Rubber vs Vinyl Garden Hoses (and Why I Prefer Rubber)

When it comes down to comparing rubber vs vinyl garden hoses, I’ve had plenty of experience using and testing both. Yes, each type has its advantages (and disadvantages). Which is best for you is going to come down to your specific need for a garden hose. How do vinyl and rubber garden hoses compare?

Cheap vinyl hoses are thin and will crack and kink more than any other type of hose. But there are also types of premium vinyl hoses that are thick, kink-resistant, and nothing like the cheap versions. Premium vinyl hoses will kink less than rubber hoses. But with that kink resistance comes stiffness. Rubber garden hoses are more flexible than premium vinyl hoses, and much easier to maneuver. Rubber is also a more durable material.

Again, comparing rubber vs vinyl hoses really needs to be broken down into 3 different types of hoses: rubber, cheap vinyl, premium vinyl.

Cheap vinyl hoses are the hoses you buy for like $15-$20 at the local hardware store. These hoses are usually very thin (2-ply) and will kink constantly and degrade quickly. Premium vinyl hoses are nothing like that. Premium vinyl hoses can be very heavy-duty (up to 8-ply), kink-resistant, and in some instances they are even more durable than rubber.


These are the 4 main things to consider when choosing between rubber vs vinyl hoses:

  • Kink-Resistance – Cheap vinyl hoses will kink easily. Thick, premium vinyl hoses that have extra layering and are reinforced with braiding will be the most kink-resistant hoses on the market. Rubber hoses, although durable, will kink more than premium vinyl hoses.
  • Flexibility – Rubber hoses will be much more flexible and easy to maneuver than vinyl hoses. Kink-resistant vinyl hoses can be tough to wrestle into position due the thick, stiff, kink-resistant material.
  • Weight – Vinyl hoses will typically weigh less than rubber hoses (yes, there are exceptions).
  • Durability – Rubber hoses are much more durable than cheap vinyl hoses, and are widely considered to be the most durable type of garden hose. But it is important to note that some types of premium vinyl hoses are designed to be even more durable than rubber hoses with abrasion resistant outer jackets.

I personally prefer a rubber hose because it’s durable, and very flexible. They may weigh a bit more than vinyl hoses, but rubber hoses are very easy to maneuver.

Yes, because rubber hoses are so flexible, they can form kinks. If kinking is your biggest fear when it comes to garden hoses, then choosing a premium vinyl that has thick layering hose may be best.

In this article let’s discuss rubber vs vinyl garden hoses in further detail using photos and videos I have from testing and using these types of hoses. Let’s also discuss the best applications for each.

Rubber vs Vinyl Hoses Compared

Flexibility and Kink-Resistance

Ultimately, the flexibility and kink-resistance of a hose are closely related. Do you want a more flexible hose that is easy to maneuver? Well, that hose will be more likely to kink.

Many types of premium vinyl hoses have extra layering and are built to be practically kink-proof. To accomplish this, companies will use materials (including internal braiding) designed in a way that ensures the hose maintains its correct form and shape. For example, if you look at the vinyl hose I own pictured below, you can see the internal braiding that helps the hose keep its shape and structure.


But it’s important to understand that although these materials remove the hose’s tendency to kink, it also makes the hose feel stiff. For example, in the video below, here I am straightening out a kink-resistant vinyl hose. As you can see, it resists kinks but also doesn’t want to completely straighten out (due to the stiff materials):

Rubber hoses are different. Although some may be marketed as being “kink resistant”, in general, they don’t have the same kink-resistant properties that premium vinyl hoses have. For example, here’s what happened when I straightened out a rubber hose last week:


You often find advice from “experts” claiming that rubber hoses are kink-resistant. This is just not true. Yes, rubber hoses are great. They are durable, easy to maneuver, and can last a long time – but rubber hoses will kink.

For illustration, in the video below, I straighten out a rubber hose that I just pulled out of the garage. Notice how easily it straightens (not stiff), but yes, does form some kinks also:

Although the rubber hose above kinked, rubber hose material is much more responsive to user control. Because the rubber material isn’t designed to hold a specific shape, it will respond much better when you swing it around in the yard or maneuver it around your garden.

