What Is The Difference Between A Rough Terrain & An All Terrain Crane?

One of the significant challenges of hiring a crane rental is picking the right one for your location. Construction sites or work sites can be pretty treacherous, and you need a vehicle that will be able to navigate safely without incident.

Featured image for "What Is The Difference Between Rough Terrain Crane And All Terrain Crane?"

Often this means you have to decide between a rough terrain crane and all-terrain crane. But first, you need to find out which one is the best for your specific task by comparing the two.

What are rough terrain cranes?

In general, standard vehicle-mounted cranes aren’t suitable for very rugged ground. For this, you will need specialized equipment.

Rough terrain cranes are the ideal option for all kinds of off-road applications. Above all, they owe this to their sturdy and hardy construction.

A variety of measures are taken to make them suitable for rugged terrain. 

Among others, manufacturers mount these cranes on four rubber tires that have high ground clearance. The wheelbase and tires are wider than normal for the sake of stability. And power steering and all-wheel drive help improve their handling.

Unlike some other models, these only have one engine. Both the undercarriage and crane are therefore run and powered by the same one. This helps make them much lighter. Besides this, they usually have a small cabin for the same reason.

These cranes are also fitted with outriggers. Once again, this feature helps to stabilize the crane while in use.

Bear in mind that they can’t drive on standard tar roads.

Pros and cons of rough terrain cranes:

It’s always helpful to compare the pros and cons of all your options.

First, here are the key benefits of rough-terrain cranes:

  • Vehicles are relatively lightweight
  • Wider center of gravity makes them more stable
  • Power steering and all-wheel drive for better handling
  • Enhanced mobility off-road

Second, let’s look at the main disadvantages:

  • Limited load and lifting capacity
  • Need to be stabilized with an outrigger
  • Can’t be driven on public highways and most other public roads

What are all terrain cranes?

Another great option if your worksite is uneven is an all-terrain crane. There are some similarities between the two types, but there are also many fundamental differences. These relate to the construction of the vehicles as well as their capabilities.

All terrain crane GMK5150-L

Typically, all-terrain cranes have more tires. They often have between six and eight. However, they can have far more. Therefore, some models can have up to nine axles. 

On top of this, they usually have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

These models tend to be larger than rough terrain cranes. Their cabins are wider and generally, they have two engines. So they are also a bit heavier.

Most of these cranes have telescopic booms that the operators can extend hydraulically. They are incredibly versatile and powerful, and depending on the model can lift loads of 100 to 1000 tons and reach 160 to 330 feet.

Most of these vehicles are perfectly equipped to travel over a range of materials, including sand, gravel, asphalt, and tar.

Overall, the main difference between the two types is that all-terrain cranes can travel on public roads and off-road too. They often travel at the same speed on both. On the other hand, as we’ve said, rough terrain cranes can usually only drive off-road.

Pros and cons of all terrain cranes:

The following are some of the primary benefits of all-terrain cranes:

  • Suitable for use in a variety of weather conditions
  • Highly maneuverable 
  • Can be driven both off-road and on public roads
  • Capable of reaching speeds of up to 55 miles per hour on different surfaces
  • Booms are highly adjustable

But they also have their disadvantages like:

  • Often heavier than rough terrain cranes
  • Some models need outriggers

Should you hire an all terrain crane or a rough terrain crane?

Now it’s decision time. Let’s look at a case study to help you visualize the problem.

Leonard is the owner of a new hotel in the countryside. But before he can open his doors, he needs to build it first. And he needs a crane to lift some of the beams and other parts for the construction.

However, the issue is that the site is on the side of a mountain, so the whole area is bumpy and uneven. So Leonard needs to decide between an all-terrain crane and a rough terrain crane. He consults the rental company. 

In the end, with their advice, he decides on an all-terrain crane because his site is 20 miles from their lot on tarred roads. The cost of transporting the rough terrain vehicle to the location was just too high.

A couple of cranes on rough terrain

The decision depends on the exact specifications of the job, but you need to consider:

  • Roads to and on the site
  • The terrain on the site
  • Weight of the load
  • The height that it needs to lift
  • The costs involved 
  • Transport to the site
  • Availability at the crane rental company

For example, at B & M Tower Crane Rental, we have the GMK5150-L for hire. It is an all-terrain crane and has a lifting capacity of 175 tons. The main boom is 197′, and the max jib is 111′.

All of these factors play an essential role in working out a lift plan.

Tackle any lifting project with the right crane rental

No lifting project is impossible with a suitable crane and the right crane rental company. All you need to do is to perform some in-depth research before you get started. This goes beyond choosing between vehicles like all-terrain or rough terrain. 

It also extends to choosing a professional crane rental company. You want to hire one with well trained and certified operators. They will advise you on all the crucial aspects, including how to prepare your job site for a crane rental.


260 N Fenway Drive
Fenton, MI 48430


(810) 299-2862


Mon-Fri: 8am – 6pm
24/7 Emergency Services Available!

Our Office

260 N Fenway Drive
Fenton, MI 48430

Contact Us

(810) 299-2862

Office Hours

Mon-Fri: 8am – 6pm
24/7 Emergency Services Available!

How Did You Hear About Us?