Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson

The 7 Best Garden Hoses, Tested in Our Lab

Out of the 30 garden hoses we tested, the Forever Steel 304 Stainless Steel Hose came out on top because it’s extremely durable and easy to maneuver.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right garden hose. Whether you're looking to use a garden hose for lawn care, small container gardening, or even cleaning, you'll need to determine which features are most important to you. 

To compile this list of the best garden hoses across all different types, we tested 30 garden hoses in our Lab, evaluating them on design, ease of use, durability, and value. For expert advice on what to look for in a garden hose, we turned to Erin Schanen, creator of The Impatient Gardener, as well as Gary McCoy, store manager at Lowe's

"There is no perfect hose for every application," says Schanen. "Buyers need to weigh convenience with durability, price with longevity, and then consider special features they might like. A good hose can cost quite a bit more than what you might pick up at the hardware store, but odds are you'll have it for much longer and have less frustration with it." 

Our top pick is the Forever Steel 304 Stainless Steel Hose because it's virtually impossible to kink, knot, or puncture, and it has the highest burst strength of all the hoses on our list. And since it's made with 304-grade stainless steel, it remains cool to the touch even in the hot sun and doesn't freeze up in the snow.

Below you'll find more of our top garden hoses picks, as well as expert tips and advice on choosing the right garden hose for your needs. 

Our Top Picks

Garden Hose
Credit: amazon.com

Best Overall Garden Hose: Forever Steel 304 Stainless Steel Hose

View at Amazon ($40)

Who it's for: People who want a kink- and puncture-proof garden hose that can be left out in the elements.
Who it isn't for: People who want an expandable garden hose or one that is drinking water-safe. 

Kinks, knots, and rips begone! We were wowed by how durable and easy this garden hose is to use: "This was the easiest hose I have ever used," said one tester. "Impossible to kink, easy to roll up when done, easy to maneuver around plants or trees, and never got tangled." 

This hose has a 304-grade stainless steel outer casing that's rust-, corrosion-, and UV-resistant. It remains cool to the touch when left out in the hot sun and doesn't freeze up when left in the snow. In our testing, its durability went unmatched: It slid through grass and rocks with ease, and didn't sustain any damage. But despite its durable build, the 50-foot hose weighs just over four pounds and features a flexible design that's easy to maneuver around obstacles in your yard. It has a burst strength of 500 PSI, the highest of all the hoses on our list, so you can use more water pressure without damaging your hose. And on top of all this, it's less than the medium price of all the garden hoses we tested. Just note that this hose is non-expandable, but considering it's so easy to coil, you probably won't wish for a retractable hose anyway. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Stainless steel 
  • Length: 50 feet 
  • Diameter: 5/8 inch
  • Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Couplings: Stainless steel 
  • Maximum Pressure: 500 PSI
Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson
Garden Hose
Credit: amazon.com

Best Expandable Garden Hose: The Fit Life Expandable Garden Hose

View at Amazon (From $33)

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: People who want a retractable hose for a small garden or patio.
Who it isn't for: People who need to drag their hose through rough terrain, such as gravel. 

Expandable hoses work by swelling as you fill them with water and contracting as you flush them out. This helps to save you storage space while still giving you the length of a full-size hose. In our testing, The Fit Life's Expandable Garden Hose was the best out of all the expandable hoses we tested. Our testers found it to be incredibly lightweight and flexible, even when full. When you're done using it, simply open the valve on the brass fitting to release the water and watch the hose shrink back to its original size (about one-third of its fully expanded length). Once the hose was back to its original size, we found it very easy to coil. 

The major drawback to expandable garden hoses is that they tend to be less durable, given that they're made with fabric that allows them to expand as the hose fills with water. Our testers were impressed by the durability of this model, which snagged the least out of all the expandable hoses we tested. It's made with a triple-ply latex inner tube and a durable polyester covering. However, given that it is an expandable hose, we do suspect that it will sustain some damage with extended use. 

This hose comes with high-quality brass fittings and includes a spray nozzle with eight different settings, so you don't have to worry about purchasing one separately. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Polyester/latex
  • Length: 25, 50, 75, or 100 feet
  • Diameter: 6/10 inch
  • Weight: 1.8 to 4.5 pounds
  • Couplings: Brass with nozzle
  • Maximum Pressure: 300-350 PSI

RELATED: The 9 Best Patio Umbrellas, According to Our Testing

Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson
Garden Hose
Credit: amazon.com

Best Flexible Garden Hose: Flexzilla Garden Hose

View at Amazon (From $35)

Also available at Walmart

Who it's for: People who want a pliable garden hose that won't kink under pressure.
Who it isn't for: People who want a lightweight garden hose. 

