What Is a Conestoga Trailer?

What Is a Conestoga Trailer?

Over the years, the trucking industry continues to evolve, creating more shipping solutions to meet customer needs. Every freight has its specific characteristics and requirements, from size to weight to protective needs. With all of these specifications, the industry has provided an array of trucks and trailers to cater to them. A great example of this is the Conestoga truck.

But what is a Conestoga truck, and which type of Conestoga is right for your shipment? It’s important to find the right trailer to save you money and get your goods to their destination safely and efficiently. We know that researching and choosing the right one can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together some quick facts and figures to help you determine the right way to go.

Conestoga Trailer Definition

So, what is a Conestoga? The simplest Conestoga definition is a trailer that provides security, protection, and versatility of loading and unloading. Conestogas are described as “Curtainside” trailers, meaning they have a retractable tarping system. These trailers have a large height, width, and length capacity, and the curtain spans the length of the deck and has a weight capacity of up to 44,000 lbs.

The tarping system is best known for having a few unique factors:

  1. It is one of the only protective shipping methods that allow for side and top-loading. The tarping can retract fully for these loading and unloading requirements.
  2. Unlike open deck trailers, the curtain on a Conestoga protects the goods from potential damage from the elements or road debris during transit.
  3. The tarping system can hide what is being shipped if necessary for security reasons.

The Different Types of Conestoga Trailers

All Conestoga freight trailers have at least one thing in common: their tarping system. This tarping is used to cover the freight during transit and helpfully retracts to make loading and unload more convenient. It’s made even more versatile by coming in a few different shapes and sizes.

Below we’ve listed the most common types of Conestoga trailers:

  • Conestoga flatbed trailers
  • Double drop Conestogas
  • Step-deck Conestogas

Each of these has its advantages and services, great for fitting to every unique shipment. These specialized trailers should not be overlooked for many shipments.

Keep in mind that the exact specifications of each trailer can vary slightly depending on your provider; contact your provider to get more information.

Van conestoga

Conestoga Flatbed Trailers

What is a Conestoga flatbed? The most popular Conestoga trailer is the flatbed Conestoga, generally used to ship open deck commodities and cargo that are similar to the traditional flatbed trailer but larger. A Conestoga flatbed comes in two length options: 48 ft and 53 ft.

Though dimensions are never fully exact, below are the general dimensions for these flatbed trailers:

Flatbed Conestoga Length Options 48 ft and 53 ft
Flatbed Conestoga Maximum Height 8 ft (96”)
Flatbed Conestoga Maximum Width 8 ft 6 in (102”)
Flatbed Conestoga Weight Capacity 44,000 lbs

Step-Deck Conestoga

Step-deck Conestogas are a valuable asset when shipping large items. Able to meet a much greater height capacity than the usual flatbed Conestoga, step-deck Conestogas are much needed for many shipments.

Step-deck Conestogas are most often used to transport goods and products like robotics, CNC machinery, helicopters, and numerous other large freight that require protection from the elements and road debris during transit.

Below we’ve listed the Conestoga trailer dimensions for both the 48-foot step-deck Conestoga trailer and the 53-foot step-deck Conestoga trailer:

Dimensions 48-foot step-deck Conestoga 53-foot step-deck Conestoga
Lower Deck Maximum Height 9 ft 2 in (110”) 9 ft 8 in (116”)
Upper Deck Maximum Height 8 ft (96”) 8 ft (96”)
Width Capacity 8 feet, 6 inches (102”) 8 feet, 6 inches (102”)
Weight Capacity 44,000 lbs 43,000 lbs
Lower Deck Length 38 ft (456”) 43 ft (516”)
Upper Deck Length 10 ft (120”) 10 ft (120’)

Double Drop Conestoga

Double drop Conestogas are generally used to transport commodities like machinery and equipment that weigh less than 36,000 lbs and are above 9 ft 8in at their tallest point.

Though not as common as step-deck or flatbed Conestogas, double drops are essential for freight that meets these dimensions and requires both the ease of loading and unloading with the tarping system.

Below are the dimensions for a 48-foot double drop Conestoga:

Front Deck Length 9 ft (108”)
Front Deck Maximum Height 8 ft (96”)
Lower Deck Length 30 ft (360”)
Lower Deck Maximum Height 11 ft 7 in (139”)
Rear Deck Length 9 ft (108”)
Rear Deck Maximum Height 9 ft 6 in (114”)
Weight Capacity 35,000 lbs
9’0″L x 8’6″W x 8’H (front deck)
30’0″L x 8’6″W x 11’7″H (well space)
9’0”L x 8’6”W x 9'6"H (rear deck)

Benefits of Conestoga Trucks

What is a conestoga truck

Trucking is a constantly expanding industry always looking for new ways to improve service, making it more efficient, cost-effective, and safe. Conestoga trailers are a great example of the trucking industry’s innovative solutions.

Some advantages come with using a Conestoga trailer, including:

  1. Efficient loading and unloading from the side and top
  2. Lower risk of damage
  3. Protect from road debris and elements

A Conestoga’s tarped trailer makes loading and unloading easier, saving time and money and making the overall shipping process more efficient. It also is still a protective shield against the roads and poor weather conditions.

Dry Van Flatbed vs Conestoga Trailer: The Key Differences

So, what does dry van mean? Dry van trailers are easily the most popular semi-trucks. Dry vans are called this because they can keep freight and products protected from road debris and elements like rain and snow. Dry vans are basically enclosed boxes designed to keep cargo protected and be loaded from the back.

They differ from Conestoga trailers in that they have a hard shell, while a Conestoga cover can be opened. Another aspect of the trailer’s design is that it’s used in conjunction with a loading dock; the dry van trailer is backed up to the loading dock and loaded and unloaded like that.

Dry Van Trailer Problems

Though there are many different types of flatbed trucks, they all come with the same problem. With a flatbed trailer, you cannot load the cargo from anywhere but the rear doors. A standard flatbed trailer does not allow for the same loading options, making crane loading and unloading, as well as loading from the side, impossible. That is why, when the cargo has particular specifications, Conestogas often win in the Conestoga vs flatbed debate.

Benefits of Conestoga vs Dry Van Trailer

conestoga flatbed

Both are great for protecting from the elements and road debris, but Conestoga trailers do provide more loading options, making them a versatile choice for many freights. The Conestoga flatbed trailer is used for very particular loads that require certain accommodations, while a dry van is used for more simple loads that require protection.

Dry van Trailer vs Conestoga: Which Is Better for You?

Though they are the most commonly used trailers in the industry for transporting goods, dry vans aren’t always the right choice for every freight. The biggest difference is that most dry vans don’t allow for loading anywhere but in the back, while Conestoga trailers are great for use when a crane is necessary to place the products on top of the trailer or when the goods need to be loaded from the side. When considering Conestoga trailer vs flatbed, to keep goods protected from the harsh elements, a conestoga trailer, with its rolling tarp and ease of access, is the perfect choice.


Picking the right trailer that’s both cost-effective and meets all of your trucking requirements doesn’t have to be complicated. Get a freight transportation quote at DFW trucking company to see how we can help you with your future shipments.

Maximize Your Haul with Conestoga Trailer!

Trust us for secure, versatile Conestoga shipping solutions.

get a quote

No items found.