Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has star read more
Last updated: November 19, 2022
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Are you a passionate hunter who needs night vision goggles to see the environment clearly? Do you enjoy watching birds and other animals in their habitats? Here is the good news – you don’t have to pay a fortune to buy nighttime observation equipment. In this article, you will find the best night vision goggles under $500 suitable for various activities!
Our experts reviewed the top-rated units currently available in the market. We picked carefully and analyzed every pro and con while reviewing the products. That includes objective diameter and modification, but also IR illumination and nighttime distance, which are crucial for observing the area at night. Our team also focused on portability and considered the goggles’ weight and dimensions so that using them will be as comfortable as possible. Do you want to learn more? Continue reading, and we will provide you with all information required to find a suitable option for your needs!
"This high-end model features a fully multi-coated lens along with a 4x digital zoom. Additionally, it comes with useful accessories.24 mm objective diameter.3x magnification.984 ft. max nighttime distance."
"Are you searching for goggles that can take fantastic photos? Consider these ones that also have multi-coated XD glass lens.40 mm objective diameter.4.5 – 22.5x magnification.1300 ft. max nighttime distance."
More features: 4″ screen, photo and video functions, 7 IR levels, 2x digital zoom, comes with a protective case, phone card reader, neck strap, 32GB SD card, cleaning cloth, USB cable
Our first pick for the top night vision goggles under $500 is the Creative XP’s unit designed to use in low-light conditions. You can choose between seven IR levels to determine the right illumination for any environment. The maximum nighttime distance is 1,300 feet, which is impressive.
The goggles come with an integrated TFT screen with a four-inch diameter. Since the product allows taking pictures and videos, you can check them on that display. Thanks to the SD memory card, it is easy to transfer them to a PC.
The objective diameter is 31mm, and goggles feature a multi-coated lens that is durable and provides a clear image. Although the image quality is impressive, the clarity drops a bit at the farthest distances. You can use rechargeable batteries to power the unit.
Why is it special? It is nice that the goggles come with a protective case and a 32GB memory card as that gives enough room to save the desired photos and videos.
What are the flaws? It takes eight batteries to power the unit, which is an additional expense and a hassle to change.
More features: 2.31” TFT view screen, 4 digital zoom, 850NM infrared illuminator, photo and video functions, 7 IR levels, supports 32 GB memory card, IP56 water resistance level, tripod mountable
The JStoon Night Vision Goggles feature a modest-sized 25mm objective diameter. The superb quality lens is durable, and it should last a long time. You can enjoy a 4x digital zoom, which ensures the range goes up to 984 feet at night. Thanks to the infrared adjustment, you can pick between seven different illumination levels.
Although magnification capabilities could be better, the image and video quality are impressive. The product maintains a 1280×960 resolution, and videos work at 30FPS.
You can enjoy using the googles for six hours if the infrared illuminator is active and up to 17 hours for standard use. It is nice that you can mount the product on a tripod since it ensures additional stability while capturing images or videos. Transferring files to your computer is easy because all you need is a USB cable.
What makes it stand out? The waterproof rating is impressive, and you can feel free to use it in rainy and foggy conditions.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The button placement could be better since you can’t change the setting quickly to get the perfect picture.
More features: fully multi-coated lens, 4x digital zoom, comes with case, neck strap, 32 GB card, data cable, cleaning cloth
The GTHUNDER’s product deserves a place in our night vision goggles under $500 reviews. It is a premium compact-sized unit with a 24mm objective diameter, and that is the only downside since the manufacturer didn’t want to use a bigger diameter than that. Still, once you see all its fantastic features, you will love this product.
For starters, it has both digital and optical zoom capabilities. You can see up to 984 feet, which is an impressive distance, and it should cover all your requirements. The resolution or photos and videos are 1920×960 pixels, and that means you can expect HD quality. It’s possible to browse all images on the three-inch TFT screen integrated into the device.
If you are heading out at night, the IR illuminator with seven levels will help you to sharpen the image. Thanks to the water resistance rating, you can use the unit in all weather conditions.
What makes it stand out? The product includes everything you might need, such as a case, adjustable neck strap, data cable, and a memory card.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The objective lens diameter is not that big, and it will take time to get used to it.
More features: 2x digital zoom, photo, and video function, supports up to 32 GB memory cards, adjustable lens focus and IR light, 2” screen, comes with cable, neck strap, and head mount strap assembly
If you are looking for budget-friendly night vision goggles under $500, these can be a smart pick. The X-Vision XANB50 model is incredibly lightweight, and it weighs only over a pound.
The objective size is generous for a compact-sized unit since it has a 24-inch diameter. You can use both photo and video functions, and the resolution is satisfactory. Unfortunately, checking everything on a two-inch TFT screen is rather inconvenient because of its smaller size.
