Best Tape Measure

best tape measure

Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure

The Milwaukee Magnet Tape Measure offers the best bang for the buck. We really admire the craftsmanship put into the Milwaukee Tape Measure and it shows by proving to offer superior durability during our smash tests. Out of all of the tape measures we tested, Milwaukee withstood the most damage.


Why do you need the Best Tape Measure?

best tape measureBy using the best tape measure, we can accurately determine the dimensions of objects. Measuring things has been a human fascination for thousands of years and contributed to the dawn of civilization, architecture, and many other great achievements.

In today’s world, most people have tape measures in their homes to help them with daily tasks at home. They are also widely used for industrial purposes. Whatever the purpose is, it is important to use the best tape measure to ensure that you get the most accurate measurement. The best tape measure can be compared by the following factors: overall length, stand length, durability, accuracy, tang design, markings legibility, slide lock, and magnetism.


Best Tape Measure Reviews

  1. Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure (Top Pick)
  2. Stanley Fat Max Tape Measure
  3. DeWalt Tape Measure

1. Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure

best tape measureWhile many would vouch for Stanley Powerlock as the best tape measure, we think it is a bit overrated. The Milwaukee Magnet Tape Measure offers the best bang for the buck and is superior to the Stanley Powerlock, which sells on its brand name and ratings alone. We really admire the craftsmanship put into the Milwaukee Tape Measure and it shows by proving to offer superior durability during our smash tests.

Out of all of the tape measures we tested, the Milwaukee withstood the most damage and even remained intact after being run over by a car. We even rubbed the tape measure against rough surfaces and the markings were still very much visible with barely any scratch marks. We can’t really say the same about the Stanley Powerlock, which was clearly behind in the durability department.

We think the Milwaukee is the best tape measure not only because of its one-of-a-kind durability but also because of its slew of features. Perfection is really in the details. This tape measure features a nylon band blade protector, which means the tape itself is well-padded and protected against abrasions. You can feel the sturdiness of the band when bringing the tape in and out. It does not feel like it will break or snap on you anything soon.

It does make a strong noise when moving so that could be a bit annoying. There is a finger catcher at the end of the tape measure in case you retract it too fast and it hits your index finger on the way back.  The end of the tape band is also magnetic which can firmly latch onto metal objects. This is a cool feature because it prevents the tape from rolling around after you have hooked the end to something metal. The standout length is 9 feet, which is more than enough for most people.

Additionally, the Milwaukee squeezes in some nice finishing touches which we really appreciate. It has measurements on both sides of the tape, which believe it or not comes in handy at times. On the back side of the tape, you have a few different scales for professionals who use it for specific needs. It also has a metal belt clip on the side that clips on firmly to a belt.  All in all, Milwaukee is the best tape measure if you want top-of-the-line durability and don’t mind paying a premium.


2. Stanley FatMax Tape Measure

best tape measureWhenever there is any talk about the best tape measure, Stanley will definitely come up. It is considered by many people to be the best tape measure brand and is certainly the most popular. It is the chosen tape measure brand to be on the Apollo 11 lunar landing missions.

While we certainly applaud Stanley for making such popular devices, we don’t necessarily agree that it is the absolute all-around best. That award goes to Milwaukee, which is clearly a more durable device. Nevertheless, Stanley makes very solid tape measures and has been in the tape measuring business for over 160 years.  While Stanley is mostly known for its Powerlock series, we prefer the FatMax, which we think is a better and improved version.

The FatMax features a Mylar-coated steel blade, a material that is thicker than nylon coating, which is found on beginner models.  The improved Mylar coating gives the blade about ten times more resistance to abrasions versus traditional Tylon coating. The FatMax gets its name from the blade, which is extra wide at 1 ¼  inches and gives it extra durability and makes it easier to read the markings. It is noticeably wider than the Stanley Powerlock and other competitors who have theirs at 1 inch. The first six feet of the blade have something called blade armor, which is an extra layer of protection at the tip to prevent the blade from breaking or snapping. This blade armor is made of an industrial thermoplastic coating which is also used in the blades of black hawk helicopters.

