The 6 Best Handheld Weather Stations and Anemometers

kestrel weather meter 3500

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

Jump to: Top Rated | Reviews | How We Test | Test Results | FAQ | Buying Tips

Most of our readers likely come to our site looking for information on weather stations they can install at home. 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.

Editor’s Note: On June 1, 2022, we changed how we calculate our ratings for our reviews to limit subjectivity and judge all products equally. As a result, our ratings have significantly changed across the site. We’ve added further analysis below to help you decide which is best for you based on our rating factors. Learn more about how we test and our new rating system. Transitioning the site over to these new ratings will take some time, so you may find some of our old ratings listed in places. We’re working to address those issues.

Top Rated Handheld Weather Stations

Features & Value
Description:

While Kestrel does have the Kestrel 5500, we feel the 5000 offers most of the functionality even hardcore weather nuts would need for a slightly cheaper price.


Description:

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

Description:

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.

Description:

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

$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
$129.00$99.00
$259.00$194.00
$159.00
Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
Measures:
  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
Measures:
  • Altitude (Barometric)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wet Bulb Temperature (Psychrometric)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed/Air Spee
Measures:
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
Dimensions:
5.0 x 1.8 x 1.1 in. / 12.7 x 4.5 x 2.8 cm
Dimensions:
4.8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Dimensions:
4.8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Dimensions:
5.0 x 1.8 x 1.1 in. / 127 x 45 x 28 mm
Weight:
3.6 ounces / 102 grams
Weight:
2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Weight:
2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Weight:
3.6 ounces / 102 grams
Power Supply:
1 'AA' (Lithium required)
Power Supply:
CR2032 battery
Power Supply:
CR2032 battery
Power Supply:
CR2032 battery
Editor's Choice
Description:

While Kestrel does have the Kestrel 5500, we feel the 5000 offers most of the functionality even hardcore weather nuts would need for a slightly cheaper price.


$329.00 ($32.90 / oz)
Measures:
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed/Chill Factor
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Dew Point
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Altitude (using barometric pressure)
Dimensions:
5.0 x 1.8 x 1.1 in. / 12.7 x 4.5 x 2.8 cm
Weight:
3.6 ounces / 102 grams
Power Supply:
1 'AA' (Lithium required)
Best Value
Description:

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

$129.00$99.00
Measures:
  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
Dimensions:
4.8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Weight:
2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Power Supply:
CR2032 battery
Features & Value
Description:

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.

$259.00$194.00
Measures:
  • Altitude (Barometric)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wet Bulb Temperature (Psychrometric)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed/Air Spee
Dimensions:
4.8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Weight:
2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Power Supply:
CR2032 battery
For Outdoor Work
Description:

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

$159.00
Measures:
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
Dimensions:
5.0 x 1.8 x 1.1 in. / 127 x 45 x 28 mm
Weight:
3.6 ounces / 102 grams
Power Supply:
CR2032 battery
09/30/2022 06:50 pm GMT

Handheld Weather Station Reviews

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 towards 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.

Best Value
Kestrel 2000 Wind And Temperature Meter
$129.00 $99.00
Measures:
  • Maximum Wind Gust
  • Average Wind Speed
  • Temperature (Air, Water, & Snow)
  • Wind Chill
Dimensions: 4.8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Weight: 2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Power Supply: CR2032 battery
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
09/30/2022 09:40 pm GMT

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.

Best for Features & Value
Kestrel 3500 Weather Meter
$259.00 $194.00
Measures:
  • Altitude (Barometric)
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wet Bulb Temperature (Psychrometric)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed/Air Speed
Dimensions: .8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Weight: 2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Power Supply: CR2032 battery
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
10/01/2022 12:45 am GMT

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.

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.

Best for Outdoor Work
Kestrel 3000 Weather Meter/Heat Stress Monitor
$159.00
Measures:
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Heat Stress Index
  • Relative Humidity
  • Temperature (air and water)
  • Wind Chill
  • Wind Speed
Dimensions: 5 x 1.8 x 1.1 in. / 127 x 45 x 28 mm
Weight: 3.6 ounces / 102 grams
Power Supply: CR2032 battery
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
09/30/2022 07:56 pm GMT

A step up from the Kestrel 2000, which adds temperature to the wind meter, is the Kestrel 3000. With humidity also measure, the device can measure variables like dewpoint and heat index. That’s why the company’s dubbed it a “heat stress monitor,” and we think this would be useful for those that spend a lot of time outdoors for work.

