The 8 Best Spy Glasses
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Whether you use them for actual cloak-and-dagger purposes or simply as a gadget for recording your adventures, these spy glasses are handy devices that leave your hands free for other purposes. They come in a variety of designs to suit most preferences, but remember that their use may not be legal in your jurisdiction, so do plenty of research before you start pretending to be a secret agent. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 18, 2020:
While we did our best to identify spy sunglasses that are somewhat discreet, it should be noted that they should never be used to record people who don't know they are on film, or for any other nefarious purposes. Not only is doing so unethical, but it can also be illegal in many places. Along with a discreet build, we also took style into account, as well as the overall quality of both the glasses themselves and the video recordings. With these final two features in mind, we thought it prudent to avoid including many of the cheaply made options on the market. While it is true they may be affordable, they are generally notorious for failing soon after purchase; capturing extremely low-quality, grainy videos; and just being problematic overall.
Those who want something that can give any traditional pair of sunglasses a run for their money in the looks department will probably want to consider the Oho Sunshine THB628 and Oho Sunshine THB628F 32GB. These both feature colored mirrored lenses, which also happen to be polarized to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. The former can record in 4K and boasts 128 GB of internal memory, while the latter is only capable of capturing 1080P video and has just 32 GB of storage space. Both also offer a high level of water resistance that makes them suitable for boating, fishing, and other similar activities.
Another pair that can stand up to harsh weather are the Bear Grylls BG-GLS-1. As you might expect from any product bearing the famed survivalist's name, these are designed to handle just about any extreme condition you subject them too, while continuing to operate reliably.
Of all the options on our list, the iVue Rincon are the only ones that have a tiltable camera, which makes it easy to record something that may not be directly in your line of sight, without having to move your head. They do suffer from bulky arms which some may dislike, as well as tiny buttons that can be difficult to depress without fumbling around a bit.
Though some of the sunglasses on our list do come with a pair of clear lenses that can be swapped out with their tinted ones, the Senluo DV302 are the obvious choice for indoor use, as they look the most like prescription or reading glasses. They are rather affordable too, probably since they don't offer as rugged of a build as models intended for outdoor activities.
July 09, 2019:
It should be noted that, while the options above are a fun way to capture exciting memories, none of them will be capable of providing you with truly top-notch video — you'll need a true action camera for that.
That being said, these glasses offer an extremely budget-friendly way to capture hands-free recordings. Many of them, like the Yaoawe Goggles, can be used during extreme sports, and they'll be useful even if you never turn the camera on. Others, such as the Snapchat Spectacles, are geared towards everyday fun and excitement, and can be ideal for creating social media content.
The Senluo Camera is the pair best-suited for casual use, such as in an office. They look like regular glasses for the most part and can blend in with business attire. They're also lightweight, so you won't have ugly indentations in your face (or worse, a headache) when you take them off at the end of the day.
Vuzix Blade These do more than just capture the images you see — they can also project information on the inside of the lens, where it's only visible to you. They're as close as you'll get to owning something from Q Branch. vuzix.com
Spy Glasses? Really?
Still, spy glasses have never quite caught on like you'd think they might.
There was a time when the thought of recording everything you see was something limited to James Bond movies and science fiction. After all, cameras were so big and bulky, how would you strap one to your head, much less do so inconspicuously?
Nowadays, however, things are completely different. Cameras are now tiny and ubiquitous — we have them in our phones, in our watches, and even strapped to our dogs. It's become second nature to record every moment of our lives and then share it via social media.
Still, spy glasses have never quite caught on like you'd think they might. Google Glass is about as close as we've come to a popular version of spy glasses, and it hardly set the world on fire.
Why is that? There are a variety of reasons why people are hesitant to add another camera to their wardrobe — and a big one is concerns over privacy. It just feels sleazy to record everything you see, especially if the other person doesn't know they're being monitored.
Also, trying to record everything you see can be distracting, which is why it's illegal in many places to wear devices like Google Glass while driving. That can limit their effectiveness as spy gear as well, as it's difficult to seem nonchalant when you're struggling to take in your surroundings.
Still, it's unlikely that we've seen the last attempt to introduce something like spy glasses into mainstream acceptance. Many people are becoming more comfortable with sacrificing privacy in order to share even the most mundane aspects of their lives, so anything that makes that easier will likely succeed.
Which is good, because the world is running dangerously low on pictures of food.
Benefits of Spy Glasses
Chances are, you're never going to be called on to scope out a top-secret nuclear facility that the Russians are building, so do you really need a pair of spy glasses?
The answer is...no, probably not. That said, they offer a wide range of benefits, so while they may not be necessary, they can definitely be convenient.
Don't expect them to replace regular cameras anytime soon, but for some people, a pair of spy glasses can make a useful addition to their recording arsenal.
One big advantage they offer is the ability to document everything that happens to you. This can come in handy if you're often in dangerous places, or in situations where you might expect to have your version of events challenged. Police officers and security personnel should consider wearing them, especially if body cams aren't available, as they can help clear your name if a situation gets out of hand.
They can make family vacations and other events easier to film as well. If you've ever tried to film a kid's party, then you know how valuable it is to have both hands free. With a pair of spy glasses, you can document every moment while still being able to hold a baby or shield your body from kicks to tender areas.
Streamers should consider a pair as well, especially if their stream involves lots of activity. They'll allow you to talk while recording, and you can be sure that your audience gets the best visuals possible — in fact, they'll see exactly what you see.
And yes, they can help you surreptitiously record things. Since they're fairly unobtrusive, you can capture people in their natural state, as they won't filter their behavior due to the knowledge they're being filmed.
Don't expect them to replace regular cameras anytime soon, but for some people, a pair of spy glasses can make a useful addition to their recording arsenal. If nothing else, they can let you pretend to be a high-level espionage agent — or at least a high-tech peeping tom.
Is Spying Legal?
If you're considering buying a pair of spy glasses, then you've probably already got a use for them in mind, whether to keep an eye on your employees or to catch your spouse in a lie.
But did you ever stop to think about whether your plan was legal?
In many places, it's against the law to record someone without their knowledge. The rules are relaxed somewhat in public places, as it's believed that people should reasonably expect their conduct in those places to be public knowledge. However, it's still usually impermissible to record conversations, regardless of where they occur.
Unless you have consent to film everything, keep your camera turned off.
The laws change somewhat once you're behind closed doors or on private property, however. It's still verboten to tape conversations without permission (especially phone calls), but in many places, it's also illegal to take pictures or record video. This may not matter to you if you're using the footage for personal use (say, to just get your spouse to admit to being unfaithful), but if you plan to use it for something else, such as evidence in a trial, then know that it's likely to be thrown out — and could even land you in hot water.
Also (and hopefully this goes without saying), it's always illegal to secretly record in private places like showers and locker rooms. Even if the camera is attached to your eyewear, it's still against the law — and that includes situations that you're personally involved in, like consensual sexual activities. Unless you have consent to film everything, keep your camera turned off.
One gray area that's still being actively resolved in the courts is your ability to film police officers. It's generally believed that it's acceptable to do so — but that might not stop you from getting arrested for doing it. If you want to play it safe, it's best to stop recording if a cop tells you to, but keep in mind that they can't confiscate your camera.
Ultimately, if you're looking to record your own activities, or you have clear permission from the other people involved, you should be fine. Otherwise, it's best to leave the camera off, because the penalties for unauthorized recording are steep.
Then again, you might be able to make quite a bit of money selling videos from prison...