Best Handheld Weather Stations and Anemometers for 2024

Know the weather anywhere with these weather meters from Ambient Weather, BTMeter, and Kestrel

Last Updated on:

kestrel weather meter 3500

Most readers come to our site looking for information on home weather stations. That’s why we’ve spent a lot of time reviewing stations from various manufacturers. But what if you need to know the weather conditions no matter where you are? Then a handheld weather station or handheld anemometer is a gadget you might want to consider.

As its name suggests, these devices are portable weather stations operated using only one hand. Handheld anemometers (or wind meters) are the most common, more advanced handheld weather stations (or weather meters) measure not only wind but also temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and other features like dew point, wind chill, heat index, wet bulb temperature, and altitude. Most devices offer a backlit display, making them perfect for low light conditions and are drop-tested by the manufacturer to ensure durability.

It’s like a high-end weather station in the palm of your hand — and some cost as much money as those high-end weather stations. Many models are also waterproof, making them perfect for use in the elements. For more details on some of the best models, keep reading.

How Our Handheld Weather Station Reviews are Different

Unlike many sites, we test the products we recommend or have direct experience with the company. We test select handheld weather stations for several weeks, giving us critical insight into long-term reliability, something a quick review cannot. You can see our testing protocol here and our rating formula here.

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We’ve also developed a 100-point rating system that judges each handheld weather station tested on the same metrics. We judge accuracy (or performance), affordability, durability, feature set, and ease of use. These categories are weighted to emphasize accuracy and affordability — which make up half of a handheld weather station’s score itself.

However, a candidate for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2024 can’t only be a great value: it must have accurate measurements, be user-friendly, and have excellent build quality. Our review staff has years of experience using handheld weather stations and instruments: some of us are degreed meteorologists and scientists. Our writers independently research each device: we do not recommend a device simply because a manufacturer sends it to us.

Our Handheld Weather Station Buyer’s Guide has more details of each of the weather stations below.

Our Top Picks

Kestrel 5000 Environmental Meter with Link
Editor's Choice

The 5000 is a step below Kestrel's top-of-the-line weather meter and is a weather station in your pocket.

Kestrel 3500 Pocket Weather Meter
Best for Features and Value

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer
Budget Pick

The BT-100 has quickly become a popular alternative, thanks to its rock-bottom price. However, that does come at the expense of accuracy.

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TWSE participates in Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs and may earn a commission as a result of clicking on one of the above links.

Best Handheld Weather Stations

1
Kestrel 5000 Environmental Meter with Link
Editor's Choice

Kestrel 5000 Environmental Meter with Link

The 5000 is a step below Kestrel's top-of-the-line weather meter and is a weather station in your pocket.

There's no doubt about it: the Kestrel 5000 is a beast of a handheld weather station. While the Kestrel 5500 is the company's top-of-the-line model, the additional functionality you get is primarily targeted toward wind-sensitive uses (crosswind, tailwind, etc.) You won't need that in most cases. As a result, the Kestrel 5000 is $80 cheaper (MSRP).

We'd strongly recommend purchasing the model with LiNK. Using a mobile phone and Kestrel's app, you can view data up to 100 feet away from the device, making it useful for taking fixed readings without having to stand in the elements to do it.

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Pros
  • Data logging capabilities
  • A full weather station in your pocket
  • Highly accurate
Cons
  • As expensive as a home weather station
2
Kestrel 3500 Pocket Weather Meter
Best for Features and Value

Kestrel 3500 Pocket Weather Meter

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

We understand that many might find the Kestrel 5500 to be a bit of overkill -- after all, it's Kestrel's top-of-the-line weather meter. If you're looking for something a bit simpler that's also much friendlier on the pocketbook, then we'd suggest the Kestrel 3500 weather meter instead. It has all of the functionality of the 5500 but lacks the internal compass and data-logging functionality.

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For most of us, that's not going to be that big of an issue. Also, the Kestrel 3500 is a little more compact than the 5500, as it uses the same CR2032 battery as some of Kestrel's cheaper models (the 5500 uses AA batteries). If you're sticking this in your pocket when it's not in use, that might matter.

Pros
  • Cheaper than the 5000 series with nearly all the bells and whistles
  • Accurate
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • You lose data logging capabilities
  • No internal compass
3
Kestrel 3000 Pocket Weather Meter
Best for Outdoor Work

Kestrel 3000 Pocket Weather Meter

For those in the heat, the Kestrel 3000 offers heat index readings to make sure you're staying cool.

