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Flatbeds vs. Dry Van Trailers: Everything You Need to Know

Dry van trailer

Trucking employs millions of drivers and earns billions of dollars. It's our country's lifeblood, shipping food and goods to where those things are needed most. 


If you're a new trucker or you're investing in a new shipping company, you might wonder what the most popular method of hauling freight is. If you're building a new company, you want to invest your money in the best equipment.


The two main types of trailers are flatbeds and dry vans. Today we're going to compare flatbeds vs. dry van trailers to rent in Brampton and Mississauga. Which do you think will win? Keep reading to find out.



In 2018, the flatbed load to truck ratio skyrocketed to 111 loads for every truck. That's much higher than the typical average of 45-50. Two things boosted these numbers – the increase in oil prices, a rise in fracking, and the decrease in steel prices. There was a sudden need to ship barrels and steel loads.


Flatbeds are flat open-air trailers made to ship odd-shaped or heavy loads that wouldn't fit in a closed trailer. They run shorter than dry van trailers and come in varying widths and heights to accommodate different loads. 


Certain trailers come with legal limits that reduce the amount of freight you can carry. A double drop flatbed, for example, can only haul products ten feet or shorter. 


Things to Keep in Mind:

It would need to secure freight on a flatbed well. Otherwise, you risk damaging the cargo, harming others, and losing business.


You also risk theft if parked in an unsecured location. Ensure you are choosing secure and reliable parking areas.


You might have to haul oversized loads or learn to deal with poor weather conditions. Ensure you have proper training and experience.


Notable Pros for Flatbeds:

  • Larger Hauling Capacity: Certain flatbeds allow for larger or more extended freight that doesn't fit in a box.

  • Flatbeds are Versatile: You can load up from the side, the back, or even above.

  • Can Haul Oversized Loads: Large machinery such as wind turbines and farm equipment can sit on top of a flatbed.



A dry van trailer is an enclosed container set atop wheels and hauled behind a semi-truck. They usually are 48-53 ft long and eight feet wide. They can carry up to 45,000 lbs.


Things to Keep in Mind:

There is limited temperature control since these are not refrigerated units and cannot haul frozen or cold freight.


Depending on where you rent, they are not always watertight. Because dry vans are often made of wood, they can leak and damage goods inside if they are not made correctly. Ensure you purchase or rent a quality dry van.


Also, keep in mind that you can only load a dry van from the rear.


Notable Pros for Dry Vans:

  • Enclosed Trailer: Dry vans secure against theft and protect against adverse weather.

  • Fits with Loading Docks: You can easily back a dry van into a loading dock.

  • Liftgates are Possible: Because a dry van is often higher off the ground, some include lift gates on the back end.


When comparing flatbeds vs. dry van trailers, it's like comparing apples and oranges. Each serves its purpose in the world of freight shipping. One is not superior to another.


Examine what type of freight you want to haul and what industries you are servicing. Once you understand your needs, contact United Trailers for an estimate. Our staff are experienced in assessing your needs and helping you choose the best-suited option. We're your go-to for a trailer rental in Brampton, Mississauga, or surrounding areas.


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