What are the Types of LTL Freight Packaging?

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

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 so as to withstand the normal rigors of the less-than-truckload environment.”

How to prepare an LTL shipment?

Usually, carriers and companies encourage shippers to palletize their freight. In particular, palletizing is the most known and common way to secure freight 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


In the transportation industry, shippers mostly use bags for sending small parcels but can also use it in LTL shipping as well. This type of packaging comes in many sizes and is primarily utilized for clothing, apparel, etc. If you are transporting goods in shipping bags, make sure to properly seal and tape them. Also, the carrier may require you to provide additional packaging so the items are easy to stack.


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


Boxes are common among parcel shippers and are not always suitable for LTL shipments. However, if you stack and secure your items well, these shipments are good to go. If you want to send LTL boxes, make sure there is no loose space inside and wrap the packages accordingly. Ultimately, it is recommended to stack a large number of boxes onto a pallet or secure it in any other way that excludes free transition in the trailer and freight damage.


Crates are wooden boxes that are almost as popular in LTL shipping as pallets. Also, crates are suitable for securing fragile items, furniture pieces, works of art, and for stacking any other smaller shipment units.


Pallets, or simply wooden platforms, are the most common type of 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 of the shipments, so if you are not planning to use them, it is better to discuss packaging requirements with the shipping company or a carrier.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, whenever you have doubts about which type of LTL freight packaging to choose, turn either to NMFC recommendations or directly contact your carrier. It is better to communicate packaging in advance than experience disruptions in the shipping process. Also, don’t forget to label your freight to ensure the carrier knows your items’ special handling requirements.

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