After six weeks and more than 30 hours of testing, we determined that the Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hose is the best garden hose currently available on the market. Not only is this hose sturdy and manageable, but it also is durable and comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
For people who need a garden hose for extremely cold weather, the Clear Flow garden hose is a viable alternative. The Clear Flow is also well-suited for RVs, and any other time that cargo space is limited.
Top Pick: Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hose
A durable and affordable rubber garden hose with a lifetime warranty. Everything you need in a garden hose.
Table of contents
- Why we are qualified to rate garden hoses
- How we found the best garden hoses
- The six best garden hoses
- Why we only tested 50-foot hoses
- When is it time to buy a new hose?
- Things to think about when buying a new hose
- The best garden hose overall
- The best garden hose for cold weather
- The best drinking-safe garden hose
- The other products we tested
- Long term testing notes
- The bottom line
Why we are qualified to rate garden hoses
We read through gardening forums, garden hose reviews, and the r/gardening subreddit to determine what consumers care about most when choosing a garden hose. We then spent 30 hours over the course of six weeks testing each of our garden hose finalists.
Since we also reviewed the best garden hose nozzles at the same time, we were able to test the compatibility of each garden hose with a wide range of popular garden hose nozzles.
How we found the best garden hoses
In order to determine which of our garden hose finalists was best overall, we ran each of them through a series of tests designed to analyze how each garden hose would perform in real-life situations. This was aided by actual watering and gardening of our front and backyard over the course of a month and a half.
A lot of what we measured had to do with the overall ergonomics of each garden hose. We made note of which garden hoses would tend to get stuck while being pulled around the yard, as well as how easy — or unwieldy — they were while being dragged around. We also looked at how easy it was to attach and detach each hose to the spigot, as well as to each of the garden hose nozzles we were testing.
We recorded how often each hose kinked, which we also tested by measuring how tightly we could squeeze each hose before water flow would stop.
We measured water flow from each garden hose as well. We tested this by measuring how long it took each garden hose to fill a five gallon bucket of water, and the distance each garden hose could spray when held horizontally at a height of five feet.
Finally, we considered the overall build quality, including the materials used, and the durability of each hose — particularly in very hot and very cold conditions.
The six best garden hoses
|Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hose||$$$|
|Clear Flow Garden Hose||$$$$|
|Water Right 400 Series Polyurethane Garden Hose||$$$$$|
|Camco Premium Drinking Water Hose||$$|
|Gilmour Flexogen Hose||$$|
|Teknor Apex NeverKink Pro Garden Hose||$$|
Why we only tested 50-foot hoses
If you look through our list of the six best garden hoses, you’ll notice that all of the hoses we tested are 50 feet long. This wasn’t an accident.
While researching what gardeners and others who use garden hoses look for, we found that 50 feet appeared to be the sweet spot for garden hoses in almost all situations.
For the most part, 25 feet usually isn’t quite long enough to be useful as an all-around tool — with the notable exception of those who live in an apartment or townhome and only have a small porch or patio. On top of that, the difference in cost between 25 and 50 foot hoses typically isn’t all that significant.
On the other hand, 100-foot hoses are typically longer than most people need. More importantly, 100-foot hoses are significantly more expensive than 50-foot hoses, sometimes they’re more than double the price!
A 50-foot hose is the ideal size for a number of reasons. First and foremost, most people simply don’t need more length than that. For those that do, we think that simply connecting another 50-foot hose is preferable to a 100 foot hose.
If a 100-foot hose leaks, rusts, or otherwise wears out, you have to replace the entire thing. If one of your 50 foot hoses breaks down, you can simply replace the one that breaks. In addition, walking around the yard with a 100-foot garden hose in tow — which is heavier and more prone to kinks — is simply an unnecessary difficulty.
Unless you have a very specific need for a 100 foot hose, we think most people are much better off with a 50 foot garden hose.
When is it time to buy a new hose?
Replacing a garden hose comes down to more than just aesthetics. If you’ve had the same garden hose for 10 years, and it’s been sitting outside in the sun for most of that time, it’s probably time to consider a new one.
Over time, garden hoses can start to break, leak, or corrode. When this happens, the hose will waste water, and the corroded elements can even be harmful to plants, animals, or even children drinking from the hose. Even worse, hoses that have been left undrained for extended periods of time can develop harmful levels of bacteria.
There are a number of benefits that come with a new garden hose. For many, the most notable benefit is the fact that there won’t be any corrosion inside the hose, particularly on the fittings on each end of the hose.
You’ll also have water that is cleaner and safer for anything living (plants and people alike) that receive water from the hose.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to buy a new hose, be sure to follow these simple steps to ensure the longevity of the hose:
- Keep the water out of sunlight when not in use
- Drain the hose when not in use. This is particularly important in very hot and very cold conditions.
- Use a garden hose nozzle, so that dirt and bacteria can’t get into the hose as easily.
Things to think about when buying a new hose
When buying a new garden hose, there are a few things to consider.
The most important thing to think about is what you plan to use the hose for. While a standard hose will be sufficient for most situations, for some it might be worth investing in a specialized garden hose.
