I briefly reviewed the new Dewalt XP tape measure, DWHT36225, a couple of weeks ago. I have used it a bit more, and although much of that has been light use, it’s been enough to solidify my opinion of this new tape.
In short, it’s a great tape measure.
If you haven’t already read it, check out my “first look” review. I’ll include another link at the end of the post.
To summarize, this new Dewalt XP tape measure is designed to be tougher in every way – its case, blade coating, and hook construction – and it has a new dual spring retraction system.
It’s a large tape, at 3-1/8″ tall, 3-3/8″ wide, and 2-9/32″ deep. It weighs 1.25 pounds.
Despite its size, which I would describe as being relatively average for a premium 25-foot tape measure, it’s not yet too bulky for my medium-sized hands.
I’m still trying to develop a better gripping technique. In the photo just above, my left hand is shown gripping the tape measure case. I’m a righty, but the visualization is almost the same.
I tend to palm the top of tape measures, with my thumb forward and first 3 fingers gripping the bottom. My pinky tends to find itself perched at the lowest point of the back.
I think it’s a compensation habit I developed after using too many tape measures with stiff locks, and it gives me more leverage.
But you don’t want your pinky finger at the rear of the tape. Dewalt designed their XP tape measure to have a strong spring retraction. After repeated usage of the tape, the recoil becomes tiring.
Maybe part of how I grip 25′ tapes is due to the size of my hands (I wear size 8.5-9 gloves). But with smaller 16′ tapes, my pinky also gravitates to the rear, as there’s not enough space at the bottom.
I’ve never had to analyze my tape measure grip before the Dewalt XP tape measure came along. I’ve found that some tapes I like to use, others I don’t, but had attributed this to sliding lock button preferences.
What I’m trying to say is this – I find the XP tape measure to be a little uncomfortable with extended use, but I’m not sure if that’s my fault, the tape’s fault, or both. I figure it’s 50% due to the higher blade retraction recoil, and 50% due to the way I’ve become accustomed to holding tape measures.
Maybe this tape just isn’t for me.
I didn’t know what the cushiony lock button was for until I read Dewalt’s press release. I thought it was for comfort. It’s for drop protection, presumably with the two very firm rubbery rails at both sides of the button.
Do you see that little warning message, right near the hook? It seems to be saying “don’t unscrew these screws to open the case!” If you’ve ever opened a tape measure or other coil-spring device before, you’ll know what happens if you do – the whole thing will pop out and unravel, and you’ll never be able to get it back together again.
The grip material is nice.
The lanyard loop also has an overmolded grip layer. The shape of the lanyard loop helps to support the tape measure on horizontal and vertical surfaces. You can do this with other tapes, but I feel as thought the Dewalt XP tape does it a little better.
The hook is fairly large. I keep thinking it’s not, and that’s because the blade is so wide.
The locking mechanism seems robustly designed.
I think I’ll need to go on a tape measure dissection-spree. I have taken apart very few tape measures, but that metal reinforcement structure seems a little unusual. I’m growing ever more curious to see how this tape measure works.
You can’t lock the tape single-handled at under 9″, the reinforced coating is too thick. Before you scream “deal breaker,” as I almost did, there’s a workaround. Yes, you can use two hands, and that kind of works. What works better is to lock in the tape at 9″ inches, and push the blade into the tape measure housing until it’s at the desired measurement.
While not effortless, it’s not difficult. But pulling the tape out if you push it from greater than 9″ to under 9″, well, that’s not going to work. It takes a lot of effort, and then what happens is the blade lock loosens up. You’d have to lock it in again at 9+ inches and try again.
I found the blade to be easily readable.
Lastly, here’s the screwless belt hook. I like it in theory, and haven’t run into problems yet. But I wonder if it sticks out a bit much.
There’s a lot to like about this new Dewalt XP tape measure. It has a toughened case, a toughened blade, a strong hook, and unique belt hook.
It is built to the MAX in every way, including the strong dual spring blade retraction system.
I have little doubt that it could very well be the toughest tape measure on the planet.
I want to like it, so, so much. But ultimately, I find the spring mechanism to be too strong. The difficulty in locking it between 0 and 9″ is another potential downside.
As a reminder, I’m not a tradesman, contractor, or other pro user who relies on their tape measure on a daily basis. Maybe the strong and fast spring is a plus for you, or maybe you have larger hands or a better grip.
This is a tape measure you should really try out in person before you buy. Or if you order online, make sure you order from a store with a great return policy. You might like it, or maybe not.
I think it’s a good tape, just not a good fit for me.
