Whether you need to wage war or watch wildlife after the sun goes down, night vision goggles will help you do it. No longer just for soldiers, modern night vision goggles help light up the night for hunters, airsoft enthusiasts, survival experts, astronomy buffs, and more.
Night vision goggles are complicated devices, so knowing which ones are worth the money can be a struggle. If you want to take part in the nightlife but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve compiled this handy list of the best night vision goggles to help you out.
If you don’t have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated night vision goggles:
- AGM Apache A-9 Aviator Night Vision Goggle System
- ATN PS15-WPTI
- AGM NVG-40
- Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3
- ATN NVG7-3 Gen 3
- ATN NVG7-2 Gen 2
- FLIR PVS-7 2HD Gen 2+
- ATN NVM14-HPT
- WANNEY Tracker
- X-Vision Night Vision Deluxe
Table of Contents
- How Night Vision Works?
- Things to Consider When Buying an NVG
- Best Night Vision Goggles on the Market Review
- Final Thoughts
How Night Vision Works?
Night vision devices are highly complicated pieces of technology (it’s the main reason they are so expensive). A detailed description of how NV technology works involves a ton of confusing technological terms like ion barriers, micro channel plates, gallium arsenide, and photocathodes.
Here is a more basic overview of how night vision works:
- Available ambient light enters the device and hits a surface that senses the light. (That surface is called the “photocathode.”)
- That surface converts the light to electrons.
- Those electrons are then amplified (by a “photomultiplier”).
- The amplified light is transferred to a screen which works in a way similar to a television screen.
- The screen displays an intensified image of the light that originally entered the device.
This is an incredibly simplified explanation of how night vision works. In reality, there’s a lot more going on internally, with different optical elements and components that improve resolution and image alignment. However, the average consumer doesn’t need to completely understand all the technological mumbo jumbo.
Things to Consider When Buying an NVG
It’s more important to understand your options than to understand the complex ins and outs of the technology. Here are a few key things to consider before you invest in a set of night vision goggles.
How Will You Use Your Night Vision Goggles?
How you plan to use your NVGs will help determine what type of device is the best for you. If you plan to use them for hunting, image clarity may be more important than effective range. For tactical and surveillance applications, range will be far more important.
How Much Should You Spend on Night Vision Goggles?
Thankfully, the price of night vision technology has dropped significantly over the past few decades. However, devices can range from as little as $500 to as much as $20,000.
Some of the more affordable devices on our list use digital technology to convert ambient light into a viewable image on a screen. While digital night vision tends to be cheaper, image quality and effective range tend to be much lower than traditional NV technology.
If you want quality, you need to be prepared to pay for it. Military-grade NVGs tend to cost significantly more than those designed for civilian use. These hard-working devices are engineered to operate effectively and reliably under the harshest conditions.
In the world of night vision, we tend to stick by the motto: “Buy once, cry once.” If you can afford to fork out a little more money for a quality NVG, you’ll be less likely to end up frustrated in the field. Plus, the more you spend, the longer your NVG is likely to last.
Best Night Vision Goggles on the Market Review
Whether you are planning a nighttime hunt, after dark surveillance, or simply some leisurely backyard sky watching, these night vision goggles will help you see what goes on after the sun goes down.
We’ve tried to include models that run the gamut of price range, so expect to see models that run from entry level to military-grade. However, you should approach these reviews understanding the differences in their capabilities. Don’t expect premium performance from a device priced under $1000.
1 AGM Apache A-9 Aviator Night Vision Goggle System
AGM’s Apache A-9 NVG is a variant of the United States Army standard issue AN/AVS-6(v)/9 series ANVIS Goggle. It features 3rd generation autogated image intensifier tubes that produce excellent clarity and resolution. This technology works perfectly in dynamic lighting situations, keeping images crisp and sharp through morphing levels of ambient light, making it ideal for urban settings.
The system comes with high-quality filter coatings on the objective lenses, and it offers a respectable 40-degree minimum field of view. The device is waterproof and fogproof to military standards, so it is perfectly ready to take on the elements.
One of the best features of this NVD is the -6 to +2 dioptric correction. In layman’s terms, that means it can more easily focus for users with less than perfect eyesight. Users will also appreciate the 10-degree tilt adjustments that help accommodate a wide range of helmet designs.
This is a top-of-the-line NV device, so don’t be surprised by the expensive price tag. If you don’t mind investing the cost of a decent used car, you can have access to the best night vision technology available in the civilian world.
2 ATN PS15-WPTI
The ATN PS15-WPTI utilizes some of the most advanced night vision technology currently available. A compact, lightweight NVD, the PS15-WPTI uses two high-performance image intensifier tubes. This dual tube configuration improves depth perception over single tube designs. You also get some of the clearest images you’ll ever see through an NVD.
The tubes are Gen 3 image tubes that provide outstanding light performance, especially in low light urban environments. However, the built-in IR illuminator ensures you can still see in pitch dark conditions. You can also pair these versatile NV goggles with magnification lenses, scopes, camera adapters, and other night vision accessories.
3 AGM NVG-40
This dual channel night vision system from AGM has a 40-degree field of view, one of the widest on our list. With advanced multi-coated optics and Gen 3+ intensifier tubes, this device produces seriously impressive image clarity and resolution.
The lightweight compact design of the NVG-40 makes it perfect for a head or helmet mount, although it works just as well as a handheld device.
Other notable features include an integrated IR illuminator, automatic shutoff system, and a reliable operating temperature range of -40 degrees Fahrenheit to an extreme 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
It also has an impressive battery life of up to 20 hours, although you can extend that to 80 hours using the optional battery pack.
