Don’t waste your money with a tape that is less than 25′. If you are a carpenter, especially an exterior carpenter, get a 30′. Occasionally I see managers carrying 12′ tapes. I don’t know—it seems goofy to me. At least 50% of everything that needs measuring is greater than 12′.
My personal favorite for years has always been the Stanley Fat Max. It operates smooth and has great staying power.
Recently I stood in Home Depot and did a quick experiment and I think the record for staying power has to go to the Dewalt. What I did was see how far I could reach the tape before it “broke”. For my study I used 25′ tapes. The Milwaukee went a mere 111″. The FatMax went 130″. Most impressive was the Dewalt that was able to reach a full 154″ before it fell to the floor.
I put the Irwin in my suggestions because Irwin has been pretty innovative in their hand tools as of late. I didn’t see it on the shelf at Depot, but someday hope to be able to check it out.