Choosing the Best Water Hose for Boats

If you ask a group of boaters their opinion on which boat component causes the worst sticker shock, they would probably suggest some electronic or engine parts. This is totally wrong. Experts with more than one decade in working with marine supplies attest that it wasn’t the radar system or the engine thermostat that made their customers feel abnormal in the boat. It was the boat hose.

If you don’t know, water hose for boats are of different types, and each performs a specific job. Unlike garden hoses, there is nothing like an all-purpose water hose for boats. No single-hose that can withstand all hose-tasks in a boat. Among the tasks includes safely transporting gasoline to the carburetor, draining the cockpit, flushing the head and bringing fresh water to the boat galley.

Using the wrong water hose for boat can result in several problems, which may result in an inconvenient mess or burning of the boat. That said, this handy article will help you identify the various types of boat hoses that will help you when it comes to choosing the best water hose for boats.

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Types of Water Hoses for Boats

1.    Fuel Hose

Identifying a fuel hose can be quite confusing, owing to the fact that they come in different classifications. The common categories include A1, B1, and B2. In overall, A-type hoses are thicker compared to B type. The number in the classification indicates the hose’s permeability. For instance, A1 is less permeable to fuel compared to A2.

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Obviously, the most important property of fuel hose is their chemical resistance and low permeability. Gasoline run boats have specific demanding hose requirements that are covered under federal laws. This is probably why most gasoline hoses are made from heavy-duty rubber compounds. Such hoses should be U.S Coast Guard Approved and marked with J1527 A1, A2, B1 or B2. They should have a clearly indicated manufacture date.

As mentioned, A type of hoses are comparably thicker than B type and should pass the 2.5 minutes burn test. This is designed to give boat users enough time to exit the boat in case of fire. Type 1 hoses are less permeable compared to type 2. Therefore, it makes much sense to state that type A1 hoses are less permeable and best for use with gasoline boats.

Diesel-powered boats have minimal federal regulations, perhaps due to the fact that there are reduced risks of explosion with diesel. Nonetheless, A1 boats are the best choice. The extra thickness of these hoses prevents against chafe and less likely to transmit the awful diesel odor to the interior of the boat due to less permeability.

2.    Bilge Hose

As the name suggests, Bilge hoses are specifically made to work with bilge pumps. What distinguishes bilge hoses from other boat hoses is their flexibility. This is an advantage since the boat’s bilge pumps discharge lines are weaved and routed through tight areas. Therefore, having a sturdy hose would make it difficult for the bilge hose to pass through such areas.

Apart from unbeatable flexibility, bilge hoses should be tough enough to resist chemical attacks. Besides, they should have a smooth internal surface to allow free and easy movement of water.

Most boats use the Bilge flex hoses, probably due to their names. However, boat experts would advise against these hoses. Their corrugated nature makes them flexible but is cheap and quite flimsy. They also attract dirt and grime easily, probably due to the tiny ridges on the surface. The ridges can create friction inside the hose, reducing the efficiency of the bilge pump.

Therefore, a good bilge pump should be smooth-walled with nylon reinforcement. White PVC hoses suit this description, besides their durable nature with a smooth exterior. They are also resistant to dirt, oil and duel thus minimize their entry into the bilge pump. The inside is smoothly walled, thus reduces the effects on pump efficiency. Unfortunately, they aren’t as flexible as other bilge hoses in the market and require some work to install into the boat.

3.    Portable Water Hose

Most boaters are tempted to use the wrong products when it comes to selecting the best portable water hose for their boats. A good water hose should have nylon threads reinforcement that not only adds to its strength but also protect it from the fresh and raw water systems thus won’t collapse from the effect of suction pumps.

Since these hoses carry drinking water too, they should be made from FDA non-toxic materials to prevent chemicals from leaching into the water. PVC hoses are a common choice for these tasks and have pumps that enable the hose to deliver water under some pressure.

