Best Thermal Monocular

By: Owen Moore | Updated 24.04.2024, 01:00

If you're looking for a thermal imaging monocular, you'll likely be overwhelmed by all the options available. Which one is the best fit for your needs? In this article, I'll talk about some of the most popular models and help you choose the right one for you. Whether you're in the military or just love to hunt, we'll help you find the perfect thermal imaging monocular in June 2024 for your needs. So, what are you waiting for? Read on to find out more!

If you're short on time and looking for the best thermal imaging monocular, here's my top 2 recommendations:

Editor's Choice
FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular
FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular
The FLIR Scout TK is a compact, handheld thermal monocular designed for one-handed use, allowing you to detect thermal signatures in complete darkness. Ideal for personal safety, outdoor exploration, and hunting, it can reveal people, objects, and animals from over 100 yards away. The device features a simple four-button design, an intuitive interface, and the ability to capture both images and videos. It comes with a neck lanyard, USB cable, and lens cap for convenience.

Buy on Amazon

Best Overall
AGM GLOBAL VISION THERMAL MONOCULAR ASP-MICRO TM160
AGM GLOBAL VISION THERMAL MONOCULAR ASP-MICRO TM160
The AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 Thermal Imaging Monocular stands out as a remarkable tool. Its 160×120 infrared detector makes it ideal for advanced surveillance, precise target tracking, and accurate distance measurements. The added feature of distance estimation based on target height further enhances its functionality. This handheld device is a must-have for anyone seeking top-tier monitoring capabilities in a compact, user-friendly package.

Buy on Amazon


Table of contents:


Best Thermal Monocular - Buyer’s Guide

Based on my experience in finding the best thermal monocular, there are some factors that can make a big difference in your overall experience. Let's take a look at what you should look for before you buy.

Lens Material and Size

When choosing an infrared scanner, it is important to consider the lens material and size. Unlike binoculars or spotting scopes that use glass for their objective lens, many infrared scanners use germanium. This is because infrared light does not pass through glass. Germanium is invisible to infrared light, enabling it to pass through and relay infrared information to the electronics.

The larger the objective lens, the more infrared light the sensor can capture. If you know you will be hunting in low-light conditions or at night, a larger lens will help you see more infrared energy.

Sensor 

The sensor, also called a microbolometer, is the key component of any thermal monocular. It is responsible for reacting to infrared waves or heat emitted by your prey (or human) and consists of pixels that send electrical impulses to the electronics for processing. The more pixels the sensor has, the better the image quality. Consider thermal monoculars - 384x288, then you get 110,592 pixels. 

With more pixels you will see more detailed images and therefore be able to detect and identify animals with much more confidence. So when choosing a thermal monocular, be sure to pay attention to the sensor and resolution.

EXAMPLE: Pulsar Helion 2 XQ38 has 384x288 pix and the Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 has 640x480 pix. This means that you get a more detailed image in the second case.

Resolution

An important factor to consider when choosing a monocular. High end devices typically use an HD resolution such as 1280x960, while lower end devices may have a lower resolution such as 720x540 or even lower. More pixels usually means more detail, so you'll be able to see more of the animals or scenes you're exploring.

best thermal monocular for hunting

Type of Display

Type of display is also important to consider. LCD displays are common in low-end devices, but they don't work in temperatures below 15° F. If you're hunting or using a monocular in cooler temperatures, you need an AMOLED or OLED display. Keep these factors in mind when choosing a monocular to make sure you get the device that best meets your needs.

Base Magnification

This feature allows you to see objects closer to your eye than would naturally be the case, making it easier to hunt animals at greater distances. Most thermal monoculars have a magnification of 2.5x to 4x, but some have no magnification at all. Your choice of base magnification depends on how you intend to use the instrument. If you plan to hunt animals at long range, you will need a higher magnification. However, if you only need to detect objects at close range, a lower magnification will suffice. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference when deciding which base magnification to use.