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.

Kestrel 1000 Wind Meter
$99.00 $79.00
Measures:
  • Wind Speed and Gusts
Dimensions: 4.8 x 1.7 x 0.7 in. / 122 x 42 x 18 mm
Weight: 2.3 ounces / 65 grams
Power Supply: CR2032 battery
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
09/30/2022 10:50 pm GMT

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.

In terms of price, the Kestrel 5500 Weather Meter is as expensive (if not more) as some of the weather stations we’ve reviewed. But there’s a reason for this: all those instruments are packed into this beast of a handheld weather station. In addition to temperature and wind speed, the Kestrel 5500 can measure humidity and barometric pressure. An internal compass can also tell you wind direction and calculate headwind, tailwind, and crosswind when the Kestrel 5500 is used with an optional vane mount.

Another cool feature of the 5500 is LiNK, Kestrel’s connectivity platform. Using a mobile phone and Kestrel’s app, you can view data up to 100 feet away from the device.

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.

Best Budget Wind Meter
BTMETER BT-100 Handheld Anemometer
$35.99 $30.99
Measures:
  • Wind speed
  • Temperature
  • Wind Chill
Dimensions: 6.49 x 3.34 x 1.49 inches
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Power Supply: 2 'AAA' batteries
Buy Now
All prices are in USD. International users will be directed to their local retailer if available. We may receive a small commission as a result on clicks on the above links. Last Updated:
10/01/2022 12:40 am GMT

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.

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.

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 makes up half of a handheld weather station’s score itself.

However, a candidate for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022 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 Test Results

Jump to: Full Rankings | Accuracy | Affordability | Durability | Feature Set | Ease of Use

8 handheld weather stations were considered for our rankings for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022. To determine the best handheld weather station, we look at five areas: accuracy/performance, affordability, durability, feature set, and ease of use. We then compare them side by side, giving a rating in each area. The overall rating is weighted in the following manner:

  • Accuracy/Performance: 25%
  • Affordability: 25%
  • Durability: 20%
  • Feature set: 15%
  • Ease of use/usability: 15%

To decide which handheld weather station is the best, we’ve developed a 100-point scoring system to determine the five best that we will feature in our rankings. Below, we’ve ranked our top stations in each area. Where the scores are the same, the device’s overall ranking is used to break the tie. Generally, scores between 80-100 are considered the best, 70-80 good, 60-70 average, and 59 and below poor. Here are those scores for the 8 handheld weather stations we tested.

Which handheld weather station is the best overall?

Our Pick: Kestrel 5000 with LiNK. Overall value matters. While the Kestrel 5500 offers the most functionality, most of the additional variables it measures are only useful in highly specialized applications. Stepping down to the Kestrel 5000 with LiNK saves you $80 on MSRP, but still has the option for LiNK which allows you to place the Kestrel on a mount and use it as a true portable weather station.

The Kestrel 2000’s accuracy and price helped it to rank high in our Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022 rankings, while the impressive feature set of the 3500 yet a fairly affordable price put it at #3. If you need humidity measurements along with temperature and wind, then the Kestrel 3000 is the best option.

Total Score
Kestrel 5000
kestrel weather station kestrel 5000Photo: Kestrel
86
Kestrel 2000
kestrel 2000 pocket wind meterPhoto: Kestrel
86
Kestrel 3500
kestrel 3500 weather meterPhoto: Kestrel
84
Kestrel 3000
kestrel 3000 pocket weather station 1Photo: Kestrel
84
Kestrel 1000
kestrel 1000 handheld anemometerPhoto: Kestrel
83
Kestrel 5500
kestrel 5500 weather meterPhoto: Kestrel
77
Ambient Weather WM-5
ambient weather wm-5 weather meterPhoto: Ambient Weather
75
BTMeter BT-100
BTMETER BT 100Photo: BTMETER
64
Kestrel 5000
The Kestrel 5000 is still more than good enough for heavy-duty applications and is $80 cheaper (MSRP) than the top-end Kestrel 5500.

Which handheld weather station is the most accurate?

Our Pick: Any Kestrel handheld weather station. The great thing about Kestrel wind and weather meters is they share the same sensors — the primary difference is in what each model can measure. We’d recommend any of the Kestrel meters if accuracy is one of the primary things you’re looking for.

While not as accurate, the Ambient Weather WM-5 still performs well and is much cheaper than its Kestrel counterpart, the 3500. BTMeter’s large margin of error (+/- 5%) really hurt the BT-100’s overall score in this category.

