With so many shipments crossing the country and trailers on the road assisting in the process, it can be hard to figure out which freight trailer is right for you.
Freight trailers have long been the go-to mode of transportation when shipping a range of items, both big and small. And with many types of trailers, there’s one for nearly every kind of cargo you’re shipping. But what makes them different? Well, that’s what we are here to answer.
From flatbeds, to sprinter vans, and lowboy trailers, it can feel like the list of truck trailer types is endless. Thankfully, we’ve created a guide to the different types of trailers, what they are best used for, and all the details you need to assist in your decision. Let’s dive right in!
One of the more popular trailers is the flatbed trailer. This versatile trailer can be loaded and unloaded from all sides, making it convenient for large, heavy cargo. In fact, there are multiple types of flatbed trailers too to accommodate all shapes, sizes, and heights of cargo.
While flatbed trailers are versatile, they do have a few considerations. First, flatbed trailers can carry up to 48,000 pounds. While this certainly accommodates a wide range of goods, it’s an important limit to have in mind. Additionally, you’ll need to look into both the question of how wide is a flatbed trailer and how long is a flatbed trailer. In terms of length, flatbed trailers are between 48 and 53 feet. For width, they are typically around 8.5 ft and height is also around 8.5 ft.
Even with these restrictions, flatbed trailers are known to be one of the more accommodating truck trailer types that can carry large, oddly sized goods.
For more information about flatbed trailer read What Is Flatbed Shipping: A Full Guide.
So, what is a dry van? A dry van trailer is an enclosed trailer truck that’s used when goods need to be protected from the elements while on the road. With this trailer, goods are loaded through the back and usually need a loading dock to help with the process.
But what goods best fit in this truck option? That depends on how tall a dry van trailer is. In terms of dimensions, a dry van is around 48-53 ft in length, 8.2 ft wide, and 8 ft tall. Additionally, it can carry between 42,000 and 45,000 pounds of goods. With these dimensions and weight accommodations, this is another great choice for larger goods, however, they all must be below 8 feet tall.
Want to know more about a dry van? Check out What Is a Dry Van and How Is it Different from a Reefer Truck?
Side Kit Trailer
Ideal for cargo that can’t be crated or packaged, a side kit trailer features a panel made with plywood or fiberglass to carry goods from one point to another.
This trailer is usually between 48 to 53 feet long, 8.2 feet wide, and 8.6 feet in height. It can carry between 42,000 and 45,000 pounds.
Need immediate gratification? Sprinter vans are the way to go. Sprinter vans are both fast and efficient and used for expedited shipments, particularly with local deliveries. While there’s a number of types of sprinter vans, each with different capacities, they typically accommodate goods that do not require a flatbed truck for transportation.
So, how long is a sprinter van? With around 120-200 cubic feet of space, these vans can transport 48 x 48 pallets without a problem, carrying loads between 4,000-5,000 pounds. Yes, this is smaller than other options, but they deliver at a much faster rate.
Refrigerated Shipment and Reefers
As the name signifies, a refrigerated trailer, or a reefer truck, is one of the best truck trailer types for shipping goods that need temperature control. Ideal for chilled and frozen goods, a refrigerated trailer maintains a controlled temperature, despite whatever the weather is on the outside. This type of trailer can accommodate a range of goods of various heights and weights.
Typically, the max weight a refrigerated trailer can carry is 42,000 to 45,000 pounds. In terms of length, this truck accommodates 48 - 53 foot cargo, with a width of 8.2 feet and a height of 8 feet. Overall, this works for the vast majority of refrigerated goods.
Still need more information about a refrigerated trailer? Then read What Is Refrigerated Trucking and What Are Its Benefits for Business.
Stretch RGN Trailer
A stretch RGN is used to carry goods that are too long for the standard RGN. This trailer type can be extended to accommodate this longer freight for safer transportation. In fact, to accommodate both length and weight, axles can go from 3+ to best suit the cargo. With more axles, the heavier the freight that can be carried.
Typically, Stretch RGN trailers can carry a max freight weight of 42,000 to 150,000 pounds. This is due largely to the main deck, which can stretch from 29 to 65 feet long. Additionally, the trailer width is 8.5 feet and the legal freight height is 11.6 feet.
Another of the top types of trailers is the straight, or box, truck. But what is a straight truck? This type of trailer offers particularly affordable rates and safe delivery of goods, accommodating both FTL and LTL shipments as they are usually equipped with a liftgate for easy loading and unloading. Often best for standardized cargo, customizations can be made with this kind of truck to adjust to fragile freight, expedited deliveries, larger loads, and temp-controlled freight.
Most commonly, box trucks are between 12-26 feet long and can carry a maximum weight of 12,000 pounds. This typically equates to around 12 pallets. With these dimensions in mind, we most often see straight trucks used for items like printed goods, furniture, retail, and household appliances, to name a few.
One of the best types of trailers for hauling, lowboy trailers are an often underutilized option that is great for carrying taller cargo. Most often, goods carried by lowboy trailers are above the legal height that can be carried by flatbeds. Unlike a flatbed, lowboys feature two axles that can carry around 40,000 pounds.
In terms of the maximum weights and dimensions, lowboys can carry up to 40,000 pounds, and up to 80,000 pounds if there’s a higher amount of axles than the standard two. Additionally, lowboys are between 24 - 29.6 feet long, 18-23 inches tall, and 8.5 feet wide. The maximum legal freight height they can carry is 11.5 - 12 feet and a legal overall load height of 14 feet. So, if you have a large truck to deliver across the country, typically a lowboy is the way to go.
