What Type of Trailer is Right for Your Transportation Needs?


Finding a fit for your transportation needs is significant but only sometimes easy. One aspect lies with transportation rates that have fluctuated in recent years, having been very high during the pandemic and now falling.

Ensuring access to the right capacity helps shippers bolster efficiency and cost-effectiveness in a very unpredictable transportation marketplace. Essential to securing the right capacity is freight trailer usage.

What Is a Freight Trailer?

A freight trailer is any trailer, semitrailer, or pole trailer pulled by a truck or road tractor. A freight trailer is any trailer, semitrailer, or pole trailer drawn by a truck weighing over twenty-six thousand pounds. The definition does not include manufactured homes, trailers with less than one ton of carrying capacity designed to transport animals, or trailers used to transport fertilizer and weighing less than three thousand five hundred pounds when empty.

Not all trailers are built the same, and knowing the type best fits your freight needs is a vital capacity consideration.

The Different Types of Trailers

The numerous truck trailer types on the roads make it difficult to know the purpose of each and which is the best fit for you. So let’s look at the different types of trailers and situations that would require their use.

Dry Van

Dry van trailers are the most commonly recognized trailer types and the go-to solution for palleted, boxed, or loose freight. Typically, these trailers measure 53 feet in length.

When you see a dry van trailer on the highway, it is probably carrying everyday items to a Walmart, Target, or a distribution center. Inventories such as non-perishable foods, clothing, tools, furniture, or electronics are potentially hauled in a dry van trailer.

Dry van trailers only open from the back of the trailer, making their use ideal for shippers that work from a loading dock.

These trailers keep items safe, unexposed to the elements and locked for security. They carry a maximum weight range of 42,000-45,000 pounds.

A dry van trailer best serves any shipper transporting inventories, palletized or boxed freight, and utilizing a dock.

Standard Flatbed

Also quite common, the standard flatbed trailer comes in several sizes, 24, 40,45, 48, and 53 feet, with the 48-foot trailer used most frequently.

These trailers are versatile haulers for construction and agricultural equipment, building supplies, and other commodities. Their open sides and back make loading and unloading of freight easy when using a forklift or crane.

Flatbeds don’t have walls limiting items’ width; oversized freight may be hauled with the necessary permits and approved routes. However, the lack of a container requires that any cargo size be secured with straps, tarps, or chains.

A shipper needing to move lumber or steel would find a flatbed trailer the perfect solution.

Refrigerated (Reefer)

Temperature-sensitive goods must be moved in a trailer designed to meet those temperature needs. For example, a reefer trailer has temperature control and insulated walls to transport perishable freight safely.

Like a dry van trailer, these enclosed trailers limit the size of goods transported. The trailer’s insulated walls further limit sizes with a maximum height of 8 feet to 8 feet 2 inches and a width of 8 feet 2 inches.

Shippers that move perishable items like foods, pharmaceuticals, or plants would use a refrigerated trailer. Even valuable artwork is shipped in reefer trailers.

Drop-Deck or Step-Deck

Drop-deck or step-deck trailers accommodate tall freight when load height is a factor. These flatbed trailers drop from a front upper deck to increase height capacity for loads up to 10 feet 2 inches, after which the load would be over-dimensional.

A flatbed trailer is typically 5 feet off the ground, but a drop-deck trailer will measure 3 feet 6 inches at its lowest point. A 53-foot trailer will accommodate freight up to 43 feet long on the lower deck.

Flatbed trailers will be used to haul large building materials or farm and construction equipment. Need to move a tall farm tractor? You’ll likely need a drop deck trailer.

Lowboy or Double Drop

When exceptionally tall freight needs moving, a lowboy drops even closer to the ground thanks to a front gooseneck drop and a rear drop before the wheels. The lower deck means the ability to haul items between 10 feet 2 inches and 11 feet 6 inches in height.

Depending on the number of axles, these trailers haul freight weighing between 40,000-80,000 pounds, making them more than capable of heavy hauling. However, they are more limited in cargo length due to the double drop, typically accommodating freight at most 29 feet long.

The movement of large, heavy industrial equipment would be ideal for this trailer type.


Conestoga trailers offer the loading advantages of flatbed trailers while protecting freight from the elements in transit. For example, a retractable curtain allows for side loading and covers freight requiring an open bed trailer, but it might incur damage by tarping it. Another benefit is the ability to veil the shipment if secrecy is necessary.

Cargo needing the protection of a Conestoga trailer might come from the aerospace or energy sectors.


Curtainside trailers are similar to Conestoga trailers, featuring a retractable tarp system. These trailers are excellent for transporting freight that requires protection from the elements due to the seamless barrier its tarps create.

Extendable Drop-Deck

When freight is exceptionally long, these trailers make all of the difference, as they can be extended from their original length of 38 feet to a maximum length of 65 feet. If the cargo exceeds the legal length limits of traditional trailers, extendable drop-deck trailers are ideal.

Like standard drop-deck trailers, they have a maximum capacity of 43,000 pounds and can accommodate a maximum height of 10 feet.

These trailers are handy if machinery or raw materials are very long. For example, wind turbine blades are commonly 116-170 feet long, requiring multiple expandable drop-deck trailers.

Removable Gooseneck

The removable gooseneck family of trailers is quite a typical class of freight haulers. Their wide variety of sizes and the functionality of traditional trailers makes them highly useful for many applications.

These trailers feature a gooseneck, used to secure the trailer to the truck, that is removable, allowing the front of the trailer to rest on the ground. The result is a ramp for the loading and unloading equipment, making these trailers ideal for hauling large machines.

The trailer is dropped or raised using a hydraulic lift to disconnect and reconnect the gooseneck, making their operation easy. Drop the trailer deck with the hydraulic system, disconnect the trailer, and pull forward for the ramp to be accessible.

An ability to drive equipment on and off the trailer removes the need for cranes or forklifts at departure or arrival locations.

The removable gooseneck has two or three axles depending on the weight capacity needed and can carry cargo with the same weight or height restrictions as double-drop trailers. Also, like the traditional double-drop trailer, the amount of well space is a factor in the load, making them insufficient for loads over 30 feet in length.

Fortunately, these amazing trailers also come in extendable versions to accommodate extra-long freight up to 50 feet long. In addition, the expandable removable goosenecks can have from three to 19 axles, allowing them to transport cargo from 42,000 pounds to an incredible 225,000 pounds.

Removable gooseneck trailers get the job done when moving large, heavy equipment.

Find the Right Trailer For Your Operations with vHub

Trailer needs are diverse, with multiple trailer options available to meet those needs. You might need to move non-perishable inventory, temperature-sensitive goods, construction materials, or an earth mover, requiring finding the right capacity with the trailer that fits your cargo.

Often, the most significant challenge will be locating the type of trailer you need at the time required. Fortunately, as technology has improved the logistics industry, it has also made finding the trailer you need far easier for shippers.

vHub provides an innovative solution for shippers that need to locate and secure the right trailer for their capacity needs. The company offers a trailer pool, allowing companies to rent idle trailers to those that need them. Drivers get more done on their route when they drop off their load and hook onto an empty trailer to pick up another.

With this new efficiency, shippers aren’t waiting without available capacity or the necessary trailer. No other similar solution exists in the logistics market.

By connecting drivers and shippers with available trailers, vHub increases utilization and capacity with its simple digital platform.

Request a demo of vHub today and see how accessing the right capacity at the right time results in expanded capacity and transforms your shipping logistics.

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