The Best Garden Hose

For folks looking to keep their garden lush, cars clean, and sprinklers sprinkling, the best choice is the Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose because of its great price, durability, build quality, lack of plasticizers, and lifetime warranty.

Last Updated: August 27, 2014
We tested six additional hoses and put 17 hours of research into hose water contamination. Our top pick, the Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose, remains the same, but we've added a few new lead-free polyurethane alternatives.
Expand Previous Updates
July 9, 2014: Amazon's stock of our thin and light hose pick, the Water Right Ultra Light, is running low. But we're in the middle of rewriting this guide, so if you can wait we'll have a new set of picks soon.
June 26, 2014: Updated with long-term test notes from a tester who's been using our pick in Hawaii for the last year.
June 15, 2013: Updated to include text on the effect of UV on rubber, and how to best take care of a hose.

If you’ve got the extra cash, our absolute favorite model is the Water Right 50 Ft 600 Series 5/8″ Polyurethane Garden Hose ($100). It pulls straight with no kinks, and has enough volume to give your spray power. Water Right uses food-grade polyurethane and contains no lead, phthalates, or BPA. Its fittings are also made of a lead-free brass alloy.

Also Great
This is the hose to get if you don't want to spend $100 on the Water Right but do want to avoid lead and plasticizers.

If the Craftsman is out of stock, the runner up is the Gatorhyde Drinking Water Safe Hose ($43+$13 shipping, or $36 at Home Depot). It’s a decent polyurethane alternative with nickel-plated couplings for those who want something lighter than rubber. Its warranty isn’t as good as the Craftsman’s, though.

Also Great
This is a super light and well-constructed hose. Definitely worth spending extra for if weight is important to you. But do note that the thinner diameter can lead to pressure issues when used with sprinklers and nozzles

For an extra lightweight alternative, we also liked the $55 Water Right Slim and Light hose, also made of polyurethane. The 50 ft model weighs only 3 pounds, a quarter of the weight of a heavy rubber hose. At 7/16” in diameter, though, its water pressure can be a bit wimpy.

For our original guide to hoses, we spent 20 hours researching and testing six top-rated hoses. To respond to readers’ concerns about lead, phthalates, and BPA, we tested six additional hoses not made of PVC for this update. After an additional 17 hours of research into the topic of contaminants in hose water, along with testing, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose is still the best value with a low risk of water contamination.

Should I upgrade?

If you have a hose you like, keep using it. What you’ll gain by getting a new hose is a longer hose life-span, no leaks (at least for a while) fewer kinks, and peace of mind if you’re concerned about water contamination. But really, there aren’t that many stunning advances in hose technology from year to year. We’re talking about a long tube with water in it.

Drain and coil your hose after each use, keep it out of the sun as much as possible, and put it away indoors for the winter, and your hose should last years. Put it across your driveway in Arizona in July and drive your cement truck over it a couple of times a day, and you’ll need a new hose every week. Maybe two.

How we picked and tested

There aren’t many objective evaluations comparing hoses. Almost all information available online was anecdotal in nature, often wrong (and seriously so in some cases), and of very little use to homeowners.

We looked for hoses that were constructed with the highest quality materials, and that were the least likely to contaminate the water. In addition, we culled the top-rated hoses on Amazon after reading through hundreds of reviews in order to eliminate any that had a high rate of failure. We also selected hoses that were widely available at outlets like Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears.

Most garden hoses are made of one of three different materials: rubber, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), or polyurethane. The material least likely to be drinking water safe is PVC as most vinyls use lead (among other metals) and plasticizers containing phthalates in their production. We focused on rubber and polyurethane hoses for this piece. (For more, read Drinking Water Safe Hoses.)

Outside of the hose itself, it’s important to consider hose fittings. Most fittings are made out of brass (which can contain lead), chrome/nickel coated brass, aluminum, or plastic. The best choice is nickel or chrome-coated brass as it eliminates lead contamination while also minimizing corrosion due to copper oxidation. Nickel is also a lot harder than aluminum or plastic, which reduces the chance of stripped threads, a major cause of leaks.

Most hoses come in 25, 50, or 100 foot varieties. On their own, 25-foot hoses are almost useless—you can barely run one behind a car and back. In our tests, we found that the fifty foot hose, the standard length, was great for most tasks around the yard.  If you need more than 50 feet, most of the experts we talked to recommended buying multiple hoses instead of one longer one and connecting them when you need the added length. If anything does break or leak, you only have to replace the leaky section instead of buying another long, expensive hose.

Kinking is a major complaint with many hoses. Genevieve Schmidt, a garden writer and owner of a landscaping company in Northern California, tells us, “Every hose brand will kink, but some brands are better than others.” But designs marketed as kink-free don’t matter as much as proper storage technique (see Care and Maintenance below).

