Narrow Aisle Forklift

What is a Narrow Aisle Forklift?

A narrow aisle forklift is a powered vehicle with a platform that raises and lowers from the user’s commands. These forklifts are designed to fit in “narrow aisles” to lift, lower, or move various objects. To put it simply, a narrow aisle forklift is a forklift designed to work in narrow rows and tight spaces.

For a forklift to be considered a “narrow aisle,” they would need to be able to operate in aisles that are usually less than 10.5ft apart, although some in the industry categorize a narrow aisle between 9-11ft. wide.

These types of forklifts are used to lift and move heavy objects in closely packed storage centers. They provide greater reach and faster movement for large-scale products. Narrow aisle forklifts improve your efficiency, increase safety, and eliminate wasted space. The main draw of a narrow aisle forklift is that you retain all the functionality of a normal forklift but in a much smaller package. Some warehouses only run off narrow aisle forklifts due to their ease of use, flexibility, and price point.

There is a wide range of narrow aisle forklifts to choose from. Customers can find specific forklifts for specific jobs due to the exceptional choices on the market. If you are looking to purchase or rent a narrow aisle forklift, here are a couple of factors to keep in mind:

Height Capacity: How high a forklift will reach.
Travel Speed: How fast a forklift will move carrying a load vs. Not carrying a load.
Lift Speed: How fast your forklift moves up and down.
Load Capacity: How much your forklift can carry.

Industry Usage and Applications for Narrow Aisle Forklifts:

Narrow aisle forklifts are applicable to a wide range of businesses and entities. Here are some of the common industry uses for these types of forklifts:

  • Warehouses
  • Construction Sites
  • Shipping Centers
  • Manufacturing Plants
  • Distribution Centers
  • Storage Facilities
  • Large Libraries

Types of Narrow Aisle Forklifts

There are several types of narrow aisle forklifts, and they all serve different functions. However, this gives consumers multiple choices for a warehouse. You can truly find the best tool for you.

Tables are averages, you may find products that deviate from stated values.

Reach Trucks

Reach trucks are forklifts that are expressly designed to function in warehouse specifications. They contain two-pronged forks to lift/lower products. Reach trucks will also extend/retract its prongs to move or load items. Additionally, operators drive the forklift while standing. Reach trucks are designed to turn quickly and navigate tall racking systems. 

Load CapacityTravel Speed (max)Lift Speed (max)Height Capacity
3,300-5,500 lbs.6-7.4 mph60-130ft per min.Up to 41ft

Deep Reach Trucks

A deep reach truck forklift performs the same functions as a reach truck. However, deep-reach trucks can often lift higher, extend their forks longer distances, and hold more weight at higher lengths. These types of forklifts are perfect for those who use a double rack system.

Load CapacityTravel Speed (max)Lift Speed (max)Height Capacity
3,300-5,500 lbs.6-7.4 mph60-130ft per min.41ft-45ft

Narrow Aisle Electric Forklift

A narrow aisle electric forklift, like the ones presented by Toyota, performs much of the standard forklift duties but in a much smaller package. These types of forklifts are designed to work in tight warehouse aisles but contain all the functionality of a forklift. Not to mention, operators can also sit while using the device. Narrow aisle electric forklifts provide you with a high load capacity and faster speeds.

Load CapacityTravel Speed (max)Lift Speed (max)Height Capacity
3,000-4,000 lbs.9.9 mph94ft per min.Up to 23ft.

Order Pickers

Order pickers are small forklifts that lift both the operator and the forklift prongs into the air. The forklift prongs are usually attached to a pallet for packages to be placed on. These forklifts are designed for operators to easily select multiple packages from various heights and place them on a pallet. Operators can move the forklift while fully in the air to maximize time. This is a great forklift option for those who deal with small to medium-sized packages on a routine basis.

Load CapacityTravel Speed (max)Lift Speed (max)Height Capacity
Up to 1500 lbs.6-7 mph40-80ft per min.9-35ft.

Additional Reading: Order Pickers

Side Loaders

Side loader forklifts are designed to carry elongated loads. For instance, a side loader may be used to carry metal rods, 2×4’s, or PVC piping in large quantities. These types of forklifts are best for items that will be stored on lower rack levels.

