Night Vision Gear

Survival Gear: Night Vision Goggles

Survival Gear: Night Vision Goggles

Night vision goggles can be very helpful in a survival situation.  Whether you are hunting at night, or whether you are defending a retreat, having the right kind of night vision gear can make life much easier and may even save your life.  With good night vision gear, depending on the type used, you can see a person up to 200 yards away on a moonless night.

Thermal Imaging vs. Image Enhancement

Night Vision Gear

“ Night Vision,” © 2007 by Arlo Ringsmuth, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license:

Night vision devices (NVDs) use two primary types of technology: Thermal Imaging and Image Enhancement. Both types use infrared technology. Infrared light is outside of the visible light spectrum (the spectrum that human beings can see with the naked eye). Night vision devices collect infrared light and then process it into an image that humans can see. I am not going to get into the specifics of how the technology works, but generally, Image enhancement is probably what you are thinking about when you think of night vision gear.  For a more detailed explanation on the different technologies, see How Night Vision Works


Night vision devices fall into categories based on what generation technology they are. Currently, there are generations 0 through 4. Generations 0 and 1 are the so-called “bargain” night vision devices and may be somewhat disappointing depending on what your expectations are. Generations 2 through 4 employ huge steps up in quality and effectiveness and are typically much more expensive. Generation 3 is the type of night vision device used by the U.S. military.

Types Of Night Vision Gear

Night vision devices generally fall into three categories of application: Scopes, Goggles, and Video/Camera. Scopes are usually a single eyepiece that the user holds up and looks through. Goggles are in the binocular form and are designed to be worn by the user and to allow them mobility while seeing in low-light conditions. Video/Camera Night vision devices are primarily used for surveillance.


You may be wondering if there are any laws or regulations restricting consumer ownership or use of night vision devices. This article is not intended to give legal advice. You should do your own research or seek legal counsel. Do not rely on this article for legal advice. That being said, to the author’s best understanding, there are currently no such federal or state laws except in California. The California statute only applies to use of night vision devices attached to weapons. It states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a device “designed for or adaptable to use on a firearm which, through the use of a projected infrared light source and electronic telescope, enables the operator thereof to visually determine and locate the presence of objects during the nighttime.” (California Penal Code Section 468).

Should You Buy Night Vision Gear?

Finding the right night vision device for you is important. You should research the different types of night vision gear and the technology used. It is important to become familiar with how to use night vision gear as well. It is probably a good idea to find a friend or family member who has a night vision device and ask them if you can go with them to test it out some time. If you are looking for a good 1st generation device, I suggest the
ATN Viper Night Vision Goggles
sold by chief supply. A very good product for the price. If you are in a position to afford a 2nd generation or higher, then check out the
ATN NVG7-2 Night Vision Goggles
. All night vision goggles sold by Chief Supply offer a 30 day money back guarantee, which is great for such high tech equipment.

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