it is designed purely for performance and effectiveness. It performs exceptionally well in low-light conditions and is targeted more toward professional security services. Hunters will also gain a significant advantage should they have the funds available.
Magnification & Image
The PVS-14 utilizes third-generation night vision technology, something we often see falsely claimed by cheaper alternatives. Having this technology improves the overall quality and effectiveness of these monoculars. They can operate even in extremely low-ambient light at night. So you won’t require the same illumination that Gen 2 devices require. The benefits are a clearer image with less noise and better contrast.
This monocular allows a digital zoom of 3x and 5x magnification. It’s often challenging to get a magnification that high with Gen 2, as the low-resolution results in bad-quality imagery. This is where the Superior Tactical PVS-14 stands out, as even with the 5x digital zoom, the image quality is still relatively impressive and more than capable of doing what you need from it.
Body & Housing
A stand-out feature of this monocular is the rugged build quality, which is extremely durable, with impressive waterproofing that protects from submergence for a limited time. Despite the durability, this is still a lightweight device and weighs just over 300 grams. The controls are extremely simple to use and well-placed, which can’t be overstated regarding security purposes.
It can also be head-mounted and includes a head-mount system in the package. The PVS-14 can also attach to a handgun, which can be extremely useful for home security or private security personnel.
It doesn’t carry the same polished and feature-rich aesthetic as some other products on this list, but that’s not what it is for. You won’t get any video recording features with this monocular.
While it is the most expensive product on our list, we highly recommend it if you don’t want to get frustrated by cheap night vision monoculars that offer subpar quality and have the means. It also comes with a two-year warranty, offering additional peace of mind.
Gen 3 technology
Easy to use
Lacks bells & whistles
No video recording
3. ESSLNB Night Vision Monocular
|Magnification: 5x optical and 8x digital||Lens: 40mm|
|Waterproof: Yes||Battery Type: 14500 3.7V Lithium-Ion|
|Battery Life: 2-6 hrs (user reported)||Field of View: 5 °x 3.75°|
|Range: 656 ft||NV Technology: Digital IR|
A sneaking suspicion tells me that the ESSLNB 5X40 Night Vision Monocular and the previous entry on this list come from the same factory. They have the same specifications and accessories included in the box.
They even share the same weather sealing and dust-proofing ratings. Where they differ, however, is in ergonomics and price point. If you decide between these two units, look and see what design would suit you the best. The ESSLNB is also cheaper for those looking to stick to a fairly strict budget.
Sporting a similar set of specs to the previous entry in our list, the ESSLNB Night Vision Monocular has a 5x optical magnification rating and 8x digital zoom. Another fantastic option for spotting as you will be able to see out to an impressive 656 ft. The manufacturer used an infrared-sensitive CMOS sensor to ensure a crisp image of objects near and far.
Body & Housing
Not too big to be a burden and not too small to fumble with, the 8.9 x 5.6 x 2.7-inch profile with an included hand strap means this unit sits right in the Goldilocks zone regarding size and usability. At 1.57 pounds, you will certainly feel the weight.
However, it is not heavy enough to be burdensome unless you are a dedicated backpacker. A nitrogen-filled body to prevent condensation and water and dust sealing makes this an excellent option for those who like to venture out where weather can be inclement and unpredictable.
An included 16GB micro SD card allows for direct video capture and still photography for later viewing. Use the included cables to transfer to a computer, or use a TV as a monitor to review footage and show it to friends.
Overall, I have much the same opinion of this as the Sniper Night Vision Monocular 5X40. However, the ESSLNB 5X40 Night Vision Monocular has a smaller profile, is lighter, and sits slightly lower on the price table.
Those facts alone elevate the unit to someone I could feel very good about recommending if you are looking for a solid digital IR night vision monocular with video capture capability that you can feel comfortable taking into the field.
