Leupold LTO Thermal Imaging Tracker Review

Aug 23
Leupold LTO Tracker Review

Leupold makes a wide range of thermal imaging products. Whether you are in law enforcement, part of a rescue team, or you are a hunting enthusiast, you’ll find high-quality products from the Leupold brand.

Today, we focus on the hunting enthusiast who needs compact equipment for hunting or spotting targets in low-light environments or complete darkness.

The Leupold LTO Tracker is the lightest model in the LTO series. It has some great features that will help give you an edge when you are hunting or spotting animals.

Features on the Leupold LTO Tracker

This is a handheld thermal tracker which operates by detecting and interpreting heat signatures from objects. You can see game, blood trails, and other environmental features night or day. Unlike a night vision monocular daylight conditions will not harm the optics.

But you might be wondering, what will you be doing with a handheld tracker if your not going to mount it on your rifle? A thermal imaging tracker can be very useful as you can carry it in your pocket and when needed use it to spot or track your targets. Thermal trackers are also typically less expensive than thermal imaging scopes making them a cheaper alternative if you do not need to take shots in complete darkness or from very far away.

Leupold LTO is also an invaluable tool for home security purposes. The Leupold allows you to see what may be lurking in your backyard and alert you to potential dangers from trespassers or dangerous animals.

High Display Resolution

Leupold LEU-172830 LTO Tracker Thermal Viewer Night Vision Monocular

This thermal viewer boasts a 240 x 204 resolution display. It can display images with high clarity and excellent contrast so that you can tell what you are looking at. This makes it easy to identify a target in little to no light environments. The LTO screen is not the biggest, however you can still tell what image it is displaying, whether it’s a tree, a person, a car, a boar, etc.

This thermal imager runs at a 30Hz refresh rate meaning it refreshes the image 30 times per second. It produces images that are similar to real-world movement by eliminating any jerks or jumps which the human eye can up pick with lower refresh rates.

This thermal imager also has a fixed reticle. The focus does not shift, but you can zoom up to 6X on the 1.22-inch screen which can be useful when you need a closer look at a far away object.

Thermal Sensor

The Leupold LTO Tracker comes with a super-sensitive (microbolometer) 206 x 156 infrared sensor. It can thermally detect objects from a distance of up to 600 yards (rated by manufacturer).

Realistically, this viewer can  identify objects from a distance of 120 yards when it is around 5o° F outside. This makes it easy for you as a hunter since you don’t need to be too close to an animal to take a shot.

Wide Angle of View

This viewer captures images and displays them in a wide field of view. You will have more detail displayed on the 21-degree display. This results in better detection of objects and even recognizing them at a further distance.

Intuitive Functions

It has three push buttons that sit on top of the monocular. The left button allows changing of the color palettes while the center button lets you zoom in and out. With the right button, you’ll be able to toggle on and off as needed.

Leupold LTO Tracker comes with six color palettes. You will be able to select from one of these colors simply through the push of a button. 

leupold lto review

The color selection on this viewer includes; black, white, hi-white, red, hi-black, and green. This allows you to customize the display so that you can see heat signatures in the color you want.

Compact and Sturdy Construction

This thermal viewer is only 5.6 inches long making it very compact. It is easy to fit into any hunting gear as it does not take up very much space. It also weighs less than 10 ounces meaning the weight won’t make a difference to the hunting equipment you’ll be carrying. You can comfortably hold it with one hand while scanning the surroundings.

You have a device with an IP67 water resistance rating. The housing is completely protected from dust, and it can withstand immersion in water up to a depth of 1 meter without any damage.

The Leupold LTO Tracker cannot withstand recoil from high caliber weapons though. Leupold says that this viewer failed their recoil test. As such, you should try not to mount it on high-caliber weapons. However, some users claim to have used it on weapons with a softer recoil like a 9mm pistol; it should be noted that this thermal monocular is not intended to be mounted to a gun of any caliber.

Battery Life

One C123 battery powers the LTO Tracker which is enough for up to 10 hours of operation. This type of battery is quite useful since it is readily available and it is usable with other devices so you can easily replace them.

Leupold LTO tracker powers up in 3 seconds. It is also designed to automatically shutdown after 15 minutes of inactivity. This saves you from a dead battery especially if you have to be out in the field for several hours.

Accessories

Your new Leupold LTO Tracker comes with the case and a spare battery. The case protects the device from impact if it falls. With the extra battery, you’ll know you always have a backup when needed.

Warranty Information

A 2 year limited warranty covers the Leupold LTO Tracker Thermal Viewer. It is quite incredible to have such a long warranty considering that some manufacturers are not willing to guarantee their products for more than one year.

If there are any defects with the Leupold Tracker, the company will repair and even replace (if no fix is possible) the product.


