Plenty of professionals and hobbyists alike use portable anemometers or portable weather stations for a variety of uses. These devices range from simple portable wind gauges all the way to fully fledged weather stations with tons of features. In this article we’re going to go down the list of the top portable weather instruments. If you’re reading this list then you’re probably going to be especially interested in the size and weight of these anemometers so we’ll be listing that alongside each contender for best portable anemometer.
Our picks for the best portable wind speed and direction meters & weather stations
This basic portable anemometer will measure the wind speed and temperature. It features an easy to read backlit screen that works well even in the dark and a 180 degree rotatable turbine head for measuring wind speed (it does not rotate in the opposite direction but the blades measure wind in either direction so there’s no need for this). It operates at 0 to 32 meters per second wind speed (67 miles per hour) and from 32 degrees Fahrenheit up to 122 degrees (0-50 Celsius, both modes are available). The Qooltek Digital Handheld Anemometer also offers its wind speed measurements in a variety of modes: meters per second, km/hour, Knots or miles per hour. Runs off of three AAA batteries (included).
Measures: 6.3 inches tall x 1.7 inches wide x 0.98 inches thick
Weighs: 100g / 0.22 lbs
If you’re looking for a portable wind speed meter for measuring equipment airflow, this one might be for you. This next anemometer, portable with case included, is aimed at professional users who need to be able to separate the display from the actual wind turbine instrument itself. For instance HVAC pros may find this portable wind meter especially useful when they’re measuring air flow from vents or air ducts while troubleshooting on site. It measures air flow/velocity and temperature in a 14-140 F range (-10-60 C). Runs on one 9V battery (not included).
Measures: 10.2 inches x 8.5 inches x 3 inches (included carying case dimmensions)
Weighs: 0.86kb / 1.9 pounds (in the included carrying case)
Ambient Weather makes some of the best portable anemometers for the money. If you need more features than just wind speed and temperature, consider this portable weather station. It takes the same readings as the above models but it adds in the ability to detect exact wind direction with its directional compass as well as humidity, and heat index, dew point measurements, and more. It can calculate cross winds, head winds and tail winds, and gusts too. This is also a rugged unit; it’s water resistant and it floats. Accurate from -20 to 158F (-28-70C) and 0.8-90 miles per hour. Uses one coin style Lithium battery (included).
Measures: 5.5 inches long x 1.75 inches wide x 0.75 inches thick
Weighs: 181g / 0.4 lbs
If you need an extremely high quality, extremely precise portable wind speed and direction meter with tons of other features, the Kestrel 5500 might have your name on it. This high end portable weather station offers over a dozen different measurements:
- wind direction and speed (current/average/max)
- cross/head/tail wind
- pressure trend
- wet bulb temperature
- barometric pressure
- relative humidity
- heat stress index
- density altitude
- wind chill
- air/water/snow temperature
In addition to its easy to read digital display this model also has Bluetooth and connects to a free iPhone/Android app and allows you to download data on to your computer using a Kestrel computer dongle (sold separately). This Kestrel 5500 kit comes with both the portable wind meter itself and also a vane mount which swivels in whichever direction the wind is blowing for the most accurate measurements. It works with a normal full sized camera tripod but it can also be fitted to a Kestrel Mini Portable Tripod. (For full-sized tripod recommendations, see this related article: What is the best tripod under $100?.) All these features come together to make the Kestrel 5500 one of the best portable anemometers today. Runs on 1 AA battery (included).
Measures: 5 inches x 1.9 inches x 1.1 inches
Weighs: 0.27 lbs / 121g
Frequently asked questions about portable anemometers
Does an anemometer measure wind direction in addition to speed?
Some portable wind speed meters measure only wind speed and others measure direction as well. In this article we’ve noted which models will give you direction data. Especially sophisticated anemometers will even sometimes have wind direction vanes and tripod mounts for measuring wind direction and capturing the most accurate possible data, such as the Kestrel 5500 portable weather meter.
How much do portable weather instruments cost?
It depends on the unit and how many features it has. Generally speaking simple portable wind gauges can be found for around $20 while more sophisticated portable weather stations can retail for all the way up to hundreds of dollars. The less expensive models may only offer the ability to read wind speed and temperature while more expensive models throw in a host of other features that help predict what the weather will be like (dewpoint, barometric pressure, density altitude, humidity sensors, etc). Each user’s uses may be different.
What is the best portable anemometer?
Again, it depends on what you need to use it for but if you’re looking for one of the most fully-functional wind speed meters, we’d say that the Kestrel 5500 is one of the top handheld anemometers out there right now.
Are any of these portable wind vane anemometers?
Of the units listed in this article only the Kestrel 5500 comes with a wind vane attachment for mounting on a tripod or mini-tripod. With that said, it’s worth noting that the Ambient Weather model also can calculate wind direction with its built in compass.