A good garden hose reel is an incredibly helpful tool for gardening, car-washing… whatever your outdoor watering needs are, you might consider having a handy reel nearby. It keeps your hose within easy reach, organized and neatly rolled, and out of the way when you don’t need it.
Our testers evaluated 26 reels’ set-up time, design, ease of use, portability, durability, and value. But this is a product that largely comes down to individual preferences and plans for use. “If it’s easy to reel and fits your criteria, you have a home run,” Jerry Gorchels, technical product representative at PanAmerican Seed North America tells PEOPLE.
Out of the 26 reels we tested, we found six home runs. Leading the pack was the Gorilla 200 ft. Aluminum Zero Rust Premium Mobile Hose Reel, which was outstanding in almost all our categories.
Below, take a look at all 6 of our favorite reels that PEOPLE tested.
Things to Consider Before Buying Garden Hose Reels
Where You’ll Keep It
Consider your outdoor space and the best location for a garden hose reel when evaluating your options. “There are wall-mount, ground-mount, yard set, etc.,” says Jerry Gorchels, technical product representative at PanAmerican Seed North America. “Decide where you want to have it—hidden, convenient, practical.”
“Do you have the strength to reel 100 feet of hose?” asks Gorchels, noting that there are motor-driven automatic retractable reels on the market as well. Our picks above include pot-style holders without an actual reel—like the BHG Metal Hose Pot or the Frontgate Beehive Hose Pot—so consider what type of hose you have (or what you’re planning to buy) and how easy or difficult it is will be to wrap or reel your garden hose.
Home and lifestyle blogger Kelli Bateman from My House of 8 suggests prioritizing a metal-based system when purchasing a garden hose reel. “I would look for a sturdy (metal-based) wheel and crank system…it would also need to be matched with a quality hose to avoid the kinking and flimsiness that makes it hard to reel in.”
The reels that we tested ranged anywhere from $30 to $450. Interestingly, the $30 pot garnered a 4.5-star rating versus the $450 pot’s 3.6, so a more expensive pot doesn’t necessarily mean that it works the best. Consider how you’ll use the pot and invest in something sturdy and durable so that it doesn’t move around as you unreel your hose or get tarnished by the elements.
A garden hose reel is only as good as its design. “I would want a forgiving opening where the hose enters the reel, and a sturdy metal frame to handle the weight of the hose that may still have water in it as you start to roll it in,” says Bateman.
For Bateman, this is a product where the quality should take priority over the cost for consumers. “I recently ditched a plastic box hideaway hose reel,” she explains. “I realize now that I had given in to the low-cost appeal of a low-quality combination of hose and reel. I found it hard to crank.” She adds, “The hose was a cheaper vinyl hose and not well reinforced, so it easily kinked. The box shifted easily due to the lack of weight, and the hose was too flimsy to stay straight and stiff to slide through the narrow guide into the box.” Consider investing in a sturdier reel as well as a functional and durable hose (because what good is a reel if the hose is poor?).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you connect a hose to a hose reel?
Always start by detaching the hose from the water source as well as any head attachments. Depending on the design and style of your reel, you’ll likely need to insert a washer onto the bottom of the hose coupling to ensure the seal is taut once you connect the female end. Carefully thread your hose through the opening of the hose reel, being careful to keep the hose flat so there are no kinks or awkward twists, and connect the female end to the coupling, twisting it firmly into place. Then, you may start to wind your hose reel, keeping one hand on the hose and guiding it along the reel if needed to prevent bunching or kinking.
How do you fix a leaky garden hose reel?
There are a couple of reasons your hose reel may be leaking. First, the seal on the coupling may not be tight enough. Consider tightening the connection with pliers or a wrench to see if that helps matters, otherwise you might consider lubricating the washer with silicone grease or, if nothing seems to be working, replace the washer altogether. Another reason for a garden hose reel leak could be due to wear and tear of the hose itself. Always be sure to avoid using the hose in freezing temperatures as frozen water can cause the hose to expand and rupture. If there is a hole or tear in your hose, use a water hose repair kit to fix it or buy a new hose entirely.
Are garden hose reels a necessity?
You can greatly extend the life of your hose by investing in a reel. If hoses are stored on a garage floor, on a driveway, or wound up in a backyard, they’ll likely undergo damage. Hose reels help to protect your hose while also improving maneuverability for the operator.
How We Tested Garden Hose Reels
First, we timed the set-up for those reels that required assembly, and we evaluated the materials and hardware for sturdiness and quality. For each reel, we tested using two hoses of varying size and material, and then wound and unwound the hose, noting the ease of use and performance. For the reel models with wheels, we wheeled them around testing areas that included a mix of grass, pavement, and small rocks. For pot-style holders, we coiled the hose inside and gave it a push to ensure that the hose fits securely inside. Each reel or pot was scored on the following criteria: Setup, design, ease of use, portability (for the models with wheels), durability, and—once our testers learned the list price of each model—value. Winning traits we kept in mind included: durable, long-lasting materials, smooth turning mechanism, and ease of moving the reel.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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