To test the hoses, the first thing to test was the connection between the hose and the water line. Did it leak? Were the threads robust? Was it easy to connect and disconnect? After that we tested water flow rate (we only saw a significant difference between ½” and ⅝” hoses, but it did influence nozzle performance). Once connected to the water source, we fitted different nozzles on the hoses to test compatibility, pressure and to see if leaks formed at the nozzle end. During this use, we also evaluated how easily a hose kinked, and how easy it was to unkink.

One of the most important qualities for a hose can’t easily be tested, specifically how it holds up over time. I heard time and time again that all hoses fail. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, they will eventually spring a leak, or stop working the way you want them to, so having a solid warranty is essential.

For the original guide, we tested six hoses of different materials. For this update, we avoided PVC models and called in two polyurethane hoses, two additional rubber hoses, and two hoses made of a mystery copolymers.

Our Pick

The Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose is our pick for garden hose, not only for its price but also for its durability, build quality, and warranty.

The Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose is built like a tank, with heavy rubber construction and connectors of nickel-plated brass. Because of this plating, any lead in the brass won’t get into the water, and the couplings should hold up better over time. Rubber also minimizes contamination from plasticizing agents, and the thick material contributes to its kink-resistance. While not totally kink-proof, in our tests the Craftsman certainly kinked far less than the equivalent hybrid rubber/PVC hose from Gilmour.

The Craftsman is also considered to be a low toxicity risk by HealthyStuff.org. Their tests showed it to have no lead, and only trace amounts of other toxins.

Master gardener Cathy Beauregard, who owns a landscaping company in Connecticut and frequently teaches at UConn’s master gardening program, spends a lot of time working with hoses and agrees that there are none better than the Craftsman. “The best garden hose on the market is made out of black rubber, and you can buy them from Sears. They’re 100% guaranteed as long as you own it. You can run over it with a car and it’ll still be good,” said Beauregard.

“They’re 100% guaranteed as long as you own it. You can run over it with a car and it’ll still be good”- Cathy Beauregard, Master Gardener
Outside of being a stellar hose in its own right, one of the best features of the Craftsman hose is that if and when the hose breaks you can easily get it replaced in-store (at both Sears and Kmart), no questions asked. This is because Craftsman (which is produced by and sold through Sears) has one of the better return policies on the market. “They honor their guarantee. It’s the only one you want,” explained Beauregard. “Everything else is faulty, the connectors will strip, and it won’t be good for long.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

While we liked the Craftsman hose the best, it is not without its downsides. In particular, it’s heavy. It weighed in at 12-pounds unfilled, and nearly 15 when the water was turned on. Of the hoses we tested the weights ranged from 3 to 12 pounds, with the average being about 6 for a 50-foot hose. This might be a big turnoff for people who drag their hoses around their gardens as a heavy hose has the potential to crush small plants and snap or damage taller ones, especially given that there are great lightweight alternatives (albeit, at a cost).

Another issue came up after we published that piece, which is some people reported that after prolonged sun exposure in high UV areas over many seasons, the hose broke down in the sun and could leave black residue on hands and surfaces. We weren’t able to reproduce this flaw on our model. However, if that happens to you, we recommend you utilize the warranty and get a new one. And for the record, as we note below, it is best not to leave a hose sitting in direct sunlight if possible, but coiled on a hose reel in the shade.

Long-term test notes

One of our testers, Simon Baumer, sent us this report from his use of our top pick for the last year in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, where the sun shines nearly three-quarters of the year and temperatures average 77 degrees. Despite leaving it outside partly in the sun, the hose hasn’t broken down or degraded as some other users have reported:  “The hose has been permanently positioned on the eastern side of the house which is exposed to sun for half the day every day. It’s been stored on a reel, but for around 70-75% of that time, half of the hose was left out on the back yard (exposed to sun the full day) with a sprinkler attached. I’ve run my hand along the entire length (both the half that was fully exposed for a majority of the time, and the half that was stored on the reel the entire time) to make sure no black residue was coming off, or any breakdown was happening.”

Even without sticking to our storage guidelines (keeping it wrapped on a reel and out of the sun) he didn’t seen any of the reported ill effects. However, owners of this hose who live in areas that see extremely high and/or low temperatures should more closely follow our care and maintenance tips to ensure the best results.

Runner Up

Also Great
This is the hose to get if you don't want to spend $100 on the Water Right but do want to avoid lead and plasticizers.
If the Craftsman is out of stock, we also really like the Gatorhyde Drinking Water Safe Hose ($43 + $13 shipping, or $36 at Home Depot). This lighter, 8 lb polyurethane hose carries a limited lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship or materials, but you’ll need to keep the original receipt and the UPC code from the packaging on hand (wherever it is you keep all the other receipts and packaging UPC codes that drift into your life.) It also has a charming nubbled-green exterior, just like America’s favorite reptile.

