Years ago when I was framing, I used a 30-foot Stanley FatMax. Once I shifted gears and no longer needed a 30-foot tape every day, I switched to a 16-foot Fatmax. The wider blade and more durable case seemed a nice upgrade to the ubiquitous Stanley Powerlock I’d used for so many years prior. The Fatmax tapes lasted long enough for me to feel like I got my money’s worth. So I had mixed reactions when I first learned of DeWalt’s new XP tape measure line at last year’s media event.
My initial impression regarding its “tougher and 13-foot-reach” claims was “so what?” I never found myself wishing for a greater reach, though I understand some tradespeople do. And as for “tougher” - what does that mean, exactly? Then I started using the tape regularly and I have to admit there are some things worth noting:- As a start, the belt clip is uniquely designed in that it doesn’t close; it’s a stiff u-shaped clip that’s always open and perfectly sized to slip on and off of a belt, pants pocket, and tool bags easily. What’s better, it’s removable without a screw. Unlike typical tape measures that rely on a single spring, the XP series has two retracting springs that create some serious force when winding the tape back up (keep your finger out of the way - trust me).
- The blade itself is 1 1/4” wide high-carbon steel that DeWalt claims has a 13’ standout; the most I’m able to get is in the low 12’ range which is still good, but 13’ seems like a stretch.
- DeWalt put some time and energy on the first 9” of the tape where they added a heavy-duty thermoplastic coating that not only protects the blade from kinking and breaking, but it also protects the markings from wear.
- It also features an oversized hook which, if you’re framing, is a nice feature. If you’re doing any kind of finish work or take frequent short inside measurements, this isn’t the tape for you because the hook does become a bit of a nuisance in those situations. The larger hook is attached to the blade by 3 rivets and it is stout enough that it will resist bending.
- The blade is housed in a PC/ABS and rubber case that DeWalt boasts can withstand a 60’ drop (onto compacted soil). Rob Robillard of Tool Box Buzz drop test the tape from 30’ onto asphalt and it barely endured a scratch.
- Tim Uhler noted on Instagram that he had two tapes that "had this weird issue where they would just roll over as they extended... Quite a few had this problem, but quite a few didn't. So I've used 3 tapes since those initial two and none of them have this problem. I'm not sure what the deal is." The "rolling" issue that Uhler is referring to relates to the blade itself. As its extended, the tip begins to turn and the blade rolls over. I haven't had this issue with the tape that I reviewed and, as Uhler mentions, it's something that seems to be inconsistent. If you're able to, I suggest running the tape out a few times before you buy it to make sure it doesn't have this rolling issue. Uhler notes that of the two he has that have this issue, they had it when they were brand new.
- Uhler also notes: "I like that the end has huge "wings" or "ears". It allows me too hook from farther away. I can also pick up my siding nailer from the ground when it falls."
- The 25’ tape that I’ve been using isn’t lightweight though it’s well-balanced and comfortable in the hand. The tapes have a built-in lanyard connection as well. If you’re a framer or otherwise in need of a heavy-duty tape in either 25’ ($30) or 35’ ($40) configurations, the XP is worth considering.