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Can’t see in the dark? Can’t see between thick timber? Can’t see far enough to determine if it’s your target? There’s a treatment for that, and we have the right prescription for you.
Thermal vision has been the cure to improving vision for all types of professions, sports, and recreational activities. However, you must be pretty hardcore or have deep pockets if you’re buying thermal imaging just for fun.
Since it’s a costly technology to manufacture, and there are only a handful of legitimate manufacturers that offer it, you must research your potential buy before you front up the cash. That’s why we have a lineup to help you figure out what goggles are absolute buys, which are the best thermal binoculars and the ones will stay on your short wish-list for another day.
Get treated here for your lack of vision and never go sightless again!
QUICK LIST: 9 Best Thermal Binoculars & Goggles 2020
- Pulsar Accolade XP50 Thermal Night Vision Binoculars
- ATN Binox 4T 640 1-10X Thermal Imaging Binocular
- Dali S730 Thermal Binoculars
- Pulsar Accolade XQ38
- AGM Anaconda-Micro TC50-384
- ATN Binox 4T 640 2.5-25X
- FLIR Breach PTQ136 Thermal Goggles
- AGM Cobra TB50-336
- FLIR Command 640 3-24X75 Thermal Imaging Bi-Ocular
Top Thermal Goggles & Binoculars
|Pulsar Accolade XQ50||
|ATN Binox 4T 640 1-10X||
|Pulsar Accolade XQ38||
|AGM Anaconda Micro TC50-384||
|ATN Binox 4T 640 2.5-25X||
|FLIR Breach PTQ136||
|AGM Cobra TB50-336||
|FLIR Command 640 3-24X75||
Night and thermal vision have long been associated with the U.S. Military and law enforcement. One movie that portrays its very use is Schwarzenegger’s “Predator” of ’87. While soldiers and SWAT agents may have had the only access to thermal technology in goggles and other devices in the past, it’s now open to the commercial market.
Although it’s very expensive to buy thermal night vision, it can be used for more than warfare, raids, and covert operations. Hunters are maximizing this tech in the field to track down game, to control nocturnal varmint and pest populations, and scout the area for deer hot spots.
Campers and hikers can appreciate thermal imaging tech to see what’s howling or grunting around the grounds and trails, and preppers will increase security measures with thermal vision to spot threats and breaches to their compounds.
So, how does thermal night vision work? In a nutshell, the device emits IR (infra-red) energy. It records the temperature data of everything within the target scene to create a thermogram. The thermogram goes through a series of processes to produce an image of the target scene onto a screen. The screen will display the target scene in multiple color options (depending on the device) to identify living targets like animals and humans from non-living targets like buildings and vehicles.
Now knowing how thermal imaging briefly works and who it can work for, let’s get into what thermal vison goggles and binoculars are available to you today.
Top 9 Best Thermal Goggles & Binocular Reviews
1. Best Overall: Pulsar Accolade XP50 Bi-Ocular Review
- 2000-yard detection range with 640x480 resolution, 17Am pixel core, High-contrast, color AMOLED display
- Picture in picture digital zoom with a Stream Vision app that connects scope to smart device
The Accolade is a high-end thermal imaging biocular made for professional use. It’s rugged, long-ranging, and up to every challenge.
- 8x zoom
- 50 mm aperture
- Adjustable IPD
- Battery life
The Accolade is an all-purpose thermal device that can be used for everything from professional and law enforcement use to semi-professional work and sports. Not much will be out of sight with the 2.5-20x magnification with 8x zoom, the large 50 mm aperture, and the long detection range of 1800 m.
High sensor resolution of 640 x 480 pixels provide excellent details in the many color palettes available with the Pulsar unit. You have White Hot mode, Black Hot for night hunting, Red Monochrome, Sepia, and more.
It also records video with 8GB of built-in memory storage, and with a WiFi module and smartphone, you can live-stream to share your hunt with all those willing to watch. You won’t miss a beat with the 50 Hz refresh rate. Even though the built-in battery only provides up to 7 hours of use, it can be used with an external power bank with a micro-USB jack.
