The Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Things You Need to Know About Dry Van Trailers

The Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Things You Need to Know About Dry Van Trailers

Dry vans are used to transport various products that need to be kept safe and secure during transport. Specifically, products that need to be protected from the elements should be transported with dry vans.

Furthermore, products that are particularly valuable and need to be protected from theft or vandalism should be transported with dry vans.

What is a Dry Van?

A dry van trailer is a type of truck trailer that is used to transport goods that do not require refrigeration. Also known as box trailers, that offer protection for the goods inside. The interior of the trailer is usually lined with metal to protect the goods from rain and other weather conditions.

Dry vans are often called "semi-trailers" because they are the most common type of trailer pulled by a semi-truck. Most dry vans are 53 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. They can typically hold up to 45,000 pounds of cargo. These are the typical semi-truck trailers that you see on the highways or unloading pallets at the rear of your local grocery store.

Here are some examples of common goods that are shipped using dry vans:

  • Construction materials
  • Retail products and dry goods
  • Agriculture equipment and materials
  • Automotive parts and service products
  • Beer, wine, and spirits
  • Publishing and printing materials
  • Oil and gas equipment and materials
  • Healthcare equipment 


Why Choose Dry Van Truck Shipping?
One of the benefits of using a dry van for freight shipping is that it is weather-resistant. The metal or plastic lining inside the trailer helps to protect your cargo from the rain, snow, wind, and other weather conditions.
They can be used to keep the goods in a good condition while they are being transported. The goods will not get wet during transportation because the dry van has the capacity to get its truckload protected during the whole shipping process from origin to destination.

Here are some of the advantages of shipping with a dry van:

  • Dry vans are fuel-efficient, which can save you money on gas expenses.
  • Dry vans are easy to load and unload because of their swing doors.
  • Dry vans are less likely to damage your goods than other types of trailers.
  • Dry vans are durable and can withstand the wear and tear of being on the road for long periods of time. 
  • Dry vans offer protection from both the elements and security concerns, including theft and vandalism, since they can be closed and locked

Dry vans are the most common type of freight transportation in the United States for a reason. If you are looking for a reliable and durable trailer for the transport of your goods, then consider using a dry van. It is the perfect option for businesses that need to move a lot of products. 

Every method of transportation has its own set of advantages and disadvantages and dry vans are no exception. Although dry vans offer a whole host of advantages, they also offer some disadvantages, including:

  • Limited capacity since they are completely enclosed
  • Outside weather can influence internal temperature without insulation
  • Wooden flooring can be susceptible to damage from heavy items or moisture from weather

How Much Is a Dry Van Trailer?

The price depends on the size and whether the trailer is new or used. As an owner-operator or fleet manager, you make decisions whether you should buy or rent a dry van trailer for your business. You need to know the right choice for your operation and how much you can afford or budget. So how much is a brand-new dry van trailer? Let’s compare the costs of new, used, or rented trailers and some prices and benefits to help you make an informed choice. 

Average Cost for Buying a New Dry Van Trailer

  • The average cost of a new dry van trailer ranges from $30,000 to $60,000. The specifications you choose will determine the final price.

For example, you can choose a 53’, 48’, or a 28’ straight truck. Each dry van trailer comes in a standard width of 8 feet.

Average Cost for Buying a Used Dry Van Trailer

  • A used 53’ dry van trailer that is less than a year old can range in cost from $23,500 to $27,000 per trailer. However, an older one can be purchased for much less. With an older trailer, you end up paying higher maintenance costs.

However, this upfront cost is not the only expense you’ll have. Owning a trailer is a big responsibility and the additional costs, like insurance and maintenance, can add up quickly. 

Average Cost for Renting a Dry Van Trailer 

  •  Renting a dry van trailer can cost as much as $600 to $750 per month for an old trailer. It will run about $1,500 a month for a new one, depending on size.


Dimensions and specifications of 53′ Dry Van

A 53-foot dry van truck is a freight shipping vehicle that is used to transport items such as furniture, clothing, and other large items or pallets of items. The truck can also be used to transport small items, but it is not recommended because it has a higher chance of damaging the items. These trucks and trailers can hold a large number of items, which makes them ideal for businesses that are shipping non-perishable goods such as clothing or toy stores.

