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It’s hard to say exactly what makes a great tape measure because they’re, well, very personal items.  Some people like shiny, some like flat.  Some like plastic, some like metal.  This new tape from Irwin brings most of the standard features we’ve all come to expect, like a good friction lock, a blade brake (so the tape doesn’t break if you let it slam in unattended), and a 10′ standout — the distance you can extend the tape without someone else there to hold it for you.

The one feature that stands out a bit, though, is the tape’s “quick-mark tip” — a small bar of pencil lead hidden in the tip that allows you to mark distance by simply “swiping” the tip instead of breaking out a pencil.

Update: Look for a picture after the jump that shows the “quick-mark tip” in action.  [Thanks Emery!]

As promised:

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Tape color is also a heated item among afficionados, so if you’re one of them, be warned that this tape is white.  Like we said above, some people love white, and some love yellow.  I’ve never had a strong preference, but I’ve known many who do.  (Funny story: I once inherited a great tape — that I used for years before it finally gave up the Ghost — solely because it had 16th marks on the first four feet of it, and the poor guy who gave it to me couldn’t read it without his glasses.)

It looks like street pricing will start around $20, and you can expect to find this in all the big-box retailers soon.

25′ Tape Measure [Irwin]
Street Pricing [Froogle]
Buy It Now from Amazon [What is this?]

 

10 Responses to Preview: Irwin’s New 25′ Tape

  1. Fong says:

    I’m confused. The tip does the writing but if I’m measuring something to mark, I’m looking at the final length end. Does someone have a “for instance”?

  2. Emery Roth says:

    This photo from the Irwin website shows how it works much better than the description.
    http://irwin.com/irwin/consumer/images/more/2121600_alt3.jpg

    Basically the lead is at the foward most part of the tape measure body, not the blade.

  3. Jeff T says:

    I thought this tape has been out for a while. It was on their site last I checked like 3 months ago, maybe I’m wrong though.

    I think Alltrade has a 16th inch increment one I saw at wal-mart I think, the 35′ one. Was nice and small for a 35′ too, compared to the ungodly-huge fatmax 30-something inch.

    I do really love my small stanley fatmax 16′ small tape for small jobs, I just don’t have the dough to blow on a larger fatmax or extreme – and by the time they go above 16′, I think their way too unwieldy and heavy in a tool belt. No fractional one I could find either.

  4. nrChris says:

    I was playing with this in a big box store the other day. Irwin also makes one in this line with a magnetic tip–so you don’t need someone to hold the tip in place.

    I thought about it, and as a mostly home improvement / woodworking guy–a magnetic tip is something that will simply not be useful to me. I like the Standard Stanley tape measure, by the way.

  5. Chuck Cage says:

    Emery: Thanks for the picture link; it’s much clearer. I added it to the post.

  6. Roscoe says:

    I’m extremely partial to my Stanley “mini” 12′ tape. It’s extremely handy in a shop and fits in a pants pocket easily. They’re also cheap enough to leave one in the truck, and in the coat I wear most days. Admittedly, It’s too short for framing or other big jobs, and it has very little standout; but, it’s just the thing for building a cabinet, hanging a picture, or other odd jobs.

  7. old donn says:

    Who knew there would be tape measure wars. Seems like everybody’s got a “new & improved” tape out weekly. Like trucks, brand loyalty plays a part. Stanley’s old 25′ Construction Grade is my favorite, but my 12′ Craftsman is very handy. And despite other opinions elsewhere, my Kobalt 25′ magnetic tip comes in real handy sometimes.

  8. benjamen says:

    After I got a the craftsman version of the lever lock 25′ tape measure, I think other tape measures have it backwards. I like the fact that once I pull the tape out it stays without some clunky and awkward lock. It is a little different at first, having to press the lever to let tape out, but once you get used to it it you start to hate using your other tape measures. I can’t understand why this tapes aren’t more popular.

  9. Paul says:

    Yeah I have two Stanley 25’ers, then a bunch of other junk that I never reach for. Well I use my reels for large layouts. But that is something else entirely. When I am out there with good old Pythagoras and his theories. I don’t have to count to 5 everyday though.

    Stanley 25s are simple, no bells and whistles tools. As others have mentioned there are other tapes out there with this and that feature, that ultimatly detracts from their elegance, not measuring up to the no nonsense 25s deliver.

    Really I might like this Irwin better if it didn’t have the marking nose, or the brake. Although I could well imagine white tapes getting grungy easier. One feature that I am not aware of that I might consider to be handy is an easy method of changing the blades. Has anyone here ever tried fixing a tape measure? Wholly crap! Talk about make a monkey outta me. Just blindfold me and hand me a Rubix cube why don’t ya?

  10. Bruce says:

    I haven’t seen one of these in person yet. I do like the white tape color and I think it is a good looking tool. I’m not so sure i’d care for the built in lead.

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