Forklift Mast Types: How to Find the Best Fit

July 23, 2021

A Forklift Inventory forklift mast in operation.

There are multiple forklift mast types. Each has different applications and benefits. However, these differences are typically overlooked.

Buyers often choose a forklift without considering all of their options. Few consider the importance of selecting the right forklift mast type. This is a big mistake, as the forklift mast is one of the most important parts to review before purchasing.

That's why Forklift Inventory is stepping in! We're going to cover everything you need to know about the different forklift mast types.

What is a forklift mast? What is a forklift mast type? Forklift mast height? We're here to answer all your questions, from the most basic to the most specific.

What Is a Forklift Mast?

So, what is a forklift mast? A forklift mast, or the "upright", is the part of the forklift that lifts, lowers, and positions the load.

Now that we know what a forklift mast is, what is a forklift mast type?

Each forklift mast type has different capabilities, heights, and stacking limits. Understanding the four main types will help you find the right fit for your business. First, here's a quick rundown on some forklift terms that will help you understand each type.

Quick Rundown

Your forklift mast height will obviously need to reach your highest shelf. However, you also need to add six inches to your tallest rack shelving when choosing. This will help the operator safely adjust loads with a fully extended mast. Forklift mast height directly affects lift height. Lift height is a measurement of how high your forks can reach when the mast is fully extended.

The distance between the floor and the top of your fully extended mast is referred to as the extended height. This is different from lift height, which measures the distance from the forks to the floor.

Lowered height refers to the distance from the floor to the top of the lowered mast. Each mast type has a different height when lowered. Pay special attention to the height restrictions of your warehouse. Your forklift must fit through doorways and warehouse aisles.

Free lift refers to the height an operator can raise the forks without changing the mast height. This is important for warehouses with low overhead clearance. However, it limits visibility, so choose accordingly.

Sideshifters save time and maximize precision by using horizontal fork movement. Sideshifters are a great forklift attachment. Visit this blog for more information on common forklift attachments.

The Four Forklift Mast Types

Single-Stage Mast Forklift

A single-stage mast is the most standard of the forklift mast types. It only has one channel. This limits lifting height.

A single-stage mast...

  • Is mainly used in self-propelled, walk-behind equipment.
  • Works best to accommodate lower lift heights. A single-stage mast also doesn't offer free lift.
  • Is ideal for outdoor areas or warehouses where overhead clearance isn't a concern.

Two-Stage Mast Forklift

A two-stage mast forklift, or a "duplex", is more common than a single. This forklift mast has two sections. The inner section elevates the carriage and forks, while the outer doesn't move.

A two-stage mast...

  • Has a lower maximum lift height. This means it can operate up to its maximum capacity. Higher stage masts cannot because it affects their load center and reduces capacity.
  • Offers great visibility. This makes them ideal for indoor and cross-docking applications.
  • Is the best choice when loads need to be double-stacked. If your truck doesn't need a forklift mast height to reach higher racking, a two-stage mast is for you.

Three-Stage Mast Forklift

A three-stage mast is the most popular and versatile option on this list. This forklift mast uses three rails. Two rails are movable, while the third is stationary.

A three-stage mast...

  • Has a free lift. This allows for extended forklift mast height in comparison to the other types.
  • Is a great asset for stacking and general warehouse applications.
  • Is the most widely available type due to its popularity! It reaches higher heights than the single and two-stage mast. Its functions, however, are more varied than its specialized quad counterpart.

Quad Mast Forklift

A quad mast, or "four-stage mast", is made for very high stacking. It even features the highest forklift reach.

A quad mast...

  • Was created for stacking at steep heights in specialized trailers and warehouses. However, a quad has a much lower maximum lift capacity than its counterparts. That's why these masts are only used in highly specialized applications.
  • Requires higher skill due to its specialized nature and high lifting ability. Forklift operators need advanced training to be able to operate this mast at all. Its restricted visibility is also a hazard.
  • Offers full free lift. However, heavier loads cause a decline in lifting capacity.
A truck with a good forklift mast height and forklift mast in a warehouse.

Purchasing a Truck With the Best Forklift Mast Type

Choose a forklift mast with these points in mind. Once you know what you need, turn to Forklift Inventory!

Forklift Inventory allows you to compare all your options in one place. Forklift Inventory partners with pre-screened dealers to collect a variety of equipment. Choose from a wide selection of forklifts with different mast types and lift heights.

To start, let Forklift Inventory know exactly what you're looking for in this form. Then, our experts will send you free quotes and information on equipment that fits your needs. You'll get results in minutes.

Get the Best Deal on High-Quality Equipment.

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