Last Updated on April 7, 2020
Any tradesman will tell you that starting on a plumb, level, and square foundation really makes work easier. And every tradesman can tell you pain-in-the-neck stories of accommodating for the sloppy workmanship of the previous guy. So it’s the lack of using good tools like the Kapro Condor box level, right?
Well, sometimes there are simply age or settlement issues. But such is the nature of making work as near-perfect as possible in an imperfect world. For its part in correcting an imperfect world, we’re taking a look at the 24-inch Kapro Condor Box Level with OptiVision.
The Kapro Condor box level features Kapro’s patented shockproof and UV-resistant OptiVision vials. They are designed to make the bubble definition easier to see – up to 8 times easier, the company claims. I’m not sure how one quantifies such a thing, but we’re all for anything that increases accuracy. We’ll see how it works in the field. Gradient lines at 1% and 2% are inside the vial’s casing so they won’t wear off.
You’ll also notice that the Condor doesn’t have a typical box level design with one rounded top edge. Kapro calls this a tri-surface horizontal vial. It gives the level more positioning and viewing options.
The PlumbSite Dual View vertical vial allows the user to more easily measure plumb of a finished surface. It initially just seems like a top-view window but it’s a bit more clever than that. It employs a mirror to project the plumb vial into the PlumbSite window. With a traditional level, you’d have to hold level vertically against the wall and look it from the side. Kapro’s idea is that in doing so, you have to press your shoulder and head/face up against the wall to look at the vial – less than optimal for accuracy and comfort. At first, we thought this was a solution in a need of a problem, but we now see its potential.
Kapro vials are quality tested and the Condor is accuracy assured by the German testing institute Versuchs und Prüfanstalt Remscheid, as evidenced by its VPA accuracy certification. While the US is pretty unfamiliar with this certification, it guarantees accuracy to 0.0005 inches per inch, right in line with the best Empire Levels we have a tendency to turn to. There’s likely more user inaccuracy in a measurement than that, so at least we know we can trust the level!
Other Notable Features
A few of the features are what you’d expect from a premium level: precision milled edges (just the bottom due to the Condor’s tri-surface top), rubber handhold, rubberized end caps, and rare earth magnets on some of the longer versions (our 24″ does not have magnets).
The rubberized Wall Grip feature on both the front and back face is unusual for a level of this size – but we like the idea! It gives the Kapro Condor Box Level some traction on walls to prevent slipping from level.
That’s The Spirit (Level)
There’s no substitute for a level when you’re framing or any of the other thousands of tasks involved in building and remodeling. That’s why the spirit – or bubble – level design remains virtually unchanged over hundreds of years. And that’s why we can put the Kapro Condor box level to quick use right away with some framing as well ensuring that some vinyl siding runs are right.
There’s little doubt the Kapro Condor box level is sturdily built even if it’s just a tad heavy. No big deal, really, though you may feel it on longer models. The rounded top edge makes it a little more comfortable in the hand, too. While longer levels (48″ or so) can reveal more about a surface by spanning more of it, sometimes they simply don’t fit. We like the 24-inch version of the Condor as a good compromise between standard 48″ and moving down to a torpedo level.
Fill My Eyes With That Optivision
Most premium level manufacturers take great pains to make sure vial visibility is excellent – and then take great pains to tell you about it! So it’s easy to think that claims about it have just become marketing jargon. But Kapro’s OptiVision is the real deal – the contrast between the white and the red is easy on the eyes, even in brighter light.
The rounded top/bridge design has a small but noteworthy drawback: it can only be seen from one side! Whereas most any box level is reversible, the Kapro Condor box level isn’t. It has a distinguished “front” and “back”. You might find it slightly inconvenient to flip the level over to see the middle vial. Then again, Kapro might consider the tri-surface versatility makes up for this irreversibility. The tri-surface certainly comes in handy as you can effectively “curve” the level around a corner for more visibility.
Regardless, the more you use the Condor, the more your hand will get used to the feel of the top and you’ll begin rotating the level around to the visible side instinctively.
On The Mark
To us, the standout innovation is the PlumbSite. The marketing video’s claim that it can prevent injury makes us wonder just how big an issue it really is, but it doesn’t take away from the convenience PlumbSite adds to the Condor’s use. It’s particularly helpful on finished surfaces to find plumb. It’s not necessary to lean in or against a wall to see the vial, you simply turn the level and look through the top view window.
The Bottom Line
The Pro level market is a bit of a crowded space with traditional designs, digital options, lasers, and a bunch of other choices. To make an impression, a manufacturer has to do something outside the box, and we think Kapro has done that. If the non-reversible design isn’t a deal-breaker for you, we think the Kapro Condor box level’s build quality, tri-surface angle, wall grips, OptiVision, and especially PlumbSite make it a serious contender for your next layout tool purchase.
Kapro Condor Box Level with OptiVision Features
- Solid acrylic, shockproof vials
- OptiVision Red horizontal vial creates highly visible red bubble edges, for exact placement between the reading lines and optimal vision in bright & low light
- Tilted, tri-surface horizontal vial: direct line of sight for easy viewing and superior vial protection
- Gradient lines inside the horizontal vial for measuring slopes at 1% and 2% grade
- Plumb Site Dual-View vial with RedEffect for a clear plumb view
- Reinforced profile with bridge at horizontal vial for increased strength and a continuous marking edge
- Finely milled surface on lengths up to 48 inches
- Ergo Grip rubber handle with wall-grip feature
- Oversized, shock-absorbing rubber end caps
- Available with rare-earth magnets
Kapro Condor Box Level with OptiVision Specifications
- Model Number: 905-41-24
- Lengths Available (inches): 24, 32, 36, 40, 48, 60, 72, 80, 96
- Accuracy: <0.0005-inch
- Price: $32.52