Best Garden Hoses for More Than Just Your Garden

Bradley Ford
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

From Popular Mechanics

All garden hoses are not created equal. While generally referred to as garden hoses, hoses like these are designed for a multitude of uses, many of which have nothing to do with a garden. On this list you’ll find hoses for connecting an RV to a potable water source, watering hanging planters, washing a vehicle, janitorial operations, watering a lawn or garden, or even feeding/watering livestock. The hoses listed here are some of the best available for any type of use. Check out some of our top picks below, or scroll down for more in-depth reviews of these and other options, plus buying advice.


What You Need to Know About Garden Hoses

If you’ve ever wrestled with a garden hose, you know how unwieldy they can be. They’re heavy, difficult to drag around, and seem to kink just as you turn on the water. The trend is toward lightweight, kink-resistant hoses that are designed to address these common complaints.

Weight
There are two simple ways to reduce the weight of a garden hose—make it out of lighter material or use less material by reducing the hose’s diameter or wall thickness. A smaller diameter weighs less, but it also holds less water, making it lighter while you’re using it too. Of the 50-foot hoses we tested, the smallest diameter was 7⁄16 inches, which held 3.25 pounds of water. The half-inch hose and a ⅝-inch hose held 73 and 104 percent more water by weight, respectively.

Materials
Hoses are typically made of rubber, rubber hybrids, vinyl, or polyurethane. Rubber tends to be more flexible regardless of temperature, but it’s also the heaviest. Polyurethane and hybrids tend to be more kink resistant, and lighter. Vinyl, used for inexpensive hoses, is heavier, prone to kinking, and often has a strong coil “memory.” Polyurethane and hybrid hoses have less coil memory, and will lay flatter as temperatures rise, or if used in the sunlight.

There’s a newer variety of hose that has a very thin, flexible lining inside a woven, fiber jacket. These hoses are very flexible, do not have any coil memory, and rarely kink as a result. Some of these hoses expand both in length and diameter when pressurized with water, until the liner is restricted by the woven jacket. These types of hoses are convenient to store since they collapse when the water is turned off and pressure is released.

Kinks
Virtually all hoses will kink, even the kink-proof kind. The best way to prevent kinks is to use a hose reel—this allows the hose to roll up, or unroll, without twisting. If you pull a hose straight from a coil, on the ground, or hanging on a wall, it will kink eventually, as the coils tighten and get smaller. This can be avoided to some extent by twisting the hose as you drag it out.

Drinking Water
If you or your animals drink water from the hose, if you fill kids’ swimming pools, or if you connect to an RV, you’ll want to get a hose approved by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). Ordinary, or unapproved, hoses can leach lead, BPA, or phthalates into the water as it passes through them.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab

How We Tested These Garden Hoses

The hoses on this list have been thoroughly vetted and evaluated by our test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience with these hoses to determine the best options. We evaluated them based on dry weight, friction when dragged, kink resistance, as well as rate of flow. To measure friction, we used a spring scale attached to the hoses, and dragged them, while full of water, across grass and concrete. Flow rate was determined by attaching each hose directly to a faucet, and with no restriction, used a stopwatch to time filling a five-gallon bucket. Finally, for the hoses that claimed to have crush-resistant couplings, we drove a 4,500-pound truck over the connected couplings on a paved surface. If you need a new hose, chances are very good that you’ll find one on this list to suit your needs.

―EDITORS’ CHOICE―

The Perfect Garden Hose

Inside dia. : ⅝ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : Thermoplastic elastomer
Weight: 6.8 lb | Flow rate: 538 gph | Burst strength: 300 psi

We have to admit, when we first saw The Perfect Garden Hose, we thought it looked a little wonky. So, we got one in to see if it was as good as they say. Wonky looking or not, the hose surprised us—it’s light, stiff, and darn near impossible to kink, even when we were trying. The unique design incorporates a helix made of a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), wrapped around the outside of the hose. This stiff material prevents the hose from collapsing when folded over on itself, making it very difficult to interrupt the water flow. The TPE also makes The Perfect Garden Hose relatively light for its size. Although the outside of the hose has pronounced ridges, it dragged much easier than we expected, requiring only 6.8 pounds of force to pull across concrete. On grass it took a little more effort, but still low, at 8.1 pounds, to drag. The Perfect Garden Hose comes with nice thick brass fittings that will withstand the weight of most vehicles, although the brass collar over the hose may deform a little. With a flow rate of over 500 gallons per minute, the hose would be great for anyone who needs to move some water and has been stymied by kinks in the past.