Like many other “drinking water safe” hoses, the Gatorhyde has nickel-plated brass couplings. Gatorhyde’s promotional materials state that the polyurethane used in the hose (50% of it recycled) is “food safe.” Although Gatorhyde hoses themselves haven’t been tested by HealthyStuff or a third-party certifier for chemical leaching, experts we talked to recommended polyurethane as a low-risk material for hoses.

The only way that this hose performed differently from any other hose in the sample is that it was slightly harder to stretch it out straight than other hoses. It didn’t kink, but it tended to curve in large loops. Time will likely cure that ill.

The Gatorhyde hose is a decent middle-of-the-road alternative if you want to avoid lead and plasticizers in your hose, and want a hose that isn’t as heavy as the rubber alternatives, but don’t want to spend $100 on the Water Right. It’s a reasonable choice.

Step Up

Also Great
Water Right’s lightweight ⅝” hose has the diameter needed for water pressure and its polyurethane meets FDA standards for drinking water.

Water Right now sells a 50 Ft 600 Series 5/8″ Polyurethane Garden Hose ($100). Water Right’s polyurethane meets FDA standards for drinking water and contains no lead, phthalates, or BPA, and Water Right uses a lead-free brass alloy in its fittings. Unlike the Water Right Ultra-Light Slim hose we tested in 2013, which was a mere 7/16” diameter, the Water Right ⅝” hose has the volume to power any hose nozzle or attachment you can find. The hose material is sturdy but light (6.5 /;lbs), and it easily pulls straight. I even tried to make this hose kink by coiling it, then by pulling it out quickly, but it just would not kink. If you want a safe, sturdy, light hose in the attractive shades of gunmetal gray, olive, or eggplant, this is the hose to get. If it weren’t so costly, it would be the top pick.

A lighter garden hose

Also Great
This is a super light and well-constructed hose. Definitely worth spending extra for if weight is important to you. But do note that the thinner diameter can lead to pressure issues when used with sprinklers and nozzles
If the Craftsman’s 12lb weight is just too much, the $55 Water Right Slim and Light hose is a great choice for those who spend a lot of time in the garden dragging a hose around potentially fragile plants, or for those who are simply tired of hauling around a heavy unwieldy hose. The quality of the hose is top notch, and definitely warrants spending a little bit extra if you want to lose a few pounds–their 50 foot hoses weigh only 3 pounds, a fourth the weight of the Craftsman rubber hose. The hose is also more ideal for someone who lives in an extremely sunny area and does not want to deal with the UV breakdown that might happen with the Craftsman or other rubber hoses over time.

For being so light, the Water Right hose is remarkably robust, and doesn’t kink very easily.  When it does kink a quick flick of the hose seems to free any problems. Susan Harris, a garden writer at Garden Rant, had this to say about the difference in weight when compared to the Crafstman Rubber Hose: “The difference is so big, I was shocked when I first lifted one. Imagine just flinging the the hose to wherever you need it in one motion.”

However, it’s worth noting that the Slim and Light hose uses a 1/2” diameter whereas almost all other garden hoses are 5/8”(the chrome-plated fittings, however, are standard size for most spigots). This lead to pressure issues when we tested it with the Bon Aire Ultimate Hose Nozzle. The result was more of a dripping than a drenching. From what I’ve read, the smaller diameter is also likely to affect the performance of many sprinklers so keep that in mind if you were hoping to water your yard.

“Drinking Water Safe” Hoses

First of all, The Sweethome agrees with Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who stated that “the commission would never recommend that any consumer drink from a garden hose” in a 2012 New York Times article. Davis reiterated that advice when I called her, stating that the risks from bacteria, mold, insects, and chemical leaching from hoses were just too high.

That said, even if you’re not standing in the backyard chugging from a hose, the water from hoses runs into kids’ wading pools and water-guns, into pets’ water bowls, and onto plants that grow food. Why spray toxic chemicals on your yard if you don’t have to? Unfortunately, some hoses do exactly that. Depending what a hose is made of, water left standing in hoses can contain hazardous quantities of lead, phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA), according studies from 2012 and 2013 by HealthyStuff.org, a research division of the Michigan-based nonprofit Ecology Center.

So how can you make sure you’re getting a healthy hose? Well, it’s harder than it should be to find one. There is no federal oversight of hose water. The reps I contacted at the Environmental Protection Agency’s media relations couldn’t even figure out who I should be talking to who might regulate hoses. The federal Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, which took effect on January 4, 2014, mandates strict standards for lead in all sorts of plumbing… but not hoses.

Some hose companies say their hoses are “drinking water safe.” That statement doesn’t have any legal meaning.

Some companies send their hoses to an independent certification organization such as the the NSF (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) or the Water Quality Association for testing. Those organizations put the hoses through their standard tests for plumbing, which involves passing water at a temperature of 73ºF(23ºC) through a hose and seeing if any lead is leached.

