Best Forklifts for Dirt and Gravel in 2024

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A forklift traveling down a dirt road

This is our 2024 review of the top forklifts for dirt and gravel.

Choosing an inappropriate forklift for these surfaces can be inefficient. Worse, it can create safety risks.

So, we researched the best forklifts for dirt and gravel to help you find a suitable model.

We concluded that the JCB 930 is the best overall forklift for these conditions.

But needs can differ. So, we’ve also included reviews of other leading off-terrain forklifts.

Let’s begin!

Best Budget

Noblelift FD2RT 50

56 Horsepower

153 Lb.-Ft. Torque

8.6 in. Ground Clearance

Best Overall

JCB 930

74 Horsepower

295 Lb.-Ft. Torque

10 in. Ground Clearance

Best Telehandler

JLG G5-18A

74 Horsepower

192 Lb.-Ft. Torque

11 in. Ground Clearance

Our Best Forklifts for Dirt and Gravel

10 Best Forklifts for Dirt and Gravel


JCB 930

  • Capacity (lb.): 6000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 22
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: EcoMAX
  • Transmission: 4-speed
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 10

The JCB 930 is a top choice for those needing a dependable forklift for dirt and gravel surfaces. This machine boasts a lifting capacity of 6,000 lbs. It also has a maximum lift height of 22 ft.

The 930’s T4 Final-compliant EcoMax diesel engine offers 74 HP and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. This motor boasts up to a 10% fuel efficiency improvement compared to earlier models.

It also has a 4-speed transmission, 2WD/4WD capability, and hydrostatic power steering. Moreover, the machine has 10 in. of ground clearance. These features give the 930 excellent performance on rugged terrains.

For safety, the JCB 930 includes several features. It has a zero tail swing design to minimize rear-end impacts while turning. It also has a system that automatically reduces lift capacity above 15 ft. This feature ensures stability.

The 930’s cab is designed for operator comfort. It has tinted glass, a 3-speed heater fan, and air conditioning. These are beneficial during long hours of operation.

Maintenance is made easy with several features. These include friction-welded eye-ends for strength, hardened pivot pins, and heavy-duty mast components. JCB also uses precision robotic machining, painting, and assembly to enhance durability.

For customer assurance, the JCB 930 has two warranties. One is a 24-month/unlimited-hour warranty on major components. The other is a 12-month/unlimited-hour warranty on minor components.

JCB 930 is widely available, with 310 dealers in the United States.

Lift King LK6M

  • Capacity (lb.): 6000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 30
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: Caterpillar C3.4b 3.4L turbo diesel
  • Transmission: 4-speed
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 13

The Lift King LK6M is specifically designed for dirt and gravel terrains. This forklift has a 6,000 lb. capacity, up to 30 ft lift height, and 25 mph max speed.

A Caterpillar C3.4b 3.4L turbo diesel engine powers the LK6M. It’s EPA Tier 4-compliant and features a 4-speed transmission and pneumatic tires. These provide optimal traction on rugged terrains.

Its dimensions are 151 x 80 x 128 inches, with 13 inches of ground clearance. Such tall clearance makes the LK6M particularly effective on challenging surfaces.

This forklift truck has many essential safety aspects. It has wide-grip handrails to prevent operator falls. Additionally, it comes with an automatic backup alarm to alert pedestrians.

The operator’s cabin is designed for comfort during long working hours. It includes an adjustable vinyl suspension seat with armrests, a retractable seat belt, and a sun visor. There’s also a cup holder, USB phone charger, 12V outlet, and ventilation fans.

Several features on the LK6M make maintenance easier. These include password-protected technician access to vehicle electronics and easy engine access engine.

For peace of mind, Lift King offers a 1-year/2,000 hours limited warranty. Additionally, it has an extended 2-year engine warranty.

While Lift King has a reasonably extensive dealer network in the US and Canada, it’s less widespread than other manufacturers. This can make it harder to get their forklift models.

Toyota 50-8FGU25

  • Capacity (lb.): 5000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 21
  • Fuel Type: LP
  • Engine: 4Y – US 2.2L
  • Transmission: 1F/1R
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 3.7

The Toyota 50-8FGU25 offers a lifting capacity of 5,000 lbs. Additionally, it has a maximum lift height of 21 ft, making it efficient for various tasks.

This forklift is powered by LP (liquid propane) using the 4Y – US 2.2L engine. Despite emissions issues in the past, Toyota’s new 4Y engine meets EPA/CARB standards.

Safety is a crucial focus for Toyota. The forklift features Active Mast Control (AMC) and a System of Active Stability (SAS). These help reduce tip-overs caused by instability.