Detection Range

Detection range is one of the most important specs to look at when shopping for a thermal monocular. This is because it directly impacts how effective the monocular will be at locating games. Detection range is measured in meters and is determined by two factors: the microbolometer size and the zoom level.

Monoculars with large microbolometers and higher zoom numbers give you more extensive detection ranges. When shopping, keep in mind that the Detection Range is not the same as the Identification Range. Detection simply lets you know that an animal is present, while identification allows you to make out specific details such as size, shape, and color.

The quality of the monocular's optics plays the biggest role in determining how easy it is to identify animals at a given range. image quality is impacted by a number of factors including lens size, focus time, and display resolution. Higher-end monoculars will offer better optics and longer detection ranges, but they come at a higher price tag. Ultimately, it's important to find a balance between detection range and price that fits your needs. You can read more in other review - Exploring the Viewing Range of Binoculars.

best thermal monocular

Battery Life

If you plan to hunt for a long time, you need a device with a long battery life. Many thermal imaging monocular have a runtime of 6, 8 or 10 hours. If you know you only need an hour, you can get by with a cable-powered unit. Even better is to find a device that allows you to change batteries and extend your day in the field.

Waterproofing and Durability

Durability and water resistance are important factors to consider when choosing outdoor gear. Spending time outdoors can be hard on equipment, so it's important to find products that will last. Checking a product's IP rating is a good way to evaluate its durability. The IP rating system evaluates a product's enclosure for its ability to keep out dust, water, and other objects.

For example, an IP67 rating means the product is dustproof (index 6 or higher) and can be submerged in water for 30 minutes (index 7). When choosing outdoor gear, look for products with a high IP rating to ensure durability and longevity of use. 

You can read more about waterproofing and durability in other review - Waterproof and Fogproof Features in Binoculars and Monoculars.

best thermal imaging monocular 2024

Best Thermal Monoculars - TOP 7

Discover my curated list of the best thermal monoculars, offering unmatched performance, durability, and unique features.

Editor's Choice FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging ...
FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular
  • Resolution: 160×120
  • Detect Man: 100 yards (90 m)
  • Batteries: 5-hour Rechargeable
Best Overall AGM Global Vision Thermal monocular Asp-Micro ...
AGM Global Vision Thermal monocular Asp-Micro TM160
  • 2×, 4×, 8× digital zoom
  • Identification range of 50 yards
  • Resolution: 160×120
Premium Choice Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro Thermal ...
Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro Thermal Monocular
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Detection distance up to 2000 yds ( 1828,8 m)
Best Night Vision MiLESEEY Thermal Monocular T-Recon Tactical
MiLESEEY Thermal Monocular T-Recon Tactical
  • Resolution: 384*288
  • Detect Range: 1600 Yards
  • Battery Life: up to 15 hours
Best HI-RES Display ATN ODIN LT 320 2-4X Compact ...
ATN ODIN LT 320 2-4X Compact Thermal Monocular
  • Display Resolution: 1280x960 px
  • IP rating: Weather resistant
  • Charging: USB, type C port is on the Optional Rechargeable Battery
Drop Resistant FLIR Scout Thermal Imaging Monocular
FLIR Scout Thermal Imaging Monocular
  • Display: 640 x 480 LCD
  • Detect Man: 550 M
  • IP67 Waterproof
Best Tactical AGM Global Vision Fuzion LRF TM35-640 ...
AGM Global Vision Fuzion LRF TM35-640 Thermal Monocular
  • Resolution: 1024×768
  • Wi-Fi, Waterproof
  • Up to 5 hours of continuous battery life

Best Thermal Monoculars: Comparison

Let's take a closer look at each Thermal Monocular to understand which one suits you better.

