I did a ton of research in search of some of the best laser tape/distance measurers out there and in the proces found some really great information. I tracked what I found, how I conducted my research, what led to my top choices and documented the entire process along the way.
You can find the short list of the recommended products below and even read through some of my research and see how I came up with my top choices and the entire process I went through to get to that point.
Reviews: The Bosch GLM 50 is one of the best rated laser tape measures out there with a total of more than 400 reviews and an average overall rating of 4.5 stars from a number of different retailers.
Price: There was quite a bit of difference in price for the Bosch GLM 50, $30 in some cases so be sure you look around for the best price.
Pros and Cons: It is very easy to use and fairly accurate for it's price but can be a battery drainer and doesn't have a massive storage drive for measurements.
Why It Stood Out: This was the best rated laser tape measure out there, having nearly all of the reviewers (95%) giving it either a four or five star rating. It didn't have as many reviews as the older Bosch model but did have better overall feedback so I chose it for the category. Compared to the other laser distance measures, it had the greatest amount of reviews with the best feedback score.
Features: Bosch claims that the GLM 50 has a maximum distance range of 165 feet and an accuracy of 1/16", not sure if that is within 165' or less though. It also has the ability to calculate five different measurements like: length, volume, area, continuous measurement and indirect length measurements.
Reviews: The Etekcity S9 only had reviews on Amazon, not a whole lot to go off of and I would have liked to see more reviews from different websites. The reviews on Amazon's website were great though, very detailed and one person even did a comparison with other models at work, interesting and informative for sure.
Price: The Etekcity S9 was only available at Amazon and Walmart so it was hard to get a price comparison but they were pretty close at the time I reviewed both sites.
Pros and Cons: There were more positives than negatives for the Etekcity S9 on Amazon's website, which is a good sign. The negative reviews were primarily from 2015 so the problems seem to have been worked out as stated by the more current reviews.
Why It Stood Out: The Etekcity S9 really stood out above the other models primarily due to the functionality that is possible with the tool. It has all the features that a laser tape measure costing $100 more would have and to have all of these integrated into a tool that is under sixty bucks is unheard of.
Features: The impressive feature list includes the ability to measure up to 130 ft, a great accuracy claim (within 1/16th of an inch), the ability to recall 20 measurements, five different calculatory functions and built-in levels. This was the deciding factor for me and it really is hard to ignore, especially in this price category!
Reviews: The Leica DISTO S910 didn't have a ton of reviews from retail websites anyways but it did have 7 on Amazon at the time with a 5 star overall rating. Not enough to make a great comparison but the pricing point was probably a good reason why.
Price: The Leica Disto s910 is a much higher priced model than any of the other models in the lineup and even in the higher range of all of the laser distance measures I looked at for this category. There was a pretty significant difference in quality, accuracy and overall functionality that comes along with the price tag as well.
Pros and Cons: There were so many advantages to the Leica Disto s910 , the distance capabilities (up to 984 ft.), 4x zoom capacity, cross-hair targeting, massive memory and much more. The only real downfall I can think of is the price point (over $1400) which will make it unavailable to most people looking for an outdoor laser measure. I did have two other models that made the list though that are substantially less than the Leica Disto s910 (the Bosch GLR825 and the Leica DISTO E7500i).
Why It Stood Out: This laser measure really stood out above all the rest when looking for the best outdoor laser tape because I really found that the features that are integrated with this model make finding targets and making sure your laser is accurately hitting them easier, which is the hardest aspects of using a laser outside. The functionality, distance capabilities and accuracy were just added bonuses, if you ask me.
Features: The 4x zoom capacity and the integrated cross-hairs are two of the main features that really stood out and made the Leica Disto S910 the best choice for the most competant laser measure for outside use. Some of the other features are impressive, mainly because of the peice point and include the ability to measure up to nearly 1,000 feet, point to point measuring, Bluetooth capabilities and more.
