When it comes to pneumatic tools, a lot of folks don’t give much thought to getting the best air tool hose to go along with their compressor – most will just pick out the cheapest one they can find, or use the hose that the compressor comes with.
The reality is, though, if you’re not using a good, high quality rubber air hose you’re selling both you and your tools awfully short.
Fortunately, investing in a quality air hose won’t set you back much at all in terms of price, and you’ll be spared a lot of headaches down the road if you’re not having to deal with kinks, leaks, or snags — all annoying problems that you’ll inevitably run into when using a cheap PVC hose.
In this article, we’ve hand-selected the best air compressor hoses for pneumatic tools currently on the market – worthy investments that’ll help you get the absolute most out of your tools and the expensive compressor that powers them.
Types of Air Compressor Hoses
While rubber is a popular option for air compressor hoses, this material isn’t necessarily the right choice for every air compressor. Below you can learn about the different hose types to determine which is a better choice based on budget and function.
Rubber air compressor hoses are the most readily available and commonly used type of air compressor hose. A rubber hose is made from synthetic rubber that is reinforced with either spiraled or braided yarn. This makes a rubber hose heavy and durable. It’s very uncommon for them to leak but if it does happen the good news is it’s easy to fix.
Rubber hoses are great because they’re easy to work. They coil easily and don’t kink even when they experience extreme temperatures. However, I would like to mention that it does tend to collect a lot of dirt. Rubber hoses also are more expensive than other types of air hoses out there.
Hybrid hoses are made of a blend of rubber, PVC, and polyurethane. This combination is pretty powerful because it gives them similar qualities to rubber hoses but they have a lighter weight. The lighter weight makes them easier to work with. Also, a hybrid hose won’t collect as much dirt as rubber hoses do.
Hybrid air compressor hoses are very durable but I find that they can kink after extended use. Their flexibility and lightweight make these hoses ideal for all types of tasks.
PVC air hoses are the most affordable hoses on the market. They consist of a polyester spiral outer and a PVC-compound inner tube. PVC hoses are stiffer than other hose options making them kind of difficult to coil and uncoil.
PVC hoses are good at holding their shape so it can be difficult if not impossible to lie flat. They’re also known to kink and become inflexible in colder temperatures. These qualities make PVC air compressor hoses difficult to work with, prompting many users to upgrade to a hose that is made from a different material.
Polyurethane hoses have a similar appearance to PVC air compressor hoses but perform much better. They’re flexible, light, and their smooth outer layer allows them to easily slide across almost any surface.
These qualities make them a polyurethane hose a good choice for those working with pneumatic framing or roofing nailers. These are jobs that require distribution of weight and free movement. Polyurethane hoses aren’t as flexible as rubber hoses which can cause them to kink. Just like rubber air compressor hoses, polyurethane hoses are one of the more expensive types of hoses.
Nylon hoses are easy to coil and lightweight, and they’re a fraction of the cost of rubber hoses air compressor hoses. However, there is a problem with nylon hoses they kink easily and aren’t exactly durable. Nylon hoses have a pretty low max pressure, around 100 psi. That’s significantly lower than other materials making them the best option for lighter-duty jobs.
Product Summaries: TOP Picks for the Best Air Tool Hoses
When it comes to the standard size ⅜” hose (with ¼” fittings), you’ve got several options that are similar in terms of price and quality.
In our experience though, based on reviews from hundreds of users, the 3/8″ TEKTON 46335 is the best option.
These hoses are 100% made in the USA, and they have the best overall consumer ratings (and are also slightly cheaper than) their closest competitors.
That being said, Goodyear hoses are another foolproof choice that you can’t go wrong with.
Like TEKTON, all Goodyear hoses are made in the USA, and when it comes right down to it they’re the most popular, most trusted air hoses in professional shops and garages across the country. Like we said though, expect to spend just a few dollars more on these compared to TEKTRON hoses.
And last but not least, if you’re dead-set on spending as little money as possible, you’ll need to go with an inexpensive PVC hose instead of the better-quality rubber hoses.
If this is the case, the 3/8″ Campbell Hausfeld PVC hoses are going to be your best option. These aren’t near as good in quality as the Goodyear or TEKTON products, but like we said if you’re dead set on saving a few bucks, this is the best cheap option that you’ll find.
Best Overall Value: TEKTON 250-PSI Rubber Air Hose – Made in USA
Personally we’ve always used Goodyear hoses in our garage, but TEKTON rubber air hoses are very similar in quality, they’re slightly cheaper, and they actually have a little better consumer-reviews overall.
These hoses are 100% made in the USA and are fitted with solid brass connectors, and are available in either ⅜” or ½” diameters in lengths of 25 ft, 50 ft, or 100 ft.
The flexible, spiral mesh-reinforced rubber is fully kink-proof, and is operable at 250 PSI between -40 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. So basically, unless you’re planning on taking your tools and air compressor with you on a trip to Mars, you won’t have to worry about operating temperature.
