popular truck load types

Truck loads in the United States are, generally speaking, classified according to the kind of trailer that is typically used to haul them. Take a trip along any major American highway and you will see a plethora of different designs. There are all kinds of specialist trailers used commercially today. Here is a very brief guide to the most popular among them.

Dry Van

Dry van trucking loads are by far the most popular kind of cargo carried in the USA today. A dry van consists of a tractor unit and a traditional boxcar style trailer. Almost all goods that do not need ventilation or refrigeration can be carried as dry van loads. Many owner operators submit quotes today using online load boards for shipping work instead of more traditional methods.


A ‘bull’ load refers to any kind of live animal cargo being carried by a commercial driver. The United States of America has an insatiable appetite for meat and dairy. Truck drivers regularly take animals to the slaughterhouse or between farms as part of agricultural trade. Carrying live cargo involves adhering to relatively strict animal protection laws, and all drivers carrying these loads have to have special training in order to prevent unnecessary suffering in transit.

Hot Shot

Hot shot trucking is a term used to describe a relatively new class of commercial drivers that take small loads locally. Instead of using large commercial vehicles to transport their loads, hot shot truckers use readily available pickup trucks that require no special license to drive.

Over the last few decades, the ever popular pickup truck has been getting more large and powerful – to the point where standard trucks are now perfectly capable of carrying small commercial loads. Many owner operators start their careers hauling hot shot loads. This shipping work is easy to take on.


Reefer loads are kept cool inside special refrigerated trailers. The inventor of the refrigerated truck, Frederick Mckinley Jones, was a pioneering American who also made innovations in audio and audiovisual equipment design. His invention – the Thermo King truck – was essential in the development of the modern American food logistics industry.

These days, fresh food from around the world can be found in almost every corner of the United States thanks to the development of the ‘reefer’. Reefer loads are usually taken on by specialist food logistics companies or owner drivers with enough money to invest in the rather expensive cooling equipment necessary.


Flatbed truck loads are pulled (as the name might suggest) using flatbed trailers. These trailers are not enclosed. They consist of a wooden or metal bed equipped with fixings such as straps or pins designed to stop cargo from rolling away from the frame.

Flatbed loads usually consist of items that are too large or too unusually shaped to be carried in a conventional dry van trailer. Large agricultural machinery, prefabricated buildings and construction equipment all travel as flatbed loads in the United States of America.

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