Other features of the Accolade include Display Off, manual contrast and brightness adjustment, and an adjustable IPD. It also has a Picture in Picture mode, Stadiametric Rangefinder, a frost-resistant AMOLED display, and is IPX7 rated for ultimate ruggedness against harsh conditions.
Built like a tank but only weighing 21 oz, the Accolade is a lightweight and compact biocular made for every job you think of.
2. Best Thermal Binoculars for the Money: ATN Binox 4T 640 1-10X Review
- Display Resolution: 1280x720x2 / Field of View: 32°x25°
- Magnification: 1-10x / Range: 5-1000y/m
The Binox 4T is ATN’s brand-new series of thermal imaging binoculars. With them, you’ll never have an excuse to go blind on the job or in the night hunt again. Smarten up your surveillance and hunting techniques with the Smart HD binoculars.
- 4th Gen sensor
- 1x magnification
- Laser rangefinder
- BIX technology
- Dual Stream Video
- Not head mountable
This model was picked as a favorite for its 1-10x magnification. It comes with a soft-carry case and neck strap to be worn like binoculars, but with 1x power, can it be mounted to head or helmet gear? We reached out to ATN and confirmed that this is not head/helmet capable.
It has ATN’s ultra-sensitive next gen sensor with 640 x 480 resolution. With its power range and sensor configuration, you can detect targets at 830 m, recognize at 350 m, and identify them at 225 m. That’s outstanding ranges for thermal night vision, and as the smallest model in the Binox 4T series, you know it only gets longer and better with the higher configurations.
The Binox also has a built-in laser rangefinder that provides distance measurements to targets up to 1,000 yards. BIX (Ballistic Information Exchange) technology allows your smart HD binoculars to communicate with other ATN smart devices, specifically with the smart riflescope to provide holdover information for long-range shots.
As a modern device, it also allows for Dual Stream Video that records to the micro SD card while streaming through your device such as a smartphone. Of course, to have this feature, it connects via WiFi to your phone.
Other top-notch features include an adjustable IPD, long-lasting battery life of 16+ hours, a weather-resistant build, and other digital features we’re sure you’ll find plenty of use for. It’s an ATN everybody – it’s packed with the works or it’s not worth making at all.
3. Best Long Range Thermal Binoculars: Dali S730 Review
- 384×288 uncooled FPA detector
- S730 Thermal Imaging Binoculars
Dali Tech has a long and worldwide reputation for providing some of the most advanced thermal imaging systems in the industry. One such product is the S730 – the portable thermal imaging binocular.
- Detection ranges
- 50 Hz
- 75 mm aperture
- Tripod mountable
Weighing in at approximately 53 oz, the S730 may not be as portable as it claims to be. It’s a heavy beast, and fortunately, it can be mounted to a tripod. It would be best to mount it if you want to make the most of its excellent detection ranges.
With its 2x zoom, 75 mm aperture, and fast auto-focus optics, you can detect humans all the way out to 2475 m and vehicles to 3450 m. The human recognition range is 850 m and for vehicles it’s 1150 m. These distances are incredible, and it seems it will cost you thousands of dollars more for it. Is it worth it? Eh, it depends on what you do for a living and if it’s a matter of life and death.
With the biocular design, you have two eyepieces and one objective lens that allows for reduced eye strain and improved performance because it can be easier to use over binoculars. But, you’ll be restricted on how long you can use the Dali because it only provides 3 hours of continuous operation. Good thing it has a rechargeable battery because it’s already expensive enough as it is without having to constantly get new batteries for it.
The most attractive feature of the Dali is the detection range. As a far-reaching thermal night vision biocular, you can use this for search and rescue, anti-trafficking military and law enforcement operations, and security surveillance.