Unfortunately, hoses aren’t pipes. That testing may work in Camelot, where the climate must be perfect all the year, but in a typical yard hoses are left out in the sun in August. The hot water in those hoses leaches chemicals more easily than cold water. It’s the same principle you use when you make tea with hot water instead of cold water. HealthyStuff.org left hoses made of PVC outside in the sun for two days, and found alarming levels of lead (0.28 ppm or 18x the federal limit), BPA (0.34-0.91 ppm or 3-9x the NSF limit), and phthalates (0.011-0.017 ppm of the phthalate DEHP, or 2x the federal limit)in water that had sat in those hoses.

If you want to drink from your hose, Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, recommends using a hose made of food-grade polyurethane, which is free of lead, BPA, and phthalates, such as Water-Right hoses. HealthyStuff.org lists several polyurethane models in their 2013 Garden Hose Study, but none of them are certified as food-grade—and HealthyStuff found the brand Gearhart mentioned, Water-Right, had high levels of lead in the hose connector.

Our pick, the Sears 50 ft Craftsman Premium Heavy-Duty Rubber Garden Hose, was rated as being “Low” concern, with no detectable lead or other heavy metals in the water, the hose material, or the couplings. However, the hose is prominently labeled “Not Approved for Drinking Water” on the front, and carries a California Proposition 65 warning that reads WARNING “This hose contains chemicals including lead, known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm.”

How could this be? According to a Craftsman representative I contacted, there is lead in the “nickel plated brass couplings.” This is an example of how the Prop 65 warning sounds an alarm for nothing, as the lead in the Craftsman is entirely encased in nickel.

The American Cancer Society’s page on Proposition 65 reads, in part:

The Prop 65 labels only tell you that a product has something in it that might cause cancer or affect reproduction. They don’t say what the substance is, where it is in the product, how you might be exposed to it, what the level of risk is, or how to reduce your exposure.

In short, the Proposition 65 labels don’t actually tell you anything useful. If you want to know your risk, you need to contact the manufacturer, or perform tests—which is what HealthyStuff does. The lead in the Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose’s connectors may never ever touch the surface of the earth, much less the water in your hose.

When you are thinking about hoses, you may decided that you don’t want to buy hoses that contain any lead, because lead is inherently harmful and unnecessary. Environmental advocates such as William McDonough would agree with you. There are plenty of options for lead-free hoses, such as the Water Right hoses, but they are more expensive.

The bottom line: HealthyStuff.org’s tests rated the Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose as being of low concern. If you’re dead-set on drinking from a hose, flush the sitting water out first, and use a polyurethane hose—but watch out for lead in brass connectors if you’re putting them in your mouth. Consider getting a water bottle instead.

Care and maintenance

Every single person we talked to took time to share a few words of advice: the likelihood of kinking and the durability of your hose is singlehandedly determined by  how well you take care of it. A hose that is kept in a hose pot or hose reel, that is kept out of the sun, and is drained before winter, will fare far better than a hose left kinked in the yard baking in the sun. Genevieve Schmidt also added that it’s not a bad idea to always keep a nozzle on your hose if only to protect the relatively delicate threads from stripping or being scuffed on asphalt or pavement. 

Every single person we talked to took time to share a few words of advice: the likelihood of kinking and the durability of your hose is singlehandedly determined by  how well you take care of it
To really get the most out of your hose your best bet is to invest in something like a Rapid Reel. Why? Because without it the temptation to leave your hose kinked in the hot sun and vulnerable to lawn mowers is high. No one wants to spend the 10-minutes it takes to tidily coil their hose. It also means you can keep your hose out of the way and in the shade as UV is one of the leading causes in hose damage. While most will balk at a $160 price tag, you should think of it as an investment that with proper use will prevent you from having to buy a new hose every two to three years. There are alternatives like heavy copper or ceramic hose pots for the aesthetically inclined (or contractor buckets, for the DIYers out there), but those lack the utility and time saving components of being able to quickly reel in your hose.

Also, every type of hose exposed to enough sunlight begins to degrade. And this is especially true for rubber. Rubber is rubbery because its elastomers have been vulcanized, a process wherein long chains of polymers cross-link during curing. This is done to preserve the elastic qualities over time. However, even after vulcanization rubber is sensitive to UV exposure.

John Loadman, an analytical chemist who specializes in rubber, describes the process of UV degradation on his site Bouncing Balls. “The mechanism for light-catalysed oxidative degradation is that the energy of UV light may be sufficient to break a C-H bond and generate a radical species which can then react with oxygen to initiate the same chain reaction sequences as occur in direct oxidation.” In layman’s terms, UV light breaks a key chemical bond which then allows for further degradation. Even simpler, UV light causes rubber to break down over time.

Luckily, most rubber has been adequately vulcanized that this isn’t a problem in the short term. However, as hoses age the rubber will begin to degrade and soften. When this happens rubber can slough off and leave a residue after being handled.