For this price range, I didn't want to pick a new model, so I decided to go with my pick for the best affordable model which was the Etekcity S9. I already did all of the research for the best affordable measurer (which the threshold was $60) and decided it was a perfect fit for this category as well.
There were some great models in this price range and it was enjoyable to compare the different features and functionality. The winner was the Dewalt DW03050, mainly due to the positive feedback and functionality aspects of the unit. You can see a more indepth explanation of why I picked this model below.
I really just wanted to write a more informative article on the different laser distance measurers and wanted to make a couple of recommendations along the way, putting all of my research to good use for others who may be in the same position. I have laid out my entire process below and share all of my questions, research, education and choices every step of the way because it will surely help to show how I ultimately made those recommendations and is probably going to help someone else if they are trying to decide themselves.
I have been wanting a laser tape measure for quite some time now and really had no clue about some of the features that were included, the differences between them, which functions I would need or what the maximum distance would be best for what I was doing. I have been a residential construction contractor for a number of years now and really thought I could use one instead of measuring out the walls the "old fashioned way" with a partner (if I was lucky) and a 35' tape measure. Since I had no personal experience with these myself, I needed to ask around and do some research myself.
I found a couple of videos in the beginning to be extremely helpful in knowing what to expect from one of these tools, like this video on measuring the outside of a house. This shows how quick the process can go, how to use targets, the convenience of a Bluetooth capable model and a couple of tricks along the way. Another helpful video really showed some of the struggles that people have with shooting targets outside, due to the light which makes seeing the laser point virtually impossible at times. It also showed how manufacturers add features to solve the problem like Leica did which makes a huge difference and which only a video could make you appreciate.
Forums were especially helpful in finding out what people used laser levels for and they were people who used them on a very regular basis as well, which would qualify them as having an expert-like opinion on them. I found out that some typical uses for these tools wer measuring trim, getting square footage numbers, overall lengths and so on. It also clued me in on what to expect in terms of accuracy from some of the different models out there and why there is such a price difference on different laser distance measurers. Great recommendations were also made in a lot of these forums.
Another step I took was to make contact with some of the different manufacturers and ask them a few questions about some of the different models they carried, what the difference between them were other than their range, etc. I also made contact with a number of people who used them on a regular basis like contractors, surveyors, engineers, etc. to see what they had to say. This is always the best kind of advice because there is usually really good advice about some of the pros and cons, how well they work, what can be improved, what they work better for and so on.
After looking at all of the different laser measure tools on various retail sites like Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, CPO Tools, Sears and others I noticed that two main choices were going to be made by consumers based on the data. These are: maximum distance and accuracy. Price will be a deciding factor for a few people and features as well but these two main factors would ultimately be the biggest factors for most.
Price will ultimately decide what features, accuracy and distance you will get, like most things in life but there were some good models out there that showed a balance.
Brands were also something that came up often and accuracy was one of the hottest topics that coincided with brands. Some of the top brands that also came with a bigger price tag were : Hilti, Leica and Stabila. Some of the more common brands like Bosch, Dewalt, Makita and Stanley were popular as well, along with some third party choices (unknown manufacturers) and could be found for a little less depending on the model.
I wanted to get an overall feel for what features different laser distance measurers have and sum up the entire list which will make narrowing down the process easier and more accurate. Some of these features include things like:
Who's going to be using the tool and what they are measuring is another thing I noticed that will affect what model is going to be the best, in their opinion. For example a contractor will use it in different areas and for different purposes than say... an electrician. So I gather a few tasks together that laser tape measures might be used for to get a better idea of what features might appeal to certain groups.
When searching for the best rated laser tape measure I wanted to find a model that had a ton of reviews, positive feedback and high ratings because this is obviously a great sign and would justify the right tool for the category.
I started with multiple retail websites to get a feel for what models had the best feedback, the most reviews, etc. I did not include models that are discontinued by the manufacturer (like a couple of Bosch models I found) because I want this list to be more of a long term stable type of resource and the availability of the tool might become an issue.
