Is Thermal or Night Vision Better?

by | Learn

Last Updated on May 11, 2021

People involved in hunting or similar activities are interested in knowing the answer to the question “Is thermal or night vision better?”. Each of these elements offers different functions in dark environments, you may want to check this learning guide that answers the question; “Do night vision goggles work in total darkness?” and “How far can night vision goggles see?”

Considering each of the particular characteristics of night vision or thermal vision allows us to know which is the better choice. We need to answer this question more precisely. 

Is Thermal or Night Vision better?

Each of these devices can provide a certain vision at night. The performance is not the same and people may obtain different results with each of them. 

Detection at Night

night vision and thermal visionThermal vision may be a much more appropriate option when detecting prey or anything else with some temperature. Thermal vision devices are based on the temperature or heat emanating from animals. You can detect animals that are at great distances or very close range but somewhat camouflaged.

Thermal vision devices do not require ambient light to function. Even without the presence of natural light, it is possible to use thermal vision devices to visualize the target. (1)

Night vision devices are much more efficient when it comes to optimizing vision at close range. These types of devices are not usually very useful when it comes to detecting prey at long distances. These devices use some natural light to intensify the light and provide a clear image. 

The targets viewed through a night vision device are not highlighted as is usually the case with thermal vision. This makes it difficult to detect prey in confusing environments, such as forests.

Performance and Efficiency

night and thermal visionDetecting prey quickly can make a clear difference between a good result and a bad result. Night vision can be of great efficiency when dealing with prey that is moving and not camouflaged. This can also include prey that is hidden behind grass or bushes.

The thermal vision device can provide an excellent result. Both fog and camouflage of prey are not factors that inhibit the functionality of thermal vision. That is why in these cases the prey is still visible.

Detection of prey at long distances can be somewhat difficult with both devices. The thermal vision device is much more adaptable to long distances. It is only in cases of extreme cold that thermal vision may be impaired in its results.

Durability and Structure

night versus thermal visionsUntil a few years ago we could find several differences between the durability or structure of each of these options. Today there are not too many differences in durability or lifespan that we can find with night vision or thermal vision.

Any of them present excellent resistance and durability for a hunting session or any other activity. Even the resistance depends specifically on each make and model of the device and not too much on the difference between each of these devices. The best options can withstand the recoil of a 30 caliber. (2)

Pricing and Mode of Use

thermal visionWith durability, the modes of use also tend to be very similar these days. Both beginners and experienced hunters use any of these devices with great ease and speed.

Night vision devices have been manufactured for several decades. This makes this type of device accessible and inexpensive. Thermal vision devices require more technology and are more expensive in general.


We can conclude that thermal vision devices generally provide better results during hunting and other activities. Although a larger budget is required, the results are far superior to night vision devices.

Do you have any questions about this? You can leave your comment below and share the article if you liked it.

A night vision device is still suitable for budget or hobby hunters. A thermal vision device can be perfect for those who want to get the highest results in hunting. Having one of these can always offer a much more complete and excellent experience. 

Now that you know the difference, you may want to check the best night vision goggles in the market these days! Until next time!


(1) ambient light –
(2) hunting session –

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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.