Thermal Monocular Resolution Detect Range Special Features
FLIR Scout TK  160x120 pixels Up to 100 yds (91 m.) Compact, pocket-sized design, image and video recording
AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 160x120 pixels Up to 200 yds (183 m.) Compact, lightweight design, Wi-Fi connectivity
Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro  640x480 pixels Up to 2,000 yds (1.8 km) High-resolution imaging, image and video recording
MiLESEEY T-Recon Tactical 384×288 pixels Up to 1300 yds ( 1.1 km) Rugged design, multiple color palettes
ATN ODIN LT 320 2-4X Compact  320x240 pixels Not specified Compact design, image and video recording
FLIR Scout III 320  320x240 pixels Up to 600 yds (549 m.) Compact, lightweight design, image and video recording
AGM Global Vision Fuzion LRF TM35-640  640x512 pixels Up to 2,000 yds (1.8 km) Laser rangefinder, high-resolution imaging, Wi-Fi connectivity

FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular

Editor's Choice

The FLIR Scout TK is a handheld thermal monocular that allows you to see thermal signatures in total darkness. It is pocket sized and designed for one-handed use, with a simple four button design and an intuitive interface. The Scout TK is also a great everyday tool for personal safety and security at home at night, for exploring outdoors at night and in low light conditions, and for hunting.

The Scout TK reveals your surroundings and helps you see people, objects and animals from over 100 yards (90 m) away. Supplied with: Handheld thermal monocular, neck lanyard, USB cable, lens cap. image capture: short press for image capture, long press for video capture.

Pros:

  • Detector: VOx Microbolometer
  • Resolution: 160×120
  • Display: 640X480 LCD
  • FOV (HxV): 20°×16°
  • Batteries: 5-hour Rechargeable
  • Weight: 6 oz (170 g)
  • Size: 6.0"x2"x2"

Cons:

  • The battery lasts for hours, but if you do not use it for a long time, it also runs down by itself, Detects a Human: 100 yards (90 m)

Summary: After trying out this product, I can say that the FLIR Scout TK is a compact, one-handed thermal monocular designed for detecting thermal signatures in complete darkness and helps in personal safety, night exploration, and hunting by identifying people, objects, and animals from over 100 yards away. 

FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular
FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular
  • Resolution: 160×120
  • Detect Man: 100 yards (90 m)
  • Batteries: 5-hour Rechargeable

Check Price


AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 Thermal Monocular

Best Overall

The AGM Global Vision Thermal monocular Asp-Micro TM160 is a handheld observational thermal monocular that is equipped with a 160×120 infrared detector and a 720×540 Lcos display. It has an adaptive AGC, DDE, and 3D DNR. The TM 160 thermal monocular also supports functions of observation, highest temperature target tracking, and distance measurement. The Asp-Micro short range thermal imaging monocular realizes the distance measurement function after marking the top and bottom of the target and inputting the target height. This thermal monocular for hunting also detects and marks the hot spot of highest temperature.

The AGM global vision of Thermal Hunting monocular has a 6.2 mm lens (focal length) and comes with 2×, 4×, 8× digital zoom. The detector type of these monoculars is vanadium oxide uncooled focal plane arrays. The AGM Global Vision Thermal monocular Asp-Micro TM160 is the best short range thermal monocular for hunting with a magnification of 1-8X and an identification range of 50 yards. The infrared recognition range is 125 yards. You can also check out the more advanced Asp Global Vision TM25-384.

Pros:

  • 2×, 4×, 8× digital zoom
  • Identification range of 50 yards
  • Resolution: 160×120
  • Lens (focal length): 6.2 mm
  • Field of view (H × X) 15.61° × 11.74°
  • Display: 720×540, 0.2 inch, LCOS
  • Storage: Built-in 8 GB

Cons:

  • Works well in the declared functions but not for long distances

Summary: The AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 Thermal Imaging Monocular is a 160×120 infrared detector handheld device that offers features such as surveillance, tracking of targets with the highest temperature, distance measurement, and unique distance estimation based on target height.

