In previous times, night vision goggles were used only in the military field, but now they are available for anyone with different amounts of money in their pocket! To enhance your survival skills, the knowledge of night vision gadgets is a must.
Digital night vision equipment can be used as survival gear in multiple cases: searches, rescue operations, hunting or fishing, bug-out trip, and any other survival situation or trip outdoors. In this article, we will discuss how night vision devices work, what characteristics are important for the best night vision goggles, and provide you with some examples of cheap night vision goggles that are worth being put in your survival kit.
TOP Best Night Vision Googles Binoculars Monaculars
Night vision toys
It is hard to believe that there are some toys on the market that actually use night vision technology, but they exist! Two of them were tested out by us, and here you can find a review on them.
1. Spy Net Infrared Binoculars
Being aware that Spy Net Binoculars is a toy, no high expectations were put on it. This toy looks like a real night vision device, except that it is made out of plastic. However, if you take them to the bathroom and try them on in complete darkness, you will be able to see everything perfectly. Moreover, take them off, and you will realize that in spite of the fact that it uses infrared illumination, no red light is noticed.
Spy Net Night Vision Binoculars act the same way in a natural dark environment; you will be able to see everything up to seventy-five feet away perfectly.
However, it makes your depth perception somewhat blurred, as it has a little bit of fixed lens magnification, so do not try them on while riding or running. They are great when you need budget night vision binoculars for static use only.
2. EyeClops Binoculars
EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Binoculars are quite the same as the previously mentioned night vision binoculars, except for a few differences.
On a regular power, no red lights are noticed, but on the Hi-power, there are some. Also, these night vision binoculars have a smaller viewing screen, with their picture being a bit grainier than that of Spy Net.
For a minimal amount of money, we would say that these two toys are the best budget night vision devices for you. And the Spy Net Binoculars would be the better choice between these two. Do not forget that they are toys, so no waterproofing is available. But still, it is better to have a night vision toy than not to have any other goggles.
Different well-priced night vision goggles for you
Here is a list of budget night vision goggles for those people who do not want to spend a lot of money on them.
1. Night Owl Optics XGEN 2X Digital Night Vision Monocular
This type of night vision goggles is of relatively low cost, easy to implement, has lightweight, and supports aa batteries. If you need other notable features, please follow the link that will tell you more about XGEN goggles.
2. STARGATE M. 2×35 Night Vision Mono Goggles
Stargate M. 2×35 night vision goggle is also a low-coster that is easy to use and carry with you due to its little weight. What makes it different from the previous one is that it does not require any batteries; it has a piezoelectric charge generator in it! However, it does not provide you with a neck strap, and this needs to be bought separately.
3. Bushnell Night Watch 2×24
This Bushnell monocular provides you with a 24 mm objective lens with an infrared illuminator, 5-400 foot focus range with a double magnification system, a built-in tripod, a lanyard, and a carry case that comes with it! It also supports aa batteries.
4. Yukon Nvmt 4X50 Night Vision Monocular
Yukon Nvmt 4×50 has a 50 mm objective lens that can provide you with 4X digital magnification of a view and a good focus range, a lens that decreases glares and increases light transmission, and a carry case, wrist belt, and lens coverage. This night vision goggle supports rechargeable and regular CR123A batteries.
5. Yukon NVMT 1×24 Head Mount Kit
This Yukon NVMT night vision goggle has a headcount, the possibility of photo and video capture, and infrared technology. Yukon NVMT 1×24 needs CR123A batteries.
If it were up to us, we would definitely buy some of the Yukon brand night vision goggles, but not everybody has that extra amount of money for them. Still, everybody needs night vision equipment for when crises happen, and complete darkness surrounds us.
Of course, everybody would want some Gen-2 or even Gen-3 goggles, but their prices are too sharp. The good news is that there is a decent and budget Gen 1 night vision available. One of them is Yukon NV 1×24.
6. Yukon NV 1×24 Goggles
This night vision goggle comes with a head mount which gives you the possibility to use your hands for something else. They do not provide the magnification of your picture, but their power makes sure that the depth perception and hence, the image quality is still decent in total darkness around you if you don’t have an EDC flashlight. In this night vision binoculars kit, you will also have a protective case and a neck strap.
Other notable features of a Yukon NV 1×24 night vision device you can find out here:
- two image intensifier tubes
- twenty-four mm lens
- thirty-degree FOW
- up to thirty-six lp per mm resolution
- the minimum focus distance is one yard
- up to 160 yards detection range
- one hundred yards in light viewing distance
- uses CR123A rechargeable batteries and provides you with up to thirty hours of battery life
- 13.4 once weight
More to the point
Gen 1 night vision might not be the best one on the market with the latest edge technology, but they are still valuable budget night vision goggles used by many people. When there is a moonless night, and an IR illuminator is turned on, it helps you to see the surroundings the same as if you were using natural light. An infrared illuminator can reveal some red lights, and Yukon NV 1×24 makes sure that this is barely noticed by other people around you.
