selecting a forklift mast

what you need to know

Forklift masts are basic components of a forklift, but depending on your warehouse design, it’s important you have the correct type on your forklift. There are four basic types of forklift masts: standard, duplex, triple stage and quad.

Before purchasing your forklift, whether new or used, research the measurements required for your warehouse and daily operation.


How high do you need to lift product?

Locate and measure your highest shelf to understand lift requirements. For safety and product production, then add another 6-8” to your measurement. This extra space allows a forklift operator additional clearance to lift above the pallet racking and avoid dragging the product as it’s loaded or unloaded.

If you load product onto trailers, do you double-stack?

When working in a confined space, two features should be noted – free lift and load backrest. Free lift is defined as the distance the carriage/fork assembly can be lifted without increasing the lowered height. All forklifts have free lift, but some forklift masts have full free lift. This is an advantage when lifting and stacking in trailers.

Forklifts also come standard with a 48” load backrest. During lift the load backrest raises beyond the forklift mast. If your warehouse has height restrictions a modification may be necessary to avoid damage to ceilings, sprinklers, etc.

How low must your lowered or collapsed forklift mast be?

Some forklifts travel in the warehouse and must enter and exit doorways. Perform a walk-through of your building, measuring doorway heights to learn your lowered height requirement. If your production also requires forklift operation on trailers, this task can affect forklift mast selection. Learn if your product is delivered in overseas containers, which can be smaller.

Thinking of adding or replacing forklifts in your fleet? Our equipment specialists are available to answer your questions about forklift masts and other equipment options. Call Thompson & Johnson today to speak to an equipment specialist or fill out a Customer Request Email Form above! 

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.