For nightcrawlers who want to get a good adrenaline rush under the moonlit sky, coyote hunting is part of the sport. While some controversy exists over whether coyote hunting is helpful or ethical, there’s one fact that shines through. And that fact is that coyote hunting is legal for hunters. For fans of coyote hunting, it’s an exciting part of the sport and a way to hone your skills during the offseason. In this guide, we share tips on choosing the best thermal monocular for coyote hunting and our current top picks.
Since thermal monoculars detect heat signatures, they’re mighty useful for coyote and hog hunting at night. Because after all, to hunt down a predator, you must become the smarter predator. The advantage of using a thermal monocular is that gives you the freedom to spot coyotes without using your scope. Once you spot your quarry, you’re then able to get behind your scope. Not to mention, the amount of strain you save your back by using this method.
So, with that in mind, let’s check out a summary of the features we look for in a good thermal monocular for coyote hunting before unveiling our picks.
How to Choose a Thermal Monocular for Coyote Hunting
Like all optics, you get what you pay for when choosing a thermal monocular. The list below summarizes the key features we consider when choosing one:
- Range -Higher-end units give you the ability to spot prey from 1000s of yards away while budget or entry units are in the 100s.
- FOV (Field of View) – Since monoculars inherently have narrower FOVs, it’s important to get as much area as you can get from a unit. The last thing you want to do is miss coyotes on the fringes or feel like your vision is cramped.
- Refresh Rate – To avoid lag, aim for a thermal monocular with a speedy refresh rate of around 50Hz.
- Battery Life – Depending on how long you plan to be in the field, battery life certainly comes into play. Good units offer up to 8 hours or more of battery life.
- Size & Weight – The last thing you want is a bulky monocular that feels clumsy. Easy access and a lightweight design are the name of the game here.
- Clarity at Long Range – The better the thermal monocular the better the clarity at long range. A good unit should make you feel like you have superhuman eyesight.
- Variable Magnification – This feature is a luxury if you hunt in various terrains. When you’re hunting in timber, you have the option to widen your FOV. When in open terrain, you have the option to up your magnification.
- Warranty – Because good thermal monoculars for coyote hunting are not cheap, we always check brand trustworthiness and warranty information before we buy. In this guide, you’ll find brands that stand behind their products.
In total, those are the key specs we look for first. Of course, there are more, but we don’t want to overload you with information before getting started with the reviews below.
Best Thermal Monoculars for Coyote Hunting Reviewed
In our reviews, we include all the key information along with the pros & cons that are the most important to help you make the most informed buying decision.
#1) Pulsar Helion XP50 2.5-20x42mm Thermal Imaging Monocular
We’ll start at the top of the mountain and work our way down. For starters, Pulsar’s Helion XP50 is the overall best thermal monocular for coyote hunting. When put up against our list of key considerations above, this model checks just about every box. The biggest hurdle is to make sure it’s within your budget and that you’ll get your money’s worth because it does cost a pretty penny.
Several of the specs that impress us the most are the 50Hz refresh rate, 2.5 to 20X variable zoom, the Stadiametric rangefinder, and impressive adult heat detection up to 2,000 yards out. Essentially, this is an all-in-one thermal monocular that’s hunt-ready on any terrain. Furthermore, its IPX7 waterproof rating is no slouch, not to mention its reliable fog-proof performance even in heavy rain.
One final highlight to consider is the ability to track coyotes at long range if they wind you from a few hundred yards away. With the long-range clarity offered by the XP50, you’ll easily spot coyotes at over 1,000 yards to carefully plan your approach. Lastly, the XP50 comes backed by Pulsar’s 3-year warranty, and it features built-in WiFi for video streaming and data transfer.
- Impressive long-range image clarity
- The widest FOV in the Helion line
- Long 8-hour battery life
- 3-year Pulsar warranty period
- Variable magnification
- Built-in WiFi with Stream Vision App compatibility
- Spot adult prey up to 2,000 yards away
- Waterproof & fog-proof construction
- 50Hz refresh rate
- Reliable performance in humid and rainy conditions
- Not within everyone’s budget
- The lens cover could be better
#2) Armasight Prometheus 640 2-16×50 Thermal Imaging Monocular
Between numbers one and two, you’re getting the best thermal night vision monocular. In reality, we had trouble ranking one over the other because the Prometheus 640 is right on par with the Helion XP50. Good candidates for the Prometheus are coyote hunters who are new to thermal devices and want the best of the best. We say this because there’s almost no learning curve with the Prometheus.
Once you pick it up for the first time, you’ll realize how intuitive the controls are. Thus, more than a handful of newcomers find that they don’t need to read the instructions in full, though, it’s never a bad idea to do so. Moving beyond ease of use, the guts of this system are nothing but premium, operating on the FLIR Tau 2 VOx microbolometer core. Beyond that, you might prefer the larger 50 mm objective lens size.
While this does open up the FOV, it also means the 640 is a bit heavier and chunkier than the XP50. Comparatively, it weighs about 3.5 oz more, yet it manages to be shorter in length with a slightly fatter body. Finally, the 640 is built to last with a water-resistant aircraft-aluminum alloy housing, and it comes backed by a three-year warranty to match Pulsar.
