Dry van truck

If you are in the trucking industry, you would have definitely heard about dry vans. Yet, for those new to the industry or curious minds alike, the question lingers: What exactly is a dry van truck? Let’s take a closer look at these ordinary yet vital vehicles that play a big role in getting goods from one place to another.

What is a Dry Van Truck?

At its core, a dry van is a type of enclosed trailer used for transporting goods. It is usually around 48 to 53 feet long. These dry vans are commonly spotted on highways and in distribution centers across the United States.

They’re called “dry” because they carry stuff without needing special temperature control. These trucks keep your stuff safe from bad weather and temperature changes.

The current national dry van rates as of December 2023 is $2.10 (info from DAT).

When to Use Dry Van Shipping?

Dry vans are designed for transporting all kinds of goods, from furniture to building materials. These trailers offer secure and reliable transportation services, especially if you have big items like pallets or appliances. The most commonly loaded dry van goods are:

Goods dry van truck carry

When choosing a dry van, think about its size, how much weight it can carry, and how easy it is to load and unload.

  • Size: Dry van trailers come in different sizes to meet customer needs. Larger vans can accommodate sizable loads, while smaller ones are better suited for more modest shipments.
  • Weight: How much weight they can handle is super important to make sure the cargo is transported safely.
  • Loading: The ease of loading is addressed through features such as lift gates or ramps, facilitating efficient loading and unloading processes.

Different Sizes of Dry Vans

53 ft dry van trailer

The most usual dry vans you see on the road are 53 feet long, with dimensions of 53’ x 99″ x  110.25” (length x width x height). They can carry around 45,000 pounds of stuff and fit up to 26 standard pallets on their floor.

53 ft dry van trailer

28 ft dry van trailer

Known as “Pup” trailers, these are great for moving smaller shipments (LTL). They measure 28’ x 100″ x 109″ (length x width x height) and can hold up to 22,500 pounds of cargo. About 14 standard pallets can fit in their space.

28 ft dry van trailer

24 ft dry van trailer / Straight Trucks

These trucks, also called box trucks, are often used for deliveries in the city and might have a liftgate. They come in different sizes, but a common one is 24’ x 102″ x 102” (length x width x height).

24 ft dry van trailer

Reasons to use Dry Vans for shipping

The following are the reasons why you should consider using dry vans:

  • Protection: Dry vans fully enclose the cargo, shielding them from bad weather, dust, and other outside things. So, the cargo stays in good shape.
  • Versatility: Dry vans can carry all sorts of things like clothes, electronics, furniture, you name it! They’re like the all-purpose vehicles of shipping.
  • Affordable: There’s no extra services or special shipping operations in dry vans. This makes it the most budget-friendly shipping choice, especially for long-distance shipments.
  • Security: The enclosed structure of a dry van adds an extra layer of security. It reduces the possibility of theft or damage during the journey.
  • Easy Loading: Loading and unloading is made simpler with features like lift gates or ramps. This makes it easier and faster to get the cargo in and out of the van.
  • Standard Sizes: Dry vans come in standard sizes, making it easier to plan and organize shipments. Whether it’s a big load or a smaller one, there’s a size that fits.

Salary of a Dry Van driver

Dry van truckers typically earn an annual salary ranging from $60,000 to $65,000, and weekly earnings of $1,200 to $1,300. The average daily pay rate for dry van drivers is $250 and $270.

As per Zippia.com, in 2023 the top states for truck drivers determined by average annual salaries, include:

S.NoStateAverage Salary
8Rhode Island$70,834

Can you use a reefer as a dry van?

Absolutely! You can use a reefer (refrigerated) trailer like a regular dry van for goods that don’t need to stay cold. Even though most people don’t think about it, it’s possible. But there are some things to keep in mind.

The reefer unit is a bit heavy, so it reduces how much stuff you can carry (by 500 to 1,000 pounds). This means you might have to skip certain loads if they’re too heavy. Also, the insulation in the reefer takes up some space inside, so you can’t fit as much stuff. 

You might need to change how you load things. Some items, like toilet paper rolls, could get damaged in a reefer, so you have to be careful. And when it comes to keeping the cargo stable, you might need to use airbags instead of other methods. 

Reefers are usually meant for things that need to be cold but you can use them for back-hauling after delivering a refrigerated load when no reefer loads are available.

Reefer Vs Dry van

As dry van and reefer almost look the same, lets see how these two are different from each other:

AspectDry Van TrailerReefer Trailer
DefinitionEnclosed trailer for goods not requiring temperature controlEnclosed trailer equipped with a refrigeration unit for temperature-sensitive items
FeaturesFully enclosed structureEnclosed structure with a refrigeration unit
Loading/Unloading timeThey employ a drop and hook system to save loading and unloading timeDue to the use of running doors for managing trailer movement, there is an increase in loading and unloading time
Temperature ControlNo temperature control capabilitiesRefrigeration unit for precise temperature control
VersatilityVersatile for a broad range of productsSpecialized for temperature-sensitive items
Ideal ForGeneral freight and various productsTransporting perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals
CostMore cost-effectiveHigher operational costs due to refrigeration equipment
Maintenance ComplexitySimpler maintenance without refrigeration systemsRequires regular maintenance of the refrigeration unit


So that is all about dry van trucks. From protecting goods to ensuring they reach their destination, these trucks play a crucial role in the shipping world. The next time you see one, remember the big part it plays in getting things where they need to go.
If you like to know about various freight truck types, check out our latest blog where we explained the same in detail.

Yoga Laxmi
Social Media Marketer at OpenFR8 | More posts

I am copyright writer with OpenFR8. I take a little bit of time to complete my blogs because I undergo research and analysis of each and every article to gather accurate information. For me, writing is not just a job; it feeds my creativity and desire to share insightful information with readers. As a writer, I like to present content that is valuable and easily understood by every individual. I believe in the power of words, and if they are used in a good manner, they can create many positive changes around us.

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