For example, if you plan to have pets, your children, or even yourself drinking from the hose at any point, it is strongly recommended that you use a garden hose that doesn’t have any potentially harmful components, and is certified as a “drinking water-safe” hose.
Even if you don’t plan on having anyone or anything drink from the hose, it’s still worthwhile to look at what materials the hose is made from. When possible, avoid hoses that expose water to brass, since there is evidence that the lead in brass can cause health problems.
Similarly, if you plan on using your hose in extreme heat or cold conditions, a hose that is designed to handle those conditions — even if it’s more expensive — could actually save money (and time) in the long-run, since it should last much longer than a regular hose.
It’s also worthwhile to consider how heavy, and therefore unwieldy, the hose is. This is particularly important if the hose will be used by children or the elderly.
Finally, if you want peace of mind that your hose will last for many years, choosing a hose with a long-term or lifetime warranty is a good idea as well.
The best garden hose overall
As soon as we started testing the Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hose, we had a feeling it was going to be the top pick. After spending a month and a half testing the Craftsman hose along with our other five finalists, this feeling was confirmed.
The Craftsman gardening hose is easily the best option overall. Unless you have specific garden hose requirements — for example you’ll be drinking from the garden hose or using it in particularly cold weather — there really isn’t a reason to choose any hose other than this one.
Build quality and durability
Right away, the Craftsman garden hose felt like a premium product. The rubber was heavy and study in our hands, yet the hose was still flexible enough to walk around the yard with ease.
This premium feel makes sense, given the materials that are used in the construction of the Craftsman hose. In addition to using a heavy rubber, the hose utilizes nickel-plated brass connectors, which helps prevent any harmful materials from leaking into the main part of the hose, and by extension, into the water itself.
The durable health-conscious design of the Craftsman rubber hose is a large part of the reason the hose is regarded as one of the safest garden hoses on the market. In fact, the consumer reporting organization Healthy Stuff rated the Craftsman rubber hose as one of the safest on the market today.
Ergonomics and functionality
Most of us that have used a garden hose have at some point experienced a kinked hose. You know the feeling, you’re going about your watering, when suddenly the water sputters to a stop. You look back, try to shake the kink out, but ultimately have to walk over and manually unkink the hose — just for it to happen again 30 seconds later.
Fortunately, this is something that we didn’t experience a single time while testing the Craftsman garden hose. No matter how much we walked around the yard with the hose — twisting around bushes and weeds in the process — we never lost water flow.
In fact, we had to squeeze the hose pretty tight just to get water flow to stop. Our experience indicated to us that it is nearly impossible to kink the Craftsman hose under normal working conditions.
The Craftsman hose was also very easy to attach and detach from the spigot and from our various garden hose nozzles.
Overall, we feel that the Craftsman premium garden hose is one of the best values currently on the market. For less than $40, you’ll have a heavy-duty hose that won’t kink and should last for years and years.
On top of that, the Craftsman hose comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer, so you can rest assured that Craftsman stands behind their product.
When it comes to the Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose, you simply need to try it out for yourself. We had never used a garden hose quite like this one before. For the price, and with the lifetime warranty that comes included, this is an easy choice for most garden hose users.
- The Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hose is our top pick for best overall garden hose.
- It is both durable and easy to use.
- The lifetime warranty, combined with a price point below $40, makes this a no-brainer for most consumers.
The best garden hose for cold weather
We had never seen a garden hose quite like the Clear Flow Garden Hose before. Unlike every other garden hose we tested, the Clear Flow hose is completely flat when not in use.
While we think that the Craftsman rubber garden hose is better for typical use, the Clear Flow hose is an effective and innovative design, which is ideal for cold weather. The Clear Flow hose is also great for situations where space is at a premium — for example, in an RV.
Build quality and durability
This design is a big part of what makes the Clear Flow hose such a great option for cold weather situations, since water naturally drains out of the hose — something that is critical in freezing or near-freezing conditions.
The hose itself is made out of durable polyurethane. Unlike many other hoses, which use brass or other metals in their construction, there is essentially zero risk of lead or other contaminants leaking out of the hose into the water.
The Clear Flow hose is also completely made out of recyclable materials. This means that the hose won’t take up landfill space, or ultimately harm the environment, even when it’s time to get a new one.
The hose itself lays very flat while not in use. However, once you turn on the water pressure, it will inflate and become much easier to handle. While the Clear Flow hose doesn’t feel quite as sturdy and durable as the heavy rubber of the Craftsman hose, it still feels well-constructed, and should be able to handle typical yard terrain without any issues.
Ergonomics and functionality
While the Clear Flow did feel strange in our hands at first, we eventually became comfortable with it. We found that using a garden hose nozzle is absolutely essential with this hose — without one there simply isn’t enough pressure built up in the hose to be useful.
Thanks to the design of the Clear Flow hose, it’s also nearly impossible to kink. In addition, the polyurethane glides over the yard without getting stuck on rocks or other debris in the way. Also, despite its unique design, all standard garden hose nozzles were able to fit without any problems.