For daily watering needs, the Flexzilla Garden Hose is a great all-purpose hose. Made from a flexible hybrid polymer, it is extremely malleable, so you can maneuver around patio furniture or any other obstacles that may be in your way. Our testers found the manufacturer's claim that this hose is kink-resistant to be true, and noted that it straightened out nicely when unwound from the reel. However, this is one of the heavier hoses on our list, especially when full. 

The couplings are made from anodized aluminum with an easy-grip coating that testers say made it easier to attach to the spigot and to drag across the lawn. The lime green color makes it easy to spot in the yard, too. And the hybrid polymer inner tube material is safe to drink out of, whether you're filling your pet's dish or drinking straight from the hose yourself. It doesn't have the most burst strength out of all the hoses on our list, but for everyday watering this shouldn't be a problem.  

Product Details: 

  • Material: Hybrid polymer
  • Length: 50, 75, or 100 feet 
  • Diameter: 5/8 inch
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Couplings: Anodized aluminum
  • Maximum Pressure: 150 PSI
Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson
Garden Hose
Credit: amazon.com

Best Heavy-Duty Garden Hose: Eley Polyurethane Garden Hose

View at Amazon (From $38)

Also available at Eley.

Who it's for: People who want a durable hose that's flexible and light.
Who it isn't for: People who aren't in a position to spend a lot on a garden hose. 

Polyurethane is the new kid on the block when it comes to garden hoses, but it's quickly becoming the gold standard because it's lightweight, flexible, and extremely durable. Described by the manufacturer as the "most durable garden hose available," the Eley Polyurethane Garden Hose is puncture-, kink-, crush-, and abrasion-resistant, so you can drag it against rocks or asphalt without worry. Fun fact: It's made from the same material used for in-line skates. Our testers note that it "seems like it would hold up to heavy long-term use." 

In our testing, the hose didn't kink at all, and was significantly lighter than rubber, another material lauded for its durability. It comes equipped with lead-free brass fittings and is drinking water-safe. The hose is also available in 10 different sizes, ranging from 6.5 feet to 200 feet. However, it costs almost three times as much as our best overall pick, but it does come with a 10-year warranty. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Length: 6.5, 12, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, or 200 feet
  • Diameter: 5/8 inch
  • Weight: 1 to 28 pounds
  • Couplings: Brass
  • Maximum Pressure: 150 PSI

RELATED: The 6 Best Gardening Shoes, According to Our Testing

Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson
Garden Hose
Credit: lowes.com

Best Rubber Garden Hose: Craftsman Hot Water Rubber Hose

View at Lowe’s ($45)

Who it's for: People who want a garden hose for hot water use or one with a high burst strength. 

Who it isn't for: People who want a kink-free garden hose. 

For heavy use, a rubber hose provides long-lasting durability at a much lower cost than polyurethane. And despite rubber's reputation for being cumbersome, our testers found this hose to be easy to maneuver around pots and not overly heavy. The distinct red color is easy to spot in the lawn, and the brass couplings are high-quality and easy to screw on and off the spigot. 

This garden hose does not claim to be kink-free, and it did kink a bit during our testing, though not much compared to the other rubber hoses we tested. We like that it has a 300 PSI burst strength, enough to the high water pressure necessary for heavy-duty jobs or tackling out-of-reach places from a distance. Plus, it has the ability to handle hot water up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Rubber
  • Length: 50 feet
  • Diameter: 5/8 inch
  • Weight: 8.5 pounds
  • Couplings: Brass
  • Maximum Pressure: 300 PSI
Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson
Garden Hose
Credit: amazon.com

Best Soaker Garden Hose: H2O Works Flat Soaker Garden Hose

View at Amazon (From $45)

Who it's for: People who want a slow and steady release of water to their flower bed or vegetable garden.
Who it isn't for: People who want a hose for more than just gardening purposes. 

Rather than spraying water, which can evaporate before it reaches the ground, this soaker hose releases water slowly and steadily through its pores to give a deep, even soak to plant roots. Our testers took note of what looked like condensation on the outside of the hose as the water began seeping through the pores. According to the manufacturer, this flat soaker hose can release an impressive two gallons of water every two minutes. 

We found the hose to be lightweight and easy to maneuver around obstacles like flower beds or pots. It even held up well to being dragged through rocks and over a rake. The PVC material is treated with UV inhibitors, so it can withstand years of use even in the hot sun. We did, however, have some difficulty loading the hose back onto the reel because of kinking. And be careful not to turn the water pressure too high (no more than 60 PSI), as this may cause the hose to burst. 

Overall though, this is a great soaker hose that allows you to deliver water right to the roots of your vegetables, flowers, or shrubs without lugging a hose to and from storage.  