4. Best Pulsar Thermal Binoculars: Pulsar Accolade XQ38 Review
The XQ38 is the smallest model in the Accolade series of thermal night vision binoculars, and it shares all the same features as its sibling, the XQ50. So, why go the smaller route over the XQ50? Here’s why.
- 4x zoom
- 38 mm aperture
- 384 x 288 sensor
- Battery life
Where the XQ38 shares the same digital features as the XQ50, it also shares its weaknesses. It only has a 7 hour operating use before it needs recharging. But, it can also be used with a power bank for extended use. A convenient micro-USB jack gets it done.
The XQ38 only has a 384 x 288 sensor, but it does have a 640 x 480 pixel video resolution rate. It obviously has lower magnification of 3.1-12.4x (4x zoom) and a 38 mm aperture. Its detection range isn’t nearly as impressive as the 2000 yards on the XQ50, but it’s still long-ranging at almost 1500 yards.
In terms of body size and weight, it’s built with exacting dimensions as its sibling – 6.5 x 5.1 x 2.5″ and 21 oz. In comparison to many thermal imaging and night vision devices in the market, this is about as lightweight and compact as it gets for binoculars.
Technically, they’re not binoculars. This has the biocular design with one objective lens that splits the light beam between the two adjustable IPD eyepieces. Less fatigue and strain and improved use are the benefits of a biocular over a monocular.
As an Accolade, it has every feature true to the series: Display Off, Manual Contrast and Brightness Adjustment, and multiple color palettes; WiFi, Live Streaming, Video Recording, and a Stadiametric Rangefinder, and yet there is still more. If you want to save a couple grand and still have all the great digital features of the Accolade, this is the thermal binocular for you.
5. Best Thermal Binoculars for Hunting: AGM Anaconda Micro TC50-384
- Compact and lightweight design, Easy to operate device, Waterproof
- External power supply via micro USB, Powered with two CR123 batteries
Technically, it’s a clip-on scope that can also be used as a handheld monocular. Why have we chosen it for this spot? When you’re hunting prey in the dead of night, you’ll need thermal night vision to both scout-and-spot, and then you’re going to need make the shot. To get it done with one unit, a clip-on system is the best choice for hunting.
- Clip-on system
- Wi-Fi/Onboard recording
- Poor battery life
As you can see, it sports one of the lowest prices in this lineup, and if you’re out for both a pair of thermal binos and a scope, you could easily run your budget over $10,000. The Anaconda-Micro has 1x optical magnification, so it’s right in line with goggle specs. It has a 17-micron, 50 Hz detector, and a color image is displayed on the OLED screen.
As a clip-on, it can be mounted onto your rifle and is compatible with daytime scopes for magnification up to 8x. So, use the Anaconda as a handheld incorporating its digital 2x or 4x zoom to spot and get closer, then quickly clip it into place and set to optical zoom of 1x to get your sight and reticle on target.
Its shock and waterproof body is an excellent feature for outdoor use, and its approximate 1 lb weight and 6.3 x 2.8 x 2.6” size makes it a very convenient optic for adding to your rifle system or keeping it in your pocket.
However, it does come in at the short end of the stick with only providing up to 5 hours of operation with 2x CR123 batteries. It does come with a USB port for an external power supply.
With a 3-year warranty and at a price that comes in significantly less than its google and bino counterparts, I’d say it’s a winning option for the nighttime hunter.
6. Best ATN Thermal Binoculars: ATN Binox 4T 640 2.5-25X Review
- Display Resolution: 1280x720x2 / Field of View: 12. 5°x9. 7°
- Magnification: 2. 5-25x / Range: 5-1000y/m
Sometimes you need a lot more extra reach and you need a lot more power to get you there. In this case, bigger is better.
- High magnification
- 4th gen sensor
- Digital features
- Laser rangefinder
The Binox is heavy at 2.5 lbs, but considering it has a true-to-form binocular construction, its extra weight is justified against the lighter weight bioculars we’ve seen in this lineup. Noticeably, it’s very long at 9.4″, but we think ATN did well in providing a unit that resembles daytime binoculars for a more aesthetically-pleasing design.