The nighttime range is 200 yards, but that is sufficient for entry-level goggles. It is nice that the lens focus is adjustable, and there are buttons used for choosing the desired mode and modifying zoom. You can pick between a 2x digital and 3x optical zoom, and the day mode requires putting on the sunshade cover. The manufacturer includes an adjustable neck strap, as well as a charger for the integrated battery.
Why are we impressed? The unit is lightweight and easy to carry around – it’s great for those who don’t want goggles to take a lot of room in their backpack.
What negatives must you be aware of? The illuminator is pretty visible in the dark, which exposes the person using the googles.
More features: built-in infrared illuminator, comes with head mount gear, extreme close-up focusing, extra-wide field of view
Nighstar officially listed this product as binoculars, but they included a head mount gear. That means you can convert it into goggles, and they can be a great purchase.
If you consider the price, it is imperative not to expect too much. You get a 20mm objective diameter with a 1x magnification capability and an integrated infrared illuminator. You can take it outdoor during the night, but don’t expect to achieve extremely long distances.
The product only requires a single battery to run, and it delivers a decent performance. It covers a large area, and you won’t miss a single detail while observing the surroundings. The binoculars aren’t as light as we expected, especially since this is a small unit. On the other hand, they are versatile and perform well at different temperatures, which makes them suitable to use during hot and cold weather.
What are our favorite features? A generous field of view will ensure you monitor a wide area without missing a single detail in the process.
What could be better? The product is surprisingly heavy for a small-sized item, which might be inconvenient for long-term use.
More features: 4” screen, no-glow infrared illumination, fully multi-coated XD glass lens, photo and video function, IPX4 water resistance level, comes with 32 GB memory card and case
The first thing you notice about these goggles is the box, which doesn’t look up to the standard of such a super product. As soon as you start using the device, you see how powerful it is.
For starters, it features a large 40mm objective diameter and a large field of view to cover an extensive area. You will find an integrated two-inch TFT screen, but you can convert it to a four-inch display by using the convex lens. Thanks to that, you have a large screen for checking your photos and videos.
The pictures are taken in 2592x1944p resolution, and the videos support 1280×720 pixels. While capturing videos, you can even record sound. The optical zoom is 4.5x, and the digital zoom is 5x. Also, it features optimal water resistance and can withstand rain.
What are our favorite features? The maximum viewing distance is impressive, and its maximum is 1,300 feet, which is more than with most other goggles on the list.
What could be better? The delivery box doesn’t complement a premium product since it seems more like packaging for toys. Also, the video quality could be better.
More features: 4x digital zoom, 2.31” LCD display, photo, and video function, supports up to 32 GB memory cards, IP56 water resistance, 30-day return period, 18-month warranty, comes with a storage pouch, neck strap, USB cable
It is always nice to see that the manufacturer offers maximum bang for the buck, and Rexing does that with its B1 night vision goggles. During the night, you can see up to 984 feet away, which is more than you will need in most situations. We liked the water-resistance rating that ensures the product will keep performing well even if you drop it into a puddle or use during wet weather conditions.
You can use the IR digital camera to adjust the desired illumination level. The buttons are conveniently placed at the top. Next, the supported photo resolution is 1280×960, and the video has a 960p quality at 30FPS. It is fairly decent for entry-level goggles.
The viewing screen features an impressive seven-inch width and allows you to see all photos and images clearly.
Why are we impressed? The adjustable infrared illuminator allows you to choose the desired clarity level and ensure optimal image quality at all lighting conditions.
What negatives must you be aware of? Once you turn on the viewing screen, it will light up your face and reveal your position to the animals you are observing.
More features: multi-coated glass, low energy consumption, comes with head strap mount
SHANNIS designed a bargain deal for night vision goggles. That means this product is suitable for beginners and those that don’t have too many demands from their unit.
The integrated infrared LED illuminator does a nice job of securing optimal image clarity. You can use it at a distance of up to 328 feet during nighttime. While the distance isn’t impressive, the illuminator will do a good job of providing the desired illumination level.
The manufacturer included a rechargeable battery that lasts for about 90 minutes when the goggles are continuously used. It can recharge quickly and last for up to six hours on a single charge.
The goggles are compact-sized and light, and you will find them easy to carry in your hands or a backpack. There is no mention of water resistance, so be careful when using it during foggy or rainy weather.
Why is it special? The head strap mount makes it easy to put the goggles on your head and find the optimal position for observing.
What are the flaws? Its nighttime distance is nowhere near premium units, which limits its capabilities in low-light conditions.
