Buying a tape measure

See also our post on measuring boule to jack.

Measuring is a routine part of the game of petanque.  To play the game, you need a tape measure. When shopping for a tape measure, here are my selection criteria.

  1. The tape should be metric — marked in millimeters, centimeters, and meters. A metric tape is easier to read than an English (imperial) one.
  2. It should be long enough to handle 90% of the boule-to-jack measurements— at least 6 feet (2 meters).
  3. It should be small enough and light enough to be carried comfortably and pulled out quickly and easily.
  4. It should be wide enough to stay stiff when extended to a meter or more.  A narrow tape will flop around like a wet noodle if extended more than a few inches.
  5. It should be easy to read.
  6. It should be reasonably priced.

I have found that—

  1. The small and light” criterion is very important.
  2. Tapes with both metric and English markings aren’t necessarily difficult to read.
  3. There are two different styles of printing numbers on a tape, and…
  4. the style affects readability.

Here is a picture of the two styles of printing numbers. A tape with continuous markings is much easier to read than a tape with interval markings.

... 50    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   60    1 ...

... 50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61 ...

Finally: a nice-to-have feature is auto-lock— when you pull the tape out, it automatically stays extended. Pushing a release button allows you to retract the tape.

Here are a few tape measures that I think are worth considering.

komelon_tape_measure_smallThe Komelon 4912IM is available on Amazon for about $6. It has dual markings with English and continuous metric numbers. It is small, light, easy to carry and and easy to read.

fastcap_metric_tapemeasureThe Fastcap 5-meter tape is what I carry. It is bigger and heavier than I would like, but I find that its metric marking are very easy to use. Its length of 5m makes it possible to measure to 10m, if you do it in two steps.

Another tape measure that has received good reviews on is THIS.

For measuring longer distances

One long tape that I like is the Amico 10m Fiberglass Tape Measure.Amico_10m_fiberglass_tape

When you’re selecting a 10-meter tape you have the choice of a fiberglass tape or a steel tape. I recommend a fiberglass tape. It will have a bigger case than a steel tape, but it will weigh less and cost less.

For a 10-meter tape, you want a tape that re-winds by means of a hand crank handle that folds out of the case. A spring-loaded retractor is a safety hazard for a long tape. A long tape zipping back into the case can cut your hand like a sharp knife.

Most long tapes are marked in feet and inches one one side, and in meters on the reverse side. So if you see a nice 50-foot fiberglass tape at your local hardware store, it might do the job nicely.


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