Obviously, we want both, right? We want a hose that is both flexible and kink-resistant. But when comparing rubber vs vinyl garden hoses, this is probably the most significant difference. Do you prioritize kink-resistance or maneuverability? If its kink-resistance, choose vinyl (premium options), if its maneuverability, choose rubber. Storing your hose on a hose reel or free standing hose hanger also reduces kinks.

PRO TIP: One common area of kinking is right at the water spigot. If you want a rubber hose due to flexibility, and want to avoid kinking at the spigot, buy a hose with kink-preventer ends. Here’s a look at a hose that I own that has a strain-relief kink preventer.



Cheap vinyl hoses are the worst hoses you can buy and will degrade quickly, especially if exposed to the elements. Cheap vinyl hoses are usually very thin (2-ply) and don’t have the thickness it takes to retain shape or deter abrasions.

These types of cheap vinyl hoses can easily form cracks or small pin-hole leaks. They also will break down if ran over frequently, which makes them very poor options for farmers and contractors.

Rubber hoses are often considered to be the most durable type of hose material you can buy. And while, yes, rubber is very durable and often marketed as “commercial grade”, there are some types of premium vinyl hoses that will actually be made with extra layering to make them even more durable than rubber.

If you are just looking for a hose to use around the house, even cheap vinyl can hold up if you give it proper care. But if you want something that can stand up to a tough environment, it’s best to choose rubber or a premium vinyl option. If you are going to be using a garden hose during the winter months, rubber will be the better option.

Many premium hoses will be made with crush-resistant fittings. If you want to read more about crush-resistance, and what it means, visit our garden hose crush resistance guide.


In general, expect rubber hoses to weigh more than vinyl hoses. Rubber hoses will certainly weigh more than cheap, thin vinyl hoses. But there are many types of premium vinyl hoses (that have several layers of thickness) that can weigh just as much or more than rubber hoses.

Of course, it’s important to understand that the length and diameter of your hose will greatly affect weight. Most homeowners use a 50 or 100 foot water hose with a standard diameter of 5/8 inches. The larger the diameter, the greater the flow rate will be. To understand more about flow rate, visit our water hose flow rate guide.

If you are shopping for a shorter length hose, weight isn’t that big of a deal. But if you need a 100-foot hose, once you factor in dry weight, plus the weight of the water, slinging that hose around the yard for 4-5 hours in the summer heat may get taxing.

Rubber vs Vinyl Garden Hose Pricing

  • Vinyl – Certain types of vinyl hoses are very cheap, and may even be in the $15-$20 range for a 50 foot hose. For more premium types of vinyl hoses, you can expect to pay in the $40-$60 range for a 50 foot hose.
  • Rubber – Most types of rubber hoses are priced very similar to premium vinyl hoses. For example, 50 foot rubber hoses usually run in the $40-$60 range.

Why I Prefer Rubber Over Vinyl Garden Hoses

As I have said throughout, many people lump all vinyl hoses together and claim they are no good. This simply is not true. Many types of premium vinyl hoses are very useful and durable.

But for me, I prefer something that is very flexible, and that is why I like to use a rubber garden hose. Yes, some types of premium vinyl hoses are nearly impossible to kink, but that material is so stiff, you feel like you are in a wrestling match with the garden hose. You are not sure whether you’re telling it where to go, or if it is telling you where to go.

Rubber lasts and can stand up to most elements. It is a very responsive material, and you can sling it around as you maneuver to water your garden or lawn. Also, for commercial settings, the rubber material is durable and in most cases, will last even if it is consistently ran over by heavy machinery.

When debating over rubber vs vinyl garden hoses, I would recommend you to start by determining which is more important to you: flexibility or kink-resistance. If it’s flexibility, then rubber will likely be best for you. If it is kink-resistance, then you will want to find a premium vinyl hose made with thick layering designed to resist kinks.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson has been a contributor and tester for us since our beginning. He has extensive hands-on experience using and testing the hoses we discuss at length on this site. He has specifically contributed to the testing of hose flow rate, crush-resistance, and weight. We have also relied on him to use and test other hose accessories, like storage reels and spray nozzles. As we do with all our contributors, we ask him to use his hands-on experience with these hoses to provide authentic advice to our audience.

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