Humans are considered to be at the top of the food chain, but we don’t have the capabilities of other leading predators. For one thing, we have pretty lousy night vision, and whether you are a hunter, a fan of nocturnal bird or wildlife watching, a very advanced paintball competitor or someone who just likes to have all possible resources in your field kit, you’ll want the optimal infrared monocular possible.
A monocular is just as it sounds – a single lens rather than a binocular with two lenses. In this review of the best night vision monocular options, we’ll look at the top rated and most favorably reviewed models. Then, we’ll break down what you want to consider when making a choice between the many options.
The Best Night Vision Monocular: Reviews and Comparisons
Bushnell Equinox Z Digital
Enjoy night to day function with this monocular with night vision. Daytime use features digital tech that ensures superior performance and high-resolution color. During day or night use, the variable 1 to 3x power zoom offers up to 750 feet of viewing distance with adjustable IR assist.
Ergonomically designed, they can view up to 1000 feet away when the IR illuminator is active. The IR is a small light emitting diode, or LED rather than a laser. This means you get a higher power light without a lot of energy consumption. Powered by four AA batteries, it will allow lots of use before a new supply is required.
This monocular also has two forms of image capture – single frame and video. Insert a micro SD card or transmit using the video out (cable included) port. Simple, three-button operation on the top of the monocular allows fast use of the electronic gain, menu access, photo capture and the auto/max/off setting. As you can guess, the auto mode adjusts the intensity of the IR to give the best results under any conditions.
Carson MiniAura Digital
Fully digital, this is the best infrared monocular for those who have worries about the IR feature burning out. This monocular is also quite unique because it is an infrared monocular that displays in sharp and clear black and white rather than classic IR green displays.
Two control button mean the easiest operation imaginable, and owners can bump up the intensity of the 19-degree angle of view. Though they are not the most powerful available (giving a user up to 82 feet of total zoom, they are ideal for many scenarios. An included carrying case and the attached wristband makes them difficult to drop or lose.
Extremely small and light, they are the ultimate in portability and great for tossing into your camping, hiking or field pack. Good in total darkness and low light (such as dusk and early dawn), they function in many settings. The 3 AAA batteries (not included) last a long time and these are a good choice for those who want optimal portability and ease of use.
Vortex Optics Solo R/T 8x36
This infrared monocular is meant to be a go-to solution carried in your gear bag, whether that is for hunting, wildlife watching or anything else. It uses the manufacturer’s proprietary Vortex R/T Ranging Reticle that includes reticle focus designed for more accurate ranging.
A 36mm monocular, it is small and highly portable and yet designed for rugged field use. It offers a durable utility clip, o-ring seals and nitrogen purging ensuring that you get a zero-fog performance as well as a waterproof night vision monocular. It is also designed for single-hand usage and does not feature buttons but instead requires the thumb and index finger to turn the focus wheel to adjust. With a fully textured grip, it is also easy to hold under any condition.
This monocular with night vision offers easy and quick ranging. The design enables users to enjoy angled measurements that calculate distance ranges through size comparison and the devices unique measurements. There is 8x magnification via the 36mm lens, which is multi-coated to prevent reflection. Shielded by a flared eyecup, it also blocks ambient light from diminishing the view.
Xgen 2.1x Digital
This may be the right night owl night vision monocular option for those eager for an affordable and reliable device designed for a huge range of uses. From hiking and camping to hunting, security and nature watching, it will be a consistent performer. With day and night function, it only improves on its value.
Equipped with the manufacturer’s night owl night vision this monocular is one of the latest iterations of night vision tech. It can provide clear views of up to 70 yards away and has a high-power IR illuminator that will work well in ambient and low light as well as total darkness.
Magnification is 2.1x and has a generous 12-degree field of view. The eye piece is easy to use and adjust single-handed and takes only the one button to get everything done. There are five settings (from 1/3 power to full power with adjustments in the frame rate) to ensure the best light for the environment in which the night vision monocular is used.
It requires 3 AA batteries (not included) and is only seven ounces in total weight without batteries.
Bushnell 4.5X40 Equinox Z Digital
Available in multiple sizes, the 4.5×40 is the middle of the ranges and can supply up to 738 feet of zoom at an astonishing 28 foot field of view. Weighing in at around a pound and a half, they are not the lightest infrared monocular on the market, but they are among the monocular with night vision choices for those who want reliable image capture and performance.
