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Dry Van vs. Flatbed Trucks: Which is Better?

flatbed truck

Dry Van vs. Flatbed Trucks: Which is Better?

Booking your freight can be more complicated than you’d expect. Aside from looking for a reliable freight forwarder and reasonable rates, you need to figure out the best shipping option that meets your transportation needs. In this article, you’ll learn about the most common types of freight transportation. Learn about dry van vs. flatbed trucks: 

  • Dimensions and specifications 
  • Weight capacity and trailer type 
  • Advantages and disadvantages  

Before we begin, here’s what you should know: 

Dry vans are commonly preferred due to their availability and affordability. Flatbeds are preferred for their higher maximum capacity and higher weight limit. Let’s take a closer look!  

Dry Van vs. Flatbed: Dimensions and Specs 

Dry Vans  

These vans come in standard specifications, but most are 53 feet long, at least 13 feet high, and 100 inches wide. There are also smaller 48-foot trailers and 28-foot trailers. These are often used in tandem with two to three trailers at a time. 

Dry vans either have an air glide or spring suspension system. 

The best dry van for you will depend on your transportation needs: 

  • What you will ship 
  • Distance to be traveled and rate 
  • Local weather 
  • Type of docks 

Weight Capacity 

Standard 53-foot dry vans can carry a maximum of 45,000 pounds. Shorter dry vans will have a lower weight capacity. 

Weight capacity depends on the trailer structure and type of suspension configuration. A standard dry van will have 26 pallets. 

Trailer Type 

Dry bed floor type, walls, and overhead construction vary in construction. However, most will be made of sheet and post or plate dry vans. 

Flatbed 

Flatbeds are typically shorter at around 48-feet, though they vary by dimension depending on different hauling needs. 

Specialty flatbeds are available for oversized loads that vary in size and length. You may need a double drop flatbed for more clearance or an extendable flatbed of up to 80 feet in length. 

Weight Capacity  

Standard flatbeds have a weight capacity of 48,000 pounds for a standard size or single and double-drop trailers. Larger and heavier loads will often need additional permits.  

Trailer Type  

Most flatbed trailers are 58-inches high. 

Special types include: 

  • Single-drop (step deck) for loads 8 to 10 feet tall 
  • Double-drop (lowboy) for loads taller than 10 feet

Dry Van vs. Flatbed: Pros and cons for Shippers 

Dry Van 

Most shippers prefer this method because of its high availability and affordability. However, dry vans are vulnerable to moisture and temperature issues.

Advantages  Disadvantages 
  • Enclosed trailers protect against adverse elements and theft 
  • Excellent for transporting commercial goods (perishable and non-perishable) 
  • Simple loading and unloading of the trailer at the loading dock 
  • Great option for shipping to places without a loading dock 
  • Affordable for regional, short-haul, and long-hail shipments 
  • No temperature control 
  • Flooring is vulnerable to moisture and condensation build-up 

Flatbed
 

This is your best bet if you are to haul goods that don’t need an enclosure. They’re a great option for loading large or irregularly shaped goods due to the trailer’s open design.
 

Advantages  Disadvantages 
  • Larger maximum hauling capacity for extended periods 
  • Haul oversized loads 
  • Versatile loading 
  • Freight is exposed to the elements and abrasion 
  • Risk of theft or tampering 


How GoShip.com can help
  

By approaching GoShip.com, you can trust to find the best truckload freight shipping that suits your budget and needs.  GoShip offers truckload freight shipping of up to 43,000 pounds and an average size of 48 to 53 feet in length. You can find carriers that offer different equipment based on your needs:
 

  • Dry vans 
  • Flatbeds 
  • Refrigerated trailers

Booking is convenient. Simply visit the self-service platform, and you’ll be connected to a carrier that’s most compatible with you! GoShip.com is the fastest way to get an instant quote, find a compatible freight carrier, and make a booking! The friendly support team will guide you through the whole process, from the moment you get a quote until your freight reaches its destination. 

Get a Quote at GoShip

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