The Best Garden Hose of 2020
The Flexilla Garden Hose is our expert's first choice. The hose is remarkably lightweight, which is an excellent benefit for both working and storage. The Flexilla's lightweight material remains very durable, showing the least structural wear and tear of any hose after durability testing. To test durability, we ran it over with a car and extensively used it in our garden each day. The collars of the hose and the connections were all high quality and showed little wear. This stood out as the only non-stretch hose that did not kink while under pressure and performed its job admirably with both high and low water pressure.
Buyers looking for an all-around hose that can stand up to the abuse of everyday gardening and work will be happy with the Flexilla. Although this is one of the most expensive models we tested, it should last for multiple seasons. Something to note is that the bright colors do show dirt and wear more than other models. The Flexilla is the best overall for its blend of lightweight durability, ease of use, high-quality components, and kink-resistant material.
The Grow Green Expandable is our Best Buy for balancing a budget price with great features. The Grow Green expands remarkably from a compact package to over double its size when in use — though we did not find it triples in size as advertised. When we ran it over with our car and pulled it through crops and rocks, the woven outer stood up the best of the non-rubber hoses. The Grow Green includes thoughtful options, like an on-off switch at the nozzle and high-quality brass collars. The hose also comes with a nozzle, which has eight features; this is practical for a consumer looking for the full package, as the features create an excellent value.
The Grow Green performed poorly under low pressure. When used for irrigating from a well pump, the hose did not expand enough to allow the low-pressure pump to deliver water. When stored, the woven hose outer tended to get knotted up and required detangling before each use. With such excellent components, ease of use, and durability — at a very reasonable price — the Grow Green Expandable is our tester's first choice for our Best Buy Award.
The FitLife Expandable wins our award for easy storage. The FitLife is incredibly lightweight. It is advertised at under two pounds and our testers noticed the difference in weight after a day of hauling hoses through their 1/3 acre lot. The woven outer means that the hose does not kink or tangle when water is running through it. It comes with a plastic hanger that allows for easy storage. The FitLife measures eight feet when in storage; when under pressure, it expands to just over 24 feet, making it a great fit for anyone with limited storage.
Like other woven and latex hoses, the FitLife did not do well with low pressure. Due to the incredibly small size when in storage, this option also shrank significantly when water pressure was not fully turned on. This award winner is the best option for anyone concerned with space and looking for a reliable, durable option.
The Instapark Heavy Duty Recoil is the ideal purchase for a user looking to do light-duty work in a small space. This award winner is ideally suited to a small patio garden or apartment porch garden. This model has a unique recoil design, meaning that when it is not actively being stretched by the user or full of water, it quickly goes back into a tightly coiled shape.
The slim diameter of the Instapark put out water significantly slower than other options, taking over five seconds to move a liter of water. This low flow also means that it is easier to control the spray of water in a small area and it performed well when attached to low pressure — both when attached to a kitchen sink and a low-pressure submersible pump. The lightweight hose design was not well suited to rough use. The EVA material was significantly worn by our durability testing. However, for the consumer looking for a hose for light gardening use in a small space, the Instapark is our pick.
The Water Right 400 Series is the award winner for low-pressure needs, as it excelled among traditional designs for being easy to move around and manipulate. After initially unpacking, the hose felt quite stiff, but within a couple of minutes of direct sunlight, it was easy to move around, uncoil and put where needed. The chrome-plated brass connectors were remarkably durable, showing little wear or bending from coupling and uncoupling or from crush testing. Where the Water Right stood out above all other options was when used in low-pressure settings. While many other hoses became challenging to move or barely put any water out, the Water Right maintained the same water pressure and was easy to use when connected to a submersible pump, a water catchment barrel, or a sink.
Because the Water Right performed so well at low pressure, it presented challenges with high-pressure connections. When used with a sprinkler, the lack of pressure was notable, and the sprinkler underperformed. Additionally, when connected to a traditional outside hose spigot, the hose had a tendency to jump around if the water was turned on to full pressure. The Water Right performed the best when connected to low-pressure sprinklers, drip irrigation systems, or when connected to a lower pressure water source. This slim design was very durable, showing little wear from any durability tests.
The Zalotte Expandable comes with everything one needs for an easy to use, expandable, and adjustable gardening set up. The package comes with a nine feature nozzle that has a variety of settings, which are ideal for gardening, cleaning, and around the yard uses. The hose itself expands well while under pressure and performed well during durability tests. The package also includes a hanger for the hose tube that can keep your yard or garden organized.
