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What Is Dry Van Shipping?

Dry van shipping is one of the most popular and widely trusted freight transportation methods available. It has remained a preferred means of transportation due to the high availability and numerous benefits of having an enclosed trailer throughout the shipping process. In today’s post, we will dive deeper into everything you need to know about dry van shipping.

What is a Dry Van?

Dry van trailers are attached to semi-trucks mainly for shipping large quantities of loads, goods, products, or bigger items like automobiles. In fact, dry vans are actually the most popular and common trailer you see behind a semi-truck today! The reason these trailers have coined the name “dry van trailers” is because they keep the goods and products “dry” and protected from the external elements, like weather conditions, road debris, accidents, etc.

what is dry van shipping

Types of dry van trailers

Dry van trailers are available in many different sizes and materials. The maximum length allowed for a dry van trailer is 53 feet long. The two most popular types of dry van trailers are ‘general trailers’ and ‘pup trailers’. General dry van trailers are 53-feet long, whereas the pup dry van trailers are 26-29 feet long.

Additionally, there are several materials that dry van trailers are available in. These trailers are mainly made from galvanized steel, aluminum, hardwood or iron.

When do shippers use dry van?

Shippers use dry van trailers for both short distance and local shipments, as well as long distance over the road shipping jobs. Dry van trailers are extremely versatile and can handle many types of freight, including non-perishable food, building materials and more. Some examples that dry vans are used for are:

1. Moving non-perishable foods and beverages, textile and clothing items, electronics, plastic, and building products.

2. Transporting cars, motorbikes, minibusses, other automobiles, and components of bigger machines like airplanes and ships.

3. Relocating household goods, furniture, electronics, and more during the moving process.

4. Transporting small machinery and equipment in the construction industry to move raw materials from the warehouse to the construction site, or vice versa.

Dry van shipping challenges

There are always a few small cons to every type of shipment, but luckily the list is very short for dry van shipping:

  • There is no temperature control, insulation, or other climate alterations within dry van trailers. This means the dry van is not a proper solution for the goods and products that need to be refrigerated.
  • The hardwood floors in most dry van trailers are vulnerable to moisture and condensation buildup that can come from freight or through open doors. This can lead to extra repair or replacement costs if the trailer takes on the damage.

All in all, dry van shipping continues to proves itself as one of the most affordable means of transportation that is able to accommodate both regional and short-haul shipments along with long-haul shipments. With the dry van, you can worry less about the security and safety of your freight. If you’re considering dry van shipping, PLS Logistics offers dry van trucking services, including full truckload and LTL shipments. To learn more about dry van freight shipments, visit our website or request a free dry van freight assessment now.


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Pros and Cons of Different Trailer Types

When shipping freight over-the-road, a shipper can choose from a variety of freight trailer types: dry van, flatbed, refrigerated and more. Each transportation mode has advantages and disadvantages to both the shipper and the carrier hauling the freight. Depending on your shipping needs and freight type, you should consider a few options before deciding which one will work best for you.

There are various types of trailers with the three most commonly used being dry van trailer, flatbed trailer, and refrigerated trailer. Learning more about these main types of the trailer will help you better understand freight shipping and find a good option for you.

What are the pros and cons of trailer types for shippers?

Dry Van Trailer

Dry van trailers look like enclosed boxes and are made to move “dry” cargo. These trailers are the safest equipment for freight. However, if you move temperature-sensitive goods, you would prefer the refrigerated trailer or dry van.


  • Dry van trailers can be used for almost all types of freight. Therefore, if you are not shipping hazardous, oversized or perishable goods, a dry van trailer is a good option.
  • During the transit, your freight is secure and protected from bad weather, damage, and theft.
  • Many dry van trucking companies provide regional and short hauls in addition to long hauls, so you have flexibility in scheduling your shipments and choosing routes.


  • Dry van trailers are extremely in-demand, so it can be challenging to find the capacity you need for your freight.
  • These trailers cannot be used for moving perishables, flowers, fine art, and food.
  • Dry vans are commonly used for moving valuable goods like electronics, so these trucks can often be an object of theft.

Flatbed Trailer

Flatbeds are open trailers made for moving oversized freight like heavy machinery and large equipment. There are various types of flatbeds, but mostly it is a flat platform without cover and sides, attached to the truck where freight is loaded and fixed.


  • Flatbed trailers are easy to load, and the shipper is not responsible for fixing and securing the load to a platform.
  • If you deliver bulky loads or freight of irregular shapes, the flatbed is the best option for you.
  • There are different types of flatbeds, so you can find the right trailer adjusted to your shipping needs.


  • Transporting oversized loads requires special hauling and maneuvering skills, which often leads to high rates.
  • The requirement to secure loads properly, since poorly secured freight is a threat to the road accident.
  • On a flatbed trailer, the load is not protected from the external impact, so moving freight during bad weather conditions can affect the shipment in a negative way.
  • Hauling and securing oversized loads is extremely complicated during bad weather conditions.

Refrigerated Trailer

Refrigerated trucks look exactly like dry vans, but they have temperature regulation tools. These trailers can be adjusted to certain temperatures so your freight is kept under the needed conditions during the transit.


  • Refrigerated trucks are a perfect fit for food and beverage shippers, as well as for moving flowers and art pieces.
  • Refrigerated trucks can move both temperature-sensitive and “dry” freight, so you can combine different cargo types in one load if needed.
  • You can monitor the temperature inside.
  • Freight is protected from weather conditions, theft, spoilage, and damage.


  • When the trailer damage occurs or the cooling system breaks down, your products can be spoiled.
  • The loading and unloading process can take a long time.
  • If you don’t have access to tracking trailer conditions, you won’t know what’s happening to the shipment.

