I probably sold in excess of several thousand hose clamps during my time as a store clerk and wholesale account manager at Fawcett Boat Supplies in Annapolis, MD, and questions about the cost and uses of this important boat part were never in short supply. Why are these so expensive? Why does this one cost twice as much as this one? Considering the amount of cost questions swirling around the subject, it’s probably a safe bet you might have some of your own, too.
Hose clamps are relatively unappreciated and seldom thought of, but they do incredibly important jobs on our boats—keeping the deep blue sea on the outside of the boat being the most important. But other uses, such as moving fuel, waste, or exhaust gases are equally as important. Nobody wants a boat full of diesel fuel or holding tank contents, right? Let’s see what separates a good hose clamp from the bad.
The absolute worst place to buy a hose clamp for a boating application is at the auto parts shop or local hardware store, and let me tell you why: mystery metals. Lots of clamps out there that are marketed as “stainless” unfortunately use only stainless steel bands, but not stainless steel screws. “All stainless” is the classification you’ll want to look for, but you can also tell if a hose clamp is trying to pull the wool over your eyes by looking at the color of the screw—a stainless screw should be silver in color, not a yellowish hue. Get your clamps at a reputable marine store, if you can.
Once you’ve found an all-stainless clamp, you’ll likely see two different price points—one you consider reasonable, and one that makes you go, “Hmmm.” Higher-end clamps (great for critical applications, such as below-the-waterline jobs or for, ahem, waste) are a great idea if you can afford them. They typically have heavier bands with rolled-up edges to keep the clamp from cutting into the hose; are made of higher-grade stainless (typically 316 grade), and have machined threads in the band, versus those cut in with a stamp. These details make for a clamp that is corrosion resistant, strong, and won’t slip, not to mention giving you some piece of mind. In critical applications, I think they’re worth the extra loot.
Staying away from automotive and household hose clamps is your first line of defense against buying bad-quality hose clamps for your boat. Now that you know what to look for as far as materials go, it’s hard to go wrong.
For more info about hose clamps, read Ed Sherman's post: Hose Clamps, Surveyors, and the ABYC