With so many different kinds of water distribution products to choose from and not much visible difference between them, it’s quite temping to just choose the least expensive one. However, small differences can end up having a significant impact on how easy the hose is to use, how long it lasts, and what makes it the best garden hose for you.
A quality garden hose should last you from 5 to 10 years (and come with a warranty). However, many homeowners who purchase low quality hoses wind up having to replace it every year due to rot, cracks or bursting. You can repair some problems if you’re handy enough, but it is much more cost-effective purchasing a good quality hose out of the gates.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing why our top 3 best garden hoses made the list; features that you should take into consideration when purchasing new garden hoses. That way you will be aware of these pros (or cons) when selecting a quality product. *Sometimes throughout I refer to “we” and that means my wife Elaine and I.
If the only interest you have is the various kind of hoses as well as the top rated garden hoses that we recommend, then scroll down to the Top 3 comparison 👇🏻
There’s no such thing as one type of watering hose that is ideal for everybody. A good water hose that will work for you is going to depend on your budget, where you will be storing it, what you will use your hose for and how big the area is where you will be using it. Health and age is something to factor in when gardening, and you can read more on that here. Generally speaking, there are six major things you need to take into consideration when selecting a garden hose:
Buying Guide for the Best Water Hose
1. Length – Longer doesn’t necessarily mean better!
A Tangled Mess!
With extra hose sometimes comes a headache. 🤕 Measure out to the farthest point from the spigot that you will be using your hose, and purchase one that goes just beyond this point. You don’t want to have to tug on your hose to get it stretched out since that will likely cause leaks or snags.
Usually on a balcony or deck, it is fine to have a 25-foot garden hose. A majority of urban yards need, at most, a 50-foot hose. If you need a hose longer than 50 feet, think about purchasing two hoses and connecting them whenever you need more than 50 feet. This way you won’t have to constantly lug around a heavy, long garden hose, although there are lengthy, lightweight alternatives.
2. Diameter of Hose Affects Water Flow
When it comes to hose diameters, the most common ones are a 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″. That measurement is based on the hose’s inner diameter rather than the outside (excluding the thickness of the material). The larger the diameters, the more water that can be distributed by the hose in a given time.
For residential purposes and most commercial ones, the most useful hose width is five-eighths of an inch. This is a good water pressure and flow combination without making the hose too heavy. Without a self-discharge feature in which we’ve only found with one product, you can expect to carry around 20-40lbs of water weight if a 75ft hose is full of water.
If the weight of a hose is an issue, the option for you might be a half-inch hose. They have a tendency to be a lighter weight. However, due to the small diameter,not as much water is carried. It is wise to keep half-inch garden hoses to 50 feet at most and use them for light-duty gardening chores like watering hanging baskets and containers. These hoses aren’t sufficient for equipping a sprinkler or anything requiring high water pressure (such as washing a car).
3. Materials – Are Rubber Garden Hoses Being Replaced?
Garden hoses are commonly made from vinyl, rubber, polyurethane or a combination. The most traditional and popular is the rubber garden hose. A new trend we’ve noticed in the past few years (as health concerns rise) is the implementation of food grade garden hoses or potable water hoses.
A simple vinyl hose (that usually has a radial cord enforcing it) is a lightweight and less expensive option. However, it is the least sturdy as well. It is much more prone to cracking, and splitting and kinking more than other materials. If exposed to severe weather or left out in the sun, it can also degrade very quickly (stagnant water can also be problematic). PVC or vinyl often contains phthalates, used as plasticizers. Pthalates are documented by the NIEHS as endocrine disrupters. If the hose degrades they can leach into the hose water. If you plan to only use the hose for simple gardening chores and you have a small budget, then a good option for you can be a vinyl garden hose.
Back to the rubber hose, it has been one of the most popular option for consumers for decades. They are also the most heaviest for hauling around. Another benefit offered by rubber is that it can carry hot water, is resistant to ozone deterioration (so it doesn’t fall part when left out in the sun) and cracking and not as likely to kink. Rubber is an option that will last many seasons and for heavy duty use.
Reinforced hoses (normally reinforced using a mesh lining between layers of rubber and/or vinyl) are much more resistant to splitting and kinking and are able to withstanding higher levels of water pressure.