―PROFESSIONAL GRADE―

Stanley Fatmax

Inside dia. : ⅝ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : polyurethane/PVC
Weight: 7.8 lb | Flow rate: 587.3 gph | Burst strength: 500 psi

Stanley’s Fatmax hose has all the attributes of a professional-quality hose. It has a larger inside diameter to move more water. In fact, at 587.3 gallons per minute, it has the highest flow rate of any ⅝-inch hose we’ve tested. While the hose fittings aren’t marketed as crushproof, the large-diameter swivel grips protected the fittings when we drove over them with a 4,500-pound truck—the swivel grips also make it easy to connect the fittings tightly. We liked the soft, flexible feel of the polyurethane and PVC hose, as well as the minimal memory it displayed. This made coiling and uncoiling the hose go a lot smoother. During testing, we found it tends to twist out of tight coils before it kinks. Paying attention and giving the hose a twist often helped it uncoil quicker. A bigger hose does hold more water, so it was no surprise the Fatmax took a little more effort to drag out to full length—on concrete it took 9 pounds of force, while on grass it was a little less, at 8.6. Stanley’s Fatmax is a good choice for folks who are less concerned about weight and more concerned about durability and moving a lot of water—because of the high flow rate, it would be a good choice to use with a pressure washer.

―BEST FLOW RATE―

BluBird Ag-Lite

Inside dia.: ¾ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : Virgin rubber
Weight: 9.81 lb | Flow rate: 650.2 gph | Burst strength: 500 psi


BluBird’s Ag-Lite rubber hose is about the burliest hose you’ll be able to find. Real rubber hoses tend to weigh a lot more than any other material, but the folks at BluBird managed to reduce the weight by 20 percent compared to other rubber hoses. The model we tested had a ¾-inch inner diameter, the biggest in this test, which means it holds a lot of water. That makes the hose heavier to handle and drag when filled; it took 15.3 pounds of force to pull it out to full length on grass. On concrete sidewalk, it dragged it a little easier, requiring 12.4 pounds. The upside to this is that it’s because the hose carries a lot of water. We measured the flow through it, at 650 gallons per hour, 17 percent more than the next closest hose in this test. The heavy brass hose fittings are plated with chrome which will stand up to plenty of abuse. One notable advantage of rubber hoses is that they remain flexible through a wide temperature range, so that they’re not too stiff in the cold, or too soft in the summer. The Ag-Lite is rated to handle water up to 212°, so it’s good for washing down equipment in the winter or janitorial tasks. If taken care of properly, a rubber hose can last for years—BluBird is so confident in its durability, that it offers a 10-year warranty.

―EASIEST TO SCREW ON SPIGOT―

FlexZilla SwivelGrip

Inside dia. : ⅝ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : Hybrid Polymer
Weight: 7.3 lb | Flow rate: 513 gph | Burst strength: n/a

Instead of beefing up their hose, the folks at FlexZilla looked elsewhere to solve the kinking problem. The SwivelGrip, true to its name, allows the hose to twist, inside the grip, as it is pulled out from a coil on the ground. So, instead of watching the hose and twisting it as it uncoils, it can just be pulled straight out with each loop untwisting on its own. In practice, we did have an occasional loop that tightened, producing a kink, but continued pulling allowed it to correct itself. On the spigot end, the SwivelGrip’s swivel grip makes screwing on the hose fitting really easy. It was one of the heavier hoses in our drag test, taking 10.1 pounds of force to pull across concrete and 12.2 to pull across grass. It is important to note that it’s one of the larger-diameter hose so it does hold more water than the smaller ones. The large hose fittings are made of aluminum alloy and can withstand being driven over, although the plastic grip does start to get abraded being used/dragged around on pavement. Overall it’s a great hose for homeowners, that nearly eliminates some of the hose hassles we’ve come to live with. Finally, the SwivelGrip is drinking water safe, so there is no worry getting a drink on a hot day of yardwork.

―MOST COMPACT―

GrowGreen Expandable Hose


Inside dia. : Variable | Length : 50 ft | Material : Latex, polyester
Weight: 2.2 lb | Flow rate: 262.7 gph | Burst strength: n/a

The GrowGreen Expandable hose almost seemed like a novelty at first. But, the convenience of the weight, storage size, and the nice brass coupling with shut-off valve convinced us otherwise. This was the easiest hose to drag out to full extension at 50 feet, taking 2.3 pounds of force on concrete and 3.5 pounds on grass. This hose is primarily designed for watering tasks, but we also dragged it on unsealed pavement and found that the polyester casing is susceptible to abrasion and pilling. So, it isn’t ideal for washing cars in the driveway. The GrowGreen hose starts out at 17 feet long and once pressurized, expands to full length. The hose comes with a spray nozzle with eight patterns, which is a nice bonus. Using the hose without the nozzle, with the water to flow unrestricted, allows it to start shrinking—so you’ll need to use the nozzle to get use of the full 50-foot length.

