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Night Vision Binoculars vs Night Vision Goggles

Night vision devices are numerous; there’s goggles, monoculars, scopes, and binoculars. Binoculars and Goggles occupy the unique role of having two lenses to view through. This enhances your field of view and depth perception. What’s the big difference between the two? That’s what we are discussing today.


Night Vision Binoculars

Night vision binoculars aren’t as common as goggles, but in many situations are the superior options. Night vision binoculars can deliver a most consistent and easy to see sight picture at a relatively low cost. At least as far as night vision goes. Night vision binoculars are excellent tools to survey and observe for extended periods of time. Most are designed simply with a low magnification to save weight and size. There are night vision binoculars in almost every night vision generation.

Night Vision Goggles

Night vision goggles are the most dynamic option for night vision devices. They allow hands-free use and provide a wide sight picture for the individual user. Night vision goggles are what most people envision when they talk about night vision. Night vision goggles have two distinct eyecups that offer a wider field of view than monoculars, and greater depth perception. Like binoculars, there are goggles in most night vision generations.

Features Comparison


Binoculars have a nice advantage when it comes to their ability to magnify an image. Night vision binoculars are nowhere near as powerful as daytime binoculars but offer anywhere from 3 to 6 power magnification. Magnification with night vision gets tricky due to limitations with the technology. Also even though they are lower powered devices night vision binoculars are often already larger than standard night vision goggles.

Night vision goggles cannot offer extra magnification due to their inherent design. Magnified goggles would be useless as goggles and simply be binoculars. Binoculars have an advantage if you need to see something at any real distance. Your range of sight is already limited due to night vision, so extra magnification can only help.

With a target at an extended range, a pair of goggles may reveal a moving blob of greenish light, but a set of night vision binoculars will allow you to tell if that green blob is a stray dog or a suspicious person.


Clarity is more about the generation, the quality of materials and manufacturers of the night vision goggles or night vision binoculars. One is not more intrinsically clearer than another just due to their different designs. This category is a clear tie and cannot be determined without comparing “like” with “like” and allowing the decision to be made on individual product levels.

Night Time Movements

Movements with either system will be easier than movements without. Night vision allows you to see things right in front of you, like holes, large brush, and other potential hazards. Night vision goggles are vastly superior for moving at night, and allow you to safely see where you’re going. Goggles also attach to hands-free systems that allow you to carry extra gear, and better maintain your balance as your tricky terrain, jump across small bodies of water, or if you need to climb. Binoculars do allow you to scout potential routes and identify hazards but are weak at allowing you to see what’s directly in front of you.

Uses and Applications

Surveillance and Observation

When it comes to simply observing an area for an extended period for any reason, binoculars are the better choice. They allow you to watch an area from a distance and makes seeing the details of that area easier. Binoculars offer a better sight picture than googles when observing a large area, with the ability to traverse to different distances with ease.

Binoculars allow you to also watch for more concealed positions compared to goggles which may force you to be closer than you want to the area you are observing. Regardless of the reason, you are watching an area a set of binoculars is easier to use than a set of goggles. Be it observing animals, or guarding a post.


Hunting at night is a controversial and occasionally illegal venture. Always ensure you are within your state’s hunting laws. However, with that said, night vision goggles do allow you to use and carry a firearm. The hands-free nature of night vision goggles makes them much easier to use when hunting. Night vision goggles, when paired with an IR laser on a firearm, is also an accurate way to engage your game of choice. Night vision binoculars would make spotting and watching animals easier, but they would make it more difficult to shoot them.


Off the bat, it’s very easy to assume goggles are the best tactical choice. They make carrying a weapon and moving possible. However, you have to examine the tactical situation. In a dynamic and flowing situation like an airsoft CQB match, a set of goggles is the superior choice. It allows easy movement, easy shooting, and a hand’s free experience.

However, on the other side of the tactical hand, not all situations are fast moving and dynamic. A police officer surveilling an objective is way better suited with a pair of binoculars that allow him to park a good ways away.

How to Choose?

How to determine the two will be easy. Look at the needs you have and identify which product works well for you. At the end of the day, it’s going to boil down to the objective at hand and what you’ll be doing.


Categories: Optics