Go the distance with our roundup of the best tape measures
A quality tape measure is an often overlooked yet essential piece of equipment that no home should be without. Whether you’re gearing up for your next DIY project, checking that new sofa will fit through the hall, or measuring up for a new jacket, the best tape measures will help you get the job done.
Like all tools, it’s all about having the right one for the task at hand. Tape measures have been around, in one form or another for millennia, and so at this point, you can find a model to suit just about any job. To take out any guesswork we’ve put together a short buying guide to help you decide which is the best tape measure for you followed by our pick of the best tape measures on the market.
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The best tape measures: at a glance
- Best traditional tape measure: Stanley 8m Pocket Tylon Tape Measure | £9
- Best budget tape measure: Rolson 5M Tape Measure | £5.06
- Best heavy-duty tape measure: Stanley FatMax | £22.95
- Best micro tape measure: Stanley Fatmax 2M Keychain Tape Measure | £6.60
- Best flexible tape measure: LiteTour Body and Sewing Tape Measur | £3.65
- Best open reel tape measure: Am-Tech 30m Surveyor Tap | £6.89
How to choose the best tape measure for you
What kind of tape measure should I buy?
Pocket tape measure: If you ask someone to think of a tape measure they’ll almost certainly picture the traditional pocket measure. Available in a range of different lengths, spring-return pocket tape measures are a toolbox staple, relied upon by DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike. With extensions varying from 2-8m, a pocket measure is ideal for almost any task about the house.
Laser tape measure: Laser-equipped tape measures are your best bet for measuring up large interior spaces. Laser measures emit a pulse of light and calculate distances by timing how long it takes for the light to return after reflecting off of an object. With ranges that outclass even the longest of tapes, they’re ideal for calculating the square footage of a property or estimating wall and floor areas for painting or flooring. They’ll work indoors or outdoors, but you do need an appropriate surface to bounce the laser off of.
Flexible tape measure: Often simply referred to as sewing tapes, flexible measuring tapes are ideal for dealing with non-uniform objects – perfect for getting body measurements for clothing or tracking fitness goals. Flexible tape measures are available both as loose tapes or housed within dedicated cases for easier tangle-free storage.
Surveyor tape measure: If your measuring needs exceed the ranges afforded by standard measures, then a surveyor tape is the way to go. With lengths of 30m and beyond, these flexible tapes excel at measuring long distances, especially outdoors, where you may struggle to bounce a laser measure.
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The best tape measure to buy in 2023
1. Stanley 8m Pocket Tylon Tape Measure: the best traditional tape measure
Price when reviewed: £9 | Check price at Amazon
Stanley’s Pocket Tape measure is a time-tested classic. The rubberised exterior makes it easy to handle and tough, while the tape itself is coated with Tylon for increased durability. With 8m of extension it’ll handle all but the largest of tasks with ease, while the blade lock and compensated end hook ensure you’ll get accurate readings every time.
As the name suggests, this tape measure comes in a pocket-friendly form factor and even features a belt clip on the back so you can keep it within easy reach while working.
Key specs – Weight: 380g; Units of measurement: cm/mm, ft/in; Max tape extension: 8m;
2. Rolson 5m Tape Measure: The best budget tape measure
Price when reviewed: £5.06 | Check price at Amazon
This pocket measure from Rolson covers all the basics at a budget-friendly price point. It features a 5m maximum extension, which means it should comfortably handle most DIY tasks and jobs around the house, while a thumb lock allows the retraction to be manually controlled.
The case is fully rubberised, making it easy to grip, even with cold or dusty hands, or while wearing gloves. There’s also a practical belt clip on the back.
Key specs – Weight: 200g; Units of measurement: cm/mm, ft/in; Max tape extension: 5m;
3. Stanley FatMax Tape Rule: The best heavy-duty tape measure
Price when reviewed: £22.95 | Check price at Amazon
A serious job requires a serious tape measure. Stanley’s FatMax is a heavy duty tape measure built to withstand the rigors of professional use. The blade is a chunky 3.2mm wide which increases rigidity and features a mylar coating for improved durability and longevity. The hook is beefier than standard too, with an oversized build to make it easier and more stable to use while working solo and a trio of rivets to keep it secure for the long haul.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, compact measure for casual use, this probably isn’t it. If, however, you need a dependable tape measure that’s built to handle some hammer, the Stanley FatMax is an easy recommendation.
Key specs – Dimensions: 180 x 120 x 60mm; Weight: 390g; Units of measurement: cm/mm, inches; Max tape extension: 8m;
4. Stanley FatMax 2M Keychain Tape Measure: The best micro tape measure
Price when reviewed: £6.60 | Check price at Amazon
You never know when that next must-have piece of furniture is going to pop up – but will it fit through the hallway? With a micro tape you can always have a measuring close by for when the need arises. Despite its small size, this scaled-down Stanley Fatmax still comes with all the features you’d expect from a pocket measure, with spring-loaded retraction, a thumb lock, and a true-zero end hook.
With a 2m maximum reach, it won’t quite stretch to larger tasks, but it’s ideal for keeping in your glove box, handbag, or on your keychain.
Key specs – Weight: 60g; Units of measurement: cm/mm, ft/in; Max tape extension: 2m;
5. LiteTour Body and Sewing Tape Measure: The best flexible tape measure
Price when reviewed: £3.65 | Check price at Amazon
Whether you’re measuring inseams, biceps, or waistlines, this flexible measure from LiteTour has you covered. The 1.5m tape is flexible, soft to the touch and has measurements in both centimetres and inches.
Unlike traditional sewing tapes the LiteTour tape features a spring-loaded retractable case. This allows the tape to be quickly coiled for storage, avoiding the otherwise inevitable tangling you’d experience with a standard flexible measure.
Key specs – Weight: 20g; Units of measurement: cm/mm, ft/in; Max tape extension: 1.5m;
6. Am-Tech 30m Surveyor Tape: The best open reel tape measure
Price when reviewed: £6.89 | Check price at Amazon
For large-scale tasks, indoors or out, this surveyor tape from Am-Tech can go the distance. With a maximum extension of 30m there are few jobs out of reach for this tape. The two-sided fibreglass tape features millimetres and centimetres on one side, with feet and inches on the reverse and can be wound neatly away into its rubberised case using a fold-out rotary handle.
Key specs – Dimensions: 190 x 160 x 40mm; Weight: 400g; Units of measurement: cm/mm, inches; Max tape extension: 30m;