What Size Forklift Should I Rent?

What Size Forklift Should I Rent?

That's the first question warehouse managers typically ask. Your forklift needs to be able to move through your warehouse with ease and maneuver through aisles without damaging merchandise, so its size is an important concern. 

Consider the following characteristics when deciding what size forklift to rent to ensure that your chosen model is large enough to be efficient and nimble enough to navigate your warehouse. 

Important Forklift Specifications

A forklift's height, length, and width are all important dimensions to know to verify that it will be able to maneuver in your facility's layout. However, you also need to check a potential rental's mast measurements to be sure that it will serve your purposes:

  • Overall raised height: This dimension is measured from the floor to the top of the fully extended mast. Knowing this number helps you find a forklift with adequate reach for your top shelves.
  • Overall lowered height: The height of the forklift when the forks are at the bottom of their range is the overall lowered height. This information is important to ensure the unit will be able to pass under doors and any other elevated obstructions.

Lastly, you need to confirm that any rental you consider has sufficient weight capacity to handle the largest load you'll be moving. 

The Different Types of Forklifts and Their Applications

Renting a forklift gives you the opportunity to choose from a wide range of equipment types to fit specific job requirements. The following are a few of the most common types of lift trucks and the tasks and settings they handle best:

  • Warehouse forklift: Perhaps the most recognizable type of forklift, the standard warehouse lift truck looks like a golf cart with two forks jutting out from the front. This purpose-built machine fits perfectly between standard-sized warehouse aisles; it measures around 5' wide and approximately 10' long. The typical warehouse forklift has a weight capacity of roughly 5,000 pounds. This style of forklift is also available in larger sizes for more demanding applications.
  • Counterbalance forklift: The main feature of a counterbalance forklift is that it features weight in the rear to balance heavy loads while maintaining a compact form factor. These models tend to be highly maneuverable and can handle tight turns in constrained environments.
  • Heavy-duty forklift: With its durable design, this model may be your best option for operations involving large pallets of heavy goods.
  • Side loader: A side loader is a type of warehouse forklift commonly used in manufacturing facilities dealing with long, heavy, and bulky materials like lumber and pipes. The operator sits in a sideways compartment so the machine can load and unload lengthy parts. 
  • Reach forklift: This indoor forklift is specially designed for reaching merchandise on high shelves. If you have a large facility with high racks, a reach forklift will likely be the way to go. 
  • Rough terrain forklift: Designed for outdoor use, this forklift has the ability to run on unpaved surfaces like sand, dirt, and gravel. Rough terrain models come with large pneumatic tires that give them excellent balance and stability. 
  • Walkie stacker: Operators steer walkie stackers on foot rather than in a cab. They tend to have lower lifting capacities of around 2,000 pounds, but they are highly maneuverable and capable of working in tight spaces. They also provide excellent operator visibility and allow your personnel to move loads with minimal risk of injury. 
  • Pallet jack: Designed to be maneuverable in tight spaces, pallet jacks can be battery-powered or pushed by hand. This is the ideal tool for situations where maneuverability is more important than power. They are compact, easy to store, and simple to operate.

Rent a Forklift From Your Local Cat® Dealer Today

Find the forklift you need for your warehouse at your nearest location of The Cat® Rental Store. Renting a forklift gives you all the operational benefits of these machines without having to deal with ownership costs like maintenance and long-term storage. You'll find a variety of forklifts you can rent in our online collection of options available through the Cat dealer network. 

If you know what you need and are ready to request a quote, contact our team at your convenience. For more assistance deciding what size forklift you should rent or if one type would be more useful than the others, reach out to the skilled team at your local Cat dealer.