Inside the cabin are amenities for convenience. For example, a large cupholder, a full-suspension seat, and a foot-activated parking brake.

Maintenance on the 50-8FGU25 is straightforward and efficient. Access to the floorboard requires no tools. Also, the oil change interval is 1,000 hours, longer than industry averages.

Toyota includes two warranties for peace of mind. One covers essential components for 1 year or 2,000 hours. The other covers powertrain components for 3 years or 6,000 hours.

With a vast network of dealers in the US and Canada, the Toyota 50-8FGU25 is easily accessible. Moreover, users have expressed high satisfaction with its reliability.

On the downside, the Toyota 50-8FGU25 has a ground clearance of only 3.7 inches. This means it could become stuck or experience problems on very rough terrains.

Case 586H

  • Capacity (lb.): 6000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 22
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: FPT 3.4L
  • Transmission: 4F/4R
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 10.3

The Case 586H forklift is suitable for many applications, including dirt and gravel. It has 6,000 lbs. of lifting capacity and can reach up to 22 ft in height.

This forklift runs on a Tier 4 Final-compliant FPT 3.4L diesel engine. Offering 233 lb.-ft. of torque and paired with a 4-speed transmission and optional 4WD, the 586H provides plenty of power for rugged terrains.

The dimensions of the Case 586H are 147 x 84 x 127 inches, with a ground clearance of 10.3 inches. This size and clearance provide stability and mobility on grass, dirt, gravel, and other surfaces.

One critical safety feature of Case 586H is its narrow zero-tail swing design. This makes turning easier as operators don’t have to worry about the back end hitting people or objects. The operator’s canopy is also ROPS/FOPS certified for integrity in case of tip-overs or impacts.

The 586H includes many user-friendly features. For example, a push-button parking brake, eye-level gauges, and a spacious operating platform. These enhance both operator comfort and convenience.

Maintenance of this forklift is made easy. It has tool-free swing-out access doors, ground-level site gauges, and grouped service points.

To guarantee quality, the Case 586H has a 1-year/unlimited-hour full-coverage base limited warranty. Additionally, it has a 2-year/2,000-hour extended engine warranty.

Case has a significant dealership presence in the USA, making it easily accessible.

JLG G5-18A

  • Capacity (lb.): 5500
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 18
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: Deutz TD 2.9L
  • Transmission: 1F/1R hydrostatic
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 11

The JLG G5-18A telehandler forklift is capable of working on rugged terrain. That includes dirt, gravel, and sod. It has a capacity of 5,500 lbs. and a maximum lift height of 18 ft.

A Tier 4 Final-compliant Deutz TD 2.9L engine powers this machine. It also features a 1F/1R hydrostatic transmission. These ensure robust and reliable performance.

The forklift’s pneumatic tires provide stability and traction. This makes it an excellent choice for outdoor applications.

A vital feature of the JLG G5-18A is its versatile steering options. These include 4-wheel circle, 4-wheel crab, and 2-wheel front steering modes. Such flexibility helps make maneuvering the truck more precise.

JLG focused on safety with the G5-18A, offering several options. The truck has a low-profile hood design for better visibility. It also has a certified ROPS/FOPS structure for operator protection.

The G5-18A prioritizes operator comfort with easy entry and exit, single joystick control, and an adjustable suspension seat. There’s also an optional cab with heat, A/C, and a radio.

JLG offers a comprehensive warranty for this forklift. It includes one (1) full year of coverage and extends to five (5) years for major structural components.

The JLG G5-18A has a broad network of dealers globally, ensuring availability and support.

Load Lifter 2200 Series

  • Capacity (lb.): 6000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 30
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: Perkins 3.4L
  • Transmission: 4-speed
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 12

The Load Lifter 2200 boasts a 6,000 lb. capacity and a maximum lift height of 30 ft. This diesel-powered forklift uses a Perkins 3.4L engine that meets EPA emissions standards.

It also has a 4-speed transmission, 2WD and 4WD options, and pneumatic tires. These features make the 2200 excellent for heavy-duty applications, including dirt and gravel.

A notable feature of the Load Lifter 2200 Series is its fingertip steering. This allows for precise control and ease of maneuvering.

For safety, the forklift is designed to prioritize operators’ visibility. It also includes safety start features, which enhance efficiency and operator confidence.

Load Lifter offers several features to improve operator comfort. They included a spacious compartment, vibration and sound deadening, and an adjustable seat.

Maintenance of the Load Lifter 2200 Series is straightforward. It features a componentized power train, which simplifies servicing. It also has a powder-coated finish for longer-lasting paint.

The Load Lifter 2200 Series has a relatively strong dealer network. There are 75 dealers in the US and 27 in Canada to ensure availability and support.

