In this article I want to review the best skin fold calipers on the market at the moment. Skin fold calipers basically measure your body fat. This method of body fat measuring requires a calibrated set of calipers (like a pair of pincers) to measure folds of skin at different points of the body. Depending on the method used and the accuracy of results desired there can be anywhere from 4 to 12 skin fold points on the body. These readings are then either referenced against norm charts or fed into a computer algoritm to calculate total body fat for the person being measured. While not 100% accurate (not many methods are), it is an easy and quick test to administer and only requires some skill on the part of the assesor. Calipers are usually small and light weight and can easily be carried so can be used almost anywhere.
Idass Skinfold Calipers by Harpenden
My very favourite set of calipers and the ones I use on my private clients are my tried and trusted Harpenden calipers. These were given to me by a friend as a thank you gift over 10 years ago and still work with perfect precision to this day (they’ve squidged a lot of fat!). With high precision springs the calibration on these calipers is amazing. It measures down to 0.2 millimetres which is sensitive enough to track even small changes in body fat composition. The circular display is large and clean looking so you can read the dial easily. The handles are comfortable and non slip as you will generally only be holding the calipers in one hand. It comes in a hard shell box, packed in strong foam which protects the very sensitive springs of the caliper. Mine are in a hard black plastic box but the more modern ones come in smart wooden case which I think looks better. The only downside to these calipers is the price but as with everything in life you get what you pay for. I will qualify it by saying that even though I didn’t pay for mine, they were a gift, after having used them for so long I would never go back to one of the inferior models, if I had the choice. For as long as I could afford to but them, this pair of calipers would be my go to choice every time!
Skinfold Calipers by Micro Trader
These wre the first calipers I trained with back in the 90s when I was starting out. They are a solid option when spending hundreds of pounds on a top of the range set is not an option. The calibration is reasonable and will allow enough precision to measure body fat changes to a reasonably accurate degree. They are very light weight and quite durable and come in a bright white design which I like, it can be conveniently stored in a small bag or box for easy transportation if needed. The manual that comes with it is very basic but it does allow you to calculate body fat from the four site measurement approach which gives you a definitive (although not as accurate) reading. The calibration is set to 1mm which is OK but when you need a more accurate measurement, then this caliper is lacking. However, for the price it a very good option, just don’t rely on the instructions from the manual. You’d be better watching a Youtube video on how to measure the body skinfolds to get the overall fat reading. Nostalgia aside this is one of the best choices at the lower price point mark.
Fat Track Pro Digital Skinfold Caliper
This device comes with a digital display for all those who don’t want to read a dial! This device calculates both body fat and lean mass and can record up to 50 readings on the actual device itself. The software that comes with it is handy (operates on Windows) and allows you to track your (or your clients) progress over time. It works to the 3 or 7 site formula (all calculated by the device) so is not as accurate as some other methods but with the software is much more hands off (pardon the pun!). I really like the hard case that it is stored in which makes it very convenient to carry around, should you need. The device has a nice LCD display, easy button functionality and a simple menu navigation system for ease of use. To get reading s from this caliper will require less skill by the handler which along with the software which performs all of the calculations means this is a great hands off option but that obviously comes with a heftier price tag. If you have more money to invest and don’t necessarily want to become skilled at measuring numerous sites on the body then this is a really sound option.
Accu Measure Skinfold Calipers
These calipers are at the lower end of both price and accuracy bands but they do a half decent job of measuring the necessary skinfolds. I wouldn’t recommned these for any professionals but they are handy to use at home on friends or family (or yourself). They are like a pair of pincers and the grab the skin easily. They are very lightweight and easy to store in a drawer and will last for a very long time as there are no springs or vital measurements to maintain. These are a solid budget end choice.
Baseline Skinfold Caliper
This is another higher quality product that comes in a nice protective case. The grip style is different than many of the other calipers but the sensitivity is first rate giving accurate readings. The tables that come with the product are a useful visible reference to give quick results without the need to run the readings through any software (although they won’t be as accurate). As a mid range product this is a solid choice.
I am somewhat biased but my recommendation if you can afford it would be the Idass Harpenden product every time. If that’s out of your budget then the Micro Trader caliper will give you the basic readings that you need with a very affordable price tag.