Shipping Comparison:

Reefer trailer vs. Dry Van

Undecided between a Dry Van vs. Reefer?

You have two viable options, but they are different. Here’s how to choose the right trailer for your cargo.

Make an informed decision about whether to ship your goods by Dry Van or Refrigerated truck.


temperature controlled shipping with Reefer Trailer or dry van

What Is the Difference Between a Reefer Trailer and a Dry Van Trailer?

To find the best trailer for you, weigh-in the advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right trailer type for your freight: 

Dry Van or Refrigerated Trailer?

When it comes to moving freight in North America, or shipping freight to California the variety of equipment available can seem limitless. What is the best choice for my commodity are common questions from shippers all over the world.

We understand you want to make the best decision for trucking your shipment  but aren’t sure how.

In this shipping logistics article, you will have a good understanding of differences of the refrigerated trailer to the dry van trailer.

Finally, if you require additional assistance or have any questions about shipping or our trucking services please do not hesitate to contact our logistics services specialist. At Paige Logistics, we’d be delighted to assist you in any way we can.

What is a Reefer Trailer?

Otherwise known as temperature-controlling units or refrigerated trailers for freight that requires heating or cooling to keep it fresh during shipment.

This includes preventing freight freezing in the dead of winter in Montreal or cold in the summer heat shipping freight Canada to California


What is the Purpose of a Reefer Trailer?

Refrigerated trailers are used to transport any cargo that requires temperature controlled shipping.

This, combined with their insulated walls, makes them the only type of trailer suitable for transporting perishable items.

These trailers are commonly used to transport products such as fresh produce, pharmaceuticals, meat and dairy.

Refrigerated trailers can load maximum capacity of approximately 42,500 pounds of weight.

Due to their insulated walls, the trailer has a maximum width of 8 feet, 2 inches and height of 8 feet.

Like dry vans, this type of trailer can cannot transport any commodity that exceeds the length of their deck.

Aside from perishable food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals, these trailers are also used to transport hazardous materials that must be kept at a specific temperature. Acetic acid, phenol, propionic acid, and ethyl acetate are a few examples.

What Are Reefer Truck Unsuitable For Shipping?

Due to the boxes insulation, any oversized freight and any weight more than 42,500 pounds.

Set in specific quantities and uniquely intended to transport temperature-controlled freight.
Note: Once this trailer hauls hazardous materials, it will be unable to haul consumable commodities again.

How Does The Use Of A Reefer Affect Shipping Costs?

These trailers are run more expensive than dry vans due to refrigeration the cost of fuel. In addition, these perishable commodities transported in these trailers are subject to increased liability risks  and particularly managing contents of a container shipping China to Canada

What Is A Dry Van Trailer?

By far the most common trailer and upon Canada’s highways. All designed to protect freight from the elements while in transit, these trailers have a box enclosure.

The standard size is 53′ trailer and can hold weight 42,000-45,000 pounds, is ideal for retail, perishable produce and CPG.

What Is The Purpose of a Dry Van trailer?

These trailers are the preferred method of transporting palletized (26 pallets), boxed, or loose commodities.

As a result, these trailers are becoming increasingly popular as USA & Canada’s cross border trucking economy thrives on rampant consumerism increasing the growth of construction logistics.

What Are Dry Van Trailers Unsuitable For Hauling?

When calculating overweight or oversized freight. Any commodity that requires access from the side of a trailer rather than the back should not be transported in this model of a trailer.

Companies without loading/unloading docks will have a more difficult time removing/adding freight to these trailers because they lack an open deck.

Products that require temperature control are another commodity that will not be suitable for this type of trailer. Because these trailers lack a cooling unit, it is impossible to keep products like ice cream frozen in the summer.

As a result, if you’re a shipper moving temperature-controlled, oversized freight or don’t have access to a loading dock, a dry van won’t suffice.


What Effect Does Using a Dry Van Have on Shipping Costs?

Due to being so nimble and affordable, dry van truck is the most popular trailer type for worldwide shippers particularly shipping from Canada to the USA or specifically shipping to California

The cost of using this trailer is like any other piece of equipment, is determined by the current transportation market pricing for your shipping lane.

However, at Paige Logistics, we find trucking dry vans along with flatbed trucks to transport freight is often the most cost-effective option for completing LCL LTL deliveries freight services including China to Canada China Canada shipping. This can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that the cost for a company to purchase a dry van is negligible when compared to the cost of a refrigerated trailer or something  more specialized trailer such as flatbed trucks.


Alexander Crane
Alexander Crane

Author & Chief Executive Officer at Paige Logistics Ltd. → Experienced Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Transportation, Trucking and the Railroad Industry.