Whereas a good number of portable water hoses are clear and transparent, having opaque hoses are beneficial in preventing the formation of slime. Vinyl hoses that can be used in this case can be either reinforced or non-reinforced. Reinforced water hoses have visible synthetic fabric strands while non-reinforced models lack them. Reinforced models are a good choice since they resist kinking and stronger thus less likely to collapse, even when used on suction sides of the boat pump.

PEX portable water hoses are a good choice for large boats, thanks to their long pipes, the semi-rigid structure that offers resistance to sagging. These polyethylene hoses are available in various colors, but the common colors are blue, which indicate cold water and red color for hot water. Grey is a common color too. Nonetheless, all polyethylene hoses have similar properties regardless of their colors.

Pro Tip: Most water hoses, including clear hose models hidden behind lockers, develop growth inside with time. This can be eliminated by flushing beach solution through the hose. Thereafter, ensure that you pass through a lot of clean water before resuming normal drinking.

4.    Sanitation Hose

If you have been to boats that have been operational for several years, you definitely understand the smell that greets you once you get to their toilets. This common smell is hard to prevent and eliminate, as well. Apart from thorough maintenance, the best way to keep away these odors is by installing a good sanitation hose, engineered to absorb the odiferous effluents.

An important consideration when searching for a proper sanitation hose is that they should have low permeability characteristics. That said, PVC is an excellent choice. Most sanitation hoses are clearly marked with a “sanitation hose” imprint along the length of the hose.

Most boaters often get tempted to use other types of flexible hoses. However, the nature of the odor emitted is a strong opposing factor. Sanitation hoses should be wired at the farthest areas, ensuring there is no water contact or loops that may cause premature permeation or aging.

Clogging is a common problem associated with sanitation hoses. The scales of waste and uric acid passing through causes this. This can be avoided by using the right type of sanitation hose that minimizes clogging and foul smell.

5.    Thru-Hull Hose

Thru-Hull hoses are an extension of holes in the boat connected to the above or below waterline fittings. Due to this, such hoses should be impeccably strong and durable. Hoses fitted at the water intake points should be rigid to withstand suction from the engine water pumps.

Common thru-hull hoses are made from rubber materials with metal or plastic spiral reinforcements. They can also have double or triple walls to ascertain a long-lasting use. Underwater fittings hose should be made to SAE J2OR3 standards and labeled on the exterior surface.

Thru-hull should be stiff, and boaters should not bend them much as it will create a weak spot that possible damages the crimp. If you want to be sure you that have a good thru-hull hose, try compressing it through your fingers. Unlike radiator hoses that can be simple to compress, thru-hull hoses are reinforced and cannot be squeezed easily.

6.    Exhaust Hose

Probably among the most expensive water hose for boats in the market are exhaust boats. They are made from several layers of cloth-reinforced and tough-vulcanized rubber with stiff wires running through its length. Their design makes them withstand bends without collapsing.

They are also abrasion and heat resistant, thus a good choice for connecting to thru-hulls under the boat’s waterline. They can also effortlessly carry exhaust gasses and cooling water on the unit.

Exhaust hoses are among the critical water hose for boat type on board. Remember that a slightly leaking hose will not only let in cooling water to the boat risking floods but also releases the dangerous carbon monoxide to the boat. Most exhaust hoses are made from rubber and can withstand high temperatures, of up to 250°F. There are special hoses, however, made from silicone rubber that can withstand temperatures of 500°F.

7.    LPG Hose

Leaks from LPG gases, better known as propane, are catastrophic. This is why propane hoses should be flexible with very low permeability. They should also have permanent connections and cannot be clamped like other hoses. Purchasing and fixing LPG hoses should be entirely left to professionals. Most LPG hoses are thermoplastic and sold in specific lengths with already attached fittings.


Choosing the best water hose for boats is definitely a challenging task. For starters, you should identify the specific type of hose and its function in the boat. You can then evaluate the specific features that the hose should have. This will help in minimizing accidents and other risks associated with installing the wrong type of water hose for boat.

Just to mention, when searching for these products, it is important that you look for several factors. Among them include the reinforcement, burst strength, vacuum rating, and temperature range, bend radius and FDA approval of the hose. You should also watch out for the hose diameter to help you find an appropriate product.

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