Different Types of Truck Freight

Lindsey Woods
10 Minutes

Being a truck driver, you have plenty of options of things to haul. Depending on your background experience, how you want to run, and various other factors, finding the right job and right thing to transport can make or break a job. To help drivers just getting into the industry, we wanted to put together a list of the different types of truck freight that you could potentially start hauling.

Dry Van Carriers

We'll start out with the most common type of truck freight: dry van. Dry van trailers are typically 53-foot boxes that are used to haul a wide variety of different products (consumer products, home goods, electronics, and so forth). This is what most drivers start out driving when entering the trucking industry. Not only is it the safest type of truck freight, it is also the most versatile. Everything that is in your house was most likely transported in a dry van at some point. With that being said, that means there will be an endless supply of jobs to find and great job security.

Dry vans typically don't require the drivers to touch the load, but that depends on the carrier and the driver. Don't be fooled into thinking that there won't be any manual labor involved, however. Since dry vans are not temperature controlled, the type of deliveries you want to run are basically up to your preference. There are always local, dedicated deliveries, but there are also plenty of over the road options as well. A downside to driving a dry van is that there will be competition to get a job, and since it is the most common type of freight, depending on the company, the pay could be significantly lower than other types of freight.

Dry Van Trailer


Flatbeds get their name from the type of trailer attached. It is leveled off and open with no sides or top. A flatbed trailer is used to deliver larger loads that wouldn't fit in a regular dry van trailer. The most common products delivered by flatbeds are construction goods, large manufactured parts, and various oversized loads (anything over 8.5 feet wide). A similar variation to the standard flatbed is the Step Deck Trucks, which are lower to the ground to clear height limits, but they also don't have a top or sides.

Some key differences for driving a flatbed are having to use chains or straps to hold down your load, and possibly having to tarp the load to protect it from the elements. Since the loads are typically oversized or just too big to fit in a dry van, often times they are very challenging to haul. Being a "flatbedder" means having to face many challenges like dealing with slippery equipment when exposed to bad weather, meeting physically demanding tasks like loading and unloading, and also having extra eyes on you by the Department of Transportation (DOT). To be a flatbedder, you really need to be okay with facing challenges and being patient.

Although there are a few drawbacks to driving flatbeds, there are benefits as well. For instance, the tractor and trailer are shorter in height than your standard trucks, so you won't have to worry as much as height clearances (depending on the load). This lower height also benefits from being more aerodynamic and not struggling with crosswinds while out on slippery roads. One thing other drivers will say about flatbedders is that there is a sense of camaraderie amongst other flatbedders. If none of those will persuade you, there is also the fact that flatbedders typically get paid more than regular dry vans. According to, they usually make $13,000 more annually than dry van drivers.

Flatbed Trailer

Dry Bulk Tankers

Dry Bulk tankers are cylindrical trailers that sit on a row of cone-shaped hoppers. These trailers are used to haul sand, flour, powders, grains, sugar and other construction materials. These are meant for materials that can't be delivered any other way, and they differ from other types of trailers because they can only haul one thing in loose bulk, unlike others can be mixed to fill up a truck to capacity.

Drivers that are looking for more consistent home-time might want to consider driving these, with schedules being pretty consistent. The pay for driving dry bulk is also not bad, with Glassdoor saying the average pay is $56,668 in the United States. A downside much like driving liquid tankers is that the loads can shift. Trailers with high centers of gravity come with a learning curve on how to drive them which can take some getting used to. Another downside is that between every haul, the tank must be completely cleaned out, due to the materials that are being moved. Cleaning out the tank can be time consuming and expensive, but some companies do have it priced into the work. Most of the material that is being transported is used for construction materials, meaning that the job can be physically demanding and requiring quite a bit of manual labor.

Dry Bulk Tanker

Refrigerated Carriers aka "Reefers"

Refrigerated trailers or Reefers as they're often referred to are a type of truck freight with a trailer that is temperature controlled. Reefers haul goods that have to stay within a certain temperature zone at all times, such as food products and other items like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and hazmat materials. Reefers are a little bit unique because drivers can sometimes drive dry freight, but of course the time sensitive loads are the higher paying ones. Driving a reefer, you'll most likely end up delivering to grocery warehouses and farmers' markets, which is a big complaint by drivers at times. According to, the grocery industry is different than others because they have a different structure all together. The biggest complaint coming from these deliveries is the wait time to unload, with it sometimes being hours long.

Refrigerated carriers are a little different because the unloading process can be different for each load, with the driver unloading, helping the unload, or another paid company will do the unloading for you. Typically those companies are paid for by the carrier, but it's always something to watch out for. Now because of the geographic locations of fresh produce, driving reefers you usually will have longer deliveries. Most of the states that are mass producers are from coastal cities that need to deliver their products cross-country. Along that delivery, there can also be multiple-stop loads, where you make different pickups and deliveries along the way.The benefit to that is you would get paid for any extra pickups and deliveries you make.

Refrigerated Carrier "Reefer"
Refrigerated Carrier aka "Reefer"

Liquid Tankers

Liquid tankers are what LGT Transport specialized in. Liquid tankers are used to move specialty liquids, gases and cryogenic materials. LGT specializes in the cryogenic side of the industry, with all of our freight being transported in liquid tankers. Many drivers are worried with switching over to cryogenic transportation, and part of that is because of the extra steps to do so. Depending on what you're moving, drivers are required to get special endorsements on their CDLs to transport hazardous and specialized materials. The word hazardous is also another concern that drivers have, but it is another misconception that these deliveries are high risk. Only when untrained and reckless drivers are mishandling the product does the material become dangerous to the driver. The specialized tankers have individualized safety features built-in and all drivers hauling hazardous materials are required to go through extensive training.

Like a Dry Bulk Tanker, the material inside of the trailer can slosh and affect the way the driver delivers. Getting used to the learning curve takes some time, but with the trailers being cylindrical, there is not trouble with crosswinds. Depending on the carrier and the customer, drivers can sometimes help or do the offloading and loading, but the load times are significantly less than other types of freight.

There are a lot of benefits to switching to the cryogenic industry. The biggest reason being the pay; cryogenic drivers are some of the highest paid truck drivers out of all of the freight types, plus our drivers are paid for their empty miles. While other drivers might struggle to get hired, having these endorsements on your CDL drastically improve your chances of being hired. Cryogenic materials are used in almost every aspect of our lives, so there is always a need for drivers to transport them. Most cryogenic carriers have plenty of local and over the road positions available nationwide, so you get to choose what you prefer.

Liquid Tanker

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