Sellick S60

  • Capacity (lb.): 6000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 12
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: EcoMax T4 4L
  • Transmission: 4-speed
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 12

The Sellick S60 is an excellent option for handling dirt and gravel. It has a capacity of 6,000 lbs. and can lift up to 12 ft.

The S60 operates on a durable EcoMax T4 4L diesel engine that meets Tier 4 Final compliant emissions standards. The engine uses ultra-clean burn technology to reduce maintenance needs. It’s also more environmentally friendly and lowers fuel use.

The truck has a 4-speed transmission, 2WD or 4WD capability, and pneumatic tires. These make the S60 suitable for challenging dirt, gravel, and grass terrains.

A notable feature of the Sellick S60 is its load-sense power steering. This allows for precise and responsive control.

Safety-wise, the operator’s compartment is designed to exceed ANSI/ITSDF B56.6 ROPS/FOPS standards. The forklift also includes enclosed oil-immersed multi-disc service brakes for better stopping power.

Operator comfort is also a focus in the S60’s design. It features an isolated, rubber-mounted operator’s compartment and an adjustable suspension seat. An optional cab with air conditioning and a radio is available for extra comfort.

With a broad network of dealers in the US and Canada, the Sellick S60 is widely available and well-supported.

Noblelift FD2RT 50

  • Capacity (lb.): 5000
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 21
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: LS Mtron 2.5L
  • Transmission: 2F/1R
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 8.6

The Noblelift FD2RT 50 is a great, affordable option for forklifts usable on dirt and gravel. 

The forklift is available in both 2WD and 4WD models. It has a capacity of 5,000 lbs. and can reach a maximum lift height of 21 ft.

The forklift is powered by an LS Mtron 2.5L diesel engine. This power plant complies with EPA Tier IV Final and EU Stage V emission regulations.

The FD2RT 50 also features a transmission with two forward gears. This design gives more options for handling various terrains.

Low entry points and the Operator Presence System (OPS) enhance operator safety. The former helps reduce falls. The latter prevents operating if it doesn’t detect the driver.

Operator comfort is also a priority in the FD2RT 50. For example, it includes a steering wheel spinner knob and adjustable suspension seat. These help reduce operator fatigue.

For maintenance, Tier IV engine fault codes simplify diagnostics. Also, a pre-cleaner removes 90% of impurities from the intake air. This helps protect the engine in dirty environments.

The Noblelift FD2RT 50 includes a 12-month or 2,000-hour warranty for peace of mind. For significant components, the coverage extends to 24 months or 4,000 hours.

On the downside, the Noblelift FD2RT 50 has limited availability in the United States. Currently, there are dealers in WA, NC, and PA.

Palfinger FHS 55 STD

  • Capacity (lb.): 5500
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 12
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Engine: Kohler 1.8L turbo diesel
  • Transmission: Hydrostatic
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 11

The Palfinger FHS 55 STD is our pick for the best truck-mounted forklift for dirt and gravel. It has a capacity of 5,500 lbs. and a maximum lift height of 12 ft.

A TIER 4 Final-compliant Kohler 1.8L turbo diesel engine powers the FHS 55 STD. This 55 HP engine puts out 225 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired with a hydrostatic transmission.

A unique feature of the Palfinger FHS 55 STD is its hydrostatic 3-wheel drive with 180° rear steering. This provides exceptional control and precision while offering excellent stability and grip on rugged terrains.

The FHS 55 STD has several safety features. Operators can mount and dismount the forklift from the truck or trailer from the ground. The truck also has a 3-point entry/exit system with handles and steps. These features reduce the chances of falls.

For operator comfort, the FHS 55 STD features easy-reach armrest control levers. It also has an all-weather glass overhead guard cover to enhance convenience and safety.

Several features reduce the FHS 55 STD’s maintenance needs. For example, it has wear-reducing mast carriage rollers. It also uses steel hydraulic lines to minimize leaks.

The forklift comes with a 3-year/2,000-hour engine warranty and a 5-year/3,000-hour emissions warranty. This provides users with peace of mind.

With 29 locations across the United States, the Palfinger FHS 55 STD is accessible. However, it may be more challenging to get than other forklifts on this list.

Toyota 8FG70U

  • Capacity (lb.): 15,500
  • Max Lift Height (ft): 19
  • Fuel Type: LP
  • Engine: 1FS US 3.7L
  • Transmission: 2-speed
  • Tire Type: Pneumatic
  • Ground Clearance (in.): 4.9

The Toyota 8FG70U is our top choice for a high-capacity forklift for dirt and gravel surfaces. It has a lifting capacity of 15,500 lbs. and a 19 ft. maximum lift height.

