Formula Medical Group
Apple Valley, CA

James Krider, MD

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Skinfold calipers
 There are many varieties of skinfold calibers ranging in price from less than $10 to $500. For the home, if you are going to do skinfold measurements, I would recommend an inexpensive unit such as the Accu-Measure or fat control. What's important is not so much the actual value, but the change in that value over time. These units can provide that information in a fairly reliable manner.

The next step would be to have the same accuracy, but the convenience of a computer to record the numbers and do some calculations for you. The Fat Track Digital would be in this category.

The next level of accuracy would be a unit that provides a relatively consistent amount of pressure with spring loaded levers. The Fat Gun, Body Calipers, or Lafayette Skinfold Caliper II would be the best choices in this category.

Finally, if you just need to have the best, then the Lange or Harpenden Calipers would the best choice.

Remember, the best you can hope for is 3-4% accuracy and only if you are lean or slightly overweight. Calipers do not give reliable numbers for obese persons with a BMI over 30.


A simple caliber produced by Fat Control, Inc. They claim that the caliber is accurate to within 1 mm of professional calibers. On their site the caliber is included with a book, “Fat, Fat, Fat” and sells for $24.95. The book by itself is $15, so I guess the caliber is around $10.


Accu-Measure (AM). Approximately $13.

Similar in design to the Fat Control model above. They have one research article comparing the AM to Lange calipers with comparable results. This study was done on college students with a range of body fat from 6.6% to 29.5% with an average of about 13% for men and 17% for women.

Skinfold Caliper

Slim Guide. This unit uses springs to exert the appropriate pressure. Runs about $20

Fat Track Caliper

Fat Track Digital Skin Caliper. Seen from $27 to $50.

Same manufacturer of the Accu-Measure. This unit can be purchased for roughly $27 packaged with the MyoTape tape measure.

Fat Gun

The Fat Gun. About $65 - $76.

Body Caliper

Body Caliper. About $50.


States that in a study at the University of New Mexico it compared favorably to the Harpenden and Lang calipers. [Article not reviewed by me]


Lange Caliper

Lange Caliper by Beta Technology sells between $200 and $250..


This is a high end grade unit used in schools, colleges, fitness centers and doctor offices. It is accurate to +/- 1mm. This unit has pivotal tips. The levers are spring loaded and has low friction bearings to provide constant pressure throughout the operating range.

Skyndex Caliper

Skyndex Caliper. $250 (no computer) - $500 (with computer and equations.


An electronic caliper that records the skin fold measurements and computes the body fat. It is preprogrammed with one of three different equations: Durnin formula (age 17-50, 4 sites); Jackson-Pollock (age 18-62, 3 sites); or Slaughter-Lohman (children age 8-18, 2 sites).

Harpenden Caliper

Harpenden Caliper. Around $425.


This is the research grade caliper and is accurate to +/- 0.2mm and read to the nearest 0.1mm. Most the data, equations, and tables have been developed with this caliper.

Lafayette Caliper

Lafayette Skinfold Caliper #1127A. $440.


Designed with the assistance of Dr. Andrew Jackson, co-author of the Jackson-Pollock skinfold formulas. This unit has an adjustable zero-point and a large measurement range of 0-100 mm.

Lafayette Skinfold Caliper II #1128 Around $90.

A new caliper that can measure 0-100mm. It has spring-loaded arms and pivoting tips.


This article was last reviewed February 6, 2006 by Dr. James Krider.

BIA test preparation
BIA home scales
Body circumference
Body circ technique
Body compartments
Body comp methods
Body measurements
Skinfold technique
Skinfold calipers

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