Photo: Glenda Taylor
Expandable hoses are self-draining kink- and twist-resistant alternatives to standard garden hoses. They weigh far less than their conventional counterparts while taking up very little space. Their outer fabric shell creates a rigid wall around the hose and protects the core from punctures and abrasion, while the inner core operates much like a balloon by stretching up to three times its resting length. Turn the water off, and the hose returns to its original size and shape.
We wanted to know if these new space-saving hoses lived up to the hype, so we tested them in our own yard and garden. Read on to learn more about which ones we think are among the best expandable garden hoses on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: HydroTech 100-Foot Expandable Burst Proof Garden Hose
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: XHose Pro-Garden Hose
- UPGRADE PICK: Emsco 100-Foot Expandable Hose With Spray Nozzle
- BEST DRAG-RESISTANT: BionicFlex 100-Foot Lightweight Compact Hose
- BEST FOR COLD WEATHER: Flexi Hose Expandable Hose With 8-Function Nozzle
- BEST FOR SMALL GARDEN: HydroTech 25-Foot Expandable Burst Proof Garden Hose
- BEST NO-KINK: No-Kink 100-Foot Expandable Garden Hose
How We Tested the Best Expandable Hoses
We put these hoses through the wringer and didn’t play favorites. If they came with a sprayer, we tested each of the spray functions, noting whether the spray was uniform or the connections leaked. After varying the water pressure with each hose, we found they all work best with a water pressure of at least 40 pounds per square inch (psi).
All hoses were pressurized with water and then left out in the elements for 24 hours, and we backed over each one of them with a car. To ensure that the fittings were strong, we banged them on the concrete, reconnected the hoses, and checked for leaks, indicating that the fitting had changed shape.
In addition, we noted how comfortably the sprayers fit in our hands and how easy the hose was to pull around the yard.
Our Top Picks
We tested numerous expandable hoses, basing our selection criteria on which hoses are currently among the most popular sellers. A hose had to be lightweight, strong, and durable to earn a spot on our lineup. Its fittings had to connect easily to spray nozzles and spigots without leaking. The following models excelled in our hands-on tests and are all top performers.
The first thing we noticed when unboxing the HydroTech expandable hose was the high quality of its connectors. The spigot-end connector is made from heavy-duty molded plastic. The end section twists independently of the rest of the connector, so we could quickly attach the HydroTech to the outdoor spigot.
The other connector features heavy-duty brass, and it comes with a shut-off valve that makes it easy to connect a nozzle or sprinkler without needing to turn off the water to the hose before doing so.
To see how long the hose was when filled with water, we shut the valve and turned the spigot on—the HydroTech immediately went from a soft, floppy hose to one that felt smooth and firm to the touch. We laid the hose straight and measured it—it came to a few inches over 100 feet. We pulled the hose around the corner of concrete steps and through some bushes, but it didn’t snag or rupture. Likewise, backing over it with our car didn’t faze it. We left the hose filled with water (about 40 psi) for 24 hours, and it didn’t leak.
This lightweight hose is 5.4 pounds when empty. While it did tangle when empty in its loose and floppy state, when filled with water, it resisted kinking and tangling. Note that it doesn’t come with a spray nozzle.
- Weight: 5.4 pounds
- Expanded length: 100 feet
- Sprayer included: No
- Lightweight—just 5.4 pounds when empty—to be easy to carry where needed
- Thick latex core and reinforced nylon exterior resists rips and bursts
- Oversize ergonomic connector makes attaching the hose to the spigot a snap
- This expandable hose does not come with a spray nozzle
Get the HydroTech 100-foot expandable hose at Ace Hardware, Target, or Do It Best.
There’s no need to spend a lot to get the benefits of an expandable hose. We tested the XHose in a 25-foot version, but longer lengths are available, depending on the retailer. The hose was very light when empty—just 1 pound—but it comes with solid brass connectors on each end, a thick latex core, and a heavy-duty polyester outer layer that is smooth and snag-resistant.
The nozzle end of the hose comes with a shut-off valve, so we closed the valve, connected the spigot end to our faucet, and filled the hose to capacity. It measured 25 feet when fully expanded.
We pulled the hose around the corner of concrete steps and through some thorny bushes. We did notice a slight snag in the black outer layer, but it did not affect the overall integrity of the hose—it was just a single-thread snag. It may have been there before we tested and we just didn’t notice. The XHose didn’t show any damage after backing over it with our car, and we found no leaks after leaving it pressurized with water for 24 hours.
- Weight: 1 pound
- Expanded length: 25 feet
- Sprayer included: No
- Tough polyester-fiber outer layer protects the durable inner latex core
- Solid-brass connectors are crush-resistant, and the nozzle-end features a shut-off valve
- Weighs just 1 pound when empty, making it easy to carry and stow
- No spray nozzle is included with this expandable hose
Get the XHose expandable hose at Lowes or Gardener’s Edge.