Finally, it should be noted that rubber is not the only material sensitive to UV light. Hoses made out of any polymer, including PVC and polyurethane, will eventually degrade when exposed to enough UV light. PVC, in fact, is well known for being sensitive to UV degradation. This is why PVC hoses often develop cracks and leaks after spending a few seasons being exposed to UV light. However, those sorts of hoses won’t necessarily leave scuffs and residue as they do, which is why if this is an issue for you, you should consider a polyurethane-based hose.

Competition

The Dramm 17005 ColorStorm Premium 50-Foot-by-5/8-Inch Rubber Garden Hose ($47), with its nickel-plated couplings, looks and feels identical to the Craftsman Premium Rubber hose, except that A) it comes in pretty colors like purple and yellow! B) There are tiny parallel grooves along the length of the hose, and C) it costs $3-$15 more than the Craftsman hose, depending on where you’d buy the Craftsman hose. How much would you pay to buy a hose to match your favorite Skittles?

All candy jokes aside, if your hose is going to be lying in a place where passersby could trip on it, it might be worthwhile to buy a neon-orange Dramm hose instead of the dour black Craftsman model. Otherwise, The Sweethome cannot judge the value of color aesthetics. Apart from reflecting different wavelengths of light, these hoses are the same, and Dramm offers a lifetime guarantee… just like Craftsman. The choice is yours.

Goodyear produces a rubber hose that is very similar in build quality and price (around $30) to the Craftsman, and it’s sold at Home Depot so I picked one up to compare. While similar in weight, it doesn’t have the fit and finish of the Craftsman. In particular, its brass couplers lacked the nickel-coating and had trouble screwing onto the spigot. Outside of that, it’d be hard to tell the difference between the two especially if you’re more than a few feet away. One of the most substantial differences outside of build, in my eyes, is the Craftsman warranty, and the ability to return the hose to either a Kmart or Sears. That being said, Home Depot has a very liberal return policy, and if it’s all you have close by the Goodyear rubber hose would be a decent choice.

The Swan Premium Rubber Hose ($48), like the Dramm and Craftsman hoses, is heavy (10 lbs). And as with the Craftsman hose, HealthyStuff rated it as a low overall risk, with no detectable lead in the couplings or the hose itself.

The Swan hose comes with a limited lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects, which requires the UPC code and the original receipt. It’s slightly more expensive than the Craftsman hose and doesn’t come with as good a warranty. It’s a decent hose, but you can do better.

The Flexzilla hose ($48) sounds like an abbreviated monster double feature. It’s made of a “premium hybrid polymer material,” whatever that is, and aluminum couplings, and feels and looks a little like Play-Doh. It’s slightly soft to the touch, not stiff like PVC or polyurethane hoses, and it’s fairly light at 7.2 lbs. Amazon reviewers praise its flexibility at a range of temperatures, and its ability to stand up to high-pressure water systems without leaking or exploding.

The Flexzilla’s claim to fame is that it’s not supposed to not kink under pressure, but it is certainly capable of kinking when the hose is new and empty. Here at The Sweethome, we are skeptical of all claims of non-kinking hoses. Although it’s a charming shade of lime green, the possibility of plasticizers in the “polymer material” is off-putting. If you need to wend a snakey-looking hose around a series of obstacles, this might be a good match for your needs. Otherwise, you can save a few dollars and get the Craftsman hose for similar performance, or spend more money for a truly lightweight, subtly colored Water Right Slim and Light hose.

We also tested a rubber/PVC hose from Gilmour, but as mentioned previously, it was far less kink-resistant than the Craftsman so there’s no reason to get it if you have the option of getting that or the Goodyear.

Genevieve Schmidt recommended the Tuff-Guard Perfect Garden Hose, which impressed her because it was lighter (at 6 lbs) and very resistant to kinking. The Tuff-Guard is set apart by its rigid helical polypropylene backbone, which prevents it from collapsing. The closest analogue I can think of is the hose you find on some vacuum cleaner cleaners. Like Genevieve Schmidt, I tried tying it in knots to no avail. It just refuses to kink.

Disappointing
*At the time of publishing, the price was $53.
Though the Tuff-Guard is universally loved by experts and seems well designed, the high price and large number of user complaints turned us off.
Unfortunately, it started leaking soon after we hooked it up to the spigot. There was a significant weak spot where it was missing one of the two layers of polypropylene, and where the polyester fiber used as reinforcement was tearing. With a little more force (or time) it’s pretty clear that the whole thing would come undone. And because it’s not sold anywhere nearby, in order to get it replaced we’d have to take a trip to the post office plus the cost of shipping (which for a bulky 6.5 lb hose isn’t cheap). I should also note that many of the reviewers who described their hose failing on Amazon have been sent replacements, so it sounds like Tuff Guard is responsive and eager to resolve these issues.