AGM Global Vision Thermal monocular Asp-Micro TM160
AGM Global Vision Thermal monocular Asp-Micro TM160
  • 2×, 4×, 8× digital zoom
  • Identification range of 50 yards
  • Resolution: 160×120

Check Price


Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro Thermal Monocular

Premium Choice

The Pulsar Helion 2 thermal monocular is a highly sensitive thermal imager capable of detecting objects up to 2,000 yards away. Based on height estimation of observed objects, the stadiometric rangefinder allows you to determine accurate distances quickly, easily and reliably. It features germanium optics with a fast f1.0 aperture for clear images, has 4 observation modes, 8 color palettes for true colorized temperature display. 8 hours of operation on a single charge.

The highlight of the Helion is the ability to connect via Wi-Fi device with mobile devices based on Android and iOS using the free Stream Vision mobile app. This allows you to receive the footage in real time, remotely control the device using a smartphone, as well as broadcast the image. The Pulsar Helion's user-friendly interface, designed for quick and easy operation, is simple and straightforward.

NOTE: Shipment of this product to other countries is prohibited under U.S. law.

Pros:

  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in video recording
  • Detection distance up to 2000 yds ( 1828,8 m)
  • High image frequency
  • 8 Custom Color Modes
  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Mobile-friendly (iOS, Android)

Cons:

  • Not a small price

Summary: Based on my observations the Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro Thermal Monocular is a sensitive imager capable of detecting distant objects up to 2,000 yards, featuring germanium optics, stadiometric rangefinding, and 8 color palettes for detailed thermal representation. Additionally, it offers Wi-Fi connectivity with mobile devices for real-time footage sharing, remote control, and broadcasting through the Stream Vision app, all coupled with a user-friendly interface for seamless operation.

Pulsar Helion 2  XP50 Pro Thermal Monocular
Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro Thermal Monocular
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Detection distance up to 2000 yds ( 1828,8 m)

Check Price


MiLESEEY ‎T-Recon Tactical TNV30 Thermal Monocular 

Best Night Vision

The MiLESEEY T-Recon Tactical thermal imaging monocular is a revolutionary device in the field of thermal imaging. The 384×288 infrared resolution combined with the 25mm f/1.0 germanium lens produces images that are simply breathtaking.

The easy-to-use focus ring allows you to easily aim at your subject, regardless of distance. In addition, support for diopter adjustment ensures that every user can enjoy maximum clarity tailored to their vision. Hot Tracking is a game changer. The ability to instantly lock onto the warmest heat source in dense vegetation ensures that finding your subject is faster and more efficient.

The device boasts an impressive detection range of 1300 yards, which is awe-inspiring in itself. Combined with an 8x digital zoom and an 800*600 OLED display, the T-Recon offers an extraordinary field of view, ensuring that no detail escapes the observer's view even at a considerable distance.

The scalable, do-it-yourself design really makes T-Recon stand out from the crowd. The ability to add modules from the external screen to the laser rangefinder is a testament to its adaptability. This is further enhanced by the generous 16GB built-in memory card that allows users to take and store up to 10,000 photos, making it the perfect tool for sharing and cataloging adventures.

Thanks to its 4500 mAh lithium battery, the T-Recon is extremely durable. Offering up to 15 hours of continuous operation, it ensures that your surveillance sessions remain uninterrupted.

Pros:

  • Infrared Resolution: 384*288 , 25mm Lens Focal
  • Display: 800*600 OLED screen
  • Detect Range: 1600 Yards
  • Electronic Zoom: 1x 2x 4x 8x
  • Frame rate: 50HZ
  • Output: Support Mini HDMI, Micro SD, Type-C
  • Hot Spot Tracking: Support
  • Battery Life up to 15 hours

Cons:

  • With so many advanced features and customization options, some users might find it challenging to use initially

Summary: As indicated by my tests the MiLESEEY T-Recon Thermal Monocular Tactical is a sophisticated blend of technology and utility. It goes beyond just being a tool and provides an elite experience that is hard to match. Whether you're an avid wildlife observer, hunter, or simply someone who loves to explore the world, the T-Recon is sure to elevate your adventures.