Product Details: 

  • Material: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Length: 25 or 50 feet
  • Diameter: 1/2 inch
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds or 3.9 pounds
  • Couplings: Brass
  • Maximum Pressure: 60 PSI

RELATED: The 7 Best Gardening Gloves for All Types of Gardeners, According to Our Tests

Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson
Garden Hose
Credit: amazon.com

Best Coil Garden Hose: Water Right 300 Series Coil Hose

View at Amazon (From $35)

Also available at Pottery Barn.

Who it's for: People who want a self-storing hose for watering small areas. 
Who it isn't for: People who want a garden hose that can handle high water pressure.

Coil garden hoses are the solution to watering small areas, such as small flower beds or vegetable gardens, porches, patios, or even urban container gardens, because they don't require you to lug a full-size hose around just for these tasks. We found this hose extremely easy to carry, and our testers noted that it was especially easy to use. Plus, it rebounds into its original shape for easy storage—no worrying about coiling it back around a reel.

This coil hose in particular stands out for two reasons: its material and design. Like our best heavy-duty hose, it's made from UV-stabilized polyurethane, an extremely durable, flexible, and lightweight material that's resistant to punctures and abrasions. The couplings are made from lead-free brass. "I can see this lasting for many years," says one tester. In terms of design, this garden hose has unique straight tail ends as opposed to being coiled all the way through, which makes it easier to direct the flow of water and attach it to the spigot. Plus, it's drinking water-safe. This hose does have a rather small diameter at 3/8 inch, which can restrict the water flow, so it's best reserved for low-pressure watering. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Length: 25, 50, or 75 feet
  • Diameter: 3/8 inch
  • Weight: 2, 3.4, or 4.6 pounds
  • Couplings: Brass
  • Maximum Pressure: 50 PSI
Garden Hose
Credit: Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Forever Steel 304 Stainless Steel Hose because it's impossible to puncture or kink, yet remains lightweight and flexible for maneuvering around the yard. Plus, it has the highest burst strength on our list at 500 PSI. If you're willing to spend a bit more, our heavy-duty pick is the Eley Polyurethane Garden Hose, because it's made from polyurethane, a nearly indestructible material that's lightweight and safe to drink out of. 

Our Testing Process

We put 30 garden hoses through a series of tests, bearing in mind that not all garden hoses serve the same purpose, nor are they all meant to perform in the exact same way. First, our testers picked up each coiled hose and assessed whether they felt cumbersome or light, considering the size and material. 

Next, testers used the couplings to connect each hose to a water spigot—and again to a feeder hose—to evaluate whether the hose had a tight seal or if any leaking occurred. We then unwound the hoses all the way out from the reel and dragged them across different surfaces including grass, cement, and even a garden rake with its tines turned up, pivoting 180 degrees and maneuvering around three large pots in our testing area. During this portion of the testing, we took careful note of any punctures or signs of wear on the hose. 

For our final test, we sprayed water from each hose for two minutes and then turned the water off without emptying the water from the hose. We then attempted to wind the hose back on the reel, taking note of how easy or difficult it was to do when the hose was full. Finally, we repeated the tests above but this time depressed the hose nozzle to release the water, and then attempted to wind the hose onto the reel again. Each garden hose was scored based on its design, ease of use, durability, and value. 

How to Shop for Garden Hoses Like a Pro

Type

There are several types of garden hoses that go beyond just your standard hose, but each comes with its benefits and drawbacks: "Choosing a hose is an exercise in compromise because there is no perfect hose," says Schanen. 

Standard hoses are a great choice for all-purpose watering and cleaning: "Standard hoses are the most popular choice because they do the job well, but they have to be coiled and can be prone to kinking," says Schanen. You can find both lightweight and heavy-duty standard hoses, the latter of which may be better suited for hot water and heavy, continuous use, according to McCoy: "Hoses should always be used with ambient water temperatures, so hot water should only be used in hoses specifically designed for hot water use!" 

Expandable hoses are lightweight and compact, but can expand two to three times their size when filled with water and shrink back when not in use. Unfortunately, their flexible material comes with a trade-off—they're more susceptible to rips and snags than other hoses (The Fit Life's Expandable Garden Hose was the least prone to snagging of all the expandable hoses we tested). 

Soaker hoses are best for delivering water slowly and deliberately to the roots, but Schanen notes that they often need to be pinned down to stay in place. They can even be buried under a layer of mulch, according to McCoy, who says that "the hose leaks small amounts of water directly to your garden or flower bed's roots with little waste."

Coil hoses are meant for watering small areas without the inconvenience of lugging around an extra-long hose or winding it back onto the reel, because it retracts on its own into a neat coil. However, coil hoses tend to be very short and can get tangled from time to time. 

Material

Polyurethane: According to Schanen, polyurethane offers "a good blend of durability and weight savings and [is] less likely to kink." It's considered to be the most durable material out there, and it's lighter than rubber (but more costly, too). 