A step up from the Kestrel 2000, which adds temperature to the wind meter, is the Kestrel 3000. The device can also measure humidity, such as dewpoint and heat index. That's why the company dubbed it a "heat stress monitor," we think this would be useful for those who spend a lot of time outdoors for work.

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However, if you don't have a real use for this data, we'd recommend stepping down to the much more reasonably priced Kestrel 2000. The nice thing about Kestrel meters is that the instrumentation is generally the same across the entire line, so you're not losing accuracy, just features.

Pros
  • Adds humidity readings to gauge heat stress
  • Perfect for outdoor jobs
Cons
  • Feels like the 3500 is a better value
4
Kestrel 2000 Pocket Wind And Temperature Meter
Best Value

Kestrel 2000 Pocket Wind And Temperature Meter

The Kestrel 2000 adds a temperature sensor to the Kestrel 1000, which we think makes it the better deal.

The Kestrel 2000 Pocket Wind and Temperature Meter is Kestrel’s higher-end handheld anemometer before you get into their “weather meters,” which is a majority of their line. Running on just a CR2032 watch battery, like all Kestrel meters the Kestrel 2000 is waterproof and tested to military standards and is made right here in the U.S. at its suburban Philadelphia factory.

In addition to wind speed readings, the Kestrel 2000 wind meter also includes a digital thermometer, which adds the capability to measure temperature and wind chill. This is a great pick for those looking for a higher-end handheld wind meter without all the bells and whistles of a handheld weather station.

Pros
  • Better value than the Kestrel 1000
  • Accurate readings
Cons
  • Features are very limited
  • Expensive for what you get
5
Ambient Weather WM-5 Handheld Weather Meter
Also Consider

Ambient Weather WM-5 Handheld Weather Meter

While not as accurate as the Kestrel meters, the WM-5 still offers much of what the mid-range models do, but at a much cheaper price.

Ambient Weather makes our rankings for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022 with the WM-5 Handheld Weather Meter. The feature set of the WM-5 is much like the Kestrel 3500, although the WM-5 is only water-resistant and not waterproof. If you’re not using your handheld weather station in harsh conditions or near water, that might not be that big of an issue.

Reviews of the device are surprisingly good, with most users reporting that the readings are accurate and the device is easy to use. One big complaint however is the battery life, which users report is far less than other similar weather meters. That said, the company does get high marks for its customer support if anything goes wrong.

Pros
  • Offers the functionality of the higher-end Kestrels at a fraction of the price
Cons
  • Not as accurate
6
BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer
Budget Pick

BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer

The BT-100 has quickly become a popular alternative, thanks to its rock-bottom price. However, that does come at the expense of accuracy.

If your budget is super tight, the BTMETER BT-100 wind speed meter is a popular seller on Amazon (as well as a popular alternative among TWSE readers, too). For casual use, the BT-100 is perfect as it retails for under $40, and measures all of the commonly included variables like temperature, wind, and wind chill.

But the BT-100 isn't necessarily built for this use: instead, it (and other copycat models on Amazon) are for technicians to test the performance of HVAC units. But buyers are using it for weather, and with a good degree of success too. Keep in mind that wind readings max out at 67mph, and the margin of error is a rather large 5% -- far bigger than any of our previous recommendations.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • You get what you pay for
  • Large margin of error

Also Consider

Kestrel 1000 Pocket Wind Meter
Kestrel 1000 Pocket Wind Meter
Kestrel 1000 Pocket Wind Meter

If you don't need any bells and whistles and just need a great handheld anemometer, consider the Kestrel 1000 wind meter. It's built the same way as the Kestrel 2000, just without the temperature sensor. Since it's of similar construction, the accuracy is the same too -- as it shares the same turbine that the more expensive models do.

If accuracy is a concern for you, we don't think a budget wind meter will serve you well. The Kestrel 1000 is more expensive than most other wind meters we've seen, but we think the added cost is worth it. Overall, we're very impressed with Kestrel's lineup, and it's the reason why you'll see their devices quite a bit in this list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most often-asked questions by readers.

How does a handheld anemometer work?

Handheld anemometers are simple devices: a small turbine, some electrical components, a screen, and a case. To use the device, you face the wind and hold up the device with one hand in the air. The turbine spins and is converted to either mph or km/h and reported on the device’s screen. Some offer software that connects to the device and downloads weather data for later review.

How does a handheld weather station work?

