I have a $50 digital meter. I have found it valuable for developing my own feel for wind speed. It also records maximum wind speed (i.e. gusts). This helped me develop a feel for dangerous gusts. Now I can guess the wind speed within about 2 mph almost always.
I have never found on-line sources for wind speeds that are useful. They never are where I am going to fly, and rarely record gusts well. Other than on the beach, most winds are very local in force, direction, and smoothness.
On the beach, watch the grass and the sand. If the grass is still, get out the fishing gear or the indoor kite. If the grass waves gently, and the sand is still - you are in the UL to STD range. If a little sand is moving over the surface, figure upper STD and lower Vented range. If the entire surface is moving, STD kites are probably going to have problems, maybe even damage. That is my experience with Duallies - I'm still new to Revs, but in general the ranges are similar.
If you have lots of money, a wind meter is a good buy. But it is far from necessary. If your budget is tight, go with the advice to spend it on the important stuff - KITES.
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