When someone near uses an infrared illuminator at the same time as you, a little blinding is possible. Be aware of that when using night vision goggles outside your home.
Hint: as night vision devices are constantly developing, old binoculars/monoculars get cheaper with time. So try to monitor the prices to get the best budget night vision goggles there are.
What can you find here?
- Digital night vision technology
- Important features of night vision goggles
- Night vision toys
- Different cheap night vision goggles for you
- Our Top 5 Night vision companies
- What to choose: thermal imagers or night vision ones?
Digital night vision technology
The main thing that you should understand about how night vision goggles work is that they find any available light, such as that of the moon, and increase it for you to be able to see your surroundings in the total darkness. Night vision goggles can also work well together with infrared lights, the type of lights that the human’s eye cannot see.
Now then, let’s talk about the specifics of night visions goggles’ structure. The biggest and most important part of any night vision goggle is its image intensifier tube. Here all the needed work is done, as this tube helps to enhance scattered light received externally. Different night vision goggles have different numbers of image intensifier tubes. For one, the binocular night vision goggles have two, and monocular goggles – only one.
Here is more on what happens inside our image intensifier tubes. They take in the ambient light through the objective magnification lens and then turn it into electrons, enhance their illumination, and turn it back to the person’s eyes.
However, there are cases when no ambient light is available or low light conditions are surrounding you. In such environments, night vision goggles have a built-in IR illuminator that helps to flash the object of your interest with infrared lights. Then our image intensifier tube is capable of amplifying this type of light.
Important features of night vision goggles
1. The price
The night vision goggles cost can vary from three hundred to eight thousand dollars and more. Why so?
Of course, the price depends on the quality and the number of functions night vision goggles can provide for you. There are different generations of night vision goggles, with first-generation costing less than two thousand dollars and the last ones more than five thousand dollars. So, economical preppers should consider the best price-value ratio.
Gen-1 is enough for any survival situation. For more money, you can get the latest generations, which have better picture quality and resolution.
2. The amount of image vision tubes
- Binocular goggles
Binocular night vision goggles are the most popular type on the market, as they provide you with two-night vision tubes. And because they allow you to use both of your eyes for searching in the dark, they are heavier than monoculars but make your night vision experience better.
If you are often going through dark places in search of a path or if you are using night vision goggles for survival conditions, then use binoculars.
- Monocular night vision goggles
Night vision monocular has a single night vision tube. They are lighter and cheaper, but some people can get disoriented with just one tube.
Night vision monocular goggles are the best choice if you need to observe specific objects and you do not move very much with them. For those who have a limited amount of money, they are also the best way to go.
3. Generation of night vision goggles
Gen-1 has existed since the beginning of the last century. They are the most popular night vision goggles due to their low prices. Even more, there are toys that use night vision technologies of the first generation. However, because of their cheapness, they have a lower quality of the picture, and they are only capable of detecting large objects not farther than one hundred yards. The battery life of gen-1 is lower than those of his successors.
Gen-2 has a better photocathode which makes less distortion on the edges of a picture. The quality is also better, and the detection range was increased up to two hundred yards. Furthermore, gen-2 night vision goggles provide you with longer battery life in comparison with gen-1.
It is considered that the best night vision goggles are those of the third generation. Due to their advanced resolution, the quality of the picture is perfect in very different low light conditions. They also remain their viewing quality on the same level in areas with artificial light, and the battery life is still decent enough.
Gen-3 night vision goggles are the usual choice of military men, and of course, here, the price is starting to increase.
- Further generations
Night vision goggles higher than those of the third generation are not really recognized by the military. They are thought of as just a marketing product for night vision goggles companies to get more money from their customers.
It does not mean that they have not improved. They did. The quality of a view is, again, better than before. However, the battery life of the Gen-4 night vision goggles is lowered due to such high quality of a picture.
4. The presence of an infrared (IR) Illumination
When buying a night vision goggle, an IR illuminator is an absolute must. Not every area can provide you with natural light from the moon or stars, and then you will regret not buying a night vision goggle with an IR illuminator, as it helps your goggles to create infrared lights. All generations of night vision goggles have an IR illuminator, which means that it would not be hard to find one.
5. Field of View (FOW)
FOW tells you about the width of an area that you can glance at once.
First-generation night vision goggles are limited up to thirty degrees FOW, but that is not a problem for those who use their goggles to observe only specific objects such as trees.
For when bigger areas must be observed, it is better to purchase a night vision goggle starting from the Gen-2. Binoculars are also a must for those who need to see wider than thirty degrees FOW.
