The trick to buying a nice garden hose is to look at the fittings
Obviously, you normally cannot see the portion of the fitting
inserted into the end of the hose and clamped, but you can see the
The fittings shown above are the really good type. They are
of brass, but beyond that they are machined out of a solid block
brass; sometimes these type are referred to as "rod brass".
almost always have the flats around them so you can use a wrench
tighten or loosen them if you choose. Although not visible
these photos, each fitting has a flat surface that contacts the
washer that seals the hose connection.
Believe it or not, you can actually buy these top-quality hose
at Walmart in a garden hose repair kit. They're not even
expensive. It makes you wonder why anyone would bother
around with cheaper fittings.
The next step down:
Apologies that the color isn't right on that photo; the fitting
These type are likewise made from solid brass -- meaning there are
materials involved -- but they're not made from a solid block of
brass. Rather, they are made by stamping a piece of brass
into shape. Since there is no thickness to speak of, they
have the flats around the edges for using a wrench; instead they
have a knurling to provide some grip on the collar on the female
coupling shown, and no grip at all on the male, you're supposed to
the hose. The surface inside where the rubber washer is
to seal is convoluted, as can be seen in the above picture; you
can get it to seal, but it requires tightening the coupling
and usually the rubber washer doesn't last too long.
All that said, perhaps the worst that can be said for these
stamped-brass fittings is that they're pretty easy to
With care, they often will last a good long time. The reason
avoid buying a hose with these fittings is what they tell you
hose: It's cheap. A good hose will have good fittings,
these cheap things.
There are now plastic fittings for hoses:
Yeah, even cheaper than the stamped-brass fittings.
I suppose I should also mention strain relief. Many people
their hoses, which invariably results in the hose getting kinked
next to the fitting connected to the faucet. Many garden
now come with some sort of strain relief feature intended to
this kinking and spread the bend out through the first few inches
hose. On good hoses, this device is actually a metal coil
wrapped around the first few inches of the hose. On cheaper
versions, it's just a plastic sleeve slid into place. The
sleeve idea doesn't work too well, and usually just slides down
hose after a while and the hose kinks at the fitting anyway.
You can also buy hoses that are only a few inches long that are
intended to add this strain relief feature to any hose. They
usually have that metal spring. They work great -- but if
buying a hose, why not buy a hose with the spring built in rather
buying the separate item?
I'll also mention hose sizes. You generally can find hoses
1/2", 5/8", and 3/4". From what I've seen, the only excuse
buying a 1/2" hose is you want the cheapest hose you can
The better hoses all seem to be 5/8" or larger. 5/8" seems
a perfectly good size for general use around a home; it's the most
common size, which is important when you need to buy replacement
fittings or splice kits or whatnot. The obvious reason to
3/4" would be for more flow, but you might want to note that the
inside your house that's providing the water to the faucet is
1/2". The other plausible reason to go for a large hose is
you're going to be running several hoses linked together and the
pressure loss adds up, so using a larger hose will result in more
available pressure out at the far end.