Thoughts on Hoselink Garden Hose Reel

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I recently needed a new garden hose reel for the front yard, and wanted something a bit more convenient than what I had before. I've had a hose cart I bought from Home Depot years ago, and its worked reasonably well, but its ugly as sin. I've had rather good luck with an Eley hose reel in the back, where I need 200 feet of hose, but don't want something that large and cumbersome for my smaller front yard. Enter the Hoselink hose reel.

What I wanted

I didn't really want too much more than my old hose reel provided, and a lot of these things are what I feel should be standard for any hose reel. It shouldn't leak. It should be easy to spool hose out, and easy to reel it back in. If it comes with a hose, the hose should be durable and "feel" nice. Finally, the physical construction of the reel should inspire confidence; it shouldn't feel rickety and cheap.

Features in the "would be really nice to have" column are things like the ability to mount the reel on the wall, while being able to easily bring it into the garage during winter, and a self-retracting hose reel. The last one is a point of contention, as (before I bought the HoseLink) I've never found one that held up particularly well, and was quite averse to them, despite wanting them to work.

Visiting big box stores, the options are scarce. There are usually a few cheap, plastic hose reels for sale, and maybe a single metal one. None of them inspire any confidence. The plastic ones look like they'd crack after a single summer in the sun, and the metal ones look as if they'd rust up in a few months. The winding mechanisms look labor-intensive, not something a small child could handle. And, more than anything, they're all fantastically ugly. I don't really expect too much in the way of appearance from something as utilitarian as a hose reel, but it shouldn't look like a piece of cheap trash either.

So I looked online. Loads of wall mount, self retracting reels exist, but most of them have mediocre to terrible reviews. But one does stand out. The HoseLink reel. Youtubers such as SilverCymbal rave about the quality of the HoseLink reel, and his taste has generally been good in the past, so I decided to try one out. They are somewhat expensive, nearly the same price as my all-metal Eley, so I was hoping it would impress me with its quality.

The Reel itself

Ordering was simple enough, and the package came with the usual expediency of modern shipping. A large, somewhat heavy reinforced cardboard box arrived, and had my hoselink, wall-mount kit, a sprayer attachment, Y-fitting, a few quick disconnects, and a well written and easy to follow manual inside. The box immediately became a play fort for my daughter, while I was mounting the unit to the outside wall.

Mounting was easy enough; there's an included template, some brick anchors, and simple instructions. I have brick walls, and so set up with a fresh masonry bit and a hammer drill, and went to town. The anchors worked better than some I have used; I didn't have to inject any epoxy into the holes to ensure fastness. Part of what makes mounting so easy is that you don't actually have the big heavy hose reel hanging off the wall while you mount it. You mount an L-Shaped bracket, and the HoseLink has a post that slots into the bracket, allowing for 180º of movement.

The reel mounted on the wall

The reel itself is rather spartan and unobtrusive. Nothing screams "fancy hose reel", which is nice. It looks far better than what was for sale at the big box stores. The lead hose is a bit long for my use case, but I'm sure that's attractive when you don't have a faucet so conveniently located. There are no external protuberances on the reel itself either, it's a very compact, clean affair.

The back of the reel, above the mounting pin, has a fold down handle, which is useful when lifting the reel out of the bracket for storage. When not in use, the handle practically disappears up against the body of the unit.

The hose is of decent quality, with brass fittings at either end, and no visible leaks from anywhere. A large ball is mounted about a foot from the business end of the hose, ostensibly to prevent it from retracting all the way into the reel should you wind it back up without an attachment.

It works pretty much as you'd expect it to. Grab the hose, pull out the length you need, and it retracts a couple inches and then locks in place. When it's time to reel it back in, just give it a gentle tug, and the reel will start to wind the hose up, like the cord on a vacuum cleaner. To stop it at any length along the way, just pull it back out a little, and the latch will reengage and leave you with a shorter length of hose. This is quite useful when transitioning between watering tasks, as you can easily prevent coils of hose from just sitting out.

The Sprayer and Quick Disconnects

HoseLink's website gushes about their quick disconnects and the included sprayer wand, both of which I was skeptical about when purchasing, but since they were add-ins at no extra cost, I didn't quibble.

The Sprayer, with an Eley quick disconnect barb attached

The sprayer is well-made, and feels nice in your hand. The shut-off valve sits comfortably under your thumb, and spray patterns are the usual ones you'd expect to find. The shower is a bit intense for very delicate plants, but that isn't unique to the HoseLink sprayer; for seedlings my wife and I like to use a Dramm spray head, which generates an exceptionally gentle stream.

Quick Disconnect, showing the water shut off valve

The quick disconnects are well-made too, although they aren't my favorite. They work using a symmetric bayonet style latch, locking together when you line up the barbs and give a quarter turn. They didn't leak while I was using them, but I did find the bayonet design somewhat cumbersome; once I thought I'd seated it well, only to have it spray water everywhere, as one barb never seated into its channel on the opposing face. There is a raised indicator in the plastic for lining up the two halves before locking together, but it's something you'd have to watch and feel for, not something you can just do blind.

I did like that they included a quick disconnect that has a water shut-off valve built in. I've had some brass shut off valves living on the end of my other hoses for a few years now, and find having the ability to control the amount of water at the business end of the hose invaluable. I would have moved one over to the new hose reel, but in the few years I've had it, it managed to permanently attach itself to the end of the old hose, so a new one was in order.

Eley swivel and quick disconnect

I bought the somewhat expensive Eley quick disconnects and an Eley shutoff+swivel. While these are far more expensive than the competition, even ones from Dramm, they are made far better than any I have ever used. They are big, well-made brass units, with full flow-through, so you don't impede the water flow, and the quality of the machining is apparent, their operation is incredibly smooth. You can connect and disconnect attachments without having to look and watch what you're doing, one-handed. The plug end is somewhat demure, adding very little bulk to whatever it's attached to, and slotting into the socket end extremely securely. You can see the plug attached to the sprayer in the earlier image. When attached, they kind of act like a swivel, although they aren't 100% free spinning, there's a bit of friction that makes a swivel a nice accessory.

The eley shutoff is equally well-made, and very easy to thumb on and off. It just works so well its unremarkable, and therefore difficult to write about.

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