Since most people are more familiar with binoculars, monoculars often get overlooked when people search for a magnification device. Many people compare monoculars to a miniature telescope. The fact is that optics have come a long way since the days of scoping scenery with a telescope, and today you can get quality magnification in a small device.
Coming out on top in our review of night vision monoculars is the Bushnell Equinox Z2. It incorporates all the features a buyer may look for; quality magnification power with 1-3x digital zoom, considerable night vision range, and rated weatherproofing. Making it perfect for whatever outdoor venture you embark on.
The Top Night Vision Monoculars Reviewed
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Find the right Night Vision Monocular for You
#1 Best Overall – Bushnell Equinox Z2 6×50
The Bushnell Equinox Z2 trumped all others in our review of night vision monoculars. The perfect combination of field of view, magnification power, and digital zoom to give you an ample view of your landscape. It incorporates what many outdoorsmen look for in a night vision optic. The Equinox 2Z has a wide field of view of 22 feet at 1000 yards, giving you a full view of your surroundings and then provides the ability to 1-3x zoom on your desired image.
This monocular also has the furthest night vision range, allowing you to see up 1000 feet in the dark with its adjustable infrared brightness. With a weather resistance rating of IPx-4, Bushnell constructed this monocular to handle water and rainy weather conditions.
The distinct difference between the Bushnell Equinox Z2 and the original Equinox Z is the Z2 model has the capability of live streaming to your smartphone device as well as being able to control the zoom, video/image recording, and IR brightness from your phone.
#2 – Best Military Option – ATN NVM14-WPT
The intricate features that come with the ATN NVM14-WPT should catch the eye of military and law enforcement personnel with it’s wide viewing capacity and advanced night vision technology. This night vision monocular has an integrated total darkness infrared system with an IR light-emitting source to allow users to see even on the darkest nights when there’s no ambient light.
A big contributing factor to this monocular’s high price tag comes from its advanced WPT technology, giving off a clearer black and white image versus the common green light night vision, and allows up to 100 yards of viewing in the dark. Along with it’s 60-hour battery life, this device has the versatility of being head or helmet mountable as well as on your weapon. Making the NVM14-WPT well-suited for the devoted outdoorsmen or safety-conscious citizen.
#3 – Best for Hunting – Bushnell Night Vision Equinox Z Monocular 6×50
If you’re the steadfast hunter in need of a quality night vision optic that gives you optimal viewing opportunity but doesn’t break your wallet, then the Bushnell Equinox Z may be the best fit. It embodies all of the practical features the Bushnell Equinox Z2 has but at a cheaper price.
Like the Equinox Z2 the original has the ability to 1-3x zoom on our plane of view to give you ample opportunity to, for example, scope out a deer’s rack from a considerable distance to ensure whether or not the deer is a shooter. The Equinox Z also has a spacious night vision range of up to 1000 feet to spot whatever distance away your target may be.
Again, the only difference between the Bushnell Equinox Z and the Equinox Z2 is the newer model introduces the feature of being able to control your device’s features from your smartphone, as well as livestream.
#4 Best Digital Option – Stealth Cam 3×20 Night Vision Monocular
The Stealth Cam Night Vision Monocular is the best out of our review when it comes to the ability to digital zoom. In addition to it’s 3x magnification power, it has the capacity to 9x zoom on the image looking through your monocular, so you can pinpoint details that you may miss with a device that doesn’t feature digital zoom.
This night vision monocular also has a built-in infrared filter for usage day or night to help you zero in on your desired target. The Stealth Cam’s night vision range makes it a true competitor, topping even most binoculars in its ability to see in the night, with a range of up to 400 feet. Also allowing for image and video recording, this device supports adjusting the frame rate; 30FPS / 25FPS / 15FPS / 8FPS.
#5 Best Affordable Option – Barska Blackhawk 10×40 Waterproof Monocular
The Barska Blackhawk is a great monocular to consider if you like the idea of going with something more lightweight and less expensive. It carries a powerful 10×40 magnification to correspond with the monocular’s broad field of view of 60 degrees. That way you can still have the viewing capacity of seeing objects 10 times closer, despite its wide FOV.
The Blackhawk’s optics are intelligently constructed to keep out any water as well as prevent any fogging to cloud up your view. The optical tubes are pumped with dry nitrogen gas and fitted with securely fitted O-rings to ensure your viewing is never interrupted.
