The Best Rough Terrain Forklift for Your Business

September 27, 2022 - Last modified: September 9, 2022 @ 12:32 pm

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The best rough terrain forklift for your business will be the one that can do specifically what you need it to do. You should consider the type of truck that will suit your requirements, how much weight you want to move, and just how high you need to lift your materials. You will need to choose between mast styles and engine types.

This guide can help you determine the right forklift for your needs and whether you should buy new or used.

Best Rough Terrain Forklift Styles

There are three basic designs for rough terrain forklift vehicles. All of them are built for use on uneven or broken ground and are intended for outdoor use.

Truck or Trailer-Mounted Forklift

The smallest of the three styles is likely to be found on every job site sooner or later. The trailer-mounted forklift is designed to be carried to the site on the back of a delivery truck along with building materials or other supplies. On the site, the forklift is lowered to the ground and then used to offload the contents of the truck.

This type of lift truck is used almost exclusively for loading and unloading trucks and is arguably the best rough terrain forklift for making deliveries. These vehicles make it possible to move inventory from the truck to the location on the site wherever it is needed — something not always possible otherwise, not even with a boom truck.

This ride-along style lift might be the right choice if you are moving materials to a construction site or other outdoor location and you would like to have a forklift on hand when you arrive to set down the supplies anywhere on the site.

Vertical Mast Forklift

This style of rough terrain vehicle is similar to the wide-aisle designs of traditional warehouse lifts. They have four wheels and a seated operator, usually in a protective cab. There are hydraulic lift channels mounted to the front of the mast and forks or a platform for lifting.

These rough terrain trucks are larger and more powerful than their indoor cousins. They need to move well over gravel, bumps, and uneven ground and sometimes operate on a grade. Stability and traction are key requirements.

While indoor forklifts have small cushion tires for maneuvering deftly in tight spaces over smooth surfaces, the outdoor versions depend on large wheels with tires that have a deep and aggressive tread. This design allows the truck to support very heavy loads and move them safely around a construction site.

Variable Reach Trucks

The third style of outdoor lift vehicle is the variable reach forklift, also called a telehandler. These trucks are equipped with a telescoping boom. The boom allows the vertical movement of heavy items but also the ability to adjust the placement of a load from near to far, as well as side to side. In short, these trucks can set materials almost anywhere.

Telehandlers have four very large, deeply-treaded wheels set wide. When extending the boom past the footprint of the vehicle, they use outrigger equipment to enhance stability. Telehandlers can lift and deliver very heavy loads.

Variable reach trucks don't resemble traditional forklifts, although they are designed to perform a similar job. They are classified with Class VII forklifts. This is the best rough terrain forklift design if your job sites require that you place materials in otherwise inaccessible locations.

Capacities and Engine Types

Once you've determined which style of lift truck is the best rough terrain forklift style for your business, you'll need to decide how much weight you will be lifting with the machine and how high. Rough terrain vehicles are categorized by these capacities, so it's good to have at least a general idea of your requirements before you shop for a forklift.

Lift Height

How high you expect to be lifting loads of materials is another consideration. It's pointless to purchase a forklift that can't reach where you need materials delivered, but it isn't much better to buy a truck that can lift 50 feet if you don't have anything taller than 15 feet on your job sites.

Lift height ranges are organized in 10-foot increments:

  • <10 feet
  • 10-19 feet
  • 20-29 feet
  • 30-39 feet
  • 40-49 feet
  • 50+ feet

Lift (Weight) Capacity

The other measurement you'll want to have in mind is how much weight you need to lift with the vehicle. Like lift height, lift capacity is broken into ranges:

  • 3,000 - 6,000 pounds
  • 6,000 - 9,000 pounds
  • 9,000 - 15,000 pounds
  • 15,000 - 21,000 pounds
  • 21,000 - 31,000 pounds
  • 31,000+ pounds

When deciding on the capacities required of your new forklift, it's usually a good idea to opt for a little more reach and power than you think you'll need. You'll never be sorry to have extra capacity on the job site.

Engine Type

Rough terrain forklifts come with either a gas (liquid propane or LPG) or a diesel engine. There are no electric-powered versions of these vehicles. LPG is cleaner and quieter than diesel, but diesel-powered machines provide more power for heavy jobs.

New or Used

The last major question to consider when purchasing a lift truck is whether you want a new vehicle or a used one. It comes down to what you can afford. There is no downside to new equipment except that it costs more.

However, used equipment can be an excellent investment, too. You will probably have some downtime with older machines because they require more maintenance. If you don't have to run them full-tilt, they can be a great way to get the job done without breaking your budget.

Choosing the Best Rough Terrain Forklift

To determine the best rough terrain forklift for your business, be clear about how you plan to use it. Compare models and pricing before settling on a specific machine, and ensure that the one you choose has appropriate capacities for your job sites.

To see available new and used vehicles in your area and to compare them side by side, come visit us at Forklift Inventory for a great selection of rough terrain vehicles and an excellent price on the machine you need.

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*Savings claims are based on used forklift prices when compared to new inventory prices. Savings is not guaranteed and is subject to change.