The 10 Best Hand Trucks
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Whether you're a professional delivery person, work in a warehouse, or are planning to move home in the near future, you can make your life easier by using one of these hand trucks that allow you to move heavy objects without straining your arms, legs or back. Our list includes convertible options that function as both 4-wheeled dollies and 2-wheeled, upright models for climbing stairs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 27, 2020:
There is no shortage of excellent hand trucks and dollies on the market - they're very simple levers involving (usually) a metal frame with some bracing, a platform, and some wheels so their manufacture is difficult to botch. You can't really beat models like the Harper Super-Steel and the Milwaukee 40180 which both use thick tubular steel with full welds. Additionally, thanks to their included casters, they can be laid down and used as flatbeds.
For an excellent lightweight option, you can look to the Harper Convertible Dolly which is made of a high-quality nylon thermoplastic matrix with glass-fiber reinforcing (the choice to use a thermoplastic over a thermoset plastic is a complicated one but presumably, the cons of using a thermoplastic like nylon are outweighed by its high-impact resistance and chemical resistance. Thermoplastic's heat susceptibility relative to thermoset polymers doesn't really become a concern within the parameters of use associated with hand trucks so it's an acceptable trade-off). This composite has strength comparable to steel and aluminum models but at a much lighter weight, which is appreciated when you have to haul something up a flight of stairs. The drawback is that since it is plastic, it does require additional bracing and this makes it quite a bit bulkier than steel and aluminum hand trucks.
Choosing The Right Hand Truck
Four-wheeled hand trucks can be used as flatbeds and they offer the ability to move heavy loads from place to place, making them useful for facilities with elevators.
A hand truck is an affordable and versatile tool that benefits a variety of homes, offices, and schools. Such a device can save you time and prevent injuries caused by lifting heavy loads.
Most hand trucks feature a long U-shaped handle, a relatively narrow toe plate, and two to four wheels. The basic hand truck is a necessity for relocating stacks of boxes and it can significantly simplify the process of moving residences, cleaning out/re-stocking offices, or managing a business's busy warehouse and shipping center. Four-wheeled hand trucks can be used as flatbeds and they offer the ability to move heavy loads from place to place, making them useful for facilities with elevators. While this type of hand truck can be harder to manage on a slope when in its four-wheeled configuration, it is otherwise a fine choice for many applications. If you think you might benefit from both the traditional two-wheeled lever-style arrangement and from a four-wheeled flatbed, then this is the type of unit to choose.
If you have physical limitations due to age or infirmity, loading your baggage onto a compact, collapsible hand truck is a great way to reduce the burden of carrying heavy suitcases. There are several folding hand trucks that can fit into the overhead luggage compartment of most aircraft, so you can safely stow the device once aboard your flight.
Hand trucks are also invaluable tools for use in certain professions. For example, they can help the production specialist move speakers, cameras, and other media gear around a stage or set. A researcher can use one to transport equipment to a field location. Even the restaurateur can leverage its benefits for bringing food and beverages to a catering station at a wedding or other event. That said, one must be sure to choose an option with large wheels to withstand movement on varied types of terrain.
Hand Truck Use And Safety Tips
When considering a hand truck's rated weight capacity and your own physical abilities, it is important never to overload the device. Even though you might think you're able to control a certain amount of weight given the circumstances (e.g. moving boxes of files down to an archive room), it's important to never exceed a weight limit that you could not otherwise safely manage when traversing an incline. A load that feels manageable on a flat surface might suddenly run away from you as you encounter a slope.
A load that feels manageable on a flat surface might suddenly run away from you as you encounter a slope.
When preparing to use your hand truck, make sure to apply downward pressure to the top of a stack of boxes, boards, tile, or whatever else you have loaded onto the unit. During the moment at which you apply pressure, it's common for the items you want to lift to be pushed away from the hand truck, potentially toppling over. A bit of steady pressure should be all that's needed to encourage them to go with the toe plate rather than fall away from it.
Never pile items higher than the handle of your hand truck. Only an item that can rest against the back of the unit while the hand truck is tilted can be safely managed. The exception involves single boxes or items large enough to rest on the toe plate and still reach higher than the handle, such as with a fridge or piece of furniture. The use of bungee cords or ropes to secure your load is also a good idea whenever possible.
The Hand Truck As A Simple Machine
There are several basic simple machines: the lever, the wheel and axle, the inclined plane, the screw, and the pulley. The hand truck is one common device that regularly makes use of no fewer than three of these more rudimentary tools. While the hand truck may appear simple in design as it goes about its duties, it's still an item that has garnered true appreciation from anyone who's experienced the trials and tribulations of moving homes, rearranging an office, or lugging goods around a warehouse.
That same set of wheels that serves as a fulcrum to the hand truck's lever also acts as a wheel and axle.
First, let's discuss the hand truck's use of the lever. Its long handle serves as the generator of force, while its wheels and axle act as the fulcrum. Any heavy objects stacked atop the hand truck's toe plate will be lifted and then balanced with great ease, thanks to the unit's innate leverage.
That same set of wheels that serves as a fulcrum to the hand truck's lever also acts as a wheel and axle. The pair of wheels used in a hand truck's standard position allows for easy movement of heavy loads, provided the operator keeps the hand truck properly balanced and at the appropriate angle.
When a hand truck encounters an inclined plane in the form of a ramp connected to a truck, or laid out over a staircase, the combined action of the inclined plane, the lever, and the wheel and axle allows a single person to move hundreds of pounds up or down, depending on their needs.