A Toyota 1FS US 3.7L LP engine powers this forklift. It puts out 88 HP and 212 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is EPA/CARB-certified. It also has special electronics that improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

With a 28% max gradeability, a 2-speed transmission, and pneumatic tires, the 8FG70U is excellent on rugged terrains.

Toyota has also included many proprietary safety features on the 8FG70U. One example is the Active Mast Control (AMC). This helps prevent tip-overs when lifting the mast.

For operator comfort, Toyota has several options. For example, the operator cabin, non-cinching seatbelt, tilt steering column, and a cup holder.

Maintenance of this forklift is straightforward. It has a no-tools-required floorboard, and the hood opens wide for easy servicing. Technicians will also find easy access to filters and dipsticks inside.

For peace of mind, Toyota offers a basic warranty with 1 year or 2,000 hours of coverage. They also provide powertrain coverage for 3 years or 6,000 hours.

The Toyota 8FG70U is supported by Toyota’s extensive network of dealerships in the US and Canada. This ensures excellent availability and support.

Dirt and Gravel Forklift Buying Guide

You must consider a few critical factors when selecting a forklift for dirt and gravel:

Capacity

Forklift capacities vary widely. Some can lift as little as 3,000 pounds, while others can handle over 30,000 pounds.

The lifting capacity you need depends on the types of loads you handle. It’s not just about weight; other aspects of your load are also crucial.

For example, consider the dimensions of the load, including its length, width, and height. Oversized loads require a forklift with greater capacity to avoid forward overturning.

Another critical factor is the load center. This is the hypothetical point in an object where most of its weight is concentrated.

The standard load center rating is typically 24 inches. If what you’re lifting has a load center greater than this, you’ll need a forklift with a higher capacity for safe handling.

For more information on forklift capacity, refer to our comprehensive guide.

Height

Forklifts made for off-road use on dirt and gravel have lift heights ranging from 12 ft. to 30 ft. This range makes them suitable for a variety of applications.

Your specific tasks will determine the required lift height. For example, you might need to load semi-trailers. Or place stock on outdoor racks. Or lift construction materials to different levels.

Measure your highest point to figure out how high the forks must reach. Use this measurement to determine the mast configuration you need. For example, two-stage or three-stage.

Also, think about any doorway clearances in your facility. This is essential if you’ll use the forklift indoors and outdoors.

Be aware that some forklift masts can extend over 120 inches high when lowered. The forklift’s lowered height should allow it to pass through any openings you have.

Fuel

Forklifts meant for dirt and gravel are usually diesel-powered. That said, some models run on LP (liquefied petroleum gas).

Electric forklifts suitable for outdoor use are becoming more popular. However, they have yet to reach the same level of availability and adoption as diesel and LP models.

Both diesel and LP fuels have their own advantages. Diesel forklifts generally provide more horsepower and torque. This extra power is adequate for handling harsh conditions.

But diesel fuel is often more expensive. Additionally, diesel forklifts cannot be used indoors due to emissions.

This may be fine if your forklift usage is strictly outdoor. But if you need a forklift for indoor and outdoor applications, LP gas is the better option.

Tires

Generally, you’ll encounter two main types of tires suitable for dirt and gravel. These are air-filled pneumatic and foam-filled pneumatic tires.

Air-filled pneumatic tires are usually standard on outdoor forklifts. They compress and deform under use. Combined with a suitable tread pattern, the result is a better grip on surfaces like gravel and grass.

One major downside of air-filled pneumatic tires is that they are prone to puncturing. In environments with debris like nails or screws, these tires may become problematic.

Foam-filled tires, on the other hand, are pneumatic tires filled with foam instead of air. These are a more expensive option.

Their main benefit is that they won’t deflate. Even when they come into contact with sharp debris on the ground. This feature can increase productivity and reduce downtime.

However, foam-filled tires are less flexible and offer less grip than air-filled tires. As a result, they might not perform as well on rough or uneven terrains.

Safety

Dirt and gravel can present safety risks for operators and those near the forklifts. For instance, loose gravel can cause the forklift to slip or skid. This can lead to its overturning.

Operators must follow all training and precautions to maintain safety. But to protect in worst-case scenarios, choosing a forklift with adequate safety features is crucial.

A certified “roll-over protective structure” (ROPS) is one safety aspect. This guard protects the operator from being crushed if the forklift rolls over.

Seat belts are another vital safety feature. They keep operators securely in their seats during a rollover or sudden stop.

Forklifts should also have wide steps and grip handles. These features help operators maintain three contact points when getting in and out of the cab. This is important because fatal accidents have occurred due to operator falls.