The Clear Flow hose is rated as safe to use for drinking potable water, largely due to the fact that it isn’t built out of any harmful materials. However, the hose is also aided by the fact that that it is transparent.
Since the UV rays from sunlight can hit the water inside the hose directly, bacteria and other harmful organisms aren’t able to fester between uses of the hose.
Finally, while the 10 year warranty that comes with the Clear Flow hose isn’t quite as impressive as the lifetime warranty on the Craftsman hose, it is still a long time for one hose to survive. The fact that Clear Flow is able to offer this warranty is a strong indicator of the build quality and general confidence they have in their product.
Things we didn’t like about the Clear Flow Hose
While there was plenty we liked about the Clear Flow garden hose, we did have some issues with it as well.
First and foremost, you absolutely must use this hose with a nozzle. Without a garden hose nozzle, there simply wasn’t enough pressure to make the hose usable. In fact, when we first turned the hose on without a nozzle, we were almost ready to write it off as a poorly designed product. With a nozzle on, however, is another story altogether.
This hose is also pretty awkward to use at first. It really doesn’t feel like any other hose we’ve used before. However, the learning curve doesn’t last too long — after using the Clear Flow hose once or twice you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Lastly, this hose is fairly expensive, averaging nearly twice as much as our top pick, the Craftsman rubber hose. If you don’t have a specific use-case for this hose, such as RVing or cold weather, you’re probably better off saving your money and going with the Craftsman hose.
At the end of the day, if you have a specific need for the Clear Flow hose, it is a solid option and well-worth the money. However, for those who just need a standard hose for regular yard work, it’s hard to justify the cost, and trade-offs, you’ll have with the Clear Flow.
- The Clear Flow garden hose utilizes a unique design which is best suited for cold weather.
- The Clear Flow hose is also useful for RVs and other places where space is limited.
- There is a premium associated with the Clear Flow hose.
The best drinking-safe garden hose
If you plan on regularly drinking from your outdoor garden hose, the Water Right 400 Series might be worth the extra cost. We found that it functions essentially like a regular hose, except that it is certified by both the NSF and the FDA to be made from materials that are safe to drink from.
Build quality and durability
The Water Right garden hose is made from a polyurethane resin that is free from toxic materials, such as lead and BPA.
The hose itself utilizes lead-free fittings that appeared to be high-quality and built to last for many years, even under heavy use.
Ergonomics and functionality
Water Right 400 Series
A durable hose that is certified to be safe to use for drinking water.
The Water Right hose is fairly flexible and difficult to kink. While Water Right claims that it works perfectly in extremely hot and cold conditions, we weren’t able to verify that ourselves in San Diego. However, we did find a number of reviews online that corroborate their claims.
Since it’s advertised as a drinking water-safe hose, we wanted to see how the water tasted. Unlike the water from other garden hoses, which often has a distinct flavor, the water from the Water Right hose tasted clean — as if it was straight from the tap.
Things we didn’t like about the Water Right garden hose
There isn’t anything wrong with the Water Right hose, per se. If you want a hose that is safe for drinking out of, and if that particular feature is important to you, then it is likely worth the (significant) premium you’ll pay over a hose like our top pick, the Craftsman.
However, you’ll pay for this functionality, both in terms of the cost, and from the fact that water pressure is reduced compared to other hoses.
The other products we tested
The remaining three hoses we tested are certainly viable options. However, our testing convinced us that our three top picks work better, and are a better value.
Camco Drinking Water Hose
The Camco is a decent hose, and significantly less expensive than the Water Right hose. If you are looking for a hose that is safe to drink from and is also inexpensive, the Camco hose is worthy of consideration.
However, during our testing we found it to be fairly unwieldy, and we didn’t particularly enjoy using it. The Water Right 400 is better, but you’ll be paying significantly more for the upgrade.
The Gilmour Flexogen is a solid garden hose overall. It is very difficult to kink, feels solid and durable in our hands, and attached to our spigot and the various garden hose nozzles easily.
We found it to be most similar to our top pick, the Craftsman Premium Rubber hose. However, for a few dollars more, you can get the Craftsman, which we found to be a stronger choice overall.
Teknor Apex NeverKink Pro
We were disappointed by the Teknor Apex hose. Their major selling point is that it is highly flexible and doesn’t kink. While this is true, it also gets twisted up very easily, even after several days of use. The NeverKink was also the most unwieldy of the hoses we tested.
Long term testing notes
After continued use of the Craftsman, our opinion hasn’t changed: it’s a great, multi-purpose garden hose. The hose has rarely kinked, the 50-foot reach easily covers most large-sized lawns, and it continues to show no signs of wearing down.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for the best standard garden hose, the Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hose is hands-down your best bet. It is a durable and easy to use hose that should last for many, many years.
For those who need a more compact hose, and for those who live in parts of the world where it gets very cold, the Clear Flow Garden Hose offers an innovative design that should last for many cold winters.
If having a hose that is safe to drink from, the Water Right 400 hose is worth your consideration — however you’ll pay a notable premium over hoses like our best pick, the Craftsman.