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What are the different types of dry van trailers?

The supply chain and transportation industry heavily relies on commercial trucks to ship freight. These trucks deliver vital goods to companies and people around the world. Some of the most common trucks have dry van trailers, the most common form of freight transportation in the U.S. 

Let’s take a closer glance at the different types, sizes, pros, and cons of dry van trailers.

What Is a Dry Van Trailer?

A dry van trailer carries freight in a concealed box. Dry vans offer protection from the weather and other elements.

What Does the Term Dry Van Mean?

A dry van refers to a truck trailer that stores dry freight. These vans do not come with temperature control settings.

What Are Dry Van Trailers Used For?

  • Non-perishable goods
  • Freight that needs extra protection
  • Household goods
  • Building products
  • Most types of freight

Types of Dry Van Trailers

Dry vans are the most common freight transportation method, but you can choose from several different types of dry van trailers. Dry van companies typically offer vans of varying sizes, with larger trucks capable of transporting more cargo per load.

53-Foot Trailers

Trailers that are 53 feet long can store up to 45,000 pounds and 26 pallets by taking advantage of the floor space. The dimensions for this type of trailer are 53’ x 8’6” x 8’6”. These trailers can store more cargo than any other dry van, helping you transport more cargo in a single shipment.  

There are additional types of 53-foot trailers available, such as vented trailer vans. At KSM, they offer both standard or vented trailers equipt with full maintenance and tracking of inspection schedules. 

48-Foot Trailers

The beauty of 48-foot trailers is that they can house up to 43,000 pounds and 24 pallets in total. The dimensions for this trailer are 48’ x 8’6”.

28-Foot Trailers

With 28-foot trailers, you can store up to 22,500 pounds and 14 pallets at most. The dimensions for this trailer are 28 feet by 8 feet by 9 feet.

Box Trucks

Varying in size, the most common size box truck is 24’ x 8’ x 8’ 6” The maximum weight and the number of pallets will depend on the box truck’s specific size, which can vary from one to the next. 

Advantages of Dry Van Shipping

Dry van shipping comes with numerous advantages, which explain its popularity among freight shippers. We’ll discuss some of those advantages below.


The ease of accessing dry vans combined with zero requirements for specialized services and features make them more affordable than most other shipping options. LTL shippers frequently use dry van trucks to save while delivering cargo. 

Drop and Hooks Options

Drop and hook options help shippers save on costs and increase earnings for carriers. A driver can drop off a container and hook it to another truck. This baton pass structure saves time for everyone involved and puts extra money in carriers’ and shippers’ pockets.


Dry vans are concealed, protecting freight from weather and other elements. Dry vans also decrease the chance of theft since a driver can lock the trailer.


Dry vans can accommodate various consumer goods and other freight. Since dry vans work for many cargo types, they won’t sit idle for long. 


Dry vans can store multiple cargo types at the same time. You can store construction materials alongside beverages if space allows. This efficiency enables dry van truck drivers to haul more freight per load. Trucks that can only handle specialized cargo do not have the same efficiency.

Disadvantages of Dry Van Shipping

Dry vans come with many capabilities. However, no truck is perfect. We’ll cover some of the disadvantages of dry van shipping. 

Less Capacity

Dry vans can’t carry as much freight due to their dimension constraints. You can fit outsized freight on a flatbed truck, but dry vans protect your cargo from the weather and other elements.

Potential Floor Damage

Heavy freight can damage the dry van’s floor. This damage can lead to repair costs in the future. KSM conducts inspections across their fleet to ensure their trucks receive proper maintenance.

Less Environmental Control

Dry vans offer protection from the rain and other weather conditions. However, bad weather can influence internal temperature. This problem only becomes significant for perishable goods and other freight that rely on temperature control.

Dry Van vs Reefer Trailers

Dry van trucks are the most common trailers that can haul varying types of cargo. While dry vans provide variety, reefer trailers specialize in perishable goods. This type of freight requires temperature-controlled measures to be put in place during the entire route. 

However, reefer trailers rarely come with drop and hook options, though they do come with extra responsibilities. Dry vans are the better choice for non-perishable goods due to their efficiency and affordability. Shippers that need temperature-controlled transportation options can benefit immensely from reefer trailers.

Get the Right Dry Van for Your Needs

Dry van trailers check most of the boxes. They provide affordable delivery of various freight types. These standard trucks fill up routes throughout the country. KSM provides truck rentals to help you fulfill orders. You can call them about their truck rental program and add more dry vans to your fleet.

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