Things to Consider
You decided to go with night vision goggles under $500 because you don’t want to splash the cash on nighttime equipment. It could be because you are only trying it for the first time and want to see if night activities are your cup of tea.
The good news is that you can find decent goggles at this price range, and we are here to help. Our guide will tell you everything about what to expect from these products and consider all important features during the selection process. Our experts also answer the most common questions asked by users about these items.
What to expect from night vision goggles under $500?
Are you worried that you won’t get plenty of bang for the buck if you choose goggles priced under $500? The truth is completely different because these products can be real value deals and meet all your expectations.
Here is what you can look forward to when using night vision goggles:
Observe the surrounding at nighttime – these units are capable of illuminating the environment even when it’s completely dark. That means you can rely on them during the entire night.
Suitable for all weather conditions – although it depends on the product, many goggles are suitable for wet, rainy, and foggy weather and can maintain optimal performance in those conditions.
Optimal durability – the manufacturers use strong housing and high-quality components to ensure the product lasts for a long time.
Easy to carry around – affordable goggles are lightweight, and they won’t be a burden even if you carry them around for hours.
Capture photos and enjoy watching them later – you can capture images and videos to watch them later and enjoy your shots on PC or TV.
Things to consider before buying night googles under $500
Are you confused about where to start with selecting the right night goggles under $500? Our experts listed the crucial features that your nighttime equipment should have and explained them below. You will learn everything about the importance of the viewing distance and the IR illuminator during the night. We will also reveal everything you should know about the objective diameter and magnification, but also how physical characteristics can affect your product experience. If you are ready to learn how to discover the most suitable goggles for your preference, start reading now!
The objective diameter is nothing else than the lens size. When it comes to night vision goggles, you will find that it can be anywhere from 20-40mm. The most frequent option for the diameter is 25mm, such as seen with the Rexing B1 Night Vision Goggles, and you probably won’t need more than that.
It is vital to consider the lens quality, and the recommendation is to go with a multi-coated lens to ensure optimal durability and performance.
Another thing to consider is the field of view. While it might go hand in hand with the objective diameter, it depends on the unit. The field of view determines the area width you can see with your goggles. The general rule is the higher, the better because a wide field of view ensures you don’t miss a single detail.
The magnification serves to zoom the picture when you are observing the area from a large distance. For example, it might seem that a deer you are looking at is far away, and you can’t see if it is sleeping. You can use the magnification feature to zoom the animal and see what they are doing. That is also convenient for taking the perfect photo once you are outside.
Most night vision goggles have both digital and optical zoom, such as the CREATIVE XP Digital Night Vision Googles. These might vary from 1x to 7x or more, but the most common settings for goggles are 1x. If the magnification is bigger, the odds are you are dealing with binoculars that you can use as goggles if you apply a head mount.
Max night and daytime distance
That should be your primary priority when deciding the product to purchase. If you are a hunter, you don’t want the animal to smell or notice you, which is why keeping your distance is imperative.
The max viewing distance can vary from as little as 300 feet to as much as 1,300 feet. You should consider your preference because 300 feet might be sufficient for your requirements, and you can save some money in the process. Large distances require better technology, which might increase the price. But you can encounter value deals, such as with the CREATIVE XP Digital Night Vision Googles.
As for the daytime, make sure to check the instructions since you might need to use a sunshade cover or another accessory to adjust the product.
Photo and video functions
If you are a wildlife watcher or want to capture fantastic moments you see, you will need goggles with photo and video functions. That enables you to record images and videos of the surroundings.
When it comes to images, the resolution will vary, but you need at least 1280×960 pixels for today’s standards. Many products support HD resolutions, such as the GTHUNDER Digital Night Vision Goggles.
As for videos, think about whether you need sound. Only some goggles are also capable of capturing sound, although there is the question of how well they can do that at large distances. The video quality varies, but it should be sufficient enough to transfer and play on PCs and TVs and enjoy what you recorded.
Adjustable IR lights
An infrared illuminator is an important part of night vision goggles because it is what enables you to see during nighttime. The illuminator uses infrared technology to deliver an image to your lens so that you can observe the surroundings.
It is common for the IR illuminator to be adjustable. Most manufacturers include seven illumination levels, just like in the JStoon Night Vision Goggles, and you can adjust them to your preference. If there are other lighting sources, a low IR illumination might be sufficient to get the desired picture clarity. But if it is complete darkness, you might need to maximize the IR illuminator. The good news is that these illuminators are capable of showing a clear image, even when there is no light around you. And the best part is most of them can do this without revealing your position.
If you plan on spending the entire night out hunting, the nighttime goggles should serve you well the whole time. That is why it is critical that the battery will last long enough, so let’s talk about battery duration.