What I Found In My Research...
Sixty tools were the starting point I came up with after looking through all of the laser distance measures with 4 stars and higher rating scores. Now I had to look through some of the reviews to see what people were saying about the tool and why they rated it the way they did. I think it's important to note that I didn't just look at products with THE MOST reviews/rating because I am going after the "best rated" not the "most number of reviews", so I wanted to clarify.
Narrowing down the results to just five of the top choices took a very long time but I am confident that these five laser tools are the best for the category. These all have very positive feedback scores (between 80 - 95% four or five star reviews overall), a good number of reviews and ratings from multiple sources to look through and many of the models were even recommended on various forums and tool review websites.
The Final Three:
Leica DISTO D2
Bosch GLM 50
The Winner Is:
I chose to go with the Leica DISTO D2 because of all of the recommendations it had on multiple websites, not just retail store but online forums and from tool review websites as well. Even though it didn't have the most number of reviews out of the five different laser tape measures it did have very positive feedback, nearly 93% of people gave it either a four or five star reviews on reviews sites.
Beyond retail websites reviews and ratings, it was constantly mentioned on forums by professionals (appraisers, contractors, realtors, etc.) from many different forum sources that target specific audiences that could use a laser tape on a regular basis. Some of these forums were garagejournal.com, jlconline.com and electriciansforum.co.uk. This was really just a short list of what I found as far as forums go and I love forum recommendations because they are unbiased opinions a lot of the time and will state the pros and cons of the product. Beware of too many recommendations on these types of sites though, it can be overwhelming at times!
I wanted to find a reasonably priced laser tape measure and had to decide what the cutoff price was going to be.
Less than 100 dollars seemed to be a good number but when I was sifting through the different options, found that there was quite a few choices! Noting this, I wanted to drop the price a bit and decided to go with sixty dollars and under AND IT WORKED OUT A LOT BETTER.
Narrowing Down The Results...
At this point, I had 54 different models to choose from and a little more weeding out to do. Next, I only wanted to see models that had an average overall rating of 4 stars and up, which left 29 models remaining. Next, I wanted to pick something that had a good number of people that left feedback/reviews for the product and I decided that a minimum of 20 would be the cutoff point. This narrowed it down even further and the last step was to read through the reviews and narrow it down to the top 5.
The Top 5 Were:
Bosch GLM 10
Bosch GLM 15
Bosch GLM 20
The Winner Is The Bosch GLM 20:
After looking into some of the background info on each tool, the winner is the Bosch GLM 20 due to its high praise from consumers, updated and current design, functionality and price. The GLM 15 had the best ratings to speak of but has been discontinued by Bosch so in the long run is not a good choice, the GLM 20 replaces this model.
The Stanley TLM65 and the Etekcity did not have as nearly the praise the GLM 20 or 15 had and are not as functional. The GLM 10 was also a great choice but the functionality was lacking a little bit compared to the GLM20. It was a tough choice but the Bosch GLM20 has the best characteristics making it the best choice for the most affordable laser tape measure.
This was a really tough one to research because a lot of the models do not work very well outside due to how hard it is to see the laser itself. There were tricks that people used, like putting a piece of reflective tape on their target, putty and all sorts of other things but I wanted to find a model that would work well without having to use these types of hacks. I did notice though that laser tape measures that work well, (or are at least better) outside are more expensive models ranging from $300-$1500, so just an initial observation.
I had to actually move right on to some recommendations on forums and read through many different reviews to see what models will perform outside. Some of these have zoom capabilities, some have cross-hairs to accurately shoot your target and some have kits that have additional accessories that will help you see the laser outdoors. This took several hours and I didn't find any models under the three hundred dollar mark, to be honest. If you don't want to spend this much money on an outdoor laser tape measure, then use some of the suggestions others have stated online.
