Types of Freight Explained

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Whether you are thinking about opening your trucking company or joining the trucking industry as a driver, deciding the type of freight you want to transport is an important part of your journey. As carriers, specializing in a specific type of freight has its pros and cons. On the one hand, you can specialize in high-paying freight like hazmat or tanker loads, or you can decide to go with general freight trucking and purchase a dry van instead. On the other hand, the more specific the freight, the smaller number of companies you can choose to drive for. As truck drivers, the type of freight you want to transport has implications for the type of company you can work for, any special permits or endorsements you might need. 

Before making any decisions, let’s consider the different types of freight and what each of them imply for your bottom line and your life on the road. 

Refrigerated Freight: Commonly known as reefer, is the type of truck that transports goods that need temperature control. These trucks have a cooling system attached to the trailer that allows goods to travel frozen, cool or heated. Generally, reefer trucks transport food, which means there will always be freight to transport, and it is usually well compensated. It does require some skill and attention to detail, to be able to monitor the goods and temperature. When driving a reefer, you can also transport dry goods, just like a dry van, so it gives the driver more options and some flexibility on the loads they can transport. 

Dry Van: Also known as general freight, is transported in a trailer 53’ long. This is usually an attractive option for new drivers, since driving dry vans is a good way to learn how to drive trucks, and is one of the most common types of trucking. A wide variety of goods can be transported in a dry van, which allows new and experienced drivers alike to have a wider range of companies and loads to choose from.

Flatbed: Choosing to transport Flatbed freight can be physically demanding. Drivers will need to take part in securing the loads on the flatbed, which requires a lot of skill, physical work and attention to detail. For this reason, compensation for driving a flatbed truck is quite competitive and drivers can find companies who will pay them an attractive amount compared to other trucks. 

Tanker: Driving a tanker is an attractive opportunity for experienced drivers because it comes with good pay and requires some extra training. It requires skill, experience, and a tanker endorsement. With a tanker, you could transport dry goods or liquids, that includes water, and gasoline. Tanker drivers can be home more than other freight driving truckers since the jobs tend to be regional or local. 

Specialty loads: The types of freight we mentioned in this article are the most common ones. However, there are more specialized types of freight to consider as well: 

We hope this article sheds some light into the different types of loads you can choose from as a carrier and driver. These can have implications for your business and bottom line, as some types are higher paying than others.  

If you already know what type of freight you want to transport but have trouble finding loads, or high paying loads, contact our freight planning team to learn how we can help you!


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