This model has extremely high magnification of 2.5-25x. Having such high power would be useless if it wasn’t paired with a highly-sensitive 4th gen sensor with 640 x 480 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate.
This Binox 4T also has the longest detection, recognition, and identification ranges of the entire series of 1950 m, 850 m, and 475 m. To maximize use of these ranges, it also has a built-in laser rangefinder – not a stadiametric one. The rangefinder can provide distances to targets up to 1000 yards with -/+1 yard accuracy.
Use these stats with its BIX (Ballistic Information Exchange) tech to get you dead-on with provided holdovers on your ATN smart scope. Don’t have one? You can download their ballistics app and still use your thermal binoculars with your regular glass scope – nice!
With 16+ hours of operating use, it’s one of the longest lasting thermals you can buy. It’s also compatible with external battery packs.
A new feature to thermal imaging devices is dual live streaming. It’s the ability to record with the included micro SD card and stream your very own live action hunt or sting simultaneously to those behind the screen.
ATN hits it out of the ball park with their thermal binoculars and is our #1 ATN pick!
7. Best Thermal Monocular for Law Enforcement: FLIR Breach PTQ136 Review
- Notice: By purchasing the FLIR Scout TK the buyer acknowledges the product is subject to Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
- Product cannot be exported, re-exported, resold, transferred or otherwise disposed of to any country without approval from the US. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Industry &...
Yes, the PTQ135 is a monocular, but it’s so much more than that. As a multi-functional device, these count as the best thermal goggles for police, security, and professional use.
- 1x magnification
- Battery life
The PTQ136 can only function in short spurts of 90 minutes at 68°F (20°C). If you ditch the recording feature and only use the monocular to glass the scene, you might be able to stretch a little more time out of it. But, you may want to carry around an extra CR123A lithium battery just in case.
As a monocular, it can be used free-hand, but with its 1x optical magnification, it makes it the perfect set of thermal night vision goggles especially for nighttime use. Mounted to head/helmet gear, you can use one through the thermal and use your other eye for natural vision. Night blindness shouldn’t be an issue since the PTQ136 has adjustable brightness settings to play around with for comfort and the best viewing image.
With a fast 60 Hz refresh rate, decent 320 sensor, and 1-4x digital zoom, you’ll be able to follow targets and keep a close-eye on what they’re up to. But, you must be aware that the Breach thermal night vision monocular is designed for close-range use. You may be able to see human-sized targets at 200 yards and clearly see bunnies at 100 yards.
Its monocular design allows the thermal imaging device to stay compact at 5.5 x 2.7 x 1.9″ and lightweight at 7.4 ounces. It even comes in lighter in weight than many night vision alternatives.
It has a 3-button operation interface which are stiff to depress, but it adds to the device’s durability and ruggedness so there are no accidental changes to your settings. It has a fast start-up time of less than 1.5 seconds, and it also has multiple color palettes to switch through for changing conditions. Of course, pictures and video recordings come as a standard feature on the Breach.
No-one will breach the perimeters when you’re equipped with Breach thermal goggles. Although it’s law enforcement grade quality, the PTQ136 will be a valuable asset to any civilian looking to enhance their defense and security measures. Better yet, it has the best price you can find for thermal night vision tech.
8. Best Civilian Thermal Binoculars: AGM Cobra TB50-336 Review
- FLIR Tau 2 17μm pitch thermal sensor; Dual eye viewing system for comfortable, extended viewing sessions; Lightweight and robust design
- Manually adjustable eyepiece and objective lens; Real-time display; 1x, 2x, 4x, and 8x Digital zoom; Wireless remote control
AGM Global is a new manufacturer of optics, but the collaboration between its owners bring decades of experience to the table. The Cobra is their series of thermal imaging binoculars that they’ve served up on a silver platter.