Performance and Design

Forklifts for gravel and dirt surfaces need specific performance and design characteristics.

One crucial element is the engine’s power, especially the torque. Greater torque means the forklift has more strength. This is vital for overcoming steep grades, handling inclines, and moving over uneven terrains.

The forklift’s drive setup is another essential factor to consider. Many rough terrain forklifts come with standard two-wheel drive (2WD). But, more challenging conditions may require four-wheel drive (4WD). This can reduce the chances of getting stuck.

Ground clearance is also an essential aspect. It indicates how far the forklift’s undercarriage is from the ground. Adequate ground clearance helps avoid impacts on uneven surfaces.

The footprint and tail-swing are other considerations. These become particularly relevant when the forklift is used outdoors and indoors. For example, in warehouses with aisles and pallet racking.

Ergonomics

Forklift operators working on surfaces like dirt and gravel may experience more fatigue than those working indoors. Thus, it’s crucial to consider features that enhance operator comfort.

There are many ergonomic options to evaluate. Start by looking at the cab. You may opt for a fully enclosed cab if the forklift is used in all weather conditions. Additionally, consider heating and air conditioning to ensure comfort throughout the year.

Features such as adjustable or suspension seats are also important. They help absorb shocks from the terrain, reducing the impact on the operator.

Fingertip controls integrated into armrests are another ergonomic option. This design eliminates the need for operators to reach forward for hydraulic controls. This can prevent strain on the shoulders and arms.

Consider other convenient extras as well. These include cup holders, USB charging ports, spinner knobs, and radios. Such amenities make the operator experience more user-friendly and less tiring.

Our Verdict

When dealing with terrains such as gravel and dirt, choosing the right forklift is essential.

Using the wrong forklift can result in it getting stuck or, more dangerously, tipping over.

Each application is different. So, it’s essential to think about your specific environment and needs.

That said, the JCB 930 is an excellent choice. It’s a great forklift for dirt, gravel, grass, and other types of rough terrain.

FAQs About Forklifts for Dirt and Gravel

What forklifts should be used on dirt and gravel?

Forklifts with air pneumatic tires are best for use on dirt and gravel. These tires provide enough ground clearance to navigate such conditions effectively. Forklifts with smooth cushion tires tend to get stuck or overturn on mud and gravel surfaces. So, air-filled pneumatic tires are the better option.

Do forklifts work on gravel?

Only some forklifts are suitable for gravel. Specific models can only handle densely packed gravel surfaces. For less dense gravel packing conditions, rough terrain forklifts are a better choice. No matter the type of forklift, operators should be cautious when working on gravel. This caution is to prevent slippage and the potential for overturning.

What type of forklift is rough terrain?

Rough terrain forklifts technically hold the designation of Class 7: Rough terrain forklift trucks. These forklifts come in various designs. There are tractor-style forklifts with straight masts, telehandler-style forklifts, and truck-mounted forklifts. Manufacturers design rough terrain forklifts for rugged or uneven surfaces like grass, dirt, mud, and gravel.

What is an all-terrain forklift called?

All-terrain forklifts are also called rough-terrain forklifts. These are specialized lift trucks with either 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive capabilities. These forklifts are specifically made for outdoor use. They can navigate surfaces like dirt, gravel, and slopes.

What is the difference between an industrial forklift and a rough terrain forklift?

Industrial forklifts are typically used on flat surfaces, such as concrete. Some are designed purely for indoor use. Others can operate both indoors and outdoors. They often run on electric batteries or LPG engines. Rough terrain forklifts have large, air-filled tires for better traction on uneven surfaces. They also typically have diesel engines. These features make them suitable for environments like construction sites and lumberyards.

Can you use industrial forklifts on unpaved surfaces?

Some industrial forklifts with air-filled pneumatic tires can be used on unpaved surfaces. For example, dirt and tightly packed gravel. But rough terrain forklifts are better for demanding conditions like grass, mud, and loose gravel. They are specifically designed for these challenging terrains.

What is the difference between a telehandler and a forklift?

A telehandler is a specific type of forklift. The feature that sets it apart from others is its telescoping boom arm. This arm is different from the traditional up-and-down lifting mechanism of standard forklifts. The telescoping boom arm allows the telehandler to lift and reach. This makes it particularly useful for tasks like placing pallets of roofing shingles on top of a roof.

Which forklift is best for steep slopes?

When it comes to handling steep slopes, the Toyota 50-8FGU25 stands out. Its technical specifications show a computed gradeability of 33% under a full load. The Palfinger FHS 55 STD is another excellent option. It offers a 30% gradeability.

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