What kind of garden hose should you choose to buy?

  • Who wouldn't want a garden hose that's lightweight, expandable, and never kinks? But when those supposedly easy-to-use hoses were introduced a few years ago, most of the user reviews had complaints about how easily they broke. Now Consumer Reports has tested new versions that are said to be stronger. Four new design expandable hoses were put to the test.

    In the past, the weak point seemed to be the fittings and connections at the end of the hose. Consumer Reports tested the strength of the new fittings. It turns out that those made of plastic are tougher than before. And the brass fittings are even stronger. They are even stronger than those on a regular garden hose.

    Consumer Reports also tested the strength of the connection between the fittings and the hose. Each withstood over 100 pounds of force, which is good but no stronger than the older versions. That might explain why so many user reviews are still negative.

    Here's the problem: Every hose has to have a connection between the rubber tubing and that connector, and if there's a sharp edge and it twists and turns and is bent and flexed, it's going to wear right at that point.

    Consumer Reports also tested a lightweight hose that doesn't expand—the Clear-Flow Garden Hose, for $60. It performed well, and at 3 pounds, it's only slightly heavier than the expandable hoses. Testers did find some kinks, but they easily correct themselves when the hose is fully extended.

    If an expandable hose still appeals to you, Consumer Reports says to try the $20 XHose. It's the only one you can fix if it breaks at the connector.

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