Rubber: Rubber hoses are second only to polyurethane in durability, and much more affordable. However, they can be quite heavy when filled with water. 

Vinyl: Vinyl is a lightweight and affordable alternative to rubber, but it's generally not as durable and is more prone to kinking. 

Stainless steel: These hoses are most often constructed with a waterproof interior surrounded by coils of stainless steel for enhanced durability. Garden hoses are usually made from 304-grade stainless steel, because it's less likely to rust and corrode (like that of our best overall pick).

If you plan to drink from your garden hose, it's important to note that not all garden hose materials are safe for drinking: "If you take an occasional drink from your hose on a hot day, get a hose that's designated boat, marine, or recreational," says McCoy. "Their plastic lining makes them safe for transmitting drinking water. It's important to remember that the components used in standard hoses aren't always safe for ingestion." 

Size

There are three factors to consider when looking at the size of a garden hose: diameter, length, and weight. According to Schenan, a 5/8-inch diameter is the standard size for a garden hose and works best for most purposes. "A 3/4-inch hose will offer great water pressure, but will be quite heavy," says Schenan. "Half-inch hoses are a delight to use because they are light, but you won't be able to run most sprinklers with them and you might not even get spray from a hose-end sprayer." Coil garden hoses may run even smaller, usually about 3/8-inch, given they are meant to water a smaller area. 

Garden hoses typically range in length from 25 to 50 feet (although the Eley Polyurethane Garden Hose offers more size variety, ranging from 6.5 feet to 200 feet long). While you want a hose that's long enough to reach wherever you're looking to water, the water pressure will diminish with length: "Buy a hose that's long enough to reach where you'll be using it and no longer," says McCoy. "If you occasionally require a long hose, buy two shorter ones and combine when needed." 

Finally, consider the weight of the hose you choose. As stated earlier, rubber hoses tend to be the heaviest. Generally weight and durability go hand in hand (with some exceptions), so look for a hose that you feel confident you'll be able to manage, yet will still give you years of use.  

Burst Strength

The "burst strength" of a garden hose is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) and indicates how much water pressure the hose can endure before bursting. The higher the PSI, the more durable the hose. Soaker hoses and coil hoses generally require less pressure to function properly, so it's best to keep the water pressure low to avoid damaging the hose. 

Couplings

Couplings, or fittings, are the end pieces that connect the hose to the water supply. "End fittings are just as important as the hose material," says Schenan. "Look for brass or plated brass alloy fittings for the longest life, something that's especially important if you are investing in a hose you expect to use for several years. Aluminum and plastic fitting are unlikely to last as long, but are lighter." 

More Garden Hoses to Consider

Briggs & Stratton Premium Heavy-Duty Rubber Garden Hose: This is another durable and high-quality rubber hose that fell just short of the competition, mainly because its black color became extremely hot to the touch when exposed to sunlight. 

Dramm ColorStorm Premium Rubber Garden Hose: Dramm is a trusted brand in gardening supplies, and this rubber garden hose lived up to our expectations. We particularly like that it comes in a variety of bright colors that will stand out on a lawn. 

Questions You Might Ask

How can you prevent garden hoses from kinking and knotting? 

Because garden hoses are often stored in tight coils for long periods of time, they can be prone to kinking and knotting, which can in turn restrict water flow. "If you can store it without coiling (by laying flat), that is optimal, but when coiling is necessary, start with the hose stretched out and then coil," suggests Schenan. Thicker materials such as rubber or heavy-duty garden hoses are generally more kink-resistant. 

What's the best way to store a garden hose?

Although laying your hose out flat in three or four long sections is ideal for preventing kinking and knotting, we recognize that this is not always practical. There are many different storage mechanisms for garden hoses, including reel wagons, pots, hangers, and more. To store your hose, Schenan suggests first stretching your hose out straight before coiling it, and never forcing a coil into place: "Sometimes you may have to alternate coils, so one is tucked under the previous coil (don't worry, it will still pull out fine)."

You should also take care not to leave the hose out in direct sunlight, because hot water can expand in the hose and "UV rays can weaken the material," says McCoy. "Also, make sure to store it out of the elements during winter."

Do you need a garden hose nozzle for your hose?

A nozzle attaches to one end of the hose to help control the flow and distribution of the water. Some nozzles allow you to alternate between different spray patterns, while others feature a set stream of water. A hose nozzle helps to prevent water waste by giving you superior control over the direction of the flow and by allowing you to shut off the flow when not in use. For cleaning projects, fireman-style nozzles provide a powerful spray. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 30 garden hoses in our Lab, evaluating them based on design, ease of use, durability, and value. For expert advice on what to look for when shopping, we consulted Erin Schanen, creator of The Impatient Gardener, as well as Gary McCoy, store manager at Lowe's

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.