Stanley FATMAX Garden Hose: Product Review
Lightweight, hefty connectors and pliable - but it kinks
Available on Amazon
A Note About Garden Hoses
With all of the different garden hose choices, how do you find the right one to meet your needs? Whether it’s length, hose diameter, material, strength, flexibility, coupling type, lightweight/light duty, regular/heavy duty, color, budgetary constraints, etc., it might seem a daunting task to get exactly what you’re looking for.
For a detailed guide to help you choose the right garden hose, check out our article on the Best Garden Hoses.
Garden hose technology is constantly evolving – as some would say, the twenty first century is the age of materials – and what is true for computer chips is true for garden hoses as well …
Enter the Stanley FATMAX professional-grade, 5/8” garden hose. We tested and reviewed the 50’ yellow hose, but it’s also available in different colors and lengths (see specs below).
- Drinking water safe
- Hose diameter: 5/8”
- PolyFusion technology
- Light weight (only 7 lbs. for a 50’ length)
- Forged aluminum titanium coated couplings
- AntiKink technology
- 500 PSI burst strength
- Maintains flexibility in -15 degrees
- Colors: yellow and black
- Available hose lengths: 25’, 50’, 75’, 100’, 150’
Once unpacked, I found that this hose had a distinctively different “feel” as compared to traditional rubber and vinyl hoses. It was soft to the touch and very flexible/pliable. Additionally, its length to weight ratio (for a 5/8” diameter hose) was surprisingly low (in other words, it felt extremely light for a hose that size).
I tested the 50’ brightly colored yellow FATMAX hose. It’s highly visible and reminds me of the neon safety vests that utility workers wear. You’ll be hard pressed to run over this brightly colored hose with your lawn mover.
Metal couplings are always best, and the FATMAX hose has forged aluminum titanium coated couplings. Plus, there’s an integrated washer at the female end of the hose – no need to buy a separate one.
Another nice feature is the hard plastic hose collars that are molded around the couplings. This gives you a good grip on the hose end and makes it super easy to attach the coupling to a spigot or spray nozzle. It’s especially nice for people with limited grip strength or arthritis.
Drinking Water Safe
Most garden hoses are unsafe to drink from because they leach harmful chemicals, such as lead, BPA and phthalates. If your family or pets will be drinking water from the hose, or if you’ll be using it to fill a swimming pool used by children, always look for a garden hose labeled “Drinking Water Safe”, like the Stanley FATMAX hose.
Lightweight Yet Tough
Although the FATMAX hose weighs less than most other hoses of similar length and diameter, it’s tough as nails. With a burst pressure of 500 psi, it’s well over the minimum recommended strength (see this article for details).
Plus, it’s highly abrasion resistant. I dragged it over concrete, rocks and gravel and even after being trampled and run over with a wheelbarrow, the hose remained unscathed.
What Makes This Hose Different
It appears that one of Stanley’s marketing pushes in the garden hose market is geared toward their “PolyFusion” technology.
So what’s PolyFusion anyway?
With a little help from the world wide web, here’s what I came up with…While it has a multitude of definitions, depending upon the industry you’re talking about, in Stanley’s case, “PolyFusion” refers to a manufacturing process that combines polyurethane and PVC.
This materials science is what makes the hose lightweight, extremely flexible, abrasion and scratch resistant, easy to work with, and helps minimize kinking. Think of it as a “hybrid” material that is somewhere between a rubber and a vinyl hose.
Here at the Gardening Products Review, we’ve tested and reviewed a lot of hoses. Many manufacturers claim that their hoses are non-kinking, anti-kink, or at least kink less under certain conditions.
I’ve found that “kinking” is a relative term depending on a variety of factors, such as material type, hose diameter, material thickness, material memory, manufacturer, etc. Here are some of the common definitions:
- The least helpful definition of “kinkless” refers to a garden hose that, after it’s been bent in half, completely returns to its original “roundness” under full water pressure. Most hoses should meet this standard.
- Other definitions of kinking refer only to the uncoiling/unreeling process, stating that the hose will not kink when it’s being uncoiled. What it does after that is another matter…
- And still others define their hoses as “kink free” by specifying that the hose will not kink when it’s dragged across the ground even if the hose is coiled, unreeled from a hose reel, or pulled directly from a spigot were the hose is attached. That’s a standard that we haven’t found any hoses to live up to – yet.
So How Does the FATMAX Garden Hose Stack-Up In The Kinking Department?
Stanley claims that the FATMAX hose has “anti-kink technology”. The big difference is in the manufacturing process and materials used … that PolyFusion stuff.
