With the recent posts about EDC and Everyday Carry, I figured I’d add my thoughts about another tool that often gets overlooked as an EDC: the tape measure. Sure, if you’re a contractor, you probably have a tape on your belt, but I find that clipping on a 25′ or even a 16′ tape to be too much for everyday use.
I am constantly finding myself in need of a measuring tool when I don’t have one available. Earlier this week I went to the thrift store and found a foosball table in really good condition for cheap, but I had no way of measuring it to see if it would fit in my truck box with my tool box installed.
When I got the table out to the truck, I found it was 1/2″ too long and my tailgate wouldn’t close. If I had a tape measure with me, I would have been able to figure out that we could have loaded it sideways.
That day I went out and picked up the best small tape I could find, which was the Stanley FatMax 6′ keychain tape measure.
The 6 foot tape measure is made with a rubber overmolded ABS plastic housing, just like the larger FatMax tapes. It only weighs 60 g, or about 2 oz.
The metal tape is 1/2″ wide and marked in increments of 1/16″. For the first foot, there are markings every 1/16″ on the top, and 1/32″ on the bottom scale. Like most constructions tapes, every 16″ is boxed in red – to indicate center-to-center stud placements – and once you get past the 1 foot mark the top number is the number of inches since the last foot.
I have found that I can get a 4 foot standout pretty consistently, which is more than the 3 feet rating I’ve seen on retailers’ product listings.
The 6 foot FatMax is listed as a keychain tape measure, but I’ve never liked dealing with keys dangling from my tools. Instead, I have attached a small carabiner to the keychain, and clipped the carabiner to my belt loop, letting the tape hang in my pocket. I have found this to an easier retrieval method than when I reach down into my pocket to grab my keys, knife, or flashlight.
I bought my little FatMax tape at Menards for $4, but you can just as easily pick one up at Amazon or Home Depot for the same price.
If you don’t think that you need a 6-foot range, Stanley also offers a 3-foot tape measure with 1/4″ wide blade. It’s smaller and a little cheaper. There’s also the Swiss folding rule option, which gives you a measurement scale of a little more than 3-feet.
Compare (3′ PowerLock tape via Amazon)