Night Vision Will Get You Killed

  • April 30, 2024
  • By Jared Daub

Night Vision Will Get You Killed

Night Vision Will Get You Killed

Thermal makes you feel like you have the greatest super power in the darkness. But Night Vision Will Get You Killed in it.

Night Vision vs Thermal Imaging: Are we hypocrites?

Thermal VS Night Vision

Wait Jared! Last video you stated that thermal was king! You hypocrite! I can already hear all the comments now about this. Let me clear up the water: Thermal is STILL king of detection and identification in the darkness. The thing is: Night Vision is important as well. We should not descend into the darkness with thermal alone. Night Vision STILL plays a vital role. Let’s dive into it!

How Night Vision Works:
How Night Vision Works
Here is a brief graphic describing how night vision basically works. Pretty cool, right?

At the most basic level, Night Vision functions by taking ambient light (some that your eyes cannot even see), and it amplifies it inside a magic device called an image intensifier tube. Basically, photons enter the device (ambient light), break apart into electrons, are multiplied, then displayed for your eye as visible light once again. There is a lot of technology inside that, but that’s a VERY basic run down. Thermal operates VERY differently.

The Difference in Thermal Imaging:

Thermal Imaging is a longer frequency range in the IR spectrum. It does NOT need ambient light AT ALL to function. Rather, it is detecting heat signals in that spectrum. These heat signals are gathered by a sensor, interpreted with software, and displayed on a screen as an understandable image to your eyes. The words Thermal and Night Vision cannot be used interchangeably because they are very different. In the previous (blog) we discussed the strengths of thermal imaging over night vision. I think it’s important to read that and watch the linked videos inside that blog as well. You will find a slew of information that will assist you in understanding the tech and where it shines.

Where Night Vision Dominates

If you are debating between the two, there are a few areas of importance regarding night vision that you should focus on. Let me list off the areas where NV dominates thermal:

  • Land Navigation on Foot
  • Navigation and operation of vehicles (Boats, bikes, scooters, dirt bikes, E Bikes, Cars, Trucks, Airplanes, Helicopters, etc.)
  • Shooting with modern fighting rifles passively
  • Urban Environments (in many scenarios)

Land Navigation on Foot

Chances are, you walk on land like the rest of us. For this reason, night vision will compliment your walks in the darkness. Night vision is the best option when we are strictly considering moving around in the darkness. Image intensifier tubes offer a more natural image and depth perception over thermal imaging. Don’t get me wrong, thermal is amazing. But if I HAD to choose one for land navigation, it’s going to be night vision. Additionally, NV offers the ability to illuminate into dark corners and nooks where something might be hiding. Now, thermal COULD be king in that scenario, but as you’ll see as we continue, there are overlapping areas of strengths between thermal and NV.

Navigation and operation of vehicles

Night Vision is king in this application for many reasons but namely: Thermal cannot see through glass. It’s hard to drive if you can’t see OUT of your vehicle. Sure, thermal is used ON vehicles for scanning and detecting, but the actual driving portion will be done with nods. As stated previously, night vision also is a more natural view and experience. Even if you had a vehicle with no windshield, night vision would likely be the better option vs thermal. Thermal also has to refresh the image every few seconds, this results in a brief pause. While walking, not a huge deal. While driving 60 mph, it’s a huge deal. For that split second you will not have accurate data. Night Vision still dominates in vehicle travel.

Shooting with Modern Fighting Rifles.

In the video I stated I was a 50/50 split on this one. This is because I see HUGE value in having a red dot that can be used for passive aiming. I also see a huge value in having a laser and illuminator, both of which function well with night vision. I also see a HUGE advantage to having a thermal imaging scope as a primary optic. In this role, I think situation really does dictate which I would choose. Am I hunting predators? If so, I want thermal. Am I walking in an urban, ultra close quarter environment? I value having passive aiming abilities and lasers with night vision. Both are amazing, both play a role, and your situation will truly dictate which is best when it comes to shooting. Night Vision clip ons are usually not my go-to. If I NEED clip on capability, it will be thermal. NV is incredibly simple to hide from. Thermal takes immense intentionality. I prefer having the super power of thermal when it comes to clip on or dedicated scopes.

Urban Environments: Night Vision or Thermal Imaging?

Urban environments are full of cars, glass, and pockets of very hot objects. When thermal scans past a hot object, it “focuses” its attention to that heat signature. This can “black out” the surroundings and hide important things from you. Urban environments pose challenges for thermal because you cannot use it to see INTO anything hiding behind glass or plexiglass. Night vision will become your friend in these situations as you will be able to see THROUGH the glass and obstructions. Does this mean thermal imaging is not a good choice? Not at all. Imagine how much you could detect from an elevated structure. You will see everything. You just need to be aware that there will be MANY places your thermal imaging cannot see into. However, dark alleys and vacant buildings pose a great scenario for utilization of thermal imaging. If you need to know immediately if someone or something is present, thermal will paint that picture. Confirm your findings with nods, be prepared from all fronts.

So which is the better option?

The reality is: Thermal is not better than night vision. And Night Vision is not better than thermal. They are simply DIFFERENT! They serve two entirely different roles. Sure, they overlap a bit, but in reality you should capitalize on BOTH in order to see and navigate in the darkness. This is why we are such huge proponents of dual band systems. Until the day fusion hits the market en masse, dual band is one of the best options. If you solely navigate, drive, or fly, a binocular night vision device might be better for you, though. For anyone else, we’d highly recommend checking out our dual band setups over at https://arkayne.com. Don’t worry, we will cover purchasing and prioritization in future content. If you’d like to schedule a call with one of our experts, click HERE.

E Bikes and Night Vision = a Match made in heaven.

Let’s talk real quick about E Bikes. E Bikes and nods are meant to be simply because of how silently you can traverse terrain at night. If you would like us to do more content with E Bikes, please let us know and comment below. The EGO bike we bought for this blog and video is largely a toy, but it does have serious application. I have never operated a bike as silent as this EGO. So I plan to do some content covering E Bikes soon. Big, small, and everything in between. Let us know if that would provide you value.

So Will Night Vision Get You Killed? That all depends on your training, your focus, and how you run and test your gear. The reality is: It’s just another tool in the toolbox. Use it well and it will serve you. Take it for granted, and it just might get you killed.

Photonis Boomslang Optics
Here is a comparison of standard 40 degree glass AND 50 degree boomslang optics. Good news: You can send in your PVS-14 and have us upgrade the glass as well!

Photonis rocked the industry with the release of the boomslang optics. If you are in the market for nods, consider getting a Photonis Vyper 14 or Vyper Bino with the 50 degree boomslang optics. We love them, they afford a LOT more visibility.

Want to see even more? Check out the full Arkayne Video on the Boomslang Optics Below: