10 Best Body Fat Calipers Tested & Fully Reviewed

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It’s true that running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can do to promote weight loss, as it involves the entire body.

However, not all forms of weight loss are good! If an individual doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass then they will still look fat no matter how much weight they lose. For this reason, dieticians and kinesiologists stress the importance of measuring and fixing your body fat percentage. This is a measurement you can find by comparing the amount of fat on your body to the amount of muscle, and it one of the best determinants of your general level of fitness.

There are many methods of measuring body fat percentage, with some being more effective than others. The most effective method involves completely submerging your body underwater, but this is an expensive and time-consuming process that simply isn’t feasible for the vast majority of people. On the other end are special weighing scales that can provide rough calculations of your body fat based on data that you input, but these aren’t very accurate.

The best compromise between affordability, convenience, and accuracy in terms of measuring body fat percentage is to use a skin fold caliper. Also known as a body fat caliper, these tools measure your subcutaneous fat by pinching your skin in a few different locations. Once you’ve measured a few different parts of your body, this information can then be put into a formula that will determine your body fat percentage. If you’re interested in trying this method of measuring your body fat, here are the ten best calipers you can use!

Last Updated: March 27, 2018
By Richard Haberkost:

An exciting list of top performing calipers for those runners looking to invest in quality equipment. This is a strong choice of tried and tested products which are certain to give a high-quality performance. Browse this impressive selection and choose a product which matches your personal needs. We regularly review and encourage you to keep returning to watch for new or updated products here. Read and enjoy our criterion through which we research and select for you. If you're left with any questions, check our FAQs.

Harpenden
  • Harpenden
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Accurate
  • Price: See Here
Skyndex
  • Skyndex
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Well-made
  • Price: See Here
Creative Health Skin Guide
  • Creative Health Skin Guide
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Guide included
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Body Fat Calipers

 

Harpenden Skinfold

Here it is - the industry standard. If you ask any kinesiologist, dietician, or other medical professionals what kind of body fat caliper they use or recommend, the vast majority of them will mention the Harpenden brand.
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Construction

It may look a bit antiquated due to the fact that this tool was designed back in 1958, but it has truly stood the test of time. Extremely sturdy materials and a highly accurate measurement reader are just a few of the reasons why this is the best option around.

Features

Some extra features Harpenden have added to this product are a durable carrying case and a large booklet containing detailed instructions on calculating body fat percentage from measurements. These aren’t necessary to sell this product, which can definitely stand on its own, but the additions are nice regardless.

Accuracy

This is what Harpenden is known for, and it’s part of the reason why professionals consider it the best. They proudly boast a 99% accuracy rate with an insanely small margin of error, and to this day they have kept this promise.

Affordability

Considering just how high the quality of this caliper is, the higher price makes sense and can be justified. However, for casual fitness enthusiasts who just want a way to track their progress and aren’t incredibly concerned about accuracy, the asking price may not be worth it.

Popularity

Although many medical professionals and fitness gurus use this skinfold caliper, very few of them have left their opinions online for customers to see. The few individuals who have left reviews for this product are very satisfied with the results, as you may expect.
Pros
  • High durability
  • Amazing accuracy
  • Extremely popular
  • Bonus features
Cons
  • Not very affordable

Skyndex

While it may look like any other skinfold caliper, don’t let the Skyndex’s appearance fool you. This is one of the most well-made and frighteningly precise body fat measuring tools you can find.
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Construction

This measuring tool is made up of high-quality materials, contained in a portable and ergonomic gun-like shape. It resembles something you might see in an old science fiction movie, but this is no prop. It if perfectly capable of taking accurate measurements while withstanding wear and tear.

Features

While most other skinfold calipers require you to consult a separate resource in order to take your measurements and turn them into a body fat percentage calculation, the Skyndex can handle the entire process for you with its powerful electronic components.

Accuracy

It may take some practice using this machine to take consistently precise readings, as the possibility of human error is still present. However, once this element has been neutralized, the multiple measurement settings and body fat percentage calculations are accurate in a way that can’t be found with any other product.

Affordability

As you may expect from such an impeccably made caliper with complex measurement tools, this is absurdly expensive. In fact, the obscenely high cost of this product really only makes it a justifiable purchase as a professional expense, such as for a personal trainer or dietitian. Still, if you’re willing to pay the price this is well worth the investment.

Popularity

As you may expect from a measuring tool with a price point well into the triple digits, this isn’t the most popular caliper in the world. It can be difficult to hunt down reviews left by verified customers, but those who have shared their thoughts are very pleased with this product.
Pros
  • Comprehensive measurements
  • Well-made
  • Highly precise
Cons
  • Low popularity

Creative Health Skin Guide

Creative Health has designed a caliper meant to take the place of a much more expensive high end version. It follows many of the same design principles but takes some creative liberties in order to ensure its affordability without sacrificing accuracy.
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Construction

This skinfold caliper is made almost entirely of plastic, with the exception of a small metal spring on the arm. Fortunately, the design and thickness of the plastic used for this tool contributes to its durability, setting it above the majority of other plastic calipers in this regard. It even comes in alternate colors!

Features

In addition to the caliper, you will receive a booklet containing all the information you need to make accurate body fat measurements. While other calipers will offer vague guidelines, this helpful guide ensures you get the most accurate readings.

Accuracy

Speaking of accuracy, the design of this caliper is meant to emulate the same level of precision that you would find in a much more expensive skinfold measuring tool. The manufacturer, Creative Health, claims that they followed the same standards for accuracy as the top two picks on this list.

Affordability

Although it costs a few dollars more than some of the most affordable options on this list, these calipers are still a terrific value for the price. If you’re looking for a highly accurate measuring tool that doesn’t hurt your wallet, look no further than this.

Popularity

Customers love the high accuracy and low cost of this skinfold caliper, and have said so many times in the form of online reviews. In fact, one customer checked the accuracy of its measurements with specific tools in a workshop and found the results to be very satisfying.
Pros
  • Exceptional accuracy
  • Comprehensive guide included
  • Extremely popular
  • Highly affordable
Cons
  • Inferior build materials

Accu-Measure

Accu-Measure is one of the most recognizable and universally praised manufacturers of fitness accessories around. They are well known for creating high-quality products, such as this portable body fat caliper. Although there aren’t any gimmicks or extra features, this measuring tool is still highly praised.
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Construction

The overall construction of this caliper is a departure from the standard gun-like design, instead opting for something closer to a protractor. However, despite being made of lighter materials and featuring an unconventional style, these are still fully capable of taking accurate measurements.

Features

This is a fairly bare-bones model, without a great deal of gimmicks or add-ons to sell it further. One aspect that can be considered a feature is the lightweight and highly portable design, which enables this measuring tool to be transported easily and without any hassle.
Accuracy

With the aid of an instructional booklet included with every order, this caliper is able to take consistently accurate body fat measurements. Additionally, a small click can be heard when pinching skinfolds, helping to remove the possibility of human error.

Affordability

It makes sense that this product costs so little since it’s essentially two long pieces of plastic connected by a hinge at one end. However, don’t let its modest price fool you. This is still a very useful and accurate tool. Considering just how competently this caliper is designed and manufactured, the low cost is a steal.

Popularity

As is standard with any inexpensive fitness product sold online, hundreds of individuals have purchased these calipers and left their reviews online. The general opinion regarding this product seems to be that it delivers consistent results, while not necessarily the most accurate.
Pros
  • Highly affordable
  • Terrific design
  • Consistent readings
Cons
  • Flimsy material

Lange

The Lange line of body fat calipers come highly recommended by fitness enthusiasts and medical professionals alike. Their praises are mostly due to the high quality found in their construction and accuracy, but this sadly doesn’t seem to translate into its popularity among the general public.
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Construction

One of the reasons why serious fitness freaks swear by the Lange brand of skinfold caliper is the sturdiness and high quality of its construction. No expense has been spared in the manufacturing of this device, which even includes a protective case. If it is taken care of properly, you can expect this measuring tool to last decades without degradation.

Features

There really isn’t anything particularly noteworthy that Lange includes with this product as an extra feature. The overall quality of the core product speaks for itself. However, there are a few extra things added to this caliper’s package that can be beneficial. This includes a protective case and a calibration block to improve its accuracy.

Accuracy

Speaking of accuracy, this is the biggest selling point for this particular brand of body fat caliper. Thanks to the included calibration block, it’s easy to ensure that the readings you are taking are precise, removing any possibility of error on behalf of the machine.

Affordability

While the construction and accuracy of this body fat caliper is impressive, it comes at a significant cost. The price for this measuring tool is ridiculously high, making it only appealing to the most dedicated fitness freaks. It’s an unfortunate middle ground this caliper falls into, since casual exercise enthusiasts can be satisfied with cheaper alternatives, and serious trainers can pay a slight margin more for even more impressive measuring instruments.

Popularity

Although the overwhelming majority of customers who have purchased this skinfold caliper have stated it was worth the purchase, the total amount of verified customers is low. This is most likely because of the plethora of cheaper alternatives, and isn’t necessarily indicative of any shortcomings from the product itself.
Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Bonus calibration block
  • Terrific accuracy
Cons
  • High price

Digital LCD Caliper Analyzer

Sometimes you don’t want to drop a few hundred dollars on a piece of plastic that pinches your skin. In order to accommodate the needs of this particular demographic, this digital LCD caliper analyzer was made, offering an affordable and portable measuring tool for the common man.
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Construction

Some nice aspects of this measuring tool is its digital display, which can tell you specific skinfold measurements, and its very small size, which makes it highly portable. This results in an excellent piece of equipment you can fit in your gym back if you want to check your progress after a workout session.

Features

When measuring your bodyfat, the digital display can switch the measurement between inches and millimeters. That’s about the only special feature you get with this device; there’s nothing additional that really sells it more than its portability and digital display.

Accuracy

You simply aren’t going to get the same level of accuracy with this digital caliper that you would get with a decent analog caliper. Thanks to its inferior build quality there simply isn’t a guarantee that you will get consistent readings if you use this device. However, if you’re just looking to track changes in skinfolds and aren’t concerned with the exact measurements, this product can suffice.

Affordability

Because this is one of the most inexpensive skinfold calipers available for purchase, a lot of the shortcomings this caliper has can be forgiven. It will never replace a more sturdy and accurate full-size caliper, but its low cost makes it terrific for casual gym goers wanting to track their progress.

Popularity

Although this caliper’s extremely low price and high portability factor make it appealing to many, it’s difficult to find customer reviews for this product online. It may be because it’s a generic product that is resold by multiple vendors. However, some reviews have been left on a few websites that say the item ships in working condition and can be a bit difficult to use at first.
Pros
  • Highly portable
  • Multiple measurement settings
  • Extremely affordable
Cons
  • Limited accuracy

Care Touch

Care Touch has released a skinfold caliper that is geared to easy use and high versatility. An interesting style and bonus measuring tape help to provide multiple approaches to measuring your body, and a helpful chart is included for the inexperienced.
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Construction

This caliper is made entirely of plastic, which means that it is less durable than other calipers containing metal components. Couple that with its unique design and you have a much more fragile caliper that will require careful handling. On the bright side, the included measuring tape is fairly durable and has a protective container.

Features

The main draw of this caliper set that sets it apart from other products is the inclusion of measuring tape. This can help to determine other measurements besides basic body fat readings, which helps to further set these calipers apart. However, there are still other brands that bring more to the table.

Accuracy

Although the lack of a spring-loaded arm or electronic reader can detract slightly from the overall accuracy of this caliber, the additional measuring tape can help offset this setback. Using it in conjunction with the caliper and bonus measuring chart, a decent level of accuracy should be possible.

Affordability

Considering how much product you get for the price, this caliper set is a terrific deal. The caliper and measuring tape are a fraction of the cost that you would have to pay for many other brands, further reinforcing its value. However, you ultimately get what you pay for, with a less accurate and more fragile product.

Popularity

Due to its low cost and bonus accessories, it’s no surprise that so many customers have taken the plunge on this caliper. However, while the majority of reviews left online are positive, there is a significant minority who have expressed disappointment with the fragility and inaccuracy of this product.
Pros
  • Low cost
  • Bonus features
  • Interesting construction
Cons
  • Fragile
  • Inaccurate

Sequoia Fitness TrimCal 4000

Sequoia Fitness TrimCal 4000
Since it is designed for the sole purpose of measuring body fat, this skinfold caliper from Sequoia is terrific at accomplishing this very purpose. The instruction manual that is included in the package will help you figure out what to do and the spring-loaded arm will ensure all readings are accurate.
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Construction

Being constructed primarily of plastic, these calipers are comfortable when measuring skinfolds but not quite as durable as more serious models that predominately use metal for their build. The addition of a spring on the arm helps to maintain accurate measurements without the need for any sort of digital apparatus.

Features

There aren’t many additional features that come with these skinfold calipers. The design is spartan in nature, being intended only for taking body fat measurements. For this reason, customers may be turned off by the lack of calibration tools or carrying cases, but the attached instruction booklet will help them understand the sole purpose for this tool.

Accuracy

If measurements are taken with the aid of the included instruction booklet, they should be consistently accurate. The spring-loaded arm used to take these measurements helps in this regard, and many customers have remarked that they are satisfied with their results when using it.

Affordability

Due to the lack of any frills or gimmicks, these calipers are highly affordable. However, shrewd shoppers can find a few different products that are even less expensive than these, with a minimal loss in accuracy or features. Regardless, the price for these calipers is justified and a very good value.

Popularity

With a low price and recognizable brand name, many people have purchased these Sequoia calipers and left reviews. Out of the aggregate reviews left online, the vast majority have been positive, with customers praising the accuracy and sturdiness of this model. One minor complaint is that this measuring tool isn’t ambidextrous, meaning left-handed individuals will have a tougher time making measurements.
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable
  • Decent accuracy
Cons
  • Less durable material

Brown and Sharpe IP40

These high-end calipers from Brown and Sharpe are designed to offer highly precise width measurements that are accurate within a fraction of a fraction of an inch. For these purposes, the IP40 digital calipers are an excellent choice, especially for use in measuring things beside body fat. However, the fact that these aren’t intended for skinfold measurements make them less appealing for this purpose.
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Construction

Brown and Sharpe are well known for their extremely well-made measuring tools, and this caliper doesn’t fall far from that tree. Stainless steel construction ensures that this tool is highly durable and resistant to spills. Unfortunately, these calipers weren’t designed with the intention of being used for skinfold measurements, so the points used for making these measurements are very uncomfortable.

Features

In addition to a highly precise electronic measuring system, this high-end caliper has the ability to sync wirelessly with other measuring tools. A thumb wheel allows for meticulous adjustments in a convenient and comfortable way, and the placement of analog measurements along the side of the caliper offers a greater degree of accuracy.

Accuracy

In order to provide a highly accurate measurement every time, the Brown and Sharpe IP40 has both analog and electronic measuring tools. The LCD screen on the front provides readings that are accurate to three-thousandths of a millimeter, and the ruler-like markings along the side offer a failsafe and second opinion.

Affordability

This is a high-end measuring tool with a price to match. The value gained from this investment is certainly present, considering the very high build quality and precision. However, considering that these calipers aren’t even intended for use in taking body fat measurements, this higher price tag can be unjustified for individuals looking to only use calipers in this way. Because of that, these are only really affordable to individuals who want a caliper for other purposes in addition to skinfold measurements.

Popularity

Due to its highly specific purposes and high price tag, there aren’t very many customer reviews for this Brown and Sharpe product. However, those who have left feedback are very pleased with their product, admiring its durability and precision. One customer stated that they appreciate the accuracy of this electronic caliper despite the fact that they usually prefer the analog variety, which is a real testament to its quality.
Pros
  • Very accurate
  • Excellent durability
  • High versatility
Cons
  • Not intended for skinfold measuring

Frankford Arsenal

Frankford have designed an excellent set of measuring calipers that are both highly affordable and packed with appealing features. It certainly shouldn’t be your first choice for making skinfold measurements, but the level of accuracy offered with this product can certainly provide that service.
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Construction

One important thing to note about this set is that it wasn’t designed for use as a bodyfat caliper. Instead, this is a standard measuring caliper for use in construction and design. Because of this, you can expect a high level of build quality but also a high level of discomfort when pinching your skin to take measurements.

Features

In order to provide highly precise measurements, the Frankford Arsenal Electronic Caliper comes with features for this purpose. The electronic screen that displays measurements can be switched between imperial and metric readings, and a protective case will prevent damage that can throw off its calibration.

Accuracy

Being designed to measure width for the purposes of engineering and design, these calipers are accurate to within one one-thousandth of an inch. This means that so long as you are able to measure the same spot every time, you will receive a consistent and highly accurate body fat measurement.

Affordability

Although there are a few cheaper calipers on the market, the amount of features and level of build quality offered by this set more than justifies the slight price boost. These calipers can also be used for taking measurements other than body fat, which adds to the overall value.

Popularity

Many customers have purchased these calipers and left reviews singing its praises. Some common compliments regarding the Frankford Arsenal is that it can deliver consistently accurate measurements and how simple it is to use. However, no one has mentioned their experience using it to measure body fat.
Pros
  • Highly accurate
  • Very affordable
  • Decent quality
Cons
  • Uncomfortable

 

The Criteria We Used to Determine the Best Body Fat Calipers

Several different factors were considered when determining the best skinfold calipers on this list. Here’s a breakdown of the criteria used for the final ranking placement:

Construction

When determining the quality of a specific caliper’s construction, two particular aspects are considered. The first is the quality of materials used in the construction; metal and glass are good, while plastic is not so good. Additional points are awarded to any electronic components. The second aspect is how comfortable the caliper is to use. Some of the calipers on this list are made of exceptionally high-quality materials but are uncomfortable to use when measuring your skin folds, so they have much lower rankings on the list.

Features

While a skinfold caliper really only needs an arm to pinch skin and markings to determine measurements, additional features can improve their effectiveness as a product and their ranking on this list. For example, any product that includes a guide to help you determine body fat percentage from the measurements made gains extra points in this category. Other features that result in higher ratings include a carrying case, electronic measuring tools, and any additional measuring material such as tape.

Accuracy

Even though you will never get the same 1:1 level of accuracy with a body fat caliper that you would with a hydrostatic body fat tester, it’s still important that the manufacturers of skinfold calipers put some thought into how precise their measurements are. This category doesn’t favor analog or electronic measuring calipers, as both kinds can vary wildly in terms of accuracy. In addition to general accuracy in measurements, this factor also evaluates how easy it is to make consistent measurements in the same area.

Affordability

One of the biggest reasons for choosing a body fat caliper over hydrostatic body fat testing is the lower cost. This judgment criterion determines how affordable each product is when compared to other products on the list and available for purchase in general. However, very expensive products can still be affordable if the features, construction, or accuracy they have matches the dollar value they are listed for. This makes this category a determinant of cost as well as value.

Popularity

With some of the lesser-known brands and lower costing products, the level of quality of the final product may not match the claims the manufacturers are making online. You always run the risk of being scammed when shopping online, so this category is focused on customer feedback. If a product has more verified reviews and purchases, they can be considered popular and therefore trustworthy. Just keep in mind that some of the calipers on this list are less popular in terms of reviews from online retailers, but they are still high-quality products that come highly recommended.

