Phill Price gets his hands on the Guide TD210 and asks whether thermal imaging technology is the future of hunting
It wasn’t that long ago that hand-held thermal imaging devices were only affordable to the military, police and search and rescue teams, but today the prices have come down dramatically. What you consider affordable depends on how deep your pockets are, and many of the high-quality thermal spotters are £2,000 or more, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was shown the Guide TD210.
Its recommended retail price is £599.99, which I think many of us would consider reasonable and therefore worth a closer look.
In simple terms, thermal imagers sense heat and then highlight it in the view through the eyepiece.
This means our quarry will stand out as they’re warmer than the ground behind them. It doesn’t matter if you’re searching in the day or at night; the heat signature is always there. The effect is like magic, and our ability to find quarry is instantly multiplied with a thermal in hand.
Guide TD210 – key specifications
Importer: Thomas Jacks (thomasjacks.co.uk)
Tel: 01789 264100
Model: Guide TD210
Type: Thermal imaging monocular
The TD210 is small and light enough to fit easily into your jacket pocket. I’ve seen people attach a long lanyard and hang them around their neck so they can be reached quickly while they’re on the move, which seems like a good plan. I found this device comfortable to hold, and the four control buttons were easy to reach.
The front switch is the power button which triggers the start-up. This takes just two seconds – nice and fast for in the field. The next job is to focus the image for your own eye with a small rotary control on the side, and this only needs to be done once. If you’re anything like me, you’ll immediately search for something fun to look at, and my dogs were perfect to scan. It was interesting to see how hot their faces were, but how their cold noses were, contrasting hugely.
I took the time while looking at the dogs to scroll through the five different colour palettes to get a feel for which one suited me best. I preferred the ‘white hot’ option which I felt made the animals stand out most clearly. Run time is excellent at eight hours. The 18650 rechargeable battery is widely available if you want a spare, so you never need to run out of juice when out and about.
The rearmost button allows you to swap between 1.8x and 3.2x magnification, and I found that I preferred to stay on the lower setting as it delivered the widest field of view, making searching the trees easier. However, if you want to search in maximum detail you can select a picture-in-picture option for the highest magnification.
The Guide TD210 in the field
With everything set up, I went for a walk so that I could get used to the Guide. In a wood that I knew held lots of squirrels, I started scanning around. Sure enough, I could spot them in nearby trees even when they were partially hidden to the naked eye. It feels like you can see right through twigs and brambles to find where they’re hiding. Of course you couldn’t shoot them like that, but it does let you know that you’re in the right place to wait. If you’re patient, a squirrel may move into a suitable position and you’d be ready to take the shot.
I feel another benefit of using the Guide is that it encourages you to stay still and search rather than marching around aimlessly in search of quarry, which is always the right thing to do.
To further test the thermal, I walked to a big open field that typically has rabbits along the far side, and sure enough a quick scan showed four out feeding. What was very interesting was that I couldn’t see them with my naked eye because they were hidden by grass and weeds, but the thermal saw straight through their cover. Had I been hunting I could have planned an approach and put one in the bag, showing just what an advantage a thermal brings the hunter.
As a keen squirrel shooter, I was pleased to find one that had run to an ivy-covered tree as a way to hide. This has happened to me hundreds of times in the past, and I would always give up and have to move on, as I know that once they hide you never get a shot. However, with the TD210 I was able to find where this one was hiding
in moments. It’s really good for that kind of work.
It’s fair to say that this model doesn’t offer the range or optical resolution of the more costly spotters, but at around a quarter of the price that’s fair enough. It’s guaranteed waterproof to IP66 international standard and feels robust, so I’m sure it will take the knocks and bumps that are all part of the life of our hunting kit.
I’m happy that prices of these wonderful pieces of kit are coming down, and I wonder what we’ll be able to see and use in coming years. But until that time comes I think
that the TD210 is a great step in the right direction.