What Is a Dry Van and How Is it Different from a Reefer Truck?

What Is a Dry Van and How Is it Different from a Reefer Truck?

With so many shipping options available now, a dry van truck is still the most commonly used method for transporting goods. There are four times more dry vans than reefer or refrigerated trucks, but why is that? There are only a couple of factors that determine which of these two options is right for your next shipment.

In this article, we’ll answer the question of what a dry van is, discuss how it differs from a reefer truck, and which you should choose for your freight.

Dry Van Trailer Definition

So, what does a dry van mean, and what is a dry van truck? Dry van trailers are the ones you most commonly see when you’re driving. They have large, rectangular enclosures that protect shipments from damage caused by the elements.

The dry van height is 53 ft, and it can hold up to 44,000 lbs, meaning it can be used for many products and shipments in many different industries.

Benefits of Dry Van Trucks

  1. Affordability: Dry van shipping is a more affordable method of transportation for both short and long haul shipments.
  2. Convenience: The drop and hook method, which involves dropping one trailer and quickly hooking up a different loaded trailer to increase efficiency, is used to load a vented dry van.
  3. Security: Dry van freight is very well protected against damage, theft, and fluctuating weather conditions because it can be easily locked and is fully enclosed.
  4. Versatility: One of the greatest advantages of the dry van is the wide variety of goods that it can transport: nonperishable foods, automobiles, construction materials, and more.

Dry Van vs Reefer Trailer Differences

Reefer Trailer

The primary differences between dry vans and reefer trailers are the reefer and dry van trailer dimensions and temperature control capabilities. Simply put: reefer trucks are refrigerated and dry vans are not. Below are the dimensional differences for reefer truck vs dry van:

Dry Van DimensionsReefer Truck Dimensions
Height Capacity9 ft - 9 ft 2in7 ft 8in - 8 ft 2 in
Deck Length53 ft53 ft
Weight Capacity44,000 lbs42,500 lbs


Dry vans have a multitude of applications and can accommodate many different kinds of loads, from furniture to large appliances. When considering a reefer trailer vs a dry van, the most important consideration is whether there is a need for a temperature-controlled trailer. No need for a refrigerated temperature-controlled trailer? Then a dry van is a right choice for your freight.

Get a freight transportation quote to talk to an experienced member of our freight shipping company team. We’re here to help!

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