The bright red color is not the only attribute of this handsome hose! The Emsco hose came neatly wound in a clear plastic cylinder, but (our bad!), we pulled it out without paying attention, so spent the next 5 minutes untangling the knots. With all that handling, one thing was clear—the protective outer fabric was high quality and felt tough and durable.
The hose has quality brass connectors but no shut-off valve (we would’ve preferred one, since it’s such a convenience). We connected the Emsco to our spigot and attached the included sprayer with 10 different spray patterns, including jet, flat, and spray. Each of the spray selections offered a different water pattern—a nice feature.
We then removed the sprayer, put a shut-off valve (from one of the other hoses we tested) on the hose, and filled it completely with water; it measured just under 100 feet, which is close enough. We then backed the car over the hose and dragged it around the corner of our concrete steps and through the bushes. No snags or tears. After being pressurized for 24 hours, we drained it and wound it on a hose reel.
The Emsco hose felt a bit more resilient than some of the other models we tested, maybe because the inner hose core felt thicker. We can’t guarantee this hose (or any hose) will last an entire summer season or longer, but we think it will.
- Weight: 2.75 pounds
- Expanded length: 100 feet
- Sprayer included: Yes
- The bright red color of this hose means it won’t get lost in the yard or on a garage shelf
- Comes with an 10-pattern sprayer that adds versatility and convenience
- The hose feels durable to the touch, and it didn’t snag in testing
- This expandable hose doesn’t come with a shut-off valve
Get the Emsco expandable hose at Wayfair.
Anyone who’s had an expandable hose burst after being pulled over sharp rocks or through thorny brambles should check out the BionicFlex hose. Unlike the other expandable hoses we tested, the BionicFlex expands widthwise but not lengthwise when filled with water—so it’s somewhere between a traditional rubber hose and an expandable one. When empty, the BionicFlex weighs just 6.1 pounds and is easy to coil and stow on a hook or a shelf in the garage.
Out of the box, the BionicFlex looked more like a flat ribbon than a garden hose, but once we attached it to our spigot and filled it with water, it morphed into a regular-looking round hose. It comes with heavy-duty aluminum connectors that twist independently of the hose, making it a cinch to attach the hose to the spigot. It doesn’t come with a shut-off valve, but we borrowed one from another model for our testing.
The fabric covering on the BionicFlex feels like a thick canvas, which we found very protective for the hose’s inner core. We dragged it over rocks, around concrete steps, and through the rose bushes, and it didn’t suffer a scratch or a snag. Likewise, it withstood being backed over by the car and then sitting for 24 hours fully pressurized with water.
However, despite the manufacturer’s claim that it won’t tangle, it probably will; it did for us, but by turning on the water and pressurizing the hose, it was fairly simple to untangle it. The main downsides are the lack of a sprayer and shut-off nozzle, but those are available everywhere. It also came in a little short: Our measurement put the BionicFlex at just 96 feet. Those complaints notwithstanding, it is a seriously tough hose that will withstand much outdoor abuse.
- Weight: 6.1 pounds
- Expanded length: 100 feet (measured at 96 feet)
- Sprayer included: No
- Canvaslike fabric offers durable protection against tears, snags, and bursts
- Easy-connect fittings make it easy to attach the hose to spigots and nozzles
- Returns to flat, ribbonlike state when empty for easy carrying and storage
- No shut-off valve or nozzle included with this hose
Get the BionicFlex expandable hose at Amazon or Wayfair.
It’s never a good idea to leave an expandable garden hose outdoors over winter, especially in harsh conditions. But some gardeners may still want a hose for outdoor chores in colder weather. Those living in areas where temperatures frequently come close to freezing should consider a garden hose made with brass fittings, which are more durable than plastic.
The Flexi Hose features solid-brass fittings that connected snugly to the spigot and didn’t leak. Although the connection between the hose and the nozzle started out with a leak, it was quickly remedied by tightening the connection. When filled with water, it expanded to a maximum length of 50.5 feet.
The hose’s four-layer latex core is 10 millimeters thick, which the manufacturer claims gives it extra protection from cold temperatures. We only left the Flexi Hose outside for 24 hours—and it just happened to get rained on—but it didn’t seem the worse for it. It withstood a car driving over it and having its connectors banged on the concrete without even a scuff. Its eight-setting spray nozzle features an ergonomic, slip-resistant handle that’s especially nice, but the sprayer is slightly smaller than competing models.
- Weight: 2.7 pounds
- Expanded length: 50 feet
- Sprayer included: Yes
- Rubber anti-slip sprayer grip is comfortable in hand and won’t slip even when wet
- Detachable shut-off valve allows you to switch nozzles without turning off the water
- Very lightweight; at just 2.7 pounds, this hose won’t weigh you down
- Fabric isn’t quite as dense as some—we noticed a snag after use
Get the Flexi Hose expandable hose at Amazon or Flexi Hose.