Double Drop Deck Extendable Trailer
Next is the double drop deck extendable trailer. Ideally used to carry especially long freight, the extendable double drop trailer can feature either 2 or 3 axles, adjusting to the needs of the freight being transported. This makes it a versatile trailer option that’s wonderful for hauling goods that can’t be carried by a regular double drop trailer.
With this in mind, an extendable double drop trailer can carry freight that’s up to 40,000 pounds. In terms of the extendable double drop trailer dimensions, this truck is between 29-50 feet long, is around 8.5 feet wide, and can carry freight that’s up to 11.6 feet tall.
Step Deck Trailer (Single Drop Trailer)
Curious about what a step-deck trailer is? A step deck trailer, or a single drop trailer, is a variation of a flatbed trailer with both a bottom and top deck. These are ideal for carrying freight that cannot be transported by a standard flatbed, typically due to the strict height requirements.
With the height variations in mind, step-decks can carry freight that’s up to 48,000 pounds in weight, 48-53 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and up to 10 feet tall. This is another great trailer option for large freight.
Extendable Flatbed Stretch Trailer
When it comes to versatile trailer types and dimensions, extendable flatbed stretch trailers have the others beat. Extendable flatbeds are best for freight that is especially long and does not fit on a standard trailer. With an extendable trailer, it can be adjusted to support longer freight, avoiding overhanging freight for a safer shipment.
This trailer type can carry a freight of up to 43,000 pounds. But here’s the best part - the length of this trailer can be adjusted from anywhere between 48 feet to 80 feet. Now that’s impressive. Additionally, this trailer is typically around 8.5 feet wide and accommodates freight that’s up to 8.5 feet tall.
Stretch Single Drop Deck Trailer
What is a drop deck trailer? This trailer is another type that’s great for longer freight, offering a long step deck that helps prevent overhang, similar to the extendable flatbed. However, this type of trailer can accommodate taller freight due to the lower drop deck, thus better for taller items.
With a stretch single drop deck trailer, you can transport freight that’s up to 45,000 pounds. Additionally, it can vary from 35 feet to 63 feet long. In terms of width, this trailer is 8.5 feet wide. And what differentiates it from the extendable flatbed? It can accommodate freight that is 10 feet tall.
Super B Trailer
What is a super B trailer? This trailer type is actually a truck with two trailers attached, one that is 32 feet long, and one that is 28. This is great for shipping items like lumber, or a heavy volume of goods.
Since this trailer type features 5 or 6 axles, it can carry up to 95,000 pounds. Super B trailer dimensions are typically 32 feet long with a 28-foot long pup, and a height of 8.6 feet.
Double Drop Stretch Trailer
A double drop stretch trailer is another trailer option that’s used for oversized goods. Accommodating even taller freight than extendable flatbeds and single drop deck trailers, double drops feature a “well” to lower freight closer to the ground, thus allowing them to feature a taller height. This “well” is in the middle portion of the trailer between the back and front deck and is usually around 25-29 feet long.
In terms of the double drop stretch trailer dimensions, this truck can carry up to 45,000 pounds and features a main deck that’s between 29-65 feet long. Similar to other trucks, it has a width of 8.5 feet, but can actually accommodate a legal freight height of 11.6 feet.
Removable Gooseneck Trailer (RGN)
The Removable Gooseneck Trailer, or RGN, is a wonderful trailer to carry both tall and long shipments. With a detachable front, this trailer can drop to the ground, creating a ramp for easier loading. Additionally, an RGN can carry an impressive amount of weight, hauling freight up to 150,000 pounds. It can handle this weight due to the ability to go from 3 axles to as high as 20 axles for large, heavy cargo. That being said, RGNs are typically relied upon in special situations, making them more expensive.
In terms of removable gooseneck trailer dimensions, the main deck of RGNs is 29 feet long, while the well width is 8.5 feet and can carry a freight height of up to 11.6 feet.
Power only refers to a tractor (also known as a power unit) and a driver with no trailer attached. There are many benefits to shippers utilizing a power only solution. Since they arrive with no trailer attached, they can pick up any type of trailer loaded and ready that needs to be dropped off at the delivery location with the freight still attached.
In terms of dimensions and limit of weight, this trailer can hold, it largely depends on the type of trailer it is towing, which depends on state requirements.
A freight trailer that you’ll see frequently on highways is the Conestoga trailer. This truck features a tarp system that can be used to both cover or uncover the trailer, providing added protection on the sides.
Conestoga trailer dimensions include a length of anywhere from 46 feet to 53 feet, a width of 8.2 feet, and a height of 8 feet. This trailer can carry a freight weight from 42,000 to 45,000 pounds.
Last, but certainly not least, are specialized trailers. These trailers are made for very specific types of shipments or freight, ensuring those goods arrive safe and sound without any damage.
This type of trailer can carry a freight of around 200,000 pounds or more. However, the dimensions of this trailer are unique and depend on state regulations.
With all the information on the different types of trailers for hauling goods, it’s time to find the right freight trailer for you. Depending on the goods you’re shipping, their weight, dimensions, and any special care needs, you can narrow down this list of 18 to find the perfect trailer for your next shipment. With the right trailer, you’re better guaranteeing the safe, damage-free transportation of goods - and who doesn’t want that?
For a trusted partner to help you through the process, freight shipping company has the expertise you need to find the right transportation solution. With vast experience with all the different types of trailers, Cowtown Express helps ensure your goods get to the right place, at the right time, and in good condition. For help with your next ground transportation endeavor, reach out to our experts online for a quote today.