Pallet Jacks | What Are The Different Types?

A pallet jack is a tool used for lifting and moving pallets within a warehouse. Different types of pallet jacks are available for various industries and applications. Stackers almost have the same function as pallet jacks, except that it has an additional feature of providing lifting assistance. They are considered a cheaper alternative than forklifts or other similar equipment. Stackers are ideal for use in warehouses with restricted sizes, where they are used to lift products onto a vehicle or into racks for storage.

Manual Pallet Jack

Manual Pallet Jack

A manual pallet jack is the simplest and cheapest type, having a usual load capacity of 5500 lbs. It is composed of a steel machine with a hydraulic pump and is operated by pumping the handle up and down. The manual pallet truck is worked by the operator by positioning the two forks under the pallet to be moved, raising it off the floor through the jack. It is then steered with the handle to take the load to its desired destination. An advantage of the manual pallet jack is that it can easily fit in a back of a van because of its light weight and small size. However, it’s not the best choice for moving load over long distances as it can cause fatigue for the operator. Using a manual pallet jack is ideal in small spaces wherein lift height is not essential, such as in grocery store aisles or at the back of room warehouses. Other recommended industries for using a manual pallet jack are in forging and casting, general warehouse, and general manufacturing. Brands that make this type of jack include Yale, Crown, Toyota, and Raymond.

Electric Walkie Behind

Toyota Pallet Jacks

An electric walkie behind, also known as the walkie pallet jack, is twice the size of a manual pallet jack and is powered by an on-board battery pack or industrial battery. “Walkie” is the term used to a pallet truck that the operator must walk behind or alongside. Its lifting capacity is from 4500 – 6000 lbs. Advantages of using an electric walkie behind are its electrical assist for driving and lifting. It’s also beneficial for the operator since a press of a button to lift and lower the loads. In addition to this, there is no need to pull the load and machine, not to manually pump to lift up the load. The electric walkie behind also has a small size, making it more maneuverable. Disadvantages of this type of pallet jack is that it needs to be recharged regularly since it’s battery-operated. It also requires more maintenance because it has more moving parts, like the lift pumps and drive motors. Like the manual pallet jack, it is not the best choice for moving a load over long distances because the operator would still need to walk. The electric walkie behind’s maximum speed is low as compared to other types of pallet jacks since the operator must keep up with the lift; However, due to its low maximum speed, this feature also lessens the severity of collision hazards as compared to a rider pallet jack. Primary uses for the electric walkie behind is for loading docks and staging areas, and for mid-distance runs. Recommended industries for this type of pallet jack include beverage, general warehouse, freezer, food storage, and retail. Toyota, Raymond, and Blue Giant are brands that specialize in making walkie pallet jacks.

Rider Pallet Jack

A rider pallet jack is similar to an electric walkie behind but this has an additional riding platform. It is also powered by an on-board industrial battery. Advantages of a rider pallet jack is that the operator can already step onto the riding platform instead of just walking behind or beside it. It has only few controls, making it easy for the operator to work with it. Rider pallet jacks are also the better choice for moving loads over longer distances as compared to manual pallet jacks and walkie pallet jacks. The disadvantage of rider pallet jacks is that they have a lack of operator protection. Because of its design, the operator would have an awkward stand and would have more exposure to hazards. This type of pallet jack is heavyweight, so it could break bones or do damage to structures around it. Rider pallet jacks are ideal for frequent movement over extended distances and are usually used in large warehouse and manufacturing industries. Toyota and Yale offer different models of rider pallet jacks.

Center Rider

A center rider, or front rider pallet truck, is similar to a rider pallet jack but is safer and more ergonomically designed. It allows the operator to fully face forwards or backwards rather than just sideways. The operator has less likelihood of injury since the pallet jack is protected by machine chassis on two sides. The center rider, however, is harder to turn than a rider pallet jack and still has incomplete operator protection as it exposes the operator to the hazard of the lifting mechanism.  The center rider is better to use in applications wherein the operator stays in a straight line most of the time. Recommended industries are general manufacturing, general warehouse, and beverage. Brands that make this type of pallet jack are Toyota, Raymond, and Yale.

Weighing Scale Pallet Jack

A weighing scale pallet jack is unique as it displays the weight of the load being moved. It is useful most especially for loading bays and factory floors. This type of pallet jack is advantageous in the sense that it caters to a specific niche. Sometimes, a printer can be attached to the pallet jack to print weight and other specifications.

Counterbalanced Walkie Stacker

The counterbalanced walkie stacker is a high lifting, electrically powered machine with heavy chassis and lifting mast. The machine is able to prevent itself from tipping over by using the counterweight of the industrial battery, machine componentry, and steel. It can lift loads much higher to over 100 inches. The counterbalanced weight that this walkie stacker uses makes them eligible to operate in narrower aisles as compared to the straddle stacker because it does not have outrigger arms outside of the body of the unit. Additionally, it has the highest lifting mast out of the different walkie stackers, starting at 2600 mm and can be up to 5800 mm. The counterbalanced walkie stacker has the longest total length, so a larger turning radius is needed. Industries that use counterbalanced walkie stackers include general warehouse, general manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and freezer and cold storage. Brands such as Toyota and Blue Giant offer this type of stacker.  

Walkie Straddle Stacker

The walkie straddle stacker is similar to the counterbalanced stacker, but it has outrigger arms that functions to keep the machine from tipping over when lifting a load. The walkie straddle stacker can be modified with a reaching carriage to be used in narrow aisles. Walkie straddle stackers are usually used in low to mid-level selective racking applications, such as small warehouses. The lifting heights of this type of stacker starts at 2600 mm up to 4800 mm. Toyota, Yale, Raymond, and Crown have different models of walkie straddle stackers to offer.

All-Terrain Pallet Jack

An all-terrain pallet jack has a load capacity of 2000 – 2500 lbs. It is lightweight but has a strong tubular frame design that handles evenly distributed load. Its large wheels allow movement over most surfaces. It has a three-position handle (up, down, or neutral), and is mostly used at nurseries, gravel pits, and construction sites. Vestil and Conhersa specialize in this particular type of pallet jack.

Pallet Jack Variations

There are multiple pallet jack variations that are created for unique applications. Examples of these are the adjustable pallet jack, stainless steel, narrow pallet jack, and mini pallet jack.

Adjustable Pallet Jacks

Adjustable pallet jacks have forks that can be modified into narrower or broader widths. This is useful especially for industries that have pallets with different sizes that need to be transported. Brands such as C&H Distributors, Raymond, and Southland Equipment Service have models on adjustable pallet jacks.

Stainless Steel

There are pallet jacks that are made from stainless steel. These pallet trucks are galvanized in order to make them resistant to moisture. These are essential most especially when handling corrosive material. Stainless steel pallet jacks are used in laboratories, clean rooms, and all kinds of terrain and environment. Blue Giant and Raymond are two of the brands that sell stainless steel pallet jack models.


A narrow pallet jack has the same loading capacity as a manual pallet jack, around 5500 lbs, but its overall width is 18” instead of 27”. Toyota and Crown have specialty narrow pallet jacks for special applications.


A mini-pallet jack typically weighs around 31 kg (68.2 lbs), making it easy to carry and is small enough to put into a truck. It is also foldable and can be hung on a wall for storage. There is no hydraulic pump, so there is no oil leak nor seals to replace. Mini-pallet jacks usually have a load capacity of 1100 lbs.