The Scotts MaxFlex Premium Heavy Garden Hose ($40) has lead-free aluminum couplings and its packaging says that it is “Drinking Water Safe”—a meaningless designation that, in this case, appears to mean that it meets Federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards for lead, which doesn’t apply to hoses in the first place. (See Drinking Water Safe Hoses above.) Aluminum couplings are lead-free, but they’re also a bit softer and lighter than brass and more likely to get crushed or broken. That said, the MaxFlex’s couplings are large and much easier to screw on and off outdoor faucets than any other hose in the sample. If you hate twisting hose couplings, this might be the hose for you.

The MaxFlex is made of a “copolymer.” Scotts is patenting the stuff, so the Scotts rep I contacted wouldn’t tell me precisely what it was made of, but said that it is phthalate-free. It’s hard to tell what else might be in it, though.

The MaxFlex is lighter than the Craftsman hose (8 lbs. vs. 12 lbs. for the Craftsman), but not as light as the Water Right (6.5 lbs). It doesn’t cost much less than the Craftsman hose, but it doesn’t come with the superior Craftsman warranty. Like the Swan Premium Rubber Hose (which is made by the same company), the Scotts MaxFlex only comes with a “Limited Lifetime Warranty,” for manufacturer defects. A Scotts representative wrote, “If it fails (a construction defect, coupling issue etc) it is covered. If dragged a across a rough surface daily and it wears a hole in the product, that is consumer usage and not covered.”You can’t find the details on the hose packaging or the Scotts MaxFlex Hose web site, though.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the MaxFlex’s contents and warranty, the potential weakness of the aluminum couplings, and that it costs slightly more than our top pick, I do not recommend the MaxFlex Hose.

Wrapping it up

The 50-foot Craftsman Premium Rubber Hose is made with safe, reliable materials and the fit and finish that should last years if cared for properly. Not only is it well built and affordable, but it comes with a warranty that covers you when, not if, the hose eventually breaks. Pair it with our favorite hose nozzle, the cheap but sturdy Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol, for spray power.

To send this guide via email, fill out the fields below:
Message Sent!
Oops! Please try again
Send

Sources

  1. Craftsman Rubber Hose at Sears
  2. The best garden hose on the market is made out of black rubber. You buy them from Sears, they're 100% guaranteed as long as you have them. You can run over them with a car and they'll still be good. They honor their guarantee…That's the only one. Everything else is faulty, the connectors will strip, and it won't be good for long. Instead of leaving it in the yard you should wind the hose when you're finished with it, so you don't run over it with tractors or lawn equipment, they'll last a lot longer.
  3. Genevieve Schmidt, North Coast Gardening
    "My favorite hose is the Tuff Guard hose. Springy energetic coil. It never kinks, and has this weird tubing on the outside of the house. It has rings around the outside of the hose and is constructed really differently. I stomped on it, ran over it with my truck. Tried tying it knots, and couldn't kink it. It didn't sustain any damage. It's also really light weight, weighing less than a couple of pounds [for 50 ft of hose]. But it's not drinking water safe! The number one thing [that damages hoses] is not being put away properly. Hoses have a memory, and so if you wind them up very single time, and keep them really neat, then they don't sustain the same kind of stresses that a hose that is being left out and pushed in all directions. Hoses can get brittle when asked to be sit in all different positions. If we work with it and get a hose pot or hose reel, and place that out of direct sunshine, out of the elements, that can really help."
  4. Susan Harris, Finding the Garden Hose of My Dreams, Garden Rant, January 11th, 2013
    "The 50-foot length weighs just 3 pounds. That’s versus 11.6 pounds for a 50-foot Craftsman brand. The difference is so big, I was shocked when I first lifted one. Imagine just flinging the the hose to wherever you need it in one motion."
  5. HealthyStuff.org, 2012 Garden Products Study
    Avoid PVC: PVC needs potentially hazardous additives and stabilizers to make it “rubbery”. Instead, try a top-quality, food grade polyurethane hose that meets Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards or an old fashion natural rubber hose. Search on-line “polyurethane garden hose” or “rubber garden hose” for options. Watch the brass: The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) limits lead in brass in residential water fixtures to no more than 2,500 ppm. Garden hose ARE NOT regulated by the SDWA, and our test show 29% of brass connectors contained greater than 2,500 ppm lead. Opt for a hose that is drinking water safe and lead free. Non-brass fittings (nickel, aluminum or stainless) are more likely to lead-free.
  6. Finding the Best Garden Hose, The Family Handyman
    "Perform your own tests on the hoses right in the store. Remove a few twist ties from the hose packaging and unroll about 2 ft. of hose. Then coil it back against itself to see if it kinks. A hose that kinks in the store will kink even easier after it's been baking in the sun all day. Next, compare the wall thicknesses of different hoses by bending them at a 90-degree angle. The hoses with thicker walls will be harder to bend because they're made with more material. Sure, they cost more, but they also last longer."
  • Chip

    Great review, but I wonder how the Craftsmen hose will stand up over time. I have the Goodyear rubber hose. It’s thick, reliable, and heavy duty like the Craftsmen, but over time has begun to leave a black residue on my hands, especially after coiling it up. Just like if you were to wipe your car tire with your hand. It’s rubber, so it’s porous, can rub off, and can hold dirt on it. I end up having to wash my hands after just touching the hose, not fun.