Other Important Factors to Consider

While the factors listed above are all that you need to come to an informed decision when determining what body fat caliper to purchase, there may be some special situations that require the evaluation of alternative factors. For the benefit of the individuals who fall into these special cases, here are some additional criteria worth considering before making a purchase.

Warranty

For some of the less expensive products on this list, the option to purchase an extended warranty or the addition of a warranty with the initial purchase isn’t a big concern. However, many of the calibers listed in this buying guide can cost several hundred dollars. These high-end products are usually very resilient to damage, but the possibility of breakage is always present. For customers who are worried about the lifespan of their expensive measuring tools, looking into warranty options may help you come to a decision.

Units of Measurement

If you are in the United States, you will probably want to find a measuring tool that works in Imperial units such as inches. If you live in Europe or Australia on the other hand, the ideal measuring tool for you may use the metric system instead. When picking the right caliper for you, it’s worth considering if the measurements are made in inches or millimeters. Some of the calibers listed here offer the ability to measure in both formats interchangeably, but others will limit your options to one of the two.

FAQs

Q: Can I measure my body fat with a non-skinfold measuring caliper?

A: It is technically possible to measure your body fat with a hardware caliper that isn’t intended to be used in that way. However, it is highly discouraged due to the fact that the clips on these measuring tools are not designed for comfort, so the potential for pain and bleeding is present when pinching your skin with these tools.

Q: Can I measure my body fat without any kind of caliper at all?

A: It is possible to perform rudimentary skinfold measurements without the aid of any caliper whatsoever. In order to do this, you or a partner would simply pinch a section of your skin and measure the length with a ruler or some measuring tape. While this can be helpful for measuring progress in weight loss, this will not be nearly as accurate as the measurements made with an actual skinfold caliper.

Q: Do I need a partner to measure my body with a caliper?

A: It is recommended that you have a friend or medical professional help you with making skinfold measurements in order to ensure that they are accurate and is measured from the right spots on your body. However, it is still possible for you to perform these measurements by yourself, although it will be a bit more difficult.

Q: What formula should I use to determine my body fat percentage?

A: There are many different formulas you can use to determine your body fat percentage with skinfold calipers. The most common method is the Jackson & Pollock method, which involves inputting measurements from 7 different points on your body. If your caliper comes with a guide, follow their suggested formula. Otherwise, you can find the right formula for you by searching online or talking to a medical professional.

Q: How many places on my body should I measure with a caliper?

A: Depending on what formula you are using to determine your body fat percentage, you can measure anywhere from 4 to 12 different points on the body. The most popular method, Jackson & Pollock, measures seven points: your chest area, your abdominal area, your thigh, your tricep, your subscapular area, your suprailiac area, and your midaxillary area.

Q: What is a healthy body fat percentage to have?

A: What constitutes a healthy body fat percentage varies from person to person. Your age and gender play big roles in determining whether or not a certain level is considered healthy or unhealthy. For young men, anything between 5% to 25% is considered healthy, with anything above 25% being considered obese. As they get older, the healthy range will increase to around 35%. For young women, anywhere from 10% to 30% is considered healthy, with anything above being classified as obesity. As they get older, the healthy range increases to 37%.

 

Sources

  1. Shannon Clark, The Idiot's Guide To Testing Your Body Fat!, Article, Feb 05, 2016
  2. Doug Lawrenson, How To Measure Your Body Fat % Using Calipers, Article,
  3. Michele Dolan, How to Use Body Fat Calipers, Encyclopedia article, Jul 23, 2017
  4. HealthScene Fitness, Body Fat Calipers, Article,
  5. Ryan Walters, 4 Reasons Calipers Fail to Give Accurate Body Fat Results, Article, Jul 29, 2015
  6. Exercise Equipment Review, A Guide to Choosing and Using Body Fat Calipers, Article,
  7. FitnessWave, Hydrostatic Body Fat Testing, Article,
  8. New Health Advisor, Charts of Body Fat Percentage by Gender and Age, Article, Jan 01, 2014
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