Review: ATN Night Cougar

Thanks to its compact, comfortable design, the Cougar is as cuddly as a kitten.

The optics are excellent too — objects popped out of the dark like monsters on a carnival ride. Like the LN-PB3 from Luna, these use a combination of first generation night vision tech and an IR bulb. Light passes into a tube, where photons are converted to electrons, amplified,and then re-converted into green-hued visible light. The light gathering was excellent, allowing us to see well in near-total darkness outdoors.Meanwhile, in the pitch black of our basement, the IR illuminator was the best of the bunch, painting distant objects in a revealing glow.

We also appreciated the peripheral vision these goggles afforded. While it was far from a true view of the horizon, the Night Cougar’s didn’t leave us feeling boxed in and peering through a tunnel either. While there was some blurring around the edges (also known as geometric distortion, a commonplace attribute of first-gen night vision) it was barely noticeable, and we preferred these overall for scanning side-to-side.

While the fixed zoom means you won’t be reeling in far away views, because there’s no need to adjust from long shots to closeups,these were easiest to use to monitor objects at varying distances. They do,however, offer adjustments to let you get a crisp picture — smooth focusing rings with individual adjustments for each eyepiece made adjusting to our misfit vision a snap.

Finally, we adored the headgear mount that attaches to the peepers for hands-free use. It allows you to keep the Cougars in place in front of your eyes, or flip them up 90 degrees and out of the way if you need to creep about. Not only does it give you a break from gripping the night vision specs to your mug, it also lets you stay on the move while holding stuff — like an AK-47. Or that kitten.

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