Other Devices in the Leupold LTO Series

LTO Tracker HD Thermal Viewer

Leupold LTO Tracker HD Thermal Viewer

The LTO Tracker HD uses a 2nd generation thermal sensor which can detect thermal signatures in objects that are as far as 750 yards. It has a higher display resolution of 390 x 390 pixels. This device has a 25 Hz frame rate, and you’ll have eight color palettes instead of six as in the LTO Tracker.

However, this model has 3 hours of battery life. Although the batteries are replaceable, this is a much shorter battery life than the LTO Tracker and could incur additional expenses.

This is a powerful handheld camera, thermal imager, and a 300-lumen flashlight. It allows you to capture and store thermal images.

With a 15 Hz frame rate and 320 x 240 thermal resolution, Leupold LTO Quest HD can detect heat signatures up to 750 yards away. It is powered by a CR123 battery which provides up to 4 hours battery life.

The LTO Quest is a camera, thermal imager,  and 300-lumen flashlight. It can detect heat signatures up to 300 yards away. It is an excellent companion when tracking downed game thanks to the 206 x 156 pixels thermal sensor. Its battery life is similar to that of the LTO Quest HD at around 4 hours.

When we compare the four models, we see why the Leupold LTO Quest is the most popular model in the Leupold LTO series. It has the longest battery life, a dependable thermal sensor, fast frame rate, and a reasonable detection range. The LTO Quest also gives you great value for the money as it can almost always be found for under $1,000.


Leupold HD & LTO Tracker vs. FLIR Scout TK

The FLIR Scout TK is an entry-level thermal monocular. It uses a USB rechargeable battery that can hold power for around 5 hours. It operates with excellence, but you can’t swap batteries so you’ll have to time your expeditions around the available power.

Looking at the thermal sensor, the FLIR Scout TK (read review) uses FLIR’s VOx microbolometer. It can detect animals and objects over 100 yards. It is a very small model weighing only 6 ounces so it can easily go into your pockets or use a lanyard to hang on your neck.

The FLIR Scout has a thermal resolution of 160 x 120 pixels; which is lower than the LTO (206x156) and HD's (320x240) thermal resolution. We like that it can record a 4-hour video and you can choose from nine video palettes. It is also durably constructed and impervious to direct water splashes. One of the downsides of the FLIR Scout is its refresh rate of only 9Hz which means that it will be very difficult to track moving targets and its detection range is only 100 yards. The field of view on the Scout is also only 20° which is the smallest of these three thermal imagers.

FLIR SCOUT TK

While at first glance the Leupold LTO (not currently manufactured anymore but can still be purchased) & HD look like traditional monoculars however they are actually classified as viewers. This means that they do not have an eye relief that you look through like the FLIR Scout. They actually have a Amoled display screen that you look at which shows the projected thermal image, this is a small but important difference. Both the LTO and HD have much higher refresh rates than the Scout with 30Hz and 25Hz respectively which means it will be much easier to track moving targets without image blurring or tearing.

Leupold LTO Tracker

The Leupold LTO and HD both have superior detection ranges of 600 and 750 yards which is much higher than the FLIR's 100. They also have larger fields of view at 21° and 24° degrees. The Leupold LTO has the longest battery life of 10 hours while the Scout has a 5 hour battery life and the HD has only a 3 hour battery life, but part of this is due to the highest resolution between the three that the HD has. The LTO and HD also have a 6X digital zoom that the FLIR Scout does not. While this zoom feature only zooms in on the current picture causing some pixelation at 6X zoom it is a nice feature to have.

Leupold LTO Tracker HD

Each of these thermal monoculars/viewers are considered entry level and as such they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The FLIR Scout is going to be the cheapest option while the Leupold HD is the most expensive out of the three. As these are thermal imagers and not scopes none of them can be mounted on a rifle to use as a thermal scope as some other higher end thermal monoculars can be. Their main use is in spotting downed game in the dark or tracking animals. They also function well around the home if you are trying to see what is going on in your back yard at night.

Features

Thermal Resolution

160 × 120

206 x 156

320 x 240

Field of View

20°

21°

24°

Refresh Rate

<9Hz

30Hz

25Hz

Detection Range

100 yards (standing man)

600 yards

750 yards

Display Resolution

640 × 480 LCD

240 x 204 Amoled

390 x 390 Amoled

Thermal Detection Range

n/a

40F° to 572F°

40F° to 572F°

Digital Zoom

n/a

6x

6x

Color Pallets

8

6

8

Battery Life

5 Hours

10 Hours

3 Hours

Length

6 inches

5.6 inches

5.8 inches


Final Thoughts:

It’s no doubt that a thermal tracker is an invaluable tool for hunters. The Leupold LTO Tracker makes adventures memorable; and the new HD version is the clear winner from a price and features standpoint. It is an affordable handheld viewer that will be satisfying every minute you are using it. It is ultralight, durable, and best of all dependable.

If you want a thermal viewer that you can take to the rugged back country or just in your backyard, you have it in the Leupold LTO Tracker.