The Guide to Choosing Night Vision Equipment

In the world of utility accessories, a pair of night vision goggles is arguably one of the most popular, as it has many uses for various applications. One of the very first uses of night vision equipment is for combat, as soldiers have utilized night vision for them to see enemies in the dark. However, night vision has begun to appear in different types of industries, hobbies, or jobs, like mining, construction, photography, and hunting.

Due to how popular and useful night vision goggles and peripherals are, there are already thousands of different brands and models to choose from. Beginners in night vision would find it very difficult to choose the right product or model for them because of how many these night vision items already are. If you are one of those beginners, we are here to provide you with tips on what you need to know about night vision accessories so that you can easily and quickly choose the right equipment for you. So, here is the guide to buying night vision equipment.

What is a Night Vision Device?

night vision goggles on a table

A night vision device, also called by some people a night optical and observation device, is an optoelectronic device that enables the user to have a better sight at night or in the dark. Many night vision devices can be handheld, although a majority of the products you will see are head-mounted, which basically means that they are attached to the user’s head using a headband or a helmet. In addition, there are also night vision peripherals that are specifically installed on firearms.

There are three generations of night vision devices that were developed, which are Generation 0, Generation 1, Generation 2, and Generation 3. Here are details about these generations and how they worked. [1]

Generation 0

Night vision devices that were created and developed before the end of World War II are considered Generation 0. According to historical records, Generation 0 night vision devices were introduced around 1939 and were used by the German Army during the Second World War. Generation 0 of night vision devices use an extra infrared light source to improve the visibility of the user through a scope or a pair of goggles.

The night vision devices developed for the German Army were created by AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AG), a German company that produces electrical equipment. The AEG night vision devices were installed on Panther tanks, which are German medium tanks that are considered some of the most powerful war tanks in history. Smaller night vision devices for rifles were later developed by the US Army and were used in World War II and the Korean War.

Generation 1

Generation 1 night vision scope used during the Vietnam War

The Generation 1 night vision devices were used by soldiers of the US army during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. These night vision devices are fairly large in size, although they are much smaller compared to the devices developed for Generation 0. Instead of relying on extra infrared as a light source, the Generation 1 devices relied on ambient lighting, which meant that they could only be used at night if there was visible moonlight in the sky.

Generation 2

The Generation 2 night vision devices were developed in the 1970s and featured smaller bodies and improved capabilities, thanks to their micro-channel plate or MCP, which is a specific part that amplifies the minimal light that the devices collect, and this amplification would make almost anything visible in the dark. The devices that belonged to this generation have increased clarity even in low ambient-light environments, so they wouldn’t need to rely on moonlight at night. Enhanced night vision devices in this generation that have better resolution are called Gen II+ devices.

Generation 3

Generation 3 night vision goggles

Generation 3 night vision devices were first developed in the 1980s. While this generation still has the MCP or micro-channel plate, the devices would also have gallium arsenide, which is utilized to enhance image resolution. 

One of the problems of the MCP, which is its short lifespan, is resolved in Generation 3 devices by having an ion barrier film that prolongs the tube life of the plate. This generation would be improved with the creation of Gen III+ devices in the 2000s. Gen III+ devices have a much more stable resolution and better overall performance. Most of the night vision devices you can buy today belong to the Gen III+ line.

What Type of Night Vision Device Should You Buy?

What Type of Night Vision Device Should

There are many types of night vision devices for you to choose from, and each of these types offers pros and cons in terms of their features or functions. Here are some details about the popular types of night vision devices.

Night Vision Monoculars

Night Vision Monoculars

Night vision monoculars are relatively simple devices that look like a simple metal or plastic tube from afar. However, these monoculars are actually as reliable as the bigger types of night vision devices since it features the same technology and capabilities. [2]

Monoculars are very lightweight and compact, so bringing them with you during trips is easy, and they are also small enough not to occupy too much space on your backpack or luggage. However, monoculars don’t really offer the best night vision, even if it has the same features as their bigger counterparts, and this is because their size and scope are too small. Take a look below for three highly recommended night vision monoculars.