Read More: Dewalt XP tape measure “first look” review
ETA: July 2017 (USA), May 2017 (Canada)
Thank you to Dewalt for providing the review sample unconditionally.
I wonder if part of that stiffness is mostly for longevity and durability.
IE it will wear in with time. I noticed you didn’t compare it to the stanley fatmax. which is one I bought because of this site. SO I’m curious as to how they compare. I do like the fatmax autolock. so much I now have 2
Have you had a chance to use the Milwaukee tape measures? I’m wondering how the higher end model with the magnet on the hook compares to the Dewalt. So far I’ve been pleased with the Milwaukee, but always looking for a better tape measure… the next time i need one.
I have not had much luck with the Milwaukee magnetic tape measure, at least not with the newer single magnet. I am a welder/fabricator and within three weeks of using it the magnet has broken off of three different tape measures. The dual one they had lasted for about a year. Also, if you work in a field where you might get dirty be prepared to clean the tape often. The coating they put on to help protect the metal acts as a rasp and grabs dirt off of your hands/gloves as you use it. Bottom line: don’t buy the Milwaukee for the magnet.
A bit too pricey tho
As a framer ,we only use 30′ or 35′ tapes…that size is needed to square walls and measure stock,,,without having to get out a 50/100′ ……I look forward to trying this tape out as no tape lasts in the framing world…
I want Dewalt to make this tape for Right handed people too! I know few company including Lee Valley, Fastcap makes it but those are not tough enough for construction.
You mean left-handed?
No, Stuart. I am right handed.
I am right handed so I keep my pencils on my right side of tool pants. ( yea, not tool belt. One of those pants with many pockets with knee pads. Björnkläder is awesome pants! ) then my tape measure is on my left.
I grab my tape with my left hand and hook on the material, Mark it without my right hand. Put back the tape and grab a speed square with my left hand while I keep my pencil on my right hand , Mark the square. Done.
But with how those tapes are made, I have to flip the tape every time to hook it on to my tape hook which is on my left side.
So if they simply build it with the hooks to be able to switch on both side, this problem will be solved. However the numbers printed should be turned too but it can be printed perpendicularly to the blade.
I’m pretty sure this has been talked many times on the internet.
But let me start it again. Haha.
Ah, got it!
That seems like somewhat of a niche product, but if I were a product manager I’d give it a try. Then again, I have no idea as to how much it would cost to do this.
The blades would have to be mirror-imaged, which doesn’t seem too difficult to do.
But the housings would require completely different case molds. It might not be possible given how many tapes are injected molded in a single run.
For instance, if 50 cases are molded on one machine, it would cost way too much to experiment with a reverse-direction case.
It would simply cost too much to do on a mass production scale. Maybe on a small production scale, but big brands might not be as well equipped for something like that. Tape measure production relies on volume to help keep costs down.
How much would you be willing to pay for a right-handed tape measure? Or a left-handed tape measure optimized for right-handed users preferences as you described?
This tape is already priced at $30. Would you buy the same thing for $40 if it was reversed?
But that’s also the question, they’re not selling it to you, they have to sell it to retailers, who would sell it to you.
Will Home Depot buy enough to put on their shelves? What about other retailers? Without big retailers buying volume, costs go even higher.
I’m just thinking aloud here. Please correct me if I’m seeing things wrong.
Personally, I use my tape with my right hand 90% of the time. That other 10%, I lock it, put it on my material, and make my mark.
But now that it’s in my head, I’ll try to be conscious of how I use tapes. Maybe I’ll try with my left hand. Hmm, I can’t unlock this tape with my hand at all. The grip is just too foreign to me, I guess I need practice.
I searched and found this. This is exactly what I’m talking about!!
Though statistics vary, it seems on average that 10 percent of the population is left-handed. So here’s a little experiment for all you right-handers (and one that shocked both Glen Huey and me, because in our collective 34 or so years of woodworking, we’ve never noticed this):
– Pick up your tape measure in one hand and a pencil or marking knife in the other.
– Now hook the tape over the end of a board, and mark a line at 6″ (or just pretend to, if you don’t wish to mark a perfectly nice board).
In what hand did you hold the tape? What way were the numbers facing?
My DeWalt xp tape measure was twisted right out of the package. I tried to exchange it at Home Depot but they said i have to deal directly with DeWalt. Is there a link to their customer service or something. i have no clue how to return it exchange it.
I bought the 2-pack on sale at Christmas time. The quality is there, but my only complaint is that the tab/hook doesn’t seem to be as deep as the Stanley. I am building my grandkids a rock climbing wall out of used lumber and if the end is rounded over at all, the hook isn’t very secure. I like how rigid the tape is and will still enjoy using.