The device is authentically optical, meaning that the lens is made of glass and carefully crafted for the very best performance. The digital zoom is substantial with its 3x magnification, but this is paired with the three to six times magnification of the lenses themselves.
The IR is adjustable as well and allows adaptability to any lighting scenarios. In other words, you won’t ever get a washed out view, and this can be significant if you are opting to use the image capture features.
However, this is designed for mounting to a rifle as well as holding in the hand, and if mounted it has been recoil tested. However, it is not suitable for mounting to a Picatinny rail due to shaking.
With daytime use capability, it is among the monocular with night vision options for a wide range of buyers. It offers the video and image capture, tripod or other mounting, adjustable IR, and comes with a carrying case. It runs on four AA batteries and has six buttons to run its controls.
Night Owl iGEN 20/20
Described by some as the future of night vision monocular gear, this is a high-tech option and easily rates a good spot on any list of the Night Owl nightvision monocular options.
It is noted for its optical clarity with the ability to boost ambient light by 650x. It has double the IR sensitivity of other, comparable monoculars, and a super clear display. It has no distortion on the display, as well and the IR automatically adjusts to ensure constant clarity.
The lens offers up a 2.6x magnification and ensures the best performance thanks to its all glass optics. It has a 12-degree angle of view and can take in around seventy feet from 330 feet away. It is also very popular for its ability to record to external devices. It has a video output capable of NTSC and/or PAL video recording and even features a tripod thread for steady shots.
It rates as a top night vision monocular because of its ten levels of IR intensity and its four display brightness settings. Choose from black and white/green/red/amber options and allow the programmable time out function to let you capture exactly what and when you would like.
Gosky Night Vision Monocular
Enjoy a true night vision monocular with this device. Offering 3.5 to 9x magnification and a digital zoom of 2.6x, it also delivers a ten degree field of view and up to 200 meters of clarity in total darkness.
Ideal for observing wildlife at any time, it includes image and video capture features, a tripod screw for stable shots and SD mini card and/or USB cable and AV cable to allow the widest range of image capture functions. Simple button controls allow the device to be used day or night and provide great results.
Water resistant (not waterproof) the monocular is a larger and sturdier design than some of the other infrared monocular options. The unit has an integrated color LCD screen to allow users to easily gauge the quality of the shot. Adjustments allow the level of IR illumination to be set at three different phases and ensure the right amount of brightness at all times.
Multi-coated glass lenses ensure the very highest levels of clarity and guarantee that these are a good option in night vision monocular for many different purposes.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD
Another option from Bushnell, this is likely the right monocular night vision for those who are eager to get premium optics. This device has BaK-4 prisms which are multi-coated optics made of ED prime glass and which also use PC-3 phase coated prisms to supply superior magnification and clarity.
This monocular offers 10x magnification and a remarkably simple to use design. Single-hand use and adjustment is done via the easy to reach dial at the top of the body of the monocular. They are also entirely fog proof and waterproof and provide twist up eyecups for day or night use. Designed to be mounted or carried (it features a clip built into the body), it can work on the Picatinny rail without any worries about shaking. As a scope on its own, it is operated without any batteries.
This is the right monocular night vision for those who want a great deal of function and performance from the scope. This device is a good replacement for a video camera or addition to a bag of video gear. Housed in a water resistant body and with a tripod mount, it has six simple controls that adjust the zoom, brightness, IR and recording or image capture.
It is a true night vision scope with 6x magnification plus another one to five times digital zoom. It has a highly tuned 50mm lens and HD video and image capture and can also be mounted using the built in rail.
The IR illuminator is effective at up to 1150 feet and can work as a live surveillance device since it connects to computers, video devices, and TVs as well as recording via the micro SD card. It is powered by four AA batteries or a 5v-6v battery pack (neither is included).
This is the ideal infrared monocular for those who need image capture and a powerful zooming capability at any time, day or night.
ESSLNB HD Digital
This is one of the right monocular with night vision options for those who want a day to night device. Whether hunting, doing surveillance, nature watching or simply looking for a strong monocular for the gear bag, this is a good choice.
With a 5×40 IR function it has a 5x optical magnification paired to a one to 8x digital zoom. The 40mm lens is sharp and clear and the device includes a built-in IR illuminator that can function at up to 656 feet from the target.