Load CapacityTravel Speed (max)Lift Speed (max)Height Capacity
3,000-12,000 lbs.6-7 mph79.83-83ft per min.30ft +


Stackers are usually walk behind forklifts (although some can be driven), that are designed to carry loads that are only a couple of feet off the ground. They are built for delivering products across very small distances. Oftentimes, warehouses will use a combination of forklifts and stackers to move items in and out of delivery trucks. While this may be one of the cheapest options when it comes to a narrow aisle forklift, your mobility and lift capacity is limited.

Load CapacityTravel Speed (max)Lift Speed (max)Height Capacity
2500-4,000 lbs.1-3 mph/dependent on walk speedDependent upon manufacture12ft

Benefits of Narrow Aisle Forklifts:

To have a competitive edge over your competition, you need a narrow aisle forklift. They not only help your efficiency but can improve your operations in multiple ways.  

Increased Storage Space

Many businesses are looking to increase their storage space without increasing their overall footprint. Expanding a warehouse facility is not only a large upfront cost but can take large amounts of time due to construction. In turn, many companies are looking to implement a double-deep selective rack system, which narrows the aisles considerably to include more storage space. Narrow aisle forklifts allow you to implement double deep selective racks with ease. You’ll be able to increase your storage space at the fraction of the cost of building on expansion.

Easier Navigation

Narrow aisle forklifts provide better navigation inside the warehouse. You'll still be able to capture the same loads as before but in much tighter spaces. unlike large forklifts, you'll be able to easily navigate to the products you need. Furthermore, with the limited space of a warehouse, you'll need to have precision handling. The right forklift can help you do this.

Cheaper Costs

On average, narrow aisle forklifts are smaller and cost less to purchase. They also cost less to rent as well. If you're looking to get your warehouse up and running for the cheapest cost possible, a narrow aisle forklift is your best bet.

From Rack to Truck

One of the most useful parts about owning a forklift is the ability to transport goods from a shelf or dockyard to the truck. Sometimes, forklifts will have to unload their goods and then have those goods transported into the truck with a different device. That's not the case with narrow aisle forklifts. Some of these machines can go straight from the rack to the truck without skipping a beat. Saving you time and improving efficiency among staff.

Cost of Narrow Aisle Forklifts

On average when it comes to purchasing a narrow aisle forklift, you can spend anywhere from $3,500-$40,000 for a brand-new machine. Stackers start around $3500, but other machines can become expensive.

Renting a forklift provides a much more cost-effective option for businesses. Rates may be based on “per day,” “per week,” or “per month” depending on your circumstance. For example, renting a brand-new forklift on average could cost you around this much based on averages:

  • Per day: $100-$700
  • Per week: $300-$2000
  • Per month: $700-4,500

Factors such as:

  • Type of Forklift
  • Weight Capacity
  • Lift Height
  • Platform Size
  • Narrow Aisle or Verry Narrow Aisle Operation
  • Fuel Source
  • Duration
  • Insurance

Can all affect the price point of a rental or purchase. Make sure you know exactly what you need before renting or purchasing any type of equipment. You’ll also need to account for insurance, delivery, and pick-up fees when renting a forklift.

Rent or Buy Narrow Aisle Forklifts?

Renting may be a better option if you need a narrow aisle forklift for seasonal work, or don’t make use of the device every day. These types of forklifts can help you improve performance during seasonal operations. You also won’t have to worry about maintenance or long-term storage for these machines.

Still, it can be worthwhile to purchase if you are going to use it every day. You also don’t have to buy brand new, there are many retailers that will sell you used forklifts as well. You’ll just need to factor in maintenance and lifetime costs of ownership.

Check out our forklift renters guide here

Think a Narrow Aisle Forklift is Right for You?

If you’re ready to help your warehouse become more optimized and improve efficiency with a narrow aisle forklift, 360Connect can help! We help connect customers with high-quality suppliers and help them receive 100% free quotes on both purchases and rentals. Just fill out our quick form to get started!

Check out more information about forklifts here:

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