Range of over 650ft
Video recording function
Limited image performance
4. Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular
|Magnification: 5x||Lens: 50mm|
|Waterproof: Unspecified||Battery Type: 3-volt Type-123 lithium|
|Battery Life: 45-100 hrs||Field of View: 12.5 Degrees|
|Range: 200ft||NV Technology: Gen 1 (Infrared)|
The Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular sits right in the middle of the pack regarding the price point. However, it is right around the $200 mark, and depending on what you are looking for in an NV optic, it might be a very good choice. There is a very good native magnification, the battery life is reasonable, and it uses the best of an admittedly older night vision tech (lower price point with still good performance). That said, this product is bare-bones regarding the feature set. It performs well as a low-light spotting instrument, and that is about it.
A native 5x magnification places the Night Owl Optics NOXM50 firmly in the spotting monocular camp. Aided by the built-in IR illuminator, you will get a healthy 200ft range in even the darkest conditions.
Body & Housing
At 7.75L x 3.79W x 2.48H inches, this is certainly not the smallest of night vision monoculars out there. However, this doesn’t seem to translate to the unit’s weight. Without batteries, you will only be carrying around 16oz. The power requirements are only a single 3-volt lithium-ion battery so that you won’t be looking at a very heavy unit even with the power bank installed. I could not locate any mention of whether or not the housing is water-resistant in any capacity. Some user reviews mention they have not had issues using the product in weather conditions; however, this is done at your own risk.
No video capture, still capture, or streaming capabilities are present in the device. We would have liked to have seen at least the ability to capture stills with the slightly higher price point.
The Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular is a respectable mid-range option for those seeking equipment to aid in low-light spotting activities. It is hard to find much wrong between the long battery life, built-in IR illuminator, and extended viewing range if you are looking for a nighttime spotting optic. However, the weather resistance is questionable at best, and if you need additional features such as video record, there are probably better options out there for you.
Solid viewing distance
Built-in IR illuminator
No video out capabilities
No waterproofing specified
5. CREATIVE XP Digital Night Vision Monocular
|Magnification: 3x optical / 4x digital zoom||Lens: 25mm|
|Waterproof: Unspecified||Battery Type: AA|
|Battery Life: 6 hours (IR), 15 hours (w/out)||Field of View: Unspecified|
|Range: 650 ft||NV Technology: Digital Night Vision|
The CREATIVE XP 2021 Digital Night Vision Monocular is a jack of all trades that can be viable in various applications. Between its 25mm lens, digital zoom, exceptional viewing distance, respectable battery life, and video capabilities, this is a fantastic option for those who want a night vision monocular that isn’t too specialized and can work in multiple situations.
The 25mm lens provides 3x magnification through the viewfinder, with the added option of a 4x digital zoom function. This provides a nice middle ground between more general “lay of the land” style viewing and spotting applications. In addition, the spec sheet claims that with the IR illumination function, the viewer can see out to distances of up to 650 ft in conditions absent of light. This is an incredibly impressive number, and while I will not say that I do not believe in the accuracy of what the company claims, it is always good advice to read user reviews to try and get an idea of real-world performance.
Body & Housing
This is one of the more compact units on the list, coming in at 6.85 x 5.28 x 2.83 inches and weighs under half a pound at a mere 7 ounces. Use seems to be comfortable with its small ergonomic design and included hand strap. However, I found no information regarding weatherproofing or water resistance ratings. While I am sure it holds up well enough in fair weather conditions, take caution if you are planning on taking the unit deep into the field where you have the potential to run into the weather.
The CREATIVE XP 2021 Digital Night Vision Monocular can capture both photo stills and record video onto an included SD card. In addition, the box includes a card reader for your computer, a 32GB SD card, and a USB cable for direct-to-computer transfers. So this may be the ticket if you’re looking for something ready from day one for full video capture, play, and transfer capabilities.
Overall, this is a night vision monocular that satisfies many needs. If you are looking for something modestly priced (around $130) that can be taken into the field for a few hours, can see far away, and can capture video, this could be a fantastic choice!
Exception viewing distance
Video capture w/ all necessary equipment included
Lightweight & portable
Digital zoom results in noticeable image degradation
6. Bushnell Night Vision Equinox Z Monocular
|Magnification: 6x w/ 1-3x digital zoom||Lens: 50mm|
|Waterproof: Water-Resistant housing||Battery Type: AA|
|Battery Life: Unspecified||Field of View: Unspecified|
|Range: Up to 1000ft||NV Technology: Digital|
Bushnell is a trusted name in the world of sport and hunting optics. For a good reason! Founded in 1948, they have a long track record of providing high-quality optical components for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts across various fields. Their Equinox Z Night Vision Monocular is no exception to this. With high-level accolades and awards across multiple buying platforms, you surely can’t go wrong with this tremendous all-around night vision monocular.