    I’m now looking for a non-rubber hose. The Tuff Guard hose or the Water Right’s polyurethane coating might be the way to go here.

    • Oliver Hulland

      Rubber can degrade over time, especially if it’s been exposed to a ton of UV. As a lot of the experts in the review mentioned your best bet is to keep it out of the sun (but that’s just a good general rule for all hoses). How long did you own the Goodyear before it started leaving a residue behind? With the Craftsmen, at least, you could potentially return it if the material was breaking down and leaving your hands dirty.

      With that in mind, the Water Right is a fantastic hose. My wife really loves it because of how light it is, and so far with daily use and abuse on the farm it’s done really well.

      • Chip

        It’s about 4 years old and was stored in a garage when not in use, but it’s been leaving a residue for a least a couple years. I’m definitely going to look at the Tuff Guard and Water Right. Thanks Oliver.

    • Oliver Hulland

      Chip, I forgot to ask earlier, but how old is your Goodyear rubber hose?

    • CowboyBillTN

      I use this Craftsmen hose almost exclusively on our farm and leave it out in the elements year-round. Mine isn’t exposed to the sun all day (under trees and besides buildings) and after two years shows no signs of deterioration.

  • Marius Piedallu van Wyk

    The link to Sears takes me to a $35 version (not $25 as indicated)

    • Oliver Hulland

      In my research the Craftsman hose price fluctuates between $20-$35. It’ll likely go on sale again in the next few weeks, but we’ll update the price to reflect that it’s now (6-13-2013) selling for $35. I still think it’s a great deal.

      • Marius Piedallu van Wyk

        PS: The timing of the review is serendipitous as my wife just added “hose pipe” to our shared shopping list a few days ago. :)

  • Elise

    Genevieve is right, the TUFF GUARD hose is absolutely the best hose on the market today hence the price! I was willing to take a leap of faith on a $50.00 50’ garden hose based on my frustration in using the heavy rubber hoses. I am concerned with quality issues, but as stated here it is a brand new product and from what I understand they replace the hose with few requirements or questions asked. I’ve used the craftsman black rubber hose, and it’s a nice hose if your strong enough to lug it around as it’s super heavy. I also noticed that after a while it left black marks all over everything it touched, and trust me kink free it IS NOT. I recommend the TUFF GUARD hose to everyone, hopefully the quality issues don’t make me look bad but after I lifelong struggle with garden hoses I’m super happy!!!

    • brian lam

      Elise, how old was your craftsman hose before it started breaking down? where do you live?

  • Robert ANderson

    I love the Craftsman black rubber hose. No more kinking, stiffness or breaks. I ordered from the catalog and picked it up at the store. Had it about 10 years. I didn’t even know about the guarantee.

  • David V.

    I bought one of those Tuff-Guard hoses from Amazon, and really like it. After two months, though, one end became undone. I stopped by my local Lowes and bought a fitting with external pressure ring for about $6, and that solved the problem. The problem was frustrating, and the solution added to the overall cost, but it’s still a remarkable hose.

  • Guest

    This is a great hose. Yes, it leaves a black stain from the soft rubber on your hands (even after months of use), but it makes up for it in flexibility, comfort, and ease of rewinding. And it doesn’t have the foul odor like the other vinyl hoses on the market. Highly recommended

  • JennyDSweetie

    FYI – the hose is on sale for $19.99 at Sears right now, and free in-store pick up.

  • Will Taylor

    FYI, hose is $35 on Sears as of 10/15/13

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks!

  • http://facebook.com/danputnam SurfSwitch

    Hate to say it, but I returned this hose after about a month of use. It kinks all the time and is a royal pain the *** to wind back up. I even went back on here and made sure I bought the right hose. Every other review you’ve given I’ve been extremely happy with, but I have to disagree here. I spent $20 more and got the Tough Guard, which so far has been well worth the investment.

  • joe walz
  • phensler

    I would be happy enough with the craftsman hose if I’d have bought it without research, but I honestly feel like it’s not up to my usual expectations for thesweethome recommendations. Among other things, it’s the heaviest hose I’ve used, retains a lot of memory (coiling is a CHORE), and it definitely kinks. The pros are somewhat related: feels heavy duty (or maybe it’s really just heavy, ha!), and the nickel plated spigot end is nice. I think when your commentariat is helping each other find alternatives to your recommendation (tuff guard, flexzilla), it’s time to re-evaluate. My $.02.

    Otherwise keep up the great work!

  • kaitmchugh

    do you recommend a durable, non-toxic and somewhat affordable nozzle to go with the Craftsman hose?

    • kaitmchugh

      ok, ok…i just read your review of the Gilmour Nozzle! good stuff. sorry to ask prematurely.

