A fascinating device for exploring the outdoors at night

Want to see what animals are around you at night? Wonder how effective your garments are at keeping in heat? Enjoy playing with a fascinating gadget? The FLIR Scout TK is an answer to all three questions. This little torpedo-shaped monocular enables you to see heat signatures in the dark and the results are fascinating and informative.
The Scout TK is compact and easily held in one hand, though I found it easier to operate with two. It has four buttons on the side covering power/menu, display brightness, image/video recording and colour palette plus a USB connector for recharging and downloading images. When held to the eye it can be easy to press the wrong button though as you can’t see them. After a while though my fingers fell into the right place.

At 194 grams the Scout TK is quite light. It’s rubberised and so tough and has an operating temperature of -20° to 40°C. Battery life is around five hours. A USB cable is provided for charging the rechargeable battery.
The Scout can pick out anything giving off heat up to 100 yards away. The colour palette gives many options for how this shows up. I found that graded fire (bright red) looked best. The shading from black to white and then yellow to red shows the relative heat output of creatures and people – and where you’re losing heat.

The field of views isn’t great (20°) so following fast moving creatures is difficult, especially if they’re small. I tried to watch bats but never managed to see one through the device. Rabbits and chickens were much easier to find! Scanning an area slowly with the device picks out heat sources – this is how I found the rabbits in the picture. I couldn’t see them in the dark.

The image and video quality aren’t very good, but I don’t think that’s a problem with a device like this. It shows enough to be useful. With people it’s noticeable how much heat is lost through any bare skin. Clothing looks patchwork, showing that heat is being lost through some areas faster than others. In the picture of the person walking (it’s me!) the dark band round the midriff is due to the pockets in my fleece jacket – the extra layers of fabric reduce heat loss.

Movement also shows that heat loss can vary. When clothing is pulled tight against the body heat loss increases. This can be seen in the picture of me coaxing our neighbour’s hens out from under a canoe where they like to roost and into their hen house to keep them safe from foxes overnight.

There were some surprising results. The picture of the mug of tea shows massive heat loss. That mug is supposed to be insulated.
The Scout TK is fun to use – family members enjoyed looking at each other, at hot food, at the kitchen stove and more – and if you want to observe wildlife in the dark it’s great for that. It certainly gives a different perspective on the world.