The auxiliary lighting gear keeps all images clear and sharp at day or low light as well as after dark. The night vision is a digital function and enables image capture on video or photo functions. It features a full array of output and connectivity options that include cable, USB and card. With a tripod mount, it is also rubber coated for easy hand-held functions and is nitrogen filled to prevent fogging and help with moisture and dust. It comes with a carrying case and 3.7V / 750mAH CE-certified rechargeable lithium battery.
Bestguarder Digital with Camera and Camcorder
If you are looking for an affordable night vision monocular with image and video capture, this may be a good choice. It can take photos of different pixel counts and high quality (30fps) videos. It can also be held in the hand or tripod mounted.
The digital zoom is 1 to 5 times and has and IR viewing of roughly 1150 feet. The field of view is four degrees at 100 yards, so it isn’t the largest, but still quite serviceable for most intentions.
A battery operated model it can work with 5v-6v packs or the traditional 4AA battery array. It runs for four hours without the IR illuminated. There are four levels and three brightness settings to get the most out of whatever ambient light is available.
Whether hunting, surveilling, exploring a dark location or just observing nature, this is a good digital night vision monocular option.
Firefield 5x50 Nightfall 2 Solomark
If your goal is to find a streamlined digital night vision monocular, this is a good choice. It is simple and easy to use and features a sleep shape that is remarkably easy to hold and use. Two simple buttons control the functions and users will find that it works well in ambient and failing light.
Fitted with an innovative, power-saving IR illuminator, it uses a specialty PULSE function to cut down on battery consumption. The device also has a large objective lens to give the greatest field of view, even at full zoom. The device has a 5x magnification with a 50 mm lens, making it a remarkably powerful option.
It arrives in a carrying case as well as with a carrying strap but is not a mountable option. It is weather resistant and features rubber armor housing to ensure years of performance in many conditions. Battery operated, it is a Gen 1 design that cues the IR via a control button and which can tag and illuminate from 75 to 100 yards away.
Ergonomic and sleek, it is a good night owl or night vision monocular for those who want basic function without lots of bells and whistles.
This Solomark night vision monocular is the ultimate gadget for those who are eager to add reliable night vision with image capture to their gear bag. It will work in total darkness and provides you with multi-coated glass lenses paired to the three level IR LED illuminator that hits marks as far as 328 feet away.
Not only does it deliver an easy to use set of functions, that include the 1 to 3 times zoom, the multiple mode controls, the seven level IR and the shutter button, but it also has both an SD and USB port to retain the image and video capture made.
This is the best Solomark night vision monocular if you want to mount it to a tripod and allow it to capture all kinds of images and activity after dark. However, it is also easy to hold and features a rubber armor that gives a good grip. It will require 4 AA batteries to operate and comes with the micro SD card and mini USB cable, as well as an AV cable to get you up and running with low and total dark photography and video capture. With seven levels of IR intensity, you are sure to capture everything with clarity and without blowout.
What Else to Know about the Premiere Monocular with Night Vision Options
By this point in this night vision monocular review, you have come to understand that monoculars are now a really mixed bag of choices. There are models that run without batteries and models that can be recharged, plus a full array of those that require constant supplies of AA or AAA batteries. That alone is not all that differentiates them, and so we’ll look at the other factors you’ll have to consider if you are determined to find the very premium monocular with night vision options.
Of course, the most crucial factor we have to consider is the fact that it is not just a monocular you are looking for but a night vision monocular. This is going to be a single eyepiece design, and it might not be all about immense zoom. If you consider only how much zoom a monocular supplies, you may be missing the point.
After all, night vision monoculars are meant to give you, the user, a good amount of illumination rather than just operate as nighttime binoculars. That is not to say you cannot find high levels of zoom along with powerful night vision (usually described as IR or infrared).
The point here is to remember that your goal is the best monocular with night vision, so look first to the quality of the night vision and then the amount of zoom.
Night Vision 101
In the night vision monoculars reviews above, there were some devices with thermal imaging or infrared technology. These use sensors to find heat and then draw the image presented as a contrast of the different temperatures. This is actually known as forward looking infrared.
There are also options that use an entirely different tech, which is basic light amplification. These are devices that have no ability to see or detect heat signals. Instead, they just use the ambient light and somehow increase or boost it to give a clearer view during very low light. They are light amplifying or magnifying, and there were a few on the list of night vision monoculars reviews. They are not authentic “night vision” unless they also have IR.
