Flexible garden hoses get mixed reviews from our readers

When Consumer Reports put three flexible garden hoses to the test, it didn't treat them like shrinking violets. We kinked, twisted, slashed and froze the hoses and applied a lot of water pressure. For the most part they lived up to their infomercial promises even though the so-called pocket hoses don't really fit in your pocket. But a number of visitors to our website and Facebook page have taken us to task with complaints that their hoses leaked, burst, broke and had to be returned, sometimes more than once.

This spring we tested 50-foot models of the Pocket Hose, $20, FlexAbleHose, $30, and DAP XHose, $43. In our tests, the hoses resisted kinking and bursting and none lost flow when folded, twisted or knotted. And none burst until we boosted water pressure to more than 200 pounds per square inch (psi), much more than the 40 to 80 psi that's usual in most homes. We also made small nicks in the hoses to create weak spots and they held together until the cuts reached about one inch in length.

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But shortly after we posted our report, we starting hearing from our readers. "I would like to find out why my pocket hose keeps splitting ... I have tried three and all three keep splitting during use or right after use," came the first comment. Then, "this hose is a sure rip-off ... it sure was disappointing."

So we asked our Facebook followers about their experiences and that opened the spigot. While the comments skewed toward the negative side, not all were bad. Many readers like the hoses because they're small and lightweight. But others complained that they leaked at the faucet connection, burst under water pressure and did not shrink back to their original size. And what really irked them is that they had similar problems with a second and third hose.

"Loved this concept," wrote Kelly on Facebook. "Bought one on Saturday, used on Sunday. The connection wasn't a problem at all. However the minute I turned it on, sprung two leaks!" Harry reported that his hose "exploded" within five minutes. Other readers had better experiences. "It's fine as an extra hose," wrote Karen. "Not heavy duty but not designed for that anyway."

And the small hose's easy storage has big appeal. "I just wrap it up and store it in a small Rubbermaid tote," wrote Kimberly. Sharon agreed. "I too like that I can keep it in a small pot when not in use." And one enterprising reader fixed his leaky hose with an Allen wrench and a Dremel tool and said it "works great now with no leaks!"

Wayne seemed to sum it all up: "Mixed reviews would be a good assessment. Works fine, is lightweight, but doesn't stretch as much as advertised or shrink down like they would have you believe."

Mary H.J. Farrell

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