Small but mighty, the 25-foot HydroTech hose is a compact version of our Best Overall pick, and while it’s shorter in length, it’s made with the same high-quality materials. It features a brass shut-off valve on the nozzle end and a durable molded plastic fitting on the spigot end that twists independently of the hose for making quick connections.
We filled the hose and stretched it out to measure—it was within a couple of inches of 25 feet. Then we backed the car over the hose, pulled it around concrete steps, and dragged it through bushes. It came out with one tiny snag from a thorn, but the snag didn’t seem to impact the integrity of the hose—it didn’t affect the fiber covering that protects the inner latex core. Likewise, leaving it pressurized for 24 hours with water didn’t negatively impact the little HydroTech. When we drained it, it was just as soft and floppy as when we unboxed it.
This little hose weighs just 2.4 pounds, and when empty, it’s small enough to store on a garage or even closet shelf. It doesn’t come with a sprayer, however.
- Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Expanded length: 25 feet
- Sprayer included: No
- Small and lightweight (just 2.4 pounds) and can be easily stored on a shelf or hook
- Nylon connector resists rust and corrosion and twists independently of the hose
- Shut-off valve on end of hose allows you to change nozzles without turning off water
- This 25-foot expandable hose does not come with a sprayer
Get the HydroTech 25-foot expandable hose at Target or HydroTech.
Hoses that kink easily are the bane of gardeners everywhere, so we were excited to test out the No-Kink expandable hose that’s advertised as not kinking. As with several of the other expandable hoses we tested, the no-kink aspect is limited to when the hose is pressurized with water. When the hose is empty, it’s light, soft, floppy, and prone to tangling.
We twisted the hose’s solid-brass fitting to the spigot, attached the included 10-function sprayer to the other end, and turned on the water. We were immediately showered from the spigot connection, but that was user error and easily fixed. We removed the hose and inserted one of the rubber washers that came with it. The next time we turned the water on, there were no leaks.
As the hose filled with water, it naturally expanded, and—true to the manufacturer’s claim—it resisted kinking. It measured right at 100 feet when filled. We backed the car over the hose, pulling it around corners and through bramble bushes. The No-Kink came through with flying colors—no snags, tears, or leaks.
The included sprayer didn’t fare as well, however—something inside the head of the sprayer must have been broken. As we tested the spray functions, a good amount of water ran out of a seam on the head. We felt this was probably a fluke, and when we shook the sprayer head, we heard something rattling around inside. We tossed the sprayer but kept the hose.
- Weight: 6 pounds
- Expanded length: 100 feet
- Sprayer included: Yes
- Strong polyester fabric cover and thick latex core resist kinking when the hose is filled
- Lightweight (just 6 pounds in empty state), soft, flexible and easy to store
- Comes with 3 extra washers, a shut-off valve, and an easy-connect fitting
- Tested sprayer didn’t function correctly; likely a fluke due to damage
Get the No-Kink expandable hose at The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Choosing an Expandable Hose
Expandable hoses do all the jobs that conventional garden hoses do. They’re a great choice for tight spaces where other hoses kink and twist, for homes where storage space is limited, and for anyone who is tired of lugging around heavy, traditional rubber hoses. The best expandable garden hoses swell under moderate water pressure, drain themselves, and resist wear and tear thanks to their lightweight, kink-free outer shell.
The quality of these products varies based on materials, hose length, fittings, weight, and spray nozzles. Most of the hoses we tested came with multifunction spray nozzles, although virtually any spray nozzle will fit.
Quality hose materials can make the difference between a long-lasting quality expandable hose and one that’s dead in the water. The exterior of the hose, which protects the core from damage, should be tough enough to resist abrasion and punctures; it also needs to dry quickly to resist mildew.
The core must be extremely pliable and resilient to easily expand to full length under pressure and shrink back to its original size when not in use. Expandable hoses come in two different core materials:
- Latex: A natural rubber, latex is in rubber gloves, balloons, and many other common rubber items. Most manufacturers use this material for the core of an expandable hose. A rubber hose typically features a double-layer latex core, though some manufacturers offer triple- and quadruple-layer cores.
- TPC: Tough, durable thermoplastic copolyester (TPC) typically is used for industrial tubing. This strong material comes at a premium.
For the most part, protective shells are made of nylon. Rugged and mold- and mildew-resistant, nylon stands up to the rigors of lawn and garden care.
Number of Cores
The cores of the best expandable garden hoses are both stretchable and strong. Though the shell protects the core, grit can work its way through the shell over time and threaten the core with puncture and abrasion. For this reason, most hoses feature at least a double-layer core, though some have as many as four layers.
