Continental Commercial Grade Rubber Hose (50 feet)
This tough rubber hose isn’t cheap and can be heavy to wrangle, but its strong fittings and durable body should last for years—and it has a lifetime warranty, just in case.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $45.
The Continental Commercial Grade Rubber Hose (50 feet) is far from being the cheapest hose you’ll ever find, but after testing the bargain models and the midrange options, we’re convinced that the best value in a garden hose is the one you can buy once and use indefinitely. Although the lifetime warranty is reassuring, we’re confident (after doing our own tests and reading customer anecdotes about long-term use) that you may never need to take Continental up on it. Durable and versatile, this hose is perfect for all kinds of utility work (even though it can be a bit of a beast if you’re just quickly watering a small patio garden). Availability shouldn’t be an issue, as the Continental hose now has nearly ubiquitous availability at home centers and hardware stores.
We also like the Dramm ColorStorm Premium Rubber Hose (50 feet). It offers many of the same features as the Continental and some that the other hose doesn’t have—like nickel-plated brass couplings—but it typically costs more, and in our tests it kinked more easily and held a memory of the kinks (once it kinked, it was prone to kink in the same spot again). We like that it comes in a variety of colors, but that’s not enough to offset the kinking issue. The Dramm was our previous top pick in this guide, but its increasing costs, coupled with the results of our long-term testing, have led us to see the Continental as the better option.
Eley 5/8-inch Polyurethane Garden Hose
The Eley is lighter, easier to use, and more durable than our other picks. It’s the best hose we’ve ever tested.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $110.
The Eley 5/8-inch Polyurethane Garden Hose was a revelation to us. It’s the best hose we’ve ever handled, and after using it for a while, we came to see all other hoses, including our other picks, as cumbersome, primitive, and dysfunctional. Compared with quality rubber hoses like the Continental and the Dramm, the Eley is lighter (much lighter), easier to loop, and more durable, and it seems immune to any kind of folding or kinking. The brass fittings at the ends are large and easy to tighten by hand or wrench, and it comes with a 10-year warranty (twice as long as the coverage that Eley offered on its discontinued rubber hose). With all of these high points, this Eley hose doesn’t come cheap—costing roughly $110 for a 50-foot length, it’s certainly an investment. But if you have trouble hefting a heavier hose or if you just want to simplify and eliminate as many of the daily micro-frustrations of a garden hose, this Eley hose is very much worth considering. It’s available in a variety of sizes, and Eley can even make custom lengths.
HoseCoil ⅜-inch Self Coiling Garden Hose (25 feet)
Manageable, lightweight, and easy to store, this coiled hose is perfect for a small patio, where you don’t need a ton of range or the absolute maximum water volume.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $38.
The HoseCoil ⅜-inch Self Coiling Garden Hose (25 feet) is neither as tough nor as long as our other picks, but for a small patio, balcony, or yard—where dragging around a big 50-footer feels like overkill—it’s a fine alternative. The HoseCoil’s main selling point is its retractable corkscrew design, which works as advertised in making the hose easy to extend, recoil, and store. Compared with our bigger picks, this ⅜-inch-diameter hose loses a quarter-inch of capacity, which translated to slightly lower water pressure in our side-by-side trials. Although the HoseCoil’s total length is 25 feet, in practice it’s really good for only about 17 feet before it starts to strain. As with our heavier-duty picks, the HoseCoil’s nozzle end has flat facets for a wrench to grab. Its two-year warranty is reassuring, too; though we’ve heard of some HoseCoils lasting longer, hitting the two-year mark is about what we’d expect. We have a test unit that has been doing fine after two years of intermittent use and daily Southern California sun exposure.
Melnor XT451 Metal Nozzle
Durable and intuitive, with a variety of spray patterns to choose from, the XT451 nozzle is satisfying and comfortable to use.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $13.