Also, TEKTON hoses have bend restrictors at the hose ends, which essentially is an extra sheath of rubber that relieves strain and prevents kinks in the most high-stress areas of the hose.
Things we liked
- Made in the USA
- Stays soft and flexible even in freezing temps
- Cheaper than Goodyear hoses
- 100% brass connectors won’t corrode like inexpensive steel or zinc fittings
- TEKTON ‘Always Guaranteed’ Warranty (e-mail the company for a replacement if anything goes wrong with the hose)
Things we didn’t like
- The bright red rubber tends to leave marks if it rubs up against something hard enough (though this is a common problem for all rubber hoses)
Most Popular Air Compressor Hose: Goodyear ⅜” Rubber Air Hose – Made in USA
All things considered, Goodyear hoses are nearly identical in quality to the TEKTON rubber hoses; both are constructed of spiral-mesh reinforced rubber and fitted with high quality brass connectors.
That being said though, for whatever reason the rubber on the Goodyear hoses seems to feel better quality than the TEKTON, but that’s probably what makes up for the marginal difference in price between the two.
And as far as popularity, Goodyear generally is the go-to brand when it comes to the best pneumatic air hoses – you’ll see more of them in professional garages than you will TEKTON hoses, no doubt about that. (Again though, that probably just comes down to the reputation of the Goodyear name rather than the result of a gap in quality).
Like we mentioned earlier, we’ve always used Goodyear rubber hoses with our compressors and pneumatic tools, and have never had any issues with them. They work great and remain flexible even under extreme hot/cold temperatures, and with some periodic rubber treatment, they’ll last for decades on end.
Things we liked
- Made in USA
- Reputation/reliability of the Goodyear name
- Available in 25 ft, 50 ft, and 100 ft lengths (⅜” diameter with ¼” fittings)
Things we didn’t like
- Like the TEKTON, the color has a tendency to rub off on carpets, garage floor, etc
Best Cheap Air Hose: Campbell Hausfeld 25’ ⅜” PVC Air Hose
And of course, we love the fact that they’re – proof that you can still find good value in American-made tools, without having to pay a top dollar price.
If you’re looking for the best quality air hose, stay away from PVC — for quality, there’s just no substitute for rubber.
However, like we mentioned earlier if you’re dead-set on getting the most inexpensive hose for your compressor, this particular one from Campbell Hausfeld is the best that you’ll find.
PVC is way more rigid and a lot less flexible than rubber, so you’ll no doubt have to deal with the frustrations of getting the hose snagged around stuff on your garage floor – not to mention the agonies of trying to wind and unwind it smoothly.
Also, another big thing to consider with an inexpensive PVC hose like this is temperature – they do not work well or maintain PSI well in sub-freezing temps. So if you live somewhere cold, you’ll definitely want to spend the few extra dollars and go with a rubber hose instead.
Things we liked
- Under 10 bucks with free shipping? Enough said.
- Available in either 25 ft or 50 ft lengths (⅜” diameter)
- 300 Max PSI is enough to supply heavy-duty pneumatic tools
- Brass fittings
Things we didn’t like
- Made in China
- Won’t work properly in sub-freezing temps
Additional Considerations when Shopping for the Best Air Compressor Hose
Cheap PVC air hoses are stiff (and only get stiffer as it gets colder), difficult to coil/uncoil, and will not lay flat no matter how badly you need them to – they’ll inevitably get snagged and knock stuff over on your garage floor as you drag them about.
Also, if they ever get a knick or tiny leak in them (another inevitability in a garage setting), they’re essentially bound for the trash can and will have to be replaced; whereas rubber hoses are easy to repair, PVC is pretty much disposable once it becomes damaged.
In short, rubber air compressor hoses are far superior based simply off convenience; they’re a breeze to coil/uncoil, they snake effortlessly along the garage floor without getting snagged or stuck on stuff, and they perform much better in cold temperatures. So unless you’re just a hardcore penny-pincher, there’s no reason to go with a PVC hose over a rubber one.
Also, one last point of consideration is to not get your hose diameters and hose fitting sizes mixed up.
Pretty much any standard air compressor takes hoses with ¼” fittings; so don’t get this confused with the hose diameter size, which is typically ⅜” (though ¼” and ½” are also common).
¼” diameter hoses are for small, light-duty air compressors, while ½” ones are typically used for ultra heavy-duty machines – much like you’d find in a professional automotive garage. The ⅜” hose is the go-to standard size for any kind of home garage or DIY work.
Best Air Compressor Hose: Conclusion / Bottom Line
All things considered, we have no hesitation whatsoever to recommend the TEKTON 25 ft ⅜” rubber hose as the best air hose for the money.
Even though we’ve always used Goodyear hoses, we love the fact that these ones are a little less pricey while offering the same quality of construction and same performance.
100% made in the USA