The Equinox Z performs excellently in low-light conditions like dusk and twilight by utilizing digital night vision technology. However, some users have struggled to get a clear image in truly dark situations (think 2 a.m. with no moon). Although, this does not seem to be a consistent report across users. A Picatinny style rail and tripod mount allow for many attachment options if you are into accessories.
This monocular provides a native 6x magnification with its 50mm lens diameter. In addition, if needed, there is an additional 1-3x digital zoom capability to take advantage of its digital night vision technology.
Body & Housing
Weighing in just over a pound and a half and sporting 7.85 x 2.5 x 3.9 as its dimensional profile, the Bushnell Equinox Z falls solidly into the middle of the pack regarding weight size and portability. In addition, the fact that the monocular housing is weather-resistant is very impressive, considering this device’s overall weight and portability factors.
Digital night vision technology has its advantages. One of them is direct video recording for later viewing. In addition, the Equinox Z can take up to a 32GB Micro SD card and record both video and stills.
At just under $300, combined with its reasonable weight and size specifications, the Bushnell Night Vision Equinox Z Monocular is a fantastic choice for someone looking for a middle-of-the-road NV option. The only area I would consider a drawback with this particular unit is that it takes AA batteries instead of a built-in rechargeable pack. Unfortunately, the company does not provide an estimated battery utilization time, but some users have reported changing the batteries frequently. So, if you plan on lengthy, in-the-field expeditions, consider another option or bring extra batteries.
In-house video recording capabilities
Lots of options for accessory attachments
AA batteries used
7. BOBLOV Digital Night Vision Monocular 5×8
|Magnification: 5x fixed optical & 8x digital||Lens: Unspecified|
|Waterproof: Unspecified||Battery Type: Lithium-Ion 14500|
|Battery Life: 1-1.5 hours (IR). 2-2.5 (w/out)||Field of View: Narrow|
|Range: 150 Yards||NV Technology: Digital IR|
A product that has all of the features you’d expect it to, BOBLOV’s 5×8 Digital Night Vision Monocular is a reasonably priced spotting-style optic for low light conditions. At first pass, this is a more than capable night vision monocular for the money. However, if you are interested in accessory mounts, you may find issues with the Picatinny rain and tripod mount (more on that later). Additionally, the unit uses 14500 Lithium-Ion batteries, which can be hard to come by. The battery life is modest at best, with a 2-2.5 hr runtime (IR illuminator off) or a 1-1.5 hr range if utilizing the IR function.
A 5x fixed magnification and 8x digital zoom capability are excellent options for those who need night vision optics for spotting applications. A clear and crisp image out to 150 yards aided by the in-body IR illumination means you can take in the details of your surroundings in ultra-low light conditions.
Body & Housing
The profile of the BOBLOV 5×8 is 7.5 x 3.3 x 2.2 inches. While the size of this product isn’t exactly small, it does seem to fit nicely into the palm with the included hand strap for a comfortable viewing experience.
Unfortunately, no information regarding weather or water resistance ratings could be found. A Picatinny rail allows for accessory attachments should you find them necessary. A tripod mounting hole is available as well. However, the tripod mount is located inside one of the Picatinny channels. Some users reported difficulty using standard trips due to the excessive depth of the threads in the rail channel. Many users have circumnavigated this issue by modifying their tripod setup. However, this is not ideal.
This unit hosts a surprisingly fleshed-out set of video capture features for around $150. Video capture with audio and stills can be recorded directly to the included 16GB Micro SD card for later transfer to a computer. Alternatively, you can use the included USB cord and do a direct file transfer. Finally, you can watch video playback directly on the unit LCD screen.
