An Accurate, Affordable Laser Distance Measurer That Fits in Your Pocket

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See how this Family Handyman Approved laser measurer measured up.

Everyone has struggled with a tape measure at some point. Often it happens high up on a ladder when you’re trying to measure an unusually wide span. And sometimes you discover too late that the tape measure you brought isn’t long enough.

Decades ago, Leica, an industry leader in cameras and optics technology, developed a laser distance measurer that was uncomfortably large and expensive. Since then, laser distance measures have become more affordable and compact.

The Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer caught my attention while I strolled the aisles of my neighborhood home center. Intriguingly small and reasonably priced, I decided to test one.

What is The Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer?

The Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer is an ultra compact device capable of measuring distances up to 55 feet. With a single button, the 1-1/2-in. by 2-1/2-in. unit shoots a red laser at targets to determine their distance. It claims its measurements are accurate to within 1/4-inch. And it features an on-board, micro-USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Out of the package, I’m still in awe of how compact this tool is — about a quarter of the size of my cell phone screen. Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer comes with a short micro-USB cord and an instruction manual. As soon as I took it out of the package, I was shooting measurements off. It’s as simple and foolproof as it gets.

The Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer lets you pick from four units of measurement according to your preferences: inches, feet and inches, feet as decimals, or meters as decimals.

How We Tested It

Craftsman Ldm next to a yellow tape measure showing it is 2.5 inches longFamily Handyman

I strolled around the house and office with a traditional 30-foot tape measure, a 100-foot fabric tape measure and the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer, getting every available measurement I could. I used them side by side in rooms with different light conditions, on multiple surfaces and at as many distances as possible.

I performed a side-by-side comparison of 50 measurements taken with the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer and the tape measures. I wanted to determine its accuracy and battery life in a real-life situation.

How It Works

Let’s take a closer look at how the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer, or any laser distance measurer for that matter, actually works.

Laser distance measurers send flashes of laser light. When light reflects off a solid object, the device measures the time it takes for the light to return. That’s how the processor calculates distance.

Performance

The laser distance measurer worked precisely as advertised. I recorded 50 measurements, and it was right a little more than 50% of the time (27 out of 50). Across the 23 discrepancies, the average difference was .146 inches, or a bit over 1/8-inch.

I assumed the laser distance measurer and tape measure would differ most at longer distances. As it turned out, that wasn’t the case. Typically, discrepancies were between 1/16-in. and 3/16-in., plus or minus the tape measure’s value. These differences came at many distances, from less than four feet to more than 45-feet. A quarter-inch discrepancy was rare at any distance.

I love that you can save your measurement on the screen with just one extra push of the button. Press once to take a measurement. When you push it again, the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer saves the measurement and displays on the screen for a minute so you can write it down.

The tool is a pleasure to use. The clear backlit readout is easy to read even in low light conditions. And after 50 measurements, the small battery indicator still showed two-thirds full.

Value

Laser distance measurers can cost hundreds of dollars. Investing in such a device will give you more precise measurement accuracy.

However, the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer is good enough if all you want to do is calculate flooring costs or paint quantities. For less than $35 and with an onboard rechargeable battery, no DIYer or professional should be without one.

Pros

  • Compact;
  • Rechargeable battery;
  • Clear backlit display;
  • Multiple measurement units;
  • Saves measurements on display;
  • Long-lasting battery;
  • Affordable.

Cons

  • Short charging cable (five inches);
  • Old-fashioned micro-USB charging port.

FAQ

Q: Is the measurement taken from the top or bottom of the device? Could this be switched?

A: It is only possible to measure distance from the bottom of the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer. This setting cannot be changed.

Q: Is the tool capable of calculating square footage?

A: You only get measurements from it. You’ll have to calculate the square footage yourself.

Final Verdict

I’ve kept a tape measure bouncing in the center console of my truck for more than a decade and a half now. I used it often at furniture stores or lumber yards, and to help friends and family with layout projects and plans. Now I carry the Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer. It’s extremely compact, precise, easy to use and rechargeable. No contractor, painter, interior designer or DIY enthusiast should be without one.

Where to Buy

Craftsman Ldmvia merchant

The Craftsman Pocket Laser Distance Measurer is available at Lowe’s.

Buy Now

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Ethan O'Donnell
Ethan is Family Handyman’s go-to editor for finding and testing the latest and greatest products, tools, and gear in the DIY space. Ethan has experience building custom woodwork, sets, props, and exhibits. Over the course of his career, he has completed projects for several Fortune 500 companies as well as for the United States Park Service. During his spare time, he likes to ride anything on two wheels, read, draw, or spend time with friends discussing recent Formula 1 events.