Despite the fact that additional “plies” or layer suggest that the hose is stronger, don’t put a lot of faith into it; what the layers are made out of matters a lot more than how many layers there are. All else being equal, a good sign is a hose that has a strengthening “mesh” layer.
As mentioned, be very careful with both vinyl and rubber garden hoses since they can leach toxins into your water, which will make it unsafe to drink. Buy a “drinking water safe” hose if your pets or you will be drinking water out of the hose. Usually they are made out of polyurethane. Hardcore vegetable gardeners will refuse to use rubber or vinyl when they plan on consuming their yields.
4. Strength – Determine Burst Pressure
A Burst Pocket Hose
The strength of a garden hose may be measured by its burst pressure. This is the level of water pressure where it most likely will rupture. If you are going to use a sprinkler or hose nozzle, find a hose that has a higher than 100 psi burst pressure (as the average household water pressure is 50psi in the US). Some hoses we have owned (see image) couldn’t even withstand our home’s pressure (48psi). For pressure washing, check your manual prior to purchasing a hose – a higher psi (200+) might be needed.
5. Flexibility – Do The Kink Test
You want to have a garden hose that has some flexibility (for going around corners, for easy storage, etc.) but not too flexible or else it will easily kink-up. Kinking can lead to the hose splitting which will shorten its life. All garden hoses kink when twisted (including “kink-free” hoses). However, some are still better compared to others and just need a little practice. Generally speaking, rubber and reinforced hoses are not as likely to kind compared to other types.
6. Couplings – Search For The Finest Seal
The garden hose couplings refer to the end fittings that attach onto nozzles, sprinklers and spigots.
Cheaper hoses tend to have plastic couplings that should be avoided. They are more prone to breakage, cracking and leaking, and never create a tight seal. Plastic breaks down faster, especially when it is left out in the sun. Polyurethane fittings are popular now. They provide a solid seal and are crush proof.
Metal couplings (mostly brass, but also quite a few are chrome plated) are cast or stamped. Cast brass is easy to identify since it is normally thicker than sheet metal is and tends to have an octagonal shape which makes it easy to turn the coupling using a wrench. It can be hard to tighten thin stamped-metal fittings at the spigot. They also easily bend (so make sure you don’t run over them with the car or step on them). Over time they also have a tendency to break down. They also contribute to unhealthy water if they contain traces of lead.
The female fitting on most higher end hoses have a washer inside to help with the seal. Some are thin plastic that breaks down quickly, so advise.
Find a hose with a rubber or metal collar that supports around four to six inches from the hose up one coupling. That helps to reduce the chances bending which leads to splitting when you have a heavier nozzle such as a wand hooked up.
Pete’s Top Rated Garden Hoses (Top 3)
The selections below are products that I’ve been fortunate enough to use on a daily basis. Therefore they are my biased choices and due to overall considerations listed above I deem them the best water hoses. Try any of these three and you should have a pleasant experience, that hopefully lasts many seasons. *avoided 1-star reviews from Amazon as they tend to be irrate customers or the low percentile that had manufacturer’s defects*
The Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose
If you plan on watering your vegetables or quenching the thirst of livestock or pets, it is good to know that the Craftsman received a low ranking from Healthy Stuff/Ecocenter.org. It is not rated for potable water or drinking safe, but the positives are it is kink-resistent, durable, the fittings are nickel plated, and it is affordable (50ft for $40). Made in China. 👎🏻
The Clear Flow Garden Hose
Clear Flow Hose
This hose features many positives that resonate with me. The only issues were the initial tangling (the hose retains it’s flat memory) and it has a bit of a learning curve. I like how the inventor is a quirky looking man that does Youtube videos. The key take away if you own a Clear Flow is to leave it charged often. It is easier to store on a reel and manage that way. Countering my point, this product seems to be popular among seniors as that flat memory discharges water automatically to keep the it lightweight. I like the fact that the entire hose is polyurethane (fittings included) and approved by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) making it drinking water safe. Made in USA. 👍🏻
The Water Right Coiled Hose
Water Right Hose
This coiled hose took a while to sort out for storage but once we did (it fits into a patio drawer perfectly) it found its use. It un-coils to about 40 feet and is great for backyard use and watering plants and flowers.
It has chrome plated brass fittings and a collar, and is drinking water safe. The olive color is unique and the company is family owned which I can certainly appreciate. Made in USA. 👍🏻