―LIGHTWEIGHT, EASY TO STORE―

DuPont Kevlar

Inside dia. : ½ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : Flexible liner, woven jacket
Weight: 4.7 lb | Flow rate: 318.4 gph | Burst strength: 600 psi


Collapsible, woven nylon–sheathed models like the DuPont Kevlar hose are often overlooked options when considering lightweight hoses. At 4.7 pounds, it’s on the heavier end of the light hose we’ve tested, but due to its construction, it can be coiled up very tightly and stored easily—the 50-foot model we tested could be stored in the bottom 4 inches of a 5-gallon bucket. The hose has a flexible, somewhat elastic, inner liner that is sheathed in a woven-nylon cover, reinforced with Kevlar, and attaches to the fittings with compression couplings. We like these types of fittings, because in the event the hose is ever damaged, it can be cut shorter, and the fitting can be reused on the clean-cut end of the hose. We were surprised to find that the woven casing performed very well in our drag-resistance testing. We pulled nearly identical numbers on grass and concrete at 4.4 and 4.5 pounds respectively. The hose is very resistant to kinking when pulled from a coil, but it can be kinked when pulled taught around sharp objects or corners. The DuPont Kevlar hose is also drinking water safe, so it’s handy for RVs, boats, or for any other use where storage space might be tight.

―BEST FOR GARDENS―

Gardener’s Water Right Light

Inside dia. : ½ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : Polyurethane
Weight: 3.2 lb | Flow rate: 295.3 gph | Burst strength: n/a

Gardener’s Water Right Light 50-foot hose earns its name, weighing in at just 3.2 pounds. It’s optimized for weight by using small ½-inch diameter, polyurethane tubing and aluminum fittings. In use, this is evident, dragging it out to full length on grass takes only 4.9 pounds of force and just a little more at 5.8 pounds on concrete. This makes it convenient to handle in the garden, on the patio, or around raised beds. Kink resistance is good, and the weight makes it easy to correct or avoid kinks by twisting or flipping the hose. It is intended for garden use, and it is ideal for that, but it is also drinking-water safe, so it could be used for an RV hook-up as well. It could also be used for anything else, although the flow rate isn’t optimal for things that require a large volume of water.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab

―EASY TO MANEUVER―

Gilmour AquaArmor Lightweight

Inside dia. : ½ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : n/a
Weight: 3.8 lb | Flow rate: 398.9 gph | Burst strength: 300psi


Gilmour’s AquaArmor Lightweight Hose is among the lightest we’ve tested. In fact, only three of the hoses we’ve tested to date have been lighter, but at nearly 400 gallons per hour, the AquaArmor’s flow rate is considerably higher. Like many manufacturers, Gilmour claims the hose is kink resistant and able to unkink itself. We were able to kink the AquaArmor hose in use, dragging it out from a coil, but we discovered that if pulled taught, kinks would “pop” out. So, if pulled to half-length, kinks could occur and inhibit water flow, but reaching full length, under tension, they disappear. The hose has internal kink protection at both ends to prevent collapse when pulled tight at an angle. When we tested resistance, dragging the AquaArmor hose to full length across concrete and grass, it fell in the middle of those we tested at 6.7 and 7.3 pounds of force respectively. Due to its weight and relative ease of handling, the AquaArmor hose is good to use around gardens, patios, and lawns—plus, it’s drinking water safe.

―BEST VALUE―

Craftsman Premium Hybrid Rubber

Inside dia. : ⅝ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : Hybrid polymer
Weight: 7.2 lb | Flow rate: 505.9 gph | Burst strength: 450 psi

The Craftsman Premium Hybrid Rubber hose is versatile with features similar to more expensive models. It has a large, aluminum coupling that is knurled, easy to tighten, and crush-resistant beneath the wheels of a 4,500-pound truck. The ⅝-inch diameter hose will deliver over 500 gallons per hour and is safe to use with hot water up to 160°. The hybrid polymer material stays flexible down to -40° and is kink, abrasion, oil, and chemical resistant. There is a large, steel spring strain reliever on the faucet end of the hose to prevent kinking. In our drag test, it took a relatively low 6.8 pounds of force to pull it out to full length on grass, and just a little more, 7.2 pounds, on a concrete sidewalk. The Premium Hybrid Rubber hose is a very good all-around hose for any use, except for drinking water.

―FOR SERIOUS ABUSE―

Gilmour Flexogen Pro

Inside dia. : ⅝ in | Length : 50 ft | Material : n/a
Weight: 9 lb | Flow rate: 538 gph | Burst strength: 650 psi

A hose for extreme conditions, Gilmour’s Flexogen Pro is designed to survive “professional” abuse. With eight layers in the casing, kink-resistance is good, although it can kink when it’s hot from sitting in the sun. A coiled spring collar is provided on the faucet end of the hose to protect against kinking. The enhanced casing also increases burst strength and durability on rugged job sites. The large, steel, hex-shaped couplings proved to be crush resistant, under the tires of a 4,500-pound truck. Flow rate is on the high end of those we tested, delivering over 530 gallons an hour. Dragging the hose out to its full length on a concrete sidewalk required 9.8 pounds of force, while on grass it took 20 percent more effort. The Flexogen Pro is suited for construction sites, auto repair shops, anywhere around heavy equipment, as well as watering the lawn at home.

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