- It cuts through any atmospheric obstacle including fog and snow
- Extra-durable aluminum housing
- Very intuitive controls for first-time owners
- You might prefer the larger objective lens size
- Comfortable buttons, easy to operate with gloves on
- Image clarity is on par with Pulsar’s XP50
- Available in 30Hz and 60Hz models
- 3-year warranty
- Various color modes to match different weather conditions
- No built-in WiFi
- A bit heavier and bulkier than the XP50
#3) FLIR Systems Scion OTM436 Thermal Monocular
Our third and final premium pick is Flir’s OTM436. First, the OTM36 features FLIR’s Boson thermal core with a rapid 60Hz image refresh rate that’s even faster than the XP50. Second, the Boson core allows you to capture thermal images at any time of the day. This feature is especially useful for capturing images around dawn and dusk or even in the middle of the day.
Third, the OTM436 shines in the durability department. With its rugged IP67-rated housing and comfortable control layout, you’ll find that using it in any weather is a breeze. After those considerations, the ORM436 makes file sharing and recording easy. There are onboard storage options with 2 GB internal storage space and the option to use up to a 128 GB MicroSD card. In addition to those options, you also get WiFi capabilities for file transfers between devices.
Finally, it’s important to compare the range of the OTM436 to the XP50 because this is one area where the XP50 is the clear winner. The OTM436 can detect targets out to 1,225 yards, while as you already know, the XP50 goes out to 2,000. Additionally, the variable zoom is more limited with 1X, 2X, and 4X compared to the XP50’s 2.5 to 20X magnification. Overall, these are the pros & cons to weigh when choosing between the two.
- Multiple storage options with WiFi capabilties
- Detect adult coyotes out to 1,225 yards
- 1X, 2X, and 4X magnification modes
- Super rugged construction
- IP67 rating (completely dustproof and waterproof up to 1m in a 30-minute test)
- Premium Boson thermal core for thermal imaging any time of the day
- Picture-in-picture zoom
- Limited 3-year warranty matches competitors
- Shorter battery life than the Pulsar XP50 at up to 4.5 hours
- Potentially too bulky for you
- Heavier than our preceding picks (1.75 lbs)
#4) Leupold LTO-Tracker 2 HD
Our top budget alternative to our first three picks is Leupold’s LTO thermal monocular. This device allows you to point at your target and view thermal images at the rear display. If you’re unfamiliar with Leupold, the company is well-known for its riflescopes and other hunting optics. While not as well-known in the thermal space as Pulsar and FLIR, Leupold found a way to make its name known in thermal imaging with its new Tracker 2 HD.
Compared to the original Tracker 2, the Tracker 2 HD features a useful Beacon Mode. With this mode, you point the device away from living animals to get a baseline reading in grayscale. Then, once it reaches baseline, the Tracker 2 HD picks up coyote heat signatures hundreds of yards away. Considering the price point, the Tracker 2 HD sports an impressive detection range of up to 750 yards out.
Several final highlights are the durable Gorilla Glass display, 100% waterproof & fog-proof design, and up to 7X digital zoom. Regarding size and weight, the Tracker 2 HD weighs just 7 oz and measures a mere 5.5″. All things considered, the Tracker 2 HD is a nice change-of-pace thermal viewer that won’t break the bank like premium Pulsar and FLIR units.
- Made in the USA
- The new Beacon Mode in the Tracker 2 HD allows for quick calibrations while coyote hunting
- Detect heat signatures up to 750 yards away
- A top budget alternative to Pulsar Helion XP models
- Durable waterproof & fog-proof construction
- Very lightweight at just 7 oz
- Six color palettes to match all environmental conditions
- Limited 2-year warranty from a trustworthy brand
- No recording of images or video
- Narrower FOV than our preceding picks
- Not as clear or reliable at long range
#5) Pulsar Axion Key XM30 2.5-10x24mm Thermal Imaging Monocular
Our final pick is the best mid-range thermal monocular by Pulsar and a more-than-worthy budget alternative to the XP50. First, the advantage of choosing the XM30 outside of its lower price is its compact size. At 8.8 oz and 5.6″L x 1.6″W x 2.7″H, it’s small enough to slide into your pocket. Second, despite its significantly lower price, it has a 50Hz refresh rate that matches the XP50.
When comparing it to the Leupold model above, it offers a longer detection range out to 1,300 yards compared to the 750 number on the Leupold. In other words, if the Leupold didn’t give you enough range, then look here because the X30 is able to reliably detect coyote heat signatures at over 800 yards with the ability to ID them at over 400 yards.
A couple of final considerations are the 8-color palette, IPX7 waterproof rating, the rugged magnesium alloy body, and 2.5-10X magnification. At the end of the day, the XM30 is an ideal thermal monocular for coyote hunting, and we like it more than comparable FLIR models in the same price category, such as the Scout III.
- Gives you the most bang for your buck
- Pocket-sized and lightweight
- Smooth digital zoom with the highest magnification in a compact unit
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- Pulsar 3-year warranty
- Reliably detect coyotes at 800 yards or more
- Grainier images when magnified than our top picks
- Narrower FOV than the XP50
- The charging light doesn’t turn off when it’s fully charged
Thermal monoculars certainly aren’t cheap, and to get crisp images, it’s necessary to go as far up the price ladder as your wallet allows. Currently, the best thermal monocular for coyote hunting is Pulsar’s Helion XP50 followed closely by the Prometheus 640. Comparatively, the XP50 is more advanced, though, both units deliver excellent image clarity at long ranges.
One problem with taking the budget route is that you might feel like you invested in a toy rather than a first-class piece of hunting equipment. For this reason, we did our best to include a couple of budget picks that actually get the job done. So, be sure to give Leupold’s LTO-Tracker 2 HD the consideration it deserves if you end up taking that route.