For a full-featured hose nozzle that can shower delicate flowers just as well as it can blast the mud off a truck tire, we recommend the Melnor XT451 Metal Nozzle. You can find a lot of similar nozzles, but this Melnor model stands out due to its durable construction and its good variety of spray patterns, as well as how nicely it sprays. The XT451 has a hefty metal body with a hard rubber padding at the grip area (the spraying nozzle itself is plastic). It has seven spray patterns that run the gamut from a car-rinsing jet stream to a mist that can water even the most delicate seedlings. Compared with six other nozzles we recently tested, the XT451 not only felt the most durable but also had a spray that was simply better: The shower setting was a perfect shape with hardly any spitting, the jet setting shot water the farthest, and we never saw any dripping out of the front of the nozzle. This pick replaces the Melnor 5-Pattern Watering Nozzle 301-416, which has had a lot of leaking issues in our experience (including a specific event when it leaked and drained Wirecutter senior staff writer Doug Mahoney’s well completely dry).
Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle
Simple and durable, the Gilmour is a classic, but its one-size-fits-all spray pattern is not the most versatile.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $6.
The classic Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle is a longtime Wirecutter recommendation that further proves six or seven bucks is plenty to spend for a satisfying hose nozzle, as long as you’re willing to make a concession or two. This tool contains none of the plastic parts common to competitors in its price range, and it lacks the familiar rotating wheel of spray settings. Instead, when you depress the trigger, you get a range of sprays—from a mistlike cloud at minimal pressure up to a forceful jet when the trigger is fully depressed. You can adjust a setting screw to customize this range slightly, but it’s nowhere near as targeted as the settings on the Melnor XT451. That doesn’t matter much when you’re washing the car (which the Gilmour nozzle is perfect for), but the Gilmour can be frustrating to use when you’re trying to water small container plants: You’re likely to spray water everywhere, and when you’re correcting that, you might shoot a beam of water at the base of a plant, blasting dirt and damaging roots. We’ve been using versions of this tool for the better part of a decade, taking horrible care of them all the while (they still work fine). And we confirmed in testing in 2021 that a new Gilmour nozzle was still as solid and reliable as the units we had bought years prior.
The Melnor R301 RelaxGrip Metal Thumb-Control 8-Pattern Nozzle has a build quality similar to that of the Melnor XT451, but it trades in the trigger control for a thumb-operated valve, which should be easier to operate for those with limited hand strength. In general, we prefer a trigger-style handle for its ability to quickly toggle on and off, but the thumb valve doesn’t rely on grip strength at all in order to work—the valve opens to the desired flow, and it just stays on. In our tests, we could even turn it on and off by sliding it against our hips. We like that there is no need to fiddle with a clip or a dial to maintain the spray, and because the thumb valve has fewer moving parts, it could prove to be a more durable option in the long run.
Eley Portable Garden Hose Reel Cart
The Eley hose reel offers top-notch durability, overall quality, and ease of use. It’s not cheap, but it solves all of the problems people have with hose reels.
You can find a lot of inexpensive hose reels out there, but in our experience, we’ve seen too many limitations and frustrations—poor quality, iffy stability, and small wheels—for us to recommend one. For a far superior reel, one that solves all those frustrations, we recommend the Eley Portable Garden Hose Reel Cart, or if you prefer a wall-mounted version, the Eley Wall Mounted Garden Hose Reel. In the world of hose reels, Eley models have a stellar reputation, and after testing one, we fully understand why.
The build quality of the Eley reel is as good as it gets: The strong metal frame provides stability, the giant tires easily bounce over an uneven lawn, the handles are comfortable and well placed, and the reel itself pulls in a hose with minimal effort. The components are heavy-duty, and it’s an item that we expect would last a lifetime with proper care.
The Hoselink 82ft Retractable Hose Reel offers a simple way to manage a lot of hose with minimal effort. It’s 82 feet of hose on an enclosed reel that pulls out easily and retracts on its own after a slight tug, like a window blind. A guide roller at the reel moves back and forth as the hose retracts, guaranteeing that the hose spools on evenly, not all in one lump. The set comes with 6.5 feet of leader hose, and a quick-connect system on both the leader hose and the main hose makes attaching and detaching the connections easy. The quick-connect piece at the end of the main hose even has its own shutoff, further simplifying a nozzle swap; this quick-connect piece also freely rotates, so you can shift the spray nozzle around without twisting the hose. Because you can mount the Hoselink reel at any height, it eliminates any bending over or back strain associated with knee-level reels or hose spigots. We were skeptical of the Hoselink reel at first, but after having used it daily for a month, we’ve found that it’s an efficient way to keep a hose off the lawn. So far the only downside we’ve seen is that the hose is only ½ inch in diameter—not ⅝ inch like the others—so jobs like filling buckets take longer.