Consumer Reports tests lightweight, expandable hoses

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You've probably seen the infomercials for those easy-to-use expandable hoses. If you're considering buying one, Consumer Reports put the nweest to the test. (WPVI)

Who wouldn't want a garden hose that's lightweight, expandable and never kinks?

But when those supposedly easy-to-use hoses were introduced in infomercials a few years ago, most user reviews complained that they broke.

Now Consumer Reports has tested new versions that promise to be stronger.

The new infomercials show that manufacturers of expandable hoses must have heard the complaints about durability. They're now touting new, improved, expandable hoses.

One even says it's:"Three times stronger than the original."

Consumer Reports put four new expandable hoses to the test from XHose, Flex-Able Hose and two from Pocket Hose. Prices ranged from $14 to $45.

In the past, the weak point seemed to be the fittings and connections at the end of the hose.

Consumer Reports used a machine to determine the strength of the new fittings.

Those made of plastic are tougher than before. And the brass fittings just won't break. They're even stronger than a regular garden hose.

Then Consumer Reports' Bernie Deitrick used a machine to measure the strength of the connection between the fittings and the hose.

Each withstood over 100 pounds of force, which is good but no stronger then the older hoses. That might explain why so many user reviews are still negative.

"Every hose has to have a connection between the rubber tubing and that connector, and if there's a sharp edge and as it twists and turns and is bent and flexed, it's going to wear right at that point," said Bernie.

Consumer Reports also tested a lightweight hose that doesn't expand - the $60 Clear-Flow Garden Hose.

"This hose performed well in our tests and at three pounds, it's only slightly heavier than the expandable hoses," said Bernie.

And while testers did find some kinks, they easily correct themselves when the hose is fully extended.

If an expandable hose still appeals to you, Consumer Reports says try the $20 XHose. It's the only one you can fix if it breaks at the connector.
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