Dry Van vs. Reefer Trailers: Which is Better for Your Business?

Dry van vs. reefer: Both are described as large freight trailers and can be used to move valuable goods in a secure and efficient manner. But of course, they aren't interchangeable, meaning you cannot use one to haul cargo in place of the other. This is because they have different features, capacities, and even shapes.

So, which is better for your business? Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about each type of trailer and how they differ from one another.

Let's dive in!

Here's How Dry and Reefer Trailers Compare

The main difference between a dry van and a reefer trailer is that there are two different ways that you can use them, depending on your needs.

Capacity and Versatility

Dry vans are available in varying sizes (small, medium, and large) and pull along a full-size truck. This means that the trailer is able to hold large quantities of cargo and can be extremely cost-effective for shippers if the load size is smaller than what can be handled by a semi-trailer.

Reefer trailers - meaning refrigerated trailers - come in one size, which is usually 34’+. These trailers are used to transport perishable goods that need to stay at a specific temperature. The refrigeration unit that is installed in these trailers has a large impact on the cost of renting one since it uses more electricity than standard dry vans.

Temperature Controlled

A reefer trailer is geared toward colder temperatures, so it is more suitable for transporting perishable or temperature-sensitive goods such as medicines, vegetables, flowers, and fish fillets.

On the other hand, a dry van's cabinets aren't temperature controlled and are therefore suitable for transporting goods that don't require refrigeration. These vehicles are good for transporting non-perishable goods such as furniture, building materials, and pallets of merchandise.


A dry van trailer’s enclosed design gives shippers and drivers more confidence in the freight's security. It is also shielded from extreme weather as well as theft—and can be braced for even greater stability if necessary.

In the case of a reefer trailer, it is not fully enclosed, and its design makes it vulnerable to potential damage to the cargo. Besides, it's also the driver's responsibility to note that the temperature in a reefer trailer must be maintained at all times to ensure that the cargo does not spoil.


A dry van trailer and a reefer trailer are two very different options for hauling freight. As you can see, each trailer option has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, but deciding which one is best for you depends on your shipping needs.

So, which one you're going to choose? Dry Van or reefer? Let's know in the comment section!