 53-foot dry vans are also better-suited for long-distance travel, making it possible to move goods across the country more efficiently. Additionally, 53-foot dry vans are typically more fuel-efficient than using other types of trucks, meaning businesses can save money on gas expenses.

Dry Van trailers can differ in dimensions, but the width is almost always the same.

The standard dimensions of Dry Van are:

  • 53’ in length
  • 8’6’’ in width
  • 9’ in height

One of the best and most trusted manufacturers of Dry Van trailers are Utility, Wabash, and Vanguard.

53' dry van dimensions

Utility is one of the oldest and most recognizable brands in the trailer industry. Their trailers proved to be reliable and well-made. 

53' dry van dimensions

From the moment it became a small startup to this day Wabash maintains the top position in the trailer market.

53' dry van dimensions


Vanguard National Trailer manufactures long lasting and quality trailers with great performing Dry Van units.


How Many Pallets Can You Fit In a Dry Van Trailer?

The total amount of pallets you can fit in a dry van changes based on the size of the pallets in question. Palletized commodities are shipped in dry van trailers countless times each day. And, when done correctly, hauling freight, like boxed food, in a dry van can be very budget-friendly. That said, getting the most from your transportation dollars often comes down to planning, and you’re not sure how many pallets you’ll be able to fit into a van trailer. 

Knowing exactly how many pallets you can fit onto a dry van trailer is important to your supply chain and your business’s success.

The way you should load your palletized freight will depend on the size and weight of the pallets you use. 

To move your pallet-based dry van freight, you can either load your trailer:   

  1. Straight 
  2. Turned 
  3. Pinwheeled
  4. For weight distribution


When it comes to their internal dimensional capacities, here’s what you should be aware of: 

Height: The maximum cargo height capacity of a 53-foot dry van trailer falls between 108 and 110 inches (from 9 feet to 9 feet, 2 inches high) with 108 inches high being the most common. 

Width: The maximum cargo width capacity of a 53-foot dry van trailer falls between 98 and 100 inches (from 8 feet, 2 inches to 8 feet, 4 inches wide) with 100 inches wide being the most common. 

Length: The maximum cargo length of a 53-foot dry van trailer is 53 feet long (636 inches).

Weight: The maximum cargo weight of a 53-foot dry van trailer falls between 42,000 and 45,000 pounds depending on the trailer and commodity in question.  

Because dry vans are an enclosed trailer type, any product that exceeds these dimensions can’t be moved in one. That said, these are valuable numbers to know as they directly dictate the total amount of pallets you’ll be able to fit into a dry van trailer.

What Costs More? Dry Van or Flatbed?

In a majority of cases in freight shipping, dry van carriers are going to be one of the cheapest methods of shipping. This means that using a dry van often costs less per mile than using a flatbed. Shipping with a flatbed truck may involve additional charges for tarping in the event of inclement weather. Tarps are used to cover the goods on the flatbed truck and protect them from rain, wind, and other elements. 

Dry Van vs. Refrigerated Trailer

Another method of shipping involves refrigeration units or “reefers.” These refrigerated trailers use temperature control so that you’re able to set the trailer at a specific temperature or temperature range.

Medications and perishable food items like produce need to be shipped at specific temperatures to maintain the freshness and quality of the product. The trailer is insulated so that the hot or cold air cannot easily escape. It’s important for drivers to know how the trailer’s system works as well as monitor exterior weather conditions.

At the end of the day, the driver’s knowledge, experience, and diligence play a key role in the successful shipment of perishable goods with a refrigerated trailer.

Demand for dry and refrigerated vans remained paltry, as OEMs are booked full for the rest of the year and not yet entering orders for 2022. Vocational orders fell as well in July, as fleets have most of their orders in for this year. 

“Fleets are desperate for new dry vans to compensate for the shortage of new trucks and drivers in the current tight capacity environment. There is a growing amount of freight to be moved and the industry continues to struggle to deliver it on time. Spot loads and rates remain elevated," he said. "The semiconductor shortage is limiting Class 8 production and the driver shortage has been exacerbated by the aftereffects of the pandemic.”