The Process Of The Search:
This was a little different process than the rest of the laser measurers I looked at and I had to actually seek out which models were best for outside use. There was not a list for me to sift through, I had to essentially make my own list. Forum posts like this one really helped me out in the beginning to form my list. Another helpful place I found information on gathering my initial list was videos (like this one) and reviews from people on retail websites but I did have to look for them which I did by searching for key terms like "outside" and "laser tape measure" in Google.
After I had done a bit of research, I had a list of about 13 different models that proved to do well outside. Then I had to really take a look at which ones did better or had features that makes shooting outside easier. All of the laser measurers I found were pricey but that is what the research showed, better models with more sophisticated technology = better visibility outdoors.
The Process I Used:
The Model I Chose To Go With:
The Leica DISTO S910 was hands down the best model for outdoors. This was in part because of the two unique features it has built into it. The zoom feature with cross-hair capabilities made it the absolute best choice for pinpointing a target with virtually little visibility trouble. It did come with a larger price tag but is by far the best model for the category.
The two main features I talked about were part of the reason it toppled the Bosch GLR825 and the DISTO E7500i and it also has an optional kit as you can see, that makes shooting your target even easier and way more accurate.
Leica DISTO E7500i
Leica DISTO S910
For this specific category, I thought that have a couple of models listed by price would be the best way to break up some of the best laser distance measures for the money. The price ranges I decided to go with were: $20-$50 range, the $50-$100 range and the $100-$200 range. There are more models over the $200 mark and good ones at that but I just used these price ranges for my initial findings. I may add more models at a later date if more interest is wanted for those models of laser measures.
The Twenty To Fifty Dollar Range:
For the twenty-five to fifty dollar range, I am going to use my pick for the best affordable laser measure (the Bosch GLM20). I have already done the research and found this model to be the best fit for the category. The next price range I looked at was the fifty to one hundred dollar range and lined up the candidates to start my initial research...
The Fifty To One Hundred Dollar Range:
This was an easier task because it is a weird price range for laser distance measures so there wer not that many competitors withing the price range. I did look at some of the different price range categories ($50-$100 in this case) from 7 retail websites (Amazon, HD, Lowes, CPO, etc.) and made a rough list. Then I took out the models that had less than a 4 star rating, which left me with about 26 models. Out of these models, only about five manufacturers were familiar to me and the rest were less known and did not have a long track record of performance, so I discredited these as well.
After that, I had a dozen different models to look at which really narrowed down the results for me. The next step was the most time consuming and this was to look over the ratings, check the forums for feedback and see if there are any video testimonials or displays of functionality. After I did all of the required research (roughly 4.5 hours later) I came up with these three models:
Bosch GLM 35
Leica DISTO D1
The Model That Stood Out Was The:
The Dewalt DW03050 was at the top of the list as far as satisfied consumers, functionality and it was also at the top of the price range threshold for the category too. The Bosch GLM 35 and The Leica DISTO D1 had their own positives like ease of use and Bluetooth capabilities but I decided to go with the Dewalt on this one because of the outstanding ratings backing the product. Any one of the three choices would be a great decision though!
The One Hundred To Two Hundred Dollar Range:
There were only about 15 models that were in the price range of one hundred dollars to two hundred dollars, (with a decent rating) so it was a bit easier to look through some of the reviews and do the necessary investigation stuff because there was so much less to comb through.
Bosch GLM 50 C
Bosch GLM 80
The Winner Was:
The model that stood out was the Bosch GLM 50C was a big time winner and really stood out far and beyond every other model. The color lcd screen, the functionality and the ability to connect to a device were three of the top things that really stood out above other models. The distance ratings were pretty close (within reason, anyways) the BASE features were the the same, like all other distance measures out there but these three models stood out for their own reasons.
The Dewalt DW03101 had great functionality and a rugged design aspect that made it stand out because of the durability factor, among other things. The Bosch GLM 80 was another model that stood out in the $100-$200 price range because of the maximum distance possible and the screen rotating feature that moved it's orientation with the direction of how the user held the device, in addition to other feature rich elements that Bosch seems to use in their laser devices.