Make accurate measurements. A staple for any home, office, or classroom, a tape measure is a must-have for those of all professions and hobbies. Though the first record of a tape measure–like device dates back to the ancient Romans, who used marked strips of leather, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the tape measure was first mass produced. This product was called the convex-concave tape, and it was a design upgraded from a previous product called a spring-return pocket tape measure. The convex-concave product design was soon sold to Stanley Works, and Stanley still manufactures a similar product today. The convex-concave tape design became the basis for the contemporary tape measure, and the design hasn’t changed too much since the tool’s inception. A handy essential for any tool or craft kit, there are plenty of options on the market, from the digital to the magnetic. Browse our roundup of the best options below.
1. Fiskars 16-Foot Tape Measure
This traditional 16-foot tape measure has a sleek look with a contemporary color scheme of orange, white, and gray. The handpiece is designed with soft-grip touch points that offer equal parts comfort and control and has a user-friendly release button for easy retraction. A nylon wrist strap makes for a secure hold and easy carry, and the measuring tape itself is of yellow, nonglare construction and features both standard and metric measurements. To get an accurate read, simply lock the tape into place.
2. Stanley 25-Foot by One-Inch Measuring Tape
In 1963, the Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure was one of the first of its kind. The design hasn’t changed much since: Why meddle with a good thing? A tried-and-true design, features include a lockable blade, a belt hook for easy access, a hooked end for a precise read, and a heat-treated spring that increases the tape’s lifespan. This particular product has a Mylar-coated blade for added durability and abrasion resistance, plus a built-in point that works as a pivot for drawing circles and arcs. Measuring 25 feet, the tape blade has a seven-foot stand-alone capacity for hands-free working.
3. Singer ProSeries Retractable Tape Measure
From the famous maker of sewing tools and equipment comes this retractable eight-foot tailors’ tape measure. The tape itself is made of vinyl for flexibility when measuring for fit and shows measurements in both inches and centimeters. Meant to attach to a key ring or a lanyard, it is the perfect accessory for a sewist on the go.
4. Swanson Tool Proscribe Tape Measure
Best for all your heavy-duty projects, this retractable sixteen-foot tape measure gets the job done. The dual-end hook has a magnetic tip that grips firmly onto metal surfaces, and the blade locks into place for added accuracy. Another special feature includes a retractable scribe guide that helps contractors measure and mark lengths and radiuses, without the need for a trammel. The tape displays a large measurement number on both the top and bottom for easy readability, and the eight-foot standout ability allows for hands-free reading.
5. eTape16 Digital Tape Measure
This is a high-tech option for those in the market for a traditional product with a contemporary twist. Made of polycarbonate plastic, this tape measure is weather resistant and durable and features a large digital display. As you pull out the 16-foot blade, a numerical measurement appears on the display screen for a no-brainer read. Functions include a short-term measurement hold and two long-term memory holds, standard and metric conversion capabilities, and an auto-shut-off action. The coin battery lasts for up to 64 hours of continuous use.