6. Detection range and resolution of a night vision goggle
Both range and resolution get better with each generation, and the price is also increasing. Gen-1 night vision goggles provide you with a detection range of approximately one hundred yards. Gen-2 goggles can give you the maximum viewing distance of two hundred yards, with all of the following generations increasing their range.
As for the resolutions, the first generation gives you thirty lines per mm. This produces a little blurry image, especially near the edges of a night vision goggle. In comparison with Gen-1, Gen-3 has up to seventy-two lines per mm resolution, which is quite a big difference in image quality.
7. The presence of a head mount system
A head mount is another must-have for any type of night-vision goggles, and all of the best goggles should have it. A head mount gives you the possibility to fix night vision goggles on your head, let your hands go free to do other stuff, and do not worry about goggles falling off.
It is possible to find affordable night vision goggles with a weight of not more than 2 lbs. When you plan to constantly use night vision goggles or use them for a long time at once, the lightweight will make your life much easier.
9. Availability of the waterproof for a night vision device
All of the best night vision goggles should have a waterproofing feature. But when you buy night vision goggles to use at home, a high waterproof rating is not necessary. However, in the woods, it is a must.
10. Battery life
The long battery life of a night vision goggle is another essential feature. Whether you are guarding your home or leading your family away from a survival situation in accordance with prepping guide, long battery life is necessary, as it actually can save your life in total darkness!
Lithium batteries are thought of as the best ones on the market, and their recharge can give you up to eight hours of battery life, which is considered to be a big amount of time. When choosing a goggle, make sure that you will be able to use lithium batteries with it.
Almost all night vision goggles do not use AA or AAA batteries. Instead, CR123A ones are used. CR123A batteries are common in the photography field and, of course, in night vision devices.
For survivalists, it might be important to get a lot of CR123A rechargeable batteries together with AC/DC charger in advance, as you never know when your night vision goggles will be of use.
11. Possibility of a video recording
This feature is quite rare for night vision products, but some do have it. Video recording is quite handy for those using them as ghost hunting devices to capture photos or make videos, but in general, it is not a necessary function.
Our Top 5 brands with the best night vision binoculars/monoculars
Now that we have talked about budget goggles let us give you an idea of where to look for the best ones, which might not be as cheap as the previous devices described by us.
- Sightmark. This is a company from Texas that makes goggles mostly for joint use with rifles. They have both binocular and monocular night goggles.
- Pulsar. Pulsar produces both thermal and night vision optics for the general use of hobbyists.
- ATN. Founded in 1995, ATN company has equipment that can be exploited both day and night.
- Armasight. This is a quite new brand that was first founded as a startup in 2011 that offers a variety of thermal and night vision goggles.
- NightOwl. Their optics are mainly based on night vision products, both binocular and monocular ones.
What to choose: thermal imagers or night vision ones?
The difference between thermal imaging and night vision devices is that the first ones use heat, during the second ones – nearby visible moonlight or infrared light.
Thermal imagers have detectors that help to locate differences in the heat in some areas. And as they are concentrating on the heat distinctions, they show it in color gradients, with red as the highest temperature and blue as the lowest. On the contrary, the night vision equipment’s image is all green.
Thermal imaging mostly has all the same functions as night vision. The main difference is that only thermal imagers can be used in detecting leakages or broken engines. They are also helpful when the weather is not so nice. Only thermal imaging can see through bushes and smoke. Most military men have both thermal and night vision equipment, as they can be useful for different scenarios.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
What is the best affordable night vision?
We would say that the Yukon NV 1×24 night vision device is the best choice, as it provides you with headgear, a decent lens diameter, resolution, and detection range together with a little weight, a neck strap, and a low price. The battery life is also good enough for long usage. For more information on this night vision device, please go here.
However, if this goggle is still not affordable to you, search for some night vision toys. They cannot be used in a life or death situation, but it is still better to have them than to have nothing.
What is the best civilian night vision?
Any night vision device up to the third generation is considered to be enough for any purpose. What exact night vision to choose depends on the amount of money you are ready to spend. For cheaper goggles, Gen-1 is the best option. For more advanced purposes and a larger amount of money, Gen-3 is the best.
What is the cheaper night vision or thermal?
Thermal imaging might be better for detection or for looking through fog or smoke, and they are a lot pricier than night vision equipment. This is due to the fact that thermal imagers’ technology is much newer than that of night vision. The latter ones exist from the Second World War and are easier to produce.
Is it legal to buy night vision goggles?
For US citizens, it is completely legal to purchase and own night goggles, even those of the Gen-3, which are considered to be military ones. The only thing that you cannot do with advanced nigh vision equipment is exporting it outside the USA borders. In this case, your law enforcement has a right to sue you.