  • Bushnell Night Vision Equinox Z2 – this monocular offers six times magnification through its 50-millimeter objective lens, which makes it one of the best night vision monoculars on the market. In addition, you also have the ability to stream or record videos through the monocular’s lens when it is connected to a mobile device.
  • FLIR Scout TK Thermal Imaging Monocular – an interesting monocular that you should check out is the FLIR Scout TK Thermal Imaging Monocular, which is a device that has thermal imaging that allows you to see the movements of humans and animals even in the dark. You can select up to nine video palettes that basically add filters to what you are viewing.
  • AGM Global Vision TM10-256 Thermal Monocular – a great feature that this monocular has is the distance measurement function, which enables you to see how near or far certain objects or animals are from you. Moreover, it has a built-in memory module that stores video recordings and snapshots.

Night Vision Binoculars

Night vision binoculars are bigger than monoculars due to the fact that they provide night vision for two eyes instead of only one eye. With two eyes getting night vision, you will have a much easier time seeing things in the dark. Despite being larger, night vision binoculars are still quite compact, so it is very easy to bring with you outdoors whenever you need them for sightseeing or for a specific work task. 

What’s also nice about night vision binoculars is that they have superior magnification compared to others. So, if you want to see something from afar at night, you should have a pair of night vision binoculars with you. But, keep in mind that night vision binoculars can be quite heavy, although they shouldn’t really add too much weight to your backpack if you have only packed lighter items like clothes. Here are three night vision binoculars that we suggest you check out. 

  • CREATIVE XP GlassCondor Binoculars Pro – this is one of the most popular pairs of night vision binoculars on the market, and its popularity is attributed to how great it is as a simple and fun pair of binoculars. Even without ambient light, this pair of binoculars will allow you to see in total darkness because of its infrared illuminator.
  • Hike Crew Digital Night Vision Binoculars – this digital pair of binoculars produce high-fidelity images without straining your eyes. So, you can use this device for many hours without the need to worry about headaches or dizziness. Moreover, because the device is digital, it enables you to record or take photos of whatever you see at night through the binoculars.
  • KEKOOL Night Vision Binoculars – the impressive feature of this pair of night vision binoculars is its excellent magnification, as this device has 8X optical lens, 4X digital zoom, and 6X view lens that lets you view objects for up to 600 meters.

Night Vision Goggles

night vision goggles installed on a helmet

Night vision goggles are generally the same size as binoculars, but the difference is that the goggles are worn using a headband, strap, or helmet. So, night vision goggles are perfect if you want the night vision to be hands-free, especially if you are going to accomplish tasks that require both of your hands. In addition, night vision goggles are usually lighter than night vision binoculars, and their lightweight bodies make them more suitable as headwear since you will be wearing them for hours if you use them for work. 

However, the downside to night vision goggles is that they don’t offer extreme magnification, unlike binoculars, where you have the option to zoom in on particular objects. So, night vision goggles would just give you better sight in the dark without the magnification that binoculars provide. On the other hand, night vision goggles do offer the wearer a wider field of view, which is important if you are working in construction sites, mines, or any dangerous places where you have to watch out where you are walking or standing. [3] These are our recommendations for night vision goggles.

  • Nightfox Swift Night Vision Goggles – the first pair of night vision goggles on the list is the Nightfox Swift Night Vision Goggles, which features a comfortable head strap that carries the lightweight goggles securely. While the night vision goggles only have 1x magnification, Nightfox has added a 2x digital zoom that is useful if you want to focus on nearby items or objects.
  • Dsoon Digital Infrared Night Vision Goggles – this pair of digital night vision goggles has a wide field of view of 10 degrees so that you will have a better awareness of your surroundings while using night vision. Its memory module also enables the device to record and store both audio and video.
  • Teslord PVS-7 Gen 2+ Night Vision Goggles – this device features an automatic brightness control that immediately adjusts the brightness of your view from the goggles. In addition, the goggles also have a light cut-off feature that protects the image tube inside the device from getting exposed to intense light, which would then provide you with better clarity when viewing.

