Weather is an important ingredient for all outdoor enthusiasts whether it be back packing, skiing, sailing, kayaking, winter or summer! Today the average adventurer has a myriad of resources for weather information. TV including the 24 hour a day Weather Channel, weather radio, local media and of course the Internet.
Many people also monitor their local weather conditions through a range of ever more sophisticated weather instruments offered by such companies as Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific and others. These measure and report on barometric pressure, wind speed, rainfall, temperature and humidity. These amateur weather sleuths also provide valuable reporting stations for professional weather forecasters, nationally and locally. However, most of these devices are fixed stations located at home, office or vacation properties.
Recently, however, Nielsen Kellerman in Chester, PA, a manufacturer of scientific instruments, has introduced their Kestrel Line of hand held weather meters, small enough to carry in your pocket. I have been active in the outdoors for 40 years in Scotland, Canada and California and have always been interested in understanding weather patterns and conditions. Recently, I have been a regular presenter of weather classes for our local kayak club and on Ski Patrol in the Sierra's. One of my students this year was able to get me a Kestrel Model 3000 to evaluate after I had seen an advertisement for the unit in an airline magazine.
The little unit, in its rugged red case with lanyard, measures 4.8"x1.7"x.6" and weighs in at just under 2 oz. It floats and is waterproof. The unit packs a lot of punch providing a wide range of weather measurements including:
|Wind speed||in MPH, meters per hour, Knots or Beaufort scale||maximum, average and actual|
|Temperature||oF, oC||Air temperature, wind chill factor|
|Relative humidity||Heat index||Dew point|
The compact unit includes a built in impeller for wind speed, and two external, but protected, temperature and humidity sensors. The unit is powered by a watch size battery and has an automatic off function. The meter operates with two buttons, On and Mode, in tandem for some functions. Information is displayed on a small LCD screen on the unit, which I found easy to read, even with glasses, although viewing through ski goggles was tricky.
Over the last several winter months, I have used the unit both locally on the Mendocino Coast where I live, and in the mountains, most recently in Whistler/Blackcomb on trip to BC. It is easy to use although you need to spend a few minutes reading the instructions and familiarizing yourself with the controls and displays. For me the most useful measurements were wind speed, wind chill, air temperature and humidity, all-important factors for safe winter travel in the mountains. One thing to remember is that if you keep the unit close to your body, your body temperature will affect it when you take it out to use. It will take a little time to adjust to the lower winter air temperatures and humidity. I now carry it in an outside pocket or my backpack for that reason.
I have demonstrated the unit to a number of ski patrollers, both at my local resort on the Sierras and at Whistler, BC. On Martin Luther King Day this winter I recorded a wind chill of -23oF on a summit above Donner Pass in the Sierras using the Kestrel meter. I was on Patrol Duty that day and was relaying information to our Patrol Director on the conditions. Later this spring I plan to test the unit afloat kayaking on our beautiful coast and sailing on San Francisco Bay
Nielsen Kellerman offer a range of the Kestrel Units providing an increasing range of weather information. They are priced from $90 for a basic unit, to $160 for the top of the line Kestrel 3000 Meter I have been testing. You can find full information at their web site www.nkhome.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go check them out.
BRUCE ROGERSON, Boreal Ridge Ski Patrol