The hook is very sturdy and can hook on the top and bottom, while most competitors can only hook on the bottom. Best of all, it has a 11 feet stand-still length, which is near the top of any tape measures and really comes in handy when you are working alone and trying to measure things from great distances. When you hold the Stanley FatMax, you will notice that it feels heavier than the Powerlock but also feels more sturdy and durable. The protective case containing the blade is extra tough and withstands most drop tests. Although it is not as durable as the Milwaukee tape measure, it puts up a great fight. The Stanley FatMax is overall the best tape measure if you want a fatter blade with an incredibly long stand-out length.


3. Dewalt Tape Measure

best tape measureThe Dewalt Tape Measure is the best tape measure if you are looking for an incredibly long standout length. With the Dewalt clocking in at an astounding 13 feet standout, it outranks both the Milwaukee and Stanley FatMax in the 25 feet tape measure space. However, we must also warn you that your mileage may vary.

In our opinion, the Dewalt tape measure is built very similar to the Stanley FatMax and even has a similar look. The Dewalt tape measure is 1 1/8 inches wide, which is slightly less than the FatMax but still has a sizable width. The blade is Mylar coated and features a double-ended large hook at the end of the blade just like the FatMax.

Although we find the hook on the FatMax easier to use, the difference is negligible. On the durability front, the Dewalt Tape Measure has a tough outer shell that is reinforced by metal and rubber for extra cushion during a fall. It has a duo durometer blade lock that is easy to use and comfortable. We really don’t have too many complaints about this tape measure.

We would say the Dewalt is comparable to the FatMax in terms of durability and accuracy. They can both take quite a beating and the blade is stable and tough to snap due to the Mylar coating. Both blades are extremely accurate and do not tilt horizontally or vertically. Although the differences are minuscule, we still prefer the FatMax over the Dewalt as a better all-around tape measure. And of course, Milwaukee is king and outranks both FatMax and Dewalt.

The one thing that annoyed us about the Dewalt is the blade lock system. Although it is better than most of the tape measures out there, our standards are quite high when it comes to finding the best tape measure. The blade lock system on the Dewalt is just not quite on par with the Milwaukee or the Stanley FatMax. It feels a bit flimsy and you kind of have the feeling the blade is not quite locked firmly. A small bump could send the blade retracting back.  All in all, we feel the FatMax and Dewalt tape measures are very comparable and we give a slight advantage to the FatMax. Milwaukee is still the best overall because it has the best durability as well as maintaining the same standards in other aspects.


More Info on the Best Tape Measure

First and foremost, you want to determine the maximum length you would normally take measurements in. If you don’t have a need to use a 30-foot tape measure, don’t get it! It will just take up extra space. The strand length is another thing people like to compare. It measures the maximum length you can stretch out the tape measure straight before gravity takes over and bends it.

Any stand length over 8 feet is pretty solid, and anything more just becomes bragging rights and does not really contribute to anything useful. Durability is an extremely important factor in determining the best tape measure. When on the job or at home, you will be dropping the tape measure. If it cracks when you drop it, you will have to get a new one. The markings will also scratch off over time when exposed to rough surfaces. Sometimes, the tape itself will bend when you snap it back which causes it to rip apart. You want to make sure you buy a tape measure that is resistant to being dropped and the tape itself won’t rip apart easily.

Accuracy is another important factor to consider when shopping for the best tape measure. You want to make sure the tape measure you are getting goes out in a straight line and does not tilt at any sort of angle. Any slight tilt along the y or x-axis (horizontal or vertical tilt) will result in an inaccurate measurement.  The markings on the tape measure should also be easy to read and not confusing. One more important feature of the best tape measure is the design of the tang, which is the buckle at the end of the tape that holds it to a surface.

You want a nice sturdy wide tang that will clasp onto objects and prevent the tape from retracting naturally. Most tape measures have a slide lock mechanism that will auto-lock the tape measure in place when the desired measuring length is reached.  Lastly, some tape measures are magnetic, which really comes in handy when you are working with metals like pipes, beams, and ducts. The tape itself will snap onto the metal magnetically so you don’t have to worry about the tape moving around too much.

We have hand tested 20 different tape measures on the market by dropping them, measuring different objects with them, and really performing every kind of test possible on tape measures. We have factored in all the different ways tape measures can be compared and present you with our top 3 picks below.


The Review Gurus