What are the Types of LTL Freight Packaging? | GoShip

What are the Types of LTL Freight Packaging?

Posted on:
Jun 19, 2019

Shipment security is an essential aspect of the shipping process. Essentially, you want your products to arrive safe and undamaged. The role of LTL freight packaging becomes even more critical when it comes to less than truckload shipping. Since your load is handled multiple times during transit, it is more prone to damage.

How to prepare an LTL shipment?

According to the National Motor Freight Classification, “the NMFC specifies minimum packaging requirements to ensure that goods are adequately protected and can be handled and stowed in a manner that is reasonably safe and practicable to withstand the normal rigors of the less-than-truckload environment.”

Usually, carriers and companies encourage shippers to palletize their freight. In particular, palletizing is the most known and familiar way to secure cargo when shipping LTL. If you are shipping LTL, you have probably heard about the importance of packaging and palletizing. But the thing is, pallets are not the only type of LTL freight packaging. There is a long list of allowed packing types. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.

Types of LTL freight packaging

There are many types of LTL freight packaging that suit various items. Learn how to identify the best packaging method for your LTL shipment and secure your load with the help of packing materials.


In the transportation industry, shippers mostly use bags for sending small parcels but can also use them in LTL shipping. This type of packaging comes in many sizes and primarily applies to clothing, apparel, etc. Since bags can’t secure cargo from external damage, we don’t recommend using bags for sensitive items.

Though this option may seem affordable, damaged freight will bring considerable financial losses. If you are transporting goods in shipping bags, seal and tape them properly. Also, the carrier may require you to provide additional packaging, making the items easy to stack.


A barrel is a shipping unit, not a package type. But because barrels are sealed and secured from spilling the content, you can ship them via LTL. There are barrels of different shapes and sizes, and you should only consider whether the freight amount meets the LTL shipping limits (2-6 shipment units or not more than 15,000 – 20,000 pounds). You can use polymer tape to better secure the barrels for additional protection.

Barrels are suitable for delivering various liquids, including healthcare products and hazardous substances. In this case, leaving handling recommendations for the shipper is critical and ensuring your carrier knows how to move hazmats safely.


Boxes are standard among parcel shippers and are not always suitable for LTL shipments. However, these shipments are good to go if you stack and secure your items well. If you want to send LTL boxes, ensure no loose space inside and wrap the packages accordingly. It will prevent separate parts of the cargo from falling out.

Cardboard boxes can be a perfect packaging option for highly stackable freight. If there’s no threat your items can break down during shipment, don’t hesitate to put them into boxes. Ultimately, it’s vital to stack many boxes onto a pallet or secure it in any other way. It will exclude free transition in the trailer and reduce the risk of freight damage.


Crates are wooden boxes almost as popular in LTL shipping as boxes. They are durable and practical for protecting cargo during transportation. Also, crates are suitable for securing fragile items, furniture pieces, and works of art and for stacking any other smaller shipment units.

Due to their high sustainability, crates favor businesses supporting green shipping. Reusable packaging doesn’t only make your supply chain more eco-friendly but effectively reduces shipping expenses.


Pallets, or wooden platforms, are the most common type of final packaging in LTL freight shipping. Shippers use them to attach and secure already packaged freight. This way, the carrier can load a full trailer and avoid moving or damaging any cargo on the truck.

Pallets are preferred for most shipments, so if you are not planning to use them, it is better to discuss packaging requirements with the shipping company or a carrier. Since you can reuse shipping pallets repeatedly, they are an excellent investment in your long-term packaging strategy.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, whenever you have doubts about which type of LTL freight packaging to choose, turn to NMFC recommendations or directly contact your carrier. It is better to communicate packaging details in advance than to experience disruptions in the shipping process. Also, don’t forget to label your freight to ensure items arrive according to special handling requirements, and the supply chain members can take a quick look at your freight components.

Expert shipping platforms like GoShip can help you organize successful transportation using a suitable packaging method. We will connect you with many professional carriers shipping at reasonable rates. Visit our website and get a free quote right now!

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