MiLESEEY Thermal Monocular T-Recon Tactical
MiLESEEY Thermal Monocular T-Recon Tactical
  • Resolution: 384*288
  • Detect Range: 1600 Yards
  • Battery Life: up to 15 hours

Check Price


ATN ODIN LT 320 2-4X Compact Thermal Monocular

Best HI-RES Display

The ATN Odin LT Tiny Wearable Thermal Monocular is a lightweight and compact thermal monocular that is perfect for observing in low light conditions. This monocular features a Hi-Res 1280x960 display for clear and vivid images, and White Hot/Black Hot Mode for moving object display in your preferred color palette.Battery life (Li-ion) 2.5 Hrs (or Optional Rechargeable Battery with 5 Hrs of runtime) The Odin LT can be hand held, helmet mounted, or head mounted for long term comfortable observation, making it a versatile and easy-to-use product.

Pros:

  • Display Resolution: 1280x960 px
  • IP rating: Weather resistant
  • Battery type: 1 x CR123A (Li-ion)
  • Mount Helmet/Headset
  • Charging: USB, type C port is on the Optional Rechargeable Battery
  • Operating Temperature: -20°F to +120°F / -28°C to 48°C

Cons:

  • No Video Record

Summary: The ATN Odin LT Tiny Wearable Thermal Monocular is a compact device optimal for low-light observations, boasting a Hi-Res 1280x960 display and White Hot/Black Hot Mode for color-customized moving object visualization. With a battery life of 2.5 hours, extendable to 5 hours with an optional rechargeable battery, this monocular offers flexibility for handheld use or long-term observation when helmet or head mounted.

ATN ODIN LT 320 2-4X Compact Thermal Monocular
ATN ODIN LT 320 2-4X Compact Thermal Monocular
  • Display Resolution: 1280x960 px
  • IP rating: Weather resistant
  • Charging: USB, type C port is on the Optional Rechargeable Battery

Check Price


FLIR Scout III 320 Thermal Imaging Monocular

Drop Resistant

The FLIR Scout thermal monocular is a handheld thermal imaging camera that allows you to see in the dark and detect thermal signatures of people or animals in total darkness or in bright light. It features a smooth frame rate of 30-60 Hz for crisp thermal images and comes in a rugged weatherproof housing. The Scout III starts up in seconds and requires no training to use.

The 640 × 480 LCD display makes it easy to see what you're looking at. Includes power adapter/USB charger, wrist strap and special cable for video output.The Scout III's rugged, weatherproof (IP67) case weighs just 12 ounces, but can withstand hard drops and shallow water.

Pros:

  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
  • Display: 640 x 480 LCD
  • FOV (HxV): 17°×13°
  • Detect Man: 550 M
  • IP67 waterproof
  • Batteries: Internal Rechargeable Li-Ion

Cons:

  • With so many advanced features and customization options, some users might find it challenging to use initially

Summary: The FLIR Scout thermal imaging monocular is a rugged, handheld device that delivers crisp thermal imaging in the dark, detecting thermal signatures in both total darkness and broad daylight. With a frame rate of 30-60 Hz, a crisp 640 × 480 LCD display, and a rugged, weatherproof housing, the Scout III is efficient and reliable.

FLIR Scout Thermal Imaging Monocular
FLIR Scout Thermal Imaging Monocular
  • IP67
  • Display: 640 x 480 LCD
  • Detect Man: 546 yds (550 M)

Check Price


AGM Global Vision Fuzion LRF TM35-640 Thermal Monocular

Best Tactical

The AGM Fuzion LRF is a handheld bispectral thermal and optical monocular equipped with a highly sensitive 12 μm thermal detector, an ultra-low light optical detector, a 1024×768 OLED display and an eyepiece with a large field of view. The device can quickly detect hiding objects even in extreme conditions such as smoke, fog, rain, snow, etc., and can be widely used in scenarios such as patrolling, search and rescue, interception and apprehension of suspects and of course hunting. . 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x digital zoom. Video and still image recording, built-in EMMC (16GB).