Night Vision Monocular Buying Guide
What to Look for When Buying Night Vision Monoculars
As with the process of buying binoculars, there are so many variables to consider when trying to find the right night vision monocular to suit whatever outdoor hobby fuels your passion. How big of a magnification should you look for? Do you want a monocular that’s fog proof as well as waterproof? Do you need a smaller FOV or a larger one to better fit it’s intended use? Keep reading to help yourself find out exactly what you should be looking for.
Night Vision Range
There are many different variables to consider that can affect the distance you see with a night vision device. First, what are you trying to see? Are you looking for another boat on the water or are you trying to check out a deer in the woods? Evidently, the bigger the target, the easier it is to see. Also, consider if you are trying to see specific details of an object or are just trying to see if something is there.
Another variable is lighting conditions. The more ambient light you have, the better and further you will be able to see. On a night where the moon and stars are out, this extra light helps you see further than if it’s cloudy and overcast.
Waterproof: Monoculars rated as water-resistant are built to withstand rainy weather with O-rings to seal out moisture from getting inside. Keep in mind that waterproof doesn’t mean fog proof, as waterproof devices can still fog over. Depending on its construction, some manufactures have rated their devices to be able to withstand being fully submerged underwater for a distinct amount of time
Fog Proof: If moisture condenses on the inside of the lens, causing the fog to form, this can result in moisture damage to your device. Fog proof monoculars are filled with an inert gas like Nitrogen to prevent this. The dry gas is inserted into the optical tubes under pressure to keep gaskets and O-rings tightly in place.
Field of View/Angle of View
Field of View(FOV) and Angle of View(AOV) go hand in hand, as they both refer to the capacity of view when looking through your monocular. They are two various ways of looking at and measuring the amount of scenery viewed through a monocular. Typically, a device with a higher magnification power and smaller objective lens will have a narrower field of view.
Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a circular cake; a pair of binoculars that have an AOV of 5 degrees would show a 5-degree “slice” of the 360-degree cake. While the FOV indicates the extent of the observable view that can be seen through your monocular at a specified distance, most often represented in feet at 1,000 yards.
Magnification and Objective
Like binoculars, you can find any monoculars magnification by finding a set of numbers such as 3×20 for example, that all binoculars/monoculars are classified with. These numbers refer to the magnification capacity and objective(front) lens diameter of a monocular.
The 3x variable is telling you this specific monoculars magnification power is times three, making the appear three times closer than it does with the naked eye. The ‘20’ in our 3×20 monocular example is talking about how big in diameter the objective lens is. This last number can help you determine how much light can pass through, as a bigger lens can supports more light to pass through than smaller ones. Which in turn provides you with a sharper, brighter view.
Typically, the objective lens is the largest portion of the optic so don’t forget to it will affect the overall size and weight of the monocular as well. Sports fans or bird watchers should be happy with a range between 5x and 7x, while the avid hunter would relish in a 10x model or higher for long-range scouting.
Monoculars featuring digital zoom recreates the effect of zooming in with a lens by capturing the image from a smaller area of the device’s sensor, and then blowing up that image to the desired magnification. The smaller the area used on the sensor to capture the image, the larger the zoom effect appears to be.
Keep in mind, there may be distortion in image clarity to some degree somewhere along its span of zoom. Since the physics of prisms and the optical path will have been optimized at a single power, as you move away from that specific magnification, the image quality may warp.
All night vision devices need some ambient light to function. That’s why some manufacturers design their night vision devices with a built-in infrared illuminator. An IR Illuminator essentially throws out a beam of infrared light in low light conditions that’s invisible to the naked eye but acts as a flashlight when looking through your device to light up your view in the dark. This allows you to use your night vision device even on the darkest nights.
Infrared light creates wavelengths longer on the electromagnetic spectrum than visible light and is usually experienced by heat.
FAQs for Night Vision Monoculars
What About the Difference in Generations of Monoculars?
What’s the Difference Between a Binocular and a Monocular?
Are Binoculars Better than Monoculars?
The number of options can be overwhelming when shopping for a new night vision monocular, especially if you take binoculars into consideration. But if you love spending nights outdoors, there is a night vision optic out there for you. After considering the features of all the night vision monoculars in our review, the Bushnell Equinox Z2 embodies many of the features an outdoorsman would look for at a decent price.
We hope that our guide has helped you figure out a new night vision monocular that will best serve you in future endeavors.