Everything You Need to Know About Dry Van Trucks and Shipping

March 7, 2022

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In the logistics and freight transportation industry, there are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to how exactly you'll get your cargo where it needs to be. You can go with temperature-controlled trailers, open-air flatbed trucks, or dry van trucks.

Choosing between one or the other can be difficult if you don't know what differentiates them or their pros and cons. We believe an informed individual makes the best decisions, so we'll share all you need to know about Dry Van Trucks in this guide.

What Is a Dry Van Truck?

A dry van truck or trailer is a closed box trailer attached to a semi-truck. They are the most common and popular shipping method you see because of how they keep the goods "dry" and protected from external elements like the sun, rain, or snow. In many ways, it's like a giant closed box on wheels. 

Dry van trucks are not temperature-controlled and are best for hauling dry cargo, like household goods and non-perishables. They are also excellent for eCommerce shipping due to their cost-effectiveness and plentiful space.

Dry Van trailers can be used for both full truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipments, and they can haul up to 45,000 lbs. Some common types of freight for dry van trucks are:

  • Cars, motorbikes, and components of vehicles
  • Household goods, furniture, and electronics
  • Small machinery and raw materials
  • Non-perishable foods and beverages, clothes, and other small products

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dry Van Truck Shipping

Dry Van has always been a popular shipping option, as it offers many advantages. But it doesn't come without its own set of disadvantages. If you are considering going with dry van freight transportation, you should consider the following pros and cons:


  • You can use them for almost any type of freight transportation. So long as your goods are not perishable, wet, or hazardous, dry van trucks will be an excellent choice.
  • Since you are using closed box trailers, your cargo will be protected from the elements and theft.
  • Dry van truck shipping is one of the most affordable options for regional and even short-haul shipments.
  • You can find long and short hauls due to their popularity.
  • Dry van truck shipping is more flexible than rail freight, saving businesses more money for multi-location delivery.
  • Since dry van shipping allows for FTL (full truckload), your business can rely on more reliable cargo arrival times and avoid damages or even lost goods. 


  • Since they are closed, they have strict height and length limits to the cargo.
  • They are not temperature controlled, so while your cargo is protected from outside weather conditions, extreme temperatures could affect your goods.
  • There is currently a shortage of both dry van trucks and drivers which has caused the price to increase over the past year.

Why Use Dry Van Truck Shipping for LTL Shipments

If you have a small or medium-sized business, LTL shipments can do wonders for you. Foremost, this dry van truck shipping option allows you to save more money by delivering your goods in bulk sets (pallets) to strategic locations (distribution sites). 

This approach allows you to save a significant amount of money compared to parcel delivery or shipping your items directly from your establishment to your customer. LTL shipment also allows you to stream your goods continuously, allowing a steady supply in your distribution outlets. 

Although FTL saves you the most money, not every business is prepared to charter an entire truck. Small businesses forcing themselves to opt for FTL to save money may create supply shortages, making it an impractical approach. 

Shipment Pricing: LTL Freight Classes

One of the best things about dry van truck shipment is the consistent and fair pricing. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association publishes standard freight class codes and updates every three or four months.

The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) codes help everyone in the logistics industry identify and quote shipments correctly. It also gives you an accurate estimate of how much you're going to spend. See the table below (the higher the class number, the higher the cost): 

Class Commodity Example Weight Range per Cubic Foot
50 Clean freight (bulk ingredients) 50+ lbs.
55 Bricks 35-50 lbs.
60 Car accessories & car parts 30-35 lbs.
65 Bottled beverages 22.5-30lbs.
70 Automobile engines 15-22.5 lbs.
77.5 Tires 13.5-15 lbs.
85 Crated machinery 12-13.5 lbs.
92.5 Computers 10.5-12 lbs.
100 Boat covers 9-10.5 lbs.
110 Cabinets 8-9 lbs.
125 Small household appliances 7-8 lbs.
150 Auto sheet metal parts 6-7 lbs.
175 Stuffed furniture 5-6
200 Aircraft parts 4-5 lbs.
250 Bamboo furniture 3-4 lbs.
300 Wooden cabinets 2-3 lbs.
400 Deer antlers 1-2 lbs.
500 Bags of gold dust Less than 1 lbs.


Choosing the Best Option for Your Cargo

Dry van trucks are perfect for all sorts of cargo. That's why most established companies have their own logistics department with fleets of dry van trucks – they're flexible, reliable, and incredibly cost-efficient. 

If you're a small or medium-sized business, however, there's no need to worry. You don't have to spend millions on owning a fleet. You can have your cargo delivered to wherever you need anywhere in the US through Michigan's top logistics company, Surus.

We offer competitive rates, a streamlined process, and experienced personnel. Contact us today.

When your business counts on it. Count on Surus.
© Surus, LLC.