The handheld weather station is like a souped-up version of the handheld anemometer. In addition to wind speed, these devices can report on temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure. While they look almost identical, the handheld weather station will also have an additional visible sensor where the temperature and relative humidity are measured.

Are handheld anemometers and weather stations accurate?

Generally yes, and some to within +/-2% of the actual reading. However, how you use them is critical. For accurate wind readings, you must face directly into the wind, and for the handheld weather station, it’s a good idea to give it some time in the open air to “acclimate” the sensor. You will get more accurate temperature and relative humidity readings as a result.

Choosing a handheld weather station

There are a lot of options when it comes to wind and weather meters, believe it or not. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number we found on Amazon from a variety of manufacturers. However, two names rise to the top, namely Kestrel and Ambient Weather. But there are a few other names to consider.

So what should you look for in a handheld weather station? Read on for a few tips.

Accuracy

Accuracy is a key variable to consider. Generally, as you increase in price, accuracy will improve. Some models may have accuracy down to +/-2%, but these devices are among the most expensive. Keep in mind that these devices require you to stand facing the wind head-on, and that might not be easy to do when wind speeds are high.

A less accurate wind meter will only compound that error. We always recommend considering accuracy first before price, even if you’re looking for a budget model.

Durability

Wind and weather meters are meant to be used outdoors, so device construction is important. If you are using the device in harsher environments, ensure it is built well, which most higher-end devices are. For those using their devices casually, durability is far less of a concern. Many of them are waterproof.

Functionality

While most weather meters are all built the same, some may offer different functionality. One common feature added to these devices is temperature. Some, like those used in firefighting, might also include a humidity sensor.

handheld weather station kestrel 3000

Wrapping Up

For the price, the Ambient Weather meters are a good deal. However, we’d recommend considering the Kestrel Weather Meter, as they have more functionality and are more durable (and waterproof). We’ve created a post summarizing those recommendations, which you can find here.

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Logo of The Weather Station Experts

Why you can trust our reviews

We have experience with all the products and companies we recommend here on TWSE. Our review staff includes degreed meteorologists and scientists, some of whom have owned the products they review for several years. Our staff has reviewed home weather gadgets for over a decade both on TWSE and elsewhere.

How we test

A weather station or gadget must score highly in our scoring metrics in several key areas, including accuracy, value, durability, ease of use, and feature set. We accept products for review, but we do not accept compensation in exchange for a positive review.

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Affiliate Disclosure

The Weather Station Experts participates in affiliate programs including Amazon Associates. We may receive a commission from clicking links on our site.

Know the weather anywhere with these weather meters from Ambient Weather, BTMeter, and Kestrel
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Most readers come to our site looking for information on home weather stations. That’s why we’ve spent a lot of time reviewing stations from various manufacturers. But what if you need to know the weather conditions no matter where you are? Then a handheld weather station or handheld anemometer is a gadget you might want to consider.

As its name suggests, these devices are portable weather stations operated using only one hand. Handheld anemometers (or wind meters) are the most common, more advanced handheld weather stations (or weather meters) measure not only wind but also temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and other features like dew point, wind chill, heat index, wet bulb temperature, and altitude. Most devices offer a backlit display, making them perfect for low light conditions and are drop-tested by the manufacturer to ensure durability.

It’s like a high-end weather station in the palm of your hand — and some cost as much money as those high-end weather stations. Many models are also waterproof, making them perfect for use in the elements. For more details on some of the best models, keep reading.

How Our Handheld Weather Station Reviews are Different

Unlike many sites, we test the products we recommend or have direct experience with the company. We test select handheld weather stations for several weeks, giving us critical insight into long-term reliability, something a quick review cannot. You can see our testing protocol here and our rating formula here.

Advertisements

We’ve also developed a 100-point rating system that judges each handheld weather station tested on the same metrics. We judge accuracy (or performance), affordability, durability, feature set, and ease of use. These categories are weighted to emphasize accuracy and affordability — which make up half of a handheld weather station’s score itself.

However, a candidate for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2024 can’t only be a great value: it must have accurate measurements, be user-friendly, and have excellent build quality. Our review staff has years of experience using handheld weather stations and instruments: some of us are degreed meteorologists and scientists. Our writers independently research each device: we do not recommend a device simply because a manufacturer sends it to us.

Our Handheld Weather Station Buyer’s Guide has more details of each of the weather stations below.

Our Top Picks

Kestrel 5000 Environmental Meter with Link
Editor's Choice

The 5000 is a step below Kestrel's top-of-the-line weather meter and is a weather station in your pocket.