4 Superior Tactical PVS-7 Gen 3
Nearly identical to NVGs worn by members of the United States military, the Superior Tactical PVS-7 is as reliable and durable as they come. For civilians who want the quality of official armed forces night vision gear, these versatile, multi-purpose NVGs definitely fit the bill.
Utilizing high-performance NV technology, the PVS-7 comes equipped with an IR illuminator and Gen 3 image intensifier tubes. These battle-proven NVGs deliver some of the best quality after-dark images available.
The PVS-7 features Automatic Brightness Control (ABC) so you can easily adjust image brightness in varying light conditions to enhance image definition. It also has a bright light cut-off feature to protect the delicate image tubes from accidental damage due to light exposure.
Relatively lightweight and incredibly durable, the PVS-7 can be used as a handheld device or mounted to your helmet for easy hands-free use.
5 ATN NVG7-3 Gen 3
This rugged, lightweight performer from ATN is perfect for hunting, home defense, tactical, and law enforcement applications. The ATN NVG7-3 features reliable Gen 3 technology, a high resolution image intensifier, auto-brightness control, and a built-in IR illuminator for use in total darkness. For the clearest images possible, the ATN NVG7-3 is made with multi-coated glass.
This device offers a generous battery life of up to 50 hours and has an automatic shut-off system to help conserve power. For safety, the ATN NVG7-3 has an integrated bright light cut-off to prevent unintended damage to sensitive internal components.
The ATN NVG-3 is built to last with a durable, waterproof, fogproof construction that makes it suitable for use in even the harshest weather conditions.
6 ATN NVG7-2 Gen 2
If the price tag on the ATN NVG7-3 scares you, the company’s NVG7-2 might be more your speed. The NVG7-2 has many of the same features as the NVG7-3, including waterproof, fogproof performance, a built-in IR illuminator, and an automatic shutoff system.
The biggest difference between these two models is the resolution. The resolution of the NVG7-2 is 40-45 lp/mm (line pairs per millimeter), while the NVG7-3 has a much clearer image with a resolution of 64 lp/mm. The difference in clarity is due to the different technologies used in each device. (The NVS7-2 uses Gen 2 technology, while the NVS7-3 utilizes Gen 3).
Aside from the lower price, another major advantage of the NVG7-2 is its weight. This one weighs in at almost a half pound lighter than its Gen 3 counterpart. While that may not seem like a significant difference, you’ll appreciate the lightweight design of the NVG7-2 after you’ve spent some time carrying it around on your helmet.
7 FLIR PVS-7 2HD Gen 2+
This NVD from FLIR offers surprising resolution (55-72 lp/mm) for Gen 2+ technology. With a rugged housing and a battle-tested design, the FLIR PVS-7 2HD is built for reliable performance, even in rough conditions. It’s easy to see why this model is a favorite of many military and law enforcement professionals.
Helping you maintain a tactical advantage in every light condition, FLIR’s PVS-7 2HD features a built-in IR illuminator, an excessive-light cutoff, and automatic brightness controls. Head and helmet mounting capabilities support hands-free use while the flip up/power down display controls let you adjust your sights while keeping your movements covert.
8 ATN NVM14-HPT
When you think of “night vision goggles,” you probably think of NVDs that use both eyes. However, there are some serious advantages to using a night vision monocular.
The first advantage is the price. Since a monocular utilizes only one intensifier tube, you can get better image clarity for the money. (This one is priced under $2000.) Second, since you have one eye free of the device, you can maintain most of your natural night vision.
For these reasons, we’ve added the ATN NVM14-HPT monocular to our list. Although it may not be what you had in mind, this awesome device has plenty to offer. It features a high resolution Gen 2+ image intensifier tube, is submersible to 66 feet, and is incredibly versatile.
You can use the ATN NVM14-HPT as a hand held device or mount it to your head or helmet for hands-free operation. It can also be used as a weapon-mounted day/night sight and is camera adaptable in case you want to try your hand at nighttime photography.
9 WANNEY Tracker
Designed to meet the night vision needs of the average citizen, the WANNEY Tracker NV goggles are easy to use and surprisingly affordable. With a price tag under $500, this digital NV device offers a great value for the money.
The Tracker features multi-coated glass, a high sensitivity sensor, and an infrared LED illuminator. With an integrated LCD viewing screen and a rechargeable battery, you can easily observe your after-dark surroundings out to 80 meters. You can also choose the maximum surveillance mode, which emits a small ring of red LEDs around the eyepiece, but allows you to see up to 100 meters in total darkness.
The Tracker also comes with a comfortable, soft rubber head strap for easy hands-free viewing, making this device a great option for mountain biking, airsoft adventures, camping, and cave exploration. They are also the perfect stealth goggles for kids eight and up.
10 X-Vision Night Vision Deluxe
A great entry level option for budget-conscious users, the X-Vision Night Vision Deluxe uses digital infrared light technology to help you see both day and night. Images are viewed on a clear widescreen display, and the device even captures photo and video, storing it on your own SD card.
The X-Vision Night Vision Deluxe features a 3x optical zoom and 2x digital zoom so you can easily get up close and personal with distant viewing. This device comes with a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery that runs approximately 8 hours during the day and 5 hours at night, so you may want to carry a charging device just in case.
There are night vision devices to fit practically every budget. However, not all NVDs are created equal.
If you just want to dabble in night vision, there’s nothing wrong with an economy-priced digital device. To get the best performance, the highest reliability, the longest effective range, and the longest life, it’s hard to beat Gen 3 night vision technology. While that technology doesn’t come cheap, it will last longer and provide much better nighttime performance, which we think makes it well worth the monetary investment.
If you want the best night vision goggles money can buy, it’s definitely going to be a Gen 3 NVD.