If you choose not to use the hose hanger, the Zalotte becomes tangled very easily. The woven outer is markedly slicker than other expandable options, meaning that it is a challenge to untangle knots that form, especially when wet. During testing, the hose body performed well; however, the rubber collar below the high-quality brass connectors immediately broke, which could lead to rapid wear at connections. This is a great buy for someone looking for an all in one package for multiple uses in home and garden.
The Aterod's Expandable is a good option when expandability is key. The Aterod measured in at slightly under 20 feet when not under pressure and expanded to almost 70 feet stretched fully, allowing our testers great access to all parts of their garden. The hose put out an impressive amount of water for an expandable hose, filling a liter in 2.5 seconds. The Aterod comes equipped with nice features, including an easy to use on/off switch at the nozzle.
The woven outer of the Aterod frayed and showed significant wear, both when subjected to durability testing and from day-to-day use, including significant fraying when dragged through coarse mulch. The hose also had the least directed spray of any nozzle, making it difficult to water or clean with any accuracy. Due to the high level of expansion, the water pressure is highly variable, coming out at a very strong spray when the on-off switch is turned on and then evening out to a manageable spray. If you are looking for a very expandable hose to reach across a large garden, the Aterod is a good choice.
The Flexi Hose is an excellent option for gardeners who struggle with keeping a traditional garden house from kinking. This option performed well where a traditional hose is a challenge to manage: moving a sprinkler often, turning corners, and navigating around garden beds and other obstacles. The Flexi Hose, unlike some other expandable choices, performed well at a variety of water pressures, keeping its shape and putting out decent water pressure.
The collars and connections of the Flexi Hose showed a good deal of wear from everyday use. After a watering session that included tugging the hose around the garden, the hose below the connection point was frayed and appeared to be leaking. This may be due to the fact that this option does not have a protective collar, which seems standard on most of the other expandable options on the market. The brass connectors have a very fine ridge on them, which makes them hard to handle when wet, so much so that our tester had to let them dry prior to disconnecting from the spigot. If you struggle with watering your garden without kinking your hose, the Flexi Hose would be a good buy.
If you need a great deal of adjustability and want to purchase a single package for gardening and household use, the Gardguard could be a good choice for you. The Gardguard comes with a 10 feature nozzle, hanger, and a storage sack. It performed well in all settings and delivered some highly variable pressure, from a very strong center setting to a gentle cone setting. The expandable Gardguard did not kink when used to water or when used to spray cobwebs off of a shed.
The protective rubber collar on the Gardguard did slide out of place on the first use. Our tester noticed a change in water pressure and found that the collar had slid out of place and was limiting water flow through the hose. This continued to be an issue throughout the use. Due to the flimsy collar, the hose wore quickly at the connections points. For an all-in-one package with a highly adjustable nozzle, the Gardguard is a great choice.
We had high hopes for the Bionic Steel 304 Stainless Steel, which is advertised as industrial strength and super durable. Unfortunately, our testing did not show this to be true. The stainless steel hose is rated to nearly double the burst pressure of all other options, and true to its advertising, it does not kink.
During testing, distributed wear, like a car, did not damage the hose. However, while coiling the Bionic Steel 304 and pulling it around the corner of a garden bed, the outer steel wrapping dented in many spots. These dents quickly limited the amount of water traveling through the hose, ruining the water pressure. The dents did not seem repairable. After the dents formed, the inner hose began to burst out of the housing. This lack of durability means we cannot recommend this hose.
Why You Should Trust Us
Bix Firer has a long history of putting gear to the test. Bix has worked in outdoor education for a decade, coordinating education programs in the backcountry and urban food gardens. He currently lives on a small urban homestead in Boise, Idaho. Bix has worked as a guide, line cook, janitor, and educator. A graduate degree in Anthropology has left Bix with a strong analytical mindset and a love of observational studies.
Our testing process took place on a small urban homestead in Boise, Idaho. The hoses were subjected to comparative testing and used for regular jobs, watering, irrigating, and tending to food plots.
Analysis and Test Results
The hoses we tested were evaluated on four metrics: durability, ease of use, quality of components, and flexibility. Each of these categories was tested and compared to give the shopper a sense of the best value and performance in the categories most important to your specific needs.