Kestrel 3500 Pocket Weather Meter
Best for Features and Value

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer
Budget Pick

The BT-100 has quickly become a popular alternative, thanks to its rock-bottom price. However, that does come at the expense of accuracy.

Advertisements
TWSE participates in Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs and may earn a commission as a result of clicking on one of the above links.

Best Handheld Weather Stations

1
Kestrel 5000 Environmental Meter with Link
Editor's Choice

Kestrel 5000 Environmental Meter with Link

The 5000 is a step below Kestrel's top-of-the-line weather meter and is a weather station in your pocket.

There's no doubt about it: the Kestrel 5000 is a beast of a handheld weather station. While the Kestrel 5500 is the company's top-of-the-line model, the additional functionality you get is primarily targeted toward wind-sensitive uses (crosswind, tailwind, etc.) You won't need that in most cases. As a result, the Kestrel 5000 is $80 cheaper (MSRP).

We'd strongly recommend purchasing the model with LiNK. Using a mobile phone and Kestrel's app, you can view data up to 100 feet away from the device, making it useful for taking fixed readings without having to stand in the elements to do it.

Advertisements

Pros
  • Data logging capabilities
  • A full weather station in your pocket
  • Highly accurate
Cons
  • As expensive as a home weather station
2
Kestrel 3500 Pocket Weather Meter
Best for Features and Value

Kestrel 3500 Pocket Weather Meter

The Kestrel 3500 is the high end of the company's cheaper models and measures most of the most common weather variables, plus a few extras.

We understand that many might find the Kestrel 5500 to be a bit of overkill -- after all, it's Kestrel's top-of-the-line weather meter. If you're looking for something a bit simpler that's also much friendlier on the pocketbook, then we'd suggest the Kestrel 3500 weather meter instead. It has all of the functionality of the 5500 but lacks the internal compass and data-logging functionality.

Advertisements

For most of us, that's not going to be that big of an issue. Also, the Kestrel 3500 is a little more compact than the 5500, as it uses the same CR2032 battery as some of Kestrel's cheaper models (the 5500 uses AA batteries). If you're sticking this in your pocket when it's not in use, that might matter.

Pros
  • Cheaper than the 5000 series with nearly all the bells and whistles
  • Accurate
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • You lose data logging capabilities
  • No internal compass
3
Kestrel 3000 Pocket Weather Meter
Best for Outdoor Work

Kestrel 3000 Pocket Weather Meter

For those in the heat, the Kestrel 3000 offers heat index readings to make sure you're staying cool.

A step up from the Kestrel 2000, which adds temperature to the wind meter, is the Kestrel 3000. The device can also measure humidity, such as dewpoint and heat index. That's why the company dubbed it a "heat stress monitor," we think this would be useful for those who spend a lot of time outdoors for work.

Advertisements

However, if you don't have a real use for this data, we'd recommend stepping down to the much more reasonably priced Kestrel 2000. The nice thing about Kestrel meters is that the instrumentation is generally the same across the entire line, so you're not losing accuracy, just features.

Pros
  • Adds humidity readings to gauge heat stress
  • Perfect for outdoor jobs
Cons
  • Feels like the 3500 is a better value
4
Kestrel 2000 Pocket Wind And Temperature Meter
Best Value

Kestrel 2000 Pocket Wind And Temperature Meter

The Kestrel 2000 adds a temperature sensor to the Kestrel 1000, which we think makes it the better deal.

The Kestrel 2000 Pocket Wind and Temperature Meter is Kestrel’s higher-end handheld anemometer before you get into their “weather meters,” which is a majority of their line. Running on just a CR2032 watch battery, like all Kestrel meters the Kestrel 2000 is waterproof and tested to military standards and is made right here in the U.S. at its suburban Philadelphia factory.

In addition to wind speed readings, the Kestrel 2000 wind meter also includes a digital thermometer, which adds the capability to measure temperature and wind chill. This is a great pick for those looking for a higher-end handheld wind meter without all the bells and whistles of a handheld weather station.

Pros
  • Better value than the Kestrel 1000
  • Accurate readings
Cons
  • Features are very limited
  • Expensive for what you get
5
Ambient Weather WM-5 Handheld Weather Meter
Also Consider

Ambient Weather WM-5 Handheld Weather Meter

While not as accurate as the Kestrel meters, the WM-5 still offers much of what the mid-range models do, but at a much cheaper price.

