Night Vision vs Thermal: Which is Best for Hunting?

Night Vision vs Thermal: Which is Best for Hunting?

Tom Hammond

With an increase in pressure to hunt during the daytime, it would seem inevitable that some night-time hunting is best for certain types of game – particularly hogs. This does pose the question of how we track and find our targets in the dead of night, with darkness drawing in around us. The answer is simple; we need to be taking advantage of either night vision or thermal imaging apparatuses. But which of these is best for hunting? That depends – they both have their pros and cons, so here we’re going to break down each so that you can see for yourself which might be best for you!

Night vision

We’ve all heard of night vision. But how exactly does it work? Night vision devices have the ability to collect and detect available light sources that are unimaginably faint, meaning that they are able to pick up on light that the human eye cannot see. This process begins with the use of a photocathode, which is the component that is used to actually capture this light and convert it into a perfectly usable electron signal for the image intensifier tube (or IIT).

The IIT then converts this signal into imagery that our eyes are capable of properly processing. In order to get the perfect clarity on the image, it is processed through a green filter because that’s what the human eye sees best with on the visible light spectrum!

Fascinating though that is, why would you use night vision for hunting? Simply put, night vision provides us with extreme clarity when we hunt at night. Through night vision equipment, you’ll make out even the smallest details of potential game. Instead of what could be a pixelated, distorted blob, you’ll be able to make out individual behaviours and body parts, allowing you to stalk your prey as if it was full light.

This bodes well when we’re determining where and when is the most opportune moment to strike. You can remain hidden yet continue aiming for the best shot. If the image you were seeing was either distorted or blurry you might end up either wounding your intended target or missing the shot completely. However, night vision can be limited in its range, and this means you’ll need to get closer than with your other option – thermal imaging.


Thermal imaging works through radiation or infrared light just as night vision devices do, and is commonly identified by multi-coloured images that tend to be blocky between colour separations. Every object, whether organic or not, will emit forms of infrared radiations in the form of an easily recognisable heat signature. By analysing these particular heat signatures, our thermal imagers allow us to observe our surroundings by seeing a heat map of everything that is within the target view.

Thermal optics take your ability to effectively locate and hunt game to a completely different level. It is remarkably easy to find a heat signature, particularly on cooler nights, and this means that when you hunt you are able to achieve a greater focus from the start.

Calibrating any thermal scope needs to be done with a great deal of care. Thermal scopes can provide less image detail if they are not properly turned and so need to be perfectly adjusted to your eye!

Remember ultimately that:

  • Night vision devices operate best in a wide-open environment with minimal foliage.
  • Thermal imaging is remarkably excellent at spotting and locating game in areas with thicker brush and more heavily wooded places.

Summer is coming! Here’s some equipment to help you get started…

At Cotswold Country, we have a vast range of up-to-date, beautifully made night vision and thermal equipment ready for you to use. Below are just some of our best products we have available for you today to make your hunting that bit easier.

HIKMICRO Thunder 35mm Smart Thermal Scope

The Thunder Thermal Weapon Scope is a very flexible and innovative package from HIK Micro. The Thunder can be used in three configurations; a Thermal Weapon Scope, a Handheld Thermal Monocular and a Thermal Front Add-On (additional Lens System required). The Weapon Scope is supplied with a 2.1x magnification lens system and a detection distance of 1235m.

Using the highly sensitive, SUB 35mK NETD, 384x288 17µm Thermal Sensor, the HIK Micro Thunder Thermal Weapon Scope delivers industry-leading detail and clarity in a compact and rugged package. The software built into the Thunder Weapon Scope is easy to use and would be instantly recognisable to anyone who has used a HIK Micro Thermal Monocular.

HIKMICRO Gryphon 35mm LRF

The Gryphon fusion monocular introduces many unique features including ground-breaking bi-spectrum, Fusion technology which uses a thermal sensor alongside a conventional optical camera to deliver a super-detailed thermal image.

You can use the Gryphon in several distinct image modes including a conventional thermal monocular with the choice of 4 colour palettes, a highly detailed daylight & night vision optical camera or the unique Fusion mode which uses the detail from the optical channel to boost the definition and detail of the thermal image.


Cotswold Country has been established as a retail shop in Cirencester, Gloucestershire for over fifteen years. Over this time we have moved premises once, built an extension, and increased our range of products to include all the top night vision and thermal imaging brands such as Hardy, Sage, and Greys. Our experts at Cotswold Country can help you with any advice you need, whether you're new to hunting, returning to the sport, or a seasoned hunter. If you want to find out more about us and our range of products, head across to