The Best Infrared Binoculars

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The Best Infrared Binoculars
Infrared binoculars are great for activities, like birding and cave exploring, done in dark conditions. (binoculars image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Infrared binoculars are a great piece of gear for anyone, such as a birder, interested in viewing wildlife at night. They are also handy for cave exploring and night photography. Unlike a flashlight or monocular, infrared binoculars allow eyes to adjust to darkness easily. Infrared binoculars can even be used to watch the stars at night and are also used in many military applications.

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Infrared Illuminators

Some infrared binoculars come equipped with infrared illuminators, which emit infrared light. Although this beam of light is invisible to the naked eye, it allows the user of the binoculars to see clearly even in situations where there is absolutely no ambient light around, such as caves.

Infrared Binoculars by Generations

Infrared binoculars are divided into four "generations," which correspond to the types of technology and optics used in each type of binoculars. Generation 1 binoculars usually have an infrared illuminator built in and are generally the least expensive. They provide a sharp, bright image, but often emit a low hum during use. Generations 2, 3 and 4 are generally used by military and law enforcement and are more expensive than Generation 1.

If Price Is No Object

The ATN Fusion Image Intensification Thermal System FIITS14 are high-end Generation 3 infrared binoculars that combine thermal imaging technology with an advanced image intensification system. They can also be worn as infrared goggles and retail for £9,096. The US Night Vision USNV-321B NightVision Binocular is a high-end Generation 3 binocular that offers a clear image and true stereoscopic infrared vision. Its retail price is £3,474.

Inexpensive, with Special Uses

The ATN Aries MK-350 Guardian Night Vision Riflescope is a Generation 1 speciality binocular designed to be used with a rifle. Its list price is £278. The EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles are really a high-end toy, but offer real infrared technology and an infrared illuminator. They retail for £45.

Less Expensive, Generation 1 Infrared Binoculars

The Night Owl Tactical Series G1 Night Vision Binocular Goggles are Generation 1 binoculars that come with a head mount and built-in infrared illuminator. Their list price is £649. The Bushnell Night Vision 26-1020 binoculars have a built-in infrared illuminator and separate focusing adjustments for the right and left eye. They retail for £497. Bushnell 2.5x42 Night Vision Binoculars are Generation 1 binoculars and have a built-in infrared illuminator and an extra-wide field of view. Their list price is £490. The Yukon Viking 1---24 Night Vision Goggle Kit allows for hands-free viewing and is rated by as the best all-around model for general use. Its retail price is £390. The ATN Night Cougar Night Vision Binoculars Goggles are the smallest, most lightweight infrared binoculars on the market. A Generation 1 binocular, it retails for £363. Gadgetophilia recommends a range of low- to mid-priced infrared binoculars, including the ATN Viper Expandable Night Vision Goggle System, a lightweight Generation 1 hands-free infrared binocular worn as goggles and retailing for £187.

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