reach truck narrow aisle

Reach Truck Aisle Dimension Estimator – Aisle Size

Looking to know what dimension to use for a Reach Truck aisle? Not sure how far apart to set racking when using a reach fork truck? Wondering: how wide does a reach truck aisle need to be? Use this handy calculator to estimate the aisle needed for a reach truck to operate.

Estimate the Minimum Reach Truck Aisle

Deploying Reach Trucks in a warehouse can increase pallet storage capacity significantly, but make sure the aisles are wide enough without being too wide.  This calculator will help you quickly calculate the space a reach truck needs to maneuver in a narrow aisle.

How much space do you need between racks to operate a reach truck safely?

Most people, if asked what aisle a reach truck needs to operate safely in would say, 9 feet. But there are a lot of parameters at play when spec’ing a warehouse aisle that needs to be considered. Such items include the following:

Reach Truck Aisle – Parameters that Impact the Warehouse Aisle Dimension

Check these items when designing the aisle dimension for a Reach Truck. Also, we have included other helpful tips to avoid mistakes when incorporating a reach truck into your racking design.

Length of Load

Consider the length of the pallet any product overhang on the pallet. The pallet might be a 48×40 pallet, but the product on top of the pallet might easily be 50″ x 42″. These dimensions will impact the narrow-aisle lift truck’s storage aisle dimension.

Width of Load

Notice if the product protrudes over the sides of the pallet. This will impact the baseleg opening needed.

Also, be careful, if the product sags below the height of the pallet and the baselegs straddle the pallet, the baselegs may scrap on the product. If the product is rice, flour, sugar, or other types of sacks of product, the baselegs may tear the bags. Request low-profile base legs, or do not straddle the pallet in these cases. If you decide not to straddle the pallet, make sure you have enough lift-off on the first level to lift the pallet off the ground and clear the baselegs.

Reach Truck Capacity

The mast on a higher capacity reach truck is an inch wider than the lower capacity reach truck. The wider mast makes the reach truck longer and therefore impacts the aisle dimension


If you want to move quickly, you will need more space in the aisle. We refer to this added space as maneuverability. Generally, we add an additional 12 inches to the aisle dimension to ensure the reach truck can move easily without hitting the product on the adjacent racking. It is possible to operate a reach truck in the engineered minimum, however, it is not easy and will add to the stress of the operator. Additionally, it will result in the possibility of increased rack damage, product damage, and will reduce productivity.

Baseleg opening (BLO)

Also known as outrigger inside dimension, the opening between the reach truck’s base legs impacts the aisle dimension. If the dimension is greater than 41″, add an inch to the width of the operating aisle.

If you do not have enough lift off on the first level (ground level), you will need a 41″ baseleg opening to straddle the load (if it is a 40″ wide pallet and load). Baselegs are usually welded onto the bottom of the mast, so this is a costly error if you need to change the baseleg opening width or raise beam heights throughout the warehouse (usually at least $7 per beam moved).

Height of the Pallet Load on the Ground Level

Many material handling professionals do not think about lift-off on the ground level. If the pallet is 50″ tall and the first beam level is at 60″, then that means that the 4″ beam minus the 10″ difference provides only 6″ for liftoff. Reach trucks have baselegs that are 5″ tall. So you need at least 6″ to clear the 4″ high pallet over the 5″ high baselegs. That won’t leave enough room at the top of the pallet below the first beam level.

So the operator is forced to back out of the pallet storage location 48″ in order to be able to raise the pallet above the baselegs and retract the pantograph (scissor mechanism). In a 9′ 4″ aisle, you won’t have enough room.

So when designing beam heights in your racking when working with a reach truck, make sure there is one of two things present in your racking design:

  1. 12″ of lift-off above the top of the first pallet and below the first load beam (50″ tall pallet + 12″ lift-off + 4″ tall beam = 66″ 1st beam level height). – OR –
  2. A baseleg opening (outrigger inside dimension) of 1″ greater than the width of the load.

Battery compartment size

Reach trucks come with various different battery compartment sizes to allow for longer shift life and increased capacity retention as the forklift lifts its load (pallet) higher in the air. The more lead (Pb) in the battery compartment, the higher the weight capacity at full lift height. This is also called down-rating or d-rating. The wider the battery compartment, the longer the chassis length, and therefore, the wider the truck aisle needs to be.

Depth of the upright frame

Although the depth of the upright frame does not impact the width of the clear aisle, it is important to know when you are planning a warehouse and you are deciding where to put the racking. The aisle dimension is called the rack-to-rack dimension. It is different from the clear aisle dimension, also known as the product-to-product aisle. If the pallet overhangs the upright frame, (48″ pallet on a 42″ upright frame overhangs 3″ per side), the be sure to set your racks 6″ further apart than the clear aisle dimension needed.

Calculate the Aisle Needed for A Reach Truck

This calculator is provided for estimates only. Please contact us for a formal proposal with exact aisle dimensions. The other option is to contact the manufacturer of the reach truck to receive the aisle specification in writing from their engineers.

Compare Warehouse Storage Density and Calculate Pallet Storage – Online Calculator

Now you know what aisle dimension you need for your Reach Truck to work in, use our online calculators to compare the number of pallets you can store in a warehouse using different aisle dimensions. Estimate pallet storage – click here!

Other considerations for Reach Trucks

Vertical post

If the height of the first beam level in the racking is above 53″, there is the possibility for the beam to enter into the operator’s compartment. Some forklift manufacturers offer a vertical guard post between the top of the rear of the operator’s compartment and the underside of the overhead guard. This will prevent the beam from entering into the operator’s compartment when the reach truck is backing up tractor first.

Load backrest

The height of the load backrest on a reach truck is usually 36″, although it can be taller. Be careful. Sometimes, when you are picking up a very low pallet off the top beam, the backrest can be taller than the load and hit the sprinkler.

Fork elevation

When picking up a pallet off the top load beam, ensure there is at least 12″ of fork elevation taller than the height of the top load beam. Sometimes, a reach truck with the same fork elevation as a sitdown will not be able to pick up a pallet off the top beam even when a sitdown forklift can. This is because a reach truck does not have mast-tilt. Without mast-tilt, it can be difficult to lift a pallet off the top beam with a reach truck. Additionally, you do not want to strain the lift motors every time you lift the forks to the top position if it can be avoided. Place a pallet at the maximum height the reach truck can lift will strain the hydraulics. Allow for a few extra inches of lift above the maximum lift height you need. But beware of hitting the ceiling with the top of the load. Too much fork elevation can also be an issue.

How to drive a Reach Truck in a Narrow Aisle

Here is a newly trained operator learning and practicing how to operate a reach truck in a 104″ clear aisle. Watch this video to learn how to operate a reach truck correctly in a narrow aisle. The aisle shown is a 9′ 4″ rack to rack dimension (112″). The clear aisle (the space between pallets) is 104″.

Be sure to position the baseleg 8″ off the front of the racking and pivot into place. Like parallel parking a car, it takes technique and practice. Be sure to use the correct technique. Be sure to practice safely until you are comfortable driving a reach truck the way it was designed to be driven.

Contact us for a quotation for professional forklift training in your local market.