Important! The accuracy of handheld weather stations is dependent on proper use. Read your owner’s manual first to ensure you’re using the device properly!
Accuracy Rating
Kestrel 5000
Kestrel 2000
Kestrel 3500
Kestrel 3000
Kestrel 1000
Kestrel 5500
Ambient Weather WM-5
BTMeter BT-100

Which handheld weather station is the most affordable?

Our Pick: BTMeter BT-100. While the BT-100 may not be the most accurate station in our rankings for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022, it is by a wide margin the cheapest. However, if you need better accuracy, we’d push you to either the Kestrel 1000 or 2000 series meters, which are roughly double the price, but is overall a better handheld weather station.

Other options, like the Ambient Weather WM-5 and Kestrel 3500 series meters are a great mix of affordability and functionality.

Affordability Rating
BTMeter BT-100
Kestrel 1000
Kestrel 2000
Ambient Weather WM-5
Kestrel 3000
Kestrel 3500
Kestrel 5000
Kestrel 5500
kestrel 1000
The Kestrel 1000 might only measure wind, but we feel it’s a much better option (and more accurate) than the BTMeter BT-100.

Which handheld weather station is the most durable?

Our Pick: Any Kestrel handheld weather station. Our rankings on durability turned out just the same as the accuracy ratings, again because Kestrel differentiates its handheld weather stations by functionality, not construction or quality. Kestrel wind and weather meters in the 1000 through 3500 series are all similarly constructed, with the 5000 and 5500 series meters slightly different — but that’s more to house all the additional sensors plus the optional LiNK connectivity.

There is a noticeable step down in overall construction and durability in the Ambient Weather WM-5, but it’s still overall well constructed. The BTMeter BT-100 does feel considerably cheaper and less well-made than either the Kestrel or Ambient Weather weather meters.

Durability Rating
Kestrel 5000
Kestrel 2000
Kestrel 3500
Kestrel 3000
Kestrel 1000
Kestrel 5500
Ambient Weather WM-5
BTMeter BT-100

Which handheld weather station has the most features?

Our Pick: Kestrel 5500. It’s not even close here, the Kestrel 5500 wins by a considerable margin with over a dozen different variables, including some very specialized ones that may be useful in certain situations. However, the Kestrel 5000 with LiNK and Kestrel 3500 (no connectivity) are definitely decent alternatives. Since many of the Kestrel 5500’s additional variables are specialized, we’re also awarding the Kestrel 5500 a high rating for functionality here.

For more budget-minded shoppers, we found the Ambient Weather WM-5 to have a decent set of features — enough for a most — at a price below any of the Kestrel meters that ranked above it. But at least with Kestrels, as you add more functionality, the price increases incrementally as well. You might want to also look at our affordability rankings before making a decision.

Functionality Rating
Kestrel 5500
Kestrel 5000
Kestrel 3500
Ambient Weather WM-5
Kestrel 3000
Kestrel 2000
BTMeter BT-100
Kestrel 1000
handheld weather stationPhoto: Kestrel
The Kestrel 5500, shown here in yellow, is the most feature-packed handheld weather station on the market.

Which handheld weather station is the easiest to use?

Our Pick: The Kestrel 1000, 2000, 3000, or 3500. The simpler Kestrel models are easy to navigate. While the more expensive Kestrels require a bit more practice to use quickly, it’s not too hard to master. The Ambient Weather WM-5 is also not that difficult to use either. The BTMeter again suffers from a lot of roughness around the edges and isn’t as intuitive as any of the other models that made our rankings for the Best Handheld Weather Station of 2022.

Usability Rating
Kestrel 2000
Kestrel 3500
Kestrel 3000
Kestrel 1000
Kestrel 5000
Kestrel 5500
Ambient Weather WM-5
BTMeter BT-100

Also look for connectivity

If you’re considering a Kestrel weather meter, we’d strongly recommend models with LiNK connectivity. The free Kestrel LiNK app gives you full access to advanced tools, including shareable reports, custom display options, threshold alerts, snapshot capture, and data visualization. The app is available for both Android and iOS operating systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

How does a handheld anemometer work?

Handheld anemometers are actually a fairly simple device: 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 so you can connect to the device and download 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 key. 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

handheld weather station kestrel 3000Photo: Kestrel

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

Obviously, 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 too.

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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Don't miss a thing from The Weather Station Experts. Be the first to know about sales and limited-time deals. Unsubscribe at any time.