Night vision goggles under $500 use two battery types – integrated/rechargeable or those you insert manually. The integrated batteries are usually lithium ones that can last for approximately 5-15 hours on a single charge, but it depends on the frequency of use. You usually receive a charger that enables you to charge the battery quickly whenever necessary. The X-Vision Hands-Free Night Vision Deluxe Goggles XANB50 are a great example here.
An alternative is to use batteries you can purchase at any store. They are not rechargeable, which means you need to replace them regularly. You will require 6-8 AAA or other types to run some units.
The goggles’ size will directly affect their portability. It is easier to place a compact-sized product in your backpack and carry it around. You might also find smaller goggles easier to use, although that depends on your hand size and preference. If you want compact-sized units, we suggest going with the NightStar 1x20mm Head Mounted Night Vision Goggles or similar products. The size should be approximately 4.5×4.2×2.1 inches, which won’t take a lot of room in your backpack.
On the other hand, you can also go with large goggles, and they can measure 11×8.5×4 inches. The actual size might vary, but that is about what you can expect to be the maximum size of these products. They often come with a large viewing screen, such as the Bestguarder NV-900 Digital Night Vision Goggles.
If you checked out our night vision goggles under $500 reviews, you discovered that these products aren’t heavy. They rarely weigh over 3.5 pounds, but there is a reason why you want them as light as possible. Once you carry the goggles around for hours, every ounce matters and can affect how heavy it feels to use the product.
Those who aim for the lightest goggles should try X-Vision Hands-Free Night Vision Deluxe Goggles XANB50, which weighs just over a pound. But sometimes you might need to accept a bit of extra weight for better product performance. The additional pound might mean more durable components and protection against environmental factors.
Larger goggles tend to be heavier than smaller ones, but they can still be the right choice if you want a big objective diameter and field of view.
Night vision goggles under $500 will often come with a wide range of accessories. Here are the extras usually included in the package:
Head mount – it serves to ensure your goggles stay on your head while you are moving and keeps your hands free.
Neck strap – if you plan on carrying the unit around your neck, this accessory will make things easier.
Carrying case – this is the perfect way to protect the product while you are not using it.
SD card – it allows you to save photos and videos made with the goggles.
USB cable – a cable is how you transfer images and videos to your computer.
Cleaning cloth – it simplifies lens maintenance and allows you to remove dust and other particles while on the go.
Yes, that is why we call them nighttime goggles. You can take them out in the middle of the night and observe the surroundings clearly. The goggles are capable of that because they come with an IR illuminator. The infrared illumination technology often has multiple levels. You can pick the desired adjustment based on the darkness level. Depending on the product, you can achieve impressive image clarity at surprisingly big distances. These goggles are designed for use in total darkness, which means you don’t have to rely on other sources of light. You won’t reveal your position, but you can see clearly what’s happening around you.
The water resistance depends on the actual unit. Most manufacturers ensure that their goggles come with at least some level of water resistance. The rating might vary from IP4 to IP56, and most companies clearly state it on the product’s label. The higher the rating is, the better resistance and suitability to use in rainy weather will be. If the goggles are moderately water-resistant, dropping them into a puddle won’t be a problem, and you can use them during light rain or fog. So if you are heading outside when it’s heavy rainfall, you might need goggles with the highest possible water resistance rating.
Yes, goggles that cost less than $500 can be suitable for hunting. If you go with night vision units, you can use them both day and nighttime, which increases their versatility. These goggles come with IR illuminators that ensure optimal image clarity even when it’s total darkness. That is how you can observe the animals and confirm their position without revealing yours. The nighttime distance will depend on the goggles, with the maximum being 1,300 feet. That will fit the requirements of even the most advanced hunters. These goggles also ensure you remain hands-free, which is another way how hunters can benefit from them.
The CREATIVE XP Digital Night Vision Googles are at the top of their class for multiple reasons. They have the highest nighttime distance of 1,300 feet and a decent objective diameter and field of view. You get everything you need in a single package, including a protective case, SD card and a reader, USB cable, and a cleaning cloth.
The JStoon Night Vision Goggles offer excellent performance in a small-sized product. They feature seven IR levels, optical and digital zoom. The water resistance is impressive, and you can check photos and videos on the small viewing screen.
The GTHUNDER Digital Night Vision Goggles are another candidate for the best night vision goggles under $500. The picture and video resolution are impressive, and the water-resistance makes the product suitable for all weather conditions.
We aimed to find and suggest the top-quality, affordable goggles to use at nighttime. It is up to you to consider the features you need and find your favorite!
How Night Vision Works | HowStuffWorks
Most of us instinctively think of darkness as a way to hide. Night vision has changed all that. So, how can you see someone standing over 200 yards away on a pitch-black night? Find out.