All in all, this is not a terrible night vision monocular. The robust video features, powerful IR illumination, and respectable draw distances make this a good choice for someone who wants to have fun spotting and capturing the moment. However, due to the minimal battery life and difficulty with accessories and tripod mounting, this may not be the best option for those looking to integrate this into a kit or spend any time in the field.
Stream video playback directly into a TV
Easy to use
Poor battery life
Unfortunate placement of the Picatinny rail and tripod mount
Modest viewing distance
Features to Look for When Choosing the Best Night Vision Monocular
Technology Used (NV Technology)
As technology advances, we see improvements in night vision performance at professional and consumer levels. These changes don’t follow the same rapid advancements as other modern computing technologies, but over the last 50 years, we’ve still seen night vision technology advance in several ways.
When it comes to the type of night vision tech used in night vision monoculars, you’ll find that most options under $1000 typically feature generation 1 or 2. You shouldn’t expect excellent night vision quality at this price point, and you will be looking at substantially higher prices when looking at Generation 3 or Gen 3+.
We have a guide for those interested in hearing more about night vision technology and how it may impact your purchase choices.
Magnification & Field of View
More magnification is not necessarily always better. Your need for draw distance and zoom capabilities will ultimately depend on the applications you intend to use for your night vision monocular. For instance, if you want to bring your new monocular to help find animals in the dark, it may be optimal for maximum optical magnification and a digital zoom function.
On the other hand, if you need to navigate with such a device, you will probably want something that provides a field of view that is a little closer to the natural perspective of the human eye.
Size, Weight, Design, and Build Quality
Size, weight, and ergonomics are essential factors to consider when purchasing a piece of equipment that you have the potential to spend a lot of time using. But, again, much of these choices will come down to real-life application and how you intend to use the devices in real-world scenarios. For example, if you plan a multi-mile backpacking trip into the wilderness, you must count ounces with strict dedication. Suddenly, that extra inch of height and half a pound of weight make all the difference in the world.
Some units available have stunning levels of weather sealing and waterproofing. Some can even be fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes! Others have no mention of weather resistance whatsoever and are potentially vulnerable to dust and moisture in the air. Consider the environments you will be operating in and whether you need a unit that matches the environment.
Batteries/Power Source & Operation Time
A wide range of batties and power sources are utilized in night vision monoculars today. You may need to order online from widely available AAs to more exotic cells, from disposable to rechargeable. You have the potential to find them all! First, consider whether or not you will want a unit that can be recharged or loaded with new batteries when the time comes. In conjunction with this is how long you think you will need a continuous operation.
One advantage of disposable batteries is that you can immediately throw in brand-new ones and have a complete operating cycle. Rechargeable units do not always have this advantage.
From the budget options that hover around the $120 range to the more expensive units that are $400+, it can seem overwhelming to figure out where to start. As discussed in individual product reviews, some cheaper night vision monoculars have feature sets that go above and beyond the more expensive units!
But, with a higher price, you will generally get a higher quality product, even if the functionality is limited. Additionally, with higher-priced units, you tend to have the option for more specialty functions you will not find elsewhere, such as integration with maritime navigational units.
Dependent upon the intended functionality of the particular monocular, you will usually end up with either a Picatinny style rail, a tripod mount, or nothing at all. Of course, neither option is better nor worse; it depends on your intended use (do you see a theme here?).
Some units allow mounting onto headgear, others enable extra IR illumination to be attached, and others can be placed onto a tripod for stable spotting across long distances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Night Vision Monoculars in the Daytime?
That depends on the technology used in the device. More traditional generation 1 units absolutely cannot be used during the daytime as the intense light from the sun will burn out the fragile sensors inside. Digital IR does not have this problem, as the process is entirely different. To be sure, it is best to reference the user manual that came with your device.
What is the Difference Between Night Vision Monoculars and Night Vision Scopes?
The most considerable difference between the two is the quality and the associated price. Night vision scopes are intended for precision use when mounted to rifles; thus, their built quality and price are much higher than a standard run-of-the-mill optic. The same holds particularly true when it comes to their night vision equivalents.
Do Night Vision Monoculars Work in Fog or Dust?
Yes! However the severity of the fog/dust can limit the total viewing distances that would typically be available with such a device.