Difference Between All Terrain and Rough Terrain Crane

Navigating the world of heavy machinery can be challenging, especially when it comes to specialized equipment. One such area of interest is the ongoing debate between all terrain crane vs rough terrain crane. This article delves deep into their distinct characteristics, weighing their pros and cons, and highlighting situations where one might be preferred over the other.

What is an All Terrain Crane and What is a Rough Terrain Crane?

All Terrain Crane:
An all terrain crane is a mobile crane designed to be versatile, combining the mobility of a truck-mounted crane with the maneuverability and off-road capability of a rough terrain crane. It is suitable for a variety of terrains, from urban construction sites to challenging outdoor environments.

Rough Terrain Crane:
A rough terrain crane, as the name suggests, is specifically designed for off-road applications. It typically has large rubber tires designed for rough terrains and is primarily used in construction sites that have limited access, uneven ground conditions, or other challenging environments.

What is the Main Difference Between All Terrain and Rough Terrain Crane?

The main difference between an all terrain crane and a rough terrain crane is their versatility and designed operational environments. An all terrain crane is built to perform both on paved roads and challenging off-road conditions, offering adaptability across various terrains and the capability to travel at highway speeds. On the other hand, a rough terrain crane is specifically designed for off-road sites, with a compact, robust structure suited for uneven terrains but lacks the ability to efficiently travel long distances on highways.

Key Differences between All Terrain Crane and Rough Terrain Crane

  1. Mobility: All terrain cranes combine the features of truck-mounted cranes and rough terrain cranes, allowing them to travel on public roads and rough terrains. Rough terrain cranes are specifically for off-road sites and typically don’t move on public roads without assistance.
  2. Wheel Configuration: All terrain cranes usually have more wheels, often set up in groups to distribute weight. Rough terrain cranes generally have fewer, larger wheels optimized for stability on uneven grounds.
  3. Steering: All terrain cranes frequently have multi-axle steering, improving their maneuverability. Rough terrain cranes may have a simpler steering system given their primary off-road focus.
  4. Speed: All terrain cranes can achieve higher speeds suitable for highway travel. Rough terrain cranes move slower due to their design for challenging terrains.
  5. Size and Capacity: All terrain cranes often have larger lifting capacities and can be much larger in size. Rough terrain cranes are generally more compact, designed for sites with space constraints.
  6. Outriggers: Both cranes use outriggers for stabilization, but all terrain cranes might have more advanced systems for automatic leveling, especially on uneven grounds.
  7. Applications: All terrain cranes are more versatile and can be used in a variety of projects, from city infrastructures to off-road projects. Rough terrain cranes are usually reserved for specific off-road projects where mobility on uneven grounds is crucial.
  8. Cost: Generally, all terrain cranes are more expensive due to their versatility and advanced features. Rough terrain cranes, being more specialized, might cost less but have limitations in terms of applications and mobility.

Key Similarities between All Terrain Crane and Rough Terrain Crane

  1. Purpose: Both cranes are designed to lift and move heavy objects at construction sites.
  2. Off-road Capability: Both are equipped to handle challenging terrains, although the specifics of their design may differ.
  3. Stabilization: Both types use outriggers to stabilize the crane during operations, ensuring safety and efficiency.
  4. Lifting Mechanism: Both cranes come equipped with booms and hoists, which can be extended or retracted based on the lifting requirements.
  5. Safety Features: Both all terrain and rough terrain cranes incorporate safety measures such as load limit indicators, safety shutdowns, and more.
  6. Engine: Both crane types are powered by robust engines designed to offer the necessary torque and power for heavy lifting and maneuvering.

Pros of All Terrain Crane over Rough Terrain Crane

  1. Versatility: All terrain cranes offer the combined benefits of truck-mounted and rough terrain cranes, making them suitable for both urban environments and challenging off-road sites.
  2. Higher Speeds: Capable of achieving speeds suitable for highway travel, all terrain cranes can be transported between sites more quickly without requiring additional vehicles.
  3. Greater Lifting Capacity: Generally, all terrain cranes offer larger lifting capacities, allowing them to handle bigger projects and lift heavier loads.
  4. Advanced Features: These cranes are often equipped with more advanced systems for stabilization, auto-leveling, and multi-axle steering, enhancing their overall performance.
  5. Economic Efficiency: Given their versatility, investing in an all terrain crane might negate the need for multiple specialized cranes, offering better long-term economic efficiency.
  6. Broad Application Range: From city infrastructure projects to off-road construction, the wide application range of all terrain cranes makes them a valuable asset for diverse projects.
  7. Improved Maneuverability: With multi-axle steering, all terrain cranes can navigate complex sites and tight spaces more effectively than some rough terrain cranes.

Cons of All Terrain Crane compared to Rough Terrain Crane

  1. Higher Costs: The advanced features and versatility of all terrain cranes make them generally more expensive, both in initial purchase and maintenance.
  2. Size Considerations: Being larger, all terrain cranes might not be ideal for sites with significant space constraints or accessibility issues.
  3. Complexity: The advanced systems in all terrain cranes may require operators to undergo more comprehensive training compared to operating simpler rough terrain cranes.
  4. Fuel Consumption: Due to their size and weight, all terrain cranes might consume more fuel, especially when traveling long distances.
  5. Maintenance: The diverse features and systems integrated into all terrain cranes might lead to more intricate maintenance requirements.
  6. Specialized Excellence: While all terrain cranes are versatile, rough terrain cranes are specialized for off-road conditions, potentially offering better performance in very challenging terrains.
  7. Regulatory Challenges: Given their ability to travel on public roads, all terrain cranes might face more regulatory challenges and require permits, especially in urban areas.

Pros of Rough Terrain Crane over All Terrain Crane

  1. Specialized Design: Rough terrain cranes are specifically engineered for challenging terrains, ensuring optimal performance in off-road conditions.
  2. Compact Size: Generally more compact, rough terrain cranes are better suited for sites with significant space constraints or accessibility issues.
  3. Cost-Efficiency: Without the features needed for highway travel and urban maneuverability, rough terrain cranes tend to be less expensive in both initial purchase and maintenance.
  4. Simpler Operation: Lacking the complex systems of all terrain cranes, rough terrain cranes are often easier to operate, requiring less intricate training.
  5. Stability in Uneven Terrains: Their design, including larger tires and a wider base, offers better stability in uneven or unstable terrains.
  6. Lower Fuel Consumption: Given their primary off-road use and more straightforward design, rough terrain cranes might have lower fuel consumption in their typical operations.
  7. Quick Set-Up: Designed for challenging sites, these cranes often feature quicker setup times, allowing operations to start faster.

Cons of Rough Terrain Crane compared to All Terrain Crane

  1. Limited Mobility: Rough terrain cranes aren’t designed for highway speeds and often require additional transport to move between sites.
  2. Narrower Application Range: While excellent off-road, their specialized nature can limit their application to specific types of projects.
  3. Lower Lifting Capacities: Generally, rough terrain cranes have lower lifting capacities compared to the larger all terrain cranes.
  4. Lack of Advanced Features: Missing some of the advanced stabilization, auto-leveling, and steering features of all terrain cranes, they may be less adaptable to diverse challenges.
  5. Reduced Versatility: Rough terrain cranes excel in their niche but lack the combined capabilities of all terrain cranes, which can handle both on-road and off-road tasks.
  6. Dependence on External Transport: For long-distance relocations or when transitioning to sites across highways, rough terrain cranes often depend on additional transport mechanisms, incurring extra costs.
  7. Permitting and Regulations: While not as complex as all terrain cranes, there may still be regulatory hurdles to overcome, especially when moving these cranes to different sites.

Situations when All Terrain Crane is better than Rough Terrain Crane

  1. Multiple Site Projects: For projects that span across various sites, especially those that require road travel, all terrain cranes provide the advantage of easy mobility without the need for additional transport.
  2. Urban Construction: In urban environments with paved roads and the occasional off-road site, all terrain cranes’ versatility makes them the better choice.
  3. Large-Scale Projects: For projects that require heavy lifting capacities, the all terrain crane, typically having a greater capacity, is more suitable.
  4. Complex Sites: In situations where maneuverability becomes crucial, such as navigating tight spaces or multi-terrain areas, the advanced steering capabilities of all terrain cranes can be beneficial.
  5. Rapid Response: For emergency or urgent projects where rapid deployment is essential, the highway speeds of all terrain cranes can be advantageous.
  6. Diverse Terrain Transitions: For projects that involve frequent transitions between paved roads and challenging terrains, all terrain cranes offer seamless adaptability.
  7. Long-Term Investment: For companies or contractors looking for a versatile crane that can handle a wide variety of projects, all terrain cranes might be a more economical long-term investment.

Situations when Rough Terrain Crane is better than All Terrain Crane

  1. Remote Sites: In remote areas where the focus is strictly off-road and there’s little to no highway travel involved, rough terrain cranes are the optimal choice.
  2. Constrained Spaces: Due to their compact size, rough terrain cranes are better suited for sites with significant space constraints or accessibility challenges.
  3. Short-Distance Movement: For projects where the crane only needs to move short distances within the site, the specialized design of a rough terrain crane might be more efficient.
  4. Cost-Sensitive Projects: For endeavors with tight budgets, the typically lower cost of acquiring and maintaining a rough terrain crane can be beneficial.
  5. Simple Operations: In scenarios where quick setup and simpler operational requirements are a priority, rough terrain cranes shine.
  6. Uneven Ground Conditions: In places with extremely uneven or unstable terrains, the inherent stability design of rough terrain cranes can offer a significant advantage.
  7. Dedicated Off-Road Projects: For projects that are exclusively off-road and won’t require any transition to paved areas, rough terrain cranes can be the most efficient choice.

Wrapping Up: All Terrain Crane vs Rough Terrain Crane

Understanding the nuances between all terrain crane and rough terrain crane is essential for making informed decisions in the construction and heavy machinery sectors. While both cranes have their unique strengths and applications, choosing the right one boils down to the specific needs of a project and the terrain in question. As the industry evolves, staying updated on such comparisons ensures that professionals can leverage the best equipment for their tasks.

Attributes / CategoriesAll Terrain CraneRough Terrain Crane
VersatilityCan operate both on and off roadsSpecialized for off-road conditions
SpeedSuitable for highway speedsNot designed for highway speeds
SizeTypically largerMore compact
Application RangeWide (urban to off-road)Narrow (primarily off-road)
CostGenerally more expensiveTypically less expensive
Primary FunctionLifting and transporting heavy loadsLifting and transporting heavy loads
TypeMobile CraneMobile Crane
Chassis DesignDesigned for multiple terrainsDesigned for rough terrains
Advantages Over the OtherVersatility; Higher Speeds; Larger Lifting CapacitySpecialized Design; Compact Size; Cost-Efficiency
Disadvantages Compared to OtherHigher Costs; Size ConsiderationsLimited Mobility; Narrower Application Range
Situations Favoring Use
ScenariosMultiple Site Projects; Urban ConstructionRemote Sites; Constrained Spaces
Crane vs Rough Terrain Crane


What are the primary uses of an all terrain crane?
All terrain cranes are designed for lifting operations in a variety of environments, both on and off-road. Their adaptability makes them suitable for large-scale construction projects, city developments, and even specialized tasks like tower crane assembly.

How do rough terrain cranes get transported between distant sites?
Rough terrain cranes, given their inability to travel at highway speeds, typically require external transportation methods. This can include larger trucks or specialized carriers that can accommodate the crane’s size and weight.

Do all terrain and rough terrain cranes require special certifications to operate?
Yes, operating these specialized cranes often requires specific certifications. Operators typically undergo rigorous training programs and must pass standardized tests to ensure they can safely and efficiently manage the machinery.

Are there any specific maintenance challenges associated with these cranes?
Both crane types require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and safety. However, due to their exposure to diverse terrains and environments, they may require more frequent check-ups, especially concerning their hydraulic systems, tires, and mobile components.

What is the average lifespan of these cranes?
With proper maintenance and care, both all terrain and rough terrain cranes can last for several decades. However, their longevity can be influenced by factors like frequency of use, operating conditions, and the level of maintenance provided.

How do these cranes fare in extreme weather conditions?
While both cranes are built to withstand various weather conditions, it’s crucial to note that operations during extreme conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, or high winds, can pose safety risks. It’s always recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety protocols during such situations.

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