From my tests and what I can gather from additional research, Stanley’s definition of “anti-kink” seems to be that when the hose is fully bent in half (either under full water pressure, or no water pressure at all) the hose will fully recover to its rounded circumference diameter with no permanent bends in the hose.
So did the anti-kink technology work? Well, not quite…
However, I did find that if I followed the diagram instructions on their packaging and rotated the hose as it was uncoiling or unspooling from a hose reel, the hose was difficult to kink. There really is something to this PolyFusion AntiKink technology – but only when precisely following Stanley’s instructions.
So before you get too excited about your new purchase, don’t rip off the paper packing material that surrounds the hose without taking a look at how you’re supposed to handle the hose for a kink-free or as close to kink free as possible experience.
I found that with the “uncoiling motion” (when needed), the hose pretty much lived up to its anti-kink claim. But I did find that if I didn’t twist the hose clockwise or counterclockwise (depending upon which direction it had a propensity to kink), then the hose would indeed kink as most traditional hose materials do.
The PolyFusion material made a difference, no doubt. But I have yet to find a hose that doesn’t kink at some point. And my testing confirmed this for the Stanley FATMAX professional-grade, 5/8” water hose. It kinked a little less than vinyl, plastic, or thinner rubber hoses, but it did kink. The warmer the weather (and, therefore, the more pliable the hose) and the more corners or obstacles I dragged the hose around, the worse the kinking became.
However, to be fair, Stanley doesn’t say in their marketing materials that the FATMAX hose is “kink-free”. Their packaging claims that “The AntiKink technology used in this hose makes kinking almost impossible”. And that’s what I found… When properly used as instructed the hose lived up to its claim, but when used as you normally would (just unroll and drag it to wherever you need it), it kinked. But let’s be realistic here – are you going to stop to twist and uncoil the hose every time you need to water the petunias? I know I’m not …
Bottom line – follow the instructions. I know gals will take this to heart, but us guys are notorious for not reading maps (proclaiming, “I don’t need no stinkin’ map, I know where we are”), and the same goes for reading instructions. You know, “it’s just a guy thang”. Gentlemen, either have your significant other take the time to unpack and read the diagram on the packaging or take a deep breath and do it yourself, despite all instincts to the contrary.
And be prepared to exercise some patience each time you uncoil or roll up the hose …
Issues When Used With a Hose Reel or Connected to a Spigot
An unpredictable issue arose, however, when the FATMAX garden hose was connected to a hose reel.
In this situation, the hard plastic hose collar (with the male fitting) was suspended over the drum that holds the coiled hose. The collar didn’t touch the drum when it was screwed into the female water fitting on the hose reel. The end result was that the hose was immediately bent over the hose collar and caused not only a permanent kink, but also caused the hose to go out-of-round (it became an oval shape).
The big problem with the kink at the hose collar interface was that it restricted water flow. The water restriction problem was worse when there was some hose left on the reel as these extra coils compressed the hose further (if they were laying on top of the plastic handle hose interface). Even when the hose was fully un-reeled, the kink and oval shape remained at the hose collar.
That being said, some water still flowed through the hose. Even in the worst restricted flow example noted above, I was still able to attach a nozzle to the other end of the hose and water the garden … but not at anywhere near full pressure.
The FATMAX professional-grade 5/8” water hose is an innovative product in the garden hose category. It has several great features but also some room for improvement.
I liked the sturdy metal couplings, integrated washer, easy-grip hose collar, flexibility and light weight of this hose.
But despite all these nifty design/material science features, I there is a definite need to improve the kinking problem – particularly at the hose collar. The hose collar is nice for attaching the hose to a spigot or nozzle, but for those with hose reels or where the hose is pulled at an angle from the spigot, the kinking issue is problematic.
And under normal use, the hose kinks repeatedly. The pliable material may let it “rebound” to a round tube after being crushed or kinked, but it also makes it more prone to kinking. The kinking problem is especially bad in warmer temperatures so this would not be the best hose for you if you live in a hot area.
After several months of use, my wife because so frustrated with this hose (she does most of the watering in our garden) that she threw it away.
Where to Buy
The Stanley FATMAX hose is available on Amazon, as well as through retail stores and online sites like QVC, Tractor Supply, Fred Meyer, Family Farm & Home, and L&L Nursery Supply.
The suggested price ranges between $29.99 and $99.99, depending on length. See our article on choosing the right garden hose for tips on determining the right length for your needs.
And yes, it’s also available in black (at a slightly higher price) if you don’t like the bright yellow color.
Now over to you – What’s your favorite garden hose? Let us know in the comments below!
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