Garden tools need to do their jobs well. Rakes, gloves, and hoses withstand a fair amount of abuse from the elements and the nature of gardening work. Hoses swell and shrink with temperature and water pressure, they get twisted and yanked, and they get shoved in shed corners for the winter. And while you may think a hose is a hose (no judgment—that’s what I thought before we tested these!), different hoses offer various levels of durability, comfort, and portability. One hose we tested even increased the water pressure to the extent that it blew our sprinkler apart. Conclusion? Not all hoses are created equal.
We rounded up seven of the top-rated general-use, expandable, and soaker hoses to find the best. By the time we were done testing, we found our favorite to use is the Flexzilla(available at Amazon for $31.98). It performed well during use, it’s lightweight, it’s easy to see, and it’s even safe to drink from.
These are the best garden hoses we tested ranked, in order:
Melnor Flat Soaker
Gilmour Flat Soaker
Teknor NeverKink Max
Teknor Apex NeverKink
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As we began our several-weeks-long garden hose tests, the Flexzilla quickly emerged as one of our favorites. It manages to be light and flexible without sacrificing durability or performance. This hose moves easily at any range thanks to its lightweight construction and smooth surface. Both the male and female ends of the Flexzilla have comfort grips, while the others we tested had only one or none at all. As its name would imply, it is extremely flexible. That flexibility did lead to a couple of kinks as we pull the hose taut, however, it un-kinked itself after a moment, so the brief kinks didn’t end up being an issue at all.
To test durability, we smacked the connectors of each hose against the concrete three times as hard as we could. While the aluminum fittings of the Flexzilla felt more fragile than the brass ones on some of the other hoses, these held up just as well as any that we tested. The most we could manage was a couple of scuffs. The flexible nature of this hose also made it a breeze to coil and carry from one place to another. As a standard hose, it can’t touch the portability of an expandable hose, but this was definitely the easiest to move (coiled or expanded) of the standard hoses we tested. If you have a smaller yard or need portability above all else, you might prefer the GrowGreen expandable hose instead.
The Flexzilla’s neon green color is easy to spot in any landscape, which could be a positive or negative depending on how you want to use this hose. The color also won’t excessively heat water in the hose to the extent that a darker hose might. The Flexzilla is made from lead-free material, which means it’s safe to drink from, so my kids won’t be ingesting the same toxins I undoubtedly did as a child (Eek!).
It’s hard to beat the portability of an expandable hose. If you often find yourself moving hoses around from one spigot to the other, or if you want an easy way to store your hose between uses, the GrowGreen is right up your alley. In our tests, we didn’t have any trouble with this hose kinking or breaking apart when smacked on the concrete. It has a built-in shutoff valve and a drawstring storage sack. The brass fittings are solid, but if they were to somehow break, the GrowGreen is covered by a 12-month warranty.
This type of hose is not particularly enjoyable to use at its full length because it’s a lot like a slinky—the more you try to extend it, the more it wants to retract. So while the GrowGreen does pull you back with some force, with some effort, we were still able to extend the hose its entire 50-feet. Fully collapsed, the GrowGreen is only 17 feet long, and it’s pretty entertaining to watch it shrink back when you turn off the water.
This hose performed well in our tests despite the fact that it has received some negative ratings recently claiming that it leaks after a few months of use. The vast majority of online reviewers rave about this hose, and it garners 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon across almost 500 ratings. It’s also worth noting that other expandable hoses we considered for inclusion received similar complaints, so it would seem that splitting and leaking are common issues with these hoses as a category, not just one particular brand.
Hi, I’m Sarah Kovac. Garden hoses were present for some of my best childhood memories — playing in the sprinkler, helping Dad in the garden, spraying down my bike after a ride through the mud. Now, as a Midwestern homeowner with kids of my own, garden hoses have again become an integral part of everyday life. Our flower beds, grass, and vegetable garden have relied heavily on garden hoses to stay alive this especially dry summer. I wasn’t expecting to see much difference between hoses, but I quickly learned during testing that a good garden hose is much more pleasant to work with.
We tested eight different hoses on their ease of use, comfort, durability, likelihood to kink, and portability. We whacked the connectors on the pavement, ran over them with my car, stretched them, coiled them, and attached them to sprinklers.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Garden Hose
What's your local climate?
If your area experiences dramatic temperature swings, you'll want to pay attention to the materials that make up your hose. Plastic fittings especially will have a tendency to crack and deteriorate over time after repeated warming and cooling. Look for brass fittings.
Will people or pets drink from the hose?
Not all hoses are safe enough to drink from. You don't want toxins leeching from the hose into water that you or your furry friend might ingest, so if there's a chance that might happen, keep an eye out for a hose that's made from lead-free materials.
How will you use the hose?
There is a variety of different hose types for every possible use. Soaker hoses are great for laying along garden beds that need deep watering. Expandable hoses are awesome in terms of portability and storage. Standard hoses are great for use with sprinklers and for filling containers. Lightweight hoses are best if you're moving the hose around the yard a lot. If you know how you'll be using the hose most of the time, you can select the right hose type for you.
Other Garden Hoses We Tested
Melnor Flat Soaker
Deep watering is an essential part of nurturing a garden bed or landscaped area, and soaker hoses are built to do exactly that. Wind a soaker hose through your plants and these hoses will drip water along the entire length, soaking a precise stretch of soil with minimal effort and waste. The Melnor did its job well in our tests, and despite its plastic fittings and our enthusiastic efforts, we couldn’t hit the end of the hose on the pavement hard enough to do any actual damage. It watered the ground along the entire length of the hose without fail, and its flat, lightweight construction made it easy to relocate around the lawn.
The Gilmour soaker hose performed identically to the Melnor in our testing. It was easy to use, stood up well to abuse, and dripped along the entire length without splitting or clogging. The only real difference between this one and the Melnor is the color of the fittings (the Melnor is green, the Gilmour is blue). But since the Melnor costs a few bucks less, we’d go with that one. Unless you really hate the color green.
The NeverKink Max somehow managed to blow our sprinkler apart. Yeah, it was an old, cheap sprinkler, but still. The difference in water pressure was notable even before our sprinkler succumbed, as the sprinkler’s streams of water were reaching a much wider area with this hose attached than with the others. Only after a few days of baking in the Missouri summer sun would the NeverKink Max kink briefly, and the fittings are very solid. There is a metal coil around the end of the hose that connects to the spigot to ensure even this kink-prone spot keeps water flowing freely.
The design of the Teknor Apex NeverKink is similar to that of the NeverKink Max with a couple of exceptions: the Teknor Apex lacks the coil that protects the end of the hose from kinks, but it does have a comfort grip. Otherwise, it performed the same in our tests, and it increased the range of our sprinkler almost as much as the NeverKink Max. If you’ll be using your hose to hand water, you’ll appreciate the grip on this one.
Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and smart home editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.
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