However, the way that either displays is going to be the same. The user peers through the lens and sees the display in green, black and white or another format. Most will be able to combat the issue known as “blooming” which washes the entire field of view in blinding light if any additional light enters the scene. It is why someone wearing or using night vision monocular will suffer temporary loss of vision if they enter a fully illuminated space or have a light shown at them.
Choosing the Right Model
Though you may hear a great deal about the terms “Gen 1”, “Gen 2” and “Gen 3”, in reality they are more emphasized by those using night vision monoculars in a military setting or by manufacturers placing a premium on their use of forward looking infrared.
By all means pay attention to it if you are curious about the power of a particular night vision monocular. The terms mean:
Gen 1 – This is a device that would rely on some ambient lighting, like a full moon or other sort of light, to get the job done. It could also use IR illumination to create the light, but typically the Gen 1 devices combined both ambient and IR and were prone to that blooming mentioned
Gen 2 – These are always more expensive and often much smaller and can perform better and deliver brighter imagery. This tech, however, dates back to the 1970s and may still need a bit of ambient light, but are much less prone to blooming, distortion and other challenges. If looking at something with a Gen 2 rating, you want a premium lens and a high quality intensifier tube to get the best outcomes
Gen 3 – These can be pricey, but they deliver some of the best results. They function fine in all light conditions and are undetectable by someone else using IR tech. They can be found in what is known as military spec but are most often commercial grade (either A or B) and are less likely to bloom and will perform in an array of settings.
Should you make this Gen factor a big one in your decision making? No. You want to first determine if your budget can accommodate an actual night vision monocular with IR or if you are better off investing in the highest quality, ambient or low light model.
Then, you can start to consider the magnification issues.
Magnification and the Top Monocular Reviews in 2020
You’ll see that magnification and zoom are identified differently. This is because they are different. Magnification is what you will get from the lenses inside of the device and you will see anything from 4x to 25x.
What do you need to know about this? Generally, the lower the magnification the larger the field of view, and the higher the magnification the narrower – i.e. a single animal far in the distance.
And what about lens diameters? When you see figures next to the name of a night vision monocular or in its description, it usually looks like this: # x #.
In that series of numbers, the first is the magnification from the lenses and the second is the diameter – i.e. 4×28. The lens diameter is far more important than most understand. What you need to know is that the greater the diameter the more light enters the gear.
So, if you intend to use your night vision monocular in very low lighting, you want a larger figure as that second number – i.e. 5 x 50. If you are going to use it during the day and at dusk, you can go with a smaller diameter, like 35 or less. Just keep in mind that larger diameters also mean heavier devices, and if weight is a concern, you may have to go smaller.
Of course, there is then the digital zoom and that is an entirely different matter. It is identical to the way that a digital camera will zoom the image and is not going to ensure the level of clarity or image stability as optical zoom. Look to the issue of pixels when you are considering the zoom.
Why? Resolution. The poorest quality options limit their resolutions to 240 x 180 pixels per square inch while the other end of the spectrum go to 640 x 480 pixels and higher. Of course, pricing also is reflected in the numbers of pixels supported by the device.
Then there are lens coatings, and you’ll see that most are fully multi-coated or just multi-coated. These two designations are really what you want to look for because the type of coating has a huge impact on the brightness of the image or scene being viewed through the night vision monocular.
As you might guess, the more expensive the coating on the lenses the less glare and the better the image. Fully multi-coated use anti-reflective and waterproof coating while the multi-coated use less costly coatings but are still premium in quality.
All the Rest
Once you have identified the monocular with night vision for your intentions by looking at such factors as IR vs light enhancing, lenses and their capabilities, resolution and so on, you then need to consider the extra details that may be essential to you. For example, many of the night vision monoculars reviews above describe the devices abilities to provide image and video capture.
Is this an important factor to you? If so, you are going to find yourself at the higher end of the pricing spectrum, but if you choose properly you will have a bit of gear that can take you through years of adventures outdoors and after dark.
You also need to consider things like water or weather resistance levels, the types of carrying or securing possible (i.e. tripod or hand-held only), whether there is no fog glass, and more.
Hopefully, with all of the details and information provided here you’ll be able to get a good start on choosing the right and the best monocular with night vision from or use one of the night vision monocular reviews to steer you in the right direction.
Whether it is for yourself, as a gift or for the family to use, you’ll find great choices in the night vision monoculars reviews and if one or more seem of interest, you can dig into fuller details using the product links below.