Outside of the three listed above, there are also other shipping options like multi-modal and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping options. It is important to consider all options whenever you are making a decision on which trailer might be the best fit for your shipment.

What are the pros and cons of trailer types for carriers?

Dry Van Trailer


  • Dry van trailers are versatile and used for all kinds of freight ranging from non-perishable food to building materials.
  • Cargo is secure and protected from bad weather, damage, and theft, so you don’t need to use straps, chains or another cover.
  • “Drop and Hook” (drop an empty trailer, hook up to a loaded one) – load mode will save drivers time and effort and allow them to spend less time unloading and loading.
  • Many dry van trucking companies provide regional and short hauls in addition to long hauls.


  • Sometimes, a driver has to help handle freight during the unloading process.
  • Waiting at the dock for load/unload will consume a carrier’s time and money.
  • Hardwood floors in most dry van trailers are vulnerable to moisture that can come from freight or through open doors, which limits the trailer’s life span.
  • Dry van drivers earn on average 20% less pay per hour compared to flatbed drivers, so turnover is high.

Flatbed Trailer


  • Flatbed drivers earn more per mile than most other trailer types, which helps driver turnover.
  • There are many opportunities for pick-up and delivery each week.
  • Flatbed drivers don’t need to back into docks and unload the freight.
  • The demand for flatbed driver’s special skills is high, which often leads to high rates.


  • Transporting oversized loads requires special hauling and maneuvering skills.
  • The flatbed driver has a responsibility to secure loads properly. Poorly secured freight is a threat to the driver and other motorists.
  • Climbing on top of oversized loads to attach chains and straps can be dangerous.
  • Hauling and securing oversized loads is extremely complicated during bad weather conditions.

Refrigerated Trailer


  • There is always a demand for fresh products and a refrigerated truck to transport them.
  • Reefer trailers can easily haul both refrigerated and dry goods.
  • Refrigerated trailers tend to haul long, coast-to-coast distances, which can mean more profit.
  • Freight is protected from weather conditions, theft, spoilage, and damage.


  • Refrigerated truck drivers have additional responsibilities like cleaning the trailer after every load, controlling thermometer and cooling equipment, and filling the second gas tank with fuel.
  • There’s constant noise from the motor.
  • Long wait time on shipping docks for loading or unloading is common.
  • Breakdowns lead to unavoidable product spoilage.

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What Is a Dry Van Trailer? 8 Shipping Facts

What is a dry van trailer?

Dry van trailer is an enclosed box for shipping non-perishable goods. Dry van shipping trailers are one of the most popular trailer types among carriers and shippers, and the ones most commonly seen on the roads. These trailers are fully closed and sealed. Therefore, freight is protected from any external influence. Dry vans don’t have temperature control, so you can only use them for moving non-perishable goods.

dry van shipping facts

Why should you use a dry van trailer?

Ultimately, if you’re not moving temperature-sensitive or oversized cargo, the dry van trailer is the most valid option to choose from. These trucks are either for full truckload or for less-than-truckload and can handle up to 45,000 pounds of freight. Availability and high protection make dry van trailers the most demanded trailer types in the freight shipping industry.

If your company uses dry van transportation or plans to try it, here are some useful dry van shipping facts to better understand this type of transportation.

8 dry van trailer facts you need to know

1. A dry van is the most common type of freight transportation in the U.S

Dry van trailers, or box trailers, can be described as a rectangular box on wheels with doors. They are designed to transport equipment and boxes or pallets of cargo. There is no temperature control in regular dry van trailers, so they are designed for any shipment except oversize freight or perishable, temperature-sensitive goods.

2. Dry van trailers are versatile in terms of freight shipments, both for local and over-the-road routes

Dry vans are used for moving non-perishable food and beverages, household goods, clothing items, plastic, and building products. They are the most frequently used equipment type due to their versatility to hold a variety of different products.

3. Dry van trailer protects your freight from theft

Dry van trucks enclose your freight on all four sides, giving freight strong protection from bad weather and other possible damage. Dry van trailers are commonly used due to their increased safety and ability to lock to prevent cargo theft.

4. The standard dry van trailer dimensions allowed for a dry van truck is 53 feet in length

Dry van trailers come in a variety of sizes, but the most common type of trailer is 53 ‘ x 8 ‘ 6 ” x 8 ‘ 6 “. Other sizes include a 28 ft trailer or a 24 ft trailer, depending on the shipment type. A dry van trailer can haul up to 45,000 pounds of cargo or 26 standard pallets.

5. Dry van trailers acquire a 42.3% rate of fatal crashes annually

Dry vans trailers are the most common type of equipment for shipments on the road, so a high rate can mainly be explained with the prevalence of dry vans on the roads. According to the FMCSA, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017, from 4,251 to 4,657.

6. Dry van trailers are always in the highest demand

Historically, dry vans have been the most commonly used and highly demanded equipment type in freight shipping. These trailers are extremely common, the demand is still high, which often causes the capacity crunch. The crunch is usually caused by the deficit of free dry van trailer capacity. In recent years, there was much more capacity available to the shippers due to the rapid growth of the retail sector, but dry vans remain the most in-demand trailer by default.

7. Dry vans have hardwood flooring inside of the trailer

Most dry vans on the road today contain a hardwood floor that it is vulnerable to moisture that can come from freight or through the open doors. Preventative measures and protective maintenance can help prevent the floors from failing during a shipment.

8. Both full truckload and LTL freight shippers can benefit from using dry van trailers

Both truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments can use a dry van. Depending on what type of freight you are shipping, using a dry van can help protect your shipment from natural causes. LTL shipping allows the shipper to only use part of the truck space and can bring significant cost savings through shipment consolidation.

PLS Logistics offers dry van trucking services, including full truckload and LTL shipments.

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