Night Vision Rifle Scopes

night vision rifle scope

Night vision rifle scopes are longer monoculars that allow you to zoom in on objects. In addition to magnification, rifle scopes would also have a reticle that enables users to pinpoint targets easily. As their name already suggests, night vision rifle scopes are specifically used to provide rifles with night vision. But the rifle must have the right rifle mount in order for it to have a rifle scope attached to it securely. 

Night vision rifle scopes are often used by soldiers for night missions and by hunters for night hunting. A drawback to the night vision rifle scopes is that they add extra weight to the already heavy rifles, but their weight is often balanced, so they are quite manageable to handle. Here are three night vision rifle scopes that we recommend.

  • Sightmark Wraith Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope – one of the simplest night vision rifle scopes is the Sightmark Wraith, a digital rifle scope that has a high-definition sensor with 8X digital zoom. It is also capable of recording video with resolutions that can reach 1080p.
  • ATN X-Sight Pro Edition Smart Day/Night Hunting Scope – what’s fascinating about this particular rifle scope is that it can also be used during the day, which cannot be done for most night vision rifle scopes. At its core, this rifle scope is fairly traditional and simple, but its digital side is powered by a Dual Core processor that enables it to have a low-light 4K sensor and no pixelation when zooming.
  • Night Owl Optics NightShot Rifle Scope – this night vision rifle scope has a high-resolution 640×480 display, as well as a built-in infrared illuminator so that you can still use the scope even without moonlight or other light sources.

What are the Uses of Night Vision Equipment?

view from a pair of night vision binoculars

Night vision goggles, binoculars, or scopes are some of the most useful pieces of technology that people frequently use in today’s era. One of the reasons why they are incredibly useful is because they can be utilized in different situations. Here are a few of the best uses of night vision equipment.

What are the Uses of Night Vision Equip

Have Better Vision During Power Outages

Whenever there is a power outage in your home or in the neighborhood, inspecting electrical lines or fuse boxes can be very difficult since most sources of light rely on electricity. You have the option of using flashlights during power outages, but sometimes, flashlights provide too much light that you really can’t see anything anymore, especially at close range. 

The best piece of equipment to use if you are going to fix something while it is dark is a pair of night vision goggles, which you can wear on your head so that you can still use both of your hands to perform accurate repairs. Night vision goggles won’t blind you to light, so you will have better vision in dark areas. [4]

Have a Much Better Time Hunting at Night

If you are in the mood to hunt for game or quarry at night, you will need a night vision rifle scope to go along with your trusty rifle. Using a flashlight while night hunting is not advisable, as the flashlight can just alert animals of your presence and would start running away from you before you can even take aim at them. Meanwhile, night vision rifle scopes won’t produce light that startles or alerts animals, so you can hunt quietly without being detected.

See Better in Dark Work Areas like Mines and Construction Sites

As we have mentioned previously, night vision equipment is very useful in mines, construction sites, and other workplaces that have very dark areas with little to no visibility. Night vision goggles are especially effective in those areas, as they will give you a wider field of view compared to night vision binoculars, which not only offer a narrower field of view but forces you to hold it with one or two hands. Flashlights that can be worn on the head are also popular accessories for miners and construction workers, but, much like night vision binoculars, they also have a narrower field of view since they can only illuminate a small area.


So, these are the essential things that you should know about night vision equipment and the different types of night vision devices you can get. We hope that this simple article will help you in choosing the perfect or most suitable piece of night vision equipment online or in physical hobby stores. Make sure that you check reviews of various night vision goggles, binoculars, or monoculars and see which ones are durable and reliable based on those reviews.


[1] Night Vision Australia. (2022, April 19). Gen 1, Gen 2 & Gen 3 Night Vision: What Is The Difference? Night Vision Australia. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from 

[2] AGM Global Vision. (2022, October 25). Types of Night Vision Devices. AGM Global Vision. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

[3] Kraner, P. (2018, August 1). Night Vision Goggles vs. NV Binoculars | Optics Trade Debates. Optics Trade Blog. Retrieved October 5, 2022, from