Extra layers, however, add extra resistance. A thicker core requires greater water pressure to expand to full length. Too little water pressure means, for instance, that a 30-foot hose stretches an additional 25 feet.
A more resistant hose core also absorbs some of the water pressure from the spigot in order to stretch it out, which may lead to a noticeable reduction in the pressure coming out of the hose. For overall performance, especially where water pressure is concerned, added layers don’t necessarily make for the best expandable garden hoses.
Hose fittings, which connect the hose to the water supply and to the spray nozzle, may come in brass or plastic. Plastic fittings are inexpensive and often durable, but they tend to become cross threaded after repeated use, which can lead to leaks.
Solid brass connectors hold up much better through repeated threading and unthreading to the water supply and nozzle. Some expandable hoses also come with a quick-connect fitting, which allows you to attach the hose to the water supply without threading. Quick-connect couplers are also available separately.
Hose Length and Weight
The approximate hose length listed on the manufacturer’s packaging corresponds to the length of the fully extended hose. A 50-foot expandable hose, for example, may only extend 17 feet without water pressure. Longer hoses allow for increased mobility. Keep in mind that multilayered cores and weak water pressure can shorten the operational hose length, so it doesn’t hurt to buy the next size up.
Weight is almost a nonfactor with expandable hoses. They weigh between 1.5 and 3 pounds, or about one fifth that of a conventional hose. Fixtures and nozzles play the biggest part in the weight of the hose. Brass fixtures and nozzles are heavier (and more durable) than plastic.
Most expandable hoses come with either plastic or metal nozzles. The nozzles have different spray patterns for different uses. Some of the best hose nozzles include a dial for switching between different spray patterns, from a gentle mist perfect for watering seeds to a high-pressure jet stream that can rinse caked mud off the sidewalk.
In addition to mist and jet, these nozzles often have several other patterns, including:
- Shower: Designed for watering the garden and individual planters
- Flat: Designed for fragile plants and young seedlings
- Cone: Designed for greater coverage, like watering the lawn before a fertilizer application
- Soak: Designed for watering large trees and shrubs
An expandable garden hose’s flow rate depends on your home’s water pressure as well as the hose’s dimensions. The standard water pressure in American homes runs between 40 and 60 psi. Longer hoses have lower flow rates, while a wide diameter increases that rate.
A standard garden hose measures ⅝ inch in diameter, which results in a 17-gallon-per-minute flow rate on a spigot with a standard water pressure of 40 psi. A thicker hose with a ¾-inch diameter, however, pushes out up to 23 gallons per minute. Since some homes have high water pressure, garden hose specs typically include a rating for how much pressure they can handle without causing a blowout.
Generally, a quality expandable hose is not as durable as standard garden hoses and won’t withstand as much internal water pressure. If your spigot’s water pressure is over 50 psi, consider attaching a flow reducer to keep the water from exerting too much pressure in the hose.
The Advantages of Owning an Expandable Hose
Expandable garden hoses have become enormously popular over the past few years thanks to advances in materials and technology. They bring several distinct advantages to the lawn and garden. One of the major benefits to consider is how flexible and maneuverable these hoses are, making them easy for walking around the backyard or storing.
Another thing users love is the lightweight nature of expandable hoses, ranging from just 1 to 5 pounds. These options are also durable enough to last for a long time and can withstand abrasions, punctures, and weather conditions. Plus, many options on the market come with solid-brass connectors and adjustable spray nozzles for specific tasks. Here are a few other benefits to consider when choosing an expandable hose:
- Expandable hoses are very lightweight, which makes use and transport easy.
- Expandable hoses self drain and shrink to about a third of their full length for easy storage on a shelf or hose hanger.
- Expandable hoses don’t kink, twist, or tangle while in use the way conventional hoses tend to do.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for care and use of a collapsible garden hose. Doing so will ensure many seasons of easy watering. Below are answers to some common questions about expandable garden hoses.
Q. How do you use an expandable garden hose?
Attach the hose, with nozzle already in place, to the water supply. Turn on the water to full pressure or use a hose timer. Although we did so in testing, you will want to be careful not to drag the hose against rough surfaces or drive over it, as this can puncture or decrease its lifespan.
Q. How do you repair an expandable hose?
To repair an expandable hose, cut cleanly through the hose at the site of the leak, and use a hose repair kit to reconnect the cut ends.
Q. What’s the best way to store an expandable hose?
When the expandable hose is not in use, turn off the water supply, disconnect the hose, and allow it to self drain. Then store the hose out of extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. Most expandable hoses come with either a hanging hook or a carrying bag.
Why Trust Bob Vila
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Meet the Tester
Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.
Additional research provided by Mark Wolfe and Savannah Sher.