Hoses are used outdoors in a variety of conditions and in gardens, where they are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Thus, durability is a key feature of a good hose. To test durability, we tested the hoses through day-to-day use, irrigating our food plots, watering, and attached to sprinklers. We also compared them in head to head tests, including running the hoses over with a car, kinking and bending each a 100 times, and tugging when connected to a spigot, noting the wear and tear on each. The Flexilla stood out as the most durable of the hoses. While the light green material showed dirt and scuffing, the material was unworn from any testing, and the collars and coupling showed no wear and tear after heavy use.
The Water Right 400 Series was the second-best in durability testing. The Water Right showed nearly no wear from our car test and connections and collars stood up to our testing with no signs of wear. This only came in second because it was more prone to kinking and showed slight signs of wear at these kinking points. The most durable expandable hose was the Grow Green Expandable Garden Hose. The Grow Green was the only expandable to show no signs of damage from our durability testing. Expandable hoses tended to show signs of wear after daily use near the connections and collars, but the Grow Green showed none, making it the only expandable option to earn top points in durability.
Ease of Use
Hoses should be a seamless part of your garden set up. Storage, movement, manipulation and connections should all occur without a second thought. Our testers used the hoses while at work and noted any points at which each of these aspects required attention. In addition to daily use, the hoses were tested for their water delivery capacity, timed to see how long it took to fill a liter and tested for ease of coiling, as storage is a key component of use. The Flexilla stood out as the easiest to use. The unique memory free material made coiling a breeze, as well as moving the hose around when in use, both when under pressure or when the hose was off. The Flexilla delivered water at a very median rate for the hoses tested.
The FitLife Expandable Garden Hose scored just below the Flexilla and best among expandable hoses. Due to its short size when not under pressure, it stayed tangle-free, it was easy to store and coil, and never kinked. It's remarkably light, making it very easy to manipulate while under pressure. The only downside was that the short length, made it a challenge to reach across plots and garden beds without crushing plants.
The Instapark was another excellent scorer in ease of use. The novel recoil design meant that no time was spent coiling the hose and storage was no problem. The low diameter of the Instapark meant that the water delivery was low, but it remained easy to move around, even when under high water pressure. The Instapark did occasionally kink while under pressure but was easier to unkink than any other non-expandable hose.
Quality of Components
Often, otherwise quality hoses can begin to fail due to the individual components. Protective collars, connections, and on-off toggles can be points of failure during day to day use. To test these components, we compared the materials of each hose and components, tested all moving points repeatedly, coupled and de-coupled all connections, and monitored all components during daily use. The Water Right is the best performer in terms of components. The chrome-plated brass connections show no wear after heavy testing and use, and the hard plastic protective collar was high quality.
The Aterod Expandable Garden Hose was the runner up in the quality of components. It's feature-rich, with an on-off switch at the nozzle, and an easy to use and quality nozzle. The moving components did not wear in our testing and the connections were easy to use, even when wet. The quality of the brass protective collar helped it stand out among expandable hoses.
The FitLife and Zalotte expandable hoses both performed well in the components metric. They only fell short when the components were challenging to use when wet and when the included accessories showed wear and tear during our moving parts testing.
A challenge familiar to any gardener is wrangling stiff hoses through narrow workspaces and losing water pressure to kinks. A highly flexible hose helps solve these problems. Hoses were tested for flexibility through kinking tests, both under pressure and not, when coiling, and use during irrigation. The Flexilla performed the best in terms of flexibility. When under water pressure or not, the Flexilla would not kink. The hose easily coiled and was easy to move around bends and tight spaces when in use. The memory-free materials also stood up to extensive attempts to force them to kink.
In general, expandable hoses tested well in terms of flexibility, though many became frustratingly rigid when under high water pressure. The Flexi Hose scored second best in flexibility, refusing to kink. Unlike many of the expandable hoses, the Flexi Hose maintained flexibility even under high water pressure and was easy to coil and manipulate while full of water. The Grow Green performed well and returned to shape easily after use, although it was significantly stiffer when under high water pressure, making it less flexible when in use.
Hoses are a necessary component of every gardener's toolbox. Their ease of use and components can make your gardening experience simple or can create a headache for the home gardener. The wide variety of materials, components, and options on the market can make shopping for the right option a challenge. Our rigorous testing for durability, quality of components, ease of use, and flexibility can help give you the information you need to choose the right option for your home and garden.
— Bix Firer