- Integral Picatinny rails
- 60 Hz refresh rate
The TB50-336 is the smallest Cobra of the lot with its 336 sensor and 50 mm aperture. It has one objective lens because it’s a thermal biocular. It’s been built with a FLIR Tau 2 17 micron sensor with 800 x 600 display resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Optical magnification is 2.9x and it has digital zoom of 2x and 4x.
The biocular is 11.3 x 4.2 x 2.3″ in size and weighs almost 2 lbs. Having a solid body, it’s tripod mountable. It also has built-in Picatinny rails on its body to allow attachment of additional accessories. You can also buy an external module for it to connect it to WiFi, a wireless remote control for easy execution in the field, or a 640 x 480 HD Recorder.
As a biocular versus a monocular, it can be easier to use for longer periods of time and it allows for the use of two eyes for more data input from the single objective lens. Both the eyepiece and objective lens are adjustable, there are multiple color palettes (White Hot, Black Hot, Rainbow, and more), and the entire unit is waterproof and has been nitrogen-filled.
Unfortunately, the Cobra runs on two CR123A batteries, either lithium or rechargeable, but will only provide up to 4 hours of operation. With use of a 5V power bank via USB connection, or a 6V extended battery pack, you can have up to 12 hours of use.
Like all thermal night vision devices, the Cobra doesn’t come cheap. But, to have the best, you must pay for it. It’s often said, “You get what you pay for.”
9. Best FLIR Thermal Binoculars: FLIR Command 640 3-24X75 Review
- FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera
- 3-year warranty and 10-year warranty on FLIR detector
The Command series of bioculars are FLIR’s line of thermal imaging binoculars. The 3-24×75 model is the middle man of the 640 line. Here’s what you need to know.
- High magnification
- 75 mm aperture
- Video-out/video recording
- Multiple color palettes
- 30 Hz refresh rate
The Command only has a 30 Hz refresh rate, and for the price we were expecting to see a 60 Hz upgrade, but this isn’t the case. Worth mentioning is the fact that a 30 Hz refresh rate is a shared feature between all the available 640 models. However, the lag experienced isn’t always noticeable unless you plan on using the device while mobile or if you’re following fast-moving targets.
All the Commands have a biocular design, and this model has a large objective lens of 75 mm, long length of 12″, and is surprisingly lightweight at 2.4 lbs. With these specs, you can use it freehand, but it’ll work best mounted to a tripod for steady use.
You’ll need the steadiness a stationary accessory can provide since it has such high optical magnification of 3-24x. It also has digital zoom of 1x, 2x, 4x, and 8x. Long-range detection is what the Command does best.
It can record videos and also display them to an external device with the video-out connection. It has 8 levels of adjustable brightness settings, and multiple color palettes that includes White Hot, Black Hot, Rainbow, Rain, and more.
To power the FLIR thermal binoculars, it comes with 2x CR123A lithium batteries for 4 hours of use. You can also swap them out for its rechargeable counterparts. It is compatible with an external 6 VDC power supply that can provide just enough juice for 12 hours of operation.
The FLIR thermal night vision biocular may be simple in features compared to other highly-digital devices out there. Sometimes, it’s not about getting the extra bonus features, it’s about demanding foundational quality to provide the best at what it’s designed to do.
What to Look for in a Thermal Device
Take this opportunity to learn the ins and outs of what thermal vision can do to benefit your job, hunting style, and outdoor activities. Knowing the difference between the types of night vision goggles available, how thermal differs from night vision, and what features you must know about will ensure confidence in your buy. There’s no room for buyer’s remorse when you’re about to hand over large amounts of cash!
Thermal Vision VS Night Vision
True night vision optics are passive devices that require ambient light to work. They may have a shorter detection range versus thermal optics, but their recognition range is far superior to thermal because of its ability to show details like facial features, clothing, and other details similar to what you would see with natural vision.
Thermal vision, as mentioned earlier, is an active device that electronically records and displays temperature data to differentiate living targets from non-living targets in both daylight and night. You cannot see details like that of night vision, but you can detect even the smallest body part or obscured target with thermal.