While trailer orders remained low for the fourth consecutive month in July, ACT Research Director of Commercial Vehicle Transportation Analysis and Research Frank Maly said the issue is certainly not demand related, as fleets remain bullish regarding equipment acquisition.

Even though dry vans are the most common method of transport, they also come with the highest demand. As a result, it can be difficult to secure the services of dry van shipping companies especially in light of capacity constraints, including truck driver shortages, computer chip shortages, and other global supply chain issues. Although it can be difficult to secure dry van transport, it’s possible with the right logistics partner.

You need to look for a logistics partner with a large and diverse network of carriers that are capable of meeting your shipping needs. 

The Best Ways to Utilize Leveraging Long-term Trends to Improve Trailers

With many users expecting a 15 to 20 year life cycle for dry van trailers, design and spec’ing considerations must be made for the long haul. 

Steven Porter, director of equipment services for XTRA Lease with 31 years of experience in the trailer market, noted that even small design changes – such as putting nuts on floor screws at the “high torque” points on a trailer, especially next to the fifth wheel – will reduce repair and maintenance costs over the lifespan of a typical dry van unit; trailers expected to last anywhere from 15 to 20 years in service.

And the need for such trailer “innovation” isn’t going away anytime soon, especially as tractor-trailers as a unit need to gain better fuel efficiency in line with the new Phase 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) rules, noted Jeff Talaga, vice president of sales and strategic development for the Americas at SAF-Holland.

Yet he also stressed that such “light-weighting” efforts can’t come at the expense of longevity or performance. “We are still trying to make components as ‘bulletproof’ as possible,” Talaga pointed out.

XTRA Lease’s Porter noted that many trailer makers are now experimenting with “super glues” to “bond” sidewalls, ceilings, and other structural components together – forgoing traditional steel rivets almost entirely – along with the wider use of lighter composite materials as well.

But the trick with such new designs is not only how they will hold up over the long term but how they impact maintenance and repair practices, too.

“The big issue when you change a design or material is how you repair it; and not just for our technicians, but for the ones our customers might use for road–side service,” Porter pointed out.

Because even a small trailer issue can grow large when companies like XTRA Lease are buying thousands of units annually and planning on keeping them in service for a decade and a half or longer.

“More often than not, too, a problem with a [trailer] design change will occur five or six years down the road, not when you first put it into service,” Porter emphasized. “That’s why the overall integrity of the trailer is key for long-term use.”


Best brand of dry van trailer according to Truckers Report 

  • I've owned a few Utility vans. 2012 to 2014 models and they are nice but I have not had any experience with the other brands. 

- blessed man, Aug 30, 2014

  • I'm a company driver and my company uses Great Dane, Wabash, Hyundai, and Utility trailers. Hands down, without question, the Utility is the best of the bunch. They always pull nice and straight. The GD and Wabash seem to start dog tracking, even when they're still relatively new. That says to me that the materials used are of high quality. The Hyudais are pretty nice too, but the Utility's are hard to beat.
  • 8thnote, Aug 30, 2014
  • I've owned a lot of different dry vans over the years. In my opinion Great Dane is the best van trailer, they run about 300 Lbs heavier, but every Dane I've had lasted 15 yrs plus. The stainless van I have was built in 1988 and is still a very good looking trailer. Utility is probably the best reference I've owned and still have one of them as well from 1998. It really comes down to preference and how well you care for your equipment. If you bang up your equipment it doesn't matter what you buy it's gonna cut down on the life of the trailer. If you buy a top of the line Dane, Utility, or wabash and keep it nice you'll have the trailer for 10-15 yrs easy.
  • Largecar359, Aug 30, 2014
  • I had experience with Vanguard (2003), Great Dane (2005), Wabash (2009 and 2013) and Stoughton (2008). All 4 are great trailers. I think that GD is too pricey, most of them are $30k and up. At the same time you can have Vanguard VXP for $26.4 from the plant (best financing) or Wabash Duraplate for $27k with p/u in IN too. Utility trailers are $27.5k (basic specs) with p/u from their plant in Glade Spring VA. 
  • masks, Jul 26, 2016
  • I pull nothing but vans and of them all I prefer the Great Danes hands down. Like mentioned already they are a bit heavier but seem way more substantial to me.

-  savage02, Jul 26, 2016

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