  • Micheline M.

    for me the best Garden hose is the Clear-flow hose of Home hardware!!!!!

    this hose is fantastic, ecologic , recyclable………… ( good for 15-20 years)

    http://homehardware.ca/en/cat/search/_/N-2pqfZ67l/Ne-67n/Ntk-All_EN?Ntt=Clear-Flow

  • Myles

    Did you guys look at the flexible expanding garden hoses? These are the ones that first showed up on “As seen on TV” type infomercials and change shape when the water is turned on. It seems like a nice choice to save space if they work as advertised.

  • Scudder35

    On a related note – I’m looking for a good hose cart/reel, if anyone has a lead. Reqs include that it have a 150′ capacity minimum, and be on wheels. Thanks!

  • bri

    You guys didn’t test any of the “expanding” hoses like Pocket Hose? We have three and love them. Left them out over a harsh Michigan winter and drive over them with a car no problem. No leaks. So much easier to move around and store.

  • ngrrsn

    My biggest complaint with hoses is not the weight. Safety (chemical leaching) is paramount. Next comes connections. Next comes kinking. Finally, my wife said she does not want a hose that leaves black marks all over everything it touches. Connections? Yes. We do a lot of watering and have multiple hookups. Because of how and when we water, we often leave the faucet on with the hose connected. I know…you are supposed to take the pressure off the hose, drain it, and store it. But sometimes that just isn’t practical. I hate it when the connections leak, from either end. I’ve had brand new hoses with new rings leak through the threads or even behind the connector. Most quality hoses have kink resistance. I want a hose that is easy to thread and that will not leak. Did the reviewers test for leaking over time? Which ones were the most leak resistant from the connectors? Oh, and if you need some credibility, I am a Master Gardener, too, and work with several community gardens. Seems like people are always griping about the hoses. ;)

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      We cover Water Safety and Hose Material, kinking, threads & leaking above. Did you read the entire guide?

      • ngrrsn

        Yes, I did. I was glad you covered the topic related to nickel plated
        brass. The point I guess I failed to make is that there is a lot more
        to consider with a hose than if it is heavy or doesn’t kink. The comments seemed to focus on these, so I wanted to weigh in on what I thought was more important. A leaky
        connection wastes water. And I was very glad the article covered the
        sections about health safety — the #1 thing people should think about
        before anything else. I have had hoses that were good on purchase, but
        even after replacing the ring after a while, they still leaked —
        sometimes even from behind the area that threads where the connector
        fastens to the hose. I had one hose that developed crack in the
        connector and would spray a fine mist. And some hoses are very light on
        the number of threads; if you use an o-ring for a seal you can’t thread
        the hose to the outlet or a sprayer to the male end of the hose. I read the review, but
        wondered if you retested the connections after a period of time.

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          We usually do long term testing on everything, so I’ll let you know when we do long term testing on this. Sound good to you?

  • DrE

    Sears currently has these for sale online for $20.89!!!

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the heads up!

  • gyamashita

    live in hawaii as well, and over the last year, these hoses have been great. rather than coiling them for storage, we leave them out flat on the lanai…they get a bit of sun in the afternoon, but it’s rarely ever that hot here (high of 88, maybe?). so far, a great purchase and very happy with it…

  • KevKal

    Any suggestions on a leader hose to go from the hose bib to the reel? I picked up the Craftsman rubber hose just to realize I still have a leader hose of unknown quality with two brass fittings. The only one I can find is a 5/8″ water right 10′ leader hose for a crazy price of $46 shipped.

  • Oingo Boingo

    Thanks for the update but the link for the Craftsman is no longer valid. They moved it over to the craftsman site. You can find the 25′, 50′ 75′ and 100′ there all on sale a couple to a few $ off.

  • brian1269

    Great article. Went out a few days ago and bought two 50′ Craftsman Premium Rubber Garden Hoses at K-Mart for $15.94 apiece. Was going to buy just one at the listed price of $30, but it rang up at the lower price so went and got another one.
    I do have a question though.
    You spend a good deal of time in the article explaining how the material is safe and how there is no lead in the water that comes out of it, but the packing itself states that it is “Not approved for drinking water” and “This hose contains chemicals, including lead…” It goes on the explain “Why you should not drink from a garden hose.” You don’t specifically state in the review that it is safe for drinking, but I believe it is implied. So are these just things Sears includes to cover their backside (especially in California) or is it really not safe to drink from?

  • Curtis Hazzardous

    Could not have said it better myself. My garden spigot was unregulated and pounding 160-190psi before a reducer was applied. The craftsman hose was the ONLY hose to withstand and simply is the best. Heavy however, I have also invested in several water right hoses that are top shelf and my favorite hose on the move (hate dragging the crafty). I’ve tested a lot of hose; this article is spot on.

  • Rex_Darling

    Thanks for the review. I purchased the Craftsman hose about 5 years ago and love it.