JLG has reinvented the aerial work platform with its new LiftPod, which sets up in about 30 seconds, offers 14 ft of working height and weighs just 145 lb. Last month, ENR tried out the featherweight lift while it made a stop near Chicago as part of JLG’s national road show.

Introduced last year, the LiftPod is McConnelsburg, Pa.-based JLG’s answer to short-to-medium ladders. It hauls easily in a pickup truck and has few moving parts. A 63-lb base, 49-lb mast and 33-lb basket comprise the basic unit; it can be assembled by one person in less than a minute, no outriggers needed. It comes with a plastic tool tray and retails for $2,100, more than twice the cost of a large stepladder but one-third that of a comparable vertical lift.

Designed as a safe alternative, the LiftPod prevents operators from using it dangerously. One temptation with vertical lifts is to have a helper slide you around while you are elevated. The LiftPod moves easily with a drop-down caster wheel to supplement its main two wheels, but once it is loaded with 60 lb, the third wheel automatically retracts, leaving the LiftPod immobilized. The unit is designed for on-slab use only, but leveling knobs allow 2° of frame tilt. A bubble-level also is built in.

LiftPod’s boom-wobble takes getting used to, but the unique drive system makes up for any loss of comfort: Pop a cordless drill over the 7⁄16-in. driveshaft, press the trigger and up you go—reverse to come down. JLG offers an optional $500 power pack, with two batteries and a charger, but it is not as fun. Just make sure your drill has enough charge left, or you’ll be twirling a hand wrench (included) to descend.