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  • Mike Manning

A Guide to Compact Rough Terrain Forklifts

Compact rough terrain forklifts, or all-terrain forklifts, are different from regular forklifts in that they're designed to be operated on rough terrain such as you might find outside in a remote construction area or on a farm. Regular forklifts typically operate on relatively smooth surfaces such as a warehouse floor or a loading yard on concrete or asphalt.


Uses for a rough terrain forklift include military applications, construction sites, agricultural sites, unpaved surfaces, and natural terrain. An all-terrain forklift is designed with certain unique features that make it the go-to vehicle for rough surfaces, including higher ground clearance, large off-road tires, 4WD, a high-torque engine, a heavy-duty frame, and sometimes articulated steering.

Definition of a Compact Rough Terrain Forklift

Rough terrain forklifts may go by other names, including all-terrain forklifts, outdoor forklifts, or all-terrain fork trucks. By definition, these forklifts are suitable for use on rough and uneven terrain, including unpaved roads, beaches, and undug building sites. This type of forklift is often used to transport heavy cargo over rough terrain and is designed specially to maneuver and be stable in these types of situations. Some rough terrain forklifts are quite large, but compact versions are even more maneuverable and suited to more versatile applications.

Features of Compact Rough Terrain Forklifts

Rough terrain forklifts are built differently from regular forklifts, or indoor forklifts. They're equipped with large, pneumatic tires fit for traveling over uneven and rough surfaces. These tires are often filled with foam instead of air to make them more resistant to punctures when traveling around rough sites.

Most rough terrain forklifts come with powerful diesel engines for more strength and torque in outdoor operations. These engines are designed for high performance and durability in harsh environments.

Like any offroad vehicle, all-terrain forklifts typically come with higher ground clearance and a 4WD system. Both are necessary for traversing difficult terrain. 4WD provides more traction and even power distribution to all wheels, which allows the forklift to maneuver over slippery surfaces, slopes, and inclines. The high ground clearance allows the forklift to move over bumps in the terrain and other small obstacles.

Articulated Steering

Not all rough terrain forklifts are articulated forklifts, but the Hummerbee compact rough terrain forklifts do include this feature. The key benefit of articulated steering on a rough terrain forklift is the ability to turn more sharply. This allows it to maneuver around obstacles and through tight areas. This enhanced maneuverability makes it a natural choice for confined spaces and crowded loading areas. The ability to easily change direction without the space needed for turning the entire vehicle makes it more efficient in smaller spaces.

Articulated steering on a rough terrain forklift increases productivity and safety. These forklifts can easily move forward and backward and at an angle, which provides versatile loading and transporting. This precise control allows the operator to have more visibility and make safe movements with the vehicle.

Uses For Compact Rough Terrain Forklifts

The general use for a rough terrain forklift is moving large items in various outdoor settings. The features of a rough terrain forklift fit a wide array of agricultural and industrial needs that otherwise could not be met with just any machine. A few examples of common applications for rough terrain forklifts include:

  • Lifting and loading bales of hay on a farm

  • Lifting concrete slabs on a construction site

  • Lifting and loading containers in an outdoor port or distribution area

  • Moving, stacking, and lifting various construction materials in outdoor storage lots

Rough terrain forklifts aren't necessarily only confined to the outdoors either. They can be used in warehouses or other confined areas when they include articulated steering. However, in general, rough terrain forklifts are used in places where the operating surface would not be safe for a regular forklift.

Differences Between an All-Terrain Forklift and a Regular Forklift

If you look at a rough terrain forklift next to a regular forklift, the first thing you'll probably notice is the larger and more aggressive tires of the rough terrain forklift. Standard forklifts typically have smaller and smoother tires. Rough terrain forklifts are almost always equipped with pneumatic tires that have deep treads. These foam-filled tires resist punctures on sites where sharp and rough objects may be present.

The next big difference between regular forklifts and rough terrain forklifts is that the latter almost always have powerful diesel engines that may be turbocharged to make over 200 horsepower. These engines generate significant amounts of torque for lifting large objects while traversing rough terrain.

The other significant difference is that rough terrain forklifts are constructed with a heavy-duty frame, integrated axels, and a transfer case for 4WD. These forklifts operate in harsher environments and thus need to be designed for ultimate durability.

Rough Terrain Forklift FAQ

Let's take a look at some common questions surrounding rough terrain forklifts.

How fast can a rough terrain forklift go? Generally, a forklift isn't made to move fast, and a rough terrain forklift is no different. A Hummerbee compact rough terrain forklift can go up to 12 MPH. However, it's usually recommended not to drive a forklift faster than a person can walk.

How much weight can a rough terrain forklift handle? That depends on the forklift. A Hummerbee compact rough terrain forklift can lift up to 3,000 pounds.

Can rough terrain forklifts be used inside and outside? You can use a rough terrain forklift inside and outside, but they are more suited to outdoor applications where a regular forklift can't go.

Compact and Versatile

Hummerbee rough terrain forklifts offer a compact and versatile design that can handle rough terrain and crowded spaces. Featuring 4WD, articulated steering, foam-filled no-flat tires, a turbo diesel engine, and an LED light package, a Hummerbee compact rough terrain forklift is well-suited for a variety of outdoor applications. By combining the best features of rough terrain forklifts and articulated forklifts, Hummerbee forklifts are incredibly versatile on rough terrain, but also useful in enclosed spaces.

Hummerbee offers a few different models for rough terrain forklifts that have various features. Contact our sales team for more information on which model might fit your needs and to get a quote.


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