You can get more details about thermal imaging technology and how it compares to night vision in our comparison guide here.
Thermal Goggles VS Thermal Binoculars
Same thing. The terms, “goggles” and “binoculars” are used interchangeably in both night and thermal vision industries. However, there are some differences to tell them apart when you need specific features for your needs.
- 1x magnification
- Must be helmet/head mountable
- May include head mount/goggle kit
- May include 1x monoculars, binoculars, and bioculars
- Dual tubes
- May include biocular design
- Not recommended for use as goggles due to magnified optics
Thermal Binoculars VS Thermal Bioculars
It’s easy to get mixed up by the two designs since the omission of one letter can often be mistaken for a typo, however, their different objective bell constructions are the tell-tale feature that sets them apart.
Binoculars obviously have dual tubes that allows for two eyepieces and two objective lenses that can provide a better depth and distance perception. Bioculars have two eyepieces and one objective lens that can be easier to use and is slightly cheaper than binoculars.
Essentially, both types of thermal night vision optics do the same job and relay that information back to you through two eyepieces unlike monoculars. It may be a matter of preference, budget, or configuration that swings you in one direction versus the other.
There are very few thermal binoculars with true 1x magnification as most of them have mid-range optical magnification and digital power for zoom capabilities. What’s the difference between optical and digital magnification?
Briefly, optical magnification is what the lenses capture at a distance to provide a magnified view. This can be fixed or adjustable between low and high powers. Digital magnification is essentially a zoom feature that captures the image of what the sensor displays and scales up the magnified view of the center of the image.
Although digital zoom technology has significantly improved over the years, the resolution isn’t as good as optical zoom as megapixels are stretched to provide a larger image. Consequently, image quality may suffer the higher digital magnification you use.
From what we’ve seen, thermal binoculars are generally large and heavy. They’ll be around 7-12″ in length and 2 lbs or heavier in weight. There are many components that go into making a thermal night vision device, and the addition of battery weight or lugging around battery packs, it all adds up.
If the device is heavy, has high power, and multiple features, ensure it’s capable of being mounted to a tripod to maximize use and get the best image quality possible.
Battery Type/Battery Life
Most thermal devices will provide around 6 hours of operation on average. The low end – 4 hours with the high end of 16 hours or more. Because of its active sensor and digital features, they will consume more battery power versus true night vision devices. The use of additional digital features such as video recording, streaming, etc, will also eat up battery time.
Many thermals will require CR123 batteries to operate compatible with both lithium and rechargeable, although we are seeing built-in rechargeable batteries equipped with high-functioning digital models. Most are compatible with power banks, external battery packs, and the like.
Multiple color palettes allow for the best differentiation of targets against background features. Both law enforcement and hunters depend on the device’s ability to pick up heat signatures of living targets for rapid and confident detection. The need to switch between color palettes may be useful for when conditions change.
- White Hot – displays cooler objects in black, warmer objects in white. Good for urban areas.
- Black Hot – the opposite of White Hot. Displays cooler objects in white and warmer objects in black. Excellent for law enforcement, hunters, and for life-like imagery.
- Sepia – uses the White Hot palette as a base with a tint of gold hues for extended periods of glassing to reduce eye strain.
- Rainbow – colorful palette that most people associate with thermal imaging. Allows for the detection of heat energy displayed with red and orange hues. Can also detect slight temperature changes.
Maximizing use of a color palette is largely a matter of preference. It take practice and knowledge of how your thermal device functions to become efficient at detecting targets and temperature changes at all distances.
Can’t See? Treat Lack of Vision with Thermal Vision
Can’t see in the dark? Can’t see between thick timber? Can’t see far enough to determine if it’s your target? These are common symptoms of those who lack modern technology to improve their sight.
Thermal vision is the solution to your treatable condition. Now available over the counter, you can take the first step in correcting it with thermal imaging goggles.