The monocular offers three different image views: thermal, visible light and fusion, which can be easily adapted to different environmental conditions. This high-tech monocular features a laser rangefinder to measure distance to the target and uses a single rechargeable 18650 lithium battery that provides up to 5 hours of operation. Alternatively, an external power supply can be used to extend operating time.

Pros:

  • Choice of thermal imaging channel, visible light channel or both together 12 µm
  • Fast 50 Hz imaging
  • Laser rangefinder, Waterproof
  • 1024×768 resolution, 0.39-inch OLED display
  • Wi-Fi
  • Up to 5 hours of continuous use

Cons:

  • Not for amateurs

Summary: The AGM Fuzion LRF TM35-640 is a bispectral monocular equipped with a 1024×768 OLED display, 8x digital zoom, three image modes (thermal, visible light, and fusion), a laser rangefinder for measuring the distance to the target, and supports video and image recording with 16 GB of built-in memory.

AGM Global Vision Fuzion LRF TM35-640 Thermal Monocular
AGM Global Vision Fuzion LRF TM35-640 Thermal Monocular
  • Resolution: 1024×768
  • Wi-Fi, Waterproof
  • Up to 5 hours of continuous battery life

Check Price


FAQ about Best Thermal Monocular

Here are some common questions that many people ask when they are considering buying the best thermal monocular.

What is the difference between a thermal imaging monocular and a night vision monocular?

Thermal imaging monocular and night vision devices are used for surveillance in low light conditions. However, there are some key differences between the two technologies.

Thermal imaging monocular, also called infrared camera, detects radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produce images of this radiation. A thermal imaging camera reproduces an image from heat - living and nonliving, but heated objects at any time of day, leave a thermal trace. Thermal imaging cameras are passive sensors that do not emit their own energy, so they can see objects in total darkness or through thick smoke or fog.

Night vision devices, on the other hand, use light amplification technology to allow operators to see in low light conditions. These devices do not work in fog or in very dark environments, as they require a certain level of ambient light to function.

Both thermal imaging and night vision devices have a wide range of applications, including military, law enforcement, search and rescue and hunting applications.

best thermal monocular for helmet

What's the difference between thermal and infrared?

Thermal imaging cameras measure the infrared radiation emitted by all objects and display that information as an image. The images produced by a thermal imager are known as thermograms. Infrared energy is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and its wavelength is longer than that of visible light. All objects above absolute zero (-273°C) emit infrared energy. The amount of infrared energy emitted by an object increases as its temperature increases.

The difference between thermal and infrared is that thermal imaging cameras can sense this emission over a wide area, while an IR thermometer can only sense the emission from a very small spot. Because of this, thermal imagers are sometimes referred to as “whole-scene” or “wide-field” images. What’s more, you can use a thermal imager to “see” in total darkness, through light fog, smoke, and most types of persistent background clutter that would obscure vision in the visible spectrum.

Can thermal imaging see through walls?

No, not the way we're used to seeing in different action movies. Walls are often thick enough and insulated enough to block any infrared radiation from the other side. If you point a thermal imaging camera at a wall, it will pick up the heat from the wall and not from what's behind it. However, there are some cases where you can use thermal imaging to see through walls.

If there is a large fire on the other side of the wall, for example, the heat from the fire might be intense enough for the thermal imaging camera to detect it. Also, if the wall is very thin or has a hole in it, infrared radiation can pass through it and be detected by the thermal imaging camera.

Best Thermal Imaging Monocular : Conclusion

The best thermal imaging monocular is the one that meets your needs. I've reviewed different models and presented my top picks, and you should consider the features that are important to you when making your purchase. In turn, I told you what to look for. And I've listed the best models, such as the MiLESEEY Thermal Monocular T-Recon Tactical, FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular or Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro Thermal Monocular.

I hope that thanks to this review, you'll be able to find the perfect thermal imaging monocular for your next hunt, outdoor recreation, or other activities. Thank you for reading.


Go Deeper: