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What Is the Difference Between a Dolly, Hand Truck, and a Folding Hand Truck?

What Is the Difference Between a Dolly, Hand Truck, and a Folding Hand Truck?

If you run a logistics or delivery service, then likely the most important aspect of your business is getting things from point A to point B. Of course you’re likely to use manual labor for that task, but you can’t expect your employees to lift boxes, including heavier items using nothing but their own strength. They will quickly learn what the term ‘back breaking’ really means!

So, you provide your employees with transportation items with which they can make their working life easier, and less stressful. You may provide them with a dolly, a hand truck or a folding hand truck. The question is, what is the difference between these three items and more importantly, which of them is the best for your company’s needs? Effective tools are only effective if they are the right tool for the right job, after all.

In this article we will be explaining the differences between dollies, hand trucks and folding hand trucks, and the positives and negatives aspects of each. By the end of the article you should have a good idea of which option will best suit your business.


The term ‘dolly’ can refer to a large number of transportation items. Basically, a dolly is a platform on wheels. Usually, the platform has two axles and four wheels in total, one on each corner.

Dollies have been used for decades for transportation needs – both big and small. If you’ve watched an old movie that featured a railroad, then you’ve probably seen a dolly being used with one or two people pumping a rocker in order to propel themselves. As you can imagine, dollies come in all shapes and sizes.

If you run a delivery company, or any form of business where you need to transport heavy items, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be using dollies big enough to go on rail-tracks, but a dolly is still a worthwhile investment.

The main advantage of a dolly is that they make immovable objects moveable. If you have a heavy item that you need to transport, then all you need to do is lift the object onto your dolly, and suddenly it is mobile! This is great if you need to move large and heavy items. If you run a moving company, then a dolly will make your employees’ jobs a whole lot easier.

The disadvantage of a dolly is that there is no mechanism to actually lift the item onto the dolly. The item will have to be lifted manually, or using some other device.

Hand Truck

A hand truck goes by a number of other names: a two-wheeler, a trolley, a stack truck, a trundler, a box cart, a trolley truck, a sack barrow or a sack truck, to name just a few.

Hand trucks were invented in the 1700s. The job of unloading items from ships was typically left to boys, some as young as ten. These youngsters of course did not have the muscle to lift heavy items, so someone came up with the idea of crafting an ‘L’ shaped platform with two wheels at the bottom. The lower shelf portion of the truck could be slid under a sack, then the whole truck tilted backwards in order to move the sack around, with the wheels bearing some of the weight and making the whole task easier.

Hand trucks are beneficial to any company where transportation of items is required. Even if the items you transport are relatively small and can easily be lifted and transported by hand, you’ll be able to load multiple items onto the hand truck and carry them all at one time, as long as your items are suitable for being stacked without damage.

Because your employees will be able to move items with ease, or several items at once, then your company will become more productive, and therefore more profitable when using hand trucks.

Folding Hand Truck

A folding hand truck is a relatively recent innovation. As the name suggests, it’s the same as any normal hand truck, but is designed in such a way that both the bottom part of the frame (the toe-plate) and the wheels can be folded away when the hand truck is not in use. Typically, the whole assembly folds completely flat, and then folds back out quickly when the truck is in use.

Such trucks are typically lightweight because they are constructed to be convenient to use, and easy to carry without the need of unfolding them when they are just being moved, and not being used to transport items.

What Type of Business Can Benefit from a Folding Hand Truck?

If you are a company that delivers a great deal of small items, then a folding hand truck may be the ideal choice. If you provide your delivery drivers with a folding hand truck, then they can make the decision whether a specific item they are required to deliver is too heavy or bulky to transport by hand. As the hand truck folds up, it can be carried within their van or truck without taking up too much valuable space.

Note that a folding hand truck is not suitable for your business if you are required to transport heavy items. There are a number of different types of folding hand-trucks, but most of them recommend that you only place a load of up to 100 lbs. onto the toe plate. If you need to transport heavier items, then it’s better to invest in a solid hand truck, or a dolly.

At Douglas Equipment we can help you with many of your transportation and logistics needs. We stock a wide range of material handling equipment from a number of different manufacturers. If there is some aspect of our services that you have questions about, then simply contact our team today. Contact us today! We can be reached toll free at 800-451-0030, and at 305-888-3700 if you are in the Miami area.