The 10 Best Hose Reels
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Keeping your hoses organized ensures that they'll live a long life and also keeps your yard, garage, or driveway free of clutter, which not only looks good, but is safer and prevents damage to grass or plants. One of these reels should do the job, as we've included models offering different features and capacities suitable for most applications. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best hose reel on Amazon.
April 18, 2019:
The hose reel is a part of the yard and garden setup that doesn't get much attention unless it stops working. Of course, you don't have to spend a fortune on one, as evidence by the TackLife, and as long as you're careful when retracting it, it should last for quite a while. You don't have spend much more for the Yard Butler, which is notable because it's very compact compared to most. The GoPlus is also finely built, and though it costs a bit more than its plastic exterior might have you guess, it looks perfectly classy and its mechanisms work quite well. If you're a stickler for organization, consider the Ames, which is one of the best hide-away cabinets, though some users report that the finish starts to break down after a year or so. The Liberty 880 is quite a bit bigger than most others, and it's ideal if you'll be carting huge lengths of hose across long distances. But if you only want to buy one reel in the next decade, check out either of Eley's options. Their freestanding cart is awfully expensive, and their Rapid Reel is also not cheap, but they are about as well-made as they come. They do call for a pretty secure mounting surface, but they are basically indestructible. If you'll be using it in a more work-oriented setting, the Goodyear is hard to beat, as it's made with the quality you'd expect from such a well-known brand. It's suitable for high-pressure applications of various types, and should last for years to come. Finally, if you'll be attaching it to a vehicle, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than the CoxReels creations, which are no strangers to utility trucks around the country.
Before The Wheel, The Reel
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.
However, due to their stiffness, rubber hoses were no less prone to cracking when folded, creased, and left to dry than their leather predecessors.
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 1800s 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.
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.
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.
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