What do you do with your hose when you’ve finished using it? I tend to just leave it lying on the ground (yes, I’m a lazy gardener) but that’s not a great idea – I’ve lost quite a few to lawnmowers and they degrade more quickly when constantly exposed to the sun. I’ve tried coiling the hose in a bin or container, looping it over a support attached to the wall, and winding it up on a hose reel cart. None of those options were easy and I usually ended up with a mess of tangled hose piled against the house. Hence my tendency to leave it lying where I’d used it…
But when I first saw the Navigator rotating hose reel from Liberty Garden Products at the National Hardware Show, I thought that it might be the hose storage solution I was looking for. They kindly provided one for me to review.
Below is a quick video review but keep reading for all the details!
The Navigator arrived neatly packed in a sturdy cardboard box with all the parts in a sealed plastic bag and the instruction manual clearly visible. It was nearly completely assembled, leaving very little for me to do other than mount it, push in a connector pin to attach the reel to the shelf, screw on the handle, and attach the leader hose.
Simple to Install
The fact that the hose reel must be mounted on a wall (or other very solid vertical surface) may seem intimidating – How do you attach it to a brick wall? What if you can’t find the studs in the wall? But don’t worry. All it takes is 4 screws to secure it to the wall and a pin to attach the rotating reel onto the mount.
Liberty Garden Products has made the installation process as easy as possible. The Navigator comes with a complete set of easy-to-understand instructions written in plain English with simple diagrams. There’s also a video on their website showing the complete installation process. And if that weren’t enough, there’s also an app for iOS or Android devices!
You’ll have to buy the appropriate screws for your particular installation situation but they’re easily found at any hardware store. The manufacturer recommends 5/16” x 2 ½” wood, brick or masonry anchor sleeves or screws, depending on whether you’re mounting to a brick/masonry wall or a wooden stud. There’ll be a lot of pressure on the mounting hardware when you use the reel so be sure to use the recommended size and length – don’t skimp on this step!
You’ll also need a power drill with a wood or masonry bit (depending on the wall you’re mounting the hose reel to), a screwdriver or driver bit for your drill, a level, and a pencil. The instructions list a whole bunch of other things but this is all you really need.
Once the Navigator rotating hose reel was mounted to the wall, I tested it by sitting on top of it (and I’m not exactly petite!). No problem – the Navigator didn’t budge, and nothing broke or bent.
It’s made out of powder coated steel. There were no scratches or dings in the surface when it arrived but I’m curious to see how it’ll hold up over time. The problem with steel is the potential for rust when the powder coat is scratched. So far I haven’t noticed any damage to the surface but only time will tell… Note that the manufacturer recommends removing the reel (just pop out the pin) and storing it indoors over the winter if you live in northern areas.
A newer model with an 8 hole locking mechanism is scheduled for release in the October – November 2016 timeframe. This will give even more locking rotating positions for the reel to be held in place. This is definitely a big improvement in the design and a welcomed change for this reel.
Editor’s Note: There was a small manufacturing issue with some of the pins on certain Navigator hose reels. The company is issuing a free replacement pin (it’s very simple to install) to affected customers. None of the new Navigators are affected by this. You can find the full details here.
The Navigator Rotating Hose Reel isn’t very wide (only 16 inches) but the reel sticks out almost 2 feet from the wall (23.5”). So be sure to mount it where you have enough room to move around it easily. It’s 20.5” tall once the reel is attached under the shelf so take that into consideration when you mount it to the wall – be sure to allow enough clearance underneath the reel.
The folks at Liberty Garden Products really thought this one through when they designed it.
I love the shelf on the top of the Navigator. It’s large enough to store gardening items (I keep a trowel, pruners, the hose handle, and an extra hose nozzle there) or even to place a potted plant. Of course it’s not necessary to the functioning of the hose reel (and there’s a similar model, the #712, without the shelf) but it’s a nice extra that adds convenience and gives it a somewhat less utilitarian look.
The Navigator hose reel comes with a 5-foot leader hose to attach the hose reel to a nearby spigot. For many people, that’s probably enough, although you will need a longer hose if the reel is mounted more than a few feet away from the faucet.
The leader hose attaches easily to the side of the hose reel barrel where it’s out of the way. Both ends of the hose have metal connectors and washers are included (both are signs of a quality hose).
Handle and Crank Arm
The handle that’s used to wind up the reel is large enough to grasp easily and the crank arm is a good size, although it would be nice to see it just a little longer. Still, it’s much better than some I’ve seen where you can barely hold the handle and the crank arm is so short that you have to turn it a zillion times just to wind up the hose. The handle grip is comfortable and turns as you crank the arm, meaning that it stays put in your hand rather than spinning with the crank arm. A definite plus.
Winding a hose onto the reel is easy – simply turn the reel in the direction of the hose and turn the arm. The reel turns smoothly and easily, even when winding up a 5/8-inch hose full of water (which I suggest you don’t do – it’s always better to let water drain out of the hose before or while winding it up).
Rotates 360 Degrees
My favorite feature of the Navigator rotating hose reel is the fact that it rotates (I guess that’s why it’s called the “rotating hose reel”!). The reel hangs from a solid brass pivot point under the shelf and can swivel almost 360 degrees (the only limiting factor is the leader hose attached to the side of the reel). Lift up the pin that locks the reel in place, spin the reel in either direction, and drop the pin back into one of the 8 holes that keep it firmly in place.
The rotating reel allows you to use the handle on either side to wind up the hose.
How Much Hose Can The Navigator Really Hold?
The Navigator is supposed to hold up to 125 feet of 5/8-inch garden hose – that’s a lot of hose! Unfortunately, it’s not entirely accurate.
I was able to easily get 125 of ½” hose onto the reel but had difficulty with a 5/8” hose. You can see in the photo that I managed to get 75 feet of a Dramm ColorStorm Premium hose (my favorite) onto the reel. I might have fit another 20 feet or so but definitely not 125 feet.
I’d say that the amount of hose you can wind onto the Navigator really depends on the thickness of the hose, not on the inside diameter (e.g., ½” or 5/8”). You’ll probably manage to fit 125 feet of a cheaper hose but don’t expect 125 feet of a premium hose to fit on the reel.
You’ll have to buy your own hose (it doesn’t come with the reel) so check my article and recommendations for the best garden hoses.
Unlike many hose reels, the Navigator was designed to look good in any setting. Rather than being just utilitarian, it’s both functional and good looking. I mounted mine by the front door to our house and have gotten a lot of compliments.
There are so many things I love about the Navigator Rotating Hose Reel that I have to give it a 5-shovel rating. It’s stylish, sturdy, and easy to use. The hose winds up and unrolls smoothly no matter which direction the reel is facing. The leader hose has high quality connectors and the storage shelf is a nice bonus.
Where To Buy
The Navigator Rotating Hose Reel is available in some hardware stores and garden centers but your best bet is to buy it on Amazon, where it sells for around $110.
Now over to you – Have you tried a rotating hose reel before? How did it work? Let us know in the comments below!
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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Liberty Garden Products for giving us a free Navigator Rotating Hose Reel to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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