Knowing the main types of trailers and their specifications will help shippers choose the right one to transport their freight. Although there are more than 14 types of trailers, specially designed to meet different custom shipping demands, we’ll focus on the 3 most common types of truckloads: Flatbed trailer, Step Deck trailer, and Double Drop Deck trailer.

types of trailersFLATBED TRAILER

The flatbed trailer is a type of open deck equipment with no sides and no roof, mainly used for transporting industrial commodities. The flatbed trailer is very versatile, making them a common asset for carriers. It is a basic form trailer, with no sides or roof, providing quick and easy loading and unloading.  Common uses include heavy loads that are not perishable, delicate or vulnerable to precipitation – since there is no cover to protect the freight.

Examples of Typical Cargo:

  • Construction equipment
  • Machinery
  • Tubing
  • Lumber
  • Scaffolding
  • Steel products

Flatbed Trailer Dimensions:

  • Capacity:   Max. Freight Weight 48,000 lbs
  • Length of 48 feet
  • Width 8.5 feet (102″)
  • Height 8.5 feet (102″)


Step Deck trailer, or Drop Deck trailer, is an open type of trailer with two deck levels: upper deck and lower deck that drops down after clearing the tractor unit. Generally, step deck trailers can haul taller loads than Flatbed trailers and often have ramps for unloading. They also tend to be safer for forklift pickup, due to the fact that they are closer to the ground.

Examples of Typical Cargo:

  • Tractors
  • Machinery
  • Heavy freight that is over 9 feet tall

Step Deck Trailer Dimensions:

Capacity:   Max. Freight Weight 48.000 lbs.

Lower Deck  Max. Dims. Upper Deck    Max. Dims.
Length 37 feet Length  11 feet
 Width 8.5 feet (102″)  Width 8.5 feet (102″)
Height 10 feet (120″) Height 8.5 feet (102″)


Double Drop Deck is a longer piece of a trailer, called a “well”, in the middle that dips below trailer axles. The well ranges from 25 to 29 feet, making it ideal for taller, shorter freight. Double Drop Deck trailers usually have 2 or more axles, and a “Flip axle”, which can flip up and lay on the deck or flip-down and create extra axle for balancing weight. Double Drop trailers are used for oversized freight that is taller than 10 feet.

Examples of typical cargo:

  • Construction equipment
  • Forklifts
  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Tanks

Double Drop Deck Trailer Dimensions:

Capacity:   Max. Freight Weight 45.000 lbs.

Well Max. Dims. Front Deck Max. Dims. Rear Deck Max. Dims.
Length 29 feet Length 10 feet Length 9 feet
Width 8.5 feet (102″) Width  8.5 feet (102″) Width 8.5 feet (102″)
Height 11.5 feet (138″) Height 8.5 feet (102″) Height 10 feet (120″)


Since there are variations in terms of capacity and dimensions within each trailer type, the numbers provided above should be used only as a guideline.  For more information on these and other trailer equipment requirements and specifications, download our Trailer Equipment Guide today.

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