10 Best Hose Reels | February 2017
- attractive dark green color
- connections leak a bit
- there is some play in the wheels
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- great for commercial landscapers
- has a small storage basket
- assembly can be difficult
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- rated for 150 psi
- left or right-hand friendly
- no braking system
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
- heavy-duty bracing prevents sagging
- includes a 5-foot supply hose
- internal parts rust quickly
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
- ships with swivel-bracket hardware
- eight-pattern nozzle included
- has a small 65-foot capacity
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- six-foot rubber inlet
- attractive bronze color
- includes all mounting hardware
|Brand||Eley Rapid Wall Mount|
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
- looks great on a patio or lawn
- auto-tracking for even distribution
- holds up to a 150 foot line
|Brand||The AMES Companies, Inc|
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- comes fully assembled
- leakproof connection
- won't crack in the sun
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- state-of-the-art braking system
- comfortable grip handles
- 10-year warranty is included
|Brand||Eley Rapid 1043|
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
Before The Wheel, The Reel
Not to be confused with the type of clothing men wore centuries before women called them pantyhose, the first hose was made of long strips of leather riveted or laced together the way one might lace up a combat boot.
Invented in 1673 by two Dutch firefighters, Jan and Nicholaas van der Heyden, the first fire hose was designed to replace buckets of water and hand pumps, neither of which were considered very accurate.
Unfortunately for the van der Heydens, their prototype hoses did not perform very well under pressure. The leather would dry and crack while folded up in storage resulting in leaks, and laces would pop like those of tight corsets worn by voluptuous, Early Modern courtesans.
In an attempt to limit the number of leaks, copper rivets (just like the ones you find on your jeans) replaced laces and lengths of hose were wrapped around large cylinders called drums. No more creasing, no more leaking. That was the idea, at least. But rivets still pop and wet leather still rots.
It was not until the late 1900s when linen replaced leather and rubber replaced linen that hoses became increasingly durable and therefore more reliable. However, due to their stiffness, rubber hoses were no less prone to cracking when folded, creased, and left to dry than their leather predecessors. In some cases, rubber hoses were so thick you could not crease them even if you tried. Where linen hoses folded flat and fit in smaller spaces where they often rotted due to molding, rubber hoses required reels not only to prevent cracking but because they refused to fold without unreasonable amounts of force.
Cylinders were laid on their side, hand cranks were applied, and what once took longer than putting out fires themselves became a quick and simple procedure. Hand cranks eventually became motorized and by 1922, Popular Science published an article about new-fangled handheld reels. Shortly after, the wheel was invented and reels were attached to carts that you can now buy on the internet.
The Arm Bone's Connected To The Hose Bone
When I was growing up in the mountains of Virginia, the garden hose reel at my family's house consisted of two things: the palm of your hand and your elbow. You started at the nozzle and ended at the spigot then hung the hose up to dry on a metal half cylinder drilled into the side of the house.
When you unraveled the whole hose the length of the yard, you had to play jump rope with an imaginary friend for a bit to untwist the hose so it wouldn't kink too much when you dragged it around. All the other kids in the neighborhood had Slinkies to play with, so we were special in that regard. We also wore wooden shoes and walked ten miles to school every day, but that's beside the point.
The point is that you cannot patent the human body no matter how you use it or how far you push the envelope while using it. You cannot patent Michael Phelps' arm span or his webbed size-14 feet, but you can patent a torpedo that can leave Phelps in its wake.
Likewise, you cannot patent the ancient technique of using your hand and your elbow to wrap up a hose or extension cord, but you can patent a wall-mounted reel that will make your life easier and give you time to toss around your Slinky.
And to think someone did precisely that in 1891 a hundred years before we grew our first garden in Virginia. Talk about being a bit behind the times. It makes me wonder if the reason we had a garden at all was because my father hadn't heard of the grocery store either.
Real Reels Reel Real Easily
Because you have no intention of subjecting your uncalloused elbow and palm to a dirty hose covered in grass clippings, here's a few tips for choosing a garden hose reel from a guy who wishes he had one when he was younger.
The trick to choosing a hose reel is deciding before you buy where exactly you plan to put it. When my current home in Los Angeles was being built, it never occurred to me to suggest a strategic location for my one and only outdoor spigot. As a result, I need to keep more hose on hand than my small back yard can handle because once every few years I want to pressure wash my second-story deck. It's a good thing my front yard is a runway for LAX.
For those with a penchant for large yards, keep in mind that what may appear to be aesthetically pleasing may not be athletically appealing. Some reels are designed to sit in the rain year after year, and need not be kept close to home.
In other news, homegrown rice paddies tend to defeat the purpose of hose reels.