Go Forklift Watching

"Forklift Watching" or "Forklift Spotting" is basically just as the name says - although it's not as popular as trainspotting or other heavy machinery spotting (e.g. earth moving machinery), once you learn how, you'll find forklifts everywhere!


  1. Learn about Forklifts. As you will already likely know, Forklifts, in general, are basically a multi-purpose type of mobile load shifting machinery, used for moving and lifting loads of all shapes and sizes, loads are usually stacked on pallets are lifted by the fork tines, however many other ways are possible, as there are a huge amount of forklift attachments out there, such as tine extensions, drum clamps, jib, carpet spike, carton clamp, slip sheet, twin or triple tyne, etc.
    • There also is a huge amount of different forklifts out there, however the general types are: standard counterbalance forklifts, reach forklifts, double deep reach forklifts, order picking forklifts, heavy-duty forklifts, container handling forklift, telehandlers, side loaders, all-terrain forklifts, very narrow aisle (VNA) forklifts, and articulated forklifts, just to name a few.
    • For more information on different types of forklifts check out the wikihow article https://www.wikihow.com/Identify-Different-Types-of-Forklifts
  2. Know where to spot Forklifts in person. Forklift Spotting in person is sometimes tricky when you don't know where to look, but when you do you will soon find forklifts everywhere! Forklifts can be spotted in person in places such as:
    • On the road - Commonly seen being transported on freeways and on roads in industrial areas, all sorts of different forklifts can often be seen strapped down in the open on the back of a flatbed truck being transported to their destination
    • In the city/CBD - Usually during events, counterbalance and/or all-terrain forklifts, or even telehandler forklifts can be seen around the less populated parts of the event
    • At markets - "Flea Markets", "Sunday Markets", and other types of large markets usually have at least one or two gas counterbalance forklifts around, though smaller markets (such as ones in shopping malls may use pallet jacks or walkie stackers instead
    • Shopping centres - Usually have at least one counterbalance forklift for use around the loading docks (though again smaller shopping centers, or ones fitted with loading docks, may use pallet jacks or walkie stackers instead)
    • Industrial areas - Counterbalance forklifts can always be seen outside factories, warehouses, distribution centers, etc, usually loading/unloading trucks, though you may see some yard work being done such as pallet sorting, pallets being put on the racks outside, or the store person stacking/preparing the pallets ready to be loaded on the trucks
    • Container ports - Are a great place to see Heavy Duty forklifts and Container Handling Forklifts, not to mention Reach Stackers, Container Cranes, Straddle Carriers, and more! Unfortunately though, due to security reasons, Container Ports are usually not accessible in person to the public (though you can find many great photos and videos online!)
  3. Understand about Forklift spotting in print media, magazines and books.
    • Unfortunately there are not many books dedicated to Forklifts at all. Very few books published about forklifts do exist that can be purchased online, but most are few and far between.
    • Of those that exist, most books dedicated to forklifts are usually historical books tracing the history of forklifts, others are general heavy machinery buy/sell magazines, others are forklift's manuals, and the last ones are forklift safety and forklift operator training manuals.
  4. Consider spotting Forklifts on TV and in Movies. Forklifts are often used in many, many movies and tv shows, often in "blink and you'll miss it" moments, most people wouldn't even notice they were there!
    • Just a few Movies and TV shows where Forklifts can be seen operated include: National Security (2003), The Martian (2015), Railroad Australia (2016), Rampage (2018) and many more!
    • Forklifts are also briefly featured frequently in many technologies and other industry documentaries such as How It's Made, Mythbusters, Food Factory, and many more
  5. Learn how to spot Forklifts on the Internet. Though it isn't the same as seeing forklifts in person, the internet is by far the best tool for forklift spotting of all types!
    • Searching Google images. While many good images can eventually be found through google images (or other image search engine websites for that matter), more often than not, better pictures are often found directly on the forklift manufacturer's websites, nonetheless, image searching through google images is generally the quickest, most hassle-free method of seeing a large amount of different forklifts. It is also the primary and best way to find pictures of shipping container ports
    • Check out Forklift Manufacturer Websites. Virtually all forklift manufacturers will have a website dedicated to the forklifts they sell/manufacture, some better than others, but most will have detailed pictures, field pictures, videos, and technical information such as lifting capacity and lift height. Both Hyster and Crown forklift manufacturers have exceptionally detailed websites on the very wide range of forklifts they manufacture.
  6. Learn about Forklift association websites and blogs. Some are independent, some are sponsored or made by a certain forklift manufacturer, nevertheless, forklift association websites are a great way to hear forklift news such as new attachments, new forklifts, and accident awareness and prevention. Forklift blogs on the other hand usually aim to teach/show the public and forklift operators alike on aspects of forklifts that are often overlooked, such as being able to tell the difference and "pros and cons" between a 2 stage mast and a 3 stage mast.
    • Check out Forklift Sale websites. Even though you likely are not buying an actual forklift, forklift sales websites usually offer plenty of high-quality images, technical information such as lifting capacity and lift heights, and as well as costs of forklifts - Brand New Standard Counterbalance and Reach Forklifts usually cost up to $50,000, while Heavy Duty Forklifts, Reach Stackers, and Container Handlers usually cost well over $100,000!+
  7. Consider video websites. Youtube is generally the most popular video website with the biggest variety when it comes to forklift spotting videos. Many forklift manufacturers and independent forklift operators alike post videos of forklift operations, loading/unloading trucks, loading/unloading containers, general yard work, and other videos can be found, Toyota forklift's youtube channel is also a great resource, with many "case study" videos, showing (Toyota's) forklifts operating over a wide range of many different industries.
  8. Learn about Forklift Scale Models.
    • Buying in person. Unless you live in certain parts of Europe, UK, or the USA, buying forklift scale models in person at retail stores is both tricky to find and expensive, usually the only forklift scale models available in store are low quality small "pocket/matchbox-sized" models, though a few decent generic forklift scale models may be found in some specialist model or toy stores.
    • Buy Forklift Scale Models online. Buying online gives a huge selection of high-quality plastic and metal die-cast forklift scale models, at affordable prices and a very good rate of availability
    • Forklift Scale Models come in almost all types and many manufacturers, including Toyota, Hyster, Yale, TCM, Jungheinrich, CAT, Clark, Linde, Kalmar, Manitou, and many more!
  9. Know where to buy Forklift Scale Models.
    • Ebay is generally considered the most popular and accessible place to buy Forklift scale models online, to search for a particular brand, simply type the forklift manufacturer, then type "forklift" (e.g. "Yale Forklift" ) and be sure to select the "Toys and Hobbies" category. If you do not, you will be searching for "Yale Forklifts" on all categories of the website, to which a large amount of your search results will come up as actual forklifts!
    • Unfortunately scale models are quite difficult to find for: crown, nissan, unicarriers, combilift, and other small or niche forklift manufacturers - scale models do often exist for them, but are rarely sold online and may never have even been sold in retail stores (some are only available as "employee gifts" or some are only available as a gift given to a buyer when purchasing the real size forklift!)
    • Forklift Scale models exist of virtually almost all forklifts, however, they can sometimes be difficult to be found by name, searching the forklift manufacturer and having a quick search usually provides better results i.e. if you wanted to find a scale model of a reach forklift, you would probably get better results searching for popular forklift manufacturers of reach forklifts - e.g. crown, toyota/raymond/bt, jungheinrich, etc..
    • Remote Control Counterbalance forklifts are also available with prices varying from $20 to $200 depending on manufacturer, but most generally offer more or less the same driving functions with lift and tilt functions.
  10. Consider getting your Forklift Certification/Licence. Getting forklift certified and/or licensed (depending on your country) is not only a great way to get hands-on with actual forklifts but if you are successful, you will also have a very useful qualification/license and skill under your belt if you wish to pursue forklift operations as a job or career!
    • The course for getting Forklift certified usually is only 2 or 3 days, however usually at least a week's worth of pre-study is needed to read over and complete the forklift operators manual, which will teach you all the basics of forklift operations, and prepare you for the practical driving.
    • Most Forklift certification companies train operators only on standard counterbalance forklifts, usually, they will have 3 or 4 forklifts, usually a few propane-powered and a few electrically powered.Very few will train on reach forklifts or other types of forklifts, if they do, it likely will only be available as part of a different course.
    • Once you are forklift certified /licensed (depending on your country) you can usually drive most types of forklifts without much worry of weight capacity/license restrictions, for example in Australia, heavy-duty forklifts with lifting capacities well over 10 tons can still be driven on a standard forklift license.
    • Reach Stackers, Heavy-duty Container handling forklifts, and Heavy-duty Telehandlers generally need an additional class of Non-Slewing Crane Licence, Order Picking Forklifts and VNA Turret Truck Forklifts (both of which lift the operator up in the air along with the forks and the load) both usually need an additional working at heights type of license in addition to a standard forklift license.


  • Industrial areas always have plenty of forklifts around, some being transported on the road on trucks, others can be seen outside factories, warehouses, distribution centers, etc
  • Getting your forklift license is a great way to go forklift spotting and also get hands-on with actual forklifts! Not only will you have a great time, but if you are successful, you will also have a very useful qualification/license under your belt if you wish to pursue forklift operations as a job or career.
  • LPG/Propane gas bottle forklifts can always be identified by the gas bottle strapped on to the back of the forklift, Petrol/Gasoline and Diesel Forklifts can be identified by the fueling points on the side (similar to a car) and/or visible exhaust pipes. Electric Forklifts will look smooth all over, with no exhaust pipes, no gas bottles, and no fuel points.


  • Never trespass or enter the private property while forklift spotting, similarly, avoid approaching parked forklifts in public spaces as staff may misinterpret your behavior as suspicious.
  • Avoid staying parked outside industrial areas or shipping container ports for extended periods of time, due to security reasons you may be approached and/or asked to leave.