Occasionally in this space we’ll use and review a common household consumer product, so you don’t have to. Today, we’re talking about the oh-so-slick, as-seen-on-TV, magical auto-expanding garden hoses.

You’ve seen the commercials.

The Pitch

That ad is for the Pocket Hose, which is the brand we purchased (though we went for the Pocket Hose Top Brass. It’s a garden hose that expands like a sea monkey when filled with water and, as a bonus, is unkinkable. Because it shrinks back to size when the water pressure is let out, storage is easier, too. It’s so slick you’ll never need a regular garden hose again.

The Reality

Reality is pretty close to the pitch, actually. The hose works pretty much like it claims it does. You hook it up to a faucet just like any other hose. The only difference is that it comes with a built-in valve on the open end. This is immensely convenient when you’re actually using the hose, but the reason it’s on the hose is that, when closed, it allows the water pressure to fill and lengthen the hose. When you’re ready, open the valve and spray away. Or hook up at attachment. The convenient thing about the valve, however, is that it has at least as much dexterity as any spray nozzle — unless you really like a trigger-style spray nozzle, you won’t need one with this hose.

The best part is, it’s just about impossible to accidentally kink this hose, and it’s a litlte bit of a challenge to do it on purpose.

Yeah, Buts

Yeah, it expands quickly and the valve is super convenient, but it doesn’t quite retract into a tiny coil the way the ad makes it seem. Don’t get us wrong: It does retract, and storing it is easy, but it does need a little encouragement to get it shriveled all the way back up.

And, yeah, the product is pretty slick, but we’re wondering how it’s going to hold up over time. Although the product seems pretty durable, we’re not sure whether it’s going to hold up over time the way a regular ol’ green garden hose would.

Conclusion

Given that we live in a country where defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise, we can’t hold our long-term durability concerns against the product. That being the case, we consider this an improvement upon the traditional garden hose, and can’t come up with a compelling argument against it. It totally solves the No. 1 problem with garden hoses (kinking), and mostly solves the No. 2 problem (storage). Besides, the valve is so good we don’t even bother with spray nozzles.

The 50-foot version we bought at Home Depot cost $29.97, which is about three times as much as a bottom-shelf rubber hose, but less expensive than a top-end contractor’s hose. We consider that a fair price for a good product.