Ambient Weather makes our rankings for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022 with the WM-5 Handheld Weather Meter. The feature set of the WM-5 is much like the Kestrel 3500, although the WM-5 is only water-resistant and not waterproof. If you’re not using your handheld weather station in harsh conditions or near water, that might not be that big of an issue.

Reviews of the device are surprisingly good, with most users reporting that the readings are accurate and the device is easy to use. One big complaint however is the battery life, which users report is far less than other similar weather meters. That said, the company does get high marks for its customer support if anything goes wrong.

Pros
  • Offers the functionality of the higher-end Kestrels at a fraction of the price
Cons
  • Not as accurate
6
BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer
Budget Pick

BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer

The BT-100 has quickly become a popular alternative, thanks to its rock-bottom price. However, that does come at the expense of accuracy.

If your budget is super tight, the BTMETER BT-100 wind speed meter is a popular seller on Amazon (as well as a popular alternative among TWSE readers, too). For casual use, the BT-100 is perfect as it retails for under $40, and measures all of the commonly included variables like temperature, wind, and wind chill.

But the BT-100 isn't necessarily built for this use: instead, it (and other copycat models on Amazon) are for technicians to test the performance of HVAC units. But buyers are using it for weather, and with a good degree of success too. Keep in mind that wind readings max out at 67mph, and the margin of error is a rather large 5% -- far bigger than any of our previous recommendations.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • You get what you pay for
  • Large margin of error

Also Consider

Kestrel 1000 Pocket Wind Meter
Kestrel 1000 Pocket Wind Meter
Kestrel 1000 Pocket Wind Meter

If you don't need any bells and whistles and just need a great handheld anemometer, consider the Kestrel 1000 wind meter. It's built the same way as the Kestrel 2000, just without the temperature sensor. Since it's of similar construction, the accuracy is the same too -- as it shares the same turbine that the more expensive models do.

If accuracy is a concern for you, we don't think a budget wind meter will serve you well. The Kestrel 1000 is more expensive than most other wind meters we've seen, but we think the added cost is worth it. Overall, we're very impressed with Kestrel's lineup, and it's the reason why you'll see their devices quite a bit in this list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most often-asked questions by readers.

How does a handheld anemometer work?

Handheld anemometers are simple devices: a small turbine, some electrical components, a screen, and a case. To use the device, you face the wind and hold up the device with one hand in the air. The turbine spins and is converted to either mph or km/h and reported on the device’s screen. Some offer software that connects to the device and downloads weather data for later review.

How does a handheld weather station work?

The handheld weather station is like a souped-up version of the handheld anemometer. In addition to wind speed, these devices can report on temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure. While they look almost identical, the handheld weather station will also have an additional visible sensor where the temperature and relative humidity are measured.

Are handheld anemometers and weather stations accurate?

Generally yes, and some to within +/-2% of the actual reading. However, how you use them is critical. For accurate wind readings, you must face directly into the wind, and for the handheld weather station, it’s a good idea to give it some time in the open air to “acclimate” the sensor. You will get more accurate temperature and relative humidity readings as a result.

Choosing a handheld weather station

There are a lot of options when it comes to wind and weather meters, believe it or not. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number we found on Amazon from a variety of manufacturers. However, two names rise to the top, namely Kestrel and Ambient Weather. But there are a few other names to consider.

So what should you look for in a handheld weather station? Read on for a few tips.

Accuracy

Accuracy is a key variable to consider. Generally, as you increase in price, accuracy will improve. Some models may have accuracy down to +/-2%, but these devices are among the most expensive. Keep in mind that these devices require you to stand facing the wind head-on, and that might not be easy to do when wind speeds are high.

A less accurate wind meter will only compound that error. We always recommend considering accuracy first before price, even if you’re looking for a budget model.

Durability

Wind and weather meters are meant to be used outdoors, so device construction is important. If you are using the device in harsher environments, ensure it is built well, which most higher-end devices are. For those using their devices casually, durability is far less of a concern. Many of them are waterproof.

Functionality

While most weather meters are all built the same, some may offer different functionality. One common feature added to these devices is temperature. Some, like those used in firefighting, might also include a humidity sensor.

handheld weather station kestrel 3000

Wrapping Up

For the price, the Ambient Weather meters are a good deal. However, we’d recommend considering the Kestrel Weather